Planning a “Green” Eco-Friendly Wedding

Are you planning a green wedding? Green weddings are becoming a huge trend, allowing couples to maintain their commitment to the environment by having an ecologically responsible wedding. Green weddings are planning in consideration of how each factor – invitations, beverages, food, location, and flowers – will impact the environment.

With the average wedding costing more than $25,000, going “green” for your wedding can save you plenty of green along the way. Here are some ways to green up your wedding.

Wedding Food

One of the best ways to go green at your wedding with food is to choose locally grown, organic products to serve. From organic greens to range-fed chicken, you can offer food choices that make a difference. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that organic food tends to be pricier than non-organic, so shop CSAs and Farmer’s markets to save extra money, or limit your menu choices to make it feasible.

The Wedding Cake

If you have ideas about how to make a wedding cake that tastes good while still being good for the environment, you’ll have to let me know. But you can choose to support a local bakery or chef rather than a chain store, and you can opt for a smaller cake (a lot of it ends up going to waste anyway).

The Wedding Invitations

Your wedding invitations provide an easy area to save money and be good to the environment. Printing your invitations at home on recycled paper allows you to minimize the impact, and if you skip the response cards and ask people to RSVP electronically, you eliminate much of the paper. Alternatively, you can create your invitation online and send out virtual invitations.

The Wedding Dress

While we may have grown up thinking that we have to spend $1,000 or more on an heirloom dress that we then carefully store for 30 years in the hopes that our daughters will wear the dress, it just doesn’t happen. Rent a dress or buy a used one to save money, or choose a dress made of hemp, cotton or silk with no synthetic materials or dyes used.

Wedding Favors

There are a number of different wedding favor options that are environmentally friendly while still creating a lasting memory for your guests. From organic jellies to handmade jewelry to beeswax candles, you can choose wonderful

Wedding Flowers

green wedding ideas - recycled flowersWhen choosing wedding flowers, you can save money and be environmentally friendly by choosing to work with a florist who uses recycled flowers and foliage for bouquets. You can create inexpensive and memorable centerpieces with live plants that your guests can take home.

The Wedding Transportation

There can be a huge environmental impact to destination weddings or even having a large number of out-of-town guests, so arranging to provide group transportation using hybrid vehicles can be helpful. Arrange to have your guests stay near the wedding location to reduce the impact, too. Instead of departing your wedding in a limo, consider a horse-drawn carriage instead.

Wedding Location

Green weddings are often held in natural environments, such as botanical gardens or nature preserves, or even in their own back yards. This reduces how many decorations you need. Hosting the wedding and reception at the same location can also minimize transportation requirements for everyone and allow your guests to spend more time with you. Choose a venue that already embraces eco-friendly practices, such as solar energy and recycled water and trash, or even offer to connect you with other green-friendly vendors. Some eco-friendly venues even donate a portion of your fee to supporting environmental causes.

After the Wedding

Rather than throw rice, have your guests throw biodegradable options, such as freeze dried flower petals. Bird seed is also a great option.

Do you have ideas or products to help people have greener weddings? Let us know!

Young Environmentalists: The Eco-Friendly Classroom

Getting Real With Shadra Bruce

The days of casually throwing things “away” are long gone.  Many adults have begun incorporating sustainability into their daily lives in the form of recycling and consciously using less energy.  Kids can also begin forming good habits at home and at school. Teachers and students can work together to reduce their collective carbon footprint, adding valuable lessons in sustainability to the standard curriculum of reading, writing and arithmetic. Some sustainability lessons can be combined with fun projects, while others can be taught as good habits for students to carry out at home as well as at school.

Recycling & Reusing

learning environmentalism at schoolElementary school children enjoy crafts and projects they can work on with their friends and take home to share with their families at the end of the day.  Recycling materials that would wind up in a landfill accomplishes dual goals of allowing kids to exercise their creativity while helping maintain a healthy environment. Kids can bring the needed materials from home or use materials from the classroom.

For instance, plastic milk jugs can be cut to create durable bird feeders that will stand up to any weather conditions.  Bottle caps from soft drinks can be converted into magnets that can be used to post notes on the refrigerator.  Old magazine photos, calendars and holiday cards can be combined to create a colorful collage worthy of hanging on a wall.

Older children can be encouraged to volunteer in their neighborhoods for recycling drives or cleanup campaigns. For instance, students can spend an afternoon cleaning up a local park or planting trees.  Start a blog on sustainability in your school, with students serving as writers, editors and photographers.

Students can also practice recycling beyond creating crafts. For instance, old one-sided documents can be turned over and used as scrap paper for calculating math and science problems. Students can also be encouraged to make double-sided copies for their school reports and other school-related documents.  Teacher and administrators can set up recycling bins around the school and encourage everyone, students and teachers alike, to recycle paper, aluminum cans and other materials.

Electronic Books

These days many kids have access to Smartphones, tablets and laptop computers. Nearly every library also has computers that are available for patrons to use. Assigning electronic books for classroom reading saves the resources necessary to produce paper and book bindings. In addition, with electronic books, students have the advantage of interactive texts with live links that can provide information from related sources. Students can also more easily share their notes with friends for group assignments.

Smart Classroom Practices

Many students, along with their parents, employ conservation practices at home. Teachers can encourage students to carry over those good habits in school by encouraging students to be environmentally conscious in the classroom.  Instruct students to turn off lights whenever they leave a classroom. Instruct them to open windows when the weather is pleasant, rather than depending on air conditioning or heating. In rooms that have good natural light, turn the lights off and allow the light of the sun to illuminate the room.

 

Visit Alberta electric providers  for more eco friendly information.

How to Teach Kids About Green Entrepreneurialism

You have green dreams for your children. Chances are, they have their own dreams as well – most kids want to grow up and make something of themselves. However, they might not see the big picture. They probably don’t realize that they can make a difference in the world AND make a name for themselves, and that not making conscious decisions to better the world might lead to them actually hurting the planet. If you’re intent on making sure your kids lead a green lifestyle in their professional endeavors, you should know a few things. The following is what I learned when my child told me he wanted to start his own business.

Decode The Terms
For many children, a phrase like “green entrepreneurialism” is really overwhelming. They probably don’t have a full understanding of what these two words mean by themselves, let alone when they’re meshed together! Explain exactly what both the green movement and entrepreneurialism are. Show them in real life what being green means and what it takes to go into business for one’s self. Once you have mastered the definitions of the two separate terms with them, work to blend them together into one.

Green Volunteer Projects

In order to inspire a love for something in children, encourage them have hands-on experience in it. Therefore, you need to check out some green volunteer projects in your community. The town might be getting together to clean up a local park, or a movement to encourage more recycling might be ripe for the taking. Whatever the case may be, explain to your children how the plan started and how it’s going to continue to bring the neighborhood success.

Craft Unique Plans
Once your children have participated in an earth-friendly project, incorporate entrepreneurial tasks in to the mix.  Remember, when kids are young, you need to break things down. Even for a middle school or high school student, all of this at once can be a little bit overwhelming or confusing. Ask your children if they have any ideas that could be used to create a greener environment. They might want to propose a small business, or they may wish to tackle another project in the neighborhood. Help them to craft a plan in the early stages of this inquiry, from start to finish.

Taking it Further
If you really want your children to get a taste of how entrepreneurship works, guide them through the process. Start by contacting the appropriate authorities to see if the project can be put into action. If the answer is yes, then you can work with your child to put together a task force to accomplish the goal. Sometimes, the answer is going to be no. This can be an important lesson for your children to learn. In certain cases, they’ll have to revise their plans or seek out a new avenue for implementing them.

School Connections

Check to see if any similar programs are available at your children’s school (or another nearby one). They might have a club that focuses on volunteer efforts, or your children may be able to take courses that prepare them for a world of environmentally-friendly businesses. Stretching those connections as much as you can is a great way to provide all of the necessary information to your children.

green
Joseph Rodriguez writes about all things related to green living. His recent focus has been on identifying the best online colleges with environmental science programs.

Why Carpooling to School is Important for Families

It’s back to school time, and a great time to teach your kids about making good choices – for themselves AND the environment!

Carpooling to school is one of the best ways that parents can save money, promote Eco-friendly living, and interact with the kids on a daily basis. Plus, it also saves on gas and time for everyone involved in the pool. If you’re on the fence about pitching this idea to neighborhood families, the following will show you why it is essential that you carpool with other families to school.

It Saves Gas
This is an obvious advantage. You will be able to save on gas everyday because you will be going on alternate times instead of every morning. If you want to keep your costs down, then this is one of the best ways to do it. Keep everyone in a fair rotation and your kids will be more likely be picked up in a timely manner everyday.

Green Living
Carpooling is a great way to show your kids how to protect the environment with one simple act. For example, show your kids a picture of what a single car’s pollution can do to this city. You will be instilling them with good ideas for their future well being (this will also save you money down the road, if you decide to buy them a car of their own).

Quality Time
Believe it or not, carpooling can help you bond with your kids and their friends. Your kids are more likely to talk when their friends are around, and you can also learn more about what their friends are like. Your friends and you can compile scoop and compare how your children are acting at school. Plus, it lets your child’s friends get to know you better. It will forge a better relationship for the community of the entire school.

Time
If you’re a working parent, then a carpooling schedule is a great way to make the most of your day. You can drop off while someone else picks up. You won’t have to put your child in daycare if another parent is willing to keep them for a few hours either (but you need to be willing to take a shift too). This can be especially true if your kids want to participate in after-school activities but can’t because of your schedule. With carpooling, it might be an option!

Ultimately, you want carpooling to be a benefit to your family. Just think of all the great advantages that it offers. You’ll be able to spend more time with your kids, OUT of the car!

 carpooling

26 Ways You Can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

On July 7, 2007 (07.07.07) Live Earth held a “monumental music event that brought together a global audience” to address the climate crisis. With concerts in New York, London, Sydney, Tokyo, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg and Hamburg  featuring musical acts like The Police, Genesis, Bon Jovi, Madonna, Kanye West, Kelly Clarkson, Black Eyed Peas and Jack Johnson, it was one of the biggest awareness events ever held.

Live Earth’s goal is to work with individuals, corporations and governments to find workable solutions for the climate crisis, partnering with other like-minded organizations including the Alliance for Climate Protection whose chairman is former Vice-President Al Gore.

According to the National Climatic Data Center, summer 2012 was a scorcher. Our average temperature was up 3.3 degrees over the 20th Century average. Three degrees may not seem like much, but when earth changes are supposed to occur over millions of years, not decades, it raises alarms. There were significant climatic events that occurred during the summer, as demonstrated by this NCDC image:

It may seem overwhelming to think about the potential disaster of global warming, but there are things we can do as individuals.

The first step is to calculate your carbon footprint. The Nature Conservancy has a free carbon footprint calculator on their website that will help you determine your current impact. Once you know your carbon footprint, take steps to reduce it in every area of your life.

At home:

  • Use energy saving light bulbs.
  • Investigate the use of alternate energy sources, such as geothermal, solar, and wind energy.
  • Recycle everything. While you should develop recycling habits for paper, plastic, cans, and bottles, it’s also a matter of recognizing that everything can be re-purposed. Old t-shirts become dusting cloths; water bottles can become a greenhouse. From large to small, everything can be used again.
  • Turn down the thermostat. Even turning down the heat by three degrees will reduce your energy consumption by 10 percent.
  • Wash clothes in cold water to cut energy bills dramatically.
  • Weatherize your home. Seal around windows and doors, wrap up your water heater and pipes, and add insulation.
  • Plant trees. In addition to acting as a natural air filter, they provide shade that helps you keep your home cooler without turning on the AC.
  • Most electronics continue to use energy even when not in use, so unplug them.

At work:

  •  Skip face to face meetings that require employees to fly to other locations and leverage the power of online conferencing software instead.
  • Skip printing documents and move to secure electronic storage instead.
  • Turn off your computer when you leave at the end of the day.
  • Encourage the owners and managers of the business to employ green practices by replacing lights and adjusting thermostats.

As a consumer:

  • Choose the companies you support carefully, supporting those who practice sustainability. Inc.com lists “The Green 50” as a place to start.
  • Take reusable bags to the store every time you shop – never choose plastic bags!
  • Try to choose products with little or no packaging.
  • Reduce your meat consumption. Livestock add significantly to the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Eat less meat and more greens, saving the planet and yourself.
  • Buy organic. Send a message that chemicals don’t belong in food.
  • Buy local. Everything you buy that has to be shipped in from somewhere else is having an impact on the earth.

On the go:

  • Use a bike. Not only is it better for the planet but it’s good for you too.
  • Skip the SUV and choose an economical vehicle.
  • Car pool or take public transportation rather than using your car.

We have a long, hard road ahead of us if we want breathable air and livable temperatures for our children and grandchildren. The global climate crisis requires us all to stop, think, and make changes.

5 THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW:

  1.  Go through your house and turn off everything using electricity that you don’t need right now.
  2. Adjust your thermostat by 5 degrees.
  3. Go online and write your representatives to let them know you want your country to be part of the solution, not the problem.
  4. Share this article with others and encourage people to make small changes.
  5. Walk instead of drive to at least one place you need to go this week.

 

 

 

 

All Natural Cleaning Solution Saves Money, Works on Everything

Getting Real With +Shadra Bruce, Owner of +MomsGetReal

Whether you’re bringing home a new baby or looking for ways to kill germs and sanitize without using harmful chemicals, there is one way you can save an extraordinary amount of money while killing germs and sanitizing literally every surface in your home – and you can do it with a couple of products that cost mere pennies compared to commercial cleaners, products you probably have in your home already, and products that don’t hurt the environment or the kids.

This little miracle mixture kills 99% of all germs and bacteria on surfaces, will scrub out some of the most stubborn stains (I’ve used it on coffee, wine, and blood) and is gentle enough that even if your kids somehow ingested some, the worst it would do is cause a little gas.

The mixture? Baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Mixed together as a paste, you can use it to scrub shower walls, sinks, toilets, and tubs (it’s as effective as commercial liquid cleansers).  Add a little extra peroxide for a more liquid solution that you can use in a spray bottle for a quick wipe-down of surfaces.  Straight peroxide (or half peroxide and half water, depending on the strength of the peroxide) will kill the germs on your kitchen counters and other surfaces.  I even used hydrogen peroxide on my carpet after my daughter spilled a strawberry smoothie – it took the pink right out and restored the carpet to its color (you should check a small area before using the mixture to make sure it won’t damage it).

Hydrogen peroxide loses its potency once it has been exposed to sunlight (that is why you can only find it in brown bottles in the store).  It’s best to mix it only when you’re going to use it. When I make my paste mixture, I add just enough peroxide to the baking soda (which I buy bulk from the grocery store for less than 25 cents per pound) to make the paste.  I bought a dark spray bottle that I keep peroxide in for spraying on countertops.

If you have a really tough stain, you can add a small amount of salt to the mixture. The salt makes a great abrasive to help remove stubborn stains.  Don’t believe that this could possibly be harmless? It is!  I brush my teeth once a week with this same mixture of baking soda, peroxide, and salt – it leaves my teeth whiter and brighter, kills the bacteria that causes bad breath, and oxygenates the mouth to keep bad breath from recurring.

If you want to protect your kids from all the germs out there but want to be smart when it comes to making your budget stretch, make the switch to this simple, inexpensive cleaning solution.  Not only will your mind be at ease because you’re saving money, you also won’t have to worry about your exploring toddler finding a cupboard full of chemicals that might cause harm.

Bottle Free – It’s Not Just for Babies

Recently, my husband and I decided to go bottle free.  I’m not talking about baby bottles, we’ve been free of those for a couple of years now, I’m talking about bottled water.

There’s been a push on lately to stop buying bottled water because more of the empty bottles end up in landfills than in recycling bins.  Although this is a great reason to go bottle-free it’s not the main reason why my husband and I decided to do it.  We’re going bottle-free to keep more of our money in our pockets.  We did a rough calculation and found that we spend somewhere around $150 a year on bottled water.  That mightn’t sound like a lot spread over the course of a year but we also have a Britta water jug that we use and buy filters for.  Why have both?  It seemed redundant to us, so we bought a reusable metal water bottle for each of us and stopped buying bottled water.  We’ve noticed a big difference already and it’s only been a month or so.  It’s shaved a few dollars off our weekly grocery bill and the recycling bin doesn’t fill up so quickly.

This little venture into being bottle free has inspired me and now I’m planning on trying to go plastic free.  I want to slowly replace all my plastic food containers with glass ones and I’m looking into buying reusable snack bags for lunches instead of buying sandwich bags all the time.  The $150 we save on bottled water will probably be invested in going plastic free but I think it’s well worth it.  We’ll end up saving more than that in the long run.  This is definitely a win-win situation; we save money and there’s less garbage being sent to landfills.