Monday, November 21, 2011

Great green gifts

Gearing up for Christmas shopping? Here's a collection of green gift ideas for everybody on your list...

(image: recycled circuit board ornaments from

Visit sites like Ecoist, FairTradeSports, OrganicBabyGiftsBoutique, OliveGreenDog, and WearYourMusic to find unique gifts that are organic, recycled, fair trade, charitable, or all of the above. Follow this link to the Consumer Reports Greener Choices page for these sites and a few more.

Don't forget the rechargeable batteries to power your gadgets. View CR recommendations for long-lasting, greener batteries. Their holiday buying guide has some groovy gifts like the MudWatt electrochemistry kit and a sculptural CFL bulb called the Plumen 001. - Unique gifts and creative design found here, many handmade and/or recycled, with items like record bookends, tree ring coasters, and bamboo dry erase boards. - Green gifts, awards, and promotional items made from recycled bicycle parts. Gifts that inform, enlighten & entertain, including recycled wine bottle drinking glasses, bamboo keyboard and mouse, and newspaper bead bracelets. Building buffs will enjoy the origami architecture book and Frank Lloyd Wright Lego sets, while electrician types will get a charge out of the "Resistance is not futile…" T-shirt. The worldwide online marketplace for handmade gifts. Or bypass the shopping altogether and make your own stuff, like DIY iPhone gloves.

Happy holidays!

P.S. Today's Grist newsletter had a good article about eschewing "stuff" - complete with links to Annie Leonard's Story of Stuff and George Carlin's NSFW rant about it.  Food for thought...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Paying it forward with recycling in Baltimore County

Baltimore County has authorized $25 million to upgrade the recycling facilities in Cockeysville.

Apparently, since the county switched to single-stream recycling in February 2010, recycling has been shipped elsewhere for processing because county facilities could only handle dual-stream.  This new funding will pay for transitioning the Cockeysville facility to single-stream, and build a new garbage transfer station as well.

According to sources at the solid waste management bureau, this transition will ultimately save the county money:

Trash disposal cost = $56 to $58 per ton
Recycling revenue = $100 to $105 per ton, depending on materials

Read the full article here:,0,6895904.story

Friday, November 11, 2011

Simple driving habits that can save you money

Save money and carbon emissions with these driving tips from Mary Hunt, author of Debt-Proof Living.

Stop idling and save $365/year

For every two minutes your car idles, you burn as much fuel as driving 1 mile, according to Rob Schlichting, spokesperson for the California Energy Commission. With gas prices at about $4/gallon nationwide, 10 minutes of idling costs you $1 a day. If you’ll be waiting longer than 30 seconds, turn off the engine.

Follow the 4/40 rule and save $96/year

What’s more cost-effective: air conditioning or open windows? Rule of thumb to conserve two gallons of gas a month: if you’re driving under 40 mph, open all four windows and turn off the a/c. Over 40 mph, close the windows and run the a/c.

Slow down and save $345/year

Every 5 mph you drive over 60 is like paying an extra $0.29 per gallon. Stick to the speed limit and you’ll shave off 12% at the pump.

Don’t drive aggressively and save $916/year

Accelerating forcefully, making abrupt lane changes, and braking sharply all reduce gas mileage, says Philip Reed, senior consumer advice editor at, a leading auto information website. Take it easy behind the wheel and you’ll boost mpg by 30%. That’s about $1.20 less per gallon – a big savings on the $3100 the average family annually spends for gas, according to the Consumer Federation of America.