Check out the latest information on the library’s green improvements from Richard, the Executive Director:
As our new chillers are being craned down the back stairs of the library, I sat down with the contractor and our construction management team and we talked about water treatment of the cooling tower water that will be pumped through those new chillers. We could go with a conventional chemical system that will eliminate the organic and biological impurities that find their way into system or we could look to alternative methods. The decision was finally made to explore a new system that doesn’t rely on environmentally harsh chemicals, it works by establishing a electric field to neutralize suspended particles like bacteria and other mineral and/or bio-threatening impurities. The library saves in the long run on not having to purchase harmful chemicals and mother earth wins from not having to be subjected to them.
How many trips have you made to the mall this holiday season? Not to rub it in, but I have made none! This year, I chose to cut down on my list of gift recipients and give each person a handmade gift. I’ve made two trips to the craft store and spent about $35. I don’t have any children so my list is admittedly shorter than most, but my gifting philosophy can be easily adapted to fit your situation. Here are a few gifts I’ve made:
Book boxes. For the cost of a jar of Mod Podge and a donation to the library’s used book sale, I’ve made 5 unique, personalized book boxes.
Christmas tree ornaments. I bought plain glass ornaments from the craft store for $2.99 and decoupaged them with book pages (leftovers from my book boxes). I also ripped some pages into strips, curled them around a narrow paintbrush handle, and dropped them into clear glass ornaments. I added glitter on the bottom for some sparkle.
Baby bath towel. This is simply a towel with a washcloth sewn into one corner. The little one puts the washcloth corner over his head and he can run around with his towel as a superhero cape!
Coasters. If you don’t know how to crochet, learn! I made a set of six coasters from yarn I had left over from other projects. Note: To access the pattern in this link, you’ll need to create a free account at the Lion Yarn website.
Cookie mix. Layer the dry ingredients for a batch of cookies in a mason jar, add a bright ribbon and tag, and you’re done! The gift recipient can reuse the jar after she’s made the cookies.
Today’s post comes from Richard, the Executive Director of the library. Here’s the story of how he first “went green”:
When I was younger (and slimmer) I used to change the oil in my cars. I had a little plastic basin big enough for about 6 quarts of old dirty oil and a filter wrench and I’d wait for a nice sunny day and get busy. It only took about 20 minutes or so to do it. I would buy a new filter and oil ahead of time and be ready to go when the time was right. It was common to get rid of the old oil yourself. Heck I thought that the earth produced the oil therefore it would reclaim it. Not true. That’s pretty nasty stuff, really. Then when the Go Green movement hit, it just so happened that oil changes were getting cheaper, in fact they were almost the same in price so I figured why in the heck should I climb under my car when I can have someone else do it for about the same price. Also, I found out that a single quart of oil can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of fresh water. I thought, Geez, if that oil I poured out gets down to our water table, that junk could be coming out my kitchen tap! Here’s a tip…almost any filling station (no, probably not the quick food marts with pumps) but the ones that still have hoists and places that service cars will accept your used oil for safe, clean disposal. Or you could go to www.earth911.org.
We’ve all done it: filled a big black trash bag with wrapping paper, boxes, ribbon and bows. Instead of buying paper and stick-on bows, wrap your Christmas gifts in brown grocery bags (no one will know!) and tie them up with leftover ribbon or fabric strips from craft projects, old clothes… whatever you can get your hands on. After the presents are opened, recycle the paper and either reuse the ribbon or toss it outside for the birds to feather their nests (natural fibers only, please!). Your presents will be infused with shabby-chic elegance, you’ll cut waste and save money.
More holiday tips to come!
You roasted a free-range turkey. You baked local squash. You served organic wine. You had a green Thanksgiving and it was great! Now you have to clean up. But don’t whip out the overpowering cleaners that sting your nose and make your head hurt. You can get your kitchen clean without using nasty chemicals and spending a lot of money with a few basic supplies:
Microfiber cloths. Dampen with water and apply a little elbow grease and your microfiber cloth can clean just about anything. I use them to clean countertops, walls, the inside of the fridge… I’ve cleaned just about everything in the kitchen with a microfiber cloth. I even use one in place of disposable Swiffer cloths. They require no cleaning solution and you can use them over and over.
Vinegar. Clean glass surfaces with an equal mixture of white distilled vinegar and warm water. Wipe the stovetop with it, too.
Baking soda. Baking soda acts as a gentle abrasive, making it easier to scrub messes without harming the finish on your counters or appliances (don’t use on marble countertops). Just mix a little baking soda with water to form a paste and scrub with a damp sponge. Try this paste on plastic storage containers – it eliminates smells and discoloration without scratching the plastic.
Lemons. Yep, just lemons. Cut one in half and use it to polish copper.
Salt. Salt is both an abrasive and grease absorber. Just don’t use it to scrub anything you want to maintain a shine on (stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, shiny copper, etc.). Mix some salt with lemon juice and baking soda to scrub the oven.
When you’re done cleaning, skip the air freshener and simmer some apple cider, cinnamon sticks and orange peel on the stovetop. Happy Thanksgiving!
Yesterday we talked about how to find the shortest distance between two (three, four, five…) points in order to reduce gasoline consumption. Today I want to share a few simple ways to optimize your car’s performance to reduce that consumption even further.
First, stop speeding. Your lead foot is costing both you and the environment dearly. Accelerate to a cruising speed slowly, then avoid exceeding the speed limit. According to fueleconomy.gov, you’ll reduce consumption between 7 and 23 percent.
Next, perform some basic maintenance. Change the air filter regularly and make sure the tires are properly inflated.
Avoid excessive idling. If you’re stuck at a train crossing or that reeeaaaally long light, turn the car off. Starting it back up takes less gas than sitting idle for 20 seconds.
I have a terrible sense of direction. I mean, really terrible. I use my GPS to get just about everywhere, but I recently discovered a new tool that has saved me lots of time and gas money: online trip planners. You can type in each address you need to visit and it automatically finds the most efficient route. In this season of errands and shopping, a trip planner can save you lots of time and CO2 emissions. Try Google Maps or Mapquest Route Planner to find the shortest distance between two, three, four or more points. If you want to save paper and get directions on your smartphone, you can download mobile apps for these services, too.
I love pulling out the good china and silver to use for the holidays, but I hate polishing silver! The chemicals give me a headache and it makes my hands grimy. If you’re tired of polishing silver, try this green trick instead:
- Find a glass or ceramic container big enough to hold your silver. Line the bottom with aluminum foil.
- Next, put your silver in the container. Don’t overlap the pieces.
- Sprinkle all the silver liberally with baking soda. You just used all the chemicals you’re going to use for this chore. Awesome, right?
- Now pour boiling water (carefully!) in the container until your silver is submerged. You’ll see and hear the baking soda fizzing away the tarnish.
- Let it sit until the fizzing stops and the silver is cool enough to handle. Admire the tarnish that has magically adhered itself to the aluminum foil.
Rinse the silver and dry it with a soft cloth. You’re welcome!
Celebrate America Recycles Day by participating in some fun events happening in and around Lake County! Follow this link to see the list of events happening in the area. I’m looking forward to the Trashy Fashion Show tonight in Skokie — it’s a fashion show featuring the work of 30 designers. Each desginer has created a piece of clothing from materials that would have otherwise been thrown away. And speaking of creating clothing items from stuff that could be thrown away, have you heard of T-shirt yarn?
Have fun celebrating recycling today! Go fly a paper airplane into the recycling bin.
I love living in Lake County. It seems like there’s always something fun or educational going on, and this weekend is no exception. On Saturday, November 19, you can bring your “hard to recycle” items to the corners of Winchester Road and Milwaukee Avenue in Libertyville so the county can dispose of them properly. You can learn more about the recycling event by following this link, and more about America Recycles Day tomorrow!