Monday, June 30, 2008
This book had some information why the author switched to making her own natural cleaners. It also has room-by-room green cleaning tips. For the most part, the cleaning tips were things I knew already.
What I did like was that the book had recipes for cleaners that were easy AND explained each ingredient and what that ingredient does. Many of the internet resources about making your own cleaners just give the ingredients. Along with the explanation of ingredients, the author provided a good index of resources in the back of the book. Overall, a good book, but it's definitely one I would check out from the library rather than buy (but that's most books for me anyway!)
Will I change my cleaners? I already use and like Bon Ami- it's cheap and green, so I'll probably keep using that. I might change some of my surface sprays, though. Currently I use either Seventh Generation or Method. I really like both, but they are not cheap. My only problem with some of the homemade cleaners use vinegar, which I can't stand the smell of. The author suggests buying and using "essential oils" to mask the vinegar smell. Sounds like a plan, but 1/2 oz can cost anywhere from $5 to $20. Granted, you only use a drop or two, so it would probably still be cheaper than Method spray, but does it really cover up the vinegar scent?
Has anyone out there used essential oils and know whether or not they cover up the nasty vinegar scent?
Saturday, June 28, 2008
I love going to the Farmer's Market early in the morning. I usually get there around 7 or 7:15 when they open.
There are fruits and vegetables, as well as flowers, herbs, plants, honey and baked goods.
There are also lots of dogs that come. I'll have to take Louie sometime. Below is what I bought: a basil plant (our little herb garden didn't go so well), sugar snap peas, rhubarb, corn, fingerling potatoes, sugar snap peas, spinach (in the bag) and ground beef from a local farm that is hormone and antibiotic free.
There were also black cherries there that I was tempted to get, but they were $5, so I passed. Maybe their price will go down as more cherries ripen :)
So we had a nice local dinner last night of hamburgers made from local beef, corn, and spinach. It was delicious!
TEVAADVENTURE08 and get $10 off and free shipping. So I bought this pair (and a pair of mules for the same price) and 2 pair for my husband. After all the math is said and done, with the code, these super-comfy shoes averaged out at about $12.50 a pair.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
And I found out today that my trash collectors now take recyclables 1-7 !!! Woo-hoo! Previously, they had taken 1-3 only.
I think our compost container is helping. We haven't gotten worms yet but we're composting without for now. I read that I should have used a dark container (not clear) because it works better away from light, but since I had already drilled the holes in it, we just decided to keep it under the deck where it's dark.
So the plastic recycling goes in the recycling bin, paper in the paper bin, food scraps (like banana peels and eggshells) go to the compost bin and what's left for our monthly trash challenge is pretty much just stuff like granola bar wrappers and milk cartons.
This really gives me a sense of accomplishment...When we save electricity, a smaller bill is great, don't get me wrong, but actually seeing a physical difference in our trash is pretty cool, and not as hard as I thought!
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
The lesson I learned is that a company can put organic on the bottle if it has just a couple organic ingredients and who knows what the rest is. So from now on I'll be reading the labels much more closely.
So I'm looking for some gentle, natural shampoos. Even something seemingly friendly as Suave has Methylisothiazolinone in it which seems pretty yucky- NIH (National Institute of Health) uses the words toxic more than once in their evaluation of it on the National Library of Medicine's Toxnet site.
Has anyone has any luck with shampoos that are nice and natural? I want to find something that isn't so chemical. Please post if you have any suggestions!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
I read a post at OrganicMania the other day and I've been thinking about it. The post was about people who are "Greener Than Thou". It's not cool when you're doing the best you can for you and your family by being your own version of green and someone criticizes you for it.
To me, being environmental is not a black and white, all or nothing thing. I try to do a little things that will hopefully add up...but I am sure there are hardcore people out there that might point out that I have a car that isn't gas efficient as a hybrid or that I don't always buy recycled toilet paper.
My point is that it's not easy to do every single eco-friendly thing. Everyone's green habits are different and I think it's important to support everyone's environmental efforts whether they are doing one little thing or live like Ed Begley Jr.
I think going green is great...to whatever degree you do it. EVERY TINY THING IS GOOD AND HELPS. You put your cans and bottles out for recycling once a week? Great! Or maybe you installed solar panels on your home and are off the grid? Awesome! But not everyone can do all of the same kind of things. You do what you're able to do. I think it's important to respect that.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Enviromom is challenging us to produce no more than one can of trash per month (see banner on the sidebar for a link). Wow, that is REALLY a challenge.
I am guessing right now we make about 6-7 cans of trash a month. Maybe 5 at the best. So how can we possibly get the trash to be that much less? Here's my plan:
I think it starts with buying. My family needs to buy food with less packaging. This can be done by buying in bulk (more food, less waste), choosing a better packaged product over another, or just NOT buying. We no longer buy individual yogurts because nowhere around here recycles anything above a #3. One of the big obstacles is going to be Jack's fruit snacks. I'm not a big fan of small packages inside bigger packages because that's extra trash, but he LOVES them. Anyone have any ideas for tasty, easy, little kid snacks that I can replace the fruit snacks with?
We're a real recycling family but I have to admit, there are some things that might not make it to the recycling bins. For some reason, toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls always seem to end up in the trash instead of paper recycling. Why? Who knows...maybe some kind of mental block because they aren't flat like paper? So I'll be on the lookout for any recyclable paper products that may have been preciously overlooked.
The packaging we haven't yet eliminated (like the large yogurt containers) we wash and reuse for storage of little doodads. I also have given some away on freecycle. And I am eventually going to get around to making yogurt so we don't have those containers.
After watching the composting video on youtube, I'm excited to do it. I need to find red wiggler worms, though. Any Harford County readers out there who know where I can get some? So when I get the worms, we're going to start this. For some reason I am kind of nervous about it...I hope it works!
So we do have room for a lot of improvement. I am fairly sure we will NOT reduce to 1 can a month, but we can improve...that's an important thing to note: you don't have to be the perfect, all or nothing green person. Anything you do, as small as it may be, helps!
Saturday, June 21, 2008
Hollywood Green was ok if you were simply watching it as if it were Entertainment Tonight. The only really green aspect seemed to be a sometimes really stretched "green" item. It was more Hollywood, a teeny green. One of the stories started out with something like, "Brad Pitt is involved with this green cause" and then launched into the trailer for his new movie. That's all good and fine (I like Brad Pitt, who doesn't?) but there are a lot of people in Hollywood that really are involved in green causes that could be more in-depth stories, like Leonardo di Caprio or Robert Redford.
I really liked Supper Club. This show has a group of 4 people gathered for a "green" meal and discuss issues about the environment. The meal is prepared by chefs who promote sustainable food sources and local food sources. So it's part cooking show, part panel discussion. The episode I saw had not only Hollywood types, but a scientist and a radio broadcaster. The radio guy doesn't believe in global warming so it was interesting to watch the debate with the scientist. There was an actress who discussed how she had mercury poisoning and how it lead her to investigate avoiding toxins in the environment. But it wasn't all seriousness, there were a lot of laughs. Tom Bergeron was the host (I normally don't like him) but he was charming and funny. So based on the one episode I saw, I'd recommend it.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Using plain old bar soap over liquid soap has a couple benefits. Bars are cheaper than the liquid soap, it lasts longer than liquid does and it reduces waste (no plastic bottles to recycle). I'll be honest, this was a little bit of a difficult transition for me...the liquid pump bottles are just so easy, but after a month or so I've grown used to it and so has my family.
My husband uses shampoo more quickly than anyone I know. He can easily polish off a whole bottle in a week. My solution to save money? Pour the shampoo in one of the old liquid soap bottles! Instead of squeezing a big handful of shampoo out, we pump the dispenser twice. That seems to be enough to get a good lather and uses less shampoo. That saves money AND reduces the number of shampoo bottles we need to buy. Eventually, I'd like to move on to bar shampoo, but I've yet to find one that I like.
3. SOAP IN THE SHOWER
You know how your soap ends up as tiny shards and chunks? I bought this little soap bag on ebay that you put those soap bits into. They lather up even better than soap alone and the bag is like a loofah. The husband loves this!
4. ELECTRIC RAZOR
This took me a little while to transition to but I got used to it. My razor is rechargeable and can be used in or out of the shower. No more disposable razor waste and saves a lot of money- the electric razor cost me $20...much less than the cost of a year's worth of disposables.
We installed a low flow showerhead (1.5 gallons per minute). I'm really happy with it. I expected it to be "wimpy" and not have the water pressure I was used to, but this is great. Since installing this and 1.5 gpm sink faucet aerators, and watching our water consumption, we are using 30 gallons per day LESS than this time last year. That saves us money as well.
6. SHOWER LENGTH
I know I have posted about this before. I love the long, hot shower, but I've been saving that as a treat on days I really need it. Most days, I jump in the shower after setting my timer to 5 minutes. My goal is to make it out before the buzzer. Pretty soon I am getting my long hair cut and the shampoo/rinse will be a shorter time. My son likes to use the timer too, which is great, because taking a shower is way less water than his taking a bath. Now, we need to work on the husband who takes LOOOOOONG showers....
7. SAVE A GALLON WITH EVERY FLUSH
I'm currently pricing low flow toilets, but in the meantime, we have our toilet floaty thing (sorry for the lack of technical terms!) set so the water level is lower and we filled a gallon jug full of water and set it in the tank. This saves us one gallon of water every time the toilet is flushed. Not a pretty picture- but no one will see inside the toilet tank.
8. SHOWER CURTAINS
With recent studies showing the smell from new shower curtains comes from all kinds of nasty chemicals, the best way to go is a fabric shower curtain. I was hesitant this would work as well as the plastic/vinyl, but it works just as well and can go in the washer when needed. Bonus: they look prettier.
Most of these things were pretty cheap to do- switching to bar soap (cheaper than liquid), buying an inexpensive soap bag, sink aerators ($2), low flow showerheads ($8-25) and even the razor ($20) show immediate savings or will pay for themselves in a matter of months.
There are many more ways to be cheap and green in the bathroom, including using recycled paper products and environmentally friendly cleaners. How do you save money while being eco-friendly in your bathroom?
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The show's premise is similar to home makeover shows, except it's an "eco-footprint" make over. The hosts visit homeowners, look at how they currently live and then give suggestions how to reduce their eco-footprint by the 3 R's (reduce, reuse, recycle).
In general, a lot of the "green news" that's coming out is kinda old news, so I didn't think I'd hear anything new...but was pleasantly surprised. One of the things I found out was that you can compost without a huge compost bin in your back yard.
My sister and I were going to go to a composting workshop (we're ecogeeks I guess) but were unable to go since it was the same weekend as Penn State's Blue White game. So composting has been on the back burner until I saw Wa$ted the other day.
Anyway, I did a little searching on the Internet and found this great video on home composting that's simple to understand and easy to do. Check it out.
This is my next project after our epic yard sale this Saturday!
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
She had not one, but two gardens. From that garden we had tomtatoes, peas, squash, rhubarb and a lot of other great veggies.
She canned fruits and veggies and had a stockpile in her basement.
She was the queen of garage sale shopping.
She sewed socks onto our footie pajamas when the footies wore out.
She made the best homemade applesauce from apples that came from the trees in the "lower 40s".
She was a great Grandma.
My son Jack found interesting leaves and plants to write about in the nature journal he's keeping this summer. I'm glad we checked out the trail. It's just another thing located so close to us that is fun and free.
After the trail, we went over to the Goodwill store to see what kinds of things they have this week. Shopping at thrift stores like this is one of my favorite ways to "re-use" and the money spent is used to help others. My mom found an Eddie Bauer horseshoe set and Jack found a pitcher for his lemonade stand this weekend at our yard sale. Bonus- today was senior citizen discount day so Mom and Jack got their stuff 15% off.
We went to a local restaurant and had lunch then one more stop- TJ Maxx...ironic since I just wrote about avoiding recreational shopping! But I did find a pair of Naturalizer shoes for $20 that can be my "school shoes" in the fall and 2 bottles of organic shampoo for $3 each. I haven't tried any organic/natural shampoo yet...I'm still using up my reserves from the V05 49c sale.
We had a really nice day and I think we'll make our trail walk a weekly thing as we explore the different branches of the trail.
Monday, June 16, 2008
I'm not a big clothes shopper but I LOVE to shop for things for the house: curtains and pillows and sheets and I seriously have a plate addiction. I've been restraining myself from buying these and these. I don't need any more plates and the Wedgwood ones are way out of the budget! (But they are pretty...aren't they?)
So about a year ago, I decided to stop "recreationally" shopping. It's just too easy for me to see nice things that I don't need, but want :) and then buy them. So now the only time I really shop for household items is when I need them. When we switched from teflon to stainless steel pans (that'll be another post!) I went out to a couple places, compared prices and bought just what we needed.
Shortly after I decided to avoid recreational shopping, I found a book at the library called, "Not Buying It" bu Judith Levine. It was a pretty enjoyable read. She and her husband decided to go a year without buying ANYTHING they didn't absolutely NEED. Now that's hardcore, and far from my little "avoid buying more household knick knacks" plan. But it was interesting to see how many things we don't really need, but buy without even thinking about it.
So while I am not as austere as the author was, I think I've done a pretty good job at avoiding the temptations of Bed, Bath and Beyond. But I am still working on not buying those plates :)
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
I drive about 25 miles to work (I know, not so green), so I am looking forward to NOT spending the extra money on gas over the summer. So being a teacher (at least in my case) helps me to be a little cheaper and a little greener in the summer. :)
A pretty short post for the day, so I made a little survey above...try it out!
Sunday, June 8, 2008
From the FDA's website:
Does FDA approve cosmetics before they go on the market?
FDA's legal authority over cosmetics is different from other products regulated by the agency, such as drugs, biologics, and medical devices. Cosmetic products and ingredients are not subject to FDA premarket approval authority, with the exception of color additives. However, FDA may pursue enforcement action against violative products, or against firms or individuals who violate the law.
Who is responsible for substantiating the safety of cosmetics?
Cosmetic firms are responsible for substantiating the safety of their products and ingredients before marketing.
Those statements don't sound like a ringing endorsement of safety to me. So I looked for and found safer cosmetics. I finally got around to trying out the mascara (gives you an idea how often I wear mascara!). It was great! (side note: I don't do any advertising or money making stuff on my blog- it's just my honest opinions about the products.)
Just like the eyeliner, it's made by Honeybee Gardens. To me, there was no difference between that and any other eyeliner I've used. Went on easily, looked good and didn't smudge. A winner! Although I still yearn for some of the more fancy nvey eco makeup, I think I have good products for my needs.
I also have liked using the ecotints lipstick. It looks good and I am so glad I am using it after reading about the lead in many lipsticks available at your local drugstore...we're talking big brand names here. Check out this article at the daily green (a great resource site) about lead found in very popular and common lipsticks. Ewww...
So we finally turned the air on once it hit 90 degrees. We have ceiling fans in the bedroom and kitchen/family room so keeping the a/c at 75 degrees seems to be working pretty well. Plus, we are lucky enough to have 3 big maples and an oak in our yard that shade the house, which really does make a difference.
Now I've read differing advice on this...maybe someone knows? I've read that you SHOULD close your vents in rooms that aren't used often...we do this in the guest room and close the door to it. I've also read recently NOT to do this...does anyone know? Please post if you do :)
Thursday, June 5, 2008
First, a confession. I hate greeting cards. I have buying them and I hate getting them. Why? You can probably guess both are related to the cheapness and green-ness factors.
Most cards are at least $2.50. They get signed, sent, read and tossed. The only cards I don't recycle are those that have a personal note on them that has sentimental meaning to me, but most are just signed: Love, name.
In some situations, a card does need to be given, but I'm trying to eliminate them with immediate family. So I suggested to Nancy (who feels similarly about the card waste) that we get 1 card and write something meaningful in it. I'll give her the card first and then she'll keep it and next year give me the card back with her note. Cheap, green and I think it'll be really nice and fun to read the notes a few years down the line!
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Anyway, today a new channel is launched- Planet Green (formerly Discovery Home, I think). I'm eager to see what kind of programming they'll have- will they show cheap and green ideas or some of the pricey green ones?
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The United States Botanic Garden has a lot of events this summer. While we do not live in the immediate vicinity of DC, we're not that far away and my husband works outside of DC in Bethesda. They have a Family Day- here's the info:
Family Day: One Planet – Ours!
The USBG has partnered with over 40 organizations to present this summer’s exhibition, One Planet – Ours! Sustainability for the 22nd Century. Come to our Family Day and participate in a wide variety of programs! Create a pollinator and be a part of the pollinator play, help create a straw bale house, discover how to cook with sunshine, observe live bees in their hive, create a hand-held wind turbine, and meet experts in the field of sustainability. Bring your plastic bags to recycle and receive a reusable shopping bag. Event will happen rain or shine.
Date: Saturday, June 21, July 19, and August 16
Time: 10:00 – 4:30 p.m.
Location: U.S. Botanic Garden
FREE: NO Registration Required
In addition, they have lots of other exhibits, lectures and programs- FREE! They even have a "Junior Botanist" program where kids get an "adventure folder" and go around the gardens and explore. When they finish, they get some other goodies. And did I mention this is FREE? Some require registration, but most don't. This is definitely something I want to check out!
Even if you don't live near DC, do a search on the internet and see what kinds of local, state and federal parks and museums may offer this summer.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Saturday I went to the Farmer's Market. It's kind of exciting that each week they have more and more.
The playground looks like it's made from that recycled deck material (yay) and on the ground are old shredded tires, which gave a remarkably bouncy walk and cushion for falls- not like the stones and wood chips we had as kids!