Friday, November 28, 2008

The Christmas Wrap...

(This article appears in the December issue of Abode and can also be viewed at Abode)

Let’s face it. The holiday season can be Mother Earth’s worst nightmare, from the plastic toys made overseas to the copious amounts of paper products. This season Betty helps you think outside the holiday box with creative and green gift-wrapping ideas!

If you’re a saver like me, you have a head start. But don’t fret; it’s not too late to start saving all things paper and festive for next year including boxes and ribbons. Include reuse as a part of your family tradition.

My rule of thumb is to begin with what you have, i.e. nothing NEW, especially paper (otherwise known as dead trees). Scour the attic for last year’s boxes, your closet for shoe boxes, or the recycle bin for an appropriately-sized cardboard box. Otherwise, the local Salvation Army or thrift shop should have old tins or baskets.

As for wrapping paper: newspaper comics, old tissue paper, a cut-up paper grocery bag, even a scrap of cloth will work. Next collect odds and ends like old ribbon, feathers, twigs, string, shoe laces, magazines, tea bags, cinnamon sticks, leftover tissue paper, postcards, old maps, even game pieces. Don’t forget to forage in the great outdoors – holly bushes and rosemary twigs make great gift garnishes.

Now you have assembled your supplies, the fun part begins! With scissors, a hole punch, tape, glue gun (optional), and your collection of found objects, the gifts will become recycled works of art. With your imagination, the possibilities are limitless.


Better World Betty aims to be the number one resource for green living in our community. Check out all the many ways to act and buy local this season at

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Busy Week!

Last week made it official: Better World Betty is back! Most of you know I took a small hiatus from Betty this summer, having both my kids at home and this fall, spending time on the presidential campaign. But beginnning with a meeting of the Better World Betty advisory Board on November the 5th, it's full speed ahead! I hope to have the newsletter out within the week and if you're not on that, you should be. It's where you get the inside scoop on events, future blogs, and includes a personal challenge from Betty to you. (email to get on there ASAP)

Tuesday I met with Tom Frederick and Bruce Edmonds and my fellow citizens who serve on the Citizen's Advisory Committee for recycling (which still has a vacant spot open for a city resident, BY THE WAY! Hint, hint). I am averaging about four pages per meeting - lots of interesting recycling info there. Who knew that the wrapping surrounding reams of paper is NOT recyclable and jams the recycling machines, for instance?

Then Wednesday I met with Charlottesville Mayor Dave Norris about enjoyed gathering cool prizes given by generous area businesses and organizations for America Recycles Day at UVA! Feast! gave a t-shirt and reusable bag, Twice is Nice gave us a purse and tie, Rebecca's gave us a goodie bag filled with organic trail mix, etc, Blue Ridge Eco-Shop gave us Sigg water bottles exclaiming "You are what you drink - don't be plastic!", 1061 gave us new music sampler CDs, Integral Yoga gave us gift certificates, and Trees on Fire gave us a few of their fabulous CDs (the green room). THANK YOU - YOU ALL ARE FABULOUS!!

Thursday Bruce Edmonds, local recycling guru of McIntire Recycling fame, and I attended the all day event, America Recycles at UVA, joined by the Sierra Club, the Student Council Sustainability Committtee, Habitat for Humanity, the City, UVA Dining, and many others. We were all saddened by the weather, which nixed the ever-popular dumpster dive (especially since I spent the previous evening plastering Betty stickers on shoeboxes to be planted in said dumpsters so students could redeem prizes!). A dorm dumpster is emptied on the Lawn and students dive in finding recyclables, as a visual reminder and awareness-raising about the importance of recycling. Come spring, diving will happen, I trust!

I finished off the week by attending the wearable fashion show at St. Anne's Belfield, which was enjoyable, but not exactly as I expected. For obvious reasons I thought the dresses/outfits would be made of all recycled products, but this was more about creativity, imagination, and design and not necessarily environmental eyebrow-raising. I did love the music accompanied the student models: trash cans and chains and empty buckets were the percussion instruments.

Admist all the green happening my laptop had a technological malfunction (rather that than Betty having a wardrobe malfunction, I guess), so I apolgize for the delayed reporting.

It's good to be back!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Better World Beagle Strikes Again!

Cross your fingers for me that the "bittering agent" in the bottle of "Earth Pet Training Aid" will stop our beagle puppy, Mugsy, from single-handedly chewing all of our rugs!

Perhaps she is just teaching us the Buddhist tenet of impermanence in all things (and who couldn't use a lesson in that), but I honestly don't think we can abide with having another rug ruined beyond repair!

These are not antique rugs or anything, but they do valiantly protect our hardwood floors from scratches induced by chair legs and lovingly warm our bare feet.

The remaining two rugs seemed to beckon me this morning to take action, as they lay waiting for their own unraveling.

So with hope and a healthy amount of skepticism, I purchased the aforementioned earth-friendly "training aid" from Paige at the Eco-Shop on Preston.

With any luck Mugsy will be entirely repulsed and fall into a deep sleep dreaming of Better World Bassetts or something, so I can get some work done around here!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Turning the tide on the e-waste tsunami!

Did you know that estimated 2.2 million tons of computer, televisions, and other electronic equipment are discarded into US landfills each year? The upcoming conversion of analog to digital will likely add to this e-waste tsunami. To avoid mercury, lead, and other known carcinogens contaminating our local ground water supply follow these easy e-tips from Better World Betty:

For businesses, Computer Recycling of Virginia will pick up all electronics for a fuel fee. After refurbishing, they donate equipment to schools and non-profits throughout Virginia, or sell them in their self-sustaining store in Harrisonburg. Icing on the cake: a no-landfill guarantee (check or call 540-564-1990)

*Computers for Kids ( or call 817-1121), a local non-profit dedicated to mentoring disadvantaged kids, gladly accepts a variety of computer equipment (sorry no TVs) including laptops, desktops, and monitors. Note: both offer to properly wipe out your hard drive.

*AmVets will pick up TVs and other functioning electronics, transport, and sell to Richmond’s Fantastic Thrift store, then donate the money to Vietnam Veterans (call 1-800- 448-9870).

*Both Goodwill stores accept computers (no TVs).

If all else fails, Crutchfield will recycle for a nominal fee; however, after transporting, dismantling, recycling, and refurbishing, “some” parts may end up in a New Jersey landfill.

Two more computer recycling options: Staples will e-cycle for a $10 fee and at Office Depot you purchase the e-cycle box (sizes and prices from $5-$15) and they’ll do the rest.

Now those old electronics can stop collecting dust in your valuable storage space!


{Many companies have begun to offer free take-back programs, unfortunately Betty’s sleuthing found that none of the local big box companies participate.}

Monday, November 3, 2008

The day has come...

I hear much talk of nervousness and anxiety and what ifs leading into tomorrow, but I am excited. And filled with energy and hope. So I had to share this picture with you. The kids and I saw it on the way to recycling this morning (on Cherry Avenue, Charlottesville) and had our camera with us! I trust all you Better World Betty readers will make the decision you feel is right for our world, our planet tomorrow, which includes every man, woman, child, beast, butterfly, and daisy who lives and breathes on it.

Before you go:
The Board of Election rules are such that campaign material cannot be displayed within 40 feet of the polling place. That means clothing, pins and stickers. I do not want you to be inconvenienced by displaying campaign material and then having trouble entering the polling place. Be wise with your attire. (Or bring an article of clothing to cover up the campaign material when you enter the polling place). It's important everyone in every precinct in Albemarle County is able to vote.

The second is that the polls open at 6AM and close at 7 PM. If you are in line at 7 PM, you will be permitted to vote. Just stay in line. Bring a book or a magazine. Secondly, don't forget your picture identification like a drivers license or passport. You will need it.

It certainly will be an exciting day, and I hope your voting experience goes well.