Friday, May 29, 2009
I found a fabulous post today on The Greenest Dollar on How to reuse and recycle ziplocs. There are ideas for washing and drying them, labeling them so there is no cross contamination, and tips for figuring out how to recycle them when they have outlived their usefulness. Hop on over to the website and read the piece. It's helpful.
My youngest is in a production of The Wizard of Oz this weekend (he's a munchkin and a flying monkey and a flower) - they are putting on three performances, plus his 7th birthday is tomorrow, and my oldest still has baseball, so I'm running around like a mad woman today so there's no original post.
Have a fabulous weekend.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Someone has come up with a brilliant idea - The Shred Stop. It's a machine that will be put in grocery stores that will shred your papers (even the ones with staples in them!), credit cards, disks, and more for $2/minute. I just read about this on the Ecopreneurist blog, and I thought, what a brilliant idea!
Think about it. Most of us let the "to be shredded pile" pile up for months to the point where it takes a couple of hours to do it all. Then you've got to dump the trashcans full of shredded paper into some other throw away container. That's always a huge hassle and mess. You've got to make sure it gets recycled, too.
OR for $2/minute (it's supposed to take 6 minutes to shred an entire file box full of papers), you can have it done quickly and someone else deals with the mess and the recycling. Yes, the paper materials in the Shred Stop get recycled.
Some people might not want to spend the money on something they could do for themselves for free, but I think this would be well worth my money because it would save me time and aggravation.
Right now, there is one Shred Stop being tested in Washington State, but according to their website, they hope to expand rapidly. You can put your zip code in here to let them know you are interested in having one in your area. If you live near me, please go there and put your zip code in even if you're not that interested because I want one. Come on, think of all that I do for you ; )
Image: Ecopreneurist.com (which I'm sure was originally from the Shred Stop site!)
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
What's so great about picking your own fruits and vegetables from a nearby farm. I'll tell ya.
- It's cheaper. Way cheaper. I can get pounds of strawberries for about half the price of going into the little market right on the farm and buying them already picked.
- Zero waste. You can take your own containers to pick in. My kids take beach buckets.
- You get the freshest, best tasting produce. You can pick food that is perfectly ripe and eat it that day.
- It's educational. You and your kids (if you have them) can learn things (see my post last year on Lessons Learned in the Strawberry Patch)
- You'll support small farmers. It's not the big, agribusiness farms that invite locals to come pick. It's the small, family owned farms. They need our support.
- It's fun.
- It's good exercise.
- You can take awesome photos of your family and friends while picking. Really, every year, I get the best pictures. I'm really tempted to post one, but I don't use my kids' faces on my blog.
Friday, May 22, 2009
Aveda cosmetics has a program now that makes it easier for those #5 caps to be recycled instead of ending up in a landfill. It's the Recycle Caps with Aveda Program.
The program accepts caps that are rigid polypropylene plastic, sometimes noted with a 5 in the chasing arrows recycling symbol. This includes caps that twist on with a threaded neck such as caps on shampoo, water, soda, milk and other beverage bottles, flip top caps on tubes and food product bottles (such as ketchup and mayonnaise), laundry detergents and some jar lids such as peanut butter.
Excluded from collection are pharmaceutical lids and non rigid lids such as yogurt lids, tub lids (margarine, cottage cheese), and screw on lids that are not rigid. If you can bend or break the lid with your bare hands, then it does not meet the rigid plastic definition. Please do not include any metal lids or plastic pumps or sprayers. Unfortunately, too much of the wrong types of materials can contaminate the recycling process. We appreciate your efforts in keeping it clean!
You can bring your caps into any Aveda store and they will be recycled into new Aveda packaging. For store locations, click here.
Image: Casey West
Thursday, May 21, 2009
The other article stated that the economy is leveling out the playing field between conventional and green products. The energy saving practices that many companies that produce green products already employ has kept their costs from rising at the same rate as conventional companies.
Either way, it seems everyone is feeling the economic pinch, and choosing conventional products over green products to save a couple of dollars can be very tempting. I think we need to resist the temptation as much as possible.
Here are some tips for continuing to buy green in tough economic times. I've probably talked about each of them in one way or another before, but I thought I'd bring them all together in one post.
- Don’t assume everything green is more expensive – If the one article I read is correct, the prices of many green products are remaining steady. Compare prices before you make the decision that you can’t afford a certain product in its green or organic form. In my grocery store, a canister of a popular brand of regular slow cooking oats is more expensive than the same amount of organic slow cooking oats from the bulk bins.
- Hit your local farmers market – The price for organics is usually lower at the farmer’s market than in the grocery store on everything from produce to flowers to eggs. By eliminating the high cost of shipping the items hundreds of miles, the local farmer can charge lower prices. Supporting local farmers during tough economic times is important, too. We don’t want them to go away.
- Prioritize – If you decide you must cut out some of your green products, sit down and determine what you aren’t willing to compromise on. For me, it would first be the things that affect my kids. Organic milk is non-negotiable. The mini carrots that they scarf down at lunch since we made them a replacement for potato chips have to be organic, too. We’re also committed to buying fair trade coffee. What are you not willing to compromise?
- Eat less meat – Organic or grass fed, free range meat is expensive, but instead of switching back to conventional meat, eat less of it. Buy a small amount of organic boneless chicken breast, cut it into cubes, and chop up a bunch of vegetables to make kabobs. You won’t even notice that ¾ of the food on your plate is vegetables. Institute Meatless Mondays in your home. Be wise with your leftovers, too. Freeze small, uneaten portions and when enough has accumulated, defrost and have a leftover night.
- Do without other things so that you can continue to buy green – Read any advice on cutting back and the first thing mentioned will be expensive cups of coffee and lunches out. Is there something you can cut out so you can free up money to continue to buy green? How about your monthly DVD rental subscription? The local library has DVD’s to borrow for free. There is bound to be something you can cut out.
- Make your own green cleaning products – The organic/natural cleaning products isle is one of the places that empties your wallet fast. If you make your own cleaning products from things like baking soda, vinegar, and tap water, you’ll spend less tan you would for the conventional products. You can use the savings on the organic food for your family.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
My family and I have a membership at our local pool. Admittedly, the pool in and of itself isn’t a green thing. It uses lots of water and chemicals to keep that water clean.
But when I look at what the pool offers my family – the socialization, the exercise, the something to do every day, the bonding my husband and I do with the boys when the pool is relatively empty and we get to throw them half way across and they come up laughing – I know it’s something I’m not going to give up any time soon.
But I can do things to lessen the environmental impact that our pool membership has in other ways. I started to do some of these things last summer, but this summer I’m committed to doing them as often as possible.
Here is what my family will be doing, and what you can be doing if you have a pool membership, too.
- Walk or bike to and from the pool. Throw your pool gear in backpacks or get a basket for your bike and leave the car at home. If you’ve got a lot of stuff, you could throw it all in a wagon (which of course the kids will insist on riding home in).
- Take your own food and beverages. Most pools have a snack bar or grill. The food comes on paper plates and the beverages come in throw away cups. And let’s face it – it’s not the healthiest food you’re getting from the snack bar, is it? If you plan ahead and take your own food and beverages along with durable plates, utensils and cups, you’ll save a lot of paper products and calories.
- Only buy new bathing suits, goggles, and beach towels if necessary. Just because it’s a new pool season doesn’t mean you need all new gear to go with it. If last year’s stuff is still usable, use it. The boys each got one new suit this year and everything else is leftover from years' past.
- Encourage recycling. Our pool has recycling containers, and I’ve been known to stop a kid who has been ready to throw a bottle in the trashcan and redirect him to the recycling can right next to it. If your pool recycles, make sure you encourage those around you to take advantage of it. If it does not, talk to management about starting a recycling program.
- Keep the kids out of the showers when they aren’t actually showering. Last year my boys went missing during the “adult swim” time at our pool. Turns out they had been in the mens room standing under the hot shower to keep warm while they weren’t allowed in the pool. I came to find out that many of the kids at the pool do this.
This summer, as you’re heading out to the pool or any other water activity, think about how you can lessen the environmental impact while not giving up your fun in the sun.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
It's been a crazy climate changing spring with the temperature rising into the 90's on one day then dipping into the 50's the next and heavier than even normal spring rains for days on end messing with my garden. The peppers and eggplants pictured above are doing well because they were fairly established when I put them in, but most of my tomato plants that I put in as small seedlings have been devastated by the heavy rains.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
It's National Bike Month and this week is Bike-to-Work-Week. But if you can't hop on your bike every day this week and ride it to work, perhaps you can do it just one day - Friday - on Bike-to-Work-Day. You've got a lot of bike riding opportunities here.
Monday, May 11, 2009
She's just published The Green Teen, a straightforward, well-organized reference book full of tips, resources and advice for eco-friendly teens. In The Green Teen, Jenn not only explains the how’s of going green; she explains the why’s, too, and helps teen to understand the importance of the part they can play in caring for the planet.
There is information on how to Green Yourself, Green Your Home, Green Your School, and Green Your World. All of the tips and advice are things that teens really do have control over - its all advice about what they can do, not what they can convince their parents to do.
From the back cover:
Let's face it: Adults will not see the devastating effects of global warming that you and your children and your children's children will ahve to face head on. So while it's a good idea to enlist the help of adults in the environmental movement, it is really up to you and your friends to spearhead the charge to change.
You have the knowledge, the skills and the POWER to save the planet. And this book can show you how.
Not only is the information in the book relevent to teens, it's been organized and presented in a manner that will get teens' attention. Lots of bulleted lists, charts, and sections that are broken up logically so teens can read through quickly and still get great information.
The book also points teens to websites and places they can text for more information. It's clear that every aspect of this book was written and designed with teenagers in mind.
I did a short review on the section about packing a waste free lunch last week on MNN.
If you've got a teen in your life who is interested in the steps he can take to be more eco-friendly, introduce him to this book.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
If the More Hip than Hippie podcast wasn't already on your radar before last week when I told you that I was interviewed for the show, I hope it is now. Each week Dori & Val bring relevant information about being green along with a high entertainment factor that makes a podcast worth listening to.
- Mambo Sprouts. One fabulous source that I've mentioned here before is Mambo Sprouts. Their website has downloadable coupons and you can sign up to be sent a seasonal coupon book a couple of times a year.
- Ecobunga. Another online source is Ecobunga. Not only does Ecobunga list food coupons, it also has coupons for other organic products like clothing and cleaning products.
- Grocery store. Many stores will have coupons for organic/natural products somewhere in the section where those products are. My store has a monthly free magazine that has short articles on food/health and a few advertisements with coupons. Take a look up and down the isles of your store – either the entire store if it sells only natural/organic or just in the specific section.
- Magazines. Magazines that are of interest to people who are into organics, healthy lifestyles, yoga or even just food often have coupons along with advertisements. With a quick flip through a recent issue of Body and Soul magazine, I found a coupon for Frontier Natural Products and one for Old Orchard Healthy Balance Juice.
- Favorite brand’s website. If there is a specific brand of natural or organic food that you like, you can often find coupons for their products on their website or sign up to be sent coupons via e-mail. Some companies, like Kashi, make it easy to get their coupons by sending them to you. Other sites, like Organic Valley, have coupons to download on their site.
- Coupon websites. There are several websites that are dedicated to all kinds of coupons. Many of them have coupons for natural and organic products. Type “natural and organic coupons” into your search engine and you’ll come up with several dozen of them. It may take some time searching through them, but you’re likely to find some money saving coupons. Some of the websites require you to download software to get the coupons. Make sure you trust the site before you download software.
Remember that coupons are usually for processed foods. Even natural and organic foods can be processed. It’s best to try to eat mostly whole foods – those that haven’t been processed. Sometimes, though, our hectic lives have us reaching into the cabinet or freezer for something packaged. I know mine does.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Is your favorite baseball team letting you down this early in the season already? Do you need someone really worth rooting for? How about rooting for Nathan Winters as he starts his "adventurous, real time and interactive bike ride across America dedicated to raising awareness for land and nature conservation starting May 10th in Maine."
What exactly does Nathan hope to accomplish with this trip? Here's his answer straight from the Q&A portion of his website follownathan.org.
During this journey I am looking to create a very "on the ground" journalistic and educational experience and here are a few different ways I plan to do so:
- Meet local farmers and land owners and conduct video and audio interviews. I am looking to learn first hand and educate my audience on the issues and risks our farmers and land owners are up against in today’s tough economy, convenience driven society and the cost of farming and maintaining land. I am also looking to stress the importance of consuming natural, organic and locally farmed foods.
- I am looking to explore and learn about various parts of our country where the effects of climate change, commercial development and destruction of wild land has harmed, tarnished or endangered our natural wildlife and their habitats.
- Get connected with people in the local community who care and or are working directly with the agriculture and wilderness communities. I would like to hear their thoughts, opinions and strategies to help improve and preserve the beautiful lands that are still available to us.
- Gain traction with the local press. I am looking for outlets to have my voice and cause heard and brought to the stage. Raising awareness to the importance of land and nature conservation is essential.
- Get connected with people at local universities and speak to students, professors in regards to the importance of the environment, land conservation, sustainability, climate control and how these issues tie into the new "political agenda".
- Get involved with the local biking community. I need tips, routes, and possible meet ups with other riders.
- I plan to attend events and conferences in the local area that will allow me to learn, educate my audience and network with other like minded individuals. I would enjoy creating recaps and highlights on my blog and social media platforms.
- Places to stay, things to do, good timin locals, families and an all around fun experience. I want to experience every nook and cranny in every community I visit.
keep an eye on his website.
follow him on Twitter @follownathan
friend him on facebook
become his fan on facebook (which yes, is different than becoming his friend)
read his blog
watch his YouTube videos
Okay, this guy knows how to work the social media.
Nathan takes off this Sunday for his trip. He has no time table (ah - sounds wonderful), but if you'd like to see the route he's taking, click here.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Mother's Day is this Sunday, and if you need a gift for a foodie, then I think creating a gift basket with fair trade products is a great way to go. What can you put in the basket?
- Wine - There are many fair trade wines out there. I did a review on one Live-a-Little Really Ravishing Red, a South African Shiraz, last week on MNN. If you are unfamiliar with fair trade wines, try going to a larger wine store and ask for some recommendations.
- Chocolate - My personal recommendation for fair trade chocolate is Divine, but there are many really good fair trade chocolates out there. In my region, I can get them at Wegmans, Whole Foods, and I think perhaps Trader Joe's.
- Coffee/Tea - Fair trade coffees abound at many grocery stores and there is usually some selection of fair trade teas, also. If you're adding tea, you may also be able to find fair trade honey to go with it.
- Baked goods - Use fair trade chocolate, cocoa or sugar to make some decadent treats to put in the basket.
- Vanilla - If the mom is a baker, she'll be happy to have some fair trade vanilla for your spice shelf.
- Flowers - Fair trade flowers are available, but not everywhere. Click here to see some national sources. If you can't find fair trade flowers and still want to shower mom with some, go with a local grower.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
- Borrow a movie from a neighbor instead of hopping in the car to go rent one or buy one. Everyone I know has a DVD collection. Opening up DVD libraries to your friends saves gas and money.
- Indulge in local or organic adult beverages. Friday night often includes a glass of wine or a bottle of beer (or two), chose local or organic drinks to make your indulging a little greener. Recycle empties!
- If you're heading outside to spend time with neighbors, turn off the lights in your house and power down electronics you're not using.
- Bring out a big jug of water or iced tea and cups for the kids instead of having them go through countless individual beverages.
- I know part of the Friday night pizza ritual for most people is having the opportunity not to cook, but if you're up for it, make your own pizza from organic ingredients instead of having one delivered.