1/1/15 9:30 AM
12/25/14 9:30 AM
12/18/14 9:30 AM
12/16/14 9:30 AM
It’s that time of year again; time to start your Christmas shopping if you haven’t already finished it. When you begin your shopping try to keep in mind how you can help your friends and family be green and still give them gifts they will love. Christmas is one of my favorite holidays but Christmas shopping on the other hands is my least favorite. I always worry rather my gifts will be right or if the receivers will like them and how eco-friendly my gifts are.
An easy start to Christmas shopping is to shop online. This prevents using gas for transportation and not to mention less stress from the Christmas craziness at all the stores. If you would rather go to the stores and brave the chaos try your best to buy all your gifts in 1 shot if possible. Here are some quick ideas for gifts you can give this holiday season. Hopefully these will be crowd pleasers and everyone will be able to enjoy the thought of helping the earth in every way possible.
For the home there are actually fairly simple ideas you can use. If you look at any farmer’s market or in even one of those center kiosks in the mall you will probably be able to find and echo friendly candle. Candles made with soy or beeswax are always an easy find and many now have cotton wicks which release less toxins than normal candle wicks. Along with candles there are many options out there for reclaimed items. You can find many items online or if you are crafty and give yourself a little extra time Pinterest is always a good place to get inspiration. Bamboo items are easy to find and can range from spoons, cutting boards to a nice bamboo plant in a glass pot that can be reused later. Don’t forget about that person with the green thumb in your life, they are actually fairly simple to buy eco-friendly gifts for. A real gardener will do just about anything to keep the blooms coming, even in the off-season. Satisfy their obsession with a gorgeous wooden crate filled with ready-to-pop bulbs or a simple all in one grow kit. A great site to check out with tons of options is Bambeco.
For the fashionista’s in your life there are a ton of options out there. Jewelry is always a hit and you can find pretty much anything from a necklace to a watch. Everyone loves clothes and a great place to find fashions that everyone is sure to love is ModCloth. Kids can actually be one of the easier people to shop for and clothes is always a great gift to give them, plus as parents that means one less toy to add to the collection. All natural and organic health and beauty products are agreat option as well. Some people can be hard to shop for when it comes to clothes so the tried and true gift is always a gift card.
Now that we have all our gifts in order what should we do when we present the gifts to the receiver? A way to stay green with these gifts it to put them in a nice reusable bag but if you want to wrap try to find recycled gift wrap. Try to avoid glossy foil or metallic wrapping paper because it can be difficult to recycle and can’t be used for much afterword because of the metal contained to make it. A favorite thing of mine to do for grandparents it use all my kids artwork that comes home and turn it into wrapping paper, less waste that way and a great way to share your child’s work. Homemade cards are always nice and add a more personal touch to your gifts. Use last year’s calendar by using the great pictures and sticking them together to create a beautiful collage. Last try to use tape sparingly or not at all if possible. You can do use a pretty ribbon or even a little dab of glue instead.
Celebrating a green Christmas isn't about going without; it's about being thoughtful and considerate of not creating waste at a time of celebration. Most importantly remember the season is not all about the gifts and glam but more about sharing time with our friends and family. If we all do our part little by little we can keep the earth a greener place so we have many more holidays to spend with them.
From all of us here at SEPCO may you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
11/27/14 9:30 AM
11/20/14 9:30 AM
It’s that time of year again. The smell of turkey cooking, green bean and sweet potato casserole and of course grandma’s pumpkin pie, but while we are thinking of what we are thankful for don’t forget about Mother Nature. After all, without her we would not be able to enjoy the food on our plate. It may be a little too late to completely rethink your entire plan for Thanksgiving, but there is still time to make a few adjustments to keep your Thanksgiving green and maybe even start some new family traditions to pass on to our future generation.
I have already bought my turkey, farm raised locally, and some of the other essentials for my traditional dinner, but I usually try to buy my vegetables and fruits as close as possible to my meal. There are few ways you can help the local economy and environment with very little effort. Let’s start before we even walk out the door. Grab your reusable bags of any kind to carry your haul home. Any kind of bag you have around will do even those old grocery bags you saved from your last trip to the store. I am guilty of always forgetting my cloth reusable bags when I go to the store so I do regretfully have a stock pile of plastic grocery store bags, since most of us already have them repurpose them. Reusing any extra bag you have lying around is greener than buying a new one, not to mention even easier on the wallet.
Where I live there are green markets that happen every Sunday or food co-ops, so it is easy to go pick up those last minute items that will be fresh and perfect for my Thursday meal. Most of the time not only is the food fresher, but it does not come with unnecessary packaging or chemicals and is usually cheaper. It is easy to grab a few containers along with your bags and put any loose items in them instead of the plastic produce bag. I can buy my lettuce without the plastic package and make sure I have all fresh leaves this way. Many times the farmers will have things like tomatoes, green beans, and blueberries in baskets that are already weighed out. Since it is going to be a big dinner buying in bulk should not be a problem and any extra you may have can be put in the freezer to use at a later time.
An obvious way to go green is to use regular plates and silverware versus the plastic utensils or Styrofoam plates that most of the time are not recyclable and can actually be harmful to the environment. If you don’t have enough of the same matching plates and silverware you could use the regular stuff for the kids table that way you don’t have to worry about the fancy stuff and kids usually don’t judge how pretty their plate looks. Use cloth napkins and repurpose those mason jars as flower vases or beeswax candle holders. Get creative and make some personal decorations. You can create your own potpourri by simply using cinnamon sticks and dried berries. My kids love making crafts and the family loves seeing what their works of art; my personal favorite is the traced hand turkey.
Over indulging is easy to do and something I am guilty of at every holiday meal, but food waste is one thing that can easily be avoided. Instead of stacking as much on your plate as possible start with small portions, it is easy to make a second trip and you are also less likely to consume as many calories. Try to make platters smaller so there is less leftover and not as much temptation to eat so much. I tend to drink water instead of soda as much as possible but it is easy to put more water in my glass then I consume. Any easy way to avoid water waste is to let guest refill their glass as needed and don’t worry about refilling when the glass is half full, or if there ends up being extra use it to water your plants.
Since we are putting smaller portions on our plate it is very likely we will end up with leftovers so try asking your guest to bring to-go containers and that way it doesn’t all end up in your fridge and thrown away because you can’t eat it all before it spoils. Being prepared with to-go containers will make you less likely to use saran wrap, Ziplocs, or a paper plate to send food home. If your family is anything like mine we always have a ton of desserts that we could not eat if we tried. A solution to this may be to plan accordingly so there are not as many made or give it to a neighbor, take it to work or even throw a dessert party for your kids’ friends.
Last comes the dreaded clean up. There are easy steps to take to reduce waste when cleaning up. First uses rags instead of paper towels and sponges and then hang them to dry after use. Turn the water off between wiping down counters and adding dish soap. In my home I try to use environmentally friendly cleaning products which are pretty easy to find and use much less harmful chemicals. Your guest can even get in on the action by properly disposing their waste into different containers that are marked recyclable or trash. Compost the food scraps like vegetable peels and eggshells which can be turned into garden soils. If composting is not an option check out different ways to use the remains for new meals like using vegetable scraps and the turkey carcass to make stock or soups by boiling them down. Leftover break crust or rolls can be used to make croutons for salads later in the week.
We would like everyone to have a wonderful Thanksgiving and try to keep in mind what we are thankful for and what is the most important, our family, friends and the earth we live on. Let’s all do our part to make sure that they are all preserved for years to come by doing all we can to keep it green.
Happy Thanksgiving from your SEPCO Family.
11/11/14 9:30 AM
As a Veteran Owned Business all of us here at SEPCO would like to wish a Happy Veterans Day to every soldier, past, present & future, for their service for our Freedom. Our real heroes are the American soldiers and their families and we all owe a never-ending debt of gratitude to them both for their service and the sacrifices that they have made.
Happy Veterans Day: a day of remembrance and gratitude that should be honored year-round!
10/28/14 9:30 AM
Who said Halloween has to be all orange and black? With a little do-it-yourself work and imagination, All Hallows' Eve can go green, too. Like any holiday, Halloween offers an opportunity to go green without sacrificing an ounce of festive fun. Going green for Halloween is also a nice way to cut down on spending, as the average American is projected to spend over $75 toward the October 31st festivities.
Going green is actually much easier than some may think. Making your own costume has to be one of the easiest things we can don not to mention it will probably save you some green as well. Another thing to think about with that wonderful store bought costume is how they are made. The truth is many store-bought costumes and accessories contain toxic chemicals that not only are a potential hazard to your child, but also to the environment and the people who helped to make them. Choose fabrics such as cotton, wool and silk or make costumes yourself from materials you know to be safe. Use some of those old clothes in the back of the closet or shop a local thrift store and make something unique that only you will have no copy cats here. You are able to get creative this way and who doesn’t love a little arts and craft project. I don’t know about you but Pinterest is one of my go to places when I need a little inspiration.
The next easiest item to do for a green Halloween is easy. Back when I was young we used pillow cases to collect our candy, cheap and always available. Once again you are not spending money on a plastic pumpkin that usually only last about half way through trick or treating before it breaks but you are keeping the potentially toxic plastics away from our children and the landfill. Pillow cases can be fun since they too can also be decorated and made your own and you can pick some extras up while you are at the thrift store getting your costume supplies. If you don’t want to use an old pillowcase a reusable grocery bag would do the trick as well.
When decorating there are so many options to help with a green Halloween, these are just a few but there are always more. LED lights are the easiest solution for saving energy this holiday. Even though some may not decorate as much as they would for Christmas the decorations are getting more and more elaborate each year. I can even say I have added more to my collection this year. Don’t forget the pathway lights that can be solar powered and you can even choose from a wide variety of colors to match your theme. There are companies that specialize in eco-friendly decorations vs. the “made in China” plastic ones sold at most convenience stores. Did you ever wonder what you might be able to do with those old stockings that have the runs in them, how about turning them into spider webbing? When you receive a package go ahead and save those boxes and cut them into tombstones and you can always paint the packing peanuts to make them look like worms. I use paint sticks glued to the back to my tombstones to hold them up. Even better if you have the storage and are a crafty wood worker grab some plywood and cut the graves from that and they will be able to be used for years to come.
Let’s not forget about one of the most important symbols the pumpkins we get to carve. The first thing you should do is buy pumpkins from local farms or farmers markets. Even better, grow your own, what kid doesn’t love to watch something they planted grow. Something I just learned this year is that if you dunk your perfectly carved pumpkin in vinegar it actually preserves them longer so no need to worry about the sloppy mess that can be left after Halloween. Also those solar lights you picked up can be used to make the inside of your pumpkins glow, no need to worry about lighting a candle. Don’t forget when it is time to get rid of your pumpkins use them as compost. If you choose to paint your pumpkin instead of carving it cut it open when all the festivities and consider using it to make pumpkin pies, bread or even muffins, what a great prep for Thanksgiving. My favorite is roasting the yummy pumpkin seeds as a treat. A little sea salt or honey will make a treat both you and your kids can enjoy. Last who could forget the candy? As with most food these days the easiest solution to going green with candy is to buy organic and also chocolates that are fair grade certified. Many times you can find homemade candy at local farmers markets which helps the local economy and is not only usually better quality but tends to have much less packaging to worry about.
Speaking of packaging, try your best to buy the candies with the least amount therefore creating less waste, there is even some that is made of recyclable material. There is no way to avoid taking home some packaging so a great idea for these would be to get creative. You can make picture frames, purses, jewelry and more, if it can be done with duct tape why not candy wrappers. To help create less waste try handing out only 1 piece of candy per kid vs. a whole handful. Every kid loves tattoos, bubbles and even that loose change that you have lying around why not pass these out instead of the candy. While it may not be the most popular item in the candy bag an apple is great or healthy snacks are also an option. Not only will this make you feel better about what the kids are getting, many times it is easier on your wallet as well. Halloween is meant to be enjoyed, but somewhere in between “planning” and “cleanup,” many parents find themselves feeling overwhelmed. It might seem that attempting to consider the Earth while planning a great ghoulish party is just too much work and way too expensive. Some fear it might even zap the fun right out of the day. But creating an eco-savvy Halloween doesn’t have to be scary, nor does it have to cost an arm and a leg so go out and enjoy the night.
7/1/14 9:30 AM
Going green is great to do every day of the year but with the 4th of July being a popular holiday for friends and family to celebrate with picnics, fireworks and maybe even a pool party these are some ways to think about doing it.
First things first, when it comes to picnics the easiest thing to do is instead of using all those disposable plates, cups and utensils opt for a more eco-friendly option They may be convenient for party guest but they are not so great for the planet. The best solution to this would be to use normal tableware that can be washed and reused. If you must go the disposable route try to clean them up after use. Another option would be to shop for biodegradable tableware. These sometimes cost a little extra but leaving a cleaner environment for our future is worth the extra pennies. If you are using water bottles instead of plastic cups be sure to opt for reusable bottles instead of the usual bottled water from the local store. If you do use them be sure to recycle them instead of just tossing them in the regular garbage. Speaking of reusable try to use reusable bags to bring all those dishes and food to the party, don’t forget them when you go to the store to buy your supplies either.
The next thing seems like an easy and obvious idea but try to eat organic and buy local. This helps because organic food does not use pesticides which in turn leave fewer chemicals in the air, water and our bodies. By buying locally you know that your food has not been altered to preserve it and also has not had to be trucked across the U.S to be delivered to the local grocery store, not to mention is supports the local economy. In fact if the entire U.S were to eat vegetarian for 1 day it would save an estimated 100 billion gallons of water and 70 million gallons of gas. We are not saying do not eat meat but if you do make sure you buy genuine grass-fed beef which is not loaded with antibiotics and is easier to digest. Don’t forget to buy some organic beer as well and bring out the juicer for the kids.
The third item on the list is how we are going to cook all of the food for the party. When I first thought about this I thought the obvious answer was to use charcoal, but after doing some research the better option is actually propane. This is because charcoal is usually made from mesquite trees that have to be cut down contributing to deforestation and also using of fuel for transport. Charcoal also releases more CO2 into the air; it is actually almost 3 times more than propane. As always with propane make sure you choose the trade-in option which will allow you to exchange your empty tank for a new one and usually will get you a discount. If you would still rather use the charcoal for the flavor aspect look for a sustainably-produced briquette which are made from industrial scrap wood or are produced using clean-energy turbines. Did you know that if you rub the racks of your grill with onion it actually helps food to not stick better than that chemical spray that most of us use? No matter which form of cooking you are using try to cook as much food as possible at once since this will make it more efficient not to mention you will be able to spend more time with friends and less time standing over a hot grill.
Who could forget the best part of the 4th of July, the fireworks? Now we could go on and on about how fireworks leave many things in the air that pollute the environment but let’s be realistic this is the one thing we look forward to when we think of Independence Day. A way to help make less impact of those 4th of July fireworks is to go in groups to a local fireworks show and not buy your own to shoot off at home. Not only can this be dangerous but if every household were to shoot off their own it would be that much more smoke and chemicals being released. If you would still rather stay home there are some companies making perchlorate-free fireworks or you could use sky orbs. Sky Orbs can be lit at night and an added perk is that they are biodegradable. Speaking of going in a group if you were to car pool to the show you would help by only using one or two car versus everyone driving individually.
Our last recommendation is to basically just get outside. Being outside helps reduce the use of electricity and also lets you just enjoy mother nature. Use the available day light for the start of your party and the cooking part then when nightfall comes and the bugs start to come out opt for a green solution for bug repellent. There are plenty of Eco-friendly bug repellents on the market and you could even make you own. An easy recipe for your own repellent is a combination of a few essential oils like lavender, mint, lemongrass and even basil. Mix the oils with either an oil, like coconut oil for oil based repellent and alcohol or witch hazel for water base one. As far as keeping the area around you bug free grow plants like marigolds, lemon basil, or catnip. Buy soy based candles instead of the regular paraffin ones at most stores. During the day don’t forget the sunscreen and try to pick out a brand that is Eco-friendly or cover up as much as possible. If you want to take a dip to cool off try to find a natural body of water like a beach or a nearby lake versus going to a pool, which uses a lot of water. Decorate with natural items like flowers or string some berries. Also try to save whatever decorations you can so they can used again next year.
While I could go on with this list I will stop here. The most important part of this holiday is to remember why we celebrate and share it with friends and family and do your part to make sure that the generations to come can do so as well. We here at SEPCO would like to thank all of our veteran and current military as well as wish everyone a happy and safe 4th of July.
4/24/14 9:30 AM
Friday is the 135th Arbor Day, a time to do something as simple as plant a tree to celebrate. Trees provide clean air by trapping carbon from the atmosphere and storing it. Trees also add shade, fruit and can be a focal point of a landscape project. Here are five things you can do to get involved.
1 Visit your local nursery and pick out something new for your yard. With so many choices available, you can pick something that is beautiful such as a jacaranda tree to something that is fruit bearing that you can harvest and enjoy. Or you can just get a tree that will stay green, no matter what time of year it is or something that will change to a beautiful rainbow to enjoy every fall. No matter what your preference is, your local nursery will have just the perfect tree available for you.
2 Volunteer at a tree planting event or get involved in local community event. From community beautification projects to working on a community garden, there are tons of ways for you to get involved in planting trees or vegetation to make the world a little greener.
3 Talk to your local government, school or green group and find out what local activities are happening or get one of your own started. Schools love getting their classes involved and teaching new ideas and lessons to their students. Local government offices can help you get involved in a local park or set you up with the correct people to make change happen.
4 Get your family involved by teaching them about the importance of making the world a little greener, set up a recycling program at home, plating a garden for you to enjoy year around and so many other ideas. Check out Nature Explore for some great information and resources on getting your family involved and activities going on near you.
5 Maybe you live in a city, far from nature. Go out and spend a day in nature by taking a hike, visiting a local park for a picnic, swimming at a local lake or at the beach, etc. There are so many things you can do go enjoy nature even when you live in a concrete forest.
For some more tips and ideas check out the Arbor Day Celebration Guidebook for great ideas and tons of other useful information. So what are you going to do for this Arbor Day?
“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not” – Dr. Seuss, The Lorax