Green Tips & Products

Over the years we have found many ways to live more economically, and ecologically. Here we will share with you what we have learned, and share some of the products we use that make it easier to live more sustainably.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Holiday Survival Tips

At New American Dream we hear from many families who feel their holidays are overly focused on material gifts. If you are in this boat, as I am, now is an ideal time to talk with loved ones about making changes—while the holidays are on their minds, too, but they haven’t done much in the way of shopping or preparation yet. (If you have the kind of family that starts buying holiday gifts in June, you can at least plant the seed this year without trying to make sweeping changes.)

In my family, gift-giving is a big part of our celebration, and my relatives are proud of their generosity. I’ve always been hesitant to suggest changes that are too different from our regular traditions. What I have done instead is give homemade, second-hand, and thrifty gifts, like used books and hand-knitted scarves, without insisting anyone else do anything differently. I also began giving gifts of donation several years ago to relatives who truly did not need more stuff. I’ve been delighted to receive similar gifts in return the last couple of years, including donations, fair trade handicrafts, and custom-made jewelry and framed photographs from surprisingly enthusiastic family members.

TIP: If you feel your relatives are open to direct suggestions (or you want to test the waters), there are many options you could consider. Such as:

Perhaps the adults in your family would agree to only give gifts to the children this year.

Or perhaps extended families could give one gift to each household (such as a board game, tennis set, museum membership, or tickets to a play), instead of multiple gifts to each person.

You could have a White Elephant party where each person gives one second-hand gift instead of a new gift to every person and the gift-opening celebration becomes a fun competitive sport (this tradition is one of my favorites, and a highlight of New American Dream’s office party every year).

Or you could set a flat dollar limit on gift-buying per person—a move that encourages creative, silly, second-hand, and homemade gifts.

For more inspiration, “Recycled Christmas” is one of my favorite holiday stories about how a real family worked together to do something different, responsible, and fun with their celebration. If you have any tips or new traditions that worked for you, I’d love to hear them.

Cheers and good luck!

Jenn and the staff of New American Dream

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Getting more mpg from your car

Not everyone can drive a 50mpg VW diesel or Hybrid, so here are some tips that everyone can use to get better fuel efficiency from the vehicle they have, and what vehicles to consider when it's time to change.

Drive more efficiently

Keep your car in shape

Plan & combining trips

Choose a more efficient vehicle

Read how at

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Everyone has heard the term recycling pushed into their faces for a number of years now, and although it is a good idea, not everything can be easily recycled, or there may not be local places to take it. A complementary approach is to be smart about packaging and materials so that there is less waste that needs recycling. Reduce the amount of "waste" you generate, reuse leftover materials for another project, then finally, recycle materials into something else. There is an excellent page on these processes, and more eco-tips, found at Global Stewards. Some are easy for the city dweller to accomplish, some tips are more aimed at us country folk, but there is good advice there for everyone.

That is the goal of this blog, something for everyone!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Energy Efficient Appliances - Front Loader Washer

We have a Sears Front Loader Clothes Washer (stacked with a Sears Propane Dryer). A bit more expensive than the standard top loader, the electric and water savings soon paid for it. We went with a Sears unit because it was less expensive than the typical off-grid Staber unit, and we had a local dealer and local service. EarthEasy explains the advantages of this type of washer:

  • Larger capacity because of no bulky agitator. The average load increase is 30%. The extra space improves washing of bulky items like sleeping bags, bedspreads and throw rugs.

  • High-speed extraction. Front-load washers spin at over 1000 rpm in American-made machines, and higher on European models. This is considerably faster than the 600-700 rpm spin cycle on top-load washers. Clothes come out drier and thereby reduce drying time. This saves energy, and helps the dryer keep pace with the washer during multiple-load washing.

  • Gentler on laundry items. Gentler wash action, with no agitator.

  • Quieter. No clunky sounds, just the whir of the spin cycle.

  • Cleans better. Front-load washers clean many stains bettter than conventional top-load washers.

  • Stackable. The dryer can be stacked on top of the washer for space savings. ( Not all models have this feature.) Models with controls mounted on the front can also be installed under counters.

  • Energy conservation. Front-load washers can easily save over $100 per year in energy costs, and they use 1/2 as much water. Because they use less water, they also require up to 68% less electricity to heat the water, resulting in more energy savings.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Local Food: Fresh to You, Fair to Farmers

Nothing beats locally grown food for freshness and flavor. And buying local food is a great way to strengthen our local economy by supporting our farming neighbors.

What Is Local Food?

Food that you grow yourself in a home garden or in a community garden.
Food grown or raised in your local county that you buy directly from the farmer or producer at a farm stand, farmers’ market, through a CSA, or at a U-pick farm.
Food grown or raised in your local county that you buy at a grocery store, food co-op, cafeteria, or restaurant in the county.
Food grown elsewhere in your state or nearby region.

Why Eat Local Food?

Tastes best because it’s freshest
Supports local family farms
Strengthens our local economy
Protects our land and conserves fuel

Remember, the goal is not to ban long-distance food. The goal is to restore a balance of local and long-distance food—for the health of our communities, our farms, our land, and ourselves.

Brought to you by

How much energy does a product use?

When we buy electrical devices, or we need to test one we have, we use a special meter called a watt-hour meter to see how much energy a unit uses over time. The meter we have is called a Kill-A-Watt, and it reports volts, amps, watts, watt-hours, power factor, frequency (important for tuning a generator), and time. Approximately $30, this is one tool no conserving household shoule be without. Take it when shopping for appliances for comparing energy consumption.

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Steps for Saving Energy, and Money

1. Take these energy-efficient measures:

  • Replace and recycle your old refrigerator and purchase energy-efficient models. Units only 10 years old can use twice as much electricity as a new ENERGY STAR® labeled model.
  • Insulate ceilings to R-30 standards if your attic has less than R-19.
  • Caulk windows, doors and anywhere air leaks in or out. Do not caulk around water heater and furnace exhaust pipes.
  • Weatherstrip around windows and doors.
  • Wrap heating and cooling ducts with duct wrap, or use mastic sealant.
  • Install energy-saver showerheads.

2. When buying new appliances, be sure to purchase energy-efficient ENERGY STAR® labeled models.

3. Set the furnace thermostat at 68 degrees or lower, and the air-conditioner thermostat at 78 degrees or higher, health permitting. 3 percent to 5 percent more energy is used for each degree the furnace is set above 68 degrees and for each degree the air conditioner is set below 78 degrees.

4. If your old air conditioner is on its way out replace it with ENERGY STAR® labeled energy-efficient model.

5. Use compact fluorescent lamps. You can lower your lighting bill by converting to energy-efficient low-wattage compact fluorescent lighting and fixtures.

6. Replace old windows with new high performance dual pane windows.

7. Clean or replace furnace and air-conditioner filters regularly, following manufacturer's instructions.

8. Set the water heater thermostat at 140 degrees or "normal." If you have a dishwasher. Otherwise, set it at 120 degrees or "low." Check your dishwasher to see if you can use 120 degree water. Follow the manufacturer's direction on yearly maintenance to extend the life of your unit.

9. Fix defective plumbing or dripping faucets. A single dripping hot water faucet can waste 212 gallons of water a month. That not only increases water bills, but also increases the gas or electric bill for heating the water.

10. Wash only full loads in a dishwasher and use the shortest cycle that will get your dishes clean. If operating instructions allow, turn off the dishwasher before the drying cycle, open the door and let the dishes dry naturally.

11. Defrost refrigerators and freezers before ice buildup becomes 1/4-inch thick.

12. Install shades, awnings or sunscreens on windows facing south and/or west to block summer light. In winter, open shades on sunny days to help warm rooms.

13. Close the damper when the fireplace is not being used. Try not to use the fireplace and central heating system at the same time.

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Offset your Automobile, Home, & Flight Emissions

What is TerraPass?

Ever wished you could do something about global warming?
It might seem there's nothing you can do about global warming. The problem is just too big.

Of course, we all contribute to global warming. We all have a "carbon footprint," the total carbon dioxide emissions we create when we drive or fly or use electricity.

Eliminate your carbon footprint with TerraPass
The first step you can take to fight global warming is to reduce your carbon footprint through conservation. Drive less. Turn down the thermostat. Buy locally produced goods.

Then use TerraPass to reduce your carbon footprint all the way to zero.

When you buy a TerraPass, your money funds renewable energy projects such as wind farms. These projects result in verified reductions in greenhouse gas pollution. And these reductions counterbalance your own emissions.

A new kind of environmental movement
Of course, global warming is too big a problem for a handful of people to solve on their own. It's a global problem that requires action on a global scale.

But entrepreneurial groups are leading the way. City and state governments, forward-looking businesses, and enthusiastic citizens are banding together to show that a sustainable future is possible today.

Every TerraPass member has taken a simple positive step to fight global warming. Every TerraPass purchase is a vote for innovation, efficiency, and clean energy. Together, we have eliminated over 150 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

Be part of a group that is driving change today.

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

According to EnergyStar.Gov, If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR, we would save enough energy to light more than 2.5 million homes for a year and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of nearly 800,000 cars.

Here at Green-Trust, all 20 of our light bulbs are compact fluorescent bulbs. At 1/4 the wattage of an equivalent incandescent, it saves quite a bit of energy.

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Recycled, Recyclable Razor, from Recycline

Recycline’s New Preserve® Razor Triple is made from Recycled Materials and is Recyclable

My son really likes this one. His is red, looks racy, and keeps his teenage chin whisker free. They grow up so fast.

Waltham, MA (October 17, 2006) – Recycline is proving once again that high-performance consumer products used every day can be designed with an environmental edge. The Preserve Razor Triple is the latest addition to the Preserve brand, which already includes the top-selling toothbrush, razor and plastic tableware in the natural product marketplace. This new razor is the first environment-friendly alternative for high-performance shaving products. “The razor category in the natural channel has been void of a high performance offering and consumers and retailers have been asking for an environment-friendly and high-performance alternative,” says Recycline President and founder Eric Hudson.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Vermont Soap Organics

Today's spotlight is Vermont Soap Organics. They recently sent us their Lavender Ecstasy Foaming Hand Soap. Made with organic oils, it's easy on the hands, gets them very clean, and smells wonderful. Check them out!

Vermont Soap Organics produces USDA Approved, Certified Organic alternatives to the often irritating, chemical and detergent based personal care products now in general use. We manufacture handmade cold process bar soaps for sensitive skin, liquid soaps for skin and cleaning, the first truly organic shower gels, numerous organic nontoxic cleaners and much more. Our Master Soapmakers blend organic food grade ingredients into soap products the old fashioned way. Our special bar soap process removes excess alkali from the soap, creating a super mild bar for the most sensitive skin.

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