You consciously recycle glass bottles, cardboard boxes and newspapers, but what about all those dairy and take-out containers, deodorant sticks or water pitcher filters? With the Preserve Gimme 5 Program, you can take landfill-bound polypropylene #5 plastics to select Whole Foods Markets or even mail them directly to Preserve. In 2009, Gimme 5 collected 45,000 pounds of plastic that was ingeniously transformed into performance-driven, stylish and 100 percent recycled Preserve household products, such as toothbrushes, razors and their award-winning kitchen line. The program expects to get three to four times more recyclable materials this year. Partnering with Preserve are eco-minded companies Tom's of Maine, Stonyfield Farm, Brita and Whole Foods Market, further proving their commitment to protecting the environment.
For more information: www.preserveproducts.com
2. Clean green
Every toxic chemical you use to wipe your counters or swish down your drains and toilets ends up in the environment, affecting not only the water and terra firma, but also the air your family breathes and the surfaces in your home. A greener approach that will get your house just as spic and span is Herb'N Organics line of powerful, non-toxic cleaning products. From all-natural linen and pillow sprays to eco-friendly hand sanitizers and multi-purpose cleansers, Herb'N Organics' aromatherapeutic line will leave your house sparkling clean and smelling fresh. Every product is safe to use for the entire family, including pets.
Retail: $5.00 to $25.00 depending on the product
3. Eat a low carbon diet
Is your lunch contributing to global warming? It might be, considering that the food system is responsible for one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Sierra Club Green Home is happy to partner with Bon Appétit Management Company to bring you the Low Carbon Diet Calculator, a dining-savvy tool that allows you to compare the relative carbon impacts of your daily food choices (for free!). You simply drag and drop menu items, ingredients or sample meals into your virtual pan and the calculator tells you the amount of carbon emissions created by your meals. With every meal you eat, you have the power to reduce climate change. And even if you start by making food choices that reduce your emissions by 25 percent, you will contribute to the global warming solution.
The Low Carbon Diet Calculator can be found at: www.sierraclubgreenhome.com/go-green/food/eat-a-low-carbon-diet/
4. Shop organic
Whether you have adopted a 100 percent organic diet or are simply including more organic foods in your everyday meals, you can continue to green your food shopping by opting for eco-friendly reusable shopping bags. If you're reluctant because the bags you've seen are "too crunchy" for your tastes, you are going to love what'Surbag's its-laS-tik super stylish totes. No more paper bags, no more plastic bags, all you need are one – or a few – of the awe-inspiring metallic or chic-print multi-purpose shopping bags. Made of a special flexible nylon and lycra fabric blend, and available in four sizes, these durable eco-friendly totes are made in the USA, manufactured in a factory rebuilt after being devastated by Hurricane Katrina (a percentage of sales is also donated to Hope House in New Orleans). Washable, economical, fashionable, and user-friendly, these bags stretch, bounce and move with you while you walk, allowing you to hold more yet feel like you are carrying less.
Retail: $12 to $25 depending on the bag
5. Shower yourself green
In addition to keeping your showers short and sweet to conserve water, lather your hair and body with all-natural personal care products. Our favorites are Desert Essence Organics Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner and Vermont Soap's Organic Moisturizing Shower Gels.
Desert Essence Organics Coconut Shampoo and Conditioner will give your hair a soothing tropical vacaion. Infused with organic coconut oil, this luscious line offers intense moisturizing, smooths frizzies and restores natural luster to overprocessed, damaged hair. With consistent use, your hair will look revived, strong and healthy. Best yet, keeping with the Desert Essence mission, this shampoo and conditioner is 100 percent vegan, biodegradable, manufactured using windpower, cruelty and wheat/gluten-free, contains no parabens, sodium laurly/laureth sulfates, phthalates, artificial fragrances or colors, silicones, EDTA, glycol or petroleum-based ingredients.
Retail: $9 each
Vermont Soap's Moisturizing Shower Gels are a new collection of certified organic and USDA-approved moisturizing shower gels, available in eight-ounce pump bottles and three fragrant varieties: sweet orange, country lavender, and sweetgrass shea. Free of artificial colors, fragrances, chemical preservatives or other harmful additives, these people-friendly cleansers are not tested on animals nor contain any animal by-products. What sets these shower gels apart from their detergent-based competition is the innovative gel consistency created using natural vegetable gums and glycerin. You can feel good about lathering up with Vermont Soap's bath and shower products; not only are they safe for your skin, they are kind to the environment.
Available: www.vermontsoap.com and select health food, gourmet and specialty stores nationwide.
6. Refresh your skin care with organics
Tisserand Aromatherapy just launched a new skin care line made with all-natural ingredients from Mother Nature. Because your skin is your body's largest organ, and very absorbent to boot, it's important to treat it with skin care products that contain no harsh or harmful ingredients, especially if you have acne or related skin problems. The new Tisserand line naturally deep cleans and improves skin balance with organic, purifying and antiseptic tea tree oil and other organic extracts. From the Tea Tree Bar Soap and All-Over Skin Wash to the Tea Tree and Kanuka Blemish Stick and even Tea Tree Deodorant, the Tisserand line will keep your skin healthy, supple and smooth.
Retail: $7.50 to $16 depending on the product
7. Be a green beauty queen
You've passionately adopted an eco-friendly lifestyle, but that doesn't mean have to forgo your daily beauty routine. In addition to its eco-friendly Bio-Blends Eyeliner, Bio-Fond Cream Foundation, and Bio-Blush, Gerda Spillmann Swiss Skin Care and Cosmetics recently launched an environmentally-kind Bamboo Make-Up Brush Set. Made of the fastest growing self-sustainable plant on Earth, this five-piece brush set includes a blush brush, eye shading brush, eyeliner brush, lash and brow groomer and concealer brush, all tucked in a handy hemp and cotton storage roll. Brushes are constructed from natural and recycled materials including bamboo handles and synthetic Taklon bristles, both of which are 100 percent cruelty-free. No part of these brushes contain pesticides, herbicides or any harmful chemicals. Bonus trivia: In China, bamboo can find be found in most households because legend says it brings luck to the bearer and energizes the room where it is placed.
Available: www.gerdaspillmann.com or 1-800-282-FACE
8. Fashionably green your feminine hygiene
For many women, feminine hygiene products are a monthly necessity. Fortunately, all-natural pads and tampons are becoming more readily available. And for those days you just need a little extra protection, you can add a little undercover fashion to your options. The first and only printed fabric panty liner on the market, Pantzies are not only disposable, hypoallergenic, latex-free, and water resistant, these panty liners boast cute designs and prints on both panty and thong shapes. In addition to their innovative odor-fighting feature, Pantzies come in three adhesive strengths, and can even be worn without underwear, sticking directly to most fabrics, including workout wear and swimsuits. No need to worry about Pantzies dislogding and ending up down your pant leg, they will stick with you during your workday as well as your sweaty workouts.
Retail: Ranging from $8 for a 16-count box to $24 for a 4-box package
9. Hydrate wisely
Staying well-hydrated is an important factor in keeping your body functioning at its peak. While you're sipping your way to health, you can also contribute to the health of the environment. Instead of downing plastic bottle after plastic bottle of water or sports drinks, consider LifeFactory's brand new glass beverage bottle. Equal parts style and function, this is the first-ever adult glass bottle on the market. These durable dishwasher-safe bottles are unique from reusable stainless steel bottles in that what you see is what you get -- you can see all contents of the bottle through the clear, neutral tasting glass. Offered in six chic hues, the bottle's wide mouth entry is great for ice cubes, tea bags and citrus slices. Best of all, LifeFactory bottles are chemical- and BPA-free, making them one of the safest lines on the market. To stylishly protect the bottles from breakage, each comes with a brightly-colored silicone sleeve. LifeFactory even has an eco-line of baby bottles and teethers for the little ones in the house.
Retail: $22 for 22-ounce bottle
10. Light up your life with safer CFLs
Replacing your incandescent light bulbs with compact flourescent light (CFL) bulbs not only saves energy, it can save you money (CFLs use about 75 percent less energy and last for years). However, you can take your eco-mission one step further by using ClearLite's Energy Star qualified, liquid mercury-free ArmorLite CFL bulbs. Traditional CFLs contain liquid mercury that poses a danger to your family, if broken. Well, dropping light bulbs isn't uncommon, so the founder of ClearLite, conducted research on alternatives to mercury and came up with an equally useful amalgam. Further, each ArmorLite bulb is coated with a silicone shell that, in the event a bulb does break, the shards are completely self-contained. This safer CFL will protect your family from the hazards of traditional CFL bulbs while helping you do your part to protect the environment.
Retail: Pricing varies depending on product
More eco-friendly health tips