Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Give the Gift of Green This Christmas

This was one of her favorite things, and is a great gift for Christmas! You can save a bundle here, they won't last long!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Green Christmas

This holiday season has snuck up on us fast, and we are trying to stay as green as possible this Christmas. So what does that mean? Here are my top 10 Christmas green tips:

  1. Buy a real Christmas tree. Some people mistakenly think that going green means you should never cut down a Christmas tree, and should instead buy an artificial one. Christmas tree farms are the superior choice over artificial due to the petroleum products used to manufacture the artificial trees. Recycling your Christmas tree is a great way to stay green, and even better is buying a rooted tree you can replant.

  2. Buy Local. Find a local artist, winery or the like and buy gifts that haven't traveled thousands of miles from overseas and you will have cut carbon emissions!

  3. Use LED Christmas Lights. These will use less energy this holiday season, and last longer, reducing waste and saving you money!

  4. Include Rechargeable Batteries with gifts. Less toxic waste for our landfills. These must be disposed of properly when they are no longer able to hold a charge.

  5. Reuse Gift Bags and Wrapping Paper. Don't throw it away! Be prepared now with organization to save what you can and reuse it! Reuse newspapers this year with fun ribbon and homemade tags.

  6. Buy gifts at antique stores or thrift stores. You would be surprised at how affordable you can shop at a swap shop or antique store. Many of these places have the perfect treasure for someone on your list. Also, many thrift stores have brand new items that were never used that you can get for a steal! Kids don't know if the board game was opened and played with twice! Save some money and the environment!

  7. Recycle your Christmas Cards. And buy ones made out of post-consumer recycled content or go paperless and email your Christmas greeting.

  8. If you are upgrading, donate your old electronics. Don't let your downgrades end up in a landfill!

  9. Buy online. If you have to travel, make a whole day out of it and plan your trip to cut down on gas.

  10. Last, but not least, Give Less. This can mean smaller things that take less waste like theater tickets, online downloads like iTunes, etc. Or it can mean just LESS. Don't try to keep up, buy one gift instead of five, and keep it simple.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Roger Barnett and a Greener You

I had the privelege of listening to Roger Barnett speak this morning, and was so inspired! Roger Barnett recently purchased a great Green company that makes one of her favorite things, and was featured on the Today show and Time magazine. This company has been in business for over 50 years, and is on the leading edge of the Green movement. We are loving their green cleaning products, and haven't found any better! Check them out!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Green Tip of the Week- E-cycle

Electronic Consumer Waste is one of the fastest growing category of municipal wastes. The EPA reports that in 2003, nearly 3 million tons of electronic waste were discarded. Only 11% of this was recycled. The threat posed to the environment is huge due to the toxic chemicals contained in our TVs, cell phones, Computers and other electronics. The tip this week is important as we are coming up on the Christmas holiday, where upgrades are abounding. If you can't donate: RECYCLE YOUR ELECTRONICS. Research the options in your area online. Some recyclers actually export the electronics to be dumped into landfills in other countries, so check to make sure they are responsible. Many companies are now accepting old electronics to recycle, check with the manufacturer for more info. Don't let it go to waste! Up to 90% of electronic waste can be reused. Make it a habit for the planet!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Green for Christmas

Greening your holidays can be easy! These great cards were made from 65 % post-consumer recycled paper and the rest from sustainable or well-managed forests, purchased at Target. Try to buy recycled paper for wrapping this season, and reuse as much as you can. We could save millions of trees, and wrap a bow around the globe if we just reused and recycled. Over the holidays we throw away a million extra tons of garbage! Recycle it instead, and use less stuff. The most rewarding thing is time spent with family and friends.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Easy Ways Your Family can make an impact Going Green

Green is the new black! Everywhere people are talking about "green". From politics, to fashion there is a green slant to nearly every arena nowadays. How does that translate for the average family? I always conjured up images of hippies who lived in tents and protested against tuna fisherman when someone mentioned the environment. I never worried about if I left a lightbulb on, much less about how much water I used when I took a shower. So what has turned me onto green? Being a mother. Suddenly, the importance of taking care of 4 tiny humans and ensuring their future has become my top priority. As parents, we worry about their education, their future jobs, and what kind of person they are going to be. What about what kind of planet they are going to live on? And while they are in my home, what kind of toxins are they being exposed to? Cleaners, energy, and food were on the top of my green priority list, and they should be on yours to.

There have been studies published at the Toronto Indoor Air Conference that concluded that women who stay at home have 54% higher occurance of cancers. This was concluded to be the fault of toxic cleaners used by these moms to clean their homes. Start simply! It doesn't have to be expensive! You can make your own cleaners today with a few things from your pantry. Things like baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar and borax make all the difference in the world. If you are like me, and don't have the time or energy to start making your own cleaners, there are so many companies with great green cleaners out there. Look for a reputable company who labels the ingredients, and sells in concentrate. No reason to waste packaging and pay for water!
The next place to move to green is your energy consumption. The average household in America consumes 10,656 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, according to the Department of Energy. This can easily be reduced with a few simple and frugal steps. First, turn up or down your thermostat, depending on which season you are in. Next, change your most used lightbulbs to compact flourescent. This saves you money and energy. Lastly, take an energy survey of your house. These are usually done for free by your local utility company and can give you a personal plan of attack for lowering your energy consumption.
One of the harder places to go green as a family is with your food. But if you are creative and resourceful it doesn't have to hurt your pocketbook. Buy local as much as possible! Visit your area farmer's market, and find the sustainable development agency in your area. These are great places to find organic meat, vegetables, eggs and goods at fair prices. Do you have a service to offer? Barter! Buying local saves the atmosphere from absorbing millions of tons of carbon emissions. If you are inclined, start a garden! This is such a great activity to do with your children to teach them about the work it takes to get our food. Other options are joining a coop or visiting a farm to help with the harvest. Organic milk and eggs are easy to begin buying first, and you can branch out from there.
Start little, and find what works for your family. The important thing is to start! Don't put it off until you have more information, or more time, or more money. Do what you know can help now, and work on the rest! You'll be surprised at how simple it can be.

Bee Colony Collapse - What can your family do?

The Bees have left! No, this is not my attempt to write science fiction. As weird as it sounds, bees are disappearing. Commercial bee pollinators have lost 23% of their bees this year, and estimates show that up to 70% of the managed bee populations have collapsed. Sooo, what does this mean exactly?

This first came to my attention this spring while I was out at some yard sales. One lady had several items for harvesting honey and making beeswax. She commented several times that her bees had left, so they weren't making honey anymore. I was a little confused, and asked her-"What do you mean your bees left? Did they die?" She said that her bees just left, and have never come back. They are getting confused, and not returning to their hives. This astonished me, so after some research I found out more.

First, I had no idea that there were professional bee pollinators. Did you? These people travel with truck loads of bee hives, and let them loose in an orange grove, or other type of farm for pollination. This is a major industry, and one third of our food depends on this practice. The bees have sophisticated homing mechanisms built into their anatomy, which is what leads them back to their hives, even after traveling miles away. Suddenly, these bees aren't able to find their way back to their colonies.

What can we do about it? This is a complicated question, since experts still don't have the answer to WHY the colonies are collapsing. But here are some suggestions:

  • Plant some bee-friendly plants in your garden. Free seeds can be obtained here.

  • Support your local organic farmers. The use of pesticides is widely thought to be a major factor in the colony collapse.

  • Buy local honey. This is good to do for your children and you if you have allergies, as the honey will build up your immunity to local pollens and allergens.

  • Stop using lawn pesticides and fertilizers. Find organic ways to keep your lawn lush, or even better, conserve water and nature by planting native plants.

  • Go see the Bee Movie, and educate your children about being kind to bees to help preserve their habitats. Visit this site for more info.

A Green Approach to Dieting

So, if you are like me, and over 60% of Americans, you want to lose some weight. After 4 kids in 6 years, I have about 50 lbs to lose. In my quest to go green, I was searching for the right program. I wanted a company I could trust not to just be going with a fad, like ephedra for example, but one with proven scientific results. Also, I didn't want something like alli that could be potentially embarassing. I have the privelege of living across the street from one of the greatest biking/walking trails in the country, and so I have comitted to walking a lot more. This is in line with the greening of my life, because I can walk to the post office, the bank, the playground, the grocery store and the library! We even walk to piano lessons! The next step I took was to start on this plan:

I love how easy it is, and I love how it makes me feel! No more early afternoon drops in energy, or ravishing hungry feelings! Check it out, it may be the right start for you!

Friday, November 9, 2007

San Francisco Bay Oil Spill

This is an issue that is not getting near the media coverage it deserves. A major shipping vessel hit the bridge in San Francisco Bay on Wednesday morning. An estimated 58,000 gallons of dirty oil were spilled into the Bay, endangering wildlife species for miles. Let's hope the environmental clean up team acts quickly and can lessen this impact for all who enjoy this beatiful area and the amenities it provides.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2007

I Village is Going Green! The Today Show Too!

Wow! Isn't it great to see something you are actually interested in on TV? We are so busy homeschooling in the morning, I rarely watch the news. But someone clued me into the Today Show topics this week, and they were great! iVillage also went green, and I found some great tips on their website. Here are some for teaching your preschoolers:

Kids in Preschool
Water: Teach them to keep the water flow to a pencil-thin stream when using the sink.
Energy: Tell them to turn off the lights when leaving a room and to leave the lights off during the day. Natural sunlight is generally good enough.
Toxic Exposure: Cleaning up messy little hands? Be sure to avoid anti-bacterial hand soaps and hand sanitizers that contain triethanolamine. Anti-bacterial hand soaps have been proven to cause more harm than good because they kill beneficial bacteria as well as the bad stuff and may be leading to super-strains of bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics. Hand sanitizers that contain the ingredient triethanolamine can damage liver and kidneys.
Waste: Recycle newspapers, magazines and junk mail. You can present it as a game that involves sorting out the different types and putting them in their special bins for points. Assign a daily chore to help with the sorting and recycling.
Food: Teach your preschooler how to help pick out ripe seasonal fruit and vegetables for their snacks and meals. Show them that when they have finished their fruit and vegetables, there are parts that can be composted. Involve your children in composting your food scraps, coffee grounds, etc. Get them used to seeing that food waste is not garbage but rather something that can be turned into soil to grow more food.
Transportation: Walk whenever possible. Plan out your weekly menu and shopping needs, and go to the store once to cut back on multiple trips.

Have fun with your preschoolers, and visit these sites for more tips!

Monday, November 5, 2007

SIMPLY IN SEASON- A World Community Cookbook

The recipes in this book offer a taste of how yummy your table can be cooking in season and buying locally. But it is so much more than a cookbook! It is filled with relevant facts and inspirational stories of people who are trying to live more simply, frugally and locally. It is exciting to read that these are people from all over the country and the globe.

From metropolitan areas as big as NYC to Amish country, you will find encouragement that you too can eat locally, with or without a big farm next door. Eating locally is one of the best ways to cut down on carbon emissions. The organic food grown in Argentina is more harmful to our environment than the non-organic food grown locally because of the fossil fuels burned to transport it to your local grocery store. Farmer's Markets have popped up every where, and aren't reserved just for Europeans anymore! You may live in an area, like me, that closes down in October. Don't worry, your grocery store will carry in season produce.

This cookbook is a great for someone like me who has never cut a butternut squash up, much less knows what to do with it. Very reader and user friendly. If you are a gardener, this will be a great resource as well to help give you ideas for new things to do with your bounty. I love trying out new things, and most are fairly family friendly. I haven't been able to use it for a whole weeks' worth of menu ideas, but at least one or two a week have worked out well. If you are the frugal type, you will love this book as well as others from this series, because it also helps you to buy what is in season, which is always the cheapest at the grocery store anyhow. Included are tips on picking ripe veggies and fruits, and how to cook them. Every season is color coded for you and divided into Breakfast, Sides, Main Dishes and Desserts. This week I am planning to make Butternut Squash Soup from the Autumn section. Mmmmm!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Paper or Plastic?

Paper or plastic? The answer is neither! It’s been estimated that the US was responsible for the felling of 14 million trees to produce the 10 billion paper grocery bags used back in 1999. But plastic is not off the hook either! Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year.

This is the first reusable bag I have had the pleasure of using , and I love it! Of course, everyone has a Canvas bag hanging out somewhere, but I only have a couple, and they are a little flimsy unless you have the heavy duty Land's End ones. The Green Bag is sturdy, can stand up on its own and the straps fit over my shoulder for easy carrying. I hang them up on a hook by my door and every time I leave the house I take one or two just in case. If I am going to the grocery store, 5 of these babies is all I ever need! I bought 5 of these on ebay for about $2 each after shipping. Great price! Now I just have to figure out how to use a different option for my veggies and fruits instead of those produce plastic bags.