greenish girl

“If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.” — Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865)
December 11, 2009, 8:41 pm
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Just a quick post to pass on a great idea that a friend of mine passed on to me.  So, without further ado, here’s your Greenish Christmas Tip #13: When you’re enjoying your winter cups of tea, you usually have two options: use loose tea leaves and try to strain them out or use wasteful paper tea bags.  But what if you could make your own tea bag (just one necessary) out of fabric and just re-use it whenever you wanted?  Heck, this would even make a nifty greenish Christmas gift with some nice loose tea and maybe a small teapot or nice mug!  Enjoy!


“Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer… Who’d have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously?” — Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes*
December 9, 2009, 8:57 pm
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Greenish Christmas Tip #9, 10, and 11: This may be a bit of a cheat, combining three tips into one, but these are all related to wrapping presents, and none of them are exciting enough to post as its own separate entry, so they’re all here together.  Here goes nothing.

So, let’s face it.  Wrapping presents is a pretty common occurence this time of year, but not a greenish tradition at all.  And while, sure, not wrapping presents at all is definitely the greenest way to go, that might not always be an option.  Hopefully my suggestions can inspire you to re-think traditional wrapping methods and be creative!  The most uniquely wrapped presents are always more fun.

  • Re-use wrapping paper!  This may seem either obvious or completely radical to you, depending on your personal preferences, but it’s a really easy way to save paper but not compromise having pretty presents under the tree.
  • Re-use bows, ribbons, etc.  And while we’re talking about decorations, try using fabric ribbon you can buy at a craft store – it’s probably cheaper, you can save on packaging (plastic bags around plastic-y bows? No thank you!), and your gifts will look very professional.  Plus it’s so easy to re-use.
  • Make your own cards/tags.  Save old Christmas cards to cut up and collage (is that a verb?) into your own unique holiday tag.
  • Use pre-wrapped boxes.  Take your time and nicely wrap the cover of a box and then tie a ribbon around the whole box.  After you give the present, that person can re-use the box on another present, saving paper and time!
  • Think outside of the box – literally.  Try fabric, felt, old newspapers (the comics section looks particularly festive, and make sure not to use the obituaries or any depressing headlines), or whatever else you can think of to wrap presents creatively.  (Don’t forget to save and re-use materials afterwards, though.)

*This really has nothing to do with the entry; I just liked the quote.

“Too many have dispensed with generosity in order to practice charity.” — Albert Camus (1913 – 1960)
December 6, 2009, 10:12 pm
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Greenish Christmas Tip #8: For that hard-to-buy-for person (or even for that easy-to-buy-for person!), consider a gift in their name to a non-profit.  There are so many deserving organizations out there, but here are a few of my personal favorites.

  • Heifer International, a great choice for a holiday gift.  Heifer gives animals and/or trees to families around the world and teaches them how to breed and make money from them, leading the families to self-sufficiency.  And once the animals breed, the family must literally pass the gift on, giving one of the offspring to another needy family in the area.  It’s an amazing cycle.  The really great part about giving a gift to Heifer is that you can choose what type of animal you want to give, so you can actually pick out a “gift” that your recipient would appreciate.  For example, there’s the lovely Earth Basket, which contains tree seedlings and bees, or the Flock of Chicks, which look adorable.  (I know that’s not the best reason to pick a charitable gift, but they are really adorable.)
  • One Laptop Per Child, the $100 laptop project, OLPC, etc., an inspiring organization trying to, well, hmmm. I don’t have the heart to paraphrase their lovely mission statement, so here it is: Mission Statement: To create educational opportunities for the world’s poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future.
  • Okay, this isn’t really the same thing, but I love it enough that we’re going to pretend it fits right in: Free Rice. It’s an incredibly addicting online game that (wait for it) donates grains of rice to feed people all over the world. I know it sounds like a scam, but it’s not.  The money from ads on the site all (100%) goes to buying rice to help reduce world hunger.  You can play and answer questions about vocab (the standard) or choose from a variety of different subjects.  So, you help yourself by increasing your brain power, and you help the world by donating rice.  Need I say “win/win?”  Enjoy!

“It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.” — P. G. Wodehouse*
December 5, 2009, 5:53 pm
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My profound apologies for not blogging yesterday.  I don’t really have a good excuse except that I was baking cookies which brings me to:

Greenish Christmas Tip #6 (I think?): Bake your own cookies instead of buying them from the store.  I know, I know, I told you the other day that we need to breathe and take time just for ourselves, but if you do have time, then baking your own cookies is really fun.  You can get the whole family involved, pick whatever kind of cookies you want to bake and then, best of all, bake them your way – as opposed to accepting imperfect cookies from a store.  Plus you’ll save on over-packaged boxes of cookies – win/win!

Anyway, as compensation for not blogging yesterday, here’s a little scrapbook of baking the cookies.  (I was thinking of you, dear readers, fear not!)

Here’s the dough just before scooping it onto the pan:

Here’s the cookies on the pan, pre-baking (excuse the blur):

Here’s the cookies baking in the oven, and yes I know it’s kind of a strange picture.  I did my best, people!

And here’s the final product! (Actually, it’s only about half the cookies; I didn’t feel like waiting for the rest to bake before taking pictures…)

There, now I feel better about not posting yesterday.  Now, on to today’s…

Greenish Christmas Tip #7: Buy a local Christmas tree!  This morning, I worked at a Christmas Tree Sale at my school (note: the cookies were for our baked goods table.  see? it all fits together!), and we sold local trees and wreathes, and let me tell you, there were really nice.  They had pretty fair prices, too; cheaper than a lot of our “competition” in the area.  So, basically, our trees (and wreathes) were cheaper, which is good for you; local, which is good for your area; and traveled less, which is good for the environment – win/win/win!  (Bonus: what TV show used the phrase win/win/win in an episode not-so-very-recently?)

*Note: I’m not saying I necessarily agree with this, but it was the best quote I could find relating to apologies.  Plus it’s intriguing and attention-grabbing, so it works.

“Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.” — Soren Kierkegaard
December 3, 2009, 9:01 pm
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One of the most important things that everyone forgets to do this time of year is also the simplest, most automatic, most involuntary action: breathe. I know we’re all crazy-busy people with agendas and lists to our knees and even morefun things we don’t even bother writing down because, let’s face it, there are much more important things to do with our time, and isn’t this a time for going insane celebrating the holidays? Sure . . . but why?  Wouldn’t we be a lot happier if we just took even a few minutes a day to just relax, take care of ourselves, and simply breathe?  It’s too easy to get swept into planning and expectations and stereotypical “Christmas-y necessities” and make the holidays a time of stress, when they should be just the opposite.

Greenish Christmas Tip #5: We don’t have to spend our time like that.  Think of your time as money, a limited quantity.  We only have so many hours a day, so think about your day as a budget of 24 hours, and spend it carefully.  We all know it’s a good idea to keep track of our money, but why not our time?  An hour can be productive, but it can also go by incredibly fast.  Try setting an alarm to go off every hour (when you’re awake, at least) and just see how you spent that past hour.  Did you accomplish what you wanted to?  Then, think about your day as a whole.  Did you do anything fun?  Did you do anything just for you?  Was your entire day planned and spent doing things for other people?  Give yourself (schedule it, if you must) some breathing room.  Take care of yourself.  Breathe.

“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.” — Carl Reiner*
December 2, 2009, 9:09 pm
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I actually had some trouble deciding on what to write about today for the next installment of Greenish Christmas.  It’s a pretty big responsibility, you know.  What if I accidentally write about something stupid and you listen to me and realize it’s really stupid and then don’t ever take my advice again?  What if I continue writing about straws and you decide to stop reading my blog?  This is serious stuff, people.  Trust me.  So, anyway, I couldn’t decide for a while.  I almost recommended a really cool product but I think I’ll wait until I have more time and give you an extra-special, Greenish Christmas Gift Guide!  But, oops, I couldn’t resist linking to the item.  Oh, well, you can just look at it twice.  It’s really cool.  Moving on.

Greenish Christmas Tip #4:

Re-usable shopping bags!  Sure, lots of people use ’em for grocery shopping, but let’s take it a step farther- I’m talking mall shopping, Christmas shopping, where people you actually know might possibly see you.  I know, some shopping bags are not attractive.  At all.  So, look for some cute ones!  They’re pretty cheap and easy to find, and while I know it seems pretty ironic that I’m encouraging you to go out and buy more plastic, it’s so much greener in the long run.  Here, go enjoy these fun bags.

This one is wicked cute and it folds into its own pouch so you can keep it in your purse and always be prepared:

These seem a little flimsier, but they’re a lot cheaper (5 for $40) and they’re still fun.

Picnic & Totes - Envirosax Botanica Reusable Shopping Bags (set of 5)

Baggu has a ton of different colors of bags, also $8 apiece.

Here’s a great site with suggestions on how to make your own bags- reduce, reuse, recycle!

And, finally, what could be more perfect than this bag, from Ecobags?  Enjoy!

* Look!  It’s snowing on my blog!  I love snow.  (I won’t be saying this in February, but right now, when I’m still waiting for that first snowstorm, I love it.)

“The last straw breaks the camel’s back.” — English Proverb*
December 1, 2009, 10:44 pm
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Greenish Christmas Tip #3: (note the color-coordinated straws…very snazzy, if I do say so myself…)

acid green bendy straws by Rakka. / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

This may seem pretty fluffy and ridiculous, but I think it’s actually a good idea.  The other day (Black Friday, in fact), I went out to lunch with some friends, and I ordered a lemonade.  The lemonade was in a disposable plastic cup with a lid (I know!  I know, this is  ridiculously awful for the environment.  But you can’t do everything perfectly.)  I was reaching for a straw when I realized that I really didn’t need one at all.  Why take a plastic straw in a plastic wrapper to simply drink a beverage?  I’m perfectly capable of managing without one, especially if I’m eating at the restaraunt, sitting down, not driving or even walking around.  So, long story short, try not using a plastic straw!  It may not seem like much, but over time, you can save a lot of plastic and therefore trash from entering landfills.  On that note, happy Christmas.

*No, this was not spoken by a person named “English Proverb.”  It’s just a proverb that happens to be English.  I have no idea where it came from.  Although, come to think of it, that would be an interesting name.  But I’m pretty sure it’s not the name of the person who originally said/wrote it.  Almost definitely sure.  If it was those, well, that’s pretty cool…