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Medly of Green Tips from Parents

It's Easy Being Green

Water: Teach them to keep the water flow to a pencil-thin stream when using the sink. Besides teaching your child dental hygiene, remind them to turn off the water while brushing their teeth. With older children, do a beach, river, waterway or park clean-up with your kids each year.


Energy: Tell them to turn off the lights when leaving a room and to leave the lights off during the day. Make it a rule to unplug the TV and turn off the computer at night. These appliances use up energy even when they are not on.  Instead of using the AC or heater, teach kids to put on a sweater or hat when they are cold or to open a window on each side of the house when they are hot. Remind teens to unplug their MP3, phone and camera chargers when not in use.


Waste: Recycle newspapers, magazines and junk mail. You can present it as a game that involves sorting out the different types and putting them in their special bins for points. Assign a daily chore to help with the sorting and recycling.
Fix something before buying a new one. Sometime the manufacturer will fix it for free or take the item to a local repair shop. Take a your older child to visit a landfill to understand there is no "away" in "throwing things away." This is when we have the opportunity to teach the importance of recycling and reusing.

Transportation: Carpool to activities. Teach your kids to consider their transportation options. Encourage walking, riding bikes and using public transportation. If your teen drives a car, encourage them to carpool with friends, and teach them to properly care for their car. Plus, make sure they know the rules to live by: Regularly change the air and oil filter, keep tires inflated,obey the speed limit, and keep the inside of the car free from extra weight to reduce drag, and don't let the car idle when waiting for more than 30 seconds.

Composting At Home

Composting: It's Good for the World!

Composting is the controlled decomposition of organic materials. It's a rewarding way to recycle your yard and kitchen wastes into a valuable, nutrient rich, sweet-smelling soil amendment. There are probably as many ways to compost as there are creative people composting! The County of Santa Cruz offers many resources and services to start and maintain successful composting systems. We hope the information on this web site will help Santa Cruz County households, schools, and businesses achieve their unique composting goals.


Why Compost?

• Composting saves you money by lowering garbage bills and replacing the need for commercial soil amendments and fertilizers.

• Composting benefits your garden and container plants by improving the fertility and health of your soil. Plants grown in healthy soil are more resistant to pests and diseases. As a mulch, compost suppresses weeds and reduces the need for pest controls and sprays.

• Composting saves water by helping the soil hold moisture, reducing evaporation and water runoff. Using compost as mulch will also benefit plants by keeping roots cooler.

• Composting helps the environment by recycling valuable organic resources and extending the lifetime of our landfills.


Composting in Santa Cruz

An Eco Mom's Guide to a Green Halloween

Submitted By: Elizabeth Borrelli

Another summer has come and gone, the kids are back at school, the smell of autumn is in the air. As another crisp October beckons, kids everywhere are repeating the age-old question "What are you going to be for Halloween?" The answer wavers often, sometimes even after the costume is planned, made or purchased, but it's Halloween after all and that's just part of the fun.

Fortunately for us eco-moms, Halloween is one of those celebrations that works well in green. It's easy to switch from drugstore candy containing more wrapping than edible contents to eco-friendly treats. Do-it-yourself costumes can be a simple and inexpensive alternative to their made-in-China counterparts. Of course even with our best intentions, the double-espresso-speed schedule that so many of us run on can render any new direction daunting. It's tempting to get sucked in by all the crazy promotions and point-of-purchase displays encouraging us to grab & go in order to save some time. But with a few simple changes to hearken a more wholesome holiday, you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you'll find.

Favorite Halloween Eco-Treats
Halloween treats don't have to be individually wrapped balls of artificially colored corn syrup - although kids will certainly get plenty of those. Locally grown, fair-trade or organic candy makes a more conscientious alternative environmentally. Small, sustainably-made toys are a healthy eco-friendly substitute. Halloween party-goers often enjoy all-natural or home-baked goods even more than those overly sweet, questionable ingredient-laden supermarket varieties. Look online or at your local health foods store for some of our favorite treats below:
• Yummy Earth Organic Lollipops - delicious and dye free, they come in a large variety of flavors including lemon, mixed fruit, peppermint, mango, watermelon, and pomegranate.
• Plan Toys Monkey Pencils - Made from reclaimed rubberwood, these eco-friendly pencils are as cute as they are functional - a kid and parent favorite.
• The Ginger People Ginger Chews - You'll love their spicy apple ginger chews. Made from all natural ginger, a holistic remedy for nausea, it's the perfect holiday candy.
• Endangered Species Chocolates - These delicious bite sized chocolates squares are fair trade manufactured by a company that donates a portion of proceeds toward preserving animal habitat.

Eco-Friendly Costume Tips & Tricks!
Think back to when you were a kid and how the best costumes were always the most imaginative ones, those last minute inspirations pieced together with a stapler and glue gun. Part of the fun of Halloween is in giving kids permission to use their imagination and figure out a way to create their vision, then see where it takes them. Depending on the age, they may need guidance and ideas, but it's so much better when they help to create it themselves from objects or materials you have at home.
• Host a Halloween Costume Swap: Invite some friends to join you for a pre-Halloween potluck. If they have kids, chances are they've got extra dress up, last year's costumes or accessories to swap. A perfect way to save money, go green and have fun.
• Used Clothes: Costume Shops or your local Good Will are tremendously fun to visit for Halloween ideas. Visit Goodwill for old linens to make a fun ghost or toga costume. Dress them up with leaves to show they're eco. Other favorites: gangster, wise old crone, clown or cat (cheetah print is a common Good Will find).
• Spooky Scarecrow: Over sized flannel shirt, faded blue jeans with patches, rope for belt and to tie at the cuffs of his jeans and sleeves, stuff the shirt and jeans with plastic grocery, or paper, a little bit of straw to hang out of jeans and shirt.
• '60s Hippy: This one is hard, after all its back in style! What is real, and what is costume? ;-) Tie die clothing, long wig (in the old days we called a "fall", sandals, headband, anything with fringe on it (vests, purse...) light colored sun glasses.

As every mom knows, it's got to be quick, easy and affordable to work in any color, green included, but when you can stay true to the origins of the holiday without breaking the bank, it's worth a try. This year try trading pre-packaged for reused, recycled and made by you. You'll find an eco-friendly Halloween more fun, no additional pressure or extra work - Go Green!


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