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Lead Exposure and Christmas Photos

Christmas photos of kids, pets, and families wrapped in lights are cute but they may not be safe.

Could your Christmas photos be dangerous? Lead and Christmas lights, lead poisoning, lead exposure

This time of the year you will see photos of kids, pets, and couples wrapped in Christmas lights. Sure these photos are cute but are there hidden dangers?

One big danger is the fact that most Christmas lights contain lead. According to one CNN analysis, four common brands of Christmas lights contained lead levels that are considered to be dangerous to children. And many experts say no level is safe.

“There is no level at which lead exposure is safe,” Dr. Trasande said. “Even at one microgram/deciliter — the lowest level in a person’s blood stream that we can detect — that level has been associated with cognitive impairment in children.”- read more

A quick search on Pinterest and you will find hundreds of photos of babies wrapped in lights, some with the lights in their mouths. This is very concerning given the amount of surface lead found in Christmas lights. Also in many of the photos, the lights are plugged in, adding an extra danger to the situation.

Protect Yourself from Lead Christmas Lights

  • Don’t let children handle the lights.
  • Wash your hands after handling lights.
  • Wear gloves while handling lights.
  • Choose Made in the USA lights when possible, generally, they have lower levels of lead than imported brands.
  • Buy lead-free lights.
  • Vacuum often with a HEPA filter vacuum and/or wet mop.
  • Dust often with a wet rag.
  • And of course, skip the photos with people and animals wrapped in Christmas lights.

Artificial Christmas trees often contain lead as well, so use the same caution with the tree. Also look for trees that use PE tips, it reduces the amount of PVC and lead.

Be sure to share this post to help prevent lead exposure this holiday season.

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8 Reasons to Shop Locally for the Holidays

Christmas will be here soon. While buying gifts give back to your community by shopping locally. 

8 Reasons to Shop Locally This Holiday Season, Buy Local, Small Business Saturday

The holidays are fast approaching. There is so much to do, including gifts to buy. This holiday season you can help support your community by shopping locally. Here are eight reasons why it’s important to shop locally.

Reasons to Shop Locally for the Holidays

  • Create Jobs – “If every American spent $64 on something made in America, we could create 200,000 jobs right now.” [source]
  • Keep Money Local – Sales taxes help fund vital services in our communities. Also, local businesses are also more likely to spend money locally, keeping more money in the community.
  • Creates a Diverse Community –  Shopping locally encourages people to businesses that are unique and an alternative to chain stores.
  • Better for the Environment – Many locally owned businesses also offer local products which require far less transportation.
  • Better Customer Service – Local businesses owners are passionate about their businesses and connected to the community. This often contributes to better and more personal customer service.
  • Helps Your Community Grow – Keeping tax dollars in your community and creating demand will help encourage new businesses and help your city grow.
  • More Support for Nonprofits – Studies show that nonprofits receive 250 percent more support from small businesses than larger businesses.
  • Connect with your Community – Shopping locally helps you connect with people in your community and learn about more things going on around you.

Encourage your friends and family to shop locally this year by sharing this post and this graphic.

shop local

Consider supporting Small Business Saturday instead of Black Friday this year as well. It’s a great way to save money while supporting local businesses. It also gives you more time with family for Thanksgiving before going out shopping.

Be sure to also follow us on Facebook to learn about great local shops and gift ideas. 

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Why You Shouldn’t Rake Your Leaves

Raking leaves is a chore you may want to skip this fall. There are several reasons to let the leaves be instead of bagging them up.

Why You Shouldn't Rake Your Leaves

As the leaves change color and fall we start to see bags of leaves lining the streets. Raking leaves isn’t a fun chore but one many believe is necessary but it may not be. Not only that but raking leaves may be harmful to wildlife and the environment.

Scientists are urging people to skip raking their leaves. It’s one chore you can remove from your list this year.

The Benefits of Not Raking Leaves

Creating Wildlife Habits

Many wildlife species including box turtles, toads, earthworms, and chipmunks live in or rely on the leaf layer for food. Many butterfly and moth species overwinter in the leaf layer. When you rack the leaves you are likely getting rid of some beneficial insects as well. These insects are also important food sources for birds in the spring.

Increased Soil Health

Leaves create a natural mulch that can help suppress weeds and also fertilize the soil. This can save you money on mulch and fertilizer and also is safer than many of the commercially available options.

Reduces Waste

Many people rake and bag their leaves. This can waste a lot of trash bags and means a lot of plastic ending up in our landfills. According to the EPA yard trimmings and food accounted for 28.2 percent of household waste.

Reduces Pollution

Leaf blowers save a lot of time and are becoming more common but they also often rely on fossil fuels and create a lot of pollution.

What to do Instead

Sometimes you do need to remove leaves from your yard. If you are in a high-risk fire area, a homeowners association, or maybe you just really don’t like having leaves in your yard. Instead of just bagging your leaves and letting them go to the landfill try one of these options.

Compost

Composting your leaves is a great way to get the benefits from the leaves without the mess. Home composting is easy and can reduce your waste. Check out this Composting Guide: Using Leaves for Composting.

Additional Resource: How to Start Composting in 30 Seconds for Less Than $3

Use for Mulch

Leaves are a free and effective mulch. Put the leaves in a big trash can and use a weedeater to shred them. Then apply the shredded leaves to flower beds, trees and shrubs, vegetable gardens or simply mow the leaves and leave them on the yard.

Donate Your Leaves

Check with local community gardens or schools to see if they could use some leaf mulch. It’s a great way to keep the leaves out of the landfill, clean your yard, and help your community all at once.

Use all that time you’ve saved not raking leaves to enjoy fall activities around Oklahoma

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes

Looking for vegetarian Thanksgiving recipes? These are delicious and perfect even for your non-vegetarian friends. 

Vegetarian Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

No matter if you are vegetarian, flexitarian, or just trying to reduce your meat intake, these recipes are perfect for your Thanksgiving meal.

Many of these recipes are also vegan-friendly. None of them are short on flavor. Everything from main dishes to a tasty dessert is on this list.

Many are also gluten-free so everyone at your Thanksgiving meal will have something delicious to eat.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes

Vegetarian Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Vegetarian Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Additional Resource: Thanksgiving Planning Guide

Vegetarian Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Vegetarian Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Additional: How to Freeze Mashed Potatoes

Vegetarian Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Vegetarian Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Vegetarian Friendly Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes, Vegan Thanksgiving Recipes

Looking for even more meatless recipes? Check out Meatless Instant Pot Recipes

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Recycled Halloween Crafts

These recycled Halloween crafts are adoreable and easy to make. Many are easy enough for kids to make.

Recycled Halloween Crafts, Upcycled Halloween Crafts, Halloween DIY

Looking for some easy Halloween craft projects? We have gathered some great ones that use materials from your recycling bin!

It’s a great way to save on craft supplies and be a bit greener this Hallowen. It’s amazing what you can make with things that were headed to the landfill.

These recycled Halloween crafts are perfect for different ages and skill levels. They would also be fun to do at a school Halloween party.

Recycled Halloween Crafts

Recycled Halloween Crafts, Upcycled Halloween Crafts, Halloween DIY

Additional Resource: How to Have an Eco-Friendly Halloween

Recycled Halloween Crafts, Upcycled Halloween Crafts, Halloween DIY

Additional Resource: Have a Greener Halloween

Recycled Halloween Crafts, Upcycled Halloween Crafts, Halloween DIY

Additional Resource: Things to Do This Fall in Oklahoma

Recycled Halloween Crafts, Upcycled Halloween Crafts, Halloween DIY

Start saving up your recycling to use in these great crafts. It’s a great way to upcycle your trash and help the planet.

Interested in more green living tips? Sign up for our mailing list below.

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Have a Greener Halloween

Halloween is a fun time of the year but it can also come with a lot of waste. Have a greener Halloween this year with these great tips.

Have a greener Halloween, Eco-Friendly Halloween, Zero Waste Halloween

Halloween will be here before we know it and that means lots of candy with questionable ingredients and a lot of waste. So how can you stay green and still celebrate Halloween? All you have to do is rethink Halloween and we have tips to get you started.

Candy & Treats

Halloween Treats

Look for natural candy and when possible Fair Trade certified and/or organic candy to help avoid nasty ingredients and be a bit more gentle on the planet. A great place to look for these items is Natural Candy Store, just be sure to order in time.

You can also skip all of the sugary candy altogether and go with non-edible treats, like eco-friendly packs of crayons, little notepads made from recycled paper, and other fun things.

For Halloween parties and your own family consider making your own homemade Halloween treats using natural ingredients.

Costumes

Look for local costume swaps, borrow costumes from friends, make your own using tips from sites like Pinterest, and check out thrift stores, you will save money and avoid extra packaging. Be sure to also avoid costumes that contain PVC, which is toxic and often contains lead.

Carrying Your Treats

If you have brown paper bags around your kids can decorate them for their bags. They can also make one from a shoe box and magazines using this cute treat bucket tutorial. Or get a reflective reusable Halloween bag. It’s fun to use for trick or treating but also can be used as a reusable bag when not being used for candy.

Decorations

A lot of Halloween decorations are made of cheap plastic and don’t hold up long-term. They may also contain harmful chemicals. Instead, make your own decor, shop second hand, or shop the options below.

Have a greener Halloween, Eco-Friendly Halloween, Zero Waste Halloween

Don’t forget to place your Natural Candy Store Halloween candy order before the shipping deadline. 

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Things to Do This Fall in Oklahoma

Fall is a wonderful time of year to experience all that the beautiful outdoor activities in Oklahoma.

Things to do this fall in Oklahoma

Fall is here and it’s a great time to get out in nature with the family. Oklahoma offers a wide range of family-friendly outdoor activities. These are just a few of the ways to enjoy the cooler weather and some of the beauty Oklahoma has to offer.

  • Chickasaw National Recreation Area
    Chickasaw National Recreation Area is Oklahoma’s oldest national park area. It offers mineral and freshwater springs, a 2,350-acre lake, nature trails for hiking and cycling, many great fishing areas, campgrounds, picnic areas, a nature center, and more.
  • Tenkiller State Park
    Tellkiller State Park offers a lot of great family-friendly activities. Everything from playgrounds, picnic areas, three hiking trails, a kids’ fishing pond, to the Driftwood Nature Center.
  • Greenleaf State Park
    Stay in one of the park’s cabins or at the park’s campgrounds. Nature hiking trails, a discovery center, basketball and volleyball courts, miniature golf, fishing, and naturalist lead programs are just some of the fun activities found at Greenleaf State Park.
  • Tallgrass Prairie Preserve
    The 39,000-acre preserve is the largest protected area of tallgrass prairie on Earth. The preserve is known for the bison that calls it home. With a herd of 2,700 American Bison, it’s one of the largest herds in the country. It’s also home to white-tailed deer, beavers, bobcats, coyotes, woodchucks, over 300 species of birds, and more. You can drive the 15-mile scenic road to see the bison and other wildlife, visit the preserve headquarters and gift shop, have a picnic, check out the nature trail, visit the historic 1920’s ranch bunkhouse, and more.
  • Alabaster Caverns State Park
    The 200-acre state park offers the largest natural gypsum cave open to the public and the only gypsum show cave in the United States. There are daily guided tours of the cavern. There are also hiking trails, RV sites, picnic areas, a gift shop and more.
  • Pumpkin Patch
    Oklahoma offers many great pumpkin patches with lots of fun activities for the whole family.
  • Orr Family Farm
    The Orr Family Farm offers train rides on a historic train, pony rides, a vintage 1975 carousel, a playground, and so much more. September 20th will start the fall season for the Orr Family Farm.

Additional Resources: 35 Ways to Enjoy Fall for Free!
Oklahoma Road Trips

Looking for more events in Oklahoma? Join the Green Events in Oklahoma Facebook group

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10+ Perfect Fall Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkins are in season and it’s a great time to try some new pumpkin recipes. These are sure to make you excited about fall.

Pumpkin recipes, fall pumpkin recipes, pumpkin desserts, pumpkin main dishes

It’s pumpkin season! Pumpkin is a very versatile ingredient. It can be used in savory and sweet dishes, and for any meal. It’s fun to try using it in many ways during fall.

Pumpkin farms are a fun weekend activity for the family. You can pick your own pumpkins, decorate a few and turn a few into some of these delicious dishes.

When craving your pumpkins be sure to keep the insides to use for some of these recipes. It helps prevent food waste and saves you money. Pumpkins a really healthy fruit that’s great for the whole family, even the dog.

Fall Pumpkin Recipes

Pumpkin recipes, fall pumpkin recipes, pumpkin desserts, pumpkin main dishes

Additional Resource: When to Plant Pumpkins for Halloween and Thanksgiving

Pumpkin recipes, fall pumpkin recipes, pumpkin desserts, pumpkin main dishes

Pumpkin recipes, fall pumpkin recipes, pumpkin desserts, pumpkin main dishes

Additional Resource: Homemade Pumpkin Dog Treats

Pumpkin recipes, fall pumpkin recipes, pumpkin desserts, pumpkin main dishes

More Pumpkin Recipes


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Throw an Eco-Friendly Football Party

Football is back and so is tailgating and football parties. Both can be a lot of fun but also create a lot of waste. This year try throwing an eco-friendly football party instead. 

How to throw an eco-friendly football party, eco-friendly tailgating

It’s football season and that means football parties and tailgating. Both are favorite past times of Oklahomans. We take our football seriously around here.

These parties can mean a lot of waste though. If you are trying to live more eco-friendly this can be really tough. You don’t need to ditch your parties though, just change them.

There are a lot of ways you can make your football parties more eco-friendly and still have a ton of fun supporting your favorite team.

Throw an Eco-Friendly Football Party

Better Food
Grilling is a popular option for tailgating and football parties but conventional food for grilling can have harmful ingredients like nitrates and the meat often comes from inhumane feedlots. There are better options though. Here are some great options for your next party.

Look for uncured hot dogs. Applegate Farm’s is a readily available brand. They have several great hot dog and dinner sausage options.

Throw an Eco-Friendly Football Party or Tailgate

 

Oklahoma has a lot of great local beef and bison that is perfect for grilling. The Oklahoma Food Coop is a great place to find local meat. Many natural food stores around the state also offer local meat. If you can’t find local meat, look for organic or pasture raised meat. Even Aldi often has grass-fed, organic beef.

Meat can have a pretty big environmental impact so it’s good to try and have some meatless meals as well, so if you are wanting a meatless meal or have any vegetarians coming why not make some homemade black bean burgers? Don’t forget the buns, check with local bakeries or make your own.

You will also need snack foods, there are great organic brands of chips and other snack and also some wonderful local options. Many local bakeries like Green Goodies in OKC use better ingredients in their delicious baked goods.

Additional Resource: Grilled Cheddar Sausage with Caramelized Onions Recipe

Dishes
If you are at home it’s best to use real dishes if possible. If you plan to have a lot of parties a good option for dishes is to check local thrift stores for a few cheap sets to have just for party use.

If real dishes aren’t an option look for recycled, compostable, plastic-free, or tree-free products.  Here are some more eco-friendly options.


Decorations

football party decor

Use things you already have around the house that are in your team’s colors. Also, check the thrift store for decorations. It’s a great way to get affordable decorations.

If you want some new items, take a look at Etsy for handmade options that are made to last. It’s a great way to support artisans and get great products.

How to throw an eco-friendly football party, eco-friendly tailgating

With these tips, you can celebrate your favorite team with friends without so much waste. Don’t forget to recycle and save your leftovers!

Want more eco-friendly living tips? Sign up for our mailing list below. 

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Getting Your City to Recycle

Want to start a recycling program in your city? These tips will help you get started and encourage your city to recycle.

How to start a recycling program, getting your city to recycle

While many cities in Oklahoma have recycling programs, there are still many that don’t. So what can you do if your city doesn’t have a recycling program? It’s not something that will happen overnight but there are things you can do to encourage your city to recycle.

Getting Your City to Recycle

  • Talk to city officials and ask questions like, have you looked into having a recycling program? What would be your concerns about offering a recycling program?
  • Talk to people in your city to find out if others are interested in recycling. You can even set up a free survey on Google Docs or many other sites and share it on sites like Facebook, to find out what the interest levels are.
  • Consider starting a recycling coalition. Recycling coalitions like Ada Recycling Coalition have played big roles in getting recycling programs started. A few years ago the coalition in Ada helped convince the city to start a curbside recycling program which is still going strong.
  • Talk to nearby towns, that are about the same size, that currently have recycling programs. You can try and find out how their program got started and if they have any tips.
  • If your city contracts out your trash, see if you can talk to the trash company to find out if they offer a recycling program.
  • Ask to speak at a city council meeting about recycling and your desire to have a recycling program in your town.
  • Check out the Oklahoma Recycling Association, they have a lot of great information on recycling.
  • Most importantly, don’t give up and get others involved.

If you choose to take on this project it can be a lot of work but if you are able to make it happen you will have a lasting impact on your city and even the world.

Have a tip for how to start a recycling program? Post in the comments below.

We would also love to hear from you if you helped get your city to start a recycling program or are working on doing so, send us an email at gogreenokla@gmail.com

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