31 Dec 2015

It's not garbage yet

I have an aversion to throwing things out that are not garbage.  Why fill up the landfill with stuff that someone else can use?  Instead of throwing it in the garbage, why not see if there is someone that would want it.  
bubble wrap, insulation, packaging supplies, tj's green adventure
I had a large bag full of bubble wrap so I posted it on Kijiji to give away for free.  In no time 3 people had responded to the ad.  I wanted it give it to someone that would put it to good use and not use it just to pop the bubbles.  I figured someone would want it for packing, but this person wanted it for insulating windows.
bubble wrap, window insulation, tj's green adventure
I googled bubble wrap for a picture to use in this post and to my surprise using it for window insulation came up.  The person I gave the bubble wrap to says he puts it between the windows or you can click on the source link above, to find out how to apply the bubble wrap directly to the window.   

The next time you have something you no longer want or need, try posting it on Kijiji and see if someone else can make use of it.

Green Highlights:
  • giving something away instead of throwing it out
  • another use for bubble wrap
  • reducing energy use
Do you have something you can give away instead of throwing it in the garbage?

17 Dec 2015

Timed just right!

Houses look so pretty this time of year decorated with Christmas lights.
timer, outdoor Christmas lights, tj's green adventure
 But what I am also noticing is that some homes leave their Christmas lights on all night and some even all day too.  Why not use an outdoor timer and have them come on when it is starting to get dark and them have them turn back off later?  That way, you don't have to think about it turning them on and off and it is one less thing to think about at this busy time of year.  I like to set the timer so my Christmas lights come on around 5:00 in the evening and then turn off at 11:00.  That's plenty of time to enjoy them without excessive use of electricity and it will cost less.

Green Highlights:
  • use less electricity
  • save on your electricity bill
Do you have your outdoor Christmas lights on a timer?


4 Dec 2015

A green gift exchange

Whether is it with family, co-workers or an organization we might belong to, it's the time of year when we get asked to take part in a gift exchange.  This year, why not make it a green gift exchange?  Instead of going out and buying something brand new,  have everyone give a gift that is used.  It could be something you already have and don't want, but someone else would appreciate or you could shop at a resale store or website.  You can find anything from china, crystal, books, tools, sporting goods, art, music, movies, jewelry and the possibilities go on.
second hand store, reselling, gift exchange, tj's green adventure
Here is a list of some organizations that have stores in my area (London, Ontario) to get you started.  I've included links to their websites for more information and so you can see if they have a location near you.
Many of the stores in this list are non-profit organizations so your purchase will be helping other people.  You could even put a bit of a twist on your gift exchange and have everyone donate something at the same time.  You can do some decluttering  and shopping all at once.    

Green Highlights:
  • reusing items instead of buying something new
  • donating items
Will you do a green gift exchange this year?

17 Nov 2015

My new energy efficient window

One of the unfortunate events mentioned in a previous post, TJ's series of unfortunate events, was that the window beside my front door got smashed.  It was a while before I had a chance to shop around for a new window so we spent almost the whole summer with the window boarded up.  I learned a bit about energy efficient windows in the process.
broken window, low E glass, thermal pane, tj's green adventure
The window we had was a single pane 5 mm sheet of obscure glass that was not energy efficient.  It was replaced with a thermal unit made up of 2 panes of 4 mm glass which I had tempered.  Since it is right beside  the front door and goes almost to the ground, I wanted something strong that wouldn't break easily.  We went with obscure glass again for privacy and I wanted it to be low E. 
boarded up window, smashed window, replacement window, tj's green adventure
Low E is a film that reflects light and heat back to its source.  That means it reflects heat into the house in the winter and outside in the summer.  This is great for energy efficiency, but I found out that low E has to be applied to the inside pane and cannot be applied to obscure glass.  Since my inside pane was obscure, we had to forgo the low E.  The new window is still more energy efficient than what we had.  I like the look of the new window better than what we had before and I am happy that it is more energy efficient.
thermal pane window, obscure glass, tj's green adventure

Green Highlights:
  • replaced a single pane window with a thermal pane
Do you have any low E windows in your home?

8 Oct 2015

Useful vines

Alternative to using string for bundling yard waste

We have regular yard waste pick up in the city where I live.  I have 2 garbage cans that I use just for yard waste and I like to make sure they are full for our scheduled pick up.  Last weekend I filled them both up, but I still had a trumpet vine that I wanted to take down.  This was planted from a shoot from our main plant and it has started taking over the front of the house.  I thought I could pull down the growth and put it in a couple of 5 gallon pails, but when I got it all down there was way too much. 
trumpet vine, yard waste, gardening, tj's green adventure
 I didn't have any string to tie it up with so I used a few strands of the vine itself.  I wrapped them around the bundle and tied the ends so it would hold.  When I got home at the end of the day, the garbage pails were empty and the bundle of vines was gone!  I didn't need to use a manufactured product and it didn't cost me anything.  I have some ivy I want to get rid of which I will use to tie up some more bundles. 

Green Highlights:
  • using vines for string

18 Sep 2015

Turn down your wattage

It isn't always necessary to have a room fully lit.  Here are some ways you can lower electricity usage.

Dining Room
I enjoy being in my dining room, so sometimes I bring my laptop in and work on it there, like I am right now.  My dining room has a lovely brass and glass light fixture with 6 light bulbs hanging over the dining table.  Every now and then, I take off the glass shades and wash them.  This allows better light and it looks nice when they are sparkling clean.

The first option I have to use less electricity is a dimmer switch.  We dim the lights when we do not need the full brightness, which is most of the time.
candles, low wattage light bulb, dimmer switch, tj's green adventure
The second option is a little lamp I put in the corner that has a 13w curly fluorescent bulb in it.  I have had this lamp for years and it was sitting on a shelf in the storage room with no lamp shade because it had gotten old and fell apart.  I was at a garage sale where they were selling a brand new, still in the wrapper lamp shade that fit this little lamp perfectly.  I only paid 50 cents for it!  It ads a nice ambiance and works well when not a lot of light is needed.

Family Room
The television is in our basement family room.  We can light this room by turning on 4 wall sconces or using a lamp.  When I am watching a movie, sometimes I will use the lamp which has a curly 13w bulb.  Other times I will use no electricity at all to light the room.  Instead, I light a scented candle.  There is really no need for more light than that.  I can enjoy my candle and save electricity.

Not only am I saving money using dimmer switches, less light bulbs, lower wattage bulbs and candles, I was also able to make use of something that another person did not need.

Green Highlights:
  • use less electricity by using dimmer switches
  • use less electricity by using lower wattage bulbs
  • use less electricity by using less light bulbs
  • use candles for light
  • shop at garage sales
Have you lowered your energy usage by using less lighting when you don't need a fully lit room?

9 Sep 2015

Corn on the cob

It's always a treat when the time of year comes around for fresh corn on the cob.  I cook it on the stove by putting the shucked cobs in a pot of boiling water and boiling them for 7 minutes.  The husks get taken out to the composter.  Once the cobs are removed from the boiling water, I carefully take the pot outside and pour the water on weeds that grow in my driveway between the asphalt and sidewalk or between the patio stones to get rid of them.  It works great on dandelions that grow in cracks where you can't dig them out.  You might have to do it a couple times before they die.  I have also used it on ant hills.  I do the same thing with the water I boiled eggs in.  This is an environmentally safe way to get rid of weeds and insects by using something that would otherwise have been poured down the drain.
corn on the cob, pesticides, herbicides, tj's green adventure
Green Highlights:
  • killing weeds and bugs without using chemicals
  • finding another use for boiling water instead of pouring it down the drain
  • composting produce waste
Do you have an environmentally safe way to get rid of weeds?

28 Aug 2015

A hole in one

I've got a hole in one.  In my rubber glove, that is!  It's not time to throw it out just yet.  There's still some life left in that rubber glove with a hole.

Yard work
I use rubber gloves when I do the dishes.  Otherwise I end up with a rash on my hands.  When I get a hole in one, I put it on the shelf in the garage where I keep my yard gloves.  Then I have them handy for when I have some dirty work to do.  As long as there is no water or liquid involved, the glove with the hole can still be used.  For those of you that like to use disposable latex gloves, this is an alternative that doesn't cost you any money and you are not generating more trash.  I found this handy last fall when I was raking leaves, especially when the leaves were wet.

Pet hair 
For those of you with pets, getting the hair or fur off your clothes can be a challenge.  Bentley, our puggle, sheds a lot.  We use a rubber glove with a hole in it to clean off the pet hair on our clothes.  You can put the glove on your hand or fold it in half, then wipe off the hair off.  I draw a smiley face on it so I know which glove it is and keep one in the kitchen and another in the bathroom.
puggle, Bentley, dogs that shed, tj's green adventure
Me and Bentley
Green Highlights:
  • reusing rubber gloves that have a hole

23 Aug 2015

The Project - Part 4 - Electrical

Receptacles and Light Switch
Since the panelled walls were shades of brown, the receptacles and light switch were brown.  We replaced them with white Decora and donated the brown ones to Habitat for Humanity.

Light Fixtures
wall sconce, amber glass, tj's green adventure

The existing light fixtures were 4 wall sconces with amber coloured glass hurricane shades that I did not like.  I could have replaced them with new wall sconces, but I didn't want to spend that much money on wall sconces when I would prefer not to have sconces in the first place.  Since rewiring would have been expensive and not something we could do on our own, we opted to keep what we had.  We found small lamp shades that fit the existing fixtures perfectly and we donated the glass  hurricane shades.  I really like the way they look now and the new shades cost less than what we would have had to pay for 1 new sconce.
wall sconce, lamp shades, tj's green adventure

Power Bar
We got a Smart Strip to hook up our electronics.  I had heard about these but didn't really understand how they worked.  You plug the main device like the television or computer into the main plug and that controls the power to the other components like the dvd player or printer.  When the main device is turned off the others get turned off as well.  This reduces power usage and will save money on your energy bill.  There is also a plug that isn't controlled so you can plug a lamp or other item in it and it will not be affected by whether the main device is on or off.
smart strip, power bar, tj's green adventure

We got a timer for the dehumidifier.  It is programmed to run during off peak time for hydro so we are paying the lowest electric rates when it is running.
timer, programmable, tj's green adventure
         Green Highlights:
  • donated items
  •  reused light fixtures
  • smart strip for reducing energy usage
  • using a timer to save money on hydro usage
Do you use a smart strip for your television or computer?


18 Aug 2015

Think before you print

How often do we print out of habit or because we just don't think about it?  It's so easy to hit a button and out comes a printed sheet of paper.  If you really do need to print a hard copy of something, consider printing double-sided if there is more than one page.  In an office setting, often documents are printed for a paper trail (think accounting).  Since these are rarely looked at again, they can be printed double-sided.  Not only will it save paper, but also filing cabinet and storage space.  I also find it easier to handle double sided copies than single sheets and staples make files bulky and awkward. An even better solution is to not print it at all. Can it be saved as a PDF and not use any paper or ink?

I see so much unnecessary paper that it would be nice if we made more of an effort to think of these 3 thing before we print:
  1. do we really need a paper copy?
  2. can we print double-sided or duplex?
  3. can we save it as a PDF or other computer file?
    recycle paper, waste paper, tj's green adventure
Green Highlights:
  • reduce paper usage
  • reduce ink/toner usage
  • save money by using less paper and ink/toner 
Do you print double-sided whenever possible?