Everyone knows one of the first steps to going green is to recycle. Recycling allows us to reuse materials and items, instead of need to pull more vital resources from the earth. The reverse is also beneficial, keeping dangerous materials out of the landfills where they can seep into the ground and water.
The basics of recycling are well known, glass, paper, plastics, metal, but there are many other items that can and should be recycled that many people are unaware of:
Compact Florescent Lights contain a small amount of mercury, which can be hazardous if it makes its way into our water and soil. Many companies offer recycling programs to take back your used CFLs.
Plastic bags, if put into a landfill, will take thousands of years to to break down. Luckily, they are easy to reuse. Many stores will take back used shopping bags, and some will even take sandwich bags and plastic wraps.
Batteries contain heavy metals than can contaminate soil and water. Many retailers and full service recycling centers will take batteries.
Tattered rags and clothing may not be something you would think to recycle. Who would want them? Goodwill takes donations of these items and has them recycled for uses such as sofa stuffing.
Printer cartridges often end up in landfills but are super easy to reuse. Many electronic retailers will refill your cartridge for much less than a new one. Some companies will also pay you for your old cartridges to reuse themselves.
There are many more things that can be recycled but often aren't: cell phones, televisions, and many other electronics for example. Next time you're throwing something unusual away, stop and think that maybe this doesn't need to be in a landfill.
Electric cars are slowly chipping away at our fossil fuel dependency and stemming the tide that is global warming. This is great, but so far most have been fairly conventional. Why should only the able bodied have easy access to the wave of the future? Well, an auto company in Hungary thought the same thing. Developed in Hungary and now built in Pflugerville, Texas (yup, Pflugerville), the Kenguru is an electric car that can reach speeds of 25 mph and travel 60 miles on a charge. It has a door in the back that allows for easy roll-in access for wheelchairs. The vehicle is handled similar to a moped, with acceleration, steering, and braking controlled via hand controls.
Normally, wheelchair conversion of cars or vans can cost $14,000 or more on top of the cost of the vehicle. The Kenguru makes for a much more affordable option at $25,000. This cost can often be brought down more by federal and state aid programs. And, with recent developments in lithium ion technology, the cost of electric cars is expected to go down in the future. While not the perfect solution, the Kenguru is a greener, more affordable option for those confined to wheelchairs but looking for some independence.
Everyone loves a well kept lawn in the summer. It's nice to look at and fun to play on. But to what extents should we go to keep our lawns green? Can we keep our lawns green while still being "green"? Yup! And here's how.
Set your lawn mower higher. Longer grass retains water better.
Water in early morning when it is cooler to minimize evaporation.
Adjust sprinklers so only the lawn is watered, not the lawn, house, sidewalks, cars, etc.
Collect rainwater and use it to water your lawns and gardens later.
Direct gutters and downspouts towards shrubs and bushes.
Install drip irrigation systems to water more efficiently.
Keep your lawn healthy while conserving water you'll have a guilt free summer knowing you're doing your part to save the world.
A great way to start going green is to buy local! Getting food from local sources cuts down on carbon emissions from transportation and processing. But what's better than that? How about growing your own food! While starting a garden may sound daunting to some, it doesn't have to be a chore. Even if you don't have a green thumb, that are some vegetables you can grow that don't require constant attention and will keep you fed year after year.
Asparagus grows best in full sun and dry, sandy soil. Like the rest of these vegetables, it is a perennial so it will return every year if you're good to it.
Bamboo shoots are a less used perennial. Bamboo can be great if you're careful. Some forms of bamboo aren't edible or tasty and can be invasive species.
Bunching onions grow in bunches and can be fairly hardy even in cold weather.
Garlic is a mainstay in many gardens, but most of the time is not considered a perennial. By allowing a garlic plant to grow and seed, you can harvest garlic without needing to replant.
Horseradish will return every year if harvested correctly. Great for use as a spice for condiment.
Kale and Collard Greens will grow in many climates and are considered some of the healthiest foods you can eat.
Radicchio is a red, leafy vegetable that is great on salads or grilled.
Rhubarb is a staple of many gardens here in Wisconsin as it grows well in colder climates and will come back every year without fail. Great in pies, jams, sauces, and breads.
Did you know May is National Bike Month? It's the start of summer and the perfect time to get people thinking about ulterior means of transportation. You may have already participated in Bike to School Day, Bike to Work Day, or even Bike to Work Week this month, but don't let that be the end of your cycling adventures. Bicycling has been proven to reduce carbon emissions and boost health in those who ride. Despite this, in most cities cyclists and pedestrians don't get the attention they deserve from governments. The Alliance for Biking and Walking recently released their annual Bicycling and Walking Benchmark Report which revealed some interesting facts.
12% of all trips are by bicycle (1.0%) or foot (10.5%).
But, states spend just 1.6% of their federal transportation dollars on bicycling and walking. This amounts to
just $2.17 per capita.
Bicycling and walking projects create 11-14 jobs per $1 million spent, compared to just 7 jobs created per
$1 million spent on highway projects.
In 2009, 40% of trips in the United States were shorter than 2 miles, yet Americans use their cars for 87% of trips 1 to 2 miles. Twenty-seven percent of trips are shorter than 1 mile, yet 62% of trips up to 1 mile long are by car.
Bicycling and walking levels fell 66% between 1960 and 2009, while obesity levels increased by 156%.
Between 1966 and 2009, the number of children who bicycled or walked to school fell 75%, while the
percentage of obese children rose 276%.
So funding for biking and walking is not in tune with the percentage of people who participate despite such funding being able to create more jobs. Also, as biking and walking levels have dropped, obesity has increased. While correlation does not imply causation, it seems pretty clear that an increase in support for alternate transportation would do well for everyone! So get out and bike, take others with you, and let those in charge see you!
Summer months can be a hard time for those who love to cook. Standing over a stove as hot as the air outside can take it's toll. Taking some simple steps can alleviate this problem and also reduce the amount of energy needed to cook or cool your house.
Be ready to cook. Have everything prepared when you preheat your oven so you can get it in as soon as possible.
Cook multiple dishes at once, if possible, to reduce the amount of time your appliances are on and hot.
Toaster oven! They aren't just for bread and bagels. Toaster ovens can cook as well as ovens while using less energy and producing less heat.
Keep a door between your kitchen and the rest of your home to contain excess heat.
Unless you're using air conditioning, open your windows to allow hot air out and cool air in.
Keep the oven closed. Opening an oven door looses 25 to 50 degrees of heat. More energy is required to reheat the oven and that extra heat fills your home!
Safe it for cooler times. Do your baking in the morning or afternoon when it is a bit less hot outside.
Not only will these tips keep you from burning up in the kitchen, they can also reduce how much energy you use in the process. Don't let the summer heat keep your from enjoy delicious food!
A great way to start reducing your waste output is to start composting! Composting is the act of turning natural waste such as leaves, grass clippings, and vegetable trimmings into nutrient rich fertilizer. Anyone with some open, outdoor space can begin composting with these tips directly from the City of Madison!
1. Use a bin. Instead of just throwing your compost in a pile, use a plastic bin or simple wire enclosure. This helps to retain heat and moisture, two elements needed for the waste to properly decompose.
2. Mix green and brown materials. Green materials, like grass clippings or food waste, are high in nitrogen, while brown materials, like leaves, are rich in carbon. Try to maintain a 50/50 ratio.
3. Bury kitchen waste. If you plan to compost kitchen waste, it often attracts flies. To avoid this, bury it at the bottom of your pile.
4. Keep the pile moist! Moisture is key to a good compost. Add water to dry material, but don't over water. Dry sponge is what you're looking for.
Composting is a great way to reduce waste and the resulting fertilizer will save you from needing to buy chemical fertilizers. For more info and tips on composting, visit the City of Madison website.
Did you know you may not be seeing much of Edison's 131 year old invention in the coming years? In push to make our light sources more energy efficient, Congress has signed a bill that will phase out production and sale of incandescent light bulbs. Originally set to begin Jan. 1, 2012, but now pushed to October 2012, the phase-out first focuses only on 100-watt bulbs, but in coming years will trickle down to 75-, 60. and 40-watts as well. So what are your options once you can't get your hands on those age-old incandescents?
CFLs or Compact Florescent Lamps are the most common alternative at the moment. The use about 75% less energy that incandescents and last 10 times longer. However, they are more expensive and produce a different light spectrum that some may find off-putting.
LED bulbs can last up to 22 years and save 75% on energy costs. They also emit a light spectrum more similar to incandescents. The upfront cost is considerably higher, but will save you over the life of the bulb.
Halogen Incandescent bulbs are very similar to standard incandescents. They have the same advantages while being 20% to 30% more efficient and lasting 3 times longer. They aren't has efficient or have the life span of other options, but they provide a smoother transition from what we're used to.
So don't be afraid if you go to the store sometime soon and can't find your usual bulbs. Look around and you'll likely find a replacement suitable to your needs.
Do you enjoy driving with your windows open enjoying a relaxing breeze and fresh air? Why not get that same feeling while getting some exercise and doing your part for the environment? Madison has been named a Gold Level bike friendly community by the League of American Bicyclists. What this means is that there are plenty of bike paths, lanes, and boulevards to get you to and from anywhere in the city. If there was ever a time to ditch your car and start biking, this is it. But if you're new to this whole biking thing, don't' worry, here are some resources to get you pedaling in no time!
Madison B-Cycle: The biggest change to Madison cycling landscape is last year's introduction of the Madison B-Cycle stations. Sponsored by Trek Bicycles headquartered in Waterloo, WI, B-Cycles offer cheap and easy bike rentals for Madison residents, students, and visitors. Simply check out a bike at one station and return to any of the other 20+ locations throughout the city. Bikes are regularly maintained and rotated making sure there is one when you need it. Find a map of B-Stations here.
Red Bike Project: Located just south of campus, Budget Bicycle Center offers a free bicycle rental program for anyone in Madison. In Spring, donated bikes that have been painted red are made available to all to be used throughout the warmer months free of charge (assuming they are returned come winter). Supplies are limited, get yours early. You can follow @RedBikeProject on twitter for updates or get more information on the website.
Bike Madison: The city of Madison's official website offers an array of information and services for cyclists in the city. Register your bike, plan a bike route, and keep up on the latest news.
Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin: The Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin is a nonprofit organization that works with people throughout the state to make bicycling safe, accessible, and fun. They are active in state politics, host cycling events, provide free bike valet, and educate people on the benefits of cycling. Their website offers lots of information and services for all types of cyclists and lists of upcoming events and current campaigns.
Bombay Bicycle Club: The Bombay Bicycle Club is not only an English indie rock band, but also Madison's largest cycling club. They offer planned rides from 25 to 50 miles in and around Madison that are open to anyone.
Freewheel Bikes: Freewheel Bikes is a community bike shop located on S. Park St. that allows anyone to come in, use the tools and parts, build and repair bikes, and share their knowledge and expertise. A great resource for those just starting out to get some hands on experience.
Bicycling is a safe and healthy form of recreation and transportation that many have already embraces. With so many resources, a plethora of bike shops, and a cycling infrastructure second to none, Madison is the perfect place, and now the perfect time to stop burning gas and start burning calories.
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of garlic? Most likely tasty meals and bad breath. While garlic is delicious, did you know it has so many uses outside of the kitchen? You can use natural, from the Earth garlic to replace a lot of chemicals used around the house while saving money in the process!
Acne Treatment: Garlic has blood cleansing and antibiotic properties. Try rubbing cloves on your face or extracting juice and applying with a cotton ball.
Mosquito Repellent. It's not clear why, but mosquitos can't stand garlic. Place cloves where you find mosquitos or rub them on your exposed skin. Be warned, however, you may repel more than mosquitos.
Pet Protection. It's not only mosquitos that hate garlic, but fleas, ticks, and other parasites. Give your pet a healthy diet of garlic to keep them free of pests. Some pet foods already contain some garlic for this reason!
Garden Pesticide. A much greener alternative to chemical pesticides. Mix garlic cloves and extracts with some pepper and soap to keep away bugs and sometimes larger animals.
Antibiotics. While garlic shouldn't take the place of traditional antibiotics, in times of need, rub some on a wound to fend off in infection until help arrives.
Glue. If you've ever chopped garlic, you may know the juice can be very sticky. Need some glue in a pinch? Use that juice as a strong adhesive.
Cosmetics. Mix garlic and lemon extracts with water, cider vinegar, and lavender flower to make a face cleanser, or garlic juice with water, vodka, and rosemary for a scalp and hair lotion. Careful though, some people may be allergic.
Cough Syrup. Garlic's antibacterial properties can come to the rescue again. Boil a quarter pound of garlic in water, add sweetener for taste, and drink. It can stop coughs, soothe soar throats, and help you recover faster.
If garlic's delicious taste didn't have you keeping some around before, and it should have been, knowing the other wonderful things it can do will defiantly put it on your next grocery list!
If you believe the hashtag, #johnmayerisback!
His first tour since his vocal cord troubles cleared up kicks off on the 4th of July, and includes a stop at Milwaukee's Summerfest on July 6th.
In addition to preparing for a tour, he's been...
Are kids today over-photographed?
Now that everybody has a camera on their phone, and now that Facebook is a greedy beast that must be fed, it seems parents take WAY more pictures of their kids than was the case back in the 1960s and 1970s. It...
People have been wondering why Billie Joe jumped off the bridge since this song came out and made it to number 1 in 1967. Singer Bobby Gentry says people always asked what was thrown over the bridge and why did Billie Joe jump. She never would give a...
Happy birthday to the Cute Beatle, SIr Paul McCartney! He turns 71 today.
One of the rules for Beatles fans is that you must memorize tidbits of Beatle trivia to try and impress other Beatle fans. This is not that easy to do....as things like...
In 1968, Jeannie C. Riley topped both the pop and country charts with "Harper Valley PTA". She was the first female singer to accomplish that feat and it wasn't repeated until Dolly Parton did it in 1981 with the song "9 to 5". The song was...
This week we're doing story songs on the World's Worst iPod. We start with the story of Billy who really wanted to be a hero. He was a hero, but didn't live to see it and his girlfriend was pretty angry. The song was originally done by...
This week' s Gabby's Pick is another track from emerging artist ZZ Ward's debut album , called "365 Days."
In addition to all the radio airplay " Put The Gun Down" has received, you may also have heard her music on several television...
Apparently Oreo flavored Oreos are not sufficient.
Nabisco is continuing its trend of introducing special limited edition flavors for its Oreo cookies. Last year, the internet was all abuzz about candy corn Oreos, which supposedly didn't really...