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Green Tips for PTO Newsletter

Alternatives for Hazardous Household Products

All Purpose Cleaner: Most all purpose cleaners contain ammonia or chlorine.  A better choice is to mix 1 gallon hot water and 1/4 cup vinegar.  This solution is safe for all surfaces and can be rinsed away with water.  Scouring powders also contain chlorine and phosphorous; try Bon Ami, which contains neither.

Drain Cleaners: The active chemical in drain cleaners is lye, which is extremely caustic and considered hazardous.  Keep drains open and clean with a plunger or metal snake.  As a preventative, or if a drain becomes clogged, pour in 1/4 cup baking soda, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar.  After fizzing stops, flush well with boiling water.

Floors/Toilets: A mixture of 2-3 teaspoons each of borax and liquid dish soap in 2 quarts of hot water works well on tough jobs like floors and toilet bowls.  Most toilet cleaners contain chlorine and hydrochloric acid.

Oven Cleaner: Dampen the spill and sprinkle salt on it while the oven is still warm.  Scrape the spill away when cooled.  Greasy spots can be removed with a vinegar-soaked rag.  Really tough spots can removed by dampening the area with water and lightly scrubbing with baking soda and steel wool pads.

Source: “Simple Substitutes for Household Hazardous Products,” City of Carmel Water-Wastewater Utilities pamphlet

Submitted by MaryEllen St.Angelo Carmel Middle School parent
Comments or questions?  MaryEllen St.Angelo

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Short Green tips 

  1. Don’t waste a hot oven.  Since ovens take a lot more energy to heat up than to keep hot, try to cook several meals in one session.
  1. Cross-country skiing is a greener choice for winter fun than downhill skiing or snowboarding because it requires less equipment and machinery.
  1. Use a high-absorbency towel on wet hair before you blow dry.  By removing as much excess water as possible, your blow-drying time will be shorter.
  1. If every coffee-drinking American used a reusable mug instead of a throwaway cup, it would save close to 7 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every day.
  1. Before cranking up the heat, put on a sweater and socks. Adding an extra layer of clothing, rather than increasing the heat, saves money and the environment.
  1. Always recycle food and beverage cans.  Recycling aluminum uses only 5% of the energy it takes to process aluminum from raw materials.
  1. Air transportation is now the fastest-growing source of carbon-dioxide emitted into the atmosphere.  Instead of flying to a vacation destination, why not explore your local area?
  1. Don’t throw expired medications down the toilet or in the trash, because they can harm the environment.  Check with your local municipal waste department for guidelines on proper disposal.


SOURCE: 101 Little Ways to Save our Planet, by Avalanche Publishing.

  1.  Wash clothes in cold water.  It reduces your washer’s energy use by 75% by eliminating water heating costs.
  2. To save money and energy, turn down the thermostat on your water heater to a temperature of 115/120 degrees.
  3. Repair leaky faucets.  A one drop per second leak on a hot water faucet wastes 160 gallons per month- or 16 hot baths!



Submitted by MaryEllen St.Angelo, Carmel Elementary, December 15, 2009

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Save trees, stop unwanted mail!

We all know the 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  Reducing means eliminating waste before it is produced, which is even more beneficial to the environment that recycling.  One easy area to make an impact by reducing is by opting out of the catalogs, junk mail, and credit card offers that fill your mailbox every week.  There are several easy ways to stop that unwanted mail: – Perhaps the quickest and easiest way to reduce the amount of junk mail that you receive is to signup to cancel all junk mail sent by DirectMail at This will not reduce all of your catalogs that you receive in the mail however but more of the other junk mail that you receive for other products and services. This cancellation service at one time cost you money but its totally free now and only takes 60 seconds to fill out the form.

Catalog Choice – This site is where you should attempt to cancel all of your catalog subscriptions because they keep track of which ones that you have canceled all for you – and all for FREE! Simply search for the catalog and then select unsubscribe. Catalog Choice will take care of processing it for you on a lot of the subscriptions however on some of them, they will direct you to a form at the company where the catalog is coming from and you must fill out the additional information such as your name and address and ask to be canceled from their mailings, catalogs, and offers. Easy and free.

Call Customer Service – If you aren’t able to cancel via Catalog Choice or DirectMail doesn’t seem to be working, you could contact the customer service number on the catalog that you receive to cancel the catalog by phone. Simply inform them you want to cancel.

Credit Card Offers – Another reason to opt out of receiving credit card and loan offers is to protect your identity. Identity thieves love to steal these offers to signup for credit cards in your name. It’s easy to opt-out of these offers simply head over to and fill out a form and you’re set.

MARCH 2010
Submitted by Alana Robertson Carmel Middle School parent 

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Fun Recycling Facts

Here are a number of fun and interesting recycling facts:

  • It takes 80-100 years for aluminum cans to decompose (break down) in a landfill.
  • Aluminum cans can be recycled into: soda cans, pie plates, license plates, thumbtacks, aluminum foil, and many other items.
  • Recycling one aluminum can save enough energy to power a TV for up to three hours.
  • In the year 2000, 13,500 aluminum cans were recycled every minute in California.
  • Glass takes over 1,000,000 (one million) years to decompose in a landfill.
  • Glass can be recycled into jars, jewelry, bottles, dishes, drinking glasses, coffee mugs and many other items.
  • It can take up to 700 years for plastic to decompose (break down) in a landfill.
  • PET plastic can be recycled into: clothing, fiberfill for sleeping bags, toys, stuffed animals, rulers and more.


Submitted by Margot Gibson, Carmel Middle School parent

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Top 10 Reasons to Recycle by NRC

Newsletter Heading:  Top 10 Reasons to Recycle

  1. Good For Our Economy
    American companies rely on recycling programs to provide the raw materials they need to make new products.
  2. Creates Jobs
    Recycling in the U.S. is a $236 billion a year industry. More than 56,000 recycling and reuse enterprises employ 1.1 million workers nationwide.
  3. Reduces Waste
    The average American discards seven and a half pounds of garbage every day. Most of this garbage goes into to landfills, where it’s compacted and buried.
  4. Good For The Environment
    Recycling requires far less energy, uses fewer natural resources, and keeps waste from piling up in landfills.
  5. Saves Energy
    Recycling offers significant energy savings over manufacturing with virgin materials. (Manufacturing with recycled aluminum cans uses 95% less energy.)
  6. Preserves Landfill Space
    No one wants to live next door to a landfill. Recycling preserves existing landfill space.
  7. Reduces Carbon Emissions
    In 2000, recycling of solid waste prevented the release of 32.9 million metric tons of carbon equivalent (MMTCE, the unit of measure for greenhouse gases) into the air.
  8. Reduces Water Pollution
    Making goods from recycled materials generates far less water pollution than manufacturing from virgin materials.
  9. Protects Wildlife
    Using recycled materials reduces the need to damage forests, wetlands, rivers and other places essential to wildlife.
  10. Creates New Demand
    Recycling and buying recycled products creates demand for more recycled products, decreasing waste and helping our economy.

Source: National Recycling Coalition


Submitted by Margot Gibson, Carmel Middle School parent



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Disposable Plastic Water Bottles

Newsletter Heading:  Are Disposable Plastic Water Bottles a Convenience We Can Afford?

Bottled water gets scrutinized more than all other beverages and products packaged in plastic.  However, you can’t get juice or shampoo to pour out of your tap. This is why we need to reconsider our use of disposable plastic bottles.

– Bottled water costs about 1,000-10,000 times more than tap water

– 40% of bottled water is tap water

– Bottled water is not cleaner or healthier than tap water, and its quality is regulated less

– 86% of plastic water bottles used in the U.S. are not recycled and end up in landfills

– The total estimated energy needed to make, transport, and dispose of one bottle of water is equivalent to filling the same bottle one-quarter full of oil

Do the Math:

In 2006, Americans consumed 31 billion liters of bottled water, or 62 billion half-liter bottles.  Assuming each bottle is about 20 cm high, then five water bottles would measure a meter, and 62 billion bottles would measure 12.4 billion meters or 12.4 million km.  The moon is about 384,399 km away from Earth on average.  Laid end-to-end, the water bottles used by Americans in 2006 would stretch to the moon and backover 16 times.

Source: EPA, Container Recycling Institute, American Museum of Natural History


Submitted by Margot Gibson, Carmel Middle School parent



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Free Home Energy Audits

Go Green at Home & Save

Did you know your electric company, Duke Energy, provides free home energy audits?  A qualified energy consultant will visit your home and help you identify key areas in your home that are big energy hogs!   This information can be very useful in planning your smart energy plan that will save your family money.  Duke also provides a free Energy Kit during this visit.   To schedule an audit, call “Home Energy House Call” at (877) 388-7676.

If you’re an IPL customer, don’t fret. While they don’t offer a home energy audit, you can ask to receive a free Energy Kit.  The kit includes a CFL light, low flow showerhead and aerator, and some weatherizing supplies.  To contact IPL, call (317) 261-8222.

Source: Duke Energy & IPL

August 2009
Submitted by Leslie Webb, Carmel High School parent



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Newsletter Heading:  Have you switched yet?

The cost effectiveness of this simple green tip is amazing.  We spent about $120 to replace 50 of the most used lights in our home and are saving over $230 every year.   And as electricity rates go up, so do the savings. Of course, the other green benefit to saving energy is preventing over 4,600 lbs of global warming pollution annually!

You probably already know a CFL light uses 75% less energy than an incandescent light bulb.  Though CFLs cost more at the outset, you may not realize you get your money back in less than 5 months.  According to the McKinsey Report, CFLs have a negative cost because they have such a quick payback and savings begin within the year.

If you’re not ready to switch out 50 lights like we did, try replacing your most used light to get the biggest bang for your buck.  Outdoor dusk-to-dawn lights are on 4250 hours a year and the savings quickly add up!   Invest in an outdoor CFL for about $4 and you will save $20 a year by simply switching the yard light from a 60W incandescent to an equivalent CFL which uses only 13W.  And keep the ladder in the garage.  CFLs last longer than incandescent bulbs, so they don’t have to be replaced as often.  If every household in the U.S. replaced one light bulb with a CFL, it would prevent enough pollution equal to removing one million cars from the road.



August 2009
Submitted by Leslie Webb, Carmel High School parent
Proof-read by Michelle Whited, Orchard Park parent



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Rethink Idling

When a car sits idle with its engine running, it pollutes the air. Children are among those most affected by such pollution. In fact, because children breathe faster than adults and inhale more air per pound of body weight, they are particularly affected by the poor air quality that often exists near schools when cars line up to drop off and pick up children. Children end up breathing the exhaust from idling vehicles often for extended periods of time. Air pollution can also trigger an asthma attack, an increasingly common ailment afflicting children that reduces quality of life and results in missed school. But clean air benefits more than just children with asthma. Stopping unnecessary vehicle idling is an easy way to contribute to improved air quality and respiratory health throughout our community.Not only does reducing vehicle idling make good health-sense, it can also save dollars and cents, at $3/gallon, idling just 10 minutes per day costs up to $180.00 per year. So, remember the costs as well as the health impacts the next time you contemplate letting your car run for several minutes to warm, at the school car pool, or using the drive-thru at your bank or fast-food restaurant.

AUGUST, 2009
Submitted by   Stephanie Johnson, Mohawk parent



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What to do with all those leaves?

It depends on how many you have on the ground.  But whatever you do, don’t throw them away- they contain riches for your yard!

“A light layer of leaves can simply be mowed over, thus returning the tidbits to the yard’s soil as organic matter.”  It is free fertilizer for grass and trees.

But what can you do with the thick layers and piles of them?  Rake piled leaves onto a large tarp and drag to a leaf pen made from plastic garden fencing or plastic hardware cloth secured to a few upright stakes. After each newly-added load, stomp them down and add some water.  Leave one side of the pen open until the end of the leaf season so you can rake or blow them right into the pen without lifting heavy loads of them.  When you run out of leaves, seal off the pen and let Nature run its course.  Autumn rains, winter snow and spring rains will give your leaf piles the additional water they need.

The next fall, you will find that these leaves have turned into rich organic matter.* The outer layer may look like dry leaves, but fear not.  Inside is what many call “gold” for your garden.  Work it into your soil and use it like mulch- it will help retain moisture.  Also, substitute it for peat moss in any garden project. And finally, enrich the soil in any part of your yard- flower beds and vegetable gardens alike will benefit!

[*If you want to speed up the process so that you can use the organic matter in May, start the following in March: chop (with a hoe) or turn your leaf pile, and water it occasionally. The increase in air and moisture will speed up the decomposition process.]

Sources:  The Complete Compost Gardening Guide, by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah L. Martin


Submitted by MaryEllen St.Angelo, Carmel Elementary, July 7, 2009



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How to Save Water This Summer

Newsletter Heading:  Is Your Lawn Eco-Friendly?

Did you know that the average Carmel household uses 22,000 gallons of water a month in the summer? Where does all this water go?  A lot of it goes to water your lawn.  It takes a considerable amount of energy and resources to deliver this water. So your lawn may not be as “green” as it looks.  In 2007, the City of Carmel used roughly three billion gallons of water.  The energy used to pump and treat this water produced over 26 million lbs of CO2, a greenhouse gas.

How can you have an eco-friendly lawn?  Your lawn only needs about 1” of water a week.  Buy a rain gauge, or simply use an empty tuna can, to track how much rain or irrigation your yard receives.  Adjust your lawnmower to a height of three inches or more.  Taller grass encourages deeper roots and shades the soil to reduce moisture loss.  Aerate your lawn so water will reach the roots rather than run off the surface.  Apply the minimum amount of fertilizer needed.  While fertilizers promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. Watering only when your grass really needs it encourages the roots to grow deeper, but only if you apply enough water to penetrate the root zone. Water your lawn in the morning between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m. when the air is still cool and the wind is calm. Overwatering your lawn isn’t just bad for your pocketbook and the planet, it’s also bad for your lawn’s health and can contribute to the development of fungus and disease.  And by all means, avoid watering the street and sidewalk!


City of Carmel Utilities, 571-2673

JUNE 2009
Submitted by Leslie Webb, CHS parent
Proof-read by Michelle Whited, Orchard Park parent



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Waste Free Lunches

Did you know that a child taking a disposable lunch to school creates an average of 67 pounds of lunch waste annually?    Are you interested in ways to make your child’s lunch waste-free?

  1. Start with a reusable lunchbox, backpack, or brief case.  Avoid disposable plastic and paper bags.
  2. Pack your food in reusable containers.  Avoid plastic bags, plastic wrap, aluminum foil, and prepackaged foods whenever possible.
  3. Include a drink in a refillable bottle.  Avoid single-use juice boxes, drink bottles, cans, and pouches whenever you can.
  4. Use reusable utensils instead of disposable utensils.
  5. Use a cloth napkin instead of paper napkins.



May 2009
Submitted by Kunda Magenau, Clay Middle parent
poof-read by Wendy DeLuca, CHS parent



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Paper or Plastic?

Why it’s better to bring your own bag 

How about neither?  When you consider the energy, oil, trees, water and chemicals used to manufacture or recycle paper and plastic bags, and the pollution created. it’s better to BYOB.  14 plastic bags contain enough petroleum to drive a car one mile. Over 500 billion plastic bags are consumed worldwide each year.   Only 1% is recycled because it is 125 times more costly to recycle than it is to make a new one.

Paper is not a better alternative.  Manufacturing a paper bag takes more than four times the energy of manufacturing a plastic bag.   In 1999, 14 million trees were cut to produce the 10 billion paper grocery bags used by Americans that year alone.   Paper sacks generate 70% more air pollutants and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.

Sometimes, it’s the small things that can really make a difference.   Bring your own reusable bag and save almost 288 bags a year!  That’s 22,176 bags in an average lifetime.


Slideshow : The Dangers of Plastic Bags Slideshow


APRIL 2009
Submitted by Leslie Webb, CHS parent
Proof-read by Mary Roth, Orchard Park parent



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Where can I recycle ?

*Remove lids from plastic bottles before recycling! 

Abitibi paper recycling bins at Carmel Clay schools: Schools earn money from the paper collected & the paper is recycled into newsprint. (

ACCEPTED:  newspapers, junk mail, catalogs, magazines, office paper, fax paper, school paper, notebooks, folders, small quantities of “strip” shredded paper put into plastic bags;   Staples are OK, as are envelopes with clear plastic windows.

NOT ACCEPTED: cardboard, phone books, glass, metal, plastic, trash, cross-cut and diamond-cut shredded paper (they accept ‘spaghetti’ but not ‘confetti’)

Corrugated cardboard, paperboard (cereal/pop cartons…*no egg cartons), phone books, newspapers, white office paper & aluminum cans:  behind Prime Life Enrichment Center, 1078 SW 3rd Ave., next to Carmel Ice Skadium

#5 plastics & Brita® pitcher filters:  Whole Foods Market, (Clay Terrace, Nora)

Plastic bags (#2 & #4):  WalMart, Kroger, Lowe’s, Meijer

Packing peanuts, bubble wrap & Styrofoam may be accepted at some local mail/shipping/UPS stores

Batteries: Batteries Plus -1701 E. 116th St,. accepts all batteries, including rechargeable batteries from dustbusters.  Lowe’s & Home Depot accept (nickel-cadmium) batteries from rechargeable portable power tools & hand held vacuums.  All batteries should be disposed of at a proper site.

Fluorescent light bulbs (tube & compact) must be recycled as they contain small amounts of mercury:  Lowe’s, Home Depot, Carmel Hazardous Waste Center

Electronic Devices: Hamilton County Household Hazardous Waste Center (see for many items accepted)

Carmel Household Hazardous Waste & Recycling Site: 901 N. Rangeline Road: aluminum cans, metal cans & jar lids, #1 & #2 plastics, cardboard & paperboard, glass jars & bottles, newspapers, magazines, phone books, office & school papers, catalogs.  For hazardous items accepted, see

Residential Curbside Recycling usually accept #1 & #2 plastics, newspapers, aluminum & metal cans, glass jars and bottles (call for specifics)

Wendy DeLuca, Parent at Clay Middle School, Carmel High School



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Posted in Green Tips

Green Ideas

The success of the CCS Green Team comes from the collaboration of many individuals working together to create best practices for our school district. Listed below are some of the practices that have been implemented. Please browse the list and see what Carmel Clay Schools are doing and how they do it. Feel free to send us any ideas you may have. Working together we can achieve so much!