One easy way you can cut spending and live greener at the same time is to forego the mega book stores and use your local library instead. Yes, it is fun to browse in a large book store with your $5 latte in hand, and there’s no reason you can’t do that every once in a while. But if you want to see real savings in your checkbook each month, brew your coffee at home and take a travel mug to the library. You’ll find everything you need there…and more!
Here are some ways you can consume fewer resources and spend less by making use of your local library:
- Magazine Subscriptions: Think about all the magazines you subscribe to. You read them for a few minutes and then what do you do with them? They either end up in the garbage or stacked high in your spare room. Two ways you can make better choices about magazines and still get to enjoy them are to donate your used magazines to the library and to stop your subscriptions and instead read each issue at the library. Most libraries have subscriptions to dozens of magazines. Go in on a rainy Saturday and read to your heart’s content. You’ll save by not having to pay for the magazines and you’ll waste less paper because you won’t get all those renewal notices in the mail. Most libraries will take your old magazines, but ask before you drop off a few boxes full of them. If the library can’t use them, donate them to a local preschool or after school program. Many times teachers need magazines for kids to cut up for crafts.
- The New Novel: Libraries know in advance when the newest novels are coming to market, and you can get on their list to reserve the latest John Grisham or Stephen King release. Bigger libraries buy more than one copy, so you’ll have a good chance to get the book as it’s released. Why spend $29.95 on a hardcover new release when you can borrow it for free?
- Movie Night: If you’ve got an expensive subscription to a movie service or if you repeatedly rent On Demand movies from your cable company, you’re spending money you don’t have to. Go to the library and check out their DVD selections. Often, their collection will have current releases and lots of older movies too. And the fun part is they often have movies you’ve never seen before but just might like to. There are classics, operas, miniseries, and more. You might be surprised at how good the offerings are. Another bonus is that most libraries let you take several at a time.
- Kids Movies: If you are bombarded by requests for the new Dora or Disney DVD every time you go out shopping with the kids, make a stop at the library first next time. Kids can browse the whole collection of children’s DVDs and take several out for free. Their tastes change so often that it makes sense to borrow instead of spending upwards of $20 on a movie they’ll watch for a short amount of time. If you have a collection of DVDs that the kids have outgrown, consider donating them to the library. They’ll be happy to add DVDs in good condition to their collection, and that goes for DVDs for grown ups too.
- Internet Browsing: If you rarely get on the Internet but still want access a few times a month, why not cancel your Internet service at home and use the library’s for free? Why pay astronomical fees to have the Internet in your home if you seldom use it? If you or the kids have access to a phone with Internet, use that for infrequent searches and for email and the library’s computers for more involved searching. You’ll save a bundle on the bills at the end of the month.
- Newspaper: Stop your home delivery of the newspaper, pocket the savings, and read the paper at the library. Plan to stop by and glance through the headlines of the major papers. Your library will definitely have subscriptions to the local as well as more national papers. And if there’s a story you missed, you can get on the Internet at the library and read any paper you like online.
- Mom’s Night Out: Instead of meeting friends for an expensive dinner just so you can go out and chat, why not join the library’s book group or other social club instead? Many book clubs accept new members at any time during the year and they read the most interesting books. You and your friends can join. Or, ask if you can start your own club. The library is there for the community and as long as you are not running a club for profit, your group will be welcomed. Many libraries also offer knitting clubs and other activities. Check out their calendar or ask for more information.
- Museum Passes: Every library has at their disposal free passes to museums in your state. Ask the librarian which museums they hold passes for. You’ll be delighted to find they offer free tickets to aquariums, museums, and other cultural venues. That’s a hefty savings at the door for you and your family. Most times the passes are good for two adults and children often get free admission. You may need to sign up in advance during peak months, so check it out early in the season.
Think back to some of the parties you have attended or hosted. What kind of dinnerware did you use to serve the food to your guests? More often than not, you ate a hot, steaming pile of baked beans or a sugary frosted cake from a paper or plastic plate, right? By the end of the party, the pile of trash seemed bigger than Mount Rushmore. And now all of that is heading for a landfill somewhere.
The types of plastics that are used to make this throw-away dishware are some of the most toxic ever made and, unfortunately, the most prolific. As people continue to be faced with crowds to feed at parties, they will continue to look for the easiest ways to serve them food, and the old fashioned way will remain a staple unless people are shown a way that’s better for the earth. Party guests certainly aren’t thinking about the environment when they throw away their first plate only to get another plate for seconds and thirds, and you wind up with several bags of garbage to throw out by the night’s end.
That’s just one party. Now think of how many parties are thrown around the world. Think of the summer picnics, and corporate events? The list goes on. You can just imagine how much trash is generated from these events and gatherings. That’s an enormous amount of waste that ends up accumulating in a landfill and it will stay there forever because these types of plastic and Styrofoam products never break down and decompose. Never!
Forget about Styrofoam plates, and colorful, cheerful plastic cups. And walk right by the boxes of plastic cutlery. Here are some solutions for beating the party garbage blues:
- Don’t be afraid to get out that old china, especially if your party guests are adults. It wasn’t meant to be looked at and never used. Besides, your good china is just collecting dust. If you don’t use your gorgeous dishes, then why have them in the first place? You won’t believe how much elegance a nice plate can bring to a party. Sure, there may be some work to do after the party, but you’ll be amazed at how lovely it will be to see your food on this gorgeous dishware.
From the environment’s standpoint, this really is the perfect solution to keeping the planet from filling with toxic, preventable waste. This will work even if you don’t have fine china. There are great deals to be had on simple dinnerware sets at just about any retail outlet or you can wait for those after the holiday close-outs. You can get really great looking dishes and stemware for a small amount of money, plus you’re saving the planet. Your guests will always give you compliments on how great your table looks. You don’t have to pay a lot to have a beautiful party. And, if one of the plates gets broken, you don’t have to worry about trying to get a hard-to-find replacement.
- For outdoor or wild parties, china and porcelain isn’t all that practical. These are the events that call for the use of plastic dishware, but not the disposable kind. There are dishes and stemware that are made out of plastic, but they are reusable. Most retail outlets will have very stylish plates and cups that you can use over and over again, and that will still give your party an extra kick. They are made with designs, colors, and shapes that fit any kind of theme you’ll want to have for your get-together. Plus they often come with matching silverware. This is a responsible use of plastic because it won’t end up in the landfill, and you’ll save money in the end. You can always wash this dinnerware and reuse it for your next party. And because these dishes are usually heavy, they won’t fly off the table if a gust of wind happens by like Styrofoam dishes would.
If you’re throwing an outdoor event, bring a really big cooler and fill it with water. Have your party guests scrape their plates in the trash first and then put the dishes in the cooler to soak. Then, when you’re ready to leave, shake the cooler to dislodge any remaining food, pack up the dishes in a bag or a box, and dump the dirty dish water. All you have to do when you get home is load the dishwasher and off you go.
While the dishware is only one aspect of giving a green party, it can be the most important part because, as we all know, disposable dishware is one of the biggest problems facing the planet today. Don’t be one of those irresponsible or thoughtless people who refuse to help save the planet. Be the party host that takes the first step in going green. Sooner or later, we all have to take responsibility for the world.
Cutlery has been around for ages, although watching people eating in restaurants may make you think that these little devices were only invented recently. We don’t know exactly when cutlery was created but many experts believe forks were used in the mid-17th Century. Since then, cutlery has been produced all over the globe. Perhaps the most famous place is Sheffield, England, a city that is famous for its high quality steel cutlery. Actually, cutlery never made it to America’s shores until the British brought it in the 17th Century.
Cutlery has been evolving ever since. These days, the newest trend is using environmentally friendly cutlery. Restaurants and take out places have figured out that using biodegradable food service products are the way to go. If businesses are recognizing the need to offer customers these eco-friendly products, then why shouldn’t you use them in your home or on your next picnic?
People are seeing the impact disposable dishware, cups, and utensils are having, not only on our precious trees, but on the landfills. These refuse centers are overburdened by waste that shouldn’t be there in the first place. In fact, the common plastic dishware and cutlery used at picnics either don’t break down or take a long time to decompose, which puts a lot of pressure on landfills.
There’s no need for this to happen anymore thanks to companies that have seen the need for eco-friendly products like Bamboo cutlery. Bamboo utensils are often lightweight yet strong, and have an appealing appearance. Plus, bamboo cutlery won’t damage any of your nonstick cookware and it is easy to care for. You may not understand why these types of utensils can be good for the environment. Bamboo is actually a fast-growing wood that can be easily replenished. Trees that are used to make more traditional wooden utensils can take up to 30 years to grow. Now, consider how beneficial it would be to have an entire rainforest grow back in 5 years. You can relieve the pressure put on the world’s forests by choosing products made from bamboo.
Another great reason to use bamboo cutlery on your next picnic is that these little guys are biodegradable. Just think about it this way. Say you’re with your husband and three kids at the nearby park for a picnic. The kids are running around like crazy and you’re just trying to get everyone settled for the lovely meal you’ve made from locally grown or organic ingredients. They scarf down the sandwiches and organic cheese and you’re left to pack up in a hurry so that you can meet the cable man back at your house in 10 minutes. You scoop up all that you can but you don’t notice the many forks and spoons your kids have been using in the sandbox. You leave, but the cutlery stays there. Not to worry. They are made of bamboo. They will break down relatively quickly. If they were made of traditional plastic, they’d be there for years to come. Bamboo cutlery is ideal for anyone who loves to eat in the outdoors because they are tremendously light and some of them even come into their own cases. Also, they are water resistant, easily cleaned, and don’t stain or absorb odors. They’re perfect for people on the go.
Moreover, these bamboo products are great for the environment because they don’t require the use of pesticides in order to grow them or harvest them. That’s not true of the other wood used in such products.
Even for picnickers, bamboo utensils are easily cleaned. After eating, pack up your utensils and clean them when you get home. Use warm soapy water in order to get off anything that may be stuck to the fork, knife, or spoon. That’s pretty much it. That’s all you have to do unless you think your utensils are starting to look or feel dry. Oil your utensils, which is not a complicated process. Just put on a couple drops of olive or canola oil on a clean cloth and rub it into the utensils. Keep adding oil until you think they won’t absorb anymore.
Now this is a silly little reason why you should use bamboo cutlery on your next picnic. Think about how superior you’ll feel when your family and friends see that you are caring for the planet more than they are by going the extra mile. Sure, you paid a little more for the bamboo cutlery but what a conversation piece! Who else do you know that uses forks, spoons, and knives made of bamboo? Your picnic could be the talk of the town!
When you’re planning your next picnic for friends and family, , drop by the nearest organic shop or go online to locate a store that carries this relatively inexpensive, eco-friendly “silverware.” Now is the perfecttime to shop for this specialty cutlery. The growing demand for these products has given you a range of options.
Using the words “Green” and “BBQ” together may be off-putting to many of your dinner guests. But that’s not the “green” we’re talking about. In fact, there’s a growing trend that shows BBQ party hosts are going green. This is an extraordinary feat because these kinds of get-togethers have been fueled by environmentally unfriendly practices. If you think back to the BBQs your family had when you were a kid, you’ll remember picking out a paper plate and heading over to the grill, where your dad, using charcoal, was making burgers and hot dogs. You got a drink in a Styrofoam cup and, when you lost that one, you got another one. We’ve all done it. But that’s all changing, thanks to the push for a little more responsibility regarding the planet we all call home. So forget everything you know about what a BBQ was all about and get ready to learn about its future.
Forget about charcoal
There’s a lot to be said about using charcoal as your source of cooking fuel. It is a messy form of energy that emits noxious fumes; and then there is the common practice of using a toxic chemical on the charcoal in order to light a fire that will send even more harmful fumes into the air. It may have been the way your father’s father grilled, but that doesn’t mean you can’t break with tradition. There are so many options available to you now that are better for the environment. Try a cleaner fuel like natural gas. That’s not to say using gas is 100 percent environmentally friendly. We all live in the real world, so saying you’ll never use chemicals isn’t practical. However, we can reduce our carbon footprint by using a cleaner fuel. There is also organic charcoal that you can use which is much cleaner than either of these two grilling fuels.
Leave the paper for the newspaper
That means don’t use anything that is made specifically for single use. These are not products you can use and still stay true to your eco-friendly goals. Many people have used plastic cups and plates, not to mention those made of Styrofoam, but that’s what has helped us get into the environmental predicament that we’re in today. We have landfills loaded with garbage that doesn’t have to be there. Why not serve your hot dogs, hamburgers, and other BBQ food on reusable plastic plates and drink out of reusable plastic cups. They’re practical because they don’t have to be thrown away. They won’t break or fly away in a stiff breeze.
Bring a cooler for dishes
Speaking about the dishes, the best way to care for them is to wash them immediately. You can do this by bringing an extra cooler and filling it with water. When your guests are finished with their BBQ foods, have them scrape the left-overs into a bag so you can use it for your compost pile and put the dishes into the cooler. That way, the plastic dinnerware can be used for future gatherings.
Go to the farm
One of the easiest ways to throw a Green BBQ is to serve and prepare locally grown produce or, at least, organic produce. Not only are you supporting your neighbors, but you can also help control global warming by not supporting businesses that transport produce long distances, thereby using more fuel and polluting the air more. The rise in transport of goods has increased exponentially over the years, which has added to the environmental problems we have today.
Water Jugs, Not Water Bottles
Here’s another easy way to turn your BBQ into a Green party. Simply buy a refillable jug of water and serve that to your guests instead of individual bottles of water. They come in a variety of stylish options and you’ll be saving a lot of waste. Some of these water jugs even come with an ice function, so everyone will be cool as cucumbers.
Decorate With the Past
Whether you’re spending your BBQ at a park or outside of your house, you can always save the decorations for future parties. You’ll want to decorate, but before you run to the nearest party supply store, look in your storage spaces. You’re bound to have great stuff you’ve forgotten about over the years. Or you can always try the thrift stores or clearance sales at a craft or department store. You’ll find inexpensive decorations to make your BBQ more festive while reducing your carbon footprint, especially if you reuse those decorations in the future.
These are changes one might see at any BBQ or party these days. The reason for these changes is simple. Our landfills are overburdened. In fact, most of the garbage that sits in it comes from people using disposable dinnerware at various parties. Much of it can be prevented by simply following these few suggestions for having a successful, green BBQ.
Ah, the holiday season is upon us and now our thoughts have turned to the many get-togethers that will be coming up, whether we throw a shindig ourselves or we attend someone else’s. It’s a lot less stressful if all we have to do is drop by a party hosted by someone else, but there are definitely ways to make the holiday bash you throw yourself much simpler, even if you’re trying to stay in the boundaries of a green lifestyle. You don’t have to throw out your eco-friendly sensibilities along with the disposable plates. There are many ways to stay green for the holidays while throwing a spectacular party.
Let’s start with the invitations. Yes, even invitations can be environmentally friendly. You can send out cards that have been made with recycled materials. Or, better yet, you can always send out e-vites. You can save on costs and trees by sending out a digital delight for your party guests. A little energy would be consumed by these e-vites, but not nearly as much as it would take to cut down a tree and run it through the paper mill.
Next comes the actual party planning. When you start thinking about what food to serve, you may want to consider the time the party will start. That will help you determine whether to just serve hors d’oeuvres and cocktails or a buffet. No matter what you’re serving, make sure it’s grown locally or made using sustainable or organic processes. You can use fresh produce from a nearby farm to create a tasty salad, and serve organic cheeses and wine if you want to keep to your green principles. You can also keep munchies around your house for your guests that want to nibble. Olives from a bar at an organic super market are typically less salty than those you’d find in a jar.
You can’t get away with throwing a party without dishware, glasses, and utensils. If you want to go green, then forego any disposal items, such as paper or plastic plates and cups. And never use paper napkins if you can avoid it. The more environmentally conscious among us will use cloth napkins, which can be even more festive than those churned out in paper. Go to a department or craft store and you can find seasonal cloth napkins that will give your table a touch of elegance. Plus, they are washable and can be used at future parties. Not only are paper napkins tacky, but they aren’t good for the environment. As for plates, use your good china. Don’t keep it locked up where nobody can see it. All it can do then is collect dust, even though it was meant to have food piled on top of it. Don’t worry if you don’t have expensive dinnerware, simply go to a closeout sale at a nearby store, and you’ll find plenty of great deals on reusable plates. Or you might find an eclectic set at the local thrift store. You can get some really stylish pieces, which can be reused for years to come. After the party, you can donate the dishes you bought back to the thrift shop. That’s a very eco-friendly thing to do.
Before you open the door to your first party guest, you want to make sure to have all your decorations up so your party is festive. The green style of decorating involves thinking out of the box to fill your home with merriment. How about going to a flea market for your decorations? You’re reusing something that another person once owned but decided to sell rather than send it to an untimely death in a landfill. Or maybe use branches and other greenery from your own yard to decorate your home. Going green can give you a plethora of opportunities.
While we’re speaking about decorating, candles are often a big part of creating a festive ambiance for your holiday party. Instead of getting traditional petroleum-based candles, try some made of soy. They come in a variety of scents, like vanilla, cinnamon, and balsam fir. You don’t have to worry about soot or the possibly toxic fumes released by the other kinds of candles.
And remember to recycle as much of your refuse as possible. Keep bins around for the recyclables, making it easier for your holiday party guests to help save the planet.
When it’s all said and done there’s still the cleaning up that’s left. You may think this is the one area where you can’t go green but think again. The green movement has been catching on so much in recent years that companies have started to get wise to what consumers want. There are so many options for cleaning products that aren’t made from harsh chemicals.
The holidays are an exciting, busy time for everyone, especially when there is a party involved. But that doesn’t mean you have to stop being environmentally responsible. Simply follow these ideas for a successful green holiday party and put your mind at ease.