Tuesday, September 30, 2008

10 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable This Fall

Last night, I made my first chicken pot pie of the season. It was good. I made a side of scalloped apples. I love taking the edges of the pot pie crust and dipping them in the apples. It's like dessert in the middle of dinner. And it all smells so good.

I'm always glad when fall is finally officially here. The few weeks between labor day and the start of fall are orphan weeks. They belong to no season. It's technically still summer, but the pool is closed and the kids are back in school so it's not really summer. It's not quite cool out enough to bake a pot pie or a lasagna, but I'm over grilling every night. 

So I was happy tonight when I warmed the oven and made a pot pie (and later made oatmeal raisin cookies just because). 

In honor of fall, here are ten ways you can make it a more sustainable season.
  1. When it starts to get chilly, throw on a sweater or sweatshirt instead of turning on the heat at your first shiver. See how long you can go before you turn on the thermostat.
  2. Plant some organic bulbs.
  3. Buy a bunch of apples from a local grower and make applesauce or a pie (or applesauce and a pie).
  4. Order a free range turkey for Thanksgiving from a local farmer.
  5. Keep visiting the farmer's market until it closes for the season. On the last day of the season buy as much as you can afford and store without it going bad. Let them know you want them to come back next year.
  6. Turn your fallen leaves into mulch for your garden beds or put them in the compost.
  7. Shop at a second hand store when you realize that your kids need new coats because last year's coats are, of course, too small. Donate those too small coats so they get reused.
  8. Organize a Halloween costume swap.
  9. Give fair trade or organic candy for Halloween.
  10. Pick pumpkins from a local farm instead of buying ones that have been shipped really far to your grocery store.
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Monday, September 29, 2008

It's Time for October's Mini Eco-Challenge

September has been a long month. It seems  like much more than just a few weeks ago that we had our waste less food challenge. But the end is in sight, and it's time to get ready for next month's mini eco-challenge.

Since October is going to be Green Saves Green month around here, the month's challenges will have not only benefit the environment, they will benefit your pocketbook, too.

If you're new around here, let me explain a little about mini eco-challenges. If you're familiar with them go ahead and jump down to the challenges. 

About Mini Eco-Challenges

Many blogs give month long environmental challenges, and they are great. But they can be overwhelming to those who are just starting out trying to be green or just not possible for a person's individual situation. So I devised week long mini eco-challenges that last only one week. They usually run the first week of each month, and most of the time there is more than one to choose from. You can choose one or all of them. 

My goal here is to help people realize that some of these things that may seem overwhelming are doable. I know it is much easier for people to make a one week commitment than a month long commitment. But what I've found is that many people who have taken some of the challenges have ended up implementing them permanently because they discovered that it was easy to do so. 

So, if you're hesitant to take one of these challenges, remember this - you only have to choose one, it's only for one week, and we're very non-judgmental around here. If you don't do the challenge perfectly, no one will give you a hard time. 

Now, On to October's Mini Eco-Challenges

1. Eat six meatless meals this week - two of them must be dinners. Why is this green? The production and distribution of meat uses a lot of resources and creates a lot of waste and green house gasses. Why does this save money? Meat is really expensive. Pasta is not.

2. Don't allow your car to idle. Why is this green? Idling wastes gas and creates pollution. Why does this save money? You'll use less gas which costs a whole heck of a lot of money.

3. Cancel all (or most of) your catalogs at Catalogchoice.org. Why is this green? Over 3.5 million tons of paper are used in the U.S. for catalogs and about 95% of it is virgin paper. Why does this save money? If you don't know about the absolutely fabulous, will make your life perfect, brown suede boots in the catalog, you can't buy them, can you?

4. Hang dry  your laundry for the week. Why is this green? The average dryer puts out 5 pounds of green houses gasses each time it is used. It also uses energy to run. Why does this save money? You'll use less gas and/or electricity so your bill will be lower.

5. Wear the same pair of pants at least three days in a row. Why is this green? You'll do less laundry and save some water and detergent. It will also make the pants last longer since laundering clothes weakens the fibers. Why does this save money? The less your washing machine is run, the more money you'll save. The more slowly your clothes wear out, the less frequently you'll have to buy new clothes.

These are five very simple challenges that shouldn't interrupt your life at all, but will make a small dent in the environmental problem. Every little bit is good. I'll take challenges #1 and #5 - I'm already doing the other three and have been working on #1 with varying degrees of success.

How about you? Will accept a mini eco-challenge this week. Let me know which one in the comments below.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

Basement Decorated with $10 worth of Sharpies

This has nothing to do with being green, but it is so cool. A man decorated the walls of his basement with black sharpie and it's incredible. There's a 360 degree video of it all.

From the Kentucky Herald Leader
When Charlie Kratzer started on the basement art project in his south Lexington home, he was surrounded by walls painted a classic cream. Ten dollars of Magic Marker and Sharpie later, the place was black and cream and drawn all over.

There are fictional detectives Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, Winston Churchill lounging with George Bernard Shaw — and the TV squirrel Rocky and his less adroit moose pal Bullwinkle.

Says Kratzer of his cartoon of a cartoon: "You appreciate the cleverness more as an adult."
Read the rest of the story, here.
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A Little Greener Every Day Turns One!

Happy One Year Anniversary to A Little Greener Every Day! It's been exactly one year since I first posted on this blog. I had no idea what I was doing. But here it is, a year later, and I've got readers and new friends and not only do I write this blog, but I've been hired to write about green other places because of this blog.

I really appreciate all of you who read A Little Greener Every Day regularly and take the time to comment.

I don't have any big plans for the upcoming year or anything like that. I'm going to continue to post. I'm going to continue to try to be a little greener each day and let you know what I learn. I hope you all will stick around.

One of my very first posts on this blog was Read a Banned Book. The American Library Association dedicates the last week in September (starts tomorrow) to bringing to light the problem of banning books. I'll be wearing my "I Read Banned Books" button all week. I'll also be reading my favorite banned book of all time
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle.

I wrote a piece yesterday for Sustainablog about the importance of making sure our freedom of speech is protected from those who want to ban books. Believe it or not, someone wanted to ban the Lorax back in the late 1980's. You can check out the post Ban Dr. Seuss' The Lorax? for more info.

I encourage you to read a banned book next week, too.
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

In Keeping with the Veggie Curious from Yesterday: The Vegetarian 100

Yesterday at Eat.Drink.Better, one of my fellow writers, Kelli, asked Have You Had the Vegetarian 100? According to Kelli it's a list of 
100 different food items that foodies of that persuasion should have tried, and bloggers identify which items they’ve actually tried, then add up their score. It’s an interesting way to examine just how adventurous your palate is and where you stand in relation to other food enthusiasts.
I've identified the ones I've tried by bolding them. My score is pretty sad. 38%. But I'm going to make it a point to try at least ten more of these items over the fall and winter. There is also an omnivore 100, and a vegan 100. I'll have to hunt them down and post them here with my results, too. I'm sure my omnivore score will be much higher and my vegan score will be really low. 

Take a look at the list and let me know in the comments what your score is.

1. Real macaroni and cheese, made from scratch and baked
2. Tabouleh
3. Freshly baked bread, straight from the oven (preferably with homemade strawberry jam)
4. Fresh figs
5. Fresh pomegranate

6. Indian dal of any sort
7. Imam bayildi
8. Pressed spiced Chinese tofu
9. Freshly made hummus
10. Tahini
11. Kimchi
12. Miso
13. Falafel
14. Potato and pea filled samosas
15. Homemade yogurt
16. Muhammara
17. Brie en croute
18. Spanikopita
19. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes
20. Insalata caprese
21. Stir-fried greens (gai lan, bok choi, pea shoots, kale, chard or collards)
22. Freshly made salsa
23. Freshly made guacamole
24. Creme brulee
25. Fava beans
26. Chinese cold sesame peanut noodles
27. Fattoush
28. New potatoes
29. Coleslaw
30. Ratatouille
31. Baba ganoush
32. Winter squash
33. Roasted beets
34. Baked sweet potatoes
35. Plantains
36. Chocolate truffles
37. Garlic mashed potatoes
38. Fresh water chestnuts
39. Steel cut oats
40. Quinoa
41. Grilled portabello mushrooms
42. Chipotle en adobo
43. Stone ground whole grain cornmeal
44. Freshly made corn or wheat tortillas
45. Frittata
46. Basil pesto
47. Roasted garlic
48. Raita of any type
49. Mango lassi
50. Jasmine rice (white or brown)
51. Thai vegetarian coconut milk curry
52. Pumpkin in any form other than pie
53. Fresh apple pear or plum gallette
54. Quince in any form
55. Escarole, endive or arugula
56. Sprouts other than mung bean
57. Naturally brewed soy sauce
58. Dried shiitake mushrooms
59. Unusually colored vegetables (purple cauliflower, blue potatoes, chocolate bell peppers…)
60. Fresh peach ice cream
61. Chevre
62. Medjool dates
63. Kheer
64. Flourless chocolate cake
65. Grilled corn on the cob
66. Black bean (or any other bean) vegetarian chili
67. Tempeh
68. Seitan or wheat gluten
69. Gorgonzola or any other blue veined cheese
70. Sweet potato fries
71. Homemade au gratin potatoes
72. Cream of asparagus soup
73. Artichoke-Parmesan dip
74. Mushroom risotto

75. Fermented black beans
76. Garlic scapes
77. Fresh new baby peas
78. Kalamata olives
79. Preserved lemons
80. Fried green tomatoes
81. Chinese scallion pancakes
82. Cheese souffle
83. Fried apples
84. Homemade frijoles refritos
85. Pasta fagiole
86. Macadamia nuts in any form
87. Paw paw in any form
88. Grilled cheese sandwich of any kind
89. Paneer cheese
90. Ma Po Tofu (vegetarian style–no pork!)
91. Fresh pasta in any form
92. Grilled leeks, scallions or ramps
93. Green papaya salad
94. Baked grain and vegetable stuffed tomatoes
95. Pickled ginger
96. Methi greens
97. Aloo paratha
98. Kedgeree (the original Indian version without the smoked fish, not the British version with fish)
99. Okra
100. Roasted brussels sprouts

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Green Term of the Week - Veggie Curious

Yesterday, I wrote a post about 5 Green Podcasts that are Entertaining as Well as Educational on Sustainablog and one of the comments pointed me to a podcast for the veggie curious. I had never heard that term before, so of course, I had to google it to see if it was an actual thing. And it is.

If you're veggie curious, you're a carnivore (or I suppose technically, an omnivore) who is interested in what being a vegetarian or a vegan is all about. 

I suppose I could be labeled veggie curious. I'm going meatless with my dinners two nights a week. I've also had several discussions lately about several passages in the book of Genesis that might point to the fact that we were all created to be vegetarians from the get-go. But that's another post.

So how about you. Have you found yourself being veggie curious lately? Made any good meatless meals for your carnivorous families that have been well received? I'd love to hear about them.

More reading for the veggie curious

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

10 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable with Your Linens

Table cloths. Dish towels. Bath towels. Cloth napkins. Bed sheets. These are all commonly known as linens although very few of them are actually made of linen. According to Wikipedia* 

The collective term linens is still often used generically to describe a class of woven and even knitted bed, bath, table and kitchen textiles. The name linens is retained because traditionally, linen was used for many of these items.

We have entire closets dedicated for holding our linens (or in the case of my small house, two very crammed shelves in the only hall closet in the house). There are stores devoted to selling linens. If you've got linens, and chances are you do, here are ten easy ways to be sustainable with them.
  1. Shop for used. Now, I don't think I'd like to buy used bed sheets or bath towels, but I have bought many used table cloths at yard sales. Sometimes, the most beautiful ones are found at yard sales and second hand or antique stores.
  2. What you don't buy used, buy made form organic cotton, hemp or bamboo. Our bed sheets are organic cotton, and they were very reasonably priced from Target. I think our queen set (flat sheet, fitted sheet and two pillow cases were $50).
  3. Don't buy more than you need. Do you really need more than two sets of sheets for each bed in the house? Some people might say you only need one if you can be diligent enough to wash and put them back on the bed the same day. 
  4. Wash all your linens in cold water. A lot of the energy used in washing clothes is for the hot water. 
  5. Hang dry your linens. They come out crisp and smelling great, and you won't put the 5 pounds of green house gasses in the air that you would have if your ran them through the dryer. They will also last longer.
  6. Use them wrinkled. What a better excuse not to iron than, "I just don't want to use the electricity that the iron uses."
  7. Try natural stain removers like lemon juice and water, then a good soak in the sun, before using stain removers with harsh chemicals.
  8. Hang your bath towels up carefully after each use so they don't have to be washed that often. Towels that quickly air dry avoid getting that funky smell.
  9. Borrow. If you're having a party, think about borrowing some linens that a friend might have - a tablecloth or extra cloth napkins -instead of going out and buying something new. If you're having a huge party, consider renting them from a party supplier.
  10. When your linens come to the end of their life, give them a new one as rags.
* I don't hold much stock in Wikipedia's general accuracy, but I don't see the harm in using them for this type of topic.

Image courtesy of flickr
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Monday, September 22, 2008

Fair Trade Halloween Treats

Okay, off the topic here, but you all know I gave up diet coke in the beginning of July. I am so dying to run out and buy a two liter right now. Why? 

Okay, on topic. It's the first day of fall. Thoughts are turning to Halloween. I read about a program from Global Exchange called Reverse Trick-or-Treat. They are offering 20-25 pieces of Fair Trade Halloween Candy for free ($4.95 shipping and handling) that comes with literature for kids to hand out while they are trick-or-treating. It's a way to spread the word about Fair Trade products.

This has got me thinking about the treats that I will hand out. They should be Fair Trade Certified, too, shouldn't they? One of the conditions for fair trade certification is that no abusive child labor be used to create the product. Many cocoa farms in other countries use young children to pick the beans in pesticide laden fields. By choosing mainstream Halloween candy, there's a good chance I'd be supporting this just so that the kids in my neighborhood who will never have to worry about working at this age can make themselves sick on Halloween candy. It's just not right. 

Have you ever thought of this. Honestly, I never had until yesterday when I read about the Reverse Trick-or-Treat program. You can read a little more about the program on my Eat.Drink.Better post Fair Trade Halloween Candy: Kids Can Educate Their Neighbor with Reverse Trick-or-Treat.

There is still so much to learn, so many habits to change, on this green journey we are on.
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Would You Do Something for Me? Read this article about Green on a Budget

Well, I'm gearing up for Green Saves Green month in October (haven't had any takers for a blog carnival so it may just be Allison from Its the Little Thinks and me writing about the topic during the month). But I thought I'd start a week early. And, maybe win $100 in the mix.

There's a blog called Mombotv.com that is giving away $100 to a mom blogger (I'm a mom. I'm a blogger.) who sends the most traffic their way this week. They have an article on 

If you click on the article above, you could learn something about green saving green, and perhaps I could win the contest.

Thanks, friends.
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Friday, September 19, 2008

Who Wants to Join "Green Saves Green" Blogging Carnival In October

On Wednesday, Allison from It's The Little Thinks blogged about how she was scared for green U.S.A. 

A quote from her post:
I feel that some of the green ways that were adopted by many people this summer and years past because they could afford organic chicken will be placed aside to be able to buy regular hormonal chicken at a cheaper price. Among other things. Green will take a step back until the market sees sunshine again. And it will bounce back. But what will become of the small solar business that just started out? Or the organic farmer who nobody buys from because his food costs more thus he defaults on his loans?
Okay, let's forget for a minute that she talks about "regular hormonal chicken." She was on a rant. 

I responded to her discouragement with my best "cheer up little buckaroo" retort and suggested that perhaps we take action (because doing something always makes things seem less drastic) by making October "Green Saves Green" month in our corner of the blogosphere.

Now, I've never been a part of a blogging carnival, let alone organized one, but I'm going to be looking into how one works over the next few days. And if I think it may be something doable, I'd like to do a "Green Saves Green" blog carnival. For the month, participants would be blogging about the ways that being green can save some money.

If you regularly blog about green and think you might like to be a part of this, if it happens, leave a comment below and make sure there is way to contact you.
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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Things That Bug Me

I've got another busy day here, but I'll try to get in a real post a little later. Until then I just need to rant about something that bugs me.

I get mail from companies and sometimes on the envelope there is a little recycling symbol and the words "please recycle." Yet, there is no indication on the envelope that it is made from recycled materials. So, these companies want me to do the right thing by recycling but they can't do the right thing by buying post-consumer content paper. 

It bugs me.

And, speaking of bugs, if you're curious about the mating rituals of insects (especially when the insect is played by Isabella Rossellini in a bug suit), check out a post I wrote Isabella Rossellini Makes Porno - Available Online. It's not nearly as seedy as it sounds.
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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Follow Me

I've got a couple posts up on the Green Options Sites that might interest you.

A Tax on Plastic Utensils? How Would You React?

Meatless Meal Recipes for the Non-Vegetarian: 17 Bean and Barley Soup Mix from Trader Joe's

Book Review: David Suzuki's Green Guide - A Resource Chock Full of Ideas

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Green Term of the Week - Eco-Therapy

Okay, I don't know whether to laugh at this one or take it seriously. There is now a type of therapy known as eco-therapy that will help those who feel anxiety over their carbon footprints and the fate of the world. It's a form of eco-psychiatry. Yes, there is an actual school of psychology known as eco-psychiatry.

Any of you who read this blog regularly know that I'm pretty laid back. I don't believe in beating yourself up over your "eco-sins." Frankly, I don't believe in beating yourself up over any sins. I have a strong belief in grace and forgiveness and making a choice to do things differently the next time.

Yet I must confess (why is there so much religion jargon here?) that I have had a few mini panic attacks checking out at the grocery store. Not just pangs of guilt when I see the plastic containers my organic milk comes in or the little plastic baggies that my bulk organic oatmeal is wrapped in, but actual dizziness and heart palpitations. Where did that come from?

So this week's term is eco-therapy. It's out there if you need it. But sometimes ice cream is a good form of therapy, too. Just sayin'.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

10 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable with Books

I am a bibliophile. Always have been. I love reading, but I also love books in and of themselves. They are a beautiful thing. I really can't see myself reading digital books. You can't curl up with a Kindle. You can't write its margins or risk dropping it in the bathtub on one of the rare occasions you have a long afternoon bath.

But I've had to curb my book habit a bit and change it in ways. According to eco-libris "about 20 million trees are cut down annually for virgin paper to be used for the production of books sold in the U.S. alone." That's a lot of trees. It makes me think twice now before buying a book on the Barnes and Noble sale table just because I can. If you've got a serious book habit like me, here are ten ways to be more sustainable with it.
  1. Use the library often - especially for books that you're just interested in reading once. If you have kids, take them with you and let them pick out their own books.
  2. Buy used books. Unless the book has just been published, there are many places you can get used books easily - eBay, Amazon, Barnes and Noble's website, Alibris, and other online sites have used books.
  3. Borrow books from your friends and lend them yours.
  4. Have a book swap with friends - do it for both adult books and kids books. A book swap is when you give your books up but you get ones in return.
  5. Try swaptree.com for swapping books. Swaptree is an online services that matches up the books you want to give away with the books (or DVD's or video games) you want.
  6. Take advantage of library books sales. Many libraries purge once a year and accept donations from the public. Then they have a sale (my local library sells hardbacks for $2 and paperbacks for $1).
  7. Purge your own library from time to time. If you've got books that are just sitting collecting dust that you will never read again, let someone who wants to read them have them. You can donate them to libraries before their books sales, senior citizen centers, the Good Will and other places.
  8. Contact book publishers and let them know that you would like them to start using recycled paper when printing books.
  9. Plant a tree for each book you read to help balance out the paper consumption your book habit causes. 
  10. Read the eco-libris blog. They have a lot of good information about books and being sustainable with them.
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Remember - Paper Has Two Sides, Use Them Both

A week and a half of school has gone by and already the paper is piling up. My kids are coming home with all sorts of papers that are used on only one side (and both kids came home with a thick student handbook. Isn't there some way, in a school of about 350 kids, they can figure out how to send only one per family?)

I figure now is a good time to remind everyone to not throw their papers into the recycling bin until both sides have been used. Here are ideas for reusing paper. I'm sure I'm repeating myself from a past post, but it bears repeating.
  • Use it in your printer. So many many announcements come home from school on nice printer/copier paper with only one side used. Flip it over and use it in your printer when you need to print out something that doesn't need to be professional. Things like recipes, articles you'd like to read, something you wrote that needs to be proofread don't need pristine paper. 
  • Cut it into fourths and make note paper to write phone messages or other notes on.
  • Write your grocery lists on it.
  • Send hand written notes to your kids' teachers on it.
  • Draw on it.
  • Paint on it.
Once both sides of the paper have been used, and you're done with it, then put it in the recycling bin.

In addition to papers that come home from school, be mindful of papers you get in the mail, papers that come from your church or other community type groups, and paper from when you're purging your filing cabinet. If the papers from the filing cabinet don't have sensitive information on them (which you should then shred before recycling), you can use the other side before recycling.

What other sources of paper or ideas for reusing the blank side of paper can you think of?

Off topic question. How many of you know it's "bears repeating" instead of "bares repeating?" I had to look that one up!
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Friday, September 12, 2008

I Get Many Crazy Ideas and I Can't Think of One When I Really Need It!

I'd like to win $25,000. How about you? The X PRIZE Foundation is teaming up with YouTube to offer $25,000 in the "What's Your Crazy Green Idea?" Video Contest. See my post at Sustainablog, Got a Crazy Green Idea and a Video Camera? You Could Win $25,000

I've got a video camera if you've got an idea. I'll split the prize with you!
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Who Else Fights the Urge to Buy?

Yesterday, I wrote about the new 4th generation iPod Nano in Apple Reveals "Cleaner" iPod, Removes Toxins and Reduces Packaging. In iPod years, my Nano is ancient - it doesn't even show video. But I've resisted the urge to buy a new one because the one I have is still perfectly sufficient.

It's perfectly sufficient. Wow. Makes you want one just like mine, doesn't it. It's not cool. It's not hip. It's not modern or up to date. It's simply perfectly sufficient.

It's hard to resist the urge to buy something new - to upgrade an older model of something you have that is perfectly sufficient. I spent the summer being, in my own terms, "decidedly nonconsumerist." I didn't buy new clothes for my anniversary trip to Ireland. I didn't buy a new bathing suit or new beach towels. When I spilled sunscreen in my pool bag and couldn't get the smell out, I sucked it up. I plan on using the bag next year, too.

But now the kids are in school. I'm working from home and I have a little free time and I feel the stores calling me, taunting me. 

"We miss you, Robin." 
"Are you really going to wear that same shirt AGAIN? Your husband is going to get sick of looking at you in it."
"Your friend's wedding is next weekend. No one would blame you for getting something new."
"The new iPods are greener. You're all about greener. It's okay. Get one."

Welcome to the world inside my head.

I'm not saying I'm never going to buy anything ever again. In fact, I'm thinking of heading to some thrift stores next week and seeing if I can pick up something to wear for my friend's wedding. But if I don't find anything in the thrift stores, will I be able to be content with something that is already in my closet or will I give in to the voices in my head.

How do you resist the urge to buy something when you already have something that is perfectly sufficient? Really. I want to know. I'm looking for some brilliant advice here!
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Do You Twitter?

I'm trying to build my own Twitter community. It's part of an experiment in social networking I'm working on. If you are on twitter and you'd like to follow me, click here.

What is Twitter? It's a social networking site where you can put up short blurbs about what you are doing at the moment. You can see what's on the mind of everyone in your community. 
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Summer's Green Wrap Up

There's no denying it any longer - summer is done. 

There might be a few hot days left, but there are brown leaves on the ground, school's been in session over a week now, and tonight was downright chilly at my son's soccer practice. Wish I had a sweatshirt with me type chilly.

Time to reflect. This was my first "green" summer. Last summer I had made a few changes. I was contemplating making more and considering starting one of those blog things I had heard so much about. I thought I could blog about the things I learned while trying to go green. 

Not only did I start this blog late last fall, but I'm also now writing for Green Option Media for a couple of their environmental blogs. I started doing that this summer. What else did I 
do this summer to further my greenness? 

  • I, along with my family, planted and took care of a garden that as we speak is producing tomatoes in quantities I never imagined.
  • We successfully grew radishes, basil, oregano, parsley, green peppers and four types of tomatoes. 
  • I have worked my way down to only drying one load of laundry a week (socks and towels combined). The rest gets hung out to dry.
  • I started taking navy showers (not every time, but more frequently)
  • I cooked several local meals.
  • I made it to the farmer's market every week unless we were away. 
  • I rode my bike more this summer than I probably have in total in the many years I've had it.
  • We raised our thermostat 4 degrees higher than we've had in previous summers.
  • I threw a big birthday party for my husband and when it was done there was only 1/3 garbage can full of trash and the recycling bucket was only about half full. A huge improvement on past parties.
  • I didn't buy any new items before going on vacation. 
I'm sure there's more. It feels good to know that this summer I stepped up my environmental actions. I still believe that going green by being A Little Greener Every Day is the way to do it. All of the little steps I've taken over the past year have yielded some good results this summer.

What did you do this summer that made you a little greener?

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Green Term of the Week - No Child Left Inside

This week's green term really isn't a green term - it's a legislative bill that our representatives will be voting on this week.

I'm going to point you to one of my colleagues over at Green Options who wrote about this today. Please follow the link and read her post - she has links to the No Child Left Inside website that allows you to very easily send an e-mail to your state representative urging him or her to vote for this bill or send a thank you note if your representative is already endorsing it. It will take you less than two minutes to send the e-mail. I've already done it.

As The US House of Representatives votes on No Child Left Inside this week, this is your last chance to let your legislator know you want MORE funding for training teachers in outdoor education, MORE funding to expand environmental education programs and MORE programs to ensure that US graduates are environmentally literate.

Read the rest of Last Chance for No Child Left Behind at Eco Childs Play
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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Are You a Carnivorous Family?

We are a carnivorous family, but the impact of meat eating humans on the environment can be really damaging. I discuss how to lessen your carnivorous family's impact today on Eat.Drink.Better with Five Ways to Cut Back on a Carnivorous Family's Impact. Stumble Upon Toolbar

10 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable With Your Leftover Food

How are you all doing with your waste less food mini eco-challenge? The other night I took a bunch of vegetables in the fridge that would usually be destined for the garbage disposal (I REALLY need to start composting!), chopped them up, threw a little olive oil in the pan, went out back and picked some parsley to add in and sauted them together with a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper. I ate three servings - it was so good and had enough left to reheat for last night's dinner.

I've been keeping a list of what has gotten thrown out (wish my oldest would eat his crusts - the list would be much shorter). 

In keeping with wasting less food - this week's 10 Easy Ways... is how to be more sustainable with your leftover food. Being more sustainable with leftovers basically means not wasting them. 
  1. Put a container in your freezer to make leftover soup. Throw the odds and ends of vegetables, pastas, rice, beans and other things you might put in a soup. When you've got a substantial amount - make a one of a kind soup by adding some organic chicken or vegetable broth and some seasonings. You'll end up with something interesting.
  2. If you've got a small amount of leftover vegetables from two or three nights in a row - say peas from Monday, zucchini from Tuesday, and corn from Wednesday, on Thursday heat them up and let everyone choose which one they want with their dinner.
  3. Leftover white rice from Chinese food? Here are Five Ideas for Using Up Leftover, Cooked White Rice.
  4. Keep a bread bag in your freezer to put the ends of loaves of bread. When you need fresh bread crumbs, defrost a few slices and use your food processor to make the bread crumbs. 
  5. When bananas get too brown to eat, put them in the freezer. Find a good banana bread recipe and when you've got enough for the recipe, defrost and make banana bread. The bananas will look thoroughly disgusting once your defrost them, but they'll make great bread. 
  6. Let the kids eat leftover mac and cheese or other pastas for breakfast if they want. This drives my husband crazy for some reason, but my kids love it.
  7. Share - especially after a party, you might have a large amount of something leftover. Send it home with party guests or give a whole meals worth to a neighbor.
  8. Freeze small portions of leftover meat for nights when not everyone is going to be home. I use these small portions for nights I know my husband won't be home. I'll defrost the meat and split it up between the boys and me - none of us are big meat eaters. I'll add some pasta and vegetables and we're all happy, and I didn't have to cook a main dish.
  9. Refrain from cooking something new until something still edible is used up. This morning my son asked me to please make granola bars. I told him that we still had plenty of zucchini bread and until it was gone, I wouldn't be making granola bars. I know if I made the bars, the bread would probably be forgotten. We're become accustomed to having a huge variety of food to choose from, but if we're going to try to eat more sustainably, we're going to have to get used to eating things until they get eaten up. 
  10. Get off your butt and start a compost pile already (I'm talking to myself here). That way some food that doesn't get eaten can go back to nourish the earth to grow more food.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

I Took Public Transportation to GreenFest Philly

I attended GreenFest Philly yesterday and my first post about it is up at Sustainablog. Six Benefits of Taking Public Transportation that Aren't Environmental relays what I discovered as a semi-reluctant public transit rider. 

I'll have lots more about the festival here, and on Sustainablog and Eat.Drink.Better so keep an eye out.
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