Eco-Vocab: Sustainable

sus·tain·able adj \sə-ˈstā-nə-bəl\

a : of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged <sustainable techniques> <sustainable agriculture>

b : of or relating to a lifestyle involving the use of sustainable methods <sustainable society>

The EPA says sustainability is important to making sure that we have, and will continue to have, the water, materials and resources to protect human health and our environment.

Just How Clean Must Food Containers Be Before We Toss Them Into the Recycling Bin?

This is a question we’ve been curious about for a long time. How clean do items that get recycled really need to be? Is it necessary to rinse out every ounce of yogurt from its bin, clean every spec of tomato sauce out of the jar? If these containers aren’t sparkling, will the recycling plant reject them?

Thankfully, Mother Jones has some answers for us.

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Our Top 5 Green Holiday Tips

1. Wrap It Good – We all enjoy tearing the wrapping paper off of our new gifts, but unfortunately most of the shiny materials aren’t recyclable because of the dyes and laminates they contain. Luckily, it’s easy to find more sustainable wrapping paper from companies such as Fish Lips or Earth Love’n Paper. Or you can really get creative by making or buying reusable fabric gift bags.

2. O Rented Christmas Tree – Nothing compares to a fresh fir tree all lit up in your living room, but then again nothing is quite as sad as a pile of formerly decorated beauties left to rot on your neighborhood’s curb. So instead, go evergreen and rent a tree. The Living Christmas Co. based in Torrance, CA offers potted 2- to 7-foot-tall Christmas trees that are delivered and picked up via biodiesel truck.

3. Handle With Care – Sending gifts to far-flung friends and family is a great way to spread the holiday spirit, but we don’t want to fill up the landfill with nasty polystyrene packing peanuts. Grab some old newspapers or junk mail and crumple them up for convenient cushioning without petroleum byproduct.

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Breweries Practice Sustainable Beer Making

Beer unites people, so a new report about sustainable practices in brewing caught our eye. The report, Leading Sustainability Practices in the Brewing Industry, was released by A Clean Future, a New York based think tank. This report focuses on various sustainable practices in beer making, from small craft breweries to large manufacturers.

Because the four basic ingredients in beer are water, yeast, malt and hops, the brewing industry is automatically tied to the environment. Beer making depends directly on the health of the Earth, as the industry is dependent on these natural ingredients.

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Upcycling: Mason Jar Snow Globes

This fun and festive DIY project is perfect for decorating and gift giving too. All you need are mason jars, masking tape, flocking or glittery spray paint, fake snow, fake trees, hot glue, and glitter if you like.

We found this eco-craft on the Homebody In Motion blog. Check out detailed instructions and other decorating tips there.