Condo Blues: Challenges
Showing posts with label Challenges. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Challenges. Show all posts

Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to Make Candles out of Cheese Wax

Husband and I had a pile of Mini Babybel Cheese wax wrappers on our kitchen counter. We got them as free samples at a local event.

People passing out free cheese samples
 is Blitzkrieg's idea of heaven.

Sometimes Husband and I accept swag (known in the PR buiz as Stuff We All Get) only if it's something we think will be useful to us. Otherwise, it clutters up our tiny house. Can I interest anyone in a junk drawer full of freebie pens?

In this case, the item was useful because it was food. The wrapper? Not so much until Husband challenged me to find a creative reuse for cheese wax.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I Greened My SunScreen

I gave up trying to get sun tan years ago because my pale faced Scandinavian skin makes me burn like a vampire in the sun.


I got a sunburn by sitting too close to a sunny window at work once, OK?

My New Year’s Resolution for 2010 is to green my health and beauty aids so I switched to a zinc-based sunscreen.

I bought Alba Botanica. Alba scores a 2-3 on the Skin Deep Database for safety. There are other sunscreens that score better for safety but they are much more expensive and most are only available on line. I go through so much sunscreen I wanted to find something I can buy locally when I run out. Price is also important because I buy a lot of sunscreen during the summer.

So far, I like the protection Alba offers. My only negative is that it’s thicker than my old chemical based sunscreen and takes a bit more time and effort to rub it in completely so my skin does not look whiter and more ghostlike than it already is.

The big test was when I marched in a parade. I slathered on one coat of Alba sunscreen and let it dry. I hoped it would protect me because I knew I wouldn’t have time to reapply sunscreen throughout the day. Even if I could, the last thing I needed was to make my hands slippery with sunscreen because I was twirling a flag in the parade.

After a full day in the sun, I came home hot and tired. To my delight I didn't find a sunburn on my face, arms, or legs. Yay! I jumped in shower. For some reason my head hurt when I shampooed my hair.


I got a sunburn on the part in my hair!

Sunburn on my head.

I never though of putting sunscreen there!

Yes, I got a sunburn on my scalp.

File this one under “these things only happen to me.”

Next time I am wearing a hat.

Do you have a strange sunburn stories or am I the only one?

Reminder: Help me Win my Dream Job!

I've been selected as a finalist for the Salada Green Tea Spokesperson contest. Your vote will help Salada pick the winner. Please vote for me Lisa Nelsen-Woods and help me win my dream job promoting green living and healthy eating on a budget. You may vote once a day, every day from now until the contest ends on August 1st.

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Disclosure: I bought the sunscreen with my own money. Alba did not pay me to say nice things about their product nor are they responsible for my sunburned head because I'm an idiot. This post includes an affliate link. If you choose to purchase an item I will recieve a small commission at no extra cost to you. This will help me with my goal of making Condo Blues a self hosted blog.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Using Recycled Toiled Paper Take One

July’s One Small Green Change is one place I thought I’d never go – switching to a toilet paper made from recycled fiber. Now before you get all grossed out let me clarify a common misconception about recycled toilet paper. They make recycled toilet paper from the type of paper and fiber you normally put into your household recycling bin. They do not make it from used toilet paper because:

  1. Ugh! Gross!
  2. Think about it, how would they reclaim the paper once you’ve flushed it and it broke down in your city’s sewer system?
  3. Ugh! Gross!

Moving on.

Why buy toilet paper with recycled content? According to Time magazine, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) “estimates that if every household in the U.S. replaced just one 500-sheet roll of virgin-fiber TP a year with a roll made from 100% recycled paper, nearly 425,000 trees would be saved annually.”

That’s a lot of trees!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

My No Impact Day Experiment Sucked

 The sky went dark as if turning off a light switch.

The rains came suddenly. BOOISH!

The thunder. CAR-RACK!

The lights went out.

“WHIRRR-EEEEEEEEE!” The nearby tornado siren screamed.

Husband, Blitzkrieg, and I holed up in the laundry room – our safe room since we do not have a basement.

Blitzkrieg knows my Blackberry takes pictures and he barked until I took his photo as we waited for the all clear. Even in a crisis, my dog is a diva and comic relief.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to Recycle Plastic Makeup Tubes and Containers

I’ve been making one small environmentally friendly change each month from January to Earth Day as part of the One Small Green Change Challenge. So far I have:

All of the changes were easy to implement and have stuck, with the exception of the humidifier because we aren’t running the furnace anymore. That’s a seasonal change.

I have to admit, after doing my 20% Energy Reduction Challenge and tackling some of the more common green changes like switching to reusable shopping bags and resuable water bottles  (well not really switching, more like trying to use them more often), and using cloth table cloths and napkins. I didn’t think there were a lot of changes I could make other than the big, expensive ones like buying a hybrid car.

The One Small Green Change Challenge changed my thinking because I started to look at those little things that I knew I should switch out like that flaking Teflon griddle but didn’t because it’s easier to not use it and stick in back into the cupboard.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Six Ways to Use Leftover Shampoo

As part of my Spring cleaning I decided to use all those little sample and travel bottles of toiletries that have been cluttering up my linen closet. Now I’m only stuck with a couple of bottles of shampoo that are full of parabins. I don’t want to donate these items to a shelter because I think it’s hypocritical to pawn it off on someone else if I don’t think it’s not such a great thing to use on myself - whether they care about avoiding parabens in their products or not.

What’s a Parabin and Why Avoid Parabens?

Parbins are basically a type of preservative. They are used in cosmetics and personal care products to keep fungus and bacteria from growing in the product. There are several types of parabens, the most common are methylparaben, probylparaben and butylparaben. Isobutylparaben, isopropylparaben, benzylparaben and their sodium salts are also parabens but they aren’t as commonly used as the first set.

You may want to avoid parabens because while studying the effects of estrogen hormone replacement therapy (HRT) in women, researchers established a connection between estrogen and breast cancer. They found that parabins can act like the hormone estrogen. This is what they mean when they call parabens an endocrine disruptor - because they can interfere with the body’s natural hormone production of estrogen.

To be fair there are quite a few studies that say parbins are safe to use because the estrogen activity in parabins is weak compared to levels of estrogen used in hormone replacement therapy.  Even more so if the paraben is in a product where you apply it and then rinse the product off of the body, like a shampoo or conditioner.

Still after experiencing this

40, 000 people participated in the 2009 Komen Columbus Race for the Cure - including us

and knowing several women who have fought, and some who have sadly lost, the battle with breast cancer parabins are something I want to avoid when and were I can. And no, I’m not going to shove the paraben filled shampoo off on Husband because men can get breast cancer too.

I don’t want to use my parabin filled shampoo, I don’t want to give it way, but pouring it down the sink would be a waste. What do to? I put on a pair of rubber gloves and found six ways to reuse old shampoo.

  1. To wash delicates. I’ve always used shampoo to hand wash nylons and lingerie that’s too delicate for the washing machine. 
  2. For cleaning. Use it to scrub the tub, shower, or toilet. Add some baking soda to it if you need a little more oomph to tackle a bathtub ring. 
  3.  As a laundry stain fighter. Shampoos are designed to remove the oil and dirt from your hair and are the perfect stain fighter, espically perspiration or ring around the collar stains. Pour a little on the stain and scrub with an old toothbrush before popping it in the wash. 
  4. To wash makeup brushes. Especially if they are brushes made with natural bristles. 
  5. To wash wool. Shampoo works just as well or better than Woolite when hand washing wool sweaters.
  6. To wash combs and brushes. Soaking combs and brushes in a mixture of water and shampoo removes built up product. Be sure to rinse the items thoroughly when finished.

Warming: Do NOT use people shampoo on dogs or cats. The ph of pet skin and fur is different than humans. Human shampoo strips their fur of their essential oils and can dry out pet skin. If you have any questions please check with your vet.

Do you have any ways to use leftover shampoo? Help me out here; I used up my few little bottles of travel shampoo but I have a half a big bottle of nonparabin tea tree oil shampoo I can’t use because it makes my scalp break out into a rash. I could use some more ideas. Thanks!

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This post is part of the Get the Junk Out! Carnival where the topic is parabens hosted by Mindful Momma.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Telephone Book Wreath

I have a bunch of telephone books lying around the house. I don’t know how this happens - we don’t have a land line! We’re a cell phone as home phone family.

I figure I could do one of two things with those phone books.

  1. Complain about them – which isn’t very productive and not really worth the energy.
  2. Find a way to use them - beyond the obvious because that's why Al Gore invented Internet - so we could use it to look up telephone numbers :)
I wanted a new wreath for the door to celebrate spring. I had a wreath form from a failed project. "What if I married my telephone books and my wreath form it would be the perfect project to enter in Dollar Store Crafts April Stash Bust Challenge?" says I. Not to mention it's an ultra cheap - and green! - way to get a new door decoration because I’m using what I already have on hand.

*Enter the Condo Blues Whammy*

I opened the wreath storage bag and found this.

Once upon a time this was all in one piece.


Looks like I lost of the Stash Bust Challenge even before I started. *Sad face*

I decided to try to piece the form back together. If I got something workable I’d move on from there. If not, I’d ditch it and hop on down to the store and buy a new wreath form.

I removed the Christmas balls with a pair of needle nose pliers and put them aside for another day.

Can this wreath be saved?

I snapped the tops off of some plastic forks that have been wallowing in the utility closet so long they are practically family heirlooms. I used them as supports to hot glue the form back together.

Trash or treasure to be?

I cut a piece of leftover cardboard from I don’t-know-what to the size of the frame to stabilize it. I attached the cardboard to the chewed up side of the Styrofoam with hot glue and floral tape. I think the floral tape might be from when I did the flowers for Christina from A Mommy’s Story’s wedding. I hot glued the floral tape into place because it wasn’t sticky anymore. I also made a note to use more of this stuff up because the floral tape has to be a least 6 years old – older than Christina’s kids.

I ripped the white pages from the telephone book into approximately one inch strips. I used the business white pages because I wanted black and white paper. I tried to rip down the telephone number columns of the page for privacy’s sake.

 I shredded the leftover paper scraps and put them in my compost bin.

I used by very good friend Modge Podge to attach the paper strips to the wreath form and let it dry over night. The Modge Podge will also protect the paper from the elements. The Modge Podge is leftover from my books as wallpaper bathroom remodel. Is it just me or is this post playing out like an episode of Horders? Yipe!

Modge Podge rules!

I painted an empty toilet paper tube orange as an homage to How about orange… and let it dry overnight too.

Orange you going to say it's pretty?

The next morning, I smashed the toilet paper roll tube flat and cut it with scissors.

 I eyeballed the cuts 'cuz I'm a rebel.

I hot glued the leaf shaped rings to the wreath form and added some scrap ribbon to the back as a hanger upper thingie.

The finished wreath!

TA DA! My telephone book and paper tube wreath idea actually worked! Yay me!

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Why Use Cast Iron Griddle?

Husband and I had a Teflon coated griddle an old roommate left behind after moving out. Of course using what you have, especially if it is second hand, is green and saves money. However, neither of us were too crazy about the nonstick coating on the griddle. Especially now that the coating is starting to flake off.

April’s One Small Green Change is replacing the last of our Teflon coated pans with a round cast iron griddle. I’m pretty happy with the shape because it fits on the stove burners better than the old square griddle – no cold spots on the cooking surface anymore. My cast iron griddle came preseasoned and started life with nonstick qualities, cast iron retains heat more evenly, and even though it's Calaphon, it wasn’t very expensive at all. In fact, I bought our new cast iron griddle at Target. The more I use it, the more I fall in love with cast iron.

The only drawback is that I can’t put the cast iron griddle in the dishwasher. Since the rest of our pots and pans are stainless steel and can go in the dishwasher, I can live with cleaning cast iron by hand  even though I hate hand washing dishes.

The thing makes a darn fine pumpkin pancake too.

Why Not Use Teflon?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Five Unusual Ways to Keep Warm in a Cold House

Welcome Weather Channel viewers! This morning I did another 58 Degree Challenge interview on The Weather Channel. I talked about how my family stays toasty warm in snowy Ohio with our daytime thermostat set at 58 degrees (F). Here are five ways we stay warm in a cold house.

1. Dress in layers. Sweaters are good but fleece layered over another long sleeved shirt is my favorite. I must have ice water running through my veins because I get cold more easily than Husband. I sometimes wear long underwear under my clothes too. Not only at home but sometimes in cold office buildings. Because like I said before, I get cold easily.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Expensive Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Can Sill You Save Money

Welcome Columbus Dispatch readers! Today The Columbus Dispatch wrote an article about me "Energy Audit First Step to Cutting Utility Bills" in today's paper about how I save money by reducing my use of electricity and natural gas use.

One way I saved electricity is to change the energy hogging incandescent light bulbs in my house to a combination of electricity sipping halogen, compact florescent (CFL), and energy saving incandescent light bulbs.

CFLs come in (from left to right) soft light, bright white, and daylight varieties just like incandescent light bulbs

According to Energy Star, lighting accounts for up to 20% of the average home’s electric bill. That being the case, if you switch at least 25% of the incandescent light bulbs you use most often in your home to energy efficient light bulbs you can slice a serious chunk off of the amount of electricity you currently use to light your home.

You can further reduce your electricity use by opening the curtains and using natural light to light rooms as much as possible. You can even try using the One Person One Light Rule: turn on only one light for every person that is in the room. This isn’t always practical but it might make you think a little bit more about turning on all of the lights in a room when only one or two will do the job just as well.

Lazy environmentalism. Just the way I like it.

For giggles, I counted the number of light bulbs in my house so I could calculate my current household percentage of energy efficient light bulbs before The Great Light Bulb Switch Out I made during my 20% Energy Reduction Challenge in 2008.

I have 58 light bulbs in my house.

Before the Great Light Bulb Switch Out, twenty five of those light bulbs were some form of energy efficient light bulb: a combination of fluorescent, compact florescent, halogen, and Verilux Full Spectrum incandescent light bulbs. The Verilux light bulbs are the most expensive light bulb I have in my house. They are supposed to use less energy than a traditional incandescent light bulb and show colors more accurately than standard incandescent light bulbs. They are also supposed to help combat the winter blues during gray Ohio winter days because they emit full spectrum light. More importantly, I got them on sale, which is why I decided to give them a try.

Now that I have the numbers, was my percentage of  light bulbs in my home were energy efficient?

25 energy efficient light bulbs divided by 58 total household light bulbs = 43% of the light bulbs in my house were energy efficient.


And yet 43% of energy efficient lighting goodness wasn’t reflected on my not-yet-lower electric bill.

I wanted immediate energy saving results. I decided that I did not want to wait until each incandescent light bulb burned out to replace it with a CLF, although you can certainly do so, actually, I recommend it. A couple of times since I made the switch, I’ve walked into a room, flipped the lights and all of the light bulbs have burnt out at the same time, leaving me fumbling in the dark. Because, you guessed it, I switched all of the light bulbs in that room over at the same time in that room instead of waiting until each bulb burned out on its own before I replaced it with a CFL. Don’t be me.

I made the financial hit a little less by buying one three pack of CFLs every time I go grocery shopping. It took a little longer to do the switchover, but at least I didn’t have to shell out the money for 33 new CFLs all at once, which was around $200.

I bought the majority of the new CFLs at Aldi and Dollar General because they were less expensive than buying so many CFLs at the home improvement store. I picked up some store brand bulbs at Meijer too. The cheaper CFLs are working and lasting just as long as some of the more expensive name brand CFLs we have in the house before we made the Great Switch.

Yes, the Sylvania CLF light bulbs I bought at Aldi and Dollar General are still a little more expensive than energy hogging incandescent light bulbs, but it works out in the end because the CFL light bulbs last approximately 10 years. Traditional incandescent light bulbs last approximately three years. So not only am I saving electricity, I won’t have to buy or change another light bulb until 2014. Nice!

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This is a revised version of my original April 8, 2008 Condo Blues post Why a Switch to Expensive Energy Efficient Light Bulbs Will Save Me Money

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using the Amazon link in this post, I earn a small commission (really small) which will help me with my goal of making Condo Blues a self hosted blog at no additional cost to you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

How to Conduct a DIY Home Energy Audit

Unlike some areas of the United States, my local gas and electric companies do not offer free home energy audits to their customers. After much digging on my gas company’s Website, I found a link to the Energy Star Website that allowed me to conduct a DIY home energy audit using their Home Energy Yardstick. Best of all this service is free. I like free. Free is good.

I entered information about my home from the last 12 months of my natural gas and electric utility bills, clicked Submit and hoped for the best. The Home Energy Yardstick gave me an energy performance grade (Below Average to Above Average) and a score on a ten point scale.

Once I found out how much energy my home used last year, I needed to check the energy efficiency of the structure and mechanicals. Pros do with this inferred cameras and blower door test gizmos. Fortunately I was able to find most of the same information on my own with a flashlight, a candle, and a some poking and prodding around the house.

How to Do a Free DIY Energy Audit in Ten Easy Steps

Monday, August 31, 2009

8 Ways to Reduce Household Trash

As an experiment, I saved all my plastic trash for one week and posted it Condo Blues and later on Fake Plastic Fish: Show Us Your (Plastic) Trash.

These were the items I threw away in the trash. There were other items in my tally that I recycled or found a reuse for.

Katidids commented:
"I can't get over how little trash you have! We have a huge bag a day! Part of it is cleaning stuff out. I free cycle & goodwill a lot but 20ys,  4 kids who were pack rats... {snip}
Boy, you REALLY opened my eyes..I would hate to show all our trash...every time I start to feel like we are doing the right thing...pop that balloon, no no I mean dog poop bag"

I felt bad because I didn't write the original post to sound like a Greenzilla about trash and recycling. I certainly didn’t get this zero waste, low waste way overnight. To be honest, there are times when the garbage can has more in it than I like or the recycling bin overflows. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Show Us Your Trash! Plastic Challenge

I don’t try to avoid plastic like my friend and fellow Green Carnival Mom Fake Plastic Fish, but I do try to limit the amount I use. I try to avoid sending plastic along with everything else that comes into The Condo to the landfill as much as possible. Recently Beth issued a challenge to collect all of my plastic waste for one week. I accepted.

It’s time to put up or shut up. Here are my results.

Personal description: My husband and I live in Central Ohio.

1. List of Recyclable Items:


  • 1 milk gallon jug, #2 plastic. My city recycles #1 – #7 plastics.
  • 1 medicine bottle, #1 plastic.
  • 3 plastic caps. From the milk, medicine, and a glass bottle of organic balsamic vinaigrette. The plastic caps are recycled through Aveda’s cap recycling program.

2. List of Non-recyclable Items
I split this category into two sub categories: 2b Reuse, because sometimes I buy things just so I can reuse the container and 2a Toss.

2a. Toss


  • 1 zip top bag of 4 flounder filets. (Too stiff for reusing to clean up after the dog. Too bad because it has zip top)
  • 2 plastic wrappers that held 1 frozen salmon fillet each.
  • 1 Plastic wrapper from a container of organic mushrooms.
  • 1 wrapper from ground turkey.
  • 3 silver wrappers from my dog’s seasonal allergy medication. He gets half a pill a day.
  • 8 silver wrappers from my seasonal allergy medication. Hey, look, the allergy pill wrappers make a happy face! That’s because I didn’t have enough trash to spell out “Hi Beth!”

2b. Reuse


  • 1 plastic container from the organic mushrooms. It’s #2 and can be recycled. I’m reusing it in my craft room to store blog business cards that I’m making from reclaimed materials.
  • 1 bag of frozen broccoli. Bag will be reused for pet waste pickup.
  • 1 bag of dried great northern beans. Bag will be reused for pet waste pickup.
  • 1 advertising bag. Bag will be reused to pick up pet waste. We get these weekly on our doorstep no matter what.

We have pooper scooper laws here. I have a dog. I have to have something to deal with this issue. This leads me to an extra category…

2c. Reuse 2 (Doggie Doo)


When we have an empty plastic bag, I put it away for doggie reuse. Here’s an example of the other types of bags we use/reuse to pickup Blitzkrieg’s daily payloads.

  • The black bag is a biodegradable pet waste bag I purchased.
  • A zip top bag from a gift of dried hot peppers.
  • A clear bag that was part of the packaging of something we purchased. (I can’t remember what) – Bio is printed on the bag because they say that the bag is a corn based plastic and biodegradable.
  • A blue plastic grocery bag. I use reusable shopping totes for groceries. In my mom’s city she has to put her recycling in a blue plastic bag. Many of the stores in her area switched to blue colored shopping bags so their customers can reuse them for recycling. My mom gives me some of her bag stash from time to time since I need bags for Blitzkrieg. Sometimes I use these bags for household trash since my city requires me to bag that too. It takes us about a month to fill a plastic grocery bag with trash.

3. Total number of items

  • Recycle – 5
  • Toss - 17
  • Reuse – 4
  • Reuse 2 (Doggie Doo) – 3

Grand total of plastic items - 30

4. Analysis. Answer the following questions as best as you can.

What items could I easily replace with plastic-free or less plastic alternatives?

  • Organic mushrooms – During the summer we buy fresh vegetables at the farm market as much as we can. However we have snow that means that most of our winter vegetables are fresh nonlocal vegetables from the grocery store.

What items would I be willing to give up if a plastic-free alternative doesn't exist?

  • 2 plastic wrappers that held 1 frozen salmon fillet each – I should give up the salmon because it is the only type of fish we buy that comes in shrink wrapped plastic in another plastic bag. But I really, really, really like salmon. We don’t try to eat it very often though.

How many of these items are from "convenience" foods that could be made from scratch with less packaging but might take more time to prepare?

  • Organic balsamic vinaigrette. We bought this bottle for a dinner party and finished it this week by using it as a chicken marinade (NOM!)
  • Frozen broccoli. We keep a small stash of frozen vegetables in the freezer for quick meals or when we run out of fresh.

What items are essential and seem to have no plastic-free alternative?

  • Milk. As a runner my husband drinks A LOT of milk. I need to buy it by the gallon which comes in plastic. No creative reuse for the jug in my tally, maybe it will come back to me someday as a free reusable shopping tote?
  • Allergy Medication. I switched both Blitzkrieg and I from prescription medication that comes in recyclable bottles to an over the counter medication that generates some waste (the box is recyclable) due to price, amount of medication, and to cut down on the number of follow visits to the doctor and vet to refill the prescriptions.
  • Pet Waste. I looked into a pet waste composting system but they won’t work with our clay soil. Paper bags didn’t work very well either. I asked Blitzkrieg if he’d stop pooing but he gave me a look that said, “I’ll stop when you stop.”
  • Frozen fish. The plastic free fresh fish are sometimes flown in, which tastes better and has less packaging but use many more resources and is insanely expensive. Frozen and economical win – there’s a recession on you know?
  • Meat. This is how my store sells ground turkey. At least this has less packaging than the plastic wrapped ground meat on a tray method, less expensive too. Our health department is very strict about not letting customers use their own containers for meat.
  • Beans. Dry beans come in plastic bags. When I buy them at Meier’s bulk bins, there’s usually drama when weighing the items at the cash register even when I use their plastic bags. I don’t dare use cloth bulk bin bags at Meijer.

What lifestyle change(s) might be necessary to reduce my plastic consumption?

  • Stop buying bulk items would cut down on plastic but would significantly increase the amount of our overall recycling/waste in my bin. Often the plastic bottle version is a large size that allows me to generate less household waste or is the only one available unless I want to zig zag all over the city buying one plastic free item here and there. That wastes time, energy, and gasoline (which are how we end up with the raw material to make all those plastics in the first place.) In essance I'm trading one type of recyclable item for another. Buying in bulk also helps us save money so we can easily afford more expensive items like Blitzkrieg’s kibble that’s made with USA sourced human grade ingredients.
  • Grow more food. We are working on raised beds in the front yard that can accommodate more herbs and maybe a few vegetables tucked in amongst the flowers in next year’s front garden. Fortunately my in-laws offered to grow extra vegetables for us in their garden including eggplant, which they don’t even like! Since they offered to grow extra fresh food for us, we opted not to buy half a CSA share this year.

What one plastic item am I willing to give up or replace this week?

  • Soda in plastic bottles. I’m looking for some creative and affordable alternatives to pop in plastic bottles. I’d serve my guests more Ohio made wine and beer in glass bottles but every parent I know and the law frowns upon serving such items to minors. Crazy, no?

What other conclusions, if any, can I draw?

I’m pretty selective about what I buy and I think our experiment shows that because our plastic waste is the only trash our household generated for the week. The rest was composted or recycled. We are very lucky to be able to recycle #1 - #7 plastic. We take full advantage of this service especially in situations when the price of the plastic free version of something is significantly more expensive or is of a much smaller size, which would mean that more containers would go into our recycling bin more often. Since we have to take our recycling to a city dumpster instead of easily wheeling it the curb for pickup we are just as conscious about the number of items that go in our recycling bin whether they are plastic, glass, metal, or paper as we are our city trash bin.

Blitzkrieg offers us a way to get an extra reuse out of the plastic bags that we can’t recycle. It’s not perfect, or ideal, because we are still throwing the bags away after one reuse but we’re trying to make the best out of the situation we’re given.

Overall, I think the amount of plastic that we generated was small. Although there's always room for improvement. I was surprised how quickly those allergy pill wrappers add up!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

How I Slashed my Electric Bills without Moving into a Yurt

Last March I started my own personal 20% Energy Reduction Challenge . My goal was to reduce the amount of electricity in my 1500 square foot free standing Condo used for the year by 20%.

Everything in The Condo runs on electricity except for the natural gas hot water, fireplace, and furnace.

 Pin these tips to your Pinterest boards! Share them with your friends!

I didn’t want to add solar panels or wind turbines to my home because they are a poor return on investment where I live. I also wanted keep all of my current non-Energy Star appliances. Everything I had still worked and it would be too costly and wasteful to replace. But most of all I wanted to see if I could meet my goals this way because a slew of Greenzillas insisted that I couldn’t do it without alternative energy and installing new energy efficient everything. I thought I could.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

How to Repop Popcorn Kernels

One of my favorite go to snacks is popcorn. I like to make my popcorn old school – in a pot on the stove. It’s less wasteful than microwave popcorn, inexpensive, and if you don’t slather it in butter (real or fake), it’s pretty darn healthy.

After enjoying a bowl of popcorn during a pay per view movie on cable (no, not that kind of pay per view movie - get your mind out of the gutter – we watched Momma Mia! ) there were quite a few unpopped kernels in the bottom of the bowl. Normally I’d chuck them in the trash bin because I don’t think the kernels would break down in the composter and the last thing I need is for The Condo to look like Green Acres with corn accidently growing all over my front flowerbeds!

I looked at the unpopped popcorn kernels and thought about Crunchy Chicken’s Food Waste Reduction Challenge. I’d actually have something to report if I them threw away unless…I repopped those unpopcorn kernels and ate them.

I remember my mom telling me that her Grandmother would repop popcorn kernels but my mom said that it never worked for her. I figured what the hey? The worse that could happen is that I burn the kernels and throw them out which I was about to do anyway. I tried it and guess what – it worked!

How to Pop Popcorn on the Stove

Thursday, January 8, 2009

20% Home Utility Reduction Challenge – December Update & Tips

It’s the last month of my 2007 20% Home Utility Reduction Challenge! Let’s see how I did at reducing my home's electric and natural gas consumption by 20% in December.

December Electricity Usage

Even with putting up electric holiday lights and decorations, I significantly reduced how much electricity we used in December. I’m sure that I could have reduced that number by not putting up any holiday lights but I really didn’t want to do that. One of my goals of the 20% Home Utility Reduction Challenge was to prove that I could reduce my electricity and natural gas consumption and not have to endure major hardships or put in huge sacrifices. I like Christmas with all it’s trimmings including holiday lights. To me ignoring the whole thing, as some Greenzillas would prefer the world to do, is a major hardship and huge sacrifice for me. I think that life is a balancing act and yes, you can still have some holiday decorations if it makes you happy just try not to overdo it so that you have so many incandescent lights up that you can see your house from space. Of course, your mileage may vary on this issue.

However, my personal balancing act is paying off. Last December I used 641 Kwh of electricity, approximately 21 Kwh a day. This December I reduced that load to 449 Kwh of electricity, approximately 15 Kwh a day. That’s a 70% reduction in electricity for the month of December! Whoo-hoo!

How I Lowered My Electric Bill in December

Monday, December 15, 2008

20% Home Utility Reduction Challenge: November Update & Tips

My goal is to lower my home’s natural gas and electricity use by 20% in 2008. I also want to 
reduce my utilities as inexpensively as possible. Our main focus is on changing habits instead of replacing all of our fairly new and still working appliances and items with Energy Star equivalents. If our stuff wears out beyond fixability then of course, we’ll consider Energy Star items as replacements if applicable. Now that it’s getting colder in Central Ohio, we’ve turned on our natural gas furnace and unfortunately, it’s supposed to be a colder than normal winter. Winter is when our natural gas usage is at its highest, so let’s see how we did for November 2008.

November Natural Gas Usage

We use natural gas for heat, hot water, and a natural gas fireplace in our living room. Once the outside temperature dips to 40 degrees (F), we turn on the heat and switchover to some winter heat saving habits. Our habits and minor home improvements are paying off because in November 2008 we only used 28 CCF of natural gas dowm from the 37 CCF of natural gas we used in November of 20o7, that's a 9 CCF difference folks!

How I Lowered My Natural Gas Bill in November

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Save Some Bucks – How to Seal Heating Ducts!

I am on a mission to seek out and destroy air leaks in The Condo so I can save money on my heating and cooling bills this year. According to it will be worth it too:
“EPA estimates that homeowners can typically save up to 20% of heating and cooling costs (or up to 10% of total energy costs) by air sealing their homes
and adding insulation in attics, floors over crawl spaces, and accessible basement rim joists.”

One place to look for air leaks is in the heating and air-conditioning (also known as HVAC) ducts in your home (or Condo.) Air leaks make your HVAC system use more fuel and work harder to do the job it’s supposed to do. And that can cost you money. Especially if those air leaks are in the unheated/uncooled areas of your home such as a basement, or in my case, in an unheated utility room.

There are generally two places where air leaks occur and that you need to seal:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Save Travel Time and Money with a Zero Waste Road Trip

Husband, Blitzkrieg, and I took off for an 8-hour road trip from Ohio to a tiny mountain town in Northern Georgia. When we travel with our dog, we bring a picnic lunch because we don’t want to leave the dog alone in a hot car for health and safety reasons. I wondered if we could do it as a Zero Waste or Low Waste road trip beause depending up whom you read on the Web or watch on TV (hello Planet Green!), doing something the Green Way is always:

· More expensive
· More time consuming
· More difficult
· but better for the environment

Long story short – we did it! And guess what?