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Sunscreens That Shine 2012

A Greene Westford column re-posted.

With the prices varying as wildly as the claims, you need to keep up to date on sunscreens.

The weather is heating up and the fourth of July festivities are upon us.  This is usually when people start to think about sunscreen.  Last year, Sunscreens That Shine talked about why the sun is damaging and how the chemicals in some sunscreens can be harmful as well.
Each year more research is done as consumers demand for more information on products they use every day.  In June 2011, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) ordered changes made to sunscreen labeling to attempt to clear up confusion over which sunscreens provided protection for both UVA and UVB rays and how long they lasted when you get wet.  Those rules were supposed to be in effect this month.  Unfortunately, the FDA pushed back the deadline for major manufacturers to December 2012.
These new regulations will help somewhat, but you still need to do your own research.  Each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates many sunscreens for effectiveness and safety.  This year they rated over 1800.  EWG takes into consideration the sunscreen efficacy (how well it protects against the sun) and health hazard about equally – although in some cases it weights the efficacy higher.  Consumer Reports also rates sunscreens on their efficacy alone.  Did you know you can get access to Consumer Reports online databases through the J.V. Fletcher library for free
Oxybenzone ( a common ingredient in sunscreens) continues to cause concern.  Consumer Reports cautions “Oxybenzone may interfere with hormones in the body, and nanoscale zinc and titanium oxides have been linked to potential reproductive and developmental effects.”
As for sprays Consumer Reports states “Spray carefully. The FDA has said it is exploring the risks of inhaling spray sunscreens. Avoid using sprays on children, and spray sunscreen onto your hands to apply it to your face.”  
Most of the safest choices are only available online.  However, here is a list of some more commonly found sunscreens that still rate low on the danger scale.   I was able to find quite a few of these in Westford at CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens.   Each product is given a value from 0 to 10, where 0 is the best (has the least harmful ingredients and protects against the sun) and 10 the worst. The number is parentheses is the EWG rating.
  • Elemental Herbs (1) – Available at The Whole Body Spa
  • Kiss My Face Kids SPF 30 Sun Stick (pink, blue, white) (1)
  • Coppertone Kids Pure and Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (2)
  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (2)
  • Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (2)
  • Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick SPF 50+ (2)
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Natural Protection Mineral Block Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (3)
  • Walgreens Baby Pure and Gentle Sunscreen Stick SPF 60+ (3)
  • Walgreens Sunscreen with Zinc Oxide, SPF 45 (3)
  • Banana Boat Natural Reflect Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50+ (3)
Coppertone must have reformulated since last year.  All of the Coppertone products listed last year were rated at a 3 and now are a 2, plus they made the EWG Best Sunscreen list.  Consumer Reports also rates Coppertone Water Babies SPF 50 highly.
I used Elemental Herbs all last summer.  It worked great and didn’t clog my pores!
[Top Photo used under Creative Commons license by Robert S. Donovan/Flickr]


Got Electronics?

A Greene Westford column reposted.

Recycle your old broken computers, TVs and toasters at the Recycling Commission’s Electronics Event this weekend

You know you do.  That old cell phone, computer or printer sitting in the basement.  How about a broken hair dryer, blender, toaster or anything else with a cord?  If you have electronics that work, but aren’t being used, there are other reuse options.  You might even be able to make a little cash selling them.   If they are not working, they can all be recycled at the Westford Recycling Commission’s Electronics Collection event.
Saturday June 23 8am – 2pm at the Highway Garage 28 North St.
The Westford Recycling Commission (WRC) holds these events 3 times per year – March, June and September.  Electronics need to be handled properly when being disposed of and the WRC wants to make this as easy as possible for residents.  It is not always clear what should be done with certain things, but the WRC has an extensive list of how to recycle beyond plastics and paper.  If you have questions, please check the WRC website or ask.  They are there to help reduce trash in Westford and are a wealth of information.  You can now find them on Facebook.
WRC has used Electronics Recyclers International (ERI) from Holliston, MA for several years.  One of the main reasons is that they are “responsible recyclers”.  What does this mean?  It means that these items will not end up overseas in a dump nor will your personal data be in jeopardy.  Last September, ERI announced that they achieved both the Basel Action Network’s E-Stewards Certification and the EPA’s R2 Certification for Responsible Recycling Practices for Electronics. ERI is the only e-waste recycler in Massachusetts to be both R2 and E-Stewards certified.
As of the last collection in March, fees charged have been reduced.  CPUs with mouse and keyboard, appliances without CFC (stoves, washer, and dryers) and cables are now free.  The fees for many other items have been reduced as well.  Check out the entire list here.
Over 34,000 lbs of electronics were collected at the last event in March.  According to Terry Grady of ERI, this event brought in more electronics than any event in 2011.  Only 3,200 lbs of this was computer equipment.  About half of the items collected at this event were monitors, TVs or other “screen” devices and over 7,500 lbs consisted of printers, stereo equipment, DVD players, VCR’s or other items with a cord.
Just load up your trunk, drive to the highway garage, pay your fees as your items are removed from your car, and be on your way.  All are welcome!
[Top photo used under Creative Commons license US Army Environmental Command via Flickr]


Take the Bite Out of Summer

A Greene Westford column reposted.  This was originally posted in July 2011.

DEET vs. Disease: You may not need to choose.

Mosquitoes, ticks and other biting insects are not a favorite come summer.  With the threat of West Nile virus and Lyme disease, not to mention the annoying itching, bug sprays are a must.  But the danger of some of the chemicals used in bug repellents may not be too comforting either. 
DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) is the most common ingredient in conventional insect repellents. According to research by Duke University, DEET can affect the nervous system and is linked with brain cell damage, behavioral changes and harmful interactions with some medications in laboratory animals.   
West Nile Virus and Lyme disease can be very harmful.  Although, according to the CDC, no cases of West Nile have been reported in New England this year, there have been cases in the past. Lyme is all too common unfortunately and can be dangerous if left untreated.
Adverse effects from DEET are rare while cases of West Nile and Lyme are much more common. That may lead you to think that the risk of DEET is worth the prevention of West Nile and Lyme. However,we still don’t know enough about the long term effects of DEET. Information is the key.  If you know your options and the risks associated with each, you can decide what is best for you and your family. At the very least you are aware and can reduce, if not eliminate, any dangers you fear.
When using a DEET product:
  • Mosquitoes do not like the smell of DEET.  Put it on clothes, not skin, to limit your exposure but still prevent mosquitoes.
  • Look for a pump instead of a spray to lessen the chance you will inhale the product.
  • Higher concentrations of DEET will allow the product to work for longer periods of time.  You can use a lower concentration and reapply more frequently, if needed.
  • Read the directions and follow them! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes that as long as you use products with DEET appropriately, the there is no harm.
Natural Repellents
  • Lemon Eucalyptus oil has been shown to be as effective against mosquitoes and ticks as DEET with the added benefit of being a natural product. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Consumer Reports recommend lemon eucalyptus. A July 2010 Consumer Reports study rated Repel Plant Based Lemon Eucalyptus just as high as others with DEET. Lemon Eucalyptus should not be used on children under 3 years of age. You may need to reapply more frequently. 
  • The Whole Body Spa in Westford offers Keep Away Bug Spray which contains mix of essential oils. I have been using this with much success.

How do you keep insects away?

[Photo used under Creative Commons license by Adriadna]


Plastic Bags on the Decline at Market Basket

A Greene Westford column re-posted.

Plastic Bags on the Decline

Plastic Bags end up everywhere
[Photo Credit Lauren/Flickr]


Market Basket joined 11 other supermarket chains in a voluntary disposable bag reduction effort with MassDEP

How many plastic grocery bags do you have in your house right now?  Every time you buy anything, a plastic bag is most likely used.  There are lots of problems with plastic bags. They litter our streets, waste natural resources, and can expose us to toxins.
In 2007, the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and Massachusetts Food Association (MFA) recognized this problem.  Together they set a goal of a one-third reduction in the number of paper and plastic bags used by 2013.  Over 500 grocery stores are members of the MFA, including Market Basket.  This effort was voluntary in nature.  The idea was to encourage people to bring reusable bags.
From a flyer created by the two groups, the MFA members committed to:
  • Promoting the use of reusable bags 
  • Providing in store plastic bag recycling bins for customers 
  • Offering reusable shopping bags for sale made with recycled content
  • Using disposable bags with more recycled content
According to Keith Peters, a manager at Market Basket in Westford, they have seen a 40-50% increase in the number of shoppers bringing reusable bags.  Plastic and paper bag use has decreased approximately 20%.  Peters stated that signs were used to encourage shoppers to bring reusable bags.   “Choose to Reuse” was the slogan, although the signs are not being used now.
Some stores, such as Stop and Shop and Hannaford, gave a 5 cent discount for each reusable bag.  Stop and Shop and Whole Foods still give 5 cents.
In November 2011, the MFA and MassDEP announced that the goal of a 33 % reduction in the use of disposable bags was reached 2 years ahead of schedule.  The groups will continue to work together to encourage this trend. 
Many cities around the country have implemented bag bans or charge for plastic or paper bags.  Washington D.C. instituted a 5 cent tax on plastic and paper bags in January 2010.  In one year, $2 million was collected to clean up the Anacostia River.  A study in 2008 found that plastic bags made up 21% of the trash in the river and 40% in its tributaries.  The law was estimated to generate closer to $4 million in the first year.  Obviously, people are not using disposable bags.  The ban is estimated to have created a 50% decrease and it is viewed as one of the most successful programs in the country.
For the bags that you still accumulate, stores have plastic bag recycling stations.  Every grocery store in and near Westford has one.  At Market Basket, look for a white barrel container near the far exit.  They accept more than just plastic store bags.  The list includes:
  • Grocery bags
  • Newspaper bags
  • Dry cleaning bags
  • Retail shopping bags (with strings and rigid plastic handles removed)
  • Bread, cereal and produce bags
  • Plastic wrap from paper products and bulk items (think wrapping around toilet paper and paper towels)
  • All clean, clear bags labeled with a #2 or #4 recycling symbol
All plastic must be CLEAN AND DRY!
These bags should not be put in your curbside container.  They get caught in the sorting mechanisms at the recycling facility.
It takes a while to adopt new habits.  It took me almost a year to consistently remember my reusable bags.   I used quite a few helpful hints to do it.  Just keep at it.

Do you Use Reusable Bags? 


Habitat for Humanity Builds One of the Most Energy Efficient Homes in Westford

Greene Westford column reposted.

Habitat For Humanity built one of the most energy efficient houses in Westford saving over 40% on energy bills
Wouldn’t you love to cut your energy bills by 40%?  Think of the savings over the years!  Think you need solar panels, geothermal, or a wind turbine to get there?  Think again.
Did you know that in 2008, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell in conjunction withBuilding Science Corporation, built a super-efficient home in Westford?  The estimated savings were roughly 40% over a similar more traditional home.  These savings equate to $1295 per year.  OK, but how much would this cost up front?  The additional initial investment for this 1400 sq foot home was $10,000.
Want to know how they did it?
In the words of Joseph Lstiburek, principal at Building Science Corporation,
 “The Westford House is not weird looking. It is super insulated. It is ultra-tight. It has controlled ventilation with heat recovery. It does not have lots of glass. It has real good glass. It has real good appliances. It has real good lighting. And it has real good equipment—that is small. Everything is off-the-shelf and can be built by anyone.”
  • Insulation: The foundation is insulated at a rating of R-26, walls at R-44 and the roof is R-66.   This is 50% more insulation than is required by current building codes. 
  • Ductwork was placed inside conditioned (heated/cooled) space saving more energy. 
  • Advanced framing techniques: 2×6 construction was used with studs placed 24 inches on center instead of the typical 16 inches.  This reduced the lumber needed by 40%.  In comparison, the lumber needed for this 2×6 construction was approximately 5% less than if traditional 2×4 framing had been used.
  • Windows were limited to reduce heat loss.  Where there are windows, glass with good insulation properties was used.
  • The appliances used were in the top 10% of energy star ratings.  The gas furnace operates at 95% efficiency and an instant gas water heater is used.
  • Compact florescent lighting was used throughout to reduce energy use as well. 
This house is so efficient that it achieved internationally recognized green building certification at the highest level. 
There are 4 levels within LEED certification – Certified, Silver, Gold, and, the highest, Platinum.  The Westford House achieved platinum certification.
The house achieved this certification without the use of renewable energy features such as solar panels or wind turbines.  Because of the work done here by the designers, Building Science Corporation, the Westford House serves as a prototype for high performance, highly insulated homes in cold climates.
Habitat For Humanity built several more houses in Bedford which met LEED Gold certification.  This project included 7 new homes and a renovated farm house that is 150 years old.  Habitat now builds houses to LEED standards which greatly reduces the operating costs for the new owners.
If you would like to learn more about increasing the insulation in your home, start with the Mass Save program.  If you are planning a large remodel, check into the National Grid Deep Energy Retrofit Program.
[Photo Credit Habitat For Humanity]


8 Simple Ways To Conserve Water

With the better weather approaching, I thought I’d re-post a water conservation article I wrote for Westford Patch last spring.

Did you know that one in three people around the globe may not have adequate water available to them? You can live for weeks without food, but without water you will die in as little as three days.
While water may not seem scarce here in Westford, it is a major concern around the globe. According to many sources, water availability is becoming more of a problem everywhere.  
Learn how you can do your part.

1. If you have a toilet made before 1992, it probably uses 3.5 gallons per flush.  Consider replacing it with a more efficient model using 1.28 – 1.6 gallons.  You could also retrofit your toilet for a temporary solution.

2. Fix leaks. A leaky faucet that drips one drip per second can waste more than 3000 gallons of water per year.

3.  If your toilet leaks, that can waste about 200 gallons of water a day. To check, place a drop of food coloring in your toilet tank. If the color makes its way to the bowl without flushing, you have a leak

4.  If you have an outdoor irrigation system, make sure the rain sensor is working. Don’t have a rain sensor? Think about installing one.

5.  Reduce the amount you water your lawn – they only need an inch of water a week.

6. Turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth can save up to 3 gallons per day.

7. Consider installing a rain barrel for watering gardens. Westford residents can purchase rain barrels at a  discount.  check Your local Water Department.  They may offer a similar deal.

8.Showers use less water. If you are taking a bath, plug the drain immediately then adjust the water temperature as the bath fills.

How do you conserve water?


Organic Options Close To Home

A Greene Westford column reposted.

Market Basket now carries their own brand of organic milk

Market Basket offers organic options at affordable prices. 

I know people were upset to find out that Whole Foods would not be going into the new Cornerstone Square.  I was definitely one of them.  I do shop at Market Basket occasionally, but I would love for another supermarket to come to town. 
I recently looked more closely at what Market Basket offers and their prices.  I found quite a bit of organic and other more natural items at great prices.  Here is what I found:
Pete and Gerry’s Large Organic Eggs – 12 for $3.69
Organic Valley Organic Butter – 1 lb for $4.69
Organic Valley Organic Cream Cheese – $2.49.  This is a great price!  I saw it once on sale for $1.99, plus I had a coupon.  Still waiting to see that deal again!
Stonyfield Organic Yogurt – 32oz for $3.69
Annie’s Mac and Cheese – prices vary depending on exact type.
Clif Kid Organic Z bar – box of 6 for $4.79
Kashi granola bars – box of 6 for $3.00
TLC Crunchy granola bars – box of 12 for $3.00
Market Basket Organic Milk –half gallon for $3.49, available in fat free and 2%.  Although, honestly, this isn’t the low Market Basket price I would expect.  I have gotten other store brand organic milk for $2.99.  But it’s a start.
Amish County Farms Organic Milk – half gallon for $3.19
Heinz Organic Ketchup – 15 oz for $2.99
Pomi Chopped Tomatoes in a Tetra Pak – $1.99 (Good alternative if you are concerned aobut bisphenol-A (BPA) in cans, especially tomatoes because of their acidity)
Muir Glen Organic canned tomatoes – 14 oz can for $1.99.  Muir Glen is transistioning to BPA-free cans.
Eden Organic Canned Beans – variety of beans available 15 oz can for $2.50.  These cans have been BPA-free since 1999.
McCormick Organic Spices – prices range from $3.99 to $4.99 depending on the spice
Pacific Organic Broth – 32oz Tetra Pak for $3.49
Vermont Village Organic unsweetened Applesauce – 24 oz for $3.99
Bragg Organic Raw unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar – 16oz for $3.49
Domino Organic Sugar – 24oz for $2.29         
Bob’s Red Whole Wheat Pastry Flour – 5 lbs for $4.99.  Market Basket is one of the few places I can find Whole Wheat PASTRY flour.  It’s lighter in texture than normal whole wheat flour.
Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate – $2.50 per 3.5 oz bar.  Recently on sale for $1.99.   I have routinely seen these at $3.99 everywhere else.
Spectrum Organic Refined Coconut Oil – 14oz for $7.99
Spectrum Organic Virgin Unrefined Coconut Oil – 14oz for $9.99
Olivia’s Organic lettuces – 5oz for $2.99
Nature’s Circle Farm Organic Russet Potatoes – 5lbs bag for $3.99.  Potatoes are one of ‘The Dirty Dozen’ containing high levels of pesticides and should be something you consider buying organic.
Marcal 100% Recycled Paper Towels – 1 roll (137.8 sq ft.) for $0.99
Tom’s Of Maine toothpaste – $4.49
In addition, Market Basket carries Coleman Organic chicken in various cuts, Kashi cereal, Bear Naked Granola, organic coffee and several Bob’s Red Mill products. Their prganic produce section is small, but seems to be growing.


What Happens To My Recyclables

This week’s Greene Westford column re-posted.

IPR truck arrives for sorting at the North Andover facility.

Take a virtual tour of Integrated Paper Recyclers and learn what happens to Westford recycling once it leaves the curb.

Ever wonder what happens to your recycling after the black and yellow trucks pick it up?  Call me a garbage geek, but I was so excited when I had the opportunity to find out first hand. 

Last November, I joined members of theWestford Recycling Commission, and representatives from Chelmsford and Dracut, at the Integrated Paper Recyclers (IPR) facility in North Andover.  In addition to handling Westford’s recycling, IPR services over 40 communities locally.
IPR employees hand pick non-paper items out of the stream
Christine DeRosa of IPR showed us how the single stream recyclables are sorted into paper, cardboard, aluminum, glass and plastics 1, 2 and 3 – 7.  All of the recyclables enter the first sorting station where paper and cardboard are removed.  The mix is then hand sorted to ensure that non-paper items are removed before it is compacted into cubes called bales. 
Several years ago, IPR noticed that they were losing small bits of paper.  They added a new mechanism that is able to capture the smaller pieces of paper, even shredded paper.  The paper is sent to a paper mill in Fitchburg, MA where is it used to make the paper for books.  Most notably the Harry Potter books.  The cardboard is used to make new cereal boxes or board games like Monopoly.
The “baler” compacts each type of recyclable into a cube and secures it for transport. 
Once the paper and cardboard are removed, the rest of the mix continues along the sorting process.  Plastics are removed and sorted by their chemical makeup denoted by their recycling symbol.  Infrared machines determine the type of plastic by weight.  Plastics with a recycling symbol #1 are used to make carpeting and clothing.  Others may be turned into milk jugs or lawn furniture.  Even plastics #3 – 7 are used, according to Ms. DeRosa, to make biodiesel.
Glass is the final item to be sorted.  The glass is crushed and used as road fill.
Crushed glass is used as road fill.

Ms. DeRosa estimates that less than 10% of the almost 6500 tons of recyclables processed monthly ends up in a landfill.  She explained that it is in their best interest financially to recover as much material as possible and find outlets for it.  IPR pays to dispose of its trash just like towns do.
What is the most unwanted item that ends up in a recycling plant – plastic bags! Followed by jump ropes and kiddie pools.   Plastic bags get caught in the sorting mechanism, causing problems and time to dislodge.  Plastic bags should never go in your recycling bin.  They can be taken to grocery stores for proper recycling

Bales of paper, plastic and aluminum ready for reuse.


Coconut Oil: It’s Good For More Than You Think

Coconut Oil:  Good For More than you might think

Coconut oil has been getting more popular for it’s natural healing benefits.

When I first heard of Coconut oil, images and smells of Hawaiian Tropic suntan oil from years ago popped into my head.  Coconut oil is much different and is being regarded as very beneficial for health in so many ways.
Coconut oil has been described as “the healthiest oil on earth” by some.  Many people believe that coconut oil can help with such health problems as kidney stones, fever, flu, burns, colds, constipation, nausea, rashes, dry skin and dandruff to name a few.

Inside The Body

What makes it so healthy?   It is 92% saturated fat –the bad fat.  However, coconut oil is comprised mainly of medium-chain fatty acids.  Most of the oils we use are long-chain fatty acids which are large (as their name suggests) and are difficult for our bodies to break down.  Thus they are stored as fat.  The difference – medium chain fatty acids are smaller and are more easily digested and burned for energy.  For this reason, it can help with weight loss when used in place of other oils.  Medium chain fatty acids also have a positive effect on cholesterol and help protect the heart. Coconut oil also contains lauric acid that is believed to have antimicrobial properties and aid in dealing with certain bacteria and viruses.

Outside the Body

Moisturizer – Coconut oil makes a great moisturizer.  You can mix it up with other oil or use it straight out of the jar after showering.  It is absorbed quickly by your skin.  Coconut oil is also antimicrobial and a natural germ fighter so it could help with skin irritations.  (Please consult a physician first).  I have been whipping coconut oil and a little vitamin E with my hand mixer and using it as a moisturizer and eye makeup remover!  It is incredible.
Conditioner – Coconut can be used as a deep conditioning treatment for hair and scalp.   Massage into your scalp and leave on for at least 30 minutes, or longer, then wash.  If you are suffering from dandruff, coconut oil could also help.
Lip balm – I use coconut oil as an ingredient in homemade lip balm.  It works great.  Straight coconut oil could be used in a pinch as well.
Remove Glue Residue – Use to remove glue residue from a sticker on a glass container.  Mix equal parts coconut oil with baking soda, let it sit for a minute then scrub.  This works pretty well.
Wrinkle Prevention and Wrinkle Reducer – Rub a little coconut oil on your skin.  It helps to strengthen the connective tissue delaying wrinkles.

Deodorant – Coconut oil on its own can be used as a deodorant.  It is even more effective when mixed with cornstarch (or arrowroot powder), baking soda and essential oils (optional).  Update 8/10/12: I have been using this combination for the past few months with great success!

As with anything, there are some who are not so convinced that coconut oil is a miracle cure all.  It will be interesting to see what new research brings.  I can personally vouch for the benefits to the skin and hair.  It is amazing!  And for the price, it makes a wonderful natural moisturizer.
Coconut oil is widely available at grocery stores.  Market Basket carries Spectrum organic expeller pressed virgin coconut oil in the international foods aisle.  My favorite lately is the coconut oil from Trader Joe’s.  It is $5.99 for a 16 oz jar and it smells like coconuts!  Which I love.  I emailed Trader Joe’s to get a little more info on their organic virgin coconut oil:  Our Coconut Oil is made from sustainably grown coconut palms.  The oil is extracted through cold pressing and only filtered to remove large particles and considered highly unrefined.”  

Have you ever used coconut oil? 


This post has been submitted as part of Frugal Days,Sustainable Ways at Frugally


Go Practically Green!

Reposted from Greene Westford

Do you ever wonder how green you really are?  Do you want to do better for your family and the environment but don’t really know where to start?  Well, aside from reading this column, a Boston-based website can help point you in the right direction. Practically Green is a free online service that provides you with knowledge, resources and recommendations for making future green choices and changes.  Through this tool, you can set goals, track your progress and share with friends.
To begin, you take a quick quiz to evaluate your “green-ness”.  I have to say that my initial score was pretty unimpressive.   There are only so many questions on the initial quiz.  To get a better, more accurate picture, go through the actions and check off what you already do.  Your score will improve.
Now you are ready to track your progress and advance on your green journey.  The actions are broken into 4 categories – Energy, Health, Stuff and Water.   Within the categories are specific actions you can take which earn you points toward your green score.  For example, “Turn off the lights when you leave a room” gets you 10 points, “Wash laundry in cold water” is worth 50 points, while “Add insulation to your roof” gets you 100 points. 
For each action, there is an explanation on why it’s consider green, information on how to accomplish it and, if appropriate, recommendations on products and services that will help with this action.  As a user, you have the ability to rate recommended services and products and suggest new ones.
As you make your way through the actions, you earn badges.  Badges measure how you are doing in a particular area, similar to Girl Scout or Boy Scout badges.  Some of these are “The Back to school” badge which “rewards you for greening your school year prep” , “The Frugalista” badge “rewards you for taking actions that save money while promoting a healthy green life”, and  “The Recycle 5” badge “rewards you for choosing to recycle plastic or purchase items made from recycled materials.”
I was drawn to the website because of its practicality – guess that’s why it’s called “Practically Green”.  I like knowing why I should do this or that, what’s in it for me, and then how to actually do it.  I also like the way the website breaks actions into different categories and gives you a measureable way to track how you are doing.  Plus it’s fun! 
Part of the fun is seeing what everyone else participating in Practically Green is up to.  You can see who is on top in the country, across Massachusetts or just Westford.  It is interesting to see what other Westford residents are doing and figure out what our collective impact is on the environment.  
Currently, I am at Level 8 – Impressively Green. What’s your score?


2011 Year in Review

Reposted from Greene Westford on Westford Patch.

In the past year, there have been many good steps for the environment in Westford.  From solar panels to upcycling to less trash on the streets, take a look at some of the highlights from 2011.
Solar Panels on Stony Brook Middle School Go Live
On April 22, Earth Day, Westford’s first town building went solar.  The 176 panel system is expected to generate about 40,000 kilowatt hours annually.  Since the beginning of April 2011, the array has generated almost 35,000 kilowatt hours.  Well on its way to reaching the estimate.
More Solar Coming to Westford
A 4.5 Megawatt system, announced earlier this year, will be located near Route. 3 in Westford. In comparison, the Stony Brook system is rated at 36 kilowatts.  This is 125 times greater in terms of energy generation!
Upcycle It! Turns One Year Old
In May, Upcycle It! celebrated its first birthday.  The program, run by Sustainable Westford, collects non-recyclables such as chip bags, energy bar wrappers and pens to be upcycled into new products.  In the process, 2 cents per item is generated for the Westford Schools.  In July, the program was #2 in the country for most items upcycled.  Since its inception, the Upcycle It! program has saved over 210,000 pieces of trash weighing over a ton, generating over $4300 for Westford School’s.
First Winter’s Farmers Market 
In addition to the summer farmers market, the Westford Farmers Market ran the first winter market starting in January 2011 running through March.  This year, the winter market is on Saturdays at Eric’s Garden Center.
Reduction in Trash
The Westford Recycling Commission reports that we decreased our trash by almost 5 percent by the end of fiscal 2011.  This is in addition to a similar reduction the year before!  The Recycling Commission is focusing on composting to reduce trash even further in 2012.
Westford’s Litter League Green Team Debuted
The Litter League Green Team, started by Carmen Chiungos, meet every Saturday from April through October, picking up trash in various parts of town.  Carmen, a Passionate Westford Resident, start the group because she didn’t like seeing all the trash around town.
Composter at Westford Road Race – The Westford Road Race not only had recycling, but they also provided composting for banana peels and orange rinds!  Absolutely awesome to see.
Happy New Year Everyone!


Idling Your Car: Illegal And Costly

Idling your engine for more than 5 minutes is not only illegal but causes health and climate problems.
Do you see cars idling while in the pickup line at school, in the driveway warming up in the winter, or waiting for someone to run into a store?   It’s actually against Massachusetts state law to idle a vehicle for more than 5 minutes.  It is punishable by a fine of up to $100 for the first offense and up to $500 for a second offense. 
We need to drive our cars to get places.  We don’t need to idle the engines.  
A typical vehicle produces more pollution when idling longer than 10 seconds than it will restarting the engine.  If you plan to be stopped for more than 10 seconds, shut off your car.

Unnecessary idling causes the following:

Air Quality Issues
Vehicles emit carbon dioxide while running.  An hour of idling can release almost 4 pounds of needless carbon dioxide into the air.  As we know, carbon dioxide adds to greenhouse gases in the environment.  These greenhouse gases contribute to climate change. 
Health Effects
Many other gases are released while a car runs.  Carbon monoxide can reduce the blood’s ability to carry oxygen throughout the body.  Nitrogen oxide, another component of vehicle exhaust, can irritate air passages and lungs.  Car exhaust can cause headaches, aggravate asthma and allergies and impair learning.  Children are particularly vulnerable.  Their lungs are immature and since they are shorter, their breathing space is closer to the emissions. 
Wasted fuel
Depending on the size of the engine, idling can use ¼ to ½ gallon of fuel per hour. Many experts agree that warming your car for 30 seconds is sufficient in cold weather.
School buses have diesel engines.  While they are durable and economical, the pollution from diesel engines is a growing concern.  Some studies indicate that over time, exposure to diesel exhaust can cause cancer and other health problems.  MassDEP is working with schools to reduce children’s exposure to diesel exhaust.
I have noticed that school buses in Westford do not idle while waiting.  Yeah bus drivers!
Are there “No Idling” signs at Westford schools?   I haven’t noticed any at my children’s schools.  Although the few times I am in the car line, no one seems to be idling.  At least not in good weather.  So good for you Westford-ians!
As the weather gets colder, remember to bundle up if you will be sitting in your car and shut off the engine.
[Above photo used under Creative Commons from Eutrophication/Flickr]


How To Keep Warm This Winter

Another Greene Westford column reprinted.

A home energy audit is a great place to start going green.   It can show you where to focus your attention to get the biggest bang for your buck.  It may take an initial investment, but will usually pay off in a short amount of time, then saving you money on your energy bills. 
As a customer of National Grid, you are eligible for a free Home Energy Assessment every year through a program called Mass Save.  Mass Save is sponsored by Massachusetts’ gas and electric utilities.  They work with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources to “provide a wide range of services, incentives, trainings and information promoting energy efficiency that help residents and businesses manage energy use and related costs.”
Now you are probably wondering who pays for this program.  Guess who: You and every other customer of the utility companies contributes to the program.*  Ever wonder what an “Energy Efficiency Charge” on your electric bill is for?  There is a similar charge on your gas bill too.  It’s included in the Minimum Charge.
Do I have your attention now?  Take advantage of it!  You are paying for it anyway. 
The first step is to make an appointment for a Home Energy Assessment by calling 866-527-SAVE (7283).   This program is eligible to homeowners of standalone homes, residents of multi-family dwellings and landlords.  At this assessment, the auditor will test your gas appliances for safety, assess your home’s energy use and provide recommendations.  In the process, the auditor may install certain items that will start saving you money immediately such as CFLs, programmable thermostats and water savings devices as needed.
Before your audit, do some homework.  Based on the age of your home and heating source, investigate what might be worth doing before the auditor comes.  Also investigate what the program is offering at the time.  You will then be able to absorb and understand what they are telling you and ask questions.  The program changes from time to time, so be sure to ask.  Then ask some more.  Make sure you understand your options and what the next step should be.  Are you eligible for incentives or a loan? If you still don’t understand, call Mass Save and ask them. 
Our home was built a little over 10 years ago, so we thought we were in pretty good shape.  Our audit revealed several light bulbs that had not been changed to CFLs yet.  Those were changed to CFLs free of charge.  The insulation in our attic had settled to half the original thickness.  It also seems that the building codes have changed calling for more insulation in attics.  More insulation was needed to bring the attic insulation R-value to R-38. Our home also needed air sealing in the attic and a dome covering the access to the attic.
All of this work would normally cost about $3600.  The air sealing was free.  The dome on the attic access was free.  We also qualified for an incentive.  Mass Save paid for 75% of the cost of insulation, up to a maximum of $2000.  All of this brought our portion to about $600.  It is estimated that these improvements will save about $300 per year in heating and cooling costs.
This is only my experience which was very specific to what was found at my home and the program as it stood then.  This process took about 6 months from beginning to end.  I had to stay on top of things and keep asking questions when things didn’t make sense.  I was able to choose my own contractor from their list of approved vendors.  If you have a contractor in mind, call Mass Save to find out the correct process.  The program changed in July and this process is now different.
According to my auditor, it is a good idea to have an audit done every year or two.  The program changes, so does your house.  You are entitled to take advantage of the incentives and rebates once per year.  This year you might insulate your attic.  Maybe next year the program changes to include duct sealing and you can then take advantage of that.
*Note: I did not investigate completely how Mass Save is funded.  However, I was able to confirm that we, as utility customers, contribute to the fund.


Head Lice: Give Me The Pesticides!

A recent Greene Westford Column reprinted here.

If you are faced with this predicament, you might want to make a beeline for the pesticides. Take a deep breath and read on for some facts and alternatives that may make more sense.

My head starts itching at the beginning of the school year when the lice information sheet comes home. Approximately 6 to 12 million cases of lice occur nationwide each year.  Westford is not immune.  I have already heard of a few cases this year.
This is probably one area where you think, “I am not taking any chances.  Give me whatever will kill those things!”  I was right there with you, until I started to do some research. 
Permethrin and pyrethrin are the most common chemicals used to treat lice currently.  They are pesticides.   They are meant to kill live insects by attacking their nervous systems.  Do you think they know the difference between humans and insects?  Not sure I want to take the chance.
If you are still itching your head and thinking, “I still want the pesticide!”  Think about this. 
  • More and more evidence is showing that some strains of lice are becoming resistant to these pesticides. 
  • The pesticides only kill the live lice.  If the eggs are not removed and hatch, a second application will be needed. 
This information is also conveyed by the Westford Board of Health in their information sheet.
As yucky as they are, lice are not a health hazard and not responsible for spreading any disease.  The itching accompanying a lice infestation is caused by a reaction to the louse’s saliva.  Lice need a host to survive and for their eggs to hatch.  They cannot fly or hop.  They cannot survive on pets.
To Prevent Lice:
  • Remind your children not to share hats, scarves, personal hair care items, coats, anything that can come into contact with your head or hair.
  • Keep your hat, coat, etc away from others.
  • There are some that believe that lice do not like hair products.  Adding gel or hair spray could deter lice.
  • Wear long hair in a ponytail or braid.
  • It is believed by many that tea tree oil is effective in preventing lice.  Tea tree oil has natural antiseptic properties.  There are several tea tree oil shampoos on the market.  If you choose one of these, make sure it uses pure essential oils and contains 5 drops per ounce of shampoo.   
NOTE: Tea tree oil should not be used in pure form on babies, young children or pregnant women.  Consult your Physician first.
Alternative Treatments:
I am not a doctor.  I am a mom who does not want lice in my home.  I also want to protect my children from pesticides as much as possible.  If your child gets lice, call your pediatrician for treatment options.  I called mine.  They recommend a non-toxic method called the Nuvo method for treating head lice. 
This method uses Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser.  Large amounts of the cleansers are used to completely drench the head and scalp.  The excess is combed out and the hair and scalp is completely dried with a hair dryer.  Drying the cleanser on the hair essentially shrink wraps any live lice, suffocating them. 
I have also heard of people using olive oil in a similar manner as the Cetaphil.  Again, the head is covered in large amounts of olive oil and left on overnight.
Both of these methods only kill the live lice.  Any eggs will not be harmed.  For this reason, it is recommended that you repeat these treatments 1 or 2 more times, at one week intervals, to kill any eggs that hatch and/or remove the eggs (nits).  Westford Public Schools have a “no nit” policy, meaning that your child must be checked by the nurse when returning and must be nit free.
These alternative treatments rely on suffocating the live lice and interrupting their life cycle.  No chance they will become resistant to that!  

This post is part of Frugally SustainableYour Green Resource and Home is Where the Heart Is.


Books: An Environmentalists Guilty Pleasure?

Here is a repost of my latest Greene Westford column from Westford Patch.

I have to admit that I still really like the feel of paper in my hands.  I love curling up on my couch to flip through a book, magazine or even a cookbook. 
Sometimes I love a book so much and find it so useful that I want to own a copy to use over and over again.  The environmentalist in me sees all that paper!  Do I really need to choose?  No.   
There are so many alternatives to new books – buy a used copy, download an electronic version, borrow it.  I can own books while reducing the amount of paper used. 
Use the library!  They have thousands of titles at the J.V Fletcher Library.  If you can’t find it here, search the entire Merrimack Valley consortium of libraries.  You can request a copy and it will be delivered to Westford.  You will be contacted by phone, email or both when it arrives.
Ask a friend or neighbor to borrow a copy. 
Borrowing works with magazines, newspapers and other print media as well.   If there are older magazine that you would be interested in, the library is clearing out 2008 and 2009 magazines.
Go Electronic
Download electronic books to your reader or smart phone for free.  This service is offered by the J.V. Fletcher library and works with Kindle, iPhone, Android, your computer and others.  
Purchase e-books from one of several online sources.
Don’t have a reader or want to check one out before purchasing?  The library now has 2 Nook and 2 Kindle readers available for check out.
Many magazines and newspapers can be found online as well.
Purchase Used Books
Friends of J.V Fletcher Library Book Sales are held 4 times per year at the library. We have purchased many books over the years for every member of the family.  All at a fraction of the cost.  As an added bonus, it benefits the library!    The next book sale is this weekend October 21 – 23.  
Used Book Superstore in Nashua, NH carries 100,000 used books DVDs, CDs and audio books in every category imaginable.
Savers is also located in Nashua, NH. Their used book section may be small, but I have always found something interesting.
When you are done, donate your books back to any one of these places to be enjoyed by someone else and start the cycle going again.  If your books are not suitable for donation to the locations above, they can be donated to the non-profit Reading Tree.  A self-serve drop off container is located in the Water Department parking lot at 63 Forge Village Road.
[photo taken by A Conant/]


Have a Green Halloween

Here is a repost of my latest Greene Westford column from Westford Patch.

With a little effort, your Halloween can go green and stay fun.

Being conscious of the environment can be woven into anything you do.  Even Halloween.  It’s about Reduce, Reuse and Recycle, in that order.  The goal is not to use more than you really need, so there will be something left for future generations.   When done with thought, it can simplify your life and even save you time and money.
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend $6.9 billion this year on Halloween.  The bulk of the money will be spent on costumes, followed by candy and decorations.  You can save some money, save the planet and still have a blast this Halloween.
  • Make Your Own.  You don’t need to be a seamstress.  There are many easy ideas online for some really great costumes. 
  • Swap or Borrow Costumes.  If homemade is not your thing, try swapping costumes with friends.  
  • Reuse old costumes.  Perhaps a younger sibling wants to be a witch this year.  Look at old dance costumes or search yard sales or thrift stores.
  • Donate old costumes.  If you have costumes you will no longer use, donate them.   Roudenbush Community Center has teamed up with From The Pumpkin Patch to collect gently worn costumes for local children in need.  A collection will also be held at the Westford Family Fun Fest this weekend.
  • Upcycle your candy wrappers.  Save your candy wrappers and the bags they came in and bring them to an Upcycle It! drop off location.
  • Try alternatives.   Honey sticks such as those sold by Nissitisett Apiaries at the Westford Farmers Market are more natural and you know how the kids love those!
  • Try non-food items. Tattoos, stickers, pencils and other small items are always a favorite.  According to Care 2, an environmental website, kids of all ages would be excited to see these items as a Halloween treat.
  • Don’t waste the candy you do get.  Chop it into your favorite cookie or granola bar recipe, use some of it to make a ginger bread house, or freeze it for later.  There is even a Halloween Candy Buy Back program sponsored by area dentists.  The candy is sent to deployed U.S. military troops.
  • Use Natural Elements.   Pumpkins, apples, gourds and other natural elements make great decorations and can be composted.  You may even find them around your yard saving you money.  
  • Yard sales are another good source.  If you love Halloween and will decorate year after year, invest in things that will last.  
  • Make your own.  The internet is a treasure trove of DIY ideas using items around the house.
Don’t for the rechargeable batteries for the flashlights or a reusable bag for gathering your loot.
Happy Halloween!


Green Your Summer Vacation

Reduce Footprints Challenge this week is:

This week, head over to Zero Waste Week 2011 and commit to at least one activity which will reduce waste away from home. Be sure to come back here and share your commitment. The same rules will apply as always … if you write about it and/or tweet about, you’ll be honored next week. After committing to an activity, keep track of your progress because we’ll be talking about our successes next week.

For this challenge, I have “recycled” an article I wrote for Westford Patch back in June which listed tips for greening your vacation.  I have reprinted it here.

Summer means vacation! Making your vacation more environmentally-friendly does not mean you need to bike to your destination or even find a green hotel!
Although those certainly would do it, there are simpler things you can do wherever you go.
Before You Leave Home

  • Turn your hot water heater to “vacation” (or down low). Just remember to turn it back up when you return. When I had an energy audit, the auditor told me this makes sense to do anytime  you are away for more than three days. 
  • Set your thermostats up  so you aren’t cooling  your home unnecessarily. 
  • Unplug everything you don’t need running – TV, coffee maker, toaster, stereos, microwave, cable box, etc. Anything with a clock or remote control continues to use electricity even if you are not using it. I recently discovered that a cable box can draw almost as much electricity even when it’s turned off.  
  • Stop your newspaper. No sense in just recycling it when you get home. 
  • Driving? Make sure your car is tuned up and your tires are at the correct pressure to get the best gas mileage possible. 
  • Bring reuseables such as water bottles, snack bags and grocery bags. This way you can pack your own snacks or even lunch, saving you money on eating out. You will also be saving the packaging of single serve items. Bottled water is super expensive especially at vacation destinations. You can refill your water bottles for free most anywhere. And remember that grocery bags can be used for any purchase. 
  • Flying?  You can bring an empty water bottle through airport security and fill it on the other side. 
  • Another tip for flying – instead of printing your boarding pass, see if your airline has a mobile boarding pass application that allows you to use your phone for your boarding pass. 
  • Instead of buying new books, magazines or DVDs, go to the J.V. Fletcher library or borrow from a friend. 

 At Your Destination

  • Look for recycling bins at amusement parks or other attractions. 
  • Find out the recycling options. Ask the hotel or property agent. Recycling rules vary greatly. You may need to separate your bottles from your paper. 
  • If you are in a hotel, take advantage of their programs. Most hotels will offer to conserve water by not washing your towels everyday. 
  • You already have your water bottle so no need to buy bottles of water. 
  • Turn down the AC/heat and shut off lights when you leave. Hotels are now starting to install devices connected with your key that will automatically shut the lights off when you leave. You may not be paying for these directly, but we all are paying for it in the end.
  • Try to resist the tacky souvenirs that will break quickly and be thrown away. I know this is difficult with children. Hats, T-shirts, even a great picture make fantastic souvenirs too.   

You may be great at recycling at home, but going to a new place may throw your routines off. Little steps. Pick one thing – maybe bringing your water bottle.  I bring mine everywhere because I find it so convenient and I drink more water this way.  Always a good thing.  
Most importantly, have a great time!


The Lazy Way To Compost

It’s been a BUSY summer and I just realized I haven’t posted in almost a month!  Here is a repost of one of my Greene Westford columns from Westford Patch.
Earth Machine Composter use at the Westford Road Race this past spring
When I was a child, my grandparents always had a wire stand with a small bag attached to it on their counter. Kitchen scraps would go in and then be taken to the large garden out back. I really never thought about it much until years later. They were composting!  To my grandparents it made total sense. Why throw out useful material when it was so good for their garden.
According to Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, “[f]ood scraps account for more than 800,000 tons of the waste generated each year in Massachusetts.” Some of this is good food that goes bad.  This waste can be reduced by watching how much you buy.  You can save money in the process. 
Some of this cannot be eaten – melon rinds, vegetable ends, coffee grinds and the like. These items can be composted into rich food for your garden. If you aren’t a gardener, you still might care to reduce this waste. Why?  Westford pays for each ton of trash that is hauled away. Compostable items are heavy! So the more you throw into your trash barrel, the more it costs the town. 
The whole process can seem confusing and daunting.  It really isn’t. Composting is easier than you think. Composting will happen regardless of your efforts, or lack thereof. Organic materials rot! 
There is no single correct way to compost. A very quick way to get started is to purchase an Earth Machine Composter from the Westford Recycling Commission for $45. This same composter retails for well over $100.  If you don’t live in Westford, check with your town.  Quite a few of them offer these, especially if they are paying for any of your trash disposal.
Start throwing your compostable items in and Voila! Compost! Or at the very least a lot less trash. You could turn the compost, but it’s really not necessary. You could make sure you have the right ratio of “brown” to “green” materials, but again, not absolutely necessary.  Roughly equal parts of brown and green materials will give you the optimal ratio. You should keep the pile moist but not soggy. Add some water when you think of it.
I don’t really pay attention to my compost bin. Sad to say I did not inherit my family’s green thumb, so I am not terribly concerned with getting usable compost at the end. To me, if I am reducing my trash I am happy.  After 3 years, my Earth Machine is pretty much always half full no matter how much I put into it.
With any big change, figuring out a system that will work for you is key.  Most likely you will need someplace to gather your scraps in the kitchen, then transfer them to your yard composter. I generally use a porcelain crock that sits on my counter. When it fills (which for me is pretty quickly) I take it out back to dump it. Sometimes in the winter months I have a secondary stage. I keep a 5 gallon pail out my back door. The counter-top composter gets dumped into the 5 gallon pail, then the 5 gallon pails goes to the yard composter less frequently
Here are some items that CAN go into your composter:
  • Fruit and Vegetable scraps – melon rinds, banana peels, apple cores, carrot tops…
  • Dryer lint
  • Grass clippings
  • Coffee grounds (include the paper filter)
  • Egg shells
  • Leaves
  • Straw
  • Hay
  • Shredded newspaper or cardboard
  • Paper napkins or paper towels (depending on what is on them)
  • Human hair
  • Tea bags and grounds
  • Old flower arrangements
  • Dog or cat fur
Do NOT include:
  • Meat
  • Bones
  • Dairy
  • Fats or oils
These will attract animals and will smell.
Do You Compost? 


Sunscreens That Shine

Last week I featured sunscreens on Greene Westford.  Here is the article re-printed from Westford Patch.


Summer is here!  Fun in the sun also means staying safe from the sun’s rays. However, it’s not as simple as avoiding sunburns. 
The sun contains two major types of ultraviolet (UV) rays – UVB rays are primarily responsible for sunburns while UVA rays penetrate deeper into the skin and cause more dangerous cell changes such as wrinkles and skin cancer.  A sunscreen’s sun protection factor (SPF) tells you how effectively the product blocks UVB rays.  Currently there is no such label for UVA rays.
Most skin damage is the result of years of cumulative sun exposure. That is why doctors say it’s important to use sunscreen year-round.  It is especially important to protect children. Many doctors believe that melanoma (the most dangerous skin cancer) can be caused by severe sunburns before the age of 18.
The safest thing to do is to limit your sun exposure:  staying in the shade, wearing clothing, hats and sunglasses.  Sun guard shirts have become much more popular recently and easier to find.  I recently bought some at Olympia Sports in Westford.  You can find several online as well. 
However, this is not always possible.  A good sunscreen is still a must.   Not all sunscreens are created equal. While some may be great at blocking the harmful rays of the sun, the chemicals they use can cause some damage on their own. What to do now?  This is where I turn to the Environmental Working Group’s 2011 sunscreen guide
The EWG is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting people from toxic contaminants.  The EWG’s guide rates 1700 sunscreens based on how well they protect you from UVB and UVA rays as well as the ingredients used.   Each product is given a value from 0 to 10, where 0 is the best (has the least harmful ingredients and protects against the sun) and 10 the worst.
When looking for sunscreen, there are several ingredients to avoid such as Vitamin A (retinyl palmitate), added insect repellent and especially Oxybenzone.
Oxybenzone is a synthetic estrogen which can interfere with our own hormones. There are studies that indicate Vitamin A absorbed into the skin may cause tumors to grow quicker, and if you need insect repellent, it’s better to add that as needed.  
Sprays, powders and SPFs above 50 should also be avoided.  Sprays and powders spread through the air and may not be safe to breathe.  SPF higher than 50 may tempt you to stay in the sun longer than you should.  Remember, UVA rays do not burn, but they are more dangerous overall than the burning UVB rays. 
Look for products that contain Titanium Dioxide, Zinc Oxide or Avobenzone as their active ingredients.  Not only do these products better protect against the sun, but they won’t harm you in the process.
Most of the safest choices are only available online.  However, here is a list of some more commonly found sunscreens that still rate low on the danger scale.  The number is parentheses is the EWG rating.
  • Elemental Herbs (1) – Available at The Whole Body Spa
  • Aveeno Baby Natural Protection Mineral Block Face Stick SPF 50 (1)
  • Kiss My Face Kids SPF 30 Sun Stick (pink, blue, white) (1)
  • Aveeno Active Naturals Natural Protection Mineral Block Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 (3)
  • CVS Baby Stick Sunscreen SPF 60+ (3)
  • Walgreens Baby Pure and Gentle Sunscreen Stick SPF 60+ (3)
  • Walgreens Sport Sunscreen Stick SPF 50 (3)
  • Walgreens Sunscreen SPF 45 (3)
  • Coppertone Kids Pure and Simple Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (3)
  • Coppertone Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (3)
  • Coppertone Water Babies Pure and Simple sunscreen Lotion, SPF 50 (3)
I was able to find quite a few of these in Westford at CVS, Rite-Aid and Walgreens.  Just remember to apply sunscreen before you go outside (15 – 30 minutes) and reapply as directed.


Brewing Sustainability at The Westford Starbucks

Recently, I featured our local Starbucks in Greene Westford.  Here is that article reprinted from Westford Patch.

Anna Fadden started working at the Westford Starbucks in January 2006 soon after it opened. She quickly noticed a lack of recycling. With a lot of legwork, Anna was able to set up recycling for cardboard, newspapers, glass, plastic, and aluminum cans. 
Starbucks pays an additional $130 per month to recycle these items. They do it because it’s the right thing to do.
They didn’t stop there. Last spring, they started saving their coffee bags for Sustainable Westford’s Upcycle It! program. Since that time, they have saved just over 6,000 coffee bags, generating $120 for Westford schools. They also have a container for customers to drop off their Upcycle It! items.
Westford Starbucks will serve as a model recycler for other area Starbucks. The local district manager will be passing along Anna’s knowledge so that others may do the same.
In the future, Westford Starbucks hopes to have more recycling for its customers.  Anna has also looked into recycling gift cards and is in the process of tracking down an outlet for spent whipped cream chargers.
When you go to Starbucks, do your part too. If you are staying to enjoy your beverage, ask for an in-house dining mug. If you are on the go, bring your travel mug and get a 10-cent discount.
Do you know of any other businesses going green?


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