Housewarming presents can also help our planet
Giving a housewarming present? It can be a gift for your friends and the planet at the same time.
If you usually get cut flowers, try a potted plant instead. They will last years instead of days and are usually grown in local nurseries.
Mushroom-growing kits or herb gardens are items the new homeowners can watch grow and use in recipes. Present packets of various seeds tied up in a ribbon or in small growing pots. Cute but useful food composting containers for the kitchen make an ideal gift.
Creating a green cleaning kit as a housewarming present is useful and unique. Make it super easy for the recipients by packing up everything you need including white vinegar for all-purpose cleaning, baking soda for non-abrasive scrubbing, borax for fighting mold, or plant-based cleaners off store shelves. Add in some reusable cloths or eco-friendly paper towel alternatives.
If you want to go a more traditional route, you can still choose safer and eco-friendly options. Soy candles are a much safer alternative to petroleum-based ones. A local wine is a better choice than a bottle from across the globe. And, a traditional gift basket with foods can be created with local and organic goodies of all kinds.
— Terri Bennett
Hints from Heloise:
Wet-erase marker helps with gift card balance
A reader writes via email: In response to a hint in your column about marking the balance on your gift card with a permanent marker:
Since I buy lots of gift cards at my grocery store to use for everyday purchases (I get great fuel perks by doing this), I may end up using one several times before it is used up. I keep track of the balance with a wet-erase marker that I keep in my car. I update the balance by wiping it clean with a baby towelette and printing the new balance as soon as I get back to the car.
— King Features
Survey finds Americans are a bit too plugged-in
Americans are so attached to their cellphones that 29 percent of owners say they couldn’t imagine living without them, according to a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life project.
Among smartphone owners — nearly half of American adults — the dependence is even greater, with 36 percent viewing the gadgets as key to their existence.
But they also worry about being a bit too plugged-in.
“They appreciate what [phones] can do in helping them navigate their daily lives,” said Aaron Smith, a Pew researcher. “But they also bring a certain amount of stress and anxiety.”
About a quarter of those surveyed said they dislike being reachable at all times, and 39 percent said they’ve heard complaints from others when they don’t immediately respond to calls and text messages.
Maybe that’s why 67 percent of adults surveyed said they check for messages or calls even when their phones aren’t ringing or vibrating.
Forty-four percent said they had slept with the cellphone next to the bed to avoid missing calls, texts or late-night updates.
— Katie Humphrey
Minneapolis Star Tribune