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Green Tips for the Bride

Thursday, March 17th, 2011
By Christa

As I mentioned a while back, green topics have actually come up pretty frequently at the other two blogs I author: Manolo for the Home and Manolo for the Brides. In the last post, I shared a list of eco-friendly posts from Manolo for the Home, and today I want to share a similar list taken from the archives of Manolo for the Brides.

eco weddings

Green Tips for the Bride:

Green Theshold Alert: Conserve Cards

Friday, March 4th, 2011
By Christa

Some people get a little knot in their stomachs when they hear the words ‘green giving’ – they don’t have room for another soy candle or another recycled yarn tissue box and they have reusable water bottles for every day of the week. It’s not that they don’t appreciate the thought behind green gifts, but rather that they’d prefer the gifts to be a little more thoughtful, if not a little less green. These are people who may or may not sign up for Amazon’s Aunt Mildred, but their green threshold is pretty low when it comes to overtly green gifts.

Personally, I like green gifts, and even when I don’t like specific green gifts, I like passing them on to other people who will actually want them. Where my green threshold lies, as it applies to green giving, is probably somewhere around Conserve Cards.

It’s not that I’m morally opposed to the idea of reusable greeting cards – in fact, I think it’s a pretty handy idea for those who know their recipients will actually reuse a card. And I’m happy to hear that Conserve Cards are made from recycled paper, eco-friendly inks, and water-based adhesives. I just don’t necessarily think that most people upon receiving a Conserve Card will take the time to keep it somewhere convenient and then remember that it’s there the next time they feel pressed to send a greeting card. Add to that the fear that it will be awkward when the card makes it back to the original sender, and I see Conserve Cards ending up (hopefully) in the recycling bin along with regular cards.

Or am I just being cynical? What do you think of the idea of reusable greeting cards?

Here’s Wishing You and Yours a Green Valentine’s Day!

Monday, February 14th, 2011
By Christa

It’s not always easy to keep holidays green, but it’s possible. It’s especially easy to indulge without thinking when there’s chocolate everywhere, but in the spirit of Earth-friendliness, make yours organic!

Make Your Love Last: 9 Green Valentines That Are In the Pink of the Mode

Monday, February 7th, 2011
By Christa

Green giving is sometimes a big pain in the tush – and green Valentine’s Day giving is no exception. Maybe you buy the greenest possible gift, but the only place to get it from means a cross country shipping journey. Or those organic chocolates come wrapped in plastic in paper in plastic. And then there are cards – which are always a tough call. Are eco-friendly Valentine’s Day cards really worth it?

I guess the greenest thing to do would be to make a homemade Valentine’s Day card using your stash of elephant dung paper and clippings from E Magazine but not everyone is handy with a pair of safety scissors. Or to skip the Valentine’s Day cards altogether – but what fun is that? With that in mind, here are 9 super adorable green Valentine’s Day cards for your sweetie:

Cute candy heart cards printed on 100 percent PCW paper and printed with soy ink from Earth Invites


5 Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011
By Christa

Unless you’re one of those people who religiously takes down your Christmas tree on the first of January, there’s a good chance it’s still sitting in your living room, possibly looking a little worse for wear at this point. I can understand why it’s still up. In addition to the whole tedious business of taking off all the decorations, there’s also the question of what to do with the thing. Unless you have a fake Christmas tree, in which case it will go back to living in the basement for the next 11 months, it’s time to start thinking about how to dispose of the Christmas tree. Put it in the trash? No way, that’s for amateurs. Recycling the Christmas tree? Now that’s what I’m talking about.

Make a Big-Ass Bird Feeder
Old Christmas trees make awesome hiding places and roosting spots for passing birds – especially if you lure them to it by “decorating” your tree with peanuts, orange slices, cranberries, strings of popcorn, suet, and seeds. Just stay away from starchy decorations, as these will attract raccoons and chipmunks instead of birds. If you don’t have a lot of places for wild fliers to hang in your yard, this is a great way to recycle your Christmas tree and invite some native birds to spend part of the winter with you and your family.

Cut Out Some Coasters
For those without fireplaces or access to community tree recycling programs, branches can be used in compost or on top of flower beds for the rest of the winter… but what to do with that pesky trunk? Turns out the trunk of your old Christmas tree might be just the right diameter for coasters. All you have to do is saw off as many rounds as you like (from the dry part of the trunk, not the part that was in the water), sand the rounds smooth, varnish or seal them (do one side and let dry before flipping), and then attach felt dots to the bottom.

Extend the Festivities With DIY Garlands and Potpourri
It’s amazing how long those needles with stay green and fragrant if you’ve been taking good care of your Christmas tree. And it’s not that difficult to weave a garland or turn green pine needles into a sweet smelling potpourri with the addition of cloves, cinnamon, dried orange peels, and other nice stuff. Make one or both, and you can extend the holiday season without being one of those people who keep their tree up until April.

Mulch It!
Do you have a neighbor with a chipper? Or maybe you just have a lot of post-holiday aggression to get out and you’re handy with a saw. Either way, it’s possible to mulch your own Christmas tree given the time and the right equipment. For those without access to a chipper, some towns have mulching events where anyone can walk in with a Christmas tree and walk out with a free bag of mulch.

Or Just Find Your Local Recycling Center
…and let them handle it. Many locales provide pick-up service between certain dates because old Christmas trees become free mulch for city property, but if yours doesn’t, you may be able to drop off your tree at a Christmas tree recycling center somewhere nearby. Try ringing up your town hall to find out how and where you can make your tree someone else’s responsibility.

Have a Gorgeous and Green New Year from Green Manolo!

Friday, December 31st, 2010
By Christa

Best wishes to you tonight, on the eve of the new year, and may your 2011 be your most beautiful and prosperous year yet!

Merry Christmas From Green Manolo!

Friday, December 24th, 2010
By Christa

Here’s wishing you and yours a beautiful and sustainable Christmas Eve and Christmas Day!

Wrapping Presents the Eco-Friendly Way

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010
By Christa

Still haven’t wrapped those last minute Christmas gifts? Yeah. me neither. But I’m not running out to the drug store this year for wrapping paper that has a good chance of not being at all recyclable. I’m not even going to check for recycled gift wrap, even though the plain brown stuff is a favorite of mine because it looks so rustic tied with twine. Nope, this year I’m trying to go even greener, with green wrapping paper that doesn’t require me to go out and buy something new. What will my loved ones find under their trees? How about:

Shopping Bag Wrapping Paper
It sounds dull until you go on to step two, which involves cutting down an old cork – or, heck, a potato – to make a pretty stamp and then creating signature designs on all your gifts. You can also use store-bought stamps like these if you happen to have them already. Just choose plain paper bags, not paper bags covered in logos. Unless, I suppose, you really love the logo.

Cloth Gift Wrap
In Japan, the art of wrapping gifts in cloth is called furoshiki, and it’s a wonderful way to curb paper wastage around the holidays. Gifts can be wrapped in scarves, bandannas, or towels that then become part of the gift, or you can use fabric scraps from other projects if you’re a crafter. Bonus: If your gift recipient is another crafter, they can use the fabric! Some people will secure cloth wrapped parcels with buttons or safety pins, but you can also tie a knot in your fabric or use a separate strip of fabric to create a bow.

Repurposed Wrapping Paper
Any paper can become stylish gift wrap with a little ingenuity on the part of the wrapper. For example, old folding maps can be used for larger gifts, while sheets of newsprint (I like the pink sort usually reserved for financial papers) are great for medium gifts, and vintage paper or even pretty stationery can be used to wrap smaller presents. There are plenty of tutorials for DIY gift bows – like so – and you can always embellish your parcels with things like beads, charms, leaves, flowers, and whatever else you have handy.

Hand Decorated Gift Wrap
Lastly, if you have kids or are artsy yourself, you can always break out the great big sheets of white paper and the crayons and create beautiful (or at the very least, fun) wrapping papers that certain recipients like grandparents and indulgent aunts and uncles will go ga-ga over. Of course, if you’re the artistic one and you have a bit of talent, this is another case in which your gift wrap can also serve as a secondary gift!

Cork vs. Plastic vs. Screw Tops: What’s the Greenest Way to Seal a Wine Bottle?

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
By Christa

Who hasn’t popped the cork on one bottle of wine, only to unscrew a second, and wondered what’s the greenest way to seal a wine bottle? There’s nothing quite like the pop of a cork, of course – though nowadays it’s quite likely that the cork that pops out won’t be cork at all, but rather a plastic cork. And even some nicer wines are showing up on the shelves wearing screw tops instead of the more traditional corks. Now I’m not about to get into a debate about which method of sealing works best – cork lovers will mention bottles coming unscrewed and brettanomyces, while cap lovers will bring up the percentage of “corked” wines, ease of use, and it being the least expensive option – but I would like to talk about which method is the most eco-friendly. I thought the best way to do that would be to highlight the green pros and/or cons of corks, plastic corks, and screw tops.

Natural Cork: Cork is a renewable resource – in fact, cork oaks are the backbone (and protector) of unique and bio-diverse Spanish and Portuguese ecosystems. Cork is harvested from cork trees every nine years by hand – part of what makes it the most expensive option – in a process that leaves the tree alive and able to continue absorbing CO2. It also has the smallest carbon footprint. The main con of natural cork is that its failure rate is higher than that of the other options – some say as high as 5% – and that means waste.

Plastic Cork: Plastic corks are made of, well, plastic, and manufacturing that plastic is as environmentally unfriendly as producing any other plastic. Plastic corks are furthermore not recycleable – or at least, many of them aren’t and there are usually no numbers on the bottom or sides to tell the consumer that is can or can’t be tossed in the recycling bin.

Screw Tops: Often cited as the most environmentally friendly wine bottle closure, screw tops have the highest carbon footprint of the three options thanks to how they’re prpduced and are many times non-recyclable because the screw tops contain both plastic and metal. The main pro of screw tops is that, according to some wine bottlers, they have a failure rate of close to 0% which means less wine is poured down the drain.

I think the winner is pretty clear. So why aren’t wine producers everywhere clamoring for natural cork? For one, it’s expensive – or at least more expensive that a plastic cork. Two, demand is starting to outpace supply, which is driving prices up even further. Three, plastic corks and screw tops offer branding opportunities because they come in colors other than cork. And four, the makers of plastic corks and screw tops launched an aggressive marketing campaign a while back that had the effect of decreasing the use of natural cork (90% to 70% of bottles over a shortish period of time).

As for me? I’ll take a nice organic wine with a real cork from a reliable producer that doesn’t let a lot of corked wine make it out into the world. Seems like the greenest way to get a tipple on, no?

5 Last-Minute Green (and Inexpensive!) Gift Ideas

Monday, December 20th, 2010
By Christa

Uh oh! There are just four shopping days left until Christmas, and perhaps you’ve forgotten certain people on your list? Never fear – Amazon is one of those retailers that is all about getting gifts where they need to go in time for Christmas morning. So instead of rushing out to the mall in the hopes of finding something anything! why not check Amazon for green gifts that won’t break the bank and will arrive on time. Here are five green suggestions that will make you feel good while making your recipients feel good, too.

For a friend: A unique fold-it-yourself receptacle that makes a great inbox or outbox, FUZ floppy basket was designed by Josh Jakus and is made from wool felt from factory excess. $25 gets you the small (good for office supplies), $45 buys the large (big enough for magazines).

For a kid: Crazy Crayons 100% recycled crayons are made with broken, dull, unloved crayons collected by the National Crayon Recycle Program. Purchase of a box or two supports both various recycling education programs and the well-being of people with developmental disabilities who are employed by Crazy Crayons. At just $8.95, it’s a cheap way to do a lot of good!

For a lucky lady: Global Girlfriend totes are adorable and durable bags handmade from repurposed rice bags by disadvantaged women artisans. Created to help women worldwide gain economic security for themselves and their families by earning fair wages for their handiwork, Global Girlfriend sources women-made, fair-trade imported, eco-friendly products. Sounds good, right? So does the $10 price tag!

For the mom-to-be: ErbaOrganics travel kit makes life a little easier for moms on the go with purse-sized toiletry items that are soothing, eco-friendly, organic, free of artificial scents and colors, and designed with the perils of pregnancy in mind. $25 buys your favorite pregnant friend some much-needed comfort and refreshment.

For the the netbook lover: Looptworks Hoptu laptop sleeve is sleek on the outside and all business on the inside with durable 100% upcycled nylon neoprene to cushion any thump your computer might endure. I love the two pockets, which are perfect for things like memory cards and thumb drives. And at $30 or less, depending on the color, it’s a great buy.

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