Category Archives: Green Gadget

If You Must Use Plastic Bags…

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I try to minimize the use of plastic bags, but since I freeze lots of local produce, I confess, I have plastic freezer bags around the house. I reuse every one of them, though, thanks to this nifty device. After I finish using frozen local produce, I wash the bag and put it on my plastic bag dryer to dry it. I then reuse the bag to freeze more produce.

Plastic bag dryers cost less than $20 each, so they’re easy on your wallet as well as the environment. Several retailers, including Gaiam, sell them, so compare prices before you buy.

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Just Say NO to Ziplock! Carry Wrap-N-Mats & snackTAXIs

Wrap-N-Mat

Wrap-N-Mat

snackTAXIs

snackTAXIs

A couple of years ago, Eddy’s sister Kathy gave me Wrap-N-Mats and snackTAXIs for Christmas. I must say, they rank in my list of Top 5 Best Christmas Presents of All Time.

What are Wrap-N-Mats and snackTAXIs? They are basically reusable Ziplock bags. Wrap-N-Mat holds your sandwich and becomes your place mat when you eat. snackTAXI holds everything from chips to nuts to sugar snap peas. After you eat, you clean them, and they are ready for the next day.

So, if you’re like me and want to say NO to Ziplock, switch to Wrap-N-Mats and snackTAXIs!

For more information about Wrap-N-Mats, visit www.wrap-n-mat.com. For more information about snackTAXIs, visit www.snacktaxi.com.

Just Say NO to Plastic! Carry Reusable Produce & Bulk Item Bags

After watching the film No Impact Man and reading Colin Bevan’s book by the same title, I became inspired to make additional changes in my life to reduce my environmental footprint. I overcame my fear of biking on a busy street to get to work. I started carrying washcloths so that I wouldn’t have to use trees or energy to dry my hands. I also started carrying reusable produce and bulk item bags.

I can’t stand plastic bags, so I never use one to take home produce like apples and peppers. I must admit, though, some smaller items such as cherry tomatoes and mushrooms are more convenient in a bag. Some farmers at my market insist on bagging wet produce like lettuce and basil.

I’ve been thinking for some time on how to prevent plastic produce and bulk item bags from entering our house. That’s when I read about reusable produce and bulk item bags in the book No Impact Man. I knew I had to give them a try.

I bought the bags from several different vendors. Conclusion? They’re AWESOME!!! They work just like reusable grocery bags. You take them to farmers’ markets and stores, and you use them instead of plastic or paper bags to take home produce, grains, and bulk items. After you empty the contents, you throw the bags into your laundry hamper for washing and drying.

After testing bags made by several different vendors, my favorite so far are those made by ECOBAGS. ECOBAGS’ I Love Dirt bags are so lightweight that they add a minimum amount of weight when weighing them on a scale.

So, if you are like me and want to say NO to plastic and paper bags, give reusable produce and bulk item bags a try!

Mow Grass with Muscle Power

Several years ago, I killed grass in our front yard, much to Eddy’s dismay. I laid down cardboard and spread mulch on top of them to kill them. Those of you who know me know that I don’t care much for lawns. I believe lawns reduce biodiversity, require large amounts of water to maintain, and often call for the use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Why have lawns when you can grow food? Why have lawns when you can plant native plants?

So, we replaced grass in our front yard with edibles and native plants. Chickens and ducks assisted me in killing grass in our backyard. These days, only patch of grass that Eddy and I have is the one in our front sidewalk. Why use a lawn mower and fossil fuels to mow such a little patch of grass?

So, we bought ourselves a sling blade at a local hardware store. Eddy and I love mowing with our sling blade. We emit no greenhouse gases, and we get our workout. Sure, it takes a bit longer than mowing with a lawn mower. If you have large areas to mow, sling blades may not work for you. If you have small lawns, though, sling blades occupy less space than lawn mowers, use no gas or electricity, and may help you tone your muscles.

So, stop emitting greenhouse gases. Start mowing grass with muscle power!

Guest Post: Eddy Moore – May I Eat Your Lint?

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Some posts are worth repeating.

Does your dryer take forever to dry clothes? That is probably because there is lint stuck in the pipe.

No one ever actually cleans this stuff out. Except my dad, who said his dryer suddenly dried clothes in half the time after someone came to clean out the exhaust pipe. All across America, 100,000,000 dryers (exact scientific fact) are running about twice as long as necessary, burning up excess gas or coal, and their owners’ time and money.

So, I have a tool called the LintEater. It is a circular brush that attaches to a drill, with a few flexible extenders so you can send it up the pipe from the outside. I pulled a ton of lint out of my dryer exhaust pipe this weekend that had probably been gunking it up since 1995, when it was installed.

If you want to experience the same dusty bliss, either pay $30 for a LintEater, or just borrow mine.

Nao here. If you live in central Arkansas, don’t buy a LintEater. Just borrow ours. Leave a comment saying you’re interested, and I’ll email you the details.

Guest Post: Eddy Moore – Hypermile Your Car!

Did you know that your car often gets 80, 90, or 100 miles per gallon (MPG)? At other times, it gets 2 or 3 MPG, depending on whether you are climbing a hill or coasting with a tailwind. If you drive a Toyota Prius, you see this info on the dashboard, which includes an instantaneous reading of the car’s gas mileage. But otherwise, you have no idea what your gas mileage is from minute to minute.

Enter the ScanGuage, a gadget that plugs into your dashboard and tells you your current gas mileage! (It also allows you to read the diagnosis codes when your “check engine” light comes on). A week ago my ScanGauge arrived in the mail ($159). Since then, I have been coasting, pulsing, and experimenting with how lightly I can use the accelerator to get from Point A to Point B. We’ll see if it pays for itself, but for now it is a good, if geeky video game. Of course, you have to watch the road, not just the gauge.

Install Programmable Thermostat!

Our new programmable thermostat.

With our new 16 SEER HVAC system came a programmable thermostat, and we’re loving it!

Did you know that properly using a programmable thermostat in your home is one of the easiest ways you can save energy, money, and help fight global warming? Programmable thermostats helps improve comfort and save money by automatically setting the thermostat at different levels for different times of the day and week. They take the homeowner out of the equation by automatically setting the thermostat down when the house in unoccupied and turning it back up so the house is cozy for the homeowner’s return. The thermostats can even “learn” how long it takes for the house to warm up, and adjust when the heating system (or cooling system) comes on based on the interior conditions.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills — nearly half of which goes to heating and cooling. Homeowners can save about $180 a year by properly setting their programmable thermostats and maintaining those settings. Depending on your family’s schedule, you can see significant savings by sticking with those settings or adjust them as appropriate for your family. The key is to establish a program that automatically reduces heating and cooling in your home when you don’t need as much. The Department of Energy offers the Programmable Thermostat Calculator to find out what you can save with temperatures that work for your family, so check it out!

Eddy and I installed our programmable thermostat in November 2009, so we have yet to have over one month worth of utility bills. When we get our bills this month, we’ll have at least two months worth of bills. We’ll compare the numbers from those before we installed the thermostat and share the results. Stay tuned!