Green In Your Face

I have always delighted in cultivating my home and garden. Ever since I can remember, I have been known for my energy and creativity. As a former regional and sectional figure skating champion, I know results don’t happen overnight.

As with most things in life, small steps typically lead to big change, and I’ve come to realize that by simply incorporating earth-friendly behaviors into my everyday life was a good way to begin. I’m no “Green expert,” but spending my childhood in my grandmother’s garden and having smart, resourceful parents, many of my green behaviors were ingrained in me from the start “Ò things like not taking more of something than I needed and always turning off the lights when leaving a room. It’s those little “rules of conservation” that started me on my “green” path “Ò though I didn’t know it at the time.

Making changes can be uncomfortable until they become habit, but set out to enjoy the process and make little changes each day. Create a game out of it for yourself and your kids. There’s nothing better than seeing a child model your good (green) behaviors. It’s about planting the seeds for the next generation to live by.

That said, here are the MAR ways it can be easy to be green:


  • Return hangers to your dry cleaners “Ò and reuse those cardboard inserts from folded shirts. They’re perfect as drawing boards for the kids.
  • Banish paper napkins “Ò Cloth napkins reduce waste and refine any dining experience.
  • Wrap gifts in unique ways by using old newspapers, out-dated maps, brown paper grocery bags, wallpaper scraps or one of my favorite choices “Ò denim!
  • Buy super efficient Energy Star appliances “Ò the government cites that if one in 10 households used Energy Star appliances the change would be like planting 1.7 million new acres of trees.
    For more information about this go onto
  • When gardening, return the plastic gallon containers to your local nursery “Ò mine gives me a little discount for doing so, maybe yours will too!
  • Some of the best garden “shops” are the gardens of your friends and family. Transport small plantings to and from each other’s homes wrapped in wet newspaper. You’ll get new beauty and share some, too.
  • A use for empty wine bottles? Fill them with sand from the beach and bury them upside down in the yard to serve as great buffers for your watering hose. No need to buy sand, visit your local beach for a free supply.
  • In the kitchen, be conscious of portion control “Ò it’s not only good for your waistline, but for the environment’s “wasteline.” If you’re single or often eating alone but cooking recipes that make two or more servings, invite a neighbor over for an impromptu dinner party or simply call to say you’ve got food to share. I learned this from my best friend and neighbor Barbara.


  • Use 100% recycled printer paper here and at home. Ask yourself if you really have to print each document and when you do, can you reduce font sizes and change margins to use the least amount of pages possible?
  • Print draft quality pages whenever possible. Cutting down ink consumption saves you money, too.
  • Recycle ink cartridges. Big box office stores and online ink retailers will take your used cartridges and offer discounts on new ones if you do.
  • Return shipping foam “peanuts” to a local large office or shipping store. When having multiple items shipped, ask the company if all items can be packaged together.
  • Keep a full place setting for yourself at the office. Having your own knife, fork, spoon, plate and coffee or tea cup will reduce the need for plastic and paper throwaways “Ò and your office snacks will be all the more refined! Make sure you ask that utensils not be included in your order.
  • When ordering in, consolidate with your office mates. Ask the establishment to package the order in the least amount of containers — and specifically ask for no extras if you won’t use them. How many packets of soy sauce or fortune cookies does one order need?


  • You’ve heard it before, but it’s always worth repeating: Bringing your own shopping bags to the grocery stores and for other errands can make a huge difference. Here’s an interesting fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. 100 BILLION!!
  • Co-opt shopping. Whether going to a Costco-type store or the local gourmet market, purchasing with friends reduces over-buying and reduces packaging waste.
  • Go paperless “Ò tell salespeople in advance that you don’t want a receipt (unless it’s for a major purchase.) Credit/debit card statements are receipt enough and those can be paperless, too. Sign up for the option of emailed statements with your major cards.
  • Frequent your library for good reads in lieu of purchasing. Ditto for DVDs.
  • Subscribe together “Ò get a group of friends to each subscribe to separate magazines you all like then monthly swap issues over cocktails.


  • Donate your old cell phone to charity through
  • Invest in a good water filter and refill plastic bottles. Over 14 billion water bottles were produced in 2002 and 90% of those ended up in the trash.
  • Get off junk mailing lists. A quick Internet search will show you how, but these groups will do it for you for a small fee:,, In 2005, 41.5 billion pieces of direct mail were produced and distributed. The production and disposal of junk mail consumes more energy than 3 million cars. Now that we know this I suggest we all do something about it.

As greener ways of living become part of our everyday lifestyle, you’ll want to keep doing more and more. Research your options, ask questions and do your homework — once I started my green journey I was amazed by the statistics and information I could find. There’s no need to get crazy over it or hyper-conscious, but know that green options exist for almost every aspect of life today. Do it with simplicity and style, balancing natural solutions with everyday elegance. Having a beautiful, earth-friendly home is an attainable goal. If I can incorporate these green ideas in my life, you can too!

And there you have it.