Friday, August 28, 2009

Articles - Top Ten Ways My Family Reduces Our Carbon Footprint

Top Ten Ways My Family Reduces Our Carbon Footprint - Articles

When we read about global warming, dwindling water supplies or endangered animals, many of us feel helpless to make a real difference. If we can’t afford solar panels to heat our home or buy an electric car, what’s the use? I believe there is plenty everyone can do to make a difference to the environment and even to your pocketbook. We all know about driving less or setting our thermostat a bit higher or lower according to the season but here are some ideas you may have overlooked.

1. Eat your leftovers. Throwing away food is such a waste not only of the food, but the resources used to grow that food and get it to your table. Once a week, have a leftover meal to clean out the fridge or take leftovers to work for lunch. This saves money and time on cooking, cleaning and energy.

2. Reduce your trash by putting food scraps such as peels, coffee grounds or eggs shells into a mulch pile. You will have less trash and improve your garden soil, particularly if you add leaves and grass clippings. Find the recycling opportunities in your town and recycle every can, paper, magazine, cardboard or piece of plastic you can. My family of four easily fits a week’s worth of garbage into our can while our neighbor of the same size uses three cans.

3. Don’t give cheap toys for party favors, Halloween treats, or school rewards. In a few days, these items end up in the trash. For children’s parties, give granola bars or crackers and a drink, or coupons for ice cream. I once baked sugar cookies, wrapped them individually and decorated each with a bit of ribbon. These were the medal awards at our Olympics party. Kids are bored with trivial items that break easily anyway.

4. Limit your family to only one individually canned or bottled drink per day or do without altogether. Drink milk, buy liter bottles of soft drinks, make a pitcher of tea, buy reusable bottles or add flavored packets to your glass of water. Individual drinks are convenient but we generate an amazing amount of garbage this way. Unfortunately, a large portion of these cans and bottles don’t get recycled.

5. Buy some inexpensive cloth napkins or small bar towels to use as napkins. They are easy to throw in with other laundry and you will not miss the paper napkins. Use bar towels to clean around the kitchen to cut back on paper towels. I use white towels to clean with and colored for napkins.

6. Sign up at any website that reduces junk mail such as or get off catalog mailing lists. So much junk mail is thrown away each day that it staggers the mind. Share newspapers and magazines with a friend or neighbor or at least recycle them.

7. Teach your children to be considerate and not wasteful at other homes. This is a big issue at our house with my children’s friends. I am appalled at the amount children waste. After groups of teens leave, my husband and I find unfinished drinks and throw away plates of half eaten food. When serving children, give small portions. It is better to give seconds than throw away food. Teach children not to waste paper, craft supplies, water and electricity. Explain that these things cost money that the family could save or spend elsewhere. Save scrap paper to use for grocery lists, notes, printer paper or drawing paper.

8. Many grocery or discount stores now offer sturdy, inexpensive canvas bags for customers instead of plastic. These bags are so much better than plastic bags that you will wonder why we didn’t have them sooner. They stand up in the car so groceries don’t roll out and they don’t rip open spilling food everywhere. If you still use plastic, please return them to the store as most will recycle them.

9. Pick up trash in public places, even if it’s not your own. When we are at the beach, we always pick up any trash before we leave. Doing the same thing in parks or your neighborhood benefits everyone, not just the environment, and shows pride in your community.

10. Educate your family on environmental issues. The more you become aware of how your actions negatively impact the environment, the more you can change those actions. Another very important way you can help is to keep up with legislation that impacts the environment both on the local and national level. Then communicate with your elected officials about what you feel should be done. It only takes a couple of minutes to email your politicians about their vote.

Fiction - The Stag - Fiction

The crash startled Edith from a sound sleep. She sat up in bed and listened as the sound of breaking and falling glass seemed to go on and on. It had to be the picture window in the living room; nothing else in the house was large enough to produce that much noise. Glancing at the clock that flashed 3:11, she eased out of bed and shuffled down the hall. Though she lived alone, she wasn’t afraid. No thief would brave the temperature and travel so far out of town in the middle of winter. It had to be something else.
In the strong moonlight, Edith saw the stag as she stepped in the room. It lay sprawled and gasping on the hardwood, a small dark puddle spreading under its head. By it’s labored breathing, Edith guessed it wouldn’t last long. She picked her way through the shards of glass and knelt beside its head. Reaching out her bony fingers, she stroked the deer’s fur as it gave one last shudder and lay still. Sorrow filled her and she spoke aloud, “I wonder what on earth made you leap through that window?”
As the cold crept through her nightgown, she shivered and wondered what to do. She hated to wake anyone at this hour but she couldn’t leave the gaping hole till morning. At eighty-one, she wasn’t up to dragging a dead animal out of the house or boarding up the window and there were no neighbors nearby.
Still weighing her options, she became aware of a strange mist beginning to rise from the stag’s corpse. At first, she thought the heat of the animal was rising visibly due to the cold air, but then the mist began to glow and twist.
Mesmerized, she watched as the mist formed into the shape of the deer, which lingered a moment then turned and leaped smoothly out the broken window. It bounded towards the edge of the frozen lake and stopped, looking back towards the house.
As Edith watched, a strange feeling grew in her mind that the stag was waiting for her to follow. An icy breeze filled the room and a bright flutter near the floor caught her eye. Looking down, she saw her gown glowing just like the stag. She raised her hand to her face; it had a transparent glow too. Realization flooded through her and with a smile, she went to join the stag.

Natalie sat sobbing on the sofa across from the picture window as the EMT wheeled the gurney away. The coroner patted her awkwardly on the shoulder, glancing at the sheriff for help.
“When Grandma didn’t answer the phone, I knew something was wrong. We talk every day…” Natalie trailed off.
“If it makes you feel any better, she died in her sleep. It’s always the heart.” stated the coroner.
“We should all be so lucky to die in peace,” added the sheriff.

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My name is Lisa Tedder and I write children's fiction, flash fiction, articles and a blog on healthy eating, exercise and other health related information. Please feel free to check out some of my stories and don't miss my other blog!