Monday, December 22, 2008

The Final Preparations

It is the week of Christmas and time to make those final plans for wrapping and serving the meal.
Remember when we were kids and the trash the week after Christmas made it appear that someone had taken all of our belongings from our homes and placed them on the curb?
Have you thought about how you can provide a "green" table this year? Here are some tips on how you can be more green around the table and through the wrapping paper:

*If you haven't already, it's probably too late to buy recycled gift wrapping paper. But here's an idea: Place all of the gifts that you can in holiday gift bags. If your recipient doesn't want to keep them, you swipe them before they hit the trash bag and use them again next year. My mother used to wrap beautiful presents, but when she became ill, she didn't have the energy to wrap any longer. Most of our gifts were exchanged in festive holiday gift bags, which can still be made to look very nice. And we used them year after year, saving paper from the landfill.

*At the holiday table, use your best china, glasses, silverware and break out the cloth table cloth and napkins. Save all of the waste from paper plates, cups and paper table cloths and napkins from the landfill.

*Buy fresh and buy local. It's a little harder to do in the winter, but there is still plenty of opportunity to buy fresh organic produce and meat from your local grocer. In the Ozarks, there is a meat market in Mountain Home that sells local, organic meat. In Kansas City, Hen House sells products from Good Natured Family Farms, a coop of meat and dairy farmers.

*Combine trips. This helps people crunched for time, saves gas money and also helps the environment. You're going to have a lot of errands in the next few days. Make a list, check it twice and do several errands in one trip.

This will be my last post before Christmas. Tune in on January 2 when I start taking tips from "The Green Year" by Jodi Helmer and posting about our success.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a safe, happy and green New Year!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Another Giving Site

Still perplexed about what to give someone? Try This site allows you to sponsor good causes throughout the world.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Organic Style

Last minute holiday shopping? How about checking out Organic Style -

Friday, December 12, 2008

The gift of Books

Since today is my bookclub day, I will offer some holiday gift ideas for loved ones on your list who read.
For the person who wants to live green:
"The Green Year," by Jodi Helmer
"Grave Matters: A Journey Through the Modern Funeral Industry to a Natural Way of Burial," by Mark Harris
"Planet Earth: 25 Environmental Projects You Can Build Yourself," by Kathleen Reilly (Great book for kids).

Books on the Ozarks:
"Homegrown in the Ozarks: Mountain Meals and Memories," by Mary-Lane Kamberg and Rolland Love

Books about the Military:
"Submarine Stories of World War II," by Mary Nida Smith
"No Immediate Threat: The story of an American Veteran," by Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Follow the President-Elect's Lead for a Treasure

Since I discussed sponsoring a pet at a shelter the other day, I decided to expand on that today. For a gift that is truly a treasure and will be loved and give unconditional love for years to come, how about adopting a shelter animal? I know what you're thinking - it isn't a good idea to give a cat or dog to someone. It still isn't. However, shelters are and have been at or near capacity for months. Due to the economy, people are giving up their pets more often than usual and there are many, many good pets awaiting a new home. Thousands of pets each day are being euthanized because there just aren't enough homes.
President-Elect Obama promised his children a new dog once they get settled into the White House (and he also promised to adopt a homeless dog). Since most households are busy during the holidays, full of people and activity, it might be best for you to wait until after the big holiday to adopt a pet.
What you can do for you and your family is present a photo of a cat or dog - or give a cat or dog calendar, marking the date you will take your family to choose your new family member - together. Each person who will be involved with your new 4-legged friend must be acquainted with them and everyone must agree on which pet is best for you. If you or your gifts recipient is a busy person who has very limited time, maybe a cat would be better since they require less hands-on maintenance than dogs. If you're giving a pet to a senior, a mature dog who doesn't require a lot of activity would be good. Families with children, or someone who is active, who can spend time can get a higher energy dog.
Should you go this route, make sure the recipient wants the pet and can afford its care for up to 15 years, they are involved in choosing the pet and are committed to keeping the pet and making it a part of their household.
Make it a happy holiday season for you and a shelter animal.

Monday, December 08, 2008

A Gift Card That Keeps on Giving

One of the things I've been doing for my aunt for several years is making a donation for her with a wildlife organization. The organization allows us to pick a wild animal for the sponsorship and they send us a certificate and sometimes a small gift to include on Christmas. It's usually a stuffed animal of the real animal we are sponsoring.
When my mother lost her last dog, Tinker, to old age, we didn't want to get her another live animal as she was having problems with her health and taking care of herself. Instead, the last Christmas she was with us, we sponsored a shelter dog for her. She received the dog's photo and an update every so often from the shelter. Two months later, when my mom was hospitalized for the last time, she asked me to bring the photo of "her dog" to the hospital. When I called the shelter to check up on the dog for her, the woman even sent my mom a get well card from her dog.
In the end, that gift of sponsoring a shelter animal had much more meaning than we could have imagined.
For people who has too much stuff, why not give them the gift of knowing they received something that is helping a cause they believe in.
Most charities now either offer gift cards or sponsorship packages, so pick one that is meaningful to you or the recipient and feel really good about that gift this year.

Friday, December 05, 2008


We've all got too much stuff. Nothing became more apparent to us during our life change of moving last year than this fact. We finally emptied two storage areas full of stuff - my stuff, our stuff, my mom's stuff - late this summer. When it arrived, I went through box after box and donated about 50-75 boxes of it to the Salvation Army. It took the poor guy about an hour to load it all into the truck, but at least maybe, all that stuff will have a new life with someone else who really wants it.
We don't do Christmas presents any longer. We send a gift of something my husband's parents need, but we ask everyone to not send us anymore stuff. We just don't have room for it anymore.
I know this is impossible for families with children, but a good suggestion was given to a parent on one of my writer's boards. The parent was talking about the waste of those big plastic play houses. A suggestion was given to either build one of wood or go to and find a used one so precious resources aren't used to produce a new one. Also, this will save one big, plastic thing from ending up in one of our landfills someday.
My husband, who worked at a landfill for over 20 years said they used to sometimes uncover newspapers that were still readable over 30 years later. Plastics are worse, they never break down.
You may not have the toys you played with as a child any longer, but chances are they're still someplace, most likely buried in a landfill.
Give your kids recycled toys this year. You will be giving them more than a toy they will forget about by next Christmas, you'll be giving them the gift of a cleaner planet.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A Gift for the Budget and the Environment

Instead of sending holiday gift cards this year, how about sending a voice message to all your friends and family? Through Vontoo’s voice messaging technology (, customers can record and send opt-in voice messages in place of holiday cards – saving on paper and postage costs, remaining environmentally friendly, and having a more personal touch (that of the human voice)! Each call sent out costs a mere 10 cents, and it makes a fun, economic holiday greeting for any family. Record and send a message, Christmas carol or family joke to make this holiday season memorable.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Going Green for the Holidays

We'll start the holiday season on Going Green for the Holidays with this from the EPA:

You can help others this holiday season without breaking your budget. From planning your holiday meals so there aren’t excess leftovers to donating unwanted electronics to local charities, there are many ways you can save money and protect the environment.

The holidays present opportunities to reduce waste, reuse items, and recycle
products instead of disposing of them. Here are a few ways that you can practice
the three “R’s” to make this a green holiday season:

•Share the good tidings: Make room for new gadgets by donating your unwanted
electronics. Used electronics that are still operating can be given to community
groups, local schools, or nonprofit organizations. Some donations may qualify for a
tax deduction.
•Shop smart: Carry a reusable tote when out shopping. Look for gifts made with
recycled material and that have less packaging. Buy green electronic products.
•Look for opportunities to extend the life of old items: Why spring for a new
family computer when you can upgrade your existing one? Borrow or rent certain
party goods instead of purchasing new ones. If you are preparing for the upcoming
digital TV transition, extend the life of your current TV by purchasing a converter

To see how others are being green and to let us know what you’re doing this holiday

Tips on reducing holiday waste:

For a list of resources to help you donate or recycle your electronics: