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How to Compare Solar Energy Bids & Select a Solar Installer

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More home and business owners are installing solar panels than ever before. And we now have a greater variety of panels and solar equipment to choose from than ever before. Depending on where you live, you probably have at least two or three solar installers that service your area. This means you have a lot of options when installing a solar energy system — which can be overwhelming.

Let’s explore some of the items to consider that will help you select a solar energy installer that can meet your needs.

Research Solar Installers

Like with any other home improvement project, it is wise to get at least two or three bids from licensed solar contractors with liability insurance. Here are a few ideas for finding potential installers.

Seek Recommendations & Online Reviews

If you know people with solar systems, you can ask them about their experience and possibly get referrals that way. Online reviews are also a good way to find some of the best installers in your area. Consider how long the company has been in business, the depth of their experience, their credentials, and their reputation.

Consider Local Businesses

Whenever possible, support small, locally-owned businesses. This is beneficial for your local economy and maybe even your pocketbook. A study from the National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL) found that small- to mid-sized installers charge 10 percent less than big installers.

Review Solar Contractor Qualifications

Another important thing to consider is the qualifications of a given solar contractor. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) certifies solar PV installers. Their requirements involve passing a written test and accumulating a certain amount of solar field experience. NABCEP certification doesn’t guarantee quality workmanship, but it does ensure a certain level of solar energy expertise and installation experience. Ideally, a NABCEP-certified professional will oversee your solar installation — or you will even have a NABCEP-certified installer on the roof.

Check Installer’s Use of Subcontractors

It is also helpful to know if a solar installer subcontracts out some or all of the solar installation. If so, find out what work the contractor will do themselves and what they outsource to a subcontractor. Subcontracting part of the job isn’t necessarily bad news. For example, they might subcontract a roofer to flash around the installation, which could improve the quality of the final results. 

Compare Project Quotes

Now that you have received quotes from at least two or three reputable solar installers, it is time to compare them. This could be a bit more difficult than you might expect because it is rarely an apples-to-apples comparison.

Some of the most crucial things to consider are the warranties, quality of the solar equipment, appearance of the solar panels, financing, and when they can complete your installation.


The solar equipment will come with its own set of warranties — this varies by the manufacturer and equipment model. There should also be a warranty on labor. Keep in mind that equipment failure can often require a couple of people to climb up on your roof to repair it. This can get expensive if labor is not covered. The more reputable equipment manufacturers and solar contractors are more likely to honor their warranties and to be in business down the road.


Solar installers tend to have solar panels, inverters, and racking equipment that they prefer using. If you are particularly excited about a particular solar product, you can ask the contractor if they will use this equipment. This can also make it easier to make a more accurate comparison between installers’ quotes.

If you don’t have particular products in mind, it is still important to consider the quality of the equipment and that it fits your priorities. Some of the most relevant considerations for solar panels are their long-term power generation, product warranties, environmental performance, appearance, and module testing performance. Cheaper solar panels have a lower upfront cost, but they may also produce less power down the line. Some panels might be more expensive partially because they have a sleek, all-black appearance, which may not be a top priority to you.


Many solar installers partner with financing companies. If you need a loan to install your solar system, consider the financing company they use. For example, what are their rates, fees, and monthly payments? This not an issue if you do not need financing or you are not going through the solar installer to obtain a loan.


When comparing bids, it is also helpful to know when a given installer can get started. Because solar is booming, some contractors have a very full schedule for months. When your solar system is installed can also impact the percentage of the federal solar tax credit as it will taper down for the next several years, effective on the first of each year.

Power Generation

Another thing to consider is power generation. Many contracts will offer estimates on how much electricity a given solar system will produce. Some installers use more conservative methods when estimating this than others, so you do not want to take their estimates literally. For example, one installer may estimate that your roof is more shaded than another installer’s estimate. This means you may want to verify these numbers to make a more accurate comparison between bids. To do this, visit PVWatts Calculator by NREL.

It is a good idea to consider your future electric needs. If a given solar system is estimated to produce more than 100 percent of your electricity needs, it may be larger than necessary. Do you plan a purchase in the near future that will increase your power consumption, such as an electric vehicle or a heat pump? If so, it is useful to slightly oversize the solar system for the time being.

Electric Bill Savings

Also, installers may estimate your electric bill savings. Make sure they used an accurate power rate by viewing your electric bills.

Examine the Contract

It is common when reading solar installer reviews to find dissatisfied customers. In many cases, the salesperson promised the customer something verbally that they didn’t deliver on.

Make sure everything that the salesperson promised is included in the terms in the contract. For example, if your solar installer promised the solar company would remove and reinstall the solar system when the roof is replaced, make sure it is in the contract. If the salesperson promised the system would be installed by December 31, before the federal tax credit tapers down a few percentage points, look for that in the contract.


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How to Compare Solar Energy Bids & Select a Solar Installer

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How to Keep Your Holiday Shopping Zero Waste

It’s no secret that when the holidays come around most Americans go wild, hunting down the best deals, filling their shopping carts with goodies on Black Friday, Cyber Monday (week, really) and on till the New Year.

Now, I’m not here to condemn holiday shopping. It’s fun to give gifts?? and pick up a little something for yourself here and there. But when Americans are responsible for sending $11 billion worth of packing material?straight to the landfill every year, it’s?hard not to see that things have gotten very much out of hand.?And there are serious ramifications, too.

What starts as a cheery assortment of wrapping paper, ribbon and packing peanuts quickly becomes a pile of greenhouse-gas-leaching garbage as it undergoes bacterial composition. Trash like this also releases tonnes?of methane, a greenhouse gas with climate change impact that is more than 25 times?greater than that of carbon dioxide. We can’t go on like this!

It’s hard to set aside holiday traditions. I’m sure many of us have fond memories of waking up to see wrapped gifts glittering under the Christmas tree. But, as it stands today, this routine of?shipping gifts wrapped in plastic, cardboard, zip ties and Styrofoam, only to re-wrap them in non-recyclable paper and ribbon at their destination, is really taking its toll on the environment.

This year, I urge you to consider trying out a new way to celebrate this season?? one that doesn’t leave a trail of garbage in its wake. It’ll be worth it, I promise!

Give a gift that needs no packaging?? an experience!

Purchase a yearlong membership to a local museum, pay the entrance fee for a state park you know they’d enjoy, get concert tickets. There are so many options!

Buy your gifts from eco-conscious companies who ship plastic-free.

More and more companies are catching on to the fact that plastic is not a shipping requirement. Here’s a nice roundup of eco-conscious sellers by our friends over at My Plastic Free Life.

Reuse holiday cards from last year.

Simply cut the decorative front off of any holiday cards you received the year before, then write the recipient’s name on the blank side. Free, cheap and eco-friendly!

Shop local.

It’s so much easier to avoid unnecessary packaging when you can pick the gifts out in person and take them home with you that day. Skip the bag at checkout, refuse the wrapping station and walk between shops if you’re able.

Set up a recycling station at home.

Make it easy to process recyclables by setting up an easy-to-access recycling station at home. Got a cardboard gift tag or paper shopping bag to toss? Pop it in the paper bin.

How do you keep your holiday shopping as low waste as possible?

Related Stories:

How to Have a Zero Waste Christmas
How to Throw a Stress-Free Zero Waste Holiday Party
Best Non-Paper Gift Wrapping Options

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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How to Keep Your Holiday Shopping Zero Waste

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How to Calm the Need for Stuff When Going Zero Waste

The modern American culture in no way encourages minimalism, patience and restraint. Rather, we’ve been conditioned to use wealth and access to get more, more, more, wherever it’s made and whatever the cost to the planet and our health.

This addiction to consumption has led us to a place in which we require garages, attics and storage units to keep our things, are practically drowning in plastics, and have very little understanding of how our shopping habits affect the rest of the globe.

People who’ve committed to going zero waste have to force themselves to break these patterns, practicing self control in an effort to reduce the hold that “stuff” has on our lives. For many of us, this involves shopping locally and in season to help limit excessive?consumption, and committing to only purchasing products that will not end up in the landfill at the end of their lives.

These two actions alone help a great deal. It’s pretty hard to shop online when you won’t let plastic bags into your house. And setting strict criteria for what you purchase and why (for example, a bamboo toothbrush over a plastic one) means you’re a lot less likely to grab up products willy nilly.

But what about shopping for fun? How do you confront that addiction to “stuff” that we talked about earlier? It’s not easy. But it’s worth it. Here are a few ways to soften the blow.

Take a real break from shopping

Set a clear intention to do no unnecessary shopping for an entire month. This means anything beyond necessities like groceries or a much-needed winter coat are off limits.

Whenever you get the urge to go shopping for the fun of it, take a breath and examine your intentions. Why do you want this right now? Is it because you like the “high” that comes with something new and shiny? Is it because you’re struggling with envy or comparison? Start here.

Purge the clutter around you

Once you have established a clear head around shopping and its role in our lives, you might want to take the time to declutter a bit. Random additions to your stash will look silly and stand out if your home is clean and clutter free.

Start with the places you haven’t touched in ages. I’m talking about the craft closet, that one corner in your garage, boxes under the bed. Think about what you see. Have you used this item in the past couple of months? The past year? If not, decide whether it’s a true keepsake or something you’re holding onto for convenience’s sake.

Identify something meaningful to shop for

Still feel like you need a refresh? There’s no harm in adding a new jacket or piece of art to your space, as long as it’s done intentionally and with care. Select something that you’ve wanted for a while, then commit to purchasing nothing until you find the exact perfect thing.

Maybe it’s a new armchair for the living room. Maybe it’s a dutch oven. Maybe it’s a gardening tool or a computer or a painting for your office. Whatever it is, make sure it’s something you’ll use or enjoy for a long time. Then, save up and make it happen.

Fill up with experiences, not things

I might sound like a broken record, but this is so true: memories are so much more precious than things. Rather than filling your heart and space with stuff, look for cool experiences that are worth your money instead.

Sign up for a rock climbing class, book space in a recording studio, take a friend to a concert, save up for that big vacation you’ve wanted to take for years. You’ll feel so much better after a long weekend in the mountains than you would after a spree at Target.

Related Stories:

How to Lead a Nearly Zero Waste Life
How to Keep a Zero Waste Pet
How Going Zero Waste Made Me a Better Person

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.


How to Calm the Need for Stuff When Going Zero Waste

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Einstein’s Intuition – Thad Roberts


Einstein’s Intuition
Visualizing Nature in Eleven Dimensions
Thad Roberts

Genre: Physics

Price: $11.99

Publish Date: April 11, 2015

Publisher: Thad Roberts

Seller: Thad Roberts

Presented in clear and accessible language with wonderfully supportive graphics, Roberts offers the reader a voyage through the stages of human knowledge. He then examines the outstanding mysteries of modern physics, the phenomena that lie outside the boarders of our current understanding (dark energy, dark matter, the Big Bang, wave-particle duality, quantum tunneling, state vector reduction, etc.) and suggests that the next step in our intellectual journey is to treat the vacuum of space as a superfluid—modeling it as being composed of interactive quanta, which, in a self-similar way, are composed of subquanta, and so on. With this proposition Roberts imbues the vacuum with fractal geometry, and opens the door to explaining the outstanding mysteries of physics geometrically. Roberts’ model, called quantum space theory, has been praised for how it offers an intuitively accessible picture of eleven dimensions and for powerfully extending the insight of general relativity, eloquently translating the four forces into unique kinds of geometric distortions, while offering us access to the underlying deterministic dynamics that give rise to quantum mechanics. That remarkably simple picture explains the mysteries of modern physics is a way that is fully commensurate with Einstein’s Intuition. It is a refreshingly unique perspective that generates several testable predictions.

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Einstein’s Intuition – Thad Roberts

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3 Ways a Zero Waste Lifestyle Can Improve Your Health

When my husband and I first started going zero waste, we did so to lessen our environmental footprint and reduce the trash we were sending to landfill. But over time?the reasons for?our zero waste lifestyle have only increased. Today, we also do it for our health!

Health Threats Associated with Garbage

Trash is?more than just an eyesore. It actually poses a real threat to our bodies. Landfills emit toxic gasses like ammonia and sulfides, causing short-term health effects like headaches,?trouble sleeping, lung irritation, and even chest pain.

Landfills also contaminate our clean groundwater ? the primary water source for more than 50% of the entire population of the United States. And last but not least, landfills emit serious amounts of greenhouse gasses including both methane and carbon dioxide. Those food scraps leftover from dinner will?cause damage long after you toss them in the trash.

And that’s just the health dangers associated with landfills. What about what’s going on at home? Plastic, one of the world’s preferred materials for everything from plastic wrap to kids’ toys, also poses a serious threat to our health:

“Exposure to harmful chemicals during manufacturing, leaching in the stored food items while using plastic packages or chewing of plastic teethers and toys by children are linked with severe adverse health outcomes such as cancers, birth defects, impaired immunity, endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive effects etc.”

This isn’t just a landfill issue, people. This is about your lungs, your skin, and your cells. Is the convenience of a plastic water bottle really worth that?

A Zero Waste Lifestyle and Health

When I first heard these facts my mind was changed. It was time to ban garbage and?as many plastics as possible from our lives. Just one year later, we are nearly trash-free and our health has never been better. Here are some of the ways that living a zero waste lifestyle has improved our health and can improve yours, too!

1. Less plastic, less exposure.

Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic that has ever been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of that, only nine percent has been recycled; so, the vast majority is accumulating in landfills. Waste. Trash.?Garbage. When you start making an effort to cut down on plastic use, you also naturally cut down on the amount of plastic you encounter in your daily life. Plastic water bottles? You don’t use them. Plastic forks? You don’t use them. Plastic bags? You don’t need them; you have your own canvas one instead!

When you go zero waste, you encounter plastics less frequently.

2. Processed foods are a no go.

Most zero wasters do their shopping at farmer’s markets, food co-operatives, and bulk stores whenever possible. This means we mostly eat fresh, whole foods, completely free from packaging.

What does this have to do with health? It comes down to processing: fresh, unprocessed foods get eaten?in their natural state before they go bad; processed foods last longer and can be bought packaged, but come with a laundry list of unpronounceable ingredients. When you’re avoiding trash, you avoid?boxed, wrapped, and bagged processed foods as well.

When you go zero waste, you naturally eat a more nutritious diet.

3. Toiletries and cosmetics are made the natural way.

The vast majority of cosmetic products are packaged?in cute, but totally unrecyclable containers. That plastic mascara tube, shrink-wrapped bar of soap, and disposable razor will just end up in the trash when you’re done with them. No new life in sight!

When you go zero waste,?arrowroot powder replaces your aerosol dry shampoo, you invest in a stainless steel razor?that has removable, recyclable blades, and?if you’re brave you start using baking soda as a deodorant. No waste. No clutter. No chemicals.

When you go zero waste, you eliminate chemical products too.

?How do you keep harmful?materials out of your life??

Related at Care2

8 Scary Hidden Ingredients in Processed Food
How Going Zero Waste has Made Me a Better Person
How to Store Vegetables without Plastic

Image credits: Thinkstock, main image from Unsplash

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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3 Ways a Zero Waste Lifestyle Can Improve Your Health

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How To Take Eco-Friendly Living To The Next Level

You know when you buy a product that you really love and you end up raving about it to anyone who will listen? That’s kind of how going green feels. Once you do all the work it takes to minimize your carbon footprint, you find yourself eager to help others do the same. Unfortunately, it can be hard to push people toward eco-friendly living without coming across as preachy.

If you’re looking for a few simple, nonconfrontational ways to encourage friends, family and neighbors to join the earth-friendly movement, consider the following avenues.

Your Local School

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

If you have children, set aside some time to work with their schools. (Even if you don’t have kids, you can still volunteer in a nearby school to start an eco-friendly program.) You might begin by offering to help out with events and joining the PTA. Then, get a group of like-minded parents and teachers together and start putting forward some green activities and initiatives. You can engage the whole school community by:

Coordinating an International Walk to School Day. Walking to school not only promotes a healthy lifestyle, it helps reduce air pollution!
Encouraging the school to go digital where possible. Newsletters, field trip information, PTA meeting updates, volunteer requests, etc., can be sent home via email rather than being printed out and copied for each student.
Establishing a recycling club. Place recycling bins in classrooms, offices, the gym, music room, art room, cafeteria and copy room. Have student members of the recycling club collect and empty the bins during lunch and recess or after school.
Starting a compost pile. Kids will learn how food waste can be recycled into nutrient-rich fertilizer for their gardens.

Kids love to learn, and you’ll find so much joy in helping them look at the world in a new way. After all, the earlier we start educating children about how our lifestyles affect the environment, the easier it is for them to adapt to healthier ways of living on our planet.

Your Workplace

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Does life in the office make you feel like you’re taking two steps back? There’s paper everywhere, recyclable items going in the trash, and enough waste to drive a person crazy. It’s time to step up and institute a change!

Join 24,000+ Recyclers

Here at Earth911 HQ we’re all about living green and clean. If that’s what you’re searching for then you’ll love our weekly email!

Effecting change from the bottom up is often easier than heading directly to the CEO. Mobilize fellow eco-warrior team members and managers to help set in motion the following changes:

Standby power is a huge energy expense. Set computers to energy-saving settings and shut them down at the end of the day
Use natural light wherever possible.
Use compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs) in fixtures. They cost 75 percent less to operate and last 10 times longer.
Turn off lights in spaces that are unoccupied.
Arrange an office carpool or encourage use of a car-sharing service like Flexcar or Zipcar.
Extol the virtues of working from home — and see if you can’t convince your higher-ups to let you do it more often. Not only are employees just as productive when working from home, the environmental effects of commuting are reduced.
Start an office recycling program. Cut back on the number of trash cans around the office while simultaneously adding more recycling bins.
Since paper use can’t be entirely avoided, ask your company to invest in recycled paper and envelopes that have been processed and colored using eco-friendly methods.

While these measures may not seem like much, each small step adds up to big energy and resource savings. Your co-workers are bound to feel good about doing their part to help the environment, and management is likely to see overhead costs go down dramatically. That’s a win-win!

Your Community

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Inspiring a change in your community takes a bit of legwork, but it’s well worth it. Start by establishing yourself as an engaged member of the community. Chat with your neighbors and get an idea of what’s going on around you, as well as what’s missing. Then, take your place as an eco-leader by organizing community lectures, roundtable discussions and book clubs related to green initiatives.

Coordinate environmental cleanups at neighborhood parks, rivers and beaches. Take part in the community garden — and if you don’t have one, get one going! Start a “buy local” initiative. Shopping locally conserves energy, reduces greenhouse gases emitted during transportation and keeps resources circulating in the community. And last but not least, organize an Earth Day celebration and plant some trees!

It’s also important to talk to your local government officials. Ask whether they have environmental efforts in place, and offer to volunteer your time to ensure change is actually taking place.

The time and effort you put into effecting green change is not only vital for the health of your community, it’s also incredibly valuable. If environmental conservation is your passion, consider making it a career path. The nonprofit sector is awash with employment opportunities, having grown 25 percent in just 10 years and currently employing 10 percent of the U.S. workforce. By working for a nonprofit, you can impact policy and procedures more significantly than you may have ever imagined.

Eco-friendly living at home is just the first step to a more eco-conscious world. To really move forward, we need to take it upon ourselves to get involved in our communities and be a force for change. So get out there and get moving — the environment needs your voice!

Ready to take your eco-friendly living up a notch? Get inspiration from the amazing women we featured in “Sustainable Living: 6 People Proving Plastic-Free Possible.”

Latest Posts

Liz Greene

Liz Greene is an animal-loving, history-studying, pop culture geek from the beautiful City of Trees, aka Boise, Idaho. You can catch her latest misadventures on her blog,

Instant Lo


Latest posts by Liz Greene (see all)

How To Take Eco-Friendly Living To The Next Level – October 25, 2016
What I Learned My First Year Of Container Gardening – October 13, 2016
What Green Makeup Means To Me – July 20, 2016

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How To Take Eco-Friendly Living To The Next Level

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This Simple Change Slashed England’s Plastic Bag Use By 90%

Although the mere suggestion of making people pay a fee to bring their groceries home in a plastic bagcauses nothing short of outragein most American communities, a fellow developed nation’sexperiment with just such a bag fee recently provided definitive proof that such “taxes” can be shockingly effective.

See, we have this idea that plastic bags are free, a bonus gift provided by the store so that we can get our eggs home in one piece. Truthfully, thecost of offering disposable bags is simply passed on to the consumer in the form of higher product prices.(According to The Wall Street Journal, the estimated cost is somewhere around$4 billion.)

We say “cost” in the traditional sense, of course, becauseif you factored in the cost of what these bags are doing to the environment AFTER our eggs are safely in the fridge, it would make your eyes water.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.

Producing all of these bags requires upwards of 2.2 billion pounds of fossil fuel and 3.9 billion gallons of fresh water. The manufacturing of these bags alone produces a billion pounds of solid waste and 2.7 million tons of CO2 per year. And that’s all BEFORE the bagger at the grocery store tucks your eggs inside.

Most of those 380 billion plastic bags are only used for 12 minutes, before being tossed into the trash (few recycling programs accept them) and making their way into our waterways.

“The mass consumption of plastic products has created a plastic wasteland in our oceans. Globally, there is now more plastic in our oceans than plankton, with 46,000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean. Marine and avian are choked and strangled by discarded bags, and are killed by consuming partially broken-down plastic pieces. This plastic pollution negatively impacts 267 species of marine life,” reports Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

If you feel like shouting “STOP THE MADNESS!” you’re not alone.

So how do you get billions of people around the world to start bringing their own reusable bags to the store? Hit ‘em where it hurts: their wallets.

England instituted a 5 pence (approximately 7 cents USD) fee for bag in October 2015, and since then, around 90 percent of people now take their own bags with them when food shopping as a result of the plastic carrier bag charge.


In addition to this shocking drop in plastic bag use, less than 1 in 15 shoppers (7 percent) are now regularly taking single-use carrier bags at the checkout as opposed to 1 in 4 shoppers before the charge.

Accordingresearchers at Cardiff University, the study indicates that thecharge made shoppers stop and think whether they really need to use a single-use plastic bag for their shopping.

And the answer, contrary to what many in the plastic bag industry might say, is a resounding ‘no.’

Image Credit: Thinkstock

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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This Simple Change Slashed England’s Plastic Bag Use By 90%

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Your First 5 Steps to Zero Waste Grocery Shopping

When my husband and I started Zero Waste this year, friends and family had alot of questions.

“Wait, what is Zero Waste exactly?” (It’s a lifestyle that ensures you produce no trash that ends up in landfills.)

“How do you evendothat?” (You make lifestyle changes and buckle down because it’s important.)

“So, can you still buy meat at the store?” (Totally! Just bring your own container to the counter.)

“Do you have to grow your own vegetables?” (You don’t have to, but it sure helps!)

Truth is, going Zero Waste haschanged and disrupted a lot of the ways we used to run our lives. We’ve done away with paper towels and use only reusable rags in the kitchen, we make our own toothpaste and we spend a lot less money on disposable products that go straight to landfills.

But one of the greatest changes we’ve made has been in the way that we grocery shop. And surprisingly, it’s actually been pretty easy! Fun, even.

Here’s how we doZero Waste grocery shopping, and how you can start too:

1) Refuse plastic shopping bags and bring your own canvas ones instead.

Before going Zero Waste, we brought home tonsof plastic andpaper shopping bags with each trip to the store. Today, I use four cute, colorful, sturdy reusable bags and they’ve made all the difference! To ensure I never forget to bring them with me, I keep one in each vehicle and two by the door. Easy!

2) Seek out products that aren’t shrink-wrapped or otherwise unnecessarily packaged.

I’m amazed by the amount of products that areincreasingly being packaged in plastic. Shrink-wrapped cucumbers, tomatoes in plastic cubbies…the list goes on and on. Buy the regular stickered cucumber and just wash it when you get home! Or buy straight from a farmer’s market and bypass big box grocery stores all together.

3) Bring your own containers for bulk grains, meats and anything else possible.

We aren’t prepared to transition to a vegetarian lifestyle, but we have certainly decreased our meat consumption since beginning this journey. Meat production is costly to the environment sowe’ve found lots of new, healthy ways to seek out alternative proteins in our diet.

When we shop for products other than produce (staples like grains, oils, meats, etc.) we bring our own glass jars and containers and shop at a local bulk bin store! This eliminates packaging altogether and gives you the opportunity to buy the exact amount in ounces or pounds that you need, rather than over-purchasing and wasting the rest.

4) Shop produce that is in season at local farmer’s markets if you have one in town.

Farmer’s markets are a wonderful thing! We are lucky to have two local to our town, each a little bit different. We can get just about any produce in season that we need, along with goat cheeses, fresh bread, flowers, herbs and eggs! Shopping at farmer’s markets has forced us to consider what products are in season and cook accordingly. We love it!

5) Meal plan weekly to prevent wasting excess food.

My husband and I plan out our meals every Sunday before shopping for the week. This has made a world of difference in the way we’ve approached meal prep and has really taken our food waste down significantly.

Well, there you have it. Your first five steps to Zero Waste grocery shopping. Give it a try!

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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Your First 5 Steps to Zero Waste Grocery Shopping

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6 Tips for Spending Less Money When Taking Care of Your Home

Whether you are a homeowner or a renter, the natural tendency is to make the place you call home an attractive and cozy spot to live in. But as you have no doubt discovered, this can become a very pricey proposition. If you continually find yourself with more month than money when it comes to looking after your home, try these simple tips and save.

DIY within reason.

Small household fixes, like caulking cracks, are simple and cheap to do yourself. (They will also save you money on your home heating bills.) Be sure tospend smart on supplies. For example, high quality paintbrushes will give you better coverage with fewer ugly streaks, and good, low- to no-VOC paint not only lasts longer — meaning an extended period before you need to invest time and money on your next touchup — it also results in better indoor air quality. Know your limit, though; for larger projects like painting the whole house, it may actually make better financial sense to shop for areasonably priced pro.

Stay warm (or cool) and spend less.

Weve said it before but its well worth repeating: insulate, insulate, insulate. You pay good money to run your HVAC system, so keep the heat (or cool) inside where you want it. Insulate and seal the areas of your home that allow warmed air to escape, such as your crawl space, attic, and ductwork for your heating and cooling system. The cost in materials will be modest, and the potential energy (and cash) savings substantial.

Related:14 Ways to Keep Cool Without Using Air Conditioning

Shop with a list or at least a mental game plan.

Random impulse purchases for your house including everything from grocery items to home decoration — frequently end up in the compost bin or giveaway pile. When you head out to the supermarket, home improvement warehouse, or even the corner dollar store, decide on your shopping guidelines ahead of time, whether these may be menus for the upcoming week or a color scheme for your decor. Set yourself a spending limit too, while youre at it. Whenever feasible, shop your closet and garage — or neighborhoodyard sales– for accessories and furniture.

Remember “more is more” when it comes to kitchen appliances.

Your trusty refrigerator will actually function more efficiently when it is full. If you dont keep a lot of perishables on hand, fill up your fridge and freezer shelves with containers of water to optimize effectiveness. By the same token, avoid running partial loads in your dishwasher. Most models use the same quantity of water whether theyre fully loaded or contain just a couple of plates and a handful of forks. Maximize your oven by planning ahead; for example, when youre about to bake a casserole for dinner tonight, add a pan of bell pepper slices to roast for tomorrow’s lunchbox salad.

Related:30 Make-Ahead Recipesfor Quick Weeknight Meals


Run your bathroom exhaust fan every time you shower. (Best practice: turn it on before you step under the spray and keep it going for a few minutes after youre done.) Ditto for your range hood. Ventilating your bath and kitchen will get rid of excessive moisture in the air, which is otherwise very likely to damage key components such as your tile grout, cabinets, walls, and flooring, and also encourage the growth ofmold and mildew all costly problems to remedy.

Get a little help from your utility company.

You are probably used to a one-way relationship with your local electricity or gas company, where you are the one writing the checks (or these days, making the bank transfers) to them. However, many utility providers offer a money-saving basket of goodies to their customers such as free home energy audits andincentives or rebateson your purchase of energy-efficient appliances. Check it out.

By Laura Firszt,Networx.

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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6 Tips for Spending Less Money When Taking Care of Your Home

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Here’s Why the NBA’s Top Team Stopped Letting Its Players Eat PB&J

Mother Jones

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After the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry scored 51 points during his game last night, he might have been craving a soft peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But the day before, the favorite snack would’ve been out of reach: As a part of overhauling the reigning NBA champions’ diet, the team recently asked players to cut back on sugar while traveling to games, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The champs aren’t alone in their quest to eliminate the sweet stuff. Americans are cutting back on sugar more than any other substance these days, according to a January Reuters poll. Fifty-eight percent of people polled said they had attempted to limit their sugar intake over the last 30 days, compared to 48 percent who had attempted to cut back on sodium and 50 percent who had tried to cut calories. Nearly half said that labels stating “no sugar added” helped inform their shopping decisions.

Though we may be foaming at the mouth for an Odwalla green juice (50 grams of sugar) or a Nature’s Valley granola bar (11 grams of sugar), the United States Department of Agriculture says we’re on the right track in trying to avoid too many sweets. New dietary guidelines released earlier this year recommend we drastically decrease our added-sugar intake—particularly of sweet drinks and processed snack foods. Sugar-laden diets translate to increased calorie consumption and a higher risk for heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. The feds recommend a daily maximum dose of 12 teaspoons—less than half our current average of 30. (Here’s what that recommendation might look like).

So just how much sugar is in one of the Warriors’ favorite sandwiches? Let’s assume you use the same ingredients reportedly stocked in the locker room in Oakland: creamy Skippy peanut butter, Smucker’s strawberry jam, and 12-grain whole wheat bread.

mikemphoto/ThinkStock PB&J with Smucker’s Jam and Skippy peanut butter is reportedly the team’s favorite snack.

A whole sandwich, with just one serving of the peanut butter and one serving of the jam, amounts to about 21 grams of sugar—a little more than 5 teaspoons, and still well within the USDA’s daily recommended dose of added sugar.

For the Warriors players, who were reportedly on board with giving up Gatorade and sodas, the absence of those homemade PB&Js just couldn’t be justified. With help from their assistant coach, the players successfully persuaded their management to lift the ban on the beloved sandwich this week. Of course, basketball stars burn on average of anywhere from 600-800 calories in a game—surely they can afford to celebrate with a sandwich on the long flight home.

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Here’s Why the NBA’s Top Team Stopped Letting Its Players Eat PB&J

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