Wednesday, January 26, 2011

take one for the trees...

My eldest son and I have verbally jousted and butt heads since conception. Those things that will serve him well later in life - a sharp tongue, quick wit, and killer perseverence and strive to be independent - right now can be a real pain in the you-know-what. Parents, you know of what I speak.

So yesterday my boys and I venture into my less than favorite big box office supply store (sacrifice we made rather than adding car miles to our daily footprint). Today's case in point on the parental battlefront: a new math binder.

"Choose a new binder for yourself." I let the phrase escape my lips without considering that his fierce independence would put the Betty-approved 100% recycled binder squarely in last place on his list.

Of course he picks up the Made in Taiwan, bleached paper, 0% recycled paper, dead tree variety and begins to dig in his heels in that familiar way. "This one," he declares.

I sigh. "Nope. Sorry, Pal. I'm not buying that one." And I go through the litany of environmental offenses and call up our family love of trees.

"But you said..." I know and that was before your mother remembered that she's Betty and I can no more bring herself to buy that binder than go thru the McDonald's drive through, I think to myself. "That one has a leaf on it," he states his main objection.

"OK so X out the leaf when we get home, if you don't like it."

He's glaring now.

"Choose one of these made from recycled paper. See? Look. This one has guitars on it and no trees were harmed in the making of this one and we love our trees, right?"

He is unmoved.

And I know this is about differentiation and choice and all that developmental shmah. I could have easily caved here. We're both tired and after all it's only one notebook, right. But that's really not the way I run my life. I believe small acts of love add up to make a difference. I say this in an aisle piled ten-feet high with bleached white paper, imagining thousands upon thousands of these black and white composition books in stores everywhere. And I want to show my son that our choices DO make a difference.

I hold my ground. After several uncomfortable minutes he reaches for the recycled notebook with the leaf.

Phew. Trees: 1pt. I give him a shoulder hug. "Good job, Buddy."


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Greener View from Betty

Enjoy this month's tips from Betty on window treatments here or in the newsstands or at on Abode.

The windows in your home likely offer a beautiful view of the great outdoors, but did you know that they may be costing you as much as a fourth of your total heating/cooling expenses? So after you’ve caulked and weatherstripped your windows to reduce air leakage, Betty recommends purchasing eco-friendly window treatments. Blinds, shades, and draperies can reduce heat loss up to 10 percent in the winter and cut heat gain by 45 percent in the summer.

You’ll want to stay away from petroleum-based material like polyester, nylon or rayon and purchase organic cotton, linen, silk, or naturally fire-resistant wool. Ideally, buy a thick material that’s light-colored on one side and dark-colored on the other side so you can reverse them for the seasons. The drapes should overlap in the center and cover the window completely. When you clean them, opt for CO2 cleaning rather than the polluting percholoroethylene dry-cleaning.

Stay away from PVC or vinyl mini-blinds popular in the mid-‘90s, as some manufactured outside the U.S. contain lead. Unsure? Remove if installed before 1997. FSC-certified, low-VOC finish wood blinds are available at most online and brick-and-mortar retailers. However, roll-down or Roman shades made of natural bamboo, sisal, or other grass are a nice tree-friendly wood alternative.

At our home we did a combination of insulated natural grass blinds with a dark curtain for added efficiency. Until we could afford expensive new windows, this was an energy-smart solution.

Here's to blinds that help you see the green - in your pocket in terms of energy savings AND in your enviro-wise action!