Monday, July 18, 2016

Giving Up the Go-To Paper Towel

In several What You Can Do posts, we have mentioned trying our best to go green by giving up paper towels or using paper towels that come from recycled materials.  This summer I decided to try hard to give up a few non eco-friendly habits - starting with my dependence on paper towels. Giving up paper towels has always been a goal of mine - but honestly I have never attempted it out of sheer certainty that I could never do it. I will be the first to admit that using paper towels is easy and convenient.  Got a spill?  Grab a paper towel. Gotta clean a messy face? Grab a paper towel. A few weeks ago I went to a friend's house for a play date. Of course my kid got peanut butter all over his face and I asked where her paper towels were. She said "oh actually we don’t use paper towels.  There are some dish towels over there." She continued on and said "I know it’s weird but we try."  I responded, "No!  That is not weird at all.  It’s impressive and something I have always wanted to attempt." 

Cut to today:

My dish towel pile that makes it easy to grab a towel to clean up.
This is the same spot where my paper towels use to be.
I am currently running paper towel free!!!  But it hasn’t happened overnight. It is hard to change one’s habits. The first few days I kept reaching for the paper towels, and when they weren't there I would get mad and begrudgingly go find a dish towel. After a few days I realized if I was going to be successful - I had to make it as easy to grab a dish towel as it was to grab a paper towel. Usually I keep my towels inside a cabinet. But in order to make this work I moved my dish towels to a spot on my counter…right where the paper towels use to live. I also discovered that the non-absorbent dish towels wouldn’t help me clean up anything. So I switched them out and only keep the most useful towels on the counter. 
Ditching paper towels does mean more laundry, but I am lucky that my washer is right next to my kitchen. So if something is super dirty, I just toss it into the washer where it can stay until I have enough laundry to run a full load. I also went ahead and put wash cloths in my kitchen to clean my son's dirty hands and face after meal time. I also have to do my best to avoid constantly using a new towel every time. Otherwise I end up with so many towels hanging from my fridge door that I can barely use the handle to open the fridge.  

It's not perfect, but at least it is a start.  And honestly I am so proud that I have been able to keep this new habit up for over a month. Now my only problem is that I am not sure what to do with the Costco-sized package of paper towels in my garage!



Are you paper towel-less?  What are your tricks and tips?!

Comment below and tell us. 

Cheers!


Missy

Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday Fun: Happy Fourth!

Here at On the Leesh we have several co-workers who love the Fourth of July!  Not only is it a great day to get together with friends and family, but it is also a wonderful time to celebrate all the great things we love about the country we live in.  Here are several tips and ideas to make your Fourth of July the best it has ever been.

1. Delicious Food: First and foremost let’s shout back to Amanda our Director of Production’s post about Fourth of July from several years ago. Check it out and learn what Amanda loves about the Fourth of July and what she loves to eat!   You can find her post here: http://whatyoucandoseries.blogspot.com/2012/06/my-favorite-holidays-almost-here.html  - She also gives some great tips for making your own citronella candles! 


2.  Go Green:  Keep the one-use items to a minimum.  I know it is super easy to use paper plates and napkins for large gatherings but if possible try using reusable items during your holiday bbq. Reusable glasses, cutlery and plates can save a lot of waste from going into our landfills.  If you are un-able to do this consider buying a product that is recyclable or compostable instead of Styrofoam or paper plates.  

3.  Remember Our Service Members:  The Fourth of July is about celebrating our country. What better way to celebrate than by paying tribute to our service members who have fought for our country.  A lot of communities hold Fourth of July parades where service members are either honored or participate in.  Take a moment to say thanks to those people this holiday.  Or if you have family members, who gave their time to the service, remember to give them a hug and say thank you the next time you see them.

4.  Fireworks:  Fireworks are beautiful and fun.  Who doesn’t love getting together with friends and lighting sparklers and or having a small celebration in the driveway.  But before you light your fireworks this year make sure that you are doing so in a secure location where your fireworks cannot catch anything on fire.  Also make sure that fireworks are legal in your area.  Some counties don’t allow the use of fireworks.  Make sure that you are always safe and responsible when participating in this activity. The summer months bring fun but also dry hills and fire risks.  


5.  Stay Hydrated:  The Fourth of July means lots of time out in the sun, pool, parades etc.  Remember that nothing is more hydrating and good for your health than water.  Make sure to stay hydrated this summer by carrying your personal reusable water bottle.  If you need ideas for great water bottles check out our Associate Producer Melissa’s favorite here:  https://www.lifefactory.com/product/glass-bottle-with-straw-cap-and-silicone-sleeve-22-oz-huckleberry


6.  Bring out the Grill: Nothing says a happy Fourth like bbqing! If at all possible consider using a propane bbq instead of a charcoal one.  Charcoal produces three times the green house gas emissions as propane grills do.  Let’s do our best to keep our Fourth green.

We hope you all have a wonderful, happy and safe holiday.

Cheers!

What You Can Do

Monday, June 20, 2016

WYCD's Mommy Monday: Green Summer Fun with the Kids

Hey All!  

Associate producer Missy here - like many of you I have a little one at home to entertain during the summer months. There are so many options for fun, but sometimes projects can be expensive or resource heavy. This summer my little guy and I are going to try to keep things simple and eco-friendly. Here is a list of some of the things we are planning to do. 

One of the succulent gardens I have made.
Hiking - My little guy loves going on adventures. So we will strap on our backpack and take some short rides up to the hills. A quick hike to check out the scenery and get some exercise is a must for this summer. We will pack a lunch and enjoy the outdoors. And we always make sure to dispose of/carry out our trash when spending time outside.

My son and dog in our bike trailer.
Succulent Gardens - I love having collections of potted succulent gardens placed all over my backyard. Putting various types of succulents together is a simple and fun backyard activity. My favorites are Hens-and-Chicks, Jade and Christmas Cactus.  Succulents are easy to maintain, drought resistant and look good all summer long.  Check your local garden center for these beautiful plants.


Bike to the Farmers Market - Biking is such a great eco-friendly way to get around and my son LOVES riding in his bike trailer. (My dog is still on the fence...)

U-Pick Veggie Stands - These types of farms are so much fun for kids and make a great outing for the day.  Make sure to eat your pickings quickly so nothing goes to waste and always remember to wear sunscreen and hats when you are out picking in a field.

Water Play  - My son adores being out in the hot sun and playing with water. I don’t mind him using water to cool off on hot days, but we try to conserve water by playing with our water table and small buckets instead of running sprinklers continuously.  

Fun Learning at the Library - Visiting your local library is a great way to find new books to read during the summer (and escape the heat without having to run your AC at home). Many libraries offer kids story time or other fun events - check out the calendar at your area library.  

Homemade popsicles made with
plums that I got at the Farmers Market 
Eco-friendly DIY projects:  I really want to make a DIY outdoor play kitchen for my little guy. I will be on the look out for old furniture that I can repurpose for some outdoor fun.

Inspiration for a kid's back yard kitchen.
Homemade Popsicles - Making your own delicious popsicles is a great way to avoid plastic packaging that goes directly into landfills. Consider making these with those farm fresh fruits that you just picked yourself!  

Backyard Camping - What could be more fun than putting up a tent in your own backyard? Save energy and money on gas by having a staycation.

Meatless Monday - Simple and easy. We plan on grilling up a ton of veggies from our garden this summer.  I also adore this delicious Meatless Monday recipe from the blog Two Peas and Their Pod, check it out here:  http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/black-bean-and-quinoa-enchilada-bake/

Backyard Picnics - Eating outside is a fun way to keep meal time entertaining with little ones. Pack food in reusable containers to avoid single use items which go directly into landfills (or use dishes from your home if staying in your own backyard).

My paper towel roll.
Parting with Paper-towels - My goal for the summer is to use less and less paper towels. I have plenty of cloth dishtowels, and just need to start putting it into practice. This summer is a great time to break my paper towel habit.

Recycled Crafts - My son loves to draw on things, rip things apart, paint on things etc. Using old cardboard boxes and junk mail is a great way for him to have fun and be creative without having to buy new paper.

Whew! As we can see I have great aspirations for a busy and fun filled summer. We will see how many of these things we actually get to do. Comment below and tell us your plans for the summer and how you will keep it fun and green!

Cheers!

Mama Missy

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

National Parks Week and Earth Day!



This week is not only National Park Week but Friday is Earth Day.  All this week and weekend are great times to take advantage of the great outdoors.  

You can find fun Earth Day Events in your area with a quick online search, or try to make it to your local national park.

Here are some other fun ideas to help you celebrate our Mother Earth and all she has to offer:


Adding some flowers in your
veggie garden helps feed your local bees.
1. Channel Your Inner Green Thumb: Plant your home / indoor gardens this weekend.  If you live in a place where you will no longer have frost, consider planting your summer veggie garden.  In addition to veggies add some flowers in the beds or pots to add a pop of beautiful color and to help attract and feed bees.

2.  Support Our National Parks: If you can’t get outdoors this week/weekend consider making a donation to the National Park Service in honor of their 100th birthday!  The NPS currently has two major campaigns going on to support the Yosemite Conservancy and the Grand Teton National Park foundation. Go to their website to learn more about how you can give back to our National Parks:
https://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/donate.htmThroughout National Park Week (April 16–24) every national park will have free admission.


Use those old pine cones!
3.  Get Crafty: Consider doing some fun craft projects with your kiddos! For the little ones why not try making homemade bird feeders out of pine cones, peanut butter and bird seed. This is a fun easy project and can help attract beautiful birds to your yard. Check out these steps from My Kids Adventure Blog:  http://www.mykidsadventures.com/pinecone-bird-feeder/

For older kids try making custom stepping stones out of recycled glass and tile to place in your yard! Here is a how-to from Instructables:  http://www.instructables.com/id/Recycle-ceramics-into-awesome-Mosaic-stepping-ston/


Associate producer, Melissa, found
this big gulp cup at her local park.
4. Do a Little Clean Up:  If you are able to visit one of our beautiful national parks or a local park this week - consider bringing a trash bag to pick up trash that's been left behind.  If we all did our part to help remove trash, our world would be a much more beautiful place. Can’t make it out to a park(s)? You can also do this in your local neighborhood. Just take a walk within a mile of your own home and pick up any trash you might see.  

Into the park trash can.
No matter what you choose to do this week - get out and enjoy the scenery in your area and give Mother Nature the thanks and support she needs to stay beautiful.  


Be the change you want to see in the world.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Living Green on a Budget: Part 1

Maintaining healthy and green living habits can be hard even if you don't have any obstacles in your way.  Now add kids, families, full time jobs, pets etc. into the mix and it can be even harder to live an eco-friendly lifestyle.  On top of that pile stack living on a tight budget.  Often times items that are green or eco-friendly are not as cost effective for the average household.  I feel as if I struggle with this problem often...can I afford this more earth-friendly item over it's substantially cheaper, but less green item?  This is not an easy task especially for a person like me who loves to stay on budget but desperately wants to help make the world a better place for my young son.  I am no expert but I thought I would share with you today a few of the items that I purchase or things that I do in my everyday life to save money that are also be eco-friendly.



In the Kitchen

Honest Company Dish Soap.  I do a lot of dishes.  Just between the three of us in my family we generate so many items that need to be washed. This plant based dish soap is eco-friendly and comes with a lot of suds power.  Because of the price point on this item I am able to purchase it for my own dishes and save money in the process.  It smells nice, fights grease well and doesn't contain any harsh chemicals which helps keep my hands from feeling dried out after I wash.

Cleaning



Cleaning with distilled Vinegar is a great option for cleaning around your home.  Not only can you use it for cooking, canning etc. but it is also an excellent and inexpensive cleaner.   A lot of appliances that we use everyday have clean cycles that encourage you to purchase some sort of brand specific clearer in order to get that item cleaned.  Both my coffee maker and my washer recommended brand name solutions to clean out my appliance. I recently used this trick twice in my kitchen.  Once in my coffee maker and the second time in my washer drum.
In both of these cases, I have found that using clear distilled vinegar is just as good as the solutions  that were recommended.  And it saves me from using harsh chemicals around my family. You do have to be careful to make sure that the vinegar you are buying isn't made from synthetic chemicals either. By using this more eco-friendly product, not only am I keeping my house from being exposed to harsh chemicals or pouring those chemicals down the sink, but I am also able to save money purchasing vinegar which, unlike a lot of cleaning chemicals, can be used for a number of different things.

Saving on Utilities

During the harsh winter months it can be hard to keep the electricity or gas bills down if you live in a cold area.  Many times this past fall / winter I have exceeded my utilities budget because it was just too cold to keep off the heaters. However, if you have the option to run your heater at a low setting or turn it off all together, you can save on resources and on money. Remembering to turn off lights around your home or to use natural light when you can is another great way to save money.  I was recently able to bring my own bill down by turning off my heater during the day and wearing a sweater inside.   This was actually a win win for me since I have so many amazing sweaters that I hardly wear.  This practice forced me to go to the back of my closest and pull out those cozy sweaters.

Being eco-friendly on a daily basis all while trying your best to provide for your family, can seem like a hard task.  But there are ways to help be good stewards of our planet and help your pocket book out at the same time.
Comment below and tell us how you stay on budget while still helping to keep our plant safe.  We always want to hear about ways that our fans are making the world a better place.

Be the change you want to see in the world.  Come on, let's show them what you can do.

Cheers!

Missy-






Friday, December 11, 2015

Last Minute Eco-Friendly Stocking Stuffers.


The Holidays are a special time and here at What You Can Do we love finding 
Eco-friendly gifts for the holidays.  
Check out these great products if you need some last minute stocking stuffer ideas.

For the Kids:  Eco Star Crayons.  These crayons are non-toxic and made from 100% recycled crayons.  They have a unique shape that make craft time for your little one fun.  I got some of these for my best friend's son last year and he loved them.  You can find them here:  http://smile.amazon.com/Crazy-Crayons-Stars

















For Her:  Recycled Vintage Copper Earrings.  Beautiful handmade earrings from Brooklyn. Recycled materials remade into a great piece of Jewelry.  I bought some of SdVdesigns in the past and she makes a gorgeous product.  https://www.etsy.com/unique-recycled-vintage-copper-star




















For Him:  Eco-friendly socks.  What is more fun than filling someone we loves stocking with socks!?  These great socks that are made right here in the USA and are made from recycled cotton. Check them out here: http://www.fairindigo.com/solmate

For the Pooch:  Eco-Friendly Dog Toys.  Westpaw designs is a pet supply retailer based in Bozeman, MT.  All of their products are eco-friendly and made from recycled materials.  My dog Lola has one of their dog matts made from 100% recycled water bottles.  These great toys (that fit inside a stocking) are made from left over blanket fabric from other products that WestPaw produces.  They come with fun squeakers inside.  You can check these and all their other eco-friendly animal products here:  https://www.westpawdesign.com


Friday, October 23, 2015

Inspiration for the one minute movement: Living green in NYC

We've been celebrating our NYC roots this month as What You Can Do screens at the Brooklyn Web Festival (October 9-10) and NYC Web Fest (November 13-14). When we launched What You Can Do more than 5 years ago, we found plenty of inspiration for the one minute movement to change the world in our hometown. Living in the city can encourage greener lifestyle choices such as taking public transportation, minimizing waste (to accommodate our tiny apartments) and volunteering through the many leading nonprofits based in the city. We were excited to see WalletHub recently rank New York City #1 on their list of America's Greenist Cities: https://wallethub.com/edu/most-least-green-cities/16246/

Below are NYC inspired tips to help our environment and our communities. Please comment below to let us know your one minute ideas for living greener in NYC or your hometown.