Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Going paperless

With the internet, it is so easy to go paperless. I personally enjoy the convenience of online banking and bill pay. It seems whenever you get a paper bill it is several pages long and includes several advertisements. All this information can be reviewed online at anytime while saving many trees and the resources used to deliver the bill to your mailbox. One of the largest sources of litter on our planet is receipts - like those from ATMs and gas stations. Market Watch calculated that if we taped together all of the receipts from the 8 billion ATM transactions each year in the United States, we'd get a roll more than 2 billion feet long -- enough to circle the equator 15 times. Now obviously there are some receipts you need - ones for items you may need to return or ones you need for tax purposes. For receipts that have made it to your home that you no longer need, be sure to shred and recycle them.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Meatless Monday and beyond

Why not do something good for yourself and the environment and go meatless today? Meatless Monday is a national health campaign to help Americans prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer - four of the leading causes of death in America. Leading health experts agree that going vegetarian is the single best thing we can do for ourselves and our families. Healthy vegetarian diets support a lifetime of good health and provide protection against numerous diseases. Not only is going veg good for our bodies, but it is good for the environment. A 2006 report by the United Nations summarized the devastation caused by the meat industry. According to the report, raising animals for food is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. So when deciding on tonight's dinner take advice from Paul McCartney, "The global meat industry and the land and water required to service it is one of the major contributors to global warming. So I would urge everyone to think about taking this simple step (going veg) to help our precious environment and save it for the children of the future." So start with a meatless Monday and try to take it beyond just Monday :)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Whole Wheat Pancakes

Today's pancakes were an experiment with with ingredients we had on hand.

Whole Wheat Pancakes

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. oil
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add water, oil, maple syrup, and lemon juice; mix to combine. Pour 2 Tbsp. of batter onto griddle preheated to 350 and cook until batter bubbles and pancakes begin to brown around edges. Flip and cook 2 minutes more. Enjoy!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Greener Laundry

Wondering how to green up your laundry? Here are some tips I have found useful:

1. Wash your clothes in cold water as the most significant environmental impact of laundry is the use of energy to heat the water.

2. Be sure to use an eco-friendly detergent - free of phosphates, chlorine, ammonia, petroleum solvents, and animal products which has not been tested on animals. Or try making your own laundry powder:

Simple Washing Powder

8 cups baking soda
6 cups borax
4 cups grated castile soap ( like Dr. Bronner's)
2 tablespoons essential oil

Combine baking soda, borax, and soap flakes, add essential oil, and mix with a wire whisk. Use 1/8 cup of powder per load.

3. Use one of the many nonchlorine bleaches which are widely available or make your own bleach.

Bleach Substitute

1 cup hydrogen peroxide
1/4 cup lemon juice
12 cups water
Store in a labeled plastic jug.
Add 2 cups per load.

4. Hang your clothes to dry on a clothesline. It will save energy, prolong the life of your clothes, and help keep whites bright. Some studies also show that line drying in the sun kills bacteria.

5. Ditch the conventional fabric softeners which recent studies have revealed contain cancer-causing and neurotoxic solvents such as toluene and styrene. Try one of the eco-friendly versions or use 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the wash cycle of your clothes.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

BPA Update

It's been a busy few weeks on the BPA front. Consumers have been able to do what the government hasn't wanted to - change what goes into plastic bottles. As the demand for BPA-free bottles increased, retail giant Walmart stepped up and announced that it would halt sales of baby bottles, sippy cups, pacifiers, food containers and water bottles made with BPA in its stores following a release of a report from the U.S. National Toxicology Program that expressed concern that BPA, which is used to make plastic, could cause behavioral changes in infants and children and trigger the early onset of puberty in females. Now I may be cynical regarding Walmart's motive - increased sales, but who cares, despite Walmart's many flaws they are providing greener products at a price that makes them more accessible to the majority of people. Given Walmart's market influence & buying power, I suspect that this will have a major impact on the plastics industry rather quickly. Case in point, Nalgene, the company that became the generic name for polycarbonate bottles, will no longer be using Bisphenol A. “Based on all available scientific evidence, we continue to believe that Nalgene products containing BPA are safe for their intended use,” Steven Silverman, the general manager of the Nalgene unit, said in a statement. “However, our customers indicated they preferred BPA-free alternatives, and we acted in response to those concerns.”

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

What is BPA?

BPA has been all over the news lately, but what is it? BPA stands for Bisphenol A, an estrogen-like chemical which may leach out of polycarbonate plastics (plastics marked with #7). A new American study has linked BPA to breast cancer, early puberty, birth defects, miscarriage, and prostate cancer and is particularly concerned about the effect on babies. Making a few simple changes can protect you and your family from the harmful effects of BPA:

1. Stop using clear plastic baby bottles, research shows that the effect of the estrogen-like BPA on children as being the most significant.

2. Canned foods also poise a risk of BPA leaching, as cans are often lined in plastic BPA. Dispose of older canned foods, especially if they contain tomatoes and other acidic fruits.

3. Replace your polycarbonate bottle with a Sigg, Kleen Kanteen, or another BPA free bottle.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day 2008

Happy Earth Day! Earth Day was founded by Gaylord Nelson and was first celebrated on April 22, 1970 as a day to teach people about the environmental dangers facing our earth. Unfortunately this year Earth Day seems to have gone commercial - stores are using the day as a way to boost sales. While some of the products being sold are better for the environment than some conventional items - Earth Day is not about shopping. Use today as a way to reconnect with the Earth - wander in nature, perform a community service project that benefits the Earth or enjoy an organic meal with your family - check out for some great ideas. Our family will celebrate the day by spending time in nature and my daughter and her friends are going to clean up a local beach. Today try to make at least one change that will impact the Earth - set up a recycling center, reuse a shopping bag, ride your bike for a local errand, take a shorter shower, or anything you can think of to let Mother Earth know you care.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Living with less

In honor of Earth Week, my family is taking Oprah's "Live with Less" challenge. The challenge is a great way to reduce your impact on the Earth and kick some bad habits. The key points of the challenge - no eating out, no bottled water, no disposable plates, cups, or napkins, no video games, only 1 hour of TV a night, computers for school work only, 8 minute showers, and most importantly no buying anything other than food for seven days. The no bottled water, no disposables, and no video games will be a piece of cake - we don't use any of those anyway. However for myself the challenge will be the computer - this blog I'm counting as my "schoolwork". For my daughter the challenge will be the 8 minute shower, sometimes she's in the shower so long I think she will grow gills. For my husband I think it will be the no eating out. Wish us luck, I'll keep you posted on how it is going. If you're interested in taking the challenge with your family, go to for more info.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Earth Week

This week in honor of Earth Day - April 22nd - my family will be working to make the world a better place. Today my daughter and I cleaned up our road which we had previously adopted through our town's Adopt A Road program. It gave us an opportunity to get out in our community and visit with our neighbors while making our neighborhood a better place. When attempting to find a way to help Mother Earth remember - Think Globally, Act Locally.

* Sorry to disappoint anyone who was looking for this week's pancake recipe. My daughter spent the weekend with her grandparents and didn't come home today until after lunch, but don't worry her Grandma made her pancakes this morning :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fire Roasted Tomatoes

I picked up some fantastic local & hydroponically grown tomatoes today at the Farmer's Market and decided to roast them on my grill. I highly recommend shopping your local Farmer's Market for the freshest produce you can buy while supporting local farmers from your community.

Fire Roasted Tomatoes

Cut tomatoes in quarters and salt with sea salt. Preheat grill. Toss tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil. Place tomatoes on grill skin side down. Grill tomatoes until their skins blister and blacken in places and they start bubbling.

Fire roasted tomatoes can be used in sauces or soups, or on pizzas and bruschetta.

Friday, April 18, 2008

National Hanging Out Day

Tomorrow, April 19th is National Hanging Out Day - no it is not a day to veg out & do nothing. Every year, on April 19th, Project Laundry List joins together with hundreds of organizations from around the country to educate communities about energy consumption. National Hanging Out Day was created to demonstrate how it is possible to save money and energy by using a clothesline. The average household can save much more than a hundred dollars every year with the regular use of a clothesline. In this country, six to ten percent of residential energy use goes toward running clothes dryers. The average American uses more energy running a clothes dryer than the average African uses in a year for all her energy needs.

So tomorrow slow down, feel the warm breezes, and plan to spend some time in nature while prolonging the life of your clothes, saving money, and living just a little greener. I personally love the way my sheets smell when they hang on the line - so fresh and clean.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

BYOB...Bring Your Own Bag!

Kudos to Whole Foods! Joining San Francisco, China, Australia, IKEA and others in an effort to cut back on plastic bags, Whole Foods announced that they won't be giving out plastic bags in their stores anymore. After testing it out with good results in stores in San Francisco, Austin, Texas and Toronto, they'll ban the bags in all of the chain's 270 stores starting on Earth Day, April 22. Whole Foods estimates that this action will keep 100 million disposable plastic bags off our planet just from April 22nd until the end of this year!!

Why is it so important to stop the use of plastic bags? Here's 3 great reasons:

1.It can take more than 1000 years for a plastic bag to break down in a landfill and when the bags do break down they release toxic substances which leach into the soil and enter the food chain.

2. Plastic bags can endanger and kill wildlife especially sea turtles, sea birds, and marine mammals.

3. Plastic bags are made of polyethylene, which is a petroleum product. Increased oil demands lead to increased gas prices.

So next time you head to the store - remember your reusable bag!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Human Footprint

What a great show last night. It explained our impact on the Earth - our footprint in a very graphic way. For me I think the most startling statistic on the show, was that by the time a baby born in the US reaches their first birthday they will have produced more carbon dioxide emissions than a person in Tanzania will in a lifetime. This tells a lot about our society, it is possible to live with less and reduce our impact on the Earth if we are willing to change the way we live. Another eye opening statistic was that if everyone on the planet lived the way we Americans do it would take 4 planets to provide the natural resources and absorb the waste and pollution we generate. The United States makes up 5% of the Earth's population, but consumes 1/4 of the world's energy. If we want to leave our children and grandchildren with a safe and happy environment the time for change is now! I hope the parting shot that shows just a portion of our impact on our planet serves as a wake up call for people to change the way they live. Before buying anything think about its impact on the planet, recycle everything you can, limit your driving, conserve energy and water. If you missed this great show it will air again on the National Geographic Channel Wednesday April 16th.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Be sure to watch...

Interested in your impact on the planet? Be sure to watch National Geographic Channel's "Human Footprint" tonight. This show promises to be a very visual statement on how each of us uses the Earth's resources.

Lemon Raspberry Pancakes

Well it's Sunday again, which means it's Pancake Day.

Lemon Raspberry Pancakes

1/2 cup organic unbleached flour
1/2 cup organic whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. evaporated cane juice
2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 2 Tbsp. warm water
3/4 cup soy milk
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh raspberries or thawed frozen raspberries

Combine flours, salt, sugar, and baking powder in bowl. Whisk egg replacer powder and warm water together; add milk, oil and lemon juice. Slowly stir liquid mixture into dry ingredients and mix completely. Pour 2 Tbsp. of batter onto griddle preheated to 350, sprinkle with raspberries and cook until batter bubbles and pancakes begin to brown around edges. Flip and cook 2 minutes more. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


In an effort to eat healthier and reduce my family's exposure to chemicals, we have been doing more cooking from scratch. My daughter and I have been making our own tortillas and they taste great and are fun to make!


1 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 cup water

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. On a clean countertop, form the dry ingredients into a small mountain and make a well in the center. Pour oil & enough water into the well to make a soft, but not sticky dough. Knead dough until well combined and smooth. Break dough into 8 small balls and dust with flour. Roll each into a circle 1/8 inch in thickness. Heat a lightly greased cast iron skillet over medium heat. Cook each tortilla for 15 seconds on each side.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Cloth Napkins

My family has been using cloth napkins for years. Two great reasons why - they are better for the environment and are cheaper in the long run. Americans use an average of 2,200 paper napkins per person per year, that's a lot of trees, as well as water and chemicals to process the napkins. You can save a lot of money over time - it's cheaper to wash cloth napkins than to buy paper ones. I buy good quality napkins on sale and they seem to last forever - one set of everyday ones we've been using for 8 years! I have also made some cute napkins from fabric scraps - all you need to do is run a hem all the way around the square. My friend uses nice dish towels instead of napkins and says they clean up great.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Check out the library

One large aspect of living a greener life is reducing the amount of products you purchase and using the library can help you in this venture. Today's libraries boast great books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, and even DVDs. By borrowing these items instead of purchasing them you help keep paper and plastic out of production. Our library also has great children's programs, craft classes, book clubs, art exhibits, author appearances, free tax help and even free wireless Internet. Many libraries also have used book sales which generate funds for the library and it's programs while keeping books, magazines, and other media out of landfills. I personally "recycle" all our magazines (most I get from Freecycle) and books (I rarely buy books, but love freebies from friends & family) at our local library. My next project is cleaning out all our VHS movies that are collecting dust and donating them to the library so they can find a new home on the library shelves or another patron's home. Remember the 3Rs - REDUCE - don't buy, borrow; REUSE - items on library shelves are used over & over again; RECYCLE - donate your old media to your local library. Just remember, if you save money on movie rentals, CD purchases, and expensive hardcover books, you will have more money in your pocket for the really important stuff - like fair trade organic chocolate and cool organic cotton tees. :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Banana Strawberry Pancakes

It's Pancake day and today's recipe was a twist on an old recipe. We got some awesome strawberries yesterday at the Farmer's Market and I was eager to use them in a recipe before my daughter ate them all!

Banana Strawberry Pancakes

1 cup unbleached flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 bananas, pureed
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup fresh strawberries, sliced

Add the vinegar to the soy milk and let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile mix together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix bananas, soy milk, oil, and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix together. Fold in the strawberries. Pour 2 Tbsp. of batter onto griddle preheated to 350 and cook until batter bubbles and pancakes begin to brown around edges. Flip and cook 2 minutes more. Enjoy!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Saving the planet one bulb at a time...

Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) are great: they use very little energy, give off very little waste heat, and last for years. Compared to a standard incandescent bulb, a CFL uses 60% less energy, saves on the production of 150-300 lbs. of carbon dioxide a year, cuts lighting costs by 75% and lasts at least 8x longer per bulb. With incandescent bulbs, 95% of the power used to light them is wasted as heat. If every US family switched to CFL bulbs we would reduce the carbon dioxide produced by more than 90 billion pounds. Unlike when CFLs first appeared on the scene, they are now widely available and are reasonably priced. A lot of concerns have come up recently regarding the mercury found in CFLs. Like all fluorescents, CFLs contain mercury and shouldn't be tossed in the trash when their day is done. Some stores, such as IKEA have recycling programs. Need to find out where in your community you can recycle your used CFLs check out

Friday, April 4, 2008


What is upcycling? Upcycling is the use of waste materials to provide useful products. Which basically means using items that would end up in the garbage to produce "new" usable items. My daughter loves to visit our local recycling center which accepts items from companies and individuals which it then sells by the bag to local families and schools. We have found items for our Girl Scout troop's projects, we made a craft at her birthday party out of recycled items, we have made books out of mat board and paper we found at the center, as well as great containers we use to store craft items. All it takes to successfully upcycle is to be creative and look for new uses for recycled items. Here are some companies which sell upcycled products: - an online community for sellers of all things handmade

Or you can get creative and make your own upcycled projects. :)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

What's your LILI?

A LILI is a Low Impact Living Index and it rates your household’s environmental impact. The Low Impact Living Environmental Impact Calculator calculates the environmental impact of your household. You input information about your home and habits, and it calculates your energy usage, the amount of carbon you emit, your water usage, your trash production, etc. You can see your household's impact on the environment relative to the average household in your area - an average LILI is 100. My favorite part however, is that based on your answers it will also recommend green projects to you to help reduce your environmental impact. The projects show the estimated cost of completing each project, each project's impact on the environment, and best of all there are resource links to help you find products and companies to help you complete your projects. My household's LILI is 57, considered low, but the real goal is to get as close to zero as you can. Check out this great tool at:

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Green your pet

Now that you are looking to live a greener life yourself, don't forget about your best friend. Help your pet live a greener, happier life.

1. Looking for a new pet? Check the local shelter. This will help keep unwanted animals alive and will hopefully end the horrible abuse found in puppy mills.

2. Spay or neuter your pet. Not only will you cut down on the number of homeless animals out there but you will improve your pet's health - spaying and neutering helps dogs and cats live longer, healthier lives by eliminating the possibility of uterine, ovarian, and testicular cancer, and decreasing the incidence of prostate disease.

3. Feed your pet organic, FDA-certified food-grade meals. Many pet foods contain meat from diseased and dying animals - would you want to eat that?

4. Looking for great products for your pet? Check these out: - collars, leashes, beds, and toys made from hemp - RecycleBALL and RecycleBONE made from recycled materials - natural and holistic products for pets