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Healthy Holiday Traditions and Why Pink is the New Green

Of the things you’ll likely set your mind to this year, I would guess that your family’s health will likely be one…the sustainability of your children’s future on this planet Earth another. Which is exactly why I am going to attempt to convince you that you should establish a new holiday tradition centered on fitness – starting now – complete with fun festivities in non-trad. colors!

GREEN. It’s one of my very favorites and I use it everywhere I can – clothing, linens, toiletries, house paint, handbags…yes, quite liberally, with really just one exception: my thumbs. So, come March 17, I’m generally safeguarded from the random, traditional pinch. However, this year, I’m risking it all, putting a little spin on things and going out on a limb (or three owls on a tree branch – to be exact) for my GREEN InITiaTIvE…oh, in a lovely shade of PINK!

Sounds a little crazy, I know!

In the spirit of fun-loving competition and with a passion for the majestic Colorado outdoors, I have decided that the end-all celebration for this – and most – holidays includes a festive 5K. In this case: St. Patty’s Day 5K #pursuitofgreenconcoctions.

Before tossing your clutter, set your sights on these easy (and local) recycling option

For me, as a longtime professional organizer with an interest in helping people simplify their lives, the landfill is the destination of last resort when clearing clutter from homes and offices.

Just about everything can be recycled or reused. It’s a matter of finding the right place for something whether it’s electronics, clothing, tires or anything else that is no longer needed and taking up space. A number of recyclers even pay for gadgets, such as cellphones and laptops.

The Internet has become a valuable research tool for finding the right places to recycle things. Some of my go-to websites for recyclers and green charities are listed below.

ecocycle.org

Boulder-based Eco-Cycle works to establish

Recycled art and found poetry

This is the perfect green activity for a rainy day. Here’s what you do.

1. Get out your recycling. Even better, save really good materials for a few weeks – egg cartons, cardboard boxes, strawberry containers, plastic lids are good.

2. Cut out words from the magazines, advertisements, or newspapers in your recycling.

3. Give the kids the words to arrange into a poem. You might want to try it yourself, it’s fun! (Think artist date a la Julia Cameron.)

There are different ways to do found poetry – another way is to look for poetry already written – on the back of a cereal box, in the newspaper – and use entire phrases.

More fun, in my opinion, is to take words and arrange, rearrange, and so forth. Create lots of poems, find your favorite and glue onto a background.

4. Decorate with your recycled materials as a border or frame. Craft your recycled materials into a lovely junk sculpture.

Cheap Like Me blogger finds her frugal lifestyle is also kinder to planet

Actually, it is easy to be green, and often less expensive too, says Cheap Like Me blogger Susanna Donato. “I recycle everything I can,” says Donato, a Denver-based writer and editor.

“Items that our local recycling won’t accept, I stash in the basement to take to Eco-Cycle occasionally. I have bags of Styrofoam blocks, yogurt tubs, milk cartons, sometimes worn-out sneakers, and a bag of lids to take to Aveda.”

For the past three years, her daily installments on cheaplikemeblog.com have testified that thrift and a recycling mentality are a natural partnership.

Many are tips that your grandparents (or great-grandparents) might have followed: Use a clothesline to dry your laundry, and reusable containers for packed lunches.

She avoids buying products that can’t be recycled, a strategy she employs in deciding which fast-food restaurant to patronize. (Donato prefers Chipotle or Good Times, which both use recyclable aluminium foil as wrappers.)

“Do what you can, and think twice” is her motto. Do you really need a plastic lid for your lunchtime self-serve soft drink? Buy toys that aren’t encased in plastic tombs.

Her frugality pays off: The Donato household produces less than half a 13-gallon bag of landfill-destined trash each week, but she knows others are not as relentless about recycling and other green measures as she is.

“If it drives you crazy, don’t do it,” she said.

“Not flushing, for example. But we do buy recycled toilet paper from Amazon.com, a case of it at a big discount. Forty-eight rolls, and it’s not gone yet, a year and a half later.”

-Claire Martin

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How much garbage?

How much trash does the average U.S. household produce? How it breaks down:

30% Containers and packaging

24.5% Non-durable goods (MP3 players, shoes, clothing, toys)

17.9% Durable goods (appliances, bicycles, cars)

12.8% Yard trimmings

12.5% Food scraps

Source: “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard (Free Press, $26)

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Small change-ups that add up

•Use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins and rags instead of paper towels.

•Bring an empty bag or two wherever you go, to use for groceries or other products.

•Bring a water bottle and coffee cup wherever you go; some businesses offer a discount for customers who bring their own cups.

•Use a clothesline instead of an electric drier; you’ll see a direct impact on your utility bill.

•Know what can be composted: You can’t recycle shredded paper, but it will break down in your compost, adding carbon to the mix.

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Can’t recycle?

Repurpose

What can’t go in conventional recycling bins?

•Plastic “clamshell” containers used for produce and takeout. (If the number inside the triangle is 6, the plastic can be used to make Shrinky-Dink-type projects; instructions online at skiptomylou.org.)

•Milk cartons. The waxed paper requires a different recycling process. Milk cartons can be torn or shredded to include in compost.

•Plastic caps from soda bottles, shampoo bottles, milk bottles, etc. Aveda salons will recycle them: aveda.com/aboutaveda.

•Shredded paper. The shortened paper fibers are difficult to reuse, but Denver Recycles and some other recycling centers will accept shredded paper that’s stapled inside a paper bag. Like milk cartons, shredded paper is compostable.

•Bright-colored paper. It can be shredded and added to compost.

•White block foam, books, audio-visual equipment (including computers, TVs and DVRs), bicycle parts. Eco-Cycle’s Center for Hard to Recycle Materials accepts all these, and more, for a nominal fee: ecocycle .org/charm.