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10 Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds

Photo by Flickr User Theogeo

Over 50 percent of Americans drink coffee on a daily basis, and among those coffee drinkers, most drink three cups a day. It adds up to at least  330 million cups of coffee a day. That’s a lot of coffee grounds. While many people throw these grounds out in the garbage, doing so only sends them to a landfill where they will decompose and release methane, a greenhouse gas.

If you have a compost pile or are lucky enough to live in a green city like San Francisco that collects compost items with the recycling and garbage bins, the grounds can be composted. The grounds are very nutrient-rich for plants that thrive in acidic soils such as tomatoes and carrots.

Used coffee grounds can also be used in do-it-yourself beauty products. To create a face cleansing mask, mix coffee grounds with mashed up avocados. For your hair, rub coffee grounds through wet hair. Rinse well. The grounds should add shine and softness to your hair.

It is also believed that used coffee grounds can repel ants and other pests. Place the grounds near entry points in your house where the animals may be able to get in, or you can use the grounds in a garden where certain pests hang out.

Coffee grounds may also be used to scour dirty dishes and as a replacement for baking soda as a deodorizer in a refrigerator.

Mix the grounds in water to create a natural brown dye.

Another favorite tip is to sprinkle the grounds over fireplace ashes. When cleaning out the ashes, you will have much less dust.

Don’t drink coffee but still want to try some of these reuse options? Ask your local coffee vendor for grounds. Even chains like Starbucks have begun putting out their used coffee grounds in packages for customers to take free of charge.

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In a World of Green, What Does it all Mean?

Upcycle, Recycle, Reusable, Organic and All-Natural……..It all can make a sane person want to scream when they are first dipping their toe into a more eco-conscious lifestyle. I hear terms every single day that make my head spin, especially now with ‘green washing’ in the mix to just confuse us all the more. So I have devised a little guide below to help us all navigate through to truly greener grasses.

All-natural: Mainly referring to foods and beauty products that have no artificial ingredients and processed minimally.

Biodegradable: Organic products that able to be broken down easily with little to no effect on the environment.

Composting: The act of recycling food waste to valuable and usable soil.

Eco-friendly: The act of inflicting minimal to no harm to the environment (i.e. type of car you drive, cleaning products used, etc.).

Greenwashing: The act of misleading the general public into thinking a product / service is eco-friendly by spending more energy on ‘selling’ as green versus actually backing up the process as being green.

Non-renewable Resources: Natural resources that risk being completely exhausted (i.e. crude oil).

Organic: To be grown without chemicals or pesticides and processed without radiation or other harmful reactants. This can be with regard to food, beauty products, clothes, bedding, towels, etc.

Recycle: The act of downcycling where an item such as a tire is turned into another item (i.e. carpeting).

Renewable Resource: Natural resources which are continuously produced (i.e. fish and fresh water).

Reusable: An item that can be used over and over again lessening harm to the environment (i.e. shopping bags).

Sustainability: The act of sustaining for an undetermined amount of time without depleting resources and/or causing harm to the environment.

Upcycle: The process of taking something old and making it new again for use over and over without changing it’s actual composition (i.e. old sweaters turned into stuffed animals).

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10 Energy Saving Tips at the Office

1. Turn off the lights
Remember to hit the switch on your way out for that well-deserved lunch break. The energy savings from 10 million office workers turning off unneeded lights for 30 minutes a day is enough to illuminate four million square metres of office space.

2. Remove yourself from junk mail lists
The last thing you need is another office supply catalogue or credit card offer. But before tossing out junk mail, call the company and ask that your name be removed from its mailing list. Have contacts e-mail you instead. Almost 50 percent of all catalogues are never opened, yet nearly 62 million trees are destroyed and 28 billion gallons of water are used to produce them every year.

3. Send your monitor to sleep
Screensavers are designed to save your screen from burn in, not to save energy. Monitors are responsible for more than one third of a computer’s energy consumption, so conserve energy by putting yours to sleep or powering off altogether when you’re away from your desk for more than 10 minutes.

4. Use the stairs
Your brain gets exercise all day, so why not exercise your body? Get your heart pumping by taking the stairs instead of the lift. It’s good for your health and saves electricity.

5. Make your printer’s toner last
If you’re printing rough drafts or documents for internal purposes, change the printer’s settings to economy mode and avoid printing in colour if possible. Economy mode uses up to 50 percent less toner and prints twice as many pages as higher quality settings. Printing on both sides slashes the number of sheets used by 50 percent.

6. Leave the car at home
Public transport may not be perfect, but there are alternatives: why not walk (if you live close enough), hitch a lift with a colleague or try going by bicycle?

7. Recycle paper
If it tears, it can be recycled: from magazines and manila folders to plain paper and post-it notes. Manufacturing recycled paper generates 74 percent less air pollution than creating paper from scratch and saves trees, water and energy.

8. Buy 100 percent recycled paper
When you’re buying paper for the office, make sure it’s 100 percent recycled and, ideally, non-chlorinated. The chlorine used for bleaching is one of the biggest polluters in the paper-making process.

9. Recycle and reuse office supplies
Washing and reusing the plastic plates and cutlery you get with takeaway food is an easy way to cut down on waste at work. Use mugs rather than disposable plastic cups and don’t forget that things such as batteries, printer cartridges, DVDs and CDs can be recycled, too.

10. Curb phantom electricity
Many appliances still use energy even when they’re turned off. Items left plugged into the wall, such as a mobile phone charger or laptop adapter, can leak more than 20 watts of power. Plug office equipment into a power strip instead and turn it off at night and on weekends.

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10 Ways to Go Green and Save Money at the Same Time

Want to help the environment, but not too keen on all of the expensive suggestions floating around out there? Here are 10 frugal ways to incorporate green living into your life without throwing your well laid budget plans to the wind.

  1. Safety Razors – Giving up disposable razors for the old fashioned safety razor is a great way to save money and the environment. The multi-packs of flat razor blades are not only inexpensive, they come without all of the extra plastic housing that ultimately ends up in land fills. We’ve been doing this in our house for a few years now, and have noticed a tremendous savings. An added bonus? We don’t have to carve out extra storage in the cabinets when we stock up. Flat packs of blades store very efficiently in a minimal amount of space.
  2. Mineral Salt Deodorant Sticks – You can find these at nearly any health food or natural living store. They last an incredibly long time, don’t contain any harmful ingredients, and as with the safety razor idea listed above, don’t come with a ton of obnoxious plastic packaging to toss in the land fill once the product has been used up. My husband and I used this product on a recent six month trip around the world. It lasted the duration of the trip and is still going strong. It also takes up minimal room in the back pack.
  3. Re-usable Coffee Filters – Just imagine never having to buy or run out of these little babies again!
  4. Give Up Paper Towels – OK, I’ll be honest. This is not easy in the beginning. The trick? Having a simple, workable system for having clean rags on hand. I ended up using several of those fabric sleeves with elastic on both ends . . . you know, the kind most people use to store empty plastic grocery bags in for quick access? I hung one in each place we routinely used paper towels. Then, I raided the pile of old T-shirts we had set aside to go to Goodwill and cut up a bunch of cleaning rags. These were what I used to fill up each of the disposal “sleeves”. When we need to reach for something to wipe up a spill or do a quick clean up of a particular space, we can now reach for a washable cleaning rag instead of a paper towel.
  5. Recycle Old Athletic Socks – Not possible you say? I beg to differ. Cut each old sock off just slightly above the ankle, and below the ribbed leg section. The left over foot portion is what I use instead of those expensive disposable dusting mittens. These things are great for getting around stair banister railings, gripping table and chair legs to dust . . . you won’t go back, I promise you! The other ribbed section, particularly if it is ribbed the entire length of the piece, is great to slice up one side and use for a great moisture holding dish rag. The ridges give you extra scrubbing power too.
  6. Shopping for Second Hand Goods – Anything you are comfortable buying second hand keeps that same item from ending up in a garbage dump. This applies to furniture, clothing, toys, kitchen ware, and to a certain extent, automobiles. This personal finance procedure goes a long way to helping out the planet and your pocketbook at the same time.
  7. Think Before You Print – Save money on ink and paper by checking to see if you really need a paper copy of a particular document before hitting the print button. Still think you really need it? Check out the econo mode for printing which will at least use less ink and save you money in the long run on those refilled cartridges.
  8. Celebrate the Power of Tie-Dye – This is a great affordable way to give lightly stained, lighter colored linens and clothing items a second shelf life. Some ideas? Old sheets, curtains, pillow cases, socks and T-shirts to name a few.
  9. Find a Second Use for Those Plastic Grocery Bags – These things really can help out a time or two more after making it home from the grocery store. Use them to line small trash cans (one less item to buy), pick up after your dog in the park or provide extra cushioning in those holiday postal packages.
  10. Consider a Personal Filter for Your Kitchen Faucet -This will enable you to skip the extra packaging that comes with large cases of bottled water and carve some extra cash out of your personal budget at the same time. We’ve been using one for at least 5 or 6 years now and really like not having to find extra room for those bottles.

There you have it. Ten ways that won’t break the bank or the planet. Have another idea? Pop me a line, I’d love to hear about it!

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