Top Ten Things to do During Earth Hour

by Danielle on March 19, 2011

night sky moonEvery year, Earth Hour has been gaining recognition for one simple idea: to conserve as little energy as possible. Not only will turning out the lights and any unnecessary electrical equipment be a fun way to spend the hour, but by the end of the hour you will have realized how “plugged in” most of us really are.

Here are 10 things to do during Earth Hour that are completely free, fun, and best of all, will create some lasting memories.

1. Play board games by candlelight. Ouija takes on a whole new level of creepiness if you just turn off the lights. Ghost stories go hand in hand with the board, too. Who knows, maybe you’re friend will even become possessed by a demon.

2. Roast S’mores. The weather is perfect in late March for roasting your own S’mores by campfire. While you’re at it, try roasting hot dogs for dinner with beans. It’s a great night to plan a camping trip, too, which naturally uses less energy than staying at home.

3. Walk to the nearest beach and view the tidal pools at night. If you can’t walk, then make a night of it and plan on having dinner at a local restaurant with mostly veggies or locally grown/harvested food.
4. Listen for animals. Animals are also lurking in forests, meadows, and on ponds at night. Stop and listen and see what you hear. It could surprise you!

5. Have a portable game system like a Nintendo DS or wireless reader? Not only are these fun, but they let you relax, unwind, sharpen your brain, and use less energy than your TV. Use rechargeable batteries to power up.

earth candle light night beach star trail smores

6. Do something you never do at night: look up. View the constellations on your Droid or iPhone constellation app to see what it is you’re looking at. Yes, your phone will use some energy, but not as much as you watching TV, using the blender, turning on the electric blanket, having the lights on, and doing a load of laundry.

7. Speaking of laundry, making your own daytime Earth Hour is a good idea to conserve by hanging up your clothes on the line instead of using the dryer. Be extra good and use soap nuts.

8. Go with the crowds. Some places aren’t going to participate in Earth Hour no matter what, like the movie theaters or packed concert venues. Head there to use the electricity they’ll be using anyway, and catch up on the latest flicks, a concert, or anywhere where you being there doesn’t really affect how much energy is being used there.

9. With the lights out, it’s more relaxing. Have a closet or cabinet full of pampering spa products just sitting there waiting to be used? Now is the perfect night to have a candle lit bath and use your spa products.

10. You know what else is great with the lights off? You know where we’re headed with this. Sex! Make a commitment to spend a full hour with the lights off by starting off with massages before making the leap to the final course.

Now that you’ve read what you can do, tell us what your plans are, or what you’ve done in past Earth Hour events in the comments. If you’re looking for even more activities, read this page for suggestions featuring 50 things to do during Earth Hour (these will definitely keep you busy).


10 Things You Can Reduce, Reuse, or Recycle This Fall

by Danielle on September 19, 2010

fall pumpkinReduce Your Energy this Fall, Reuse Things in Your Home, and Recycle What’s Left

Recycling is an all year activity, but in the fall, there are a few things that you may not have thought of that can be reused or recycled. While in the summer we might be more apt to have summer cookouts, vacations, and outdoor activities, fall activities have their fair share of consumption with back to school shopping, holiday shopping, and the first kick of the thermostat to heat up your home. Let’s go over some of the things this fall that you might be able to reduce, reuse, or recycle and cut back on your energy bill and the amount of things you throw away on this post.

  1. Reduce Trash at Football Games. As football season comes into full swing, there’s a lot to look forward to. Events, parties, and the ultimate party, the Super Bowl. As you prepare for the season, the tailgating, and the festivities, see what you can do to lessen what you throw away. While it might be a pain to bring your own reusable plates, there are eco friendly options like biodegradable plates available, as well as compostable utensils. You can’t get much easier than that. For game day litter, there’s also biodegradable trash bags, too.
  2. Reduce Back to School Shopping Waste. The need to buy for back to school isn’t something that can be skipped, it’s a must. New clothing, bigger sizes, and new writing utensils are all things that you’ll have to purchase for your little ones (or big ones) as they head back in August or September. How can you make this process a little greener? Bring your own reusable bags when you shop, buy organic whenever you can, and buy to last. Spending a couple of extra dollars on a higher quality item that will last longer might save you money in the long run. You can also try your hand at a green online shopping experience, too.
  3. Make Your Own Halloween Costumes. Who says you have to buy something expensive to make a lasting impression? The best costumes ever created on the planet have been homemade. They’re the ones that win competitions, the ones that you remember the most, and the ones that actually might cost the least. These are passed down in families, cherished, and used again and again. The process of making the costume is something that you’ll also remember forever, and your kids will definitely appreciate it when they get older. Who knows, you might be passing it onto them for your own grandchildren to use someday!
  4. Clean Out Your Old Stuff Before Winter Hits. When the cold weather comes, you won’t want to clean out your old stuff, but you’ll need to. Think about the added stuff that the holidays brings,  including storing gifts to give, places to put your children’s new gifts, and the holiday decor around the home. If you can clean out now during the fall, you’ll have more room, and more things to donate to shelters before the cold weather hits. This might prevent you from hastily tossing away things during the holidays when you need to make room last minute.
  5. fall leavesReuse Your Fall Leaves. If you have a mower with a compost bag, try taking the bag off and letting the leaves fall into the grass. It provides necessary nutrients to the soil which will help grass grow next year, and adds a little bit of protection in the winter from heavy snow. It’s also a lot less time consuming to mow than it is to rake your entire yard. All in all, it’s less trips to the dump, less trash thrown away, and more energy saved. Win win win.
  6. Check for Energy Leaks. As the cold weather approaches, you might find yourself reaching to turn up the thermostat on those chilly nights. Before the real chill sets in, check your home for energy leaks by using a thermal leak detector. You’ll find energy sucking cracks, crevices, window leaks, and door drafts immediately, saving you hundreds (perhaps thousands) of dollars in heating bills when winter comes. You might even want to try it out on family member’s homes, too. When you find the leaks, plug them up by caulking, use a door snake draft stopper to seal out winter winds, or even install new energy efficient windows to really make a dent on your bill (though the cost of new windows may not pay off for a few years).
  7. Recycle Your Thanksgiving Leftovers. Yes, food can be recycled, too! If you’ve ever heard of the famous Thanksgiving turkey sandwich, then you know how great “food recycling” can be. If you’ve had a particularly large feast with loads of leftovers, invite friends or family over that didn’t attend Thanksgiving day to help you eat some of the leftovers. Beats throwing it away!
  8. Reuse Gifts Bags from Last Year. Have you seen the price of gift bags? If you’ve ever had to buy some last minute from stationary stores or gift stores, you can tell how big the markup must be. A large gift bag can cost upwards of $7, with smaller bags usually ranging from $3-4. Why throw them away? They’re usually in perfectly good condition after you’ve opened the gift. Save the tissue and bag, and store it away in a closet until next year. That way, you won’t be throwing away mountains of gift bags, and you won’t have to buy new ones, either. Encourage your family to do the same! Store them away in a sealable storage container and store it under your eaves, and you’ll have it all ready for next year.
  9. Reduce Your Thermostat by One Degree. One puny degree can actually add up to big savings on your bill, and you’re not likely to notice the affect of one degree in the fall. Every degree equals roughly a 3% savings on your energy bill. Wear a sweatshirt or sweater and turn it down a couple more degrees if you’re brave enough.
  10. Roast Pumpkin Seeds from Jack O’ Lanterns. If you’ve never had pumpkin seeds, they’re pretty delicious, and actually very good for you. Omega-3 fatty acids, B-vitamins, vitamin K, and calcium are just a few of the healthy things that pumpkin seeds contain. When you scoop the innards from your jack o’ lantern, save them and separate the seeds. Read this guide on how to roast pumpkin seeds.

Intro photo of fall pumpkin by D. Sharon Pruitt, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0. Fall leaves photo by spoonselli on flickr.

Think you can handle some of the things on this list? If you can, you’ll have a much more energy efficient and earth friendly autumn season. Here are few more resources you might find useful:


Eco Friendly Cat Litter

by Danielle on September 16, 2010

catUse a Kitty Litter That’s Environmentally Friendly, and Better for Them

When man domesticated the cat, they didn’t have cat litter. The cats went and did their business outside, and came back in. Cats instinctively know to look for dirt or soil to excrete. Today, cats are kept indoors for health and safety reasons. Since cats have become more domesticated, they are less able to defend themselves against predators, and have outside contaminants to worry about that didn’t exist hundreds of years ago. That’s why today, cat litter is where cats are “doing their business.”

Why You Shouldn’t Use Ordinary Cat Litter

What’s wrong with using cat litter? There are a few inherent reasons that cat litter can be bad for the environment, and for your cat. Over the years, cat litter has become more sophisticated and chemically arranged. Instead of simply having gravel in a bag, kitty litter has been formulated to maximize absorbency and to even clump onto urine or solids. Then, there’s also the artificial fragrance, all while trying to keep the material somewhat natural, something your cat will still want to call his or her private wee station. Cat litter, furthermore, is creates a fine carcinogenic dust when kicked up that can can be really bad for cats (and you).

Ingestion of KittyLitter

Kitty litter is also ingested regularly by cats. That means that the sodium bentonite that causes the litter to clump will expand in their insides, clogging things up. Compare it to working around asbestos, and sometimes accidentally eating it. It’s breathed in, clogging nasal passages and coating the lungs (and doing who knows what else down the line).

The Cons of Flushable Litter

A surprising by product of cat litter is flushable cat litter, which may have had a profound impact on sea life in California. Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite, is often ingested by cats through eating animals like birds or rodents. The parasite is hardy, and can survive even after being excreted and flushed, winding up in ocean beds and in marine life. So what? Well, the parasite may have been the cause of the deaths of many otters along the California coast. There is no waste treatment for toxoplasma gondii, so the survivability rate is high. Read more about the parasite and eco friendly cat litter at Planet Discovery.

What should you use instead of traditional clumping cat litter?

Indoors cats need a place to go to the bathroom, that much we know. However, they don’t need the grocery store bought bags of chemically created “sand” that companies want us to buy. There are eco friendly alternatives out there that are far better for your kitty. Green Little Cat has an excellent post summarizing the best eco friendly cat litter available, from the Purina owned Yesterday’s News to lesser known litters.

Intro photo of cat by Keven Law on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

For more information on greening your cat, head to Green Little Cat, a blog written by Holly Tse. The website contains dozens of useful posts on green cat food, litter, and greening the pet industry.


How to Recycle Your Old Books

by Danielle on August 4, 2010

booksWe all have old books lying around the house, some of which we probably don’t need and might get rid of at some point. The great thing about books is that someone could always use them. If they are outdated, than that means they are a collectors item or are on their way to becoming one. If you have a bunch of old books in your home, there are plenty of ways that you can try to recycle them.

8 Ways to Recycle Your Old Books

  1. Donate your old books to a local shelter, hospital, or senior center. These places could always use new reading material.
  2. Sell the books on Amazon. Set up an account (it’s really simple) and list your books for sale. Price them to move and you’re sure to get some money for those books.
  3. Sell them on Ebay. Sometimes Ebay fetches more (sometimes less) money than Amazon. Check the recent completed items to see recent ended items.
  4. Give childrens books to friends that are having babies. You can never have too much reading material for knowledge hungry minds!
  5. Use old comic books to wrap Christmas presents for your family. A unique, eco friendly touch kids will love!
  6. Donate them to a local library.
  7. Sell them at a yard sale, where you could also get rid of other clutter that’s been driving you nuts.
  8. Call a local school to see if they need books. School libraries and classroom libraries are always in need of books.

Why Should You Recycle Your Old Books?

Books will end up in a landfill, like most everything else that’s thrown into your trash. While pages of books are usually biodegradable, sometimes they aren’t. Glossy pages take longer to biodegrade, book bindings take a long time, and magazines contain printer inks that shouldn’t be thrown into the environment. Whenever possible, you should use the above 8 steps to get recycle your old reading material. If you cannot reuse them in those ways, then try recycling them by ripping the pages out of the book and recycling those pages with the rest of your paper recyclables. The binding might be tough to find another use for, but at least you’ll be recycling the biggest part, the paper itself.

Recommended Recycling Resources from A Million Ways to Go Green:


How to Recycle Water Filters

by Danielle on August 3, 2010

water filterWater filters are great for the planet, indirectly. While they may be disposable, you’re doing a great thing by conserving water and resources which are used to make plastic water bottles. A world without recycling would spell possibly irreversible consequences like rising sea levels, a lack of livable space, and contaminated drinking water. That’s why making the switch from bottled water to tap water is of the utmost importance.

When you make the switch away from bottled water, you’re going to be using water filters. Most of these filters are disposable, and are not widely recycled. This page is going to answer the question of how to recycle water filters, so you can start reducing your impact on the environment today!

Why Drink Tap Water Instead of Bottled Water?

Bottled water has enormous consequences for the environment. Every plastic water bottle that is produced is made with petroleum in part. They also contain BPA and other potentially harmful chemicals. Bottled water also isn’t held to the standards that public tap water is held to. In most places of the United States, it makes sense to use tap water over bottled water.

What are the Effects on the Environment of Plastic Bottles?

Plastic bottles never biodegrade. They only break down into smaller and smaller plastic pieces, making them actually more toxic than when they were produced. This makes plastic one of the most important things to recycle. The other factor to consider when drinking bottled water is how far it traveled to get to you. If the bottle travels 2,000 miles to get to you, how eco friendly is that? This transport energy will also add to greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.

How Using Water Filters Will Help the Environment

Water filters clean tap water and prevent the use of bottled water. That means less plastic created, less greenhouse gases, and less plastic bottled thrown away into landfills (or polluted).

How to Recycle Water Filters

Water filters are easy to recycle. When you’re done using them, set them aside, because there are different recycling programs for different filters.


From the BRITA water filter website:

  1. Dry the filter by shaking off excess water and setting it in a dry place for at least three days.
  2. Wrap the filter in a plastic grocery bag, then pack it in a box. (Boxes and bags will be recycled.) If possible, send multiple filters at a time.
  3. Mail filters via ground shipping to: Preserve Gimme 5, 823 NYS Rte 13, Cortland, NY 13045

Visit the Brita Filter Recycling page for the entire details.


PUR does not at this time have a recycling program for their water filters. It doesn’t make sense that a huge water filter company that touts the benefits of using water filters over bottled water to not even acknowledge requests for a PUR filter recycling program. What should you do with them? You can try to set them aside until or if they ever do initiate a recycling program, or you can switch to BRITA instead. That leaves the dilemma of having an old water filter system, but int he long run, the benefits may outweigh the negatives.


TerraFlo water filters can also be recycled by sending them back to the company. Once they receive them, they will separate out the materials to be recycled, excluding the used carbon. It’s probably best to send them back in batches to use less packaging and energy. Visit their website for details on how to recycle TerraFlo water filters.

Ways to Recycle Other Water Filters

If your water filter company doesn’t have a recycling program, check to see if the filter is a #5 plastic filter. If it is, it could be recycled using the Preserve Gimme 5 program. This program accepts all #5 plastics to be recycled at participating Whole Foods. If there isn’t a Whole Foods near you that is participating, you can send the #5’s to Gimme 5 to be recycled.


The Best Eco Friendly Baby Diapers

by Danielle on August 2, 2010

When it comes to the planet, one way we can substantially change the amount of things we throw away into the environment is through diapers. By switching to eco friendly diapers instead of disposables, you’ll be lessening the impact on landfills. There are many biodegradable options for diapers today, as well as chemical free and organic cotton varieties of diapers. This page will review some of those diapers, based on reviews from consumers.

Seventh Generation diapersSeventh Generation Chlorine Free Baby Diapers, Stage 4 (22-37 Lbs.), Case of 120 Diapers
One of the most popular diapers on the market in terms of an “eco friendly” variety, Seventh Generation Chlorine Free Diapers are at the top of the best sellers for this brand. Over 500 customers have rated the product, giving it a respectable 4 star out of 5 ranking. Seventh Generation describes their product as having a “cloth like comfort and exceptional performance.” Reviewers though don’t exactly see it that way. While most people like the product for babies with sensitive bums (isn’t that all babies?), there have been a lot of complaints of leaks in these diapers. If you have to constantly change your baby because they are leaking through onto the clothing, then that’s not only bad for the environment (you’ll be washing extra clothes), but it’s embarassing for you and your child. These diapers also contain many of the same ingredients as regular diapers, not putting them very far ahead of the competition. It sounds like this product needs some work. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of other good products out there to choose from.

Nature Babycare Eco Friendly DiapersNature Babycare Eco-Friendly Diapers, Size 1, 176-Count Package

If you didn’t consider at all which diapers were good for your baby but best for the planet, then Nature Babycare Eco Friendly Baby Diapers would win the contest. While a lot of people really like these diapers because of their environmentally friendly design, they have had a few performance issues. The first issue is the leakage factor. These ones leak often, with many complaining about urine soaking through to sheets and clothing overnight. The second issue is the “chemical smell” reported from many users of the product. Third, some have complained about an improper fit and chafing due to the closure tabs. While apparently the smell is fixed for now, these other issues are something to consider. In terms of environmental benefits though, Nature Babycare has done an outstanding job. These are 60% biodegradable, while being completely chlorine free, unbleached, and hypoallergenic.

Earth's best diapersEarth’s Best TenderCare Chlorine Free Diapers, Size 3, 16-28 Pounds, (Case of 140)
Earth’s Best Tender Care Diapers have a good overall 4 star rating out of 5 out of over 50 reviews. These diapers are environmentally friendly for their lack of dyes, latex, and bleaching. They are also super absorbent, and are very easy to tell when they need to be changed. The fit of Earth’s Best is also just about as close to perfect as you can get. The seal created when the diaper is strapped on is very leak proof and tight, yet still comfortable on the skin. While Earth’s Best might be slightly bulky, it wins for overnight absorbency. As for downsides, some babies have had diaper rashes as a result of these diapers, but that is not unusual. Different brands and different cuts of diapers may irritate certain babies. Sometimes, it just comes down to trial and error. It might be a good idea to sample all of the diapers and find out which ones are the right ones for your baby.

huggies natural diapersHuggies Pure & Natural Diapers, Size 4, 46-Count Packages (Pack of 2)
Huggies Pure & Natural Diapers boast that they are latex free, fragrance free, and hypoallergenic. With a solid 4.5 star rating on Amazon, customers have liked the fact that they have no smell, are soft, absorbent, and are virtually leak-free. Huggies Pure & Natural also have a stretchy waist and fit that allow you to get them on easily. Chances are, you’ll love these diapers because of their high quality and lack of chemicals. The downsides of this diaper are that it isn’t completely biodegradable and as you would expect, compared to regular diapers, these are more expensive. The positives though, outweigh the negatives. There aren’t many organic cotton diapers available today, and these ones are also well reviewed and really work well.

If you were to choose just ONE eco friendly diaper on this page, Huggies Pure and Natural would probably be your best choice. Some of these products also qualify for Amazon’s frustration free packaging, which is a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional packaging.


How to Green Your Online Shopping

by Danielle on July 30, 2010

green online shoppingLessen the Impact of Your Online Shopping

Online shopping has delivered one of the greatest conveniences ever made. Can you imagine having to hunt down that rare part for your computer in a physical store? And, remember when you had to head to 8 different stores to shop around for prices on that big ticket holiday item? Online shopping changed all of that. While it can be argued that online shopping is greener than buying from a store, there’s a counter argument, too. Waste from online shopping does add up quickly, and there are some wasteful elements of shopping online that aren’t incurred from shopping in a physical location.

  1. When you shop online, you’re getting a box. Most people don’t recycle those boxes.
  2. Packaging like peanuts and bubble wrap are included in every box.
  3. Items are often shipped in separate small boxes that could be combined. has a bad habit of doing this.
  4. An item that normally was shipped from a local location may be shipped from the opposite coast when purchasing online, increasing shipping costs and energy use.
  5. Additional brochures, packing slips, and sales material are included with the item.

When you shop in a physical store, there are some differences that might be less resource intensive.

  1. The only packaging you often get are the brand’s packaging if the item comes in a box, as well as a shopping bag.
  2. There are no packing slips, just a receipt.
  3. The item could be traveling less to get to you than if you purchased online.

Online shopping can also be a much greener alternative to buying in a retail location as well.

  • Buy locally online when possible to save on shipping energy and costs.
  • Combine shipments into one box. Leave a note for the company to combine all items into one box instead of shipping separately.
  • There are no plastic bags used (usually).
  • You are responsible for recycling any of the packaging (which otherwise may not have been recycled if you had bought from a retail location). Recycle the cardboard and put the interior packing on Craigslist for free, or drop by a UPS store location to see if they could reuse it.
  • You’ll have less chance to impulse buy from in-person attention grabbers that you don’t need.

So which option is the more eco friendly of the two? It’s up to you and what you buy. Either can be an earth friendly way to shop, but it depends on what you’re buying as well as who you are buying it from (and where they are located). Which do you think is the more earth friendly option?


What are the Most Important Things to Recycle?

by Danielle on July 29, 2010

recycled soda cansAs much as we would all like to recycle everything, not everything can be recycled. With limited space, limited facilities, and a lack of technology to recycle certain materials, it limits what we can recycle and how we handle our waste. Since only certain things are being recycled, it raises the question, what are the most important things to recycle?


You could start by sorting items by size. If the amount of space something would take in a landfill is the issue, then items like:

  • Couches
  • Fridges
  • Ovens
  • Cars
  • Furniture


If you sort by the toxicity of an item, then some electronics, light bulbs, and computers would be of the utmost important to recycle. Other items would be:

  • Cellphones
  • Batteries
  • Ink cartridges
  • Laptops
  • Video game systems


Sorted by how long an item will take to break down into the environment, plastics and metals never truly biodegrade, and would top the list of most important things to recycle. Most metals oxidize and rust, but never start to break down. Plastics break down in a way, but into a more toxic form than when they are whole. These items include:

  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic utensils
  • Metal car parts
  • Plastics used to make electronics (casings, etc.)

The real question we might need to ask, is where are our priorities? Are they with the amount of space in a landfill, the toxic elements that could potentially be leeched into the environment, or the composition and ability of an item to biodegrade?

If we prioritized by making items by size the most important thing, then we would have much more room. Bigger things could be reused and recycled into equal size items. For example, if a couch were refurbished into a new couch, that’s saving landfill space the couch would have taken up, plus preventing new materials from being produced. On the other hand, lesser priority to toxic items and non-biodegradable items would leave us with a bunch of toxic junk that would harm wildlife and our water supply.

If we chose to make sorting toxic items the biggest priority, then we would have a cleaner water supply, less of an impact on wildlife (who can ingest toxins and materials, absorb it into their bodies, or breathe in gases), and less of an impact on the environment. On the other hand, we may run out of space if too much priority is given to toxicity over the actual size of an item.

If we decided to make the recycling of plastics and metals our biggest priority, then those non-biodegradable items could be reused again. Giving them another life will prevent them from entering a landfill, and prevent new materials from being produced. On the downside, priority over this could mean less landfill and livable space.

Which of these are the most important things to recycle? As you can see, there are repercussions of not recycling these items. While the obvious answer is that we need to recycle everything, most people cannot, or will not. That makes choosing the more important ones over the less important an imperative duty.

Paper, plastic, and aluminum are easy things to recycle and are also very important. Paper can be easily put into a stack to be recycled down the line, while with plastics, they are contaminating our oceans and environment. The cleanup down the line for plastic pollution could be seemingly endless, so we have to stop today. Aluminum is very easy to bring to your local redemption center to get back a nickel per can, and it doesn’t take up much room. It uses far less energy to recycle aluminum than it does to make new aluminum (and at the rate Americans drink soda, we need that aluminum!).


chemicalsThere are a number of harmful chemicals found in traditional household dryer sheets that you should avoid. To soften clothing, a number of harsh agents are added to dryer sheets and fabric softeners. Here you can find a list of some of the common chemicals found in fabric softeners and dryer sheets, and why you should avoid them.

Pentane is a component of some fuels, so why would you want to add it to your clothing? This chemical if it comes in contact with the skin can cause dermatitis. If inhaled, the vapors can cause dizziness, nausea, headaches, and other irritations.

Linalool is a narcotic that can cause CNS disorders. It can reduce motor activity and cause depression.

Limonene is a carcinogenic found in dryer sheets and fabric softeners. The chemical is an irritant and sensitizer that should be avoided.

Ethyl Acetate is a narcotic that should be washed thoroughly after handling. It is on the EPA’s hazardous waste list, and just happens to be in some dryer sheets and fabric softeners.

This dangerous chemical, Chloroform, is an anesthetic, carcinogenic, and overall, nasty chemical to be around. Inhalation of chloroform can cause a lot of symptoms ranging from headaches to nausea, vomiting, and dizziness (and in extreme cases, death). Chronic exposure to the chemical has been known to cause kidney disorders and liver problems. In other words, why should it be in your dryer sheets?

Camphor can cause central nervous system disorders. It is often synthetically produced from oil of turpentine for its aroma.

Benzyl alcohol is irritating to the upper respiratory tract. A drop in blood pressure, vomiting, dizziness, and other extreme symptoms can be the result of this chemical found in many dryer sheets.

A carcinogen linked to pancreatic cancer, there’s no reason you would want to come into contact with Benzyl Acetate. The chemical has adverse affects in laboratory mice like irritation of the eyes and respiratory passages, and systemic affects.

Causes central nervous system disorders and is highly irritating to the mucous membranes. Respiratory depression, hypothermia can be the result of overexposure to this chemical.

So what should you do to avoid these chemicals? First, stop using fabric softeners and dryer sheets. They can ruin your dryer and lessen the life of your clothing.

For an eco friendly alternative to dryer sheets and fabric softeners that don’t contain any of these chemicals, try soap nuts for your laundry washing and reusable dryer sheets. You can also opt to simply hang your clothes to dry outside instead of using a dryer (which is also far better for the environment).

This article contains information from the following source:
Compiled by Julia Kendall*, Co-Chair, Citizens for a Toxic-Free Marin. Phone: (415) 485-6870. Reference: Lance Wallace, Environmental Protection Agency; Phone (703) 341-7509 Excerpts from “Health Hazard Information.” References: Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Provided with permission by Barbara Wilkie of the Environmental Health Network (of California). [*NOTE: Julia Kendall died July 12, 1997 from Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and Leukemia caused by pesticide poisoning.]

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How to Plan an Eco Friendly Baby Shower

by Danielle on July 27, 2010

eco friendly baby showerThrow an Organic, Green, or Eco Friendly Baby Shower – Environmentally Friendly Options

The big day is coming soon and you have been tasked with organizing an eco friendly baby shower for your best friend, sister or loved one and you don’t know where to start! It can be overwhelming at first to plan around the organic theme or green theme baby shower, but after you sit down and think about it, the shower can be very easy to organize. If you break it down into categories you will be on your way in no time to the perfect green baby shower! This page will help give you some ideas on organic baby shower party favors, how to find (truly) recycled paper invitations, where to hold the baby shower, green baby registry suggestions, and more helpful hints for easy setup.

Photo of baby shower flowers by herkie on flickr, licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.

Where to Plan Your Eco Friendly Baby Shower

green baby showerFirst things first! A date is the first thing to select when planning a shower. Depending on whether the shower is a surprise you may want to work with the parents to be to select a mutually agreeable date. You don’t want to pick a date where the couple will be out of town or have a prior engagement. After picking the date you then have to decide where the shower will be held. Traditionally they can be held at someone’s home, a restaurant or a hall. For the perfect green event consider hosting at someone’s house-this will make it much easier to use reusable utensils when it comes time for the actual party. If the baby shower will be during the warmer months, you can plan on having the shower outdoors to enjoy the fresh air.

Here are some other ideas on places you could have your green baby shower:

  • Rent a home by the ocean for the day (or week). It may wind up being cheaper than renting a hall.
  • Use a sunroom or brightly lit room to give the room a more “natural” feel during the winter.
  • Decide to have the baby shower at the parent’s or grandparents home. Nothing beats convenience!
  • The Godmother’s house – less clean up for you, less environmental waste, too.

Be Up Front!
There’s nothing wrong with telling guests what you’d like! Don’t be afraid to remind people in an insert with the invitations that you have enough of a certain size of clothing, or to avoid buying certain things. They want to get you the gift you want, too.

Recycled Paper Baby Shower Invitations

Look for 100% post consumer recycled paper invitations to be even greener

recycled paper baby shower invitationsOnce all of the details have been ironed out, it is time to select the invitations! For a green organic shower, you should look for invitations made from recycled paper. You should look for the highest percentage of post consumer recycled paper as possible, because post consumer recycled paper is paper that has actually been used previously and then was recycled.

100% post consumer recycled paper invitations would be the greenest option, but is also sometimes hard to find. If you’re looking to go completely paperless, you can use evite to coordinate your guest list (though expect some old school people will not respond unless its paper!).

I used this for my own eco friendly baby shower invitations and was quite happy with how they came out. I’d give them a recommendation!

Setting Up a Green Baby Registry

convertible cribIt is likely that because the mom to be is having a green, organic shower she has taken the time to set up her registry with organic clothes and organic crib sheets, BPA free baby bottles, eco friendly cribs, baby safe dishes, and everything earth friendly for her baby. Therefore you do want to be sure to include information with regards to the registry on the invitation.

You may want to suggest that if people would like to purchase something other than what is on the registry that they keep in mind the mom to be’s wishes of giving her baby organic and BPA free items. When in doubt, a gift certificate may be the best option, as then the mom to be can pick out the things she still needs after the shower that she will be comfortable using with her baby.

organic crib sheetsAs this is a green organic shower you may want to put a gently reminder to the guests that gifts do not need to be wrapped, and if they would like to wrap them provide some suggestions. For example some smaller items might be able to be wrapped in reusable diapers with diaper pins. For larger items you could suggest using an organic sheet or two to wrap the gift again closed with diaper pins. This eliminates wasting the wrapping paper and also gives mom a few extra sheets for the cradle or crib which she will certainly need. For items that are a medium size you could suggest organic receiving blankets-which always come in handy with a little one.

eco friendly chocolateEco Friendly Baby Shower Favors

Green baby shower favor ideas

Next on the green baby shower to-do list would be the green party favors! There are plenty of green options out there. Some people prefer to make a donation for each of the guests attending the shower to a green organization. Others prefer to have something that the guests can take home that is organic. For example, organic mint chocolate favors, or small bags of organic coffeewhich you can make yourself if you buy a larger bag and separate it out into reusable containers.

Why Ballons are a Bad Choice for Green Baby Showers

What to use instead of traditional baby shower decorations

Two Dry Pine Cones Sitting on a Gray Boulder
Balloons are something you definitely would not want to have at the baby shower. Not only are they a waste only item, because after the party it is likely they will end up in the trash immediately or shortly after if one of the guests takes them home. You also run the risk if the balloons are filled with helium that someone may let one go outside (accidentally or on purpose) and the harm that one balloon could cause to a marine animal is substantial. Balloons tend to look a bit like jellyfish when they land in the water and could be eaten by an unsuspecting sea turtle or whale. Streamers are another decoration which may seem nice for the few hours it is up, but you can find natural items to decorate the room so that you can pass on the streamers. The streamers are something else that will be thrown away right after the shower and will be a waste of paper. The dye in the paper will also start to leak out after it has been thrown away and it starts to break down. Read more about what balloons do to our environment here.

Natural Decor for Baby Showers
Three Gerberas
There are some even more beautiful, natural alternatives you can use for shower decor. If the shower is in the winter time, you may think about using pine cones, pine boughs and other natural items. Spring and summer would be a great time use potted flowers and spices as mentioned above. Fall, especially in New England, you have the colored leaves which have fallen from the trees. You could hand pick some large multi color leaves to decorate each table, or you could make you own potpourri style basket for each table complete with a colorful sampling of the best that fall has to offer.

Creating a Green Baby Shower Menu

Recommended themes and foods for your eco friendly baby shower menu

Menu Outside a Cafe in Ravenna, Italy
When creating the menu, though it may be hard to offer everything organic-consider making the food offerings fair trade, organic or locally grown. This is especially easy in the spring, summer and fall when farm stands and farmer’s markets are open. If this proves to be too challenging, you could offer special items noted as fair trade-such as the coffee. Or perhaps make a dessert such as brownies with an organic chocolate. The mom to be will appreciate your efforts! As this is a green, organic shower you will want to be sure that you have reusable plates and utensils. This is easily done if the shower is held at your house as you can use the plates and utensils and then put them in the dishwasher for an easy clean up. Paper or plastic plates, plastic cups and plastic utensils all just cause extra trash from the party. The mom to be will appreciate your go green efforts and thoughtful planning!

Another great gift for Mom:
The Reusable Bamboo Utensil Set is perfect for work, school, and any woman on-the-go that would like to be prepared (and green!).

A Better Choice Than Disposable Gift Bags

Reusable bags – use them over and over!

love the earth reusable tote bagRight: Love the Earth Reusable Tote Bag

Why throw away a paper bag, only to have it end up in a landfill? If this is truly a green baby shower, the new Mom will love that you’ve used a reusable bag instead of a plastic one to give their gifts in! This bag is made of 100% cotton canvas, and is easily machine washed or hand washed. This will hold approximately 3 x as much as dispoable plastic grocery bags, and is the size of a medium sized gift bag. It’s a gift in itself!

More reusable tote bags from EcoGreenBags.

P.S.: The author of this page is a Mom, and tries to lead the greenest lifestyle possible, whenever possible. Whether it’s natural baby products or the use of soaps that won’t cause damage to our rivers and streams, there are small things you can do to help the environment and yourself. You’ve probably heard the expression, “Rome wasn’t built in a day!” This expression applies well to leading a green lifestyle. Too much change at once can be overwhelming, so take it slow, do what you can, when you can, and never stop learning!

You can find the eco friendly products the author sells and recommends on this page, including the reusable paper towels, reusable dryer sheets, earth friendly soap nuts, organic lotions, and our entire organic spa line at You can also read more earth friendly advice from the author right here at A Million Ways to Go Green.