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10 Ways to Bring the Green to Your Halloween Party

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Parents tend to be a little more concerned nowadays with things being more eco-friendly.  And we think that’s a very good thing. Learning to be green can only help to shape and restore a better environment for everyone, especially when you work into both everyday life and special events.  Thus, if you are hosting a Halloween party this year, you can create some wonderful memories with your family and friends while being environmentally responsible at the same time.

And since it’s easier and cheaper to pull this off than you may think, we wanted to share 10 different ways to bring the green to your next Halloween party.

Decorations and Party Supplies

1)    Make sure you buy items that can be recycled.  Plates, cups, bowls, and utensils should meet this mark. Use decorations that are recyclable or go a step further and take the “Use What You Have” approach with the decorations.  Many of us put decorations out each year, put them away, and take them out the again next year.  There really is no need to hit the store and load up on items that may be non-recyclable and then thrown away. 

2)    Our local farm and nursery hosts a gourd hunt for the kids every October. The event is free, and it’s a great way to spend time with the family since the kids have a blast searching for hidden gourds all around the farm. We also get to bring our collected gourds home to use for Halloween decorations. Check out your local farm or nursery to see if your area offers any family friendly activities like this.

Party food

3)    The food itself can easily be green in nature.  Use organic vegetables from local farms for the famous “veggie tray”.  Go a step further and make an organic dip to go with the veggies. This organic dip recipe is simple to make and a great way to get the kids involved.

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4)     This time of year is famous for apple picking in many parts of the country. Spend the afternoon at a local farm with the family and pick up some apples for your party.  Use this as another opportunity to support local growers. The locally grown apples can be used in a variety of yummy recipes that will infuse your party with the nuance of the season. 

5)    The number of healthy snack options available at grocery stores has been increasing. Take the time to seek out such items as they are easier to purchase in most stores. 

6)    Look for cheeses and other foods coming from sources that do not use hormones or antibiotics with their animals. This contributes dramatically to preserving soil and natural environments.

Activities

7)    Through much trial and error, I have learned that what really matters when planning a party is focusing on the fun instead of all the extra stuff. Keeping it simple is best when it comes to hosting any type of party. Kids are not going to care or remember if you spent a lot of money, but they will remember the little details of how much fun they had and how the party made them feel. That is what really counts.

8)    The kids always love bobbing for apples, and this activity also makes for a healthy treat – compared to all that candy typically associated with Halloween.

9)    The Musical Monsters  game is so much fun and is always requested at our Halloween parties.

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10)  These milk jug ghosts were a huge hit at a Halloween party that we attended last year. The kids had a great time making this craft and the best part is that we can reuse them year after year for Halloween decorations.

What are some ideas you have for making your Halloween party a green success?

Green Halloween Wallpaper image courtesy of jelene.

The Science of Leaves Changing Color

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With the days getting shorter and the nights getting longer and colder, I bet you’ve noticed the leaves in the trees are changing color. Just two or three weeks ago, it was fairly subtle, but as we head deeper into the fall weather of October, trees are ready to flash their foliage finale before winter weather arrives.

The science behind this process is as beautiful as the variety of colors we see because it’s all elegantly based on sugar, sun light, pigment, and temperature.

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Leaves are basically food factories for tree — in other words, good ol’ photosynthesis. Leaves are flooded with the green pigment chlorophyll that uses sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water to make glucose (a.k.a. sugar or sap) and oxygen. The trees give off the oxygen and the transport the glucose into their trunk and roots in order to grow.

But as the days get shorter with the advent of fall weather, leaves make less and less glucose. As the process begins to slow down, trees store glucose away for winter and stop producing green chlorophyll. As the chlorophyll fades from the leaves, the other pigments Carotenoids, Tannins, and Anthocyanins are revealed.

The carotenoids pigments of yellow, orange, and red are all present during the growing season. Tannins are the browns and represent the waste products in the leaves that make them taste bitter.

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Carotenoids and tannins can produce a variety of colors. For example, oaks tend to have brown or russet colored leaves, while Poplars and ash will produce orange to brilliant yellows, hickory golden to dark bronze. 

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Anthocyanins are reds and purples (the same pigment in strawberries, raspberries, and plums) and help shield aging fall leaves from intense sunlight.

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When fall weather has warm, sunny days, leaves fill an upper layer with anthocyanin pigment to protect photosynthetic tissues underneath. This helps the trees produce extra glucose. Not surprisingly, maple trees, especially sugar maples, don their best scarlet and crimson outfits, as do sumac and red oak.

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So, if you’re anything like us, you love the fall because you get to experience all of these beautiful colors in full effect. But isn’t it nice to understand the science of leaves changing color? Think of how many people you can impress with this knowledge at holiday parties!

unconsumption:


Barcelona and London based TAPEgear creates eco-friendly tech cases and sleeves for your laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The latest collection released from this environmentally-aware design team is SHRED, a line of sleeves for your iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone, and laptop. The colorful SHRED sleeves are made out of 100% textile waste from used clothing and household fabrics.

(via SHRED: Tech Cases Made from 100% Recycled Textile Waste - Design Milk)

Looking for sustainable cases for your electronic devices? Check out these designs from SHRED - they’re made from 100% recycled textile waste like used clothing and household fabrics.

unconsumption:

Barcelona and London based TAPEgear creates eco-friendly tech cases and sleeves for your laptops, tablets, and smartphones. The latest collection released from this environmentally-aware design team is SHRED, a line of sleeves for your iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone, and laptop. The colorful SHRED sleeves are made out of 100% textile waste from used clothing and household fabrics.

(via SHRED: Tech Cases Made from 100% Recycled Textile Waste - Design Milk)

Looking for sustainable cases for your electronic devices? Check out these designs from SHRED - they’re made from 100% recycled textile waste like used clothing and household fabrics.

innovativegreenliving:

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How can we live lightly on the Earth and save money at the same time? We tell you some tips to make it happen -

1. Save energy to save money.

• Set your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer to save on heating and cooling costs.
• Install…

These are 10 really helpful tips for learning how to go green in daily life while taking your budget into account. And for each major tip, there are 3-4 sub-tips to help you implement these green practices into your everyday routines.

6 Eco-Friendly Gadgets and Accessories for Your iPhone (Guest Blog by Sookie Lioncourt)

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Electronic devices have their fair share of negative impacts to our planet. Frequent and excessive charging, using power-inefficient peripherals, and purchasing plastic-based accessories are some of the common practices associated with using too many electronics. If you can’t leave without these gadgets but want to stay true to your green living goals, then we have six of the most eco-friendly accessories and gadgets you can use with your iPhone.

1) iBamboo iPhone Speaker

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The iBamboo Speaker is a one-of-a-kind audio device and iPhone stand made entirely from a single piece of bamboo. It’s crafted with a small dock or opening to hold your Apple device in place, as you listen to your favorite tracks in an amplified sound. It doesn’t require any electricity source in order to function. Once your iPhone is mounted on the speaker, the bamboo’s hollow interior will naturally amplify the intensity of the sound coming from your iPhone’s speakers. It doesn’t give you extra loud bass beats similar to a full-fledged speaker set, but it provides you with enough volume to fill a standard-sized room.

2) SLXtreme 5 Solar-Powered Waterproof Case

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According to the specifications listed on the consumer page of the iPhone 5 on O2, the 1440 mAh battery of the current Apple flagship is designed to last for 225 hours of standby time and 8 hours of continuous calls. But, if you’re a heavy mobile user, there’s a great chance that you may need to re-charge your smartphone’s battery frequently throughout the day. This is especially true when you factor in how many apps you keep running at all times. The SLXtreme 5 is a rugged case for your iPhone that doubles as a power source. Unlike any other third-party battery packs, this one doesn’t need charging, as it boasts a self-sustaining solar panel on the rear side to capture sunlight and automatically store energy to fully power up your gizmo. This case is available for $129.99.

3) BioLite Camp Stove

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If you are fond of nature-hiking and camping activities, the BioLite Camp Stove combines a charger and a burner in a single device that you can transport with ease. Its small stove is ideal to cook food, to create a warm and cozy bonfire, or to boil water. It’s lightweight, durable, and 100% safe. It only uses small scraps of wood and dried leaves to start a fire. This useful machine comes with a $129.95 price tag.

4) ReCase Ergonomic iPhone 5 Casing

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As work to combat global warming, we challenge you to abandon the use of mobile casings made of plastics, especially PVCs. Bumpers and rear shells made of Polyvinyl Chloride take several years to decompose and become toxins when released to the environment. Miniwiz Sustainable Energy Development has designed a wide variety of fashionable iPhone containers called “ReCase,” with the prefix pertaining to recycled thermoplastic wastes. Their products include shells, bumpers, and 2-in-1 ATM and gadget holders. What makes it even greener is the fact that they don’t use ink, glue, and carbon products during production. You can own one of these casings for as low as $49.99.

5) Bracketron Mushroom GreenZero

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The Bracketon Mushroom GreenZero is a tiny charger for your mobile device that automatically switches off and breaks the connection between the power source and your gadget the moment your battery gets full. The Mushroom GreenZero’s main goal is to save energy and your money from paying excessive electric bills. By constantly using this wall charger, you are also minimizing the risk of fire accidents resulting from excessive charging. Its current price is $28.95.

6) Kinesis K3 Wind and Solar Powered iDevice Charger

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Solar and wind electricity have become the two most popular renewable energy sources in the energy industry, especially as prices to generate and transmit the energy have been steadily dropping for the past few years. The Kinesis K3 is a portable tool that combines both technologies into one. It includes a wind-propelled tiny fan that functions as a turbine. On its body, there’s a tiny solar panel to capture the sun’s energy.  Just let it stand in your balcony as you charge your phone using an adapter cord. Its rechargeable battery holds up to 4,000 mAh of charge and has a maximum output of 1 amp.  Priced at $57.89, this one is a keeper.

We understand that electronic devices like the iPhone are a part of our daily lives, whether it’s for work, personal entertainment, interpersonal communications, or something else entirely.  With the above gadgets and accessories, you can minimize, if not eliminate, its negative impact to our planet Earth.

About the Author:

Sookie Lioncourt is a technology novice who advocates eco-friendly usage of mobile gadgets. She has a great passion for photography and fashion. Follow her on Twitter @sookielioncourt.

4 Energy Efficient Appliances That Will Revolutionize Your Home Budget

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Because of the escalating cost of energy today, energy efficient appliances and products have become the number one choice for homeowners and businesses. From washers, dryers, refrigerator, and freezers, to televisions, air conditioners, heaters, fans, office equipment, and more, energy efficient technology make it possible for home and business owners to conserve valuable energy resources in order to save money, reduce your home budget and electricity bill, and help the environment. The following are examples of four such products that have earned the ENERGY STAR rating for their energy conserving efforts.

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1. Refrigerator and Freezers

Due to advanced improvements in refrigerator compressors and insulation, today’s contemporary designs utilize much less energy than their former counterparts. Homeowners who invest in an ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator or freezer can save up to 15% on their energy consumption. Taking into consideration a 10-12 year refrigerator lifespan, your ENERGY STAR appliance could save you from $200 to $1,000 over the life of the product, which means your home budget will love not replacing appliances all the time.

Currently, there are about 170 million models of refrigerator/freezers in use within the U.S. alone; about one third of these are 10 years of age or older. Older appliances consume much more energy, which makes them more expensive to use in your home and creates a negative impact on the environment. Modern energy-efficient refrigerators and freezers provide greater variety in features, size, color, and style at reduced operating costs. At the same time, you become an active participant in reducing energy consumption and sustaining the environment. ENERGY STAR refrigerator/freezers can be purchased at reasonable costs from top manufacturers such as Frigidaire, Blomberg, LG, Liebhen, Kenmore and more.

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2. Air Conditioning and Heating Systems

Heating/cooling costs can cost the average homeowner up to $1,000 a year – for some households, this amount is nearly half of their entire energy bill. When you invest in an energy-efficient air conditioner or heater, it helps cut your costs by up to 30%. If your AC unit is over 12 years of age, it pays to upgrade to an ENERGY STAR rated product that can help you save money. ENERGY STAR products and appliances are required to meet stringent EPA guidelines for energy efficiency. In the case of AC units, they have much higher SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) ratings than their conventional counterparts. By meeting these requirements, energy saving air conditioning and heating systems maximize your energy usage while reducing carbon pollution to protect the environment.

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Energy efficient air conditioners and heating systems were designed to save you money without compromising on performance. With an ENERGY STAR air conditioner and heating system, you can continue to enjoy a relaxing, comfortable home environment all year round along with great savings on your electricity bill. You can purchase this equipment from such leading manufacturers as Broan, Bryant, Carrier, and Coleman, just to name a few.

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3. Ventilation Fans

Ventilation fans have much to contribute towards improving the ambiance of a home or small business environment. Enhanced blade designs and improved motors make ENERGY STAR ventilation fans more efficient to use, giving them an edge over their competitors. These features also help to improve the fans’ level of performance. Energy-saving ventilation fans with lighting and humidity features are also available within the ENERGY STAR package. With good ventilation, you can eliminate such problems as excess moisture or odor buildup in your home.

In addition to providing excellent service, ENERGY STAR ventilation fans can contribute to home décor, adding that final classy touch to your home. In hotels, energy efficient ventilation fans that run continuously within the bathrooms can save hotel owners as much as $75 annually. There are many makes and models of ENERGY STAR ventilation fans to choose from, including such brands as NuTone, Broan, Hoover, Delta Breez Greene Builder, and Panasonic Whisper Green.

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4. Televisions

Taking into consideration the high rate of television viewing in the U.S. today, it only makes sense to invest in an energy saving product. This is especially important if you have more than one TV in your household. Today’s consumers are investing in larger televisions with screens of 40 inches or more in size. Naturally, these larger screened sets consume more energy. When you purchase ENERGY STAR models, you can help reduce the cost of your TV viewing as you enjoy their advanced features and modern conveniences.

On average, contemporary ENERGY STAR TVs consume 25% less energy than their conventional counterparts. You can find ENERGY STAR televisions in all makes and models to include LED and LCD flat screen TVs and those equipped for 3D and Internet connectivity. Using energy-efficient televisions in conjunction with other energy-saving home entertainment equipment can shave off as much as $200 off your electricity bill over the lifespan of these products.

Your investment in this type of home entertainment equipment lets you enjoy the best that modern energy efficient technology has to offer at a fraction of the operating cost. You can purchase top of the line ENERGYSTAR televisions from such qualified manufacturers as LG, Samsung, Panasonic, Vizio and TCL.

These are but a few of the many energy saving appliances and products available on the market today that can help save you money on your monthly electricity bill. The more you learn about energy efficiency, the more you can contribute to reducing our day-to-day impact upon the environment.

Energy Star Logo on Room Air Conditioner image courtesy of 3tonairconditioner.net and AC Home X.

All other images courtesy of energystar.gov.

Green Fall Activities for the Entire Family

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With kids back in school, families may be in search of fun activities for when everyone does spend time together. And since its fall, a season full of changing leaves and weather, why not incorporate nature into these activities? So, here are some green fall activities for the family.

Shop at a Farmers Market. Find fresh seasonal produce while supporting your local farmers. Look for items fresh for the fall season like apples, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. Then decide as a family on which recipes to use so you can make it a fun activity for everyone. To find your closest farmers market, visit FarmersMarket.com or the USDA National Farmers Market Directory.

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Visit a Corn Maze. Nothing will get you in the fall spirit quicker than navigating your way through a corn maze.  Not only is it fun for the whole family, you are also supporting your local farmers as they earn extra money this time of year by creating these corn mazes. To find a corn maze in your area, visit The MAiZE website.

Organic Apple Picking. Apples grow well in the fall, so grab the family and head to the nearest apple orchard.  Best of all, when you are done, bring them home to make candy or caramel apples, apple pie, or strudel (yum!).

Go on a Bike Ride. Take in the changing leaves while riding your bike. It’s carbon-neutral, which is great for the environment and good exercise for you and your family. 

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Head to a Pumpkin Patch. Before you pick up a pumpkin at your local grocery store, head to a pumpkin patch instead. There, kids can learn about where pumpkins come from and see how they grow. In addition, pumpkin patches usually offer other activities like hay rides, petting zoos, and more outdoor activities.

Family Outdoors in Fall image courtesy of blulikejazz88.

Happy Little Girl in Corn Maze image courtesy of Beth Rankin.

3 Kids in Pumpkin Patch image courtesy of pinmonkeypress.

What are some green and eco-friendly ways that your family celebrates the arrival of fall each year?

hilker:

Rooftop Farming Is Getting Off The Ground : NPR

This is a fantastic article outlining many of the current projects taking root in our urban centers. It seems people are really taking the local food concept to new and unusual heights, all under the auspices of reclaiming post-industrial blight and providing new purpose to these burnt-out spaces.

hilker:

Rooftop Farming Is Getting Off The Ground : NPR

This is a fantastic article outlining many of the current projects taking root in our urban centers. It seems people are really taking the local food concept to new and unusual heights, all under the auspices of reclaiming post-industrial blight and providing new purpose to these burnt-out spaces.

(via urbangreens)