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SEPCO's blog on all things renewable and green

Go Green for the 4th of July

Posted by SEPCO

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.

green_4th_uncle_sam

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.

green_utensils

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.

sky_orbs

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.

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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.

 

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Topics: Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Holiday, Conservation

5 Tips on Celebrating Arbor Day 2014

Posted by SEPCO

4/24/14 9:30 AM

Arbor_Day_2014

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

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Topics: Green Ideas, Fun Green Articles, Holiday, Green Websites

Earth Day 2014: Show Your Support for the Earth

Posted by SEPCO

4/22/14 9:30 AM

Earth_Day_2014

It is Earth Day! Definitely one of my favorite holidays of the year. What are you doing to show your support for our Earth? Here is some great information on the history of Earth Day and what you can do to support your local community.

History of Earth Day

Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day in 1970 to help bring about awareness of environmental issues that were occurring daily. He was inspired by the student anti-war movement and wanted to reach people in the same way to make them aware of air and water pollution. This movement led to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts. Earth Day took off from day one growing larger and larger with every year, and the fight still continues today. Read more about the history of Earth Day.

Getting Involved

Earth Day’s website provides some great resources to help you get involved. There is information on getting your school or organization involved in making a difference. You can get more information by visiting their website for resources or check out their events page to find something going on in your area. Even if you can’t get involved in a local group project, you can always do something on your own. Take your family on a walk and pick up the trash along the way or plant something or find something old and upcycle it into something new. So many thing can be done and you can have a blast doing them.

 

 

So what can you do for today, Earth Day 2014? 

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Topics: Green Ideas, Holiday, Green Websites

5 Green Gift Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Posted by SEPCO

2/11/14 9:30 AM

Last year we wrote about how to have a green outdoor Valentine’s day. This year I thought we could look at some great gift ideas that are not only environmentally friendly, but will show your loved one how much you care. Best of all, they will last much longer than chocolate and flowers.

1. Solar Charger

SolarCharger

Giving a solar charger is a great way to provide something we all need at one point or another, but with a renewable twist. Solar chargers can keep all our electronics charged up so we can stay in contact with our loved ones and also provide a power source for those middle-of-nowhere dates.

2. Terrarium

Terrarium

Terrariums are a great way to bring the outdoors indoors. They range in size and do not require a lot of care to keep alive. You can either make one yourself or purchase one with a personal touch. Either way, it will last a long time reminding them of you.

3. Reusable Cup or Bottle

WaterBottle

I can’t live without my coffee and I use a reusable bottle or cup to keep my coffee by my side at all times. Give your love a personalized bottle to remind them of you when they are on the move. My favorite are the aluminum and stainless steel bottles.

4. Upcycle Something

Upcycle

Find something that may mean a lot to both of you and upcycle it into something new. I found a tutorial on how to make coasters out of beer boxes, tiles and cork. There are thousands of tutorials online and Pinterest is one of my favorite places to get some amazing ideas.

5. Organic Just About Anything

Organic

You can get just about anything organic today. From cotton sheets, bathrobes, food, etc. there is so much you can do to be not only environmentally friendly, but show that you are interested in their health as well. 

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Topics: Fun Green Articles, Holiday

Happy New Year! What is Your Green Resolution?

Posted by SEPCO

1/2/14 9:30 AM

Welcome to 2014!

 

Green_Resolution

Resolutions are typically what everyone is talking about after the New Year. I am going to exercise more, eat better, spend more time with the family, etc. But what about resolutions for making the world a little greener? Is there anything you can add to your list of resolutions that will improve our planet? Here are a few that maybe you can think of implementing in 2014.

Ban the Bag

I hate it when I go to the store and forget my green bags at home. This year I am going to make a conscious effort to always have green bags on me and you can too. Keep a couple in your car at all times, even if you aren’t planning on going shopping. I even keep small ones in my purse for those smaller purchases. And you can find green bags just about everywhere and you don’t have to have one from each store, just as long as you use them when you go to the store.

Start a Garden

This one can range from a small container garden to overtaking your lawn into a huge garden. Grow something from a bunch of herbs to all the produce you could eat. With spring just around the corner, you can start building your garden now by planning and setting it up. When spring arrives, check out your local zoning and find what grows best where you live and what you love to eat. Do what you can to get the healthiest produce ever by purchasing heirloom seeds and stay as organic as you possibly can.

Stay Local

Make a conscious effort to purchase your needs and wants from a local small business. This can have a huge impact on your local economy since local businesses support your community organizations, create more jobs, give better service, and so much more. It also reduced your impact on the environment as it lowers transportation and creates less congestion. To find out more, visit Sustainable Connections and see what other benefits there might be to staying local.

Buy Reusable Items

Instead of purchasing throw away items, make a resolution to work toward replacing them with reusable materials. Paper towels are my favorite example. Instead of purchasing bunch of rolls for $8, spend that money on some microfiber or bar cloths. These are inexpensive and can just be thrown in the laundry to be reused. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few things that are just yuck and a paper towel is perfect. I still buy them, but I only use them when in dire need and therefore go through only a few sheets per week at most. I’m sure there are more things you can find to replace.

Green Power

Make a switch to green power if possible. Can you afford to install some solar panels on your roof? What about switching your lights to LEDs and upgrading to Energy Star appliances to lower your overall electrical usage to make using solar power more feasible in the near future. There is also many other options available if solar power is your end goal. Check out 1 Block Off The Grid for some great information.

By working together, we can have a great year while lowering our impact on the environment. What is your green resolution? Share with us below!

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Topics: Green Ideas, Holiday, Conservation, Recycling

Happy New Year 2014

Posted by SEPCO

12/31/13 9:30 AM

Just saving the earth a little more and sending out a quick ecard on our blog to wish you all a Happy New Year!
Happy_New_Year
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Topics: Holiday

What To Do With All That Holiday Waste

Posted by SEPCO

12/26/13 9:30 AM

Holiday-Waste

Okay, the holidays are over with. All that is left is cleaning up and then comes the New Year. So what do you do with all this stuff? Between packaging, wrapping paper, leftover food and your pile of stuff, there is so much to go through and so much waste. How can you get rid of all this waste without being wasteful? Well there was an article on reducing waste last year, but let’s push a little further beyond these suggestions.

 

Reduce – Oh we all know the three R’s to lower our impact on the earth, but they are such good ideas why not keep bringing them up. Reducing your consumption is always brought up early on in the holiday season, even though ads tell you to buy out everything. But what about after the holidays, what can you do to reduce? Quite a bit actually! Reduce your waste by recycling (see below), reduce your electric usage by lowering your thermostat now that you aren’t entertaining and can throw on an extra sweater and reduce waste by composting your organic material.

 

Reuse – Yeah, here’s one of the others that gets jammed down our throats year after year. But it makes sense. Reuse what you can. Got a huge box that was wrapped with large pieces of wrapping paper? Can you fold the wrapping paper and store it for a small gift next year? What about using the box to help pack up your old stuff for donations? Same goes with the leftovers. Make something new. Make turkey burger sliders with mashed potatoes and gravy on top? Or turning that real tree into fire wood for your fire pit outside? So many things can be turned into something else with just a little creativity.

 

Recycle – Well this just seems to keep coming around. But you can’t control what others do. Therefore, Aunt Jane who keeps purchasing the new and improved trinket that comes packed in 15 layers of packaging material that only about 1% of it is recyclable will probably get you the same type of gift no matter how much you plead different. So what do you do? Don’t be like me and just smile, say thank you and stick all that stuff in the garage for years to come. Make something with it. Use it till it can’t be used any more. And recycle what you can. I have four recycle bins and one trash can at home…can you guess what is the most full every week?

After all is said and done, now is the time to relax while you wait for the New Year to come around next week. Happy holidays to everyone and we will see you after the New Year!

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Topics: Holiday

Merry Christmas 2013

Posted by SEPCO

12/24/13 9:30 AM

Just saving the earth a little more and sending out a quick ecard on our blog to wish you all a Very Merry Christmas!
Merry_Christmas
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Topics: Holiday

12 Tips to Make Your Holiday A Little Greener

Posted by SEPCO

12/12/13 9:30 AM

Green_HolidayThere are many things that we can do on our day to day to reduce our consumption on the environment, but all seems to get lost in the holidays. I wanted to give you 12 fun tips to make your holiday a little greener and still be festive.

1. Make Your Own Gifts

Pinterest has thousands of ideas on different make your own gift ideas. You can reuse items around your house, such as jars for mixes, and provide a more thoughtful gift than anything you can buy at the store. Imagine all the green your wallet will be saving.

2. Use a Living Tree

Using a live tree not only helps the environment of your home by not dying and making a complete mess, but it also helps the environment of the earth as you can plant the tree after the holidays and then use it as an outdoor decoration for years to come. Also, imagine the shade in the summer months.

3. Wrap Gifts in Reusable Materials

My favorite is gift bags and boxes since they can be reused year after year, and when they finally fall apart, recycle them. You can also use fabric you have around your house or purchase scraps from a local fabric store. If you are crafty, you can make your own reusable bags and such, or even purchase them online from reuseit.com.

4. Gift Someone a Plant

Gardens are popping up everywhere you look now, either in containers or full on yards. If you have someone on your list that is thinking of starting a garden, give them seeds or even a live plant to get them started. Do they have an established garden? Maybe give them something exotic or new to try.

5. Make a Terrarium

Maybe your friend doesn’t have a green thumb, but you’d like to give them a piece of the outdoors for their indoors. Give the gift of a terrarium. You can either purchase these or make them if you are crafty. Best thing is, they are typically fully self-sustaining and require no upkeep.

6. Use Plantable Cards

They now make cards that you can plant…seriously. These are amazing. You send your card and the receiver can plant the card in the ground and watch it sprout into something beautiful. What an amazing concept. There are a ton of companies doing this now so here is a quick Google search done for you already.

7. Light Up With LEDs

LED string lights use a lot less energy than string lights of the past. They also provide a much brighter light than before. But don’t forget to turn them off when no one is around to see their beauty shine.

8. Donate to a Local Shelter

Donate all your older toys and clothes that you grew out of to those who need them most. This will give new life to unused items around your house, put a smile on someone's face and a warm spot in your heart.

9. Give to a Charity

Don’t know what to get that hard to gift person? Give to a charity on their behalf. There are thousands of charities that can use your help.

10. Gift Your Time

Instead of giving a gift to someone, give a favor. Maybe they need help doing something during the year. Or maybe they need something done that only you can do. What special talents do you have and can you give away your time?

11. Make Your Own Decorations

Make something out of nothing and decorate your home with them. Paint a nice holiday saying on a scrap piece of wood. Use branches around your home to hold a cluster of ornaments. I did a quick Pinterest search for you to get your creative juices flowing.

12. Stay Local and Small

Purchase your produce from the local produce stand. Go to small businesses for any gifts you purchase. Keeping your purchases to local and small businesses will help those most in the end.

I hope you enjoyed these tips. Please feel free to comment below with your additional tips that we may have missed. And as always, we here at SEPCO would like to wish you a wonderful holiday season!

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Topics: Green Ideas, Holiday

Wishing You a Wonderful Thanksgiving

Posted by SEPCO

11/28/13 8:30 AM

We here at SEPCO would like to wish you a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving.

  • Looking for a way to help the needy, check out DoSomething
  • Looking for something to laugh at, check out BuzzFeed or check out a few videos I put together (I'm sure you can find more to add, so please let me know what you find)
  • Looking for overall inspirations, check out Pinterest and Tumblr for lots of great ideas.

In the end, have a wonderful day with friends and family! 

Happy-Thanksgiving

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Topics: Holiday

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