KAB Asks: What is Your Green Resolution?

by Cindy Pantea

Happy New Year’s Eve Day! Are you making any green New Year’s Resolutions?


Well, I purchased a Sodastream soda maker on sale and also received a rebate. Even though I do not drink soda, I love seltzer water and was happy to learn that the Sodastream even has an exchange program for the CO2 containers. This little gem is really cutting down on my plastic bottle recycling. I have also made the sodas for guests, and they really enjoy the taste.

My other plan is to put my a few paper or reusable grocery bags in the seat pocket of the car. I noticed that many times I stop at the grocery store on the way home from work for just a few items. With making an effort to have the bags always in the seat pocket, I won’t need to worry about recycling so much.

Other Green Resolutions

Since I was thinking about green resolutions, I decided to check out what others are planning for a green New Year. Here are some good ideas:

  1. Avoid hygiene products with triclosan. According to an article in the New York Times, this chemical, found in many antibacterial soaps, may be harmful to humans. Side note: Purell handwash from Akron, Ohio’s GOJO Industries contains no triclosan.
  2. Meatless Mondays. Being a little vegetarian on Mondays is healthy, animal friendly and environmentally friendly.
  3. Gardening. Whether you decide to grow an herb indoors – like, perhaps a medicinal calendula or start a tomato plant from seed or plan a whole garden for the spring, it is a really good feeling when you successfully grow something yourself – also a great family project.
  4. Save energy. Plug electronics into a power strip and turn off the power strip at night or when you leave the house.

What other good ideas can you come up with? Share by posting a comment. Simply click on the bubble in the upper right corner of the post or click the Leave a Reply link below.

Have a Safe and Happy New Year from all of us at Keep Akron Beautiful.

Great KAB Holiday Party and our Favorite Natural and Eco-Friendly Gifts

by Cindy Pantea

The Keep Akron Beautiful – KAB staff had a lovely holiday lunch party. For Paula, Elaine, Jacqui, Bill, Tim and me, it was great to see Polly and William, Chuck, and Tim from our seasonal staff, our Educational Specialist, Pam, and Pat, our retired Administrative Assistant. It was fun to share a lunch and talk about our holiday traditions…and then…PRESENTS.

While some of us handed out the made-with-love cookies and candies and other crafty, practical gifts like a homemade microwave baked potato bag, others gave beautifully scented talcs and candles and still others gave delightful keepsake ornaments. However, we could not stop talking about the great gift ideas that were natural and/or eco-friendly – calendula salve, homemade vanilla, and Skoy cloths.

Calendula Salve

Calendula salve was a favorite gift of KAB staffPolly Kaczmarek, Keep Akron Beautiful Flowerscape Director, gave homemade calendula salve, which is wonderful on minor scrapes, dry skin, diaper rash and more. After researching online, I found that there are several recipes that are all similar, and it is fun to make as a family. Below are a couple of sites that have nice instructions to follow. Notice that they add lavendar essential oils – I also found that you can substitute rosemary oil, peppermint oil, and other essential oils, too:



Homemade Vanilla

Jacqui, Keep Akron Beautiful Program Director, made homemade vanilla, which is 5 whole split vanilla beans soaked in 8 oz. of 35%+ alcohol for 8 weeks. Vodka, is most commonly use, but rum, brandy or bourbon can be substituted. Unlike store bought vanilla extract, there are no imitation flavors or chemicals, and, as Jacqui put it, it is the gift that keeps on giving, because you can keep replacing with more alcohol as you use the vanilla. Here is a good site to keep for your homemade gift giving file: http://www.beanilla.com/blog/homemade-vanilla-extract.

Skoy Cloths

Skoy cloths were another favorite gift at KABWe all had to rave about Elaine, Keep Akron Beautiful CFO, though, who gave this practical and eco-friendly present as part of her gift. She gave the 100% biodegradable and natural Skoy cloths. One of these cloths saves 15 rolls of paper towels, they are reusable and machine washable and each can absorb 15 times its own weight.

I don’t know about you, but I am stealing some of these ideas for gifts throughout the year. Meanwhile, I still may have a couple days to find some Skoy cloths for an added Christmas present and/or for stocking stuffers.

Have a joyous holiday from the KAB staff.

Norfolk Pine Houseplant: Eco-Friendly and Versatile

by Cindy Pantea

norfolk pine houseplant, another good environmental choiceJacqui made great points with her blog post: Real Christmas Trees: The Environmental Choice. Yet, I was still dreading having to clean up those needles as they dry out. So, I decided to buy a Norfolk pine houseplant.

From my research, I found that the Norfolk Pine likes high humidity, full or indirect light, its soil kept moist to the touch and fertilizer in the spring and summer months only. It is also slow growing but can reach a height of 8 feet.

Grocery store floral departments carry Norfolk Pine houseplants around the holidays…already decorated. Once Christmas is over, you can replace the decorations with another seasonal theme, enjoy it on the patio in the summer months, and/or reap the benefits of added oxygen in the air of your home.

Will the houseplant really last? I asked the lady in the grocery store floral department who said that she had given her daughter one 10 years ago and she still has it.

I was sold!



Real Christmas Trees: The Environmental Choice

By Jacqui Flaherty, Program Manager

Celebrating the holiday season with a Real Christmas Tree is a long-standing tradition. Each year, 30 to 35 million American families celebrate the holiday season with a fresh, farm-grown Christmas Tree. Christmas Tree enthusiasts believe the aroma of a Real Christmas Tree is a strong reminder and symbol of life, family traditions and the innocence of childhood itself.  A farm-grown Christmas Tree provides food for the soul, for many people!

For my family, the real versus artificial Christmas Tree debate seems to replay itself each year.  “Should we get a real tree?” or “Should we just put up the artificial one?” — these are the questions we hear over and over at my house. But, as I do my research, it seems to me that the real Christmas Tree is the environmental choice!

For those of you artificial tree-lovers out there, why do you always put up the artificial tree? I know in my family, GUILT happens to be the reason my parents usually put up their artificial Christmas Tree. My mom feels guilty cutting down a new tree each year, however, this year, I may be able to persuade her into getting a real tree after doing some research and finding out that real trees are truly more sustainable and environmentally safe than the artificial option.

Things to consider when making your decision are:

  • While they are growing, Real Christmas Trees support life by absorbing carbon dioxide and other gases and emitting fresh oxygen.
  • Real Christmas Trees are grown on a farm, just like any other crop. Harvesting a Christmas Tree is no more damaging to the environment than harvesting vegetables!
  •  According to the Ohio Christmas Tree Association, for every real Christmas tree harvested, up to 3 seedlings are planted in it’s place the following spring. The seedling planting helps to ensure a healthy supply of Christmas Trees each year.
  • The average family uses an artificial Christmas Tree for six to nine years before throwing it away, where it will remain in a landfill for centuries after disposal.
  •  Farm-grown trees are biodegradable  which means they can be used or recycled for many other purposes.
  • The polyvinyl chloride (PVC) used in most artificial trees has been boycotted by environmental and health groups.
  • American Forests, a world leader in tree planting for environmental restoration, has publicly endorsed the commercial growing and use of farm-grown Christmas Trees.
If you are interested in finding a real Christmas tree, but don’t know where the nearest tree farm is, head over to The Ohio Christmas Tree Association to search for the nearest tree farm, by your zip code. Most of the real Christmas Trees are now being recycled at the end of the season in a process called “treecycling”. To learn more about recycling your Christmas Tree, visit the National Christmas Tree Association.
Happy Holidays to you and your family from the staff at Keep Akron Beautiful! Obviously, real trees top our charts this year. We hope that you will go ‘green’ this season and buy a real Christmas Tree. They may shed needles on the floor, but investing in this U.S. based product and helping to keep many local farmers in business is an ‘A’ in our book!