Tuesday, May 27, 2008

6 Reasons to Give Up Bottled Water

I know some people don't get what the big deal is with plastic water bottles, but studies show not only is the plastic dangerous to you (check previous posts on BPA) but plastic bottles have a huge impact on our Earth. Maybe one of these facts will help convince someone with a plastic bottle habit to invest in a reusable bottle.

1. North Americans spent $15,000,000,000 on water in plastic bottles last year.

2. Americans consumed 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, made of totally recyclable PET plastic however we only recycle 38% of these bottles meaning 38 billion water bottles a year go into landfills.

3. EVERY piece of petroleum-based plastic EVER manufactured still exists!

4. Plastic is the most common type of marine litter found worldwide, over 300,000 pieces of plastic per square mile have been found in the middle of the North Pacific.

5. The hidden costs of bottled water: the production of bottles uses crude oil, each liter of water sold actually represents three liters of water because manufacturing the PET plastic uses two times the amount of water that each bottle will hold, filling the bottles with water at the factory also uses energy, transporting it to the buyer uses gas, cooling it in grocery stores and home refrigerators, and recovering, recycling or discarding the empty bottles uses even more energy. The Pacific Institute estimates that "the total amount of energy embedded in our use of bottled water can be as high as the equivalent of filling a plastic bottle one quarter full with oil." And you wonder why gas prices are so high!

6. Make a change today to reusable bottles and save money. While reusable bottles, like Sigg aluminum bottles may seem pricey at $20 a bottle, statistics show the average person buys 167 water bottles a year - with water selling for at least $1 a bottle you will save money in the long run!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Graham Cracker Maple Pancakes

Well today I shopped my pantry for inspiration for a pancake recipe and found a box of graham cracker crumbs from a cake we decorated and came up with this recipe.

Graham Cracker Maple Pancakes

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 2 Tbsp. warm water (or 1 egg)
1 1/4 cups soy milk
2 Tbsp. maple syrup

In a bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, salt, and brown sugar. In another bowl, combine egg replacer mix, soy milk, and maple syrup; stir into dry ingredients. 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!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Non-toxic Toilet Cleaners

Acid-based toilet bowl cleaners are in the top three of the most toxic household products available because they contain caustic ingredients that burn eyes, skin and internal tissues. They can also contain chlorine or ammonia and pesticides. Of course you're concerned about bacteria and germs in the bathroom, but with regular cleaning those harsh chemicals are not necessary. A good rule of thumb to help green your cleaning is to start as mild as possible and go from there. Here’s some advice for the toilet.

Regular toilet cleaning:
1. Brush bowl and flush.
2. Pour a tablespoon of Sal Suds from Dr. Bronners to help clean and fight bacteria and ½ cup baking soda to help scrub and deodorize into the bowl
3. Brush the whole bowl.

To clean the exterior of the toilet try this minty fresh antibacterial spray:

2 cups water
2 Tbsp. Dr. Bronners Sal Suds
25 drops tea tree oil
10 drops peppermint essential oil

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

What Does Organic Mean?

You know that you should be buying more organic foods, but why? What does organic really mean?

Organic produce is grown without any herbicides, pesticides, or synthetic fertilizers. Organic meat and dairy animals receive no antibiotics or hormones and are raised on organic feed. Organic products cannot be genetically engineered or irradiated. Farming with organic practices improves soil quality, conserves water, increases biodiversity, and reduces chemicals in our earth, water, and air. Organic food is known to contain 50% more nutrients, minerals and vitamins than produce that has been intensively farmed.

The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) strictly enforces the use organic labels, so be sure to look for the USDA Organic symbol on organic products you purchase. Here's some guidelines on organic food labels:

100% Organic - all ingredients are produced organically

USDA Certified Organic - products contain 95% or more organic ingredients

Made with Organic Ingredients - made with 70-95% organic ingredients

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Eat Green & Save Some Green

With the price of fuel and food skyrocketing it's time to find ways to make every dollar count. Sometimes it's hard to eat well on a budget as organic items can be expensive. I have gathered some tricks and tips to help you stretch your food dollars while still keeping the environment and your health in mind:

1. Eat locally. Shop your local farmer's market for fresh, in season produce. The markets are always cheaper than grocery stores, you can find unique varieties not found on supermarket shelves, you reduce packaging on your food, you help support farmers in your community, and you will enjoy the freshest most flavorful fruits and veggies money can buy.

2. Cook from scratch. Preparing most items from basic staples, will save you money and will reduce the amount of packaging that your family disposes. By making items like, pancakes, tortillas, bread, treats, etc. you can also eliminate excessive preservatives, fats, and chemical in your family's diet.

3. Plan your meals. Reading sales circulars and buying sales items helps you save money while still making your family's favorite meals.

4. Buy and cook in bulk and then remember to eat the leftovers. By cutting down on the amount of meals you have to cook from scratch you save time and electricity. Bringing leftovers in your brown bag lunch will save money when compared to eating lunch out.

5. Don’t buy too much food. Buying food that goes bad before you'll use it doesn't save money and impacts the planet with extra waste. Plan your meals carefully and use what ingredients are fresh in the fridge. Shop your pantry for items that you already have on hand and plan meals around these items.

6. Quit eating meat. Buying meat can really break the bank and is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. By replacing meat with plant-based protein sources, such as beans and lentils you can save money and lighten your footprint. If you can't give up meat completely, decreasing your meat-based meals will help the planet and your pocketbook.

7. Use coupons. Now that organic foods are growing in popularity, so are coupons for these foods. Check your Sunday newspaper for coupons, check your local store for coupon books like Mambo Sprouts, or check the websites of your favorite companies for coupon offers. When using coupons, don't just buy an item because you have a coupon, if your family won't eat the food you've wasted money not saved money.

8. Grow your own food. My family is getting ready to prepare a bed for planting in the fall and we are researching which fruits and veggies will grow best in our area. We have been composting for a year and have some great materials to feed our soil with. Organic seeds are inexpensive and can be found at most garden stores or online.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

Today's recipe is a nod to my mom's favorite sandwich - peanut butter with banana slices. We are going to see her this afternoon and are bringing her a sample of our new pancakes to get her input.

Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. evaporated cane juice
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3 bananas, pureed
1 1/2 cups soy milk
1/2 cup organic peanut butter

Mix together the flour, evaporated cane juice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, mix bananas, soy milk, and peanut butter. Pour dry ingredients into wet and mix together. 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, May 17, 2008

National Chocolate Chip Day

I think I have a new favorite holiday - Thursday May 15th was National Chocolate Chip Day! My daughter and I made 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies which we shared with neighbors, friends, and my coworkers. It was nice to bring a smile to so many people with such a simple gesture to let them know we care and of course we enjoyed a few cookies ourselves :) We also wrapped up 2 dozen cookies for our local fire station. Our town was hit hard this week with dangerous fires and our local firefighters, as well as teams from across the state worked for days straight to extinguish the fires and protect homes. Bringing them a sweet treat to say thank you for all their hard work seemed like the least we could do. So mark your calendars for next year and be sure to celebrate National Chocolate Chip Day on May 15th, you won't regret it!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Bike To Work Day

Tomorrow May 16th is National Bike to Work Day so I thought I would give you time to plan your trip and some tips for your biking commute:

1. Find a safe route.

2. If you can't take your bike into work, find a safe place to lock it up.

3. Dress appropriately - wear clothes to bike in and change when you get to work.

4. Wear a helmet.

5. Lucky you if you live in Orlando - In support of Bike to Work Day on May 16th you can get FREE Coffee at ALL Orlando area Starbucks IF you ride your bike and bring your own mug.

Even if you live too far from work to bike or if you don't work, there are ways you can celebrate this holiday and help the environment.

1. Ride your bike to run errands.

2. If your child is in school, ride your bike to school with them.

3. Contact local officials to encourage them to make your town bike friendly - by creating bike trails and lanes and by installing bike racks around town.

Why bike instead of drive? Here are some facts:

1. If you drive an SUV and live 5 miles from work, you would save $346.32 a year by biking to work one day a week.

2. If you drive a Toyota Camry and live 9 miles from work, you would reduce emissions pollutants by 908 lbs year by biking one day a week.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

More Great Uses for Baking Soda

Instead of purchasing chemical cleaners or increasing your waste by buying multiple products, use baking soda from your pantry for a variety of uses.

1. Tile & grout cleaner – make a paste of 3 parts baking soda and 1 part water

2. Autos – remove dead bugs with a paste of 3 parts baking soda and a few drops of dishwashing liquid to one part water

3. Insect bites & stings – applying a paste of baking soda and water removes pain and irritation

4. Foot Smoother – massage with a paste of baking soda and water

5. Foot bath – soak your feet for 10 minute in a solution of 4 Tbsp. baking soda per quart warm water to relieve tired feet and soften calluses

6. Clean the inside of your refrigerator with a solution of 3 Tbsp. of baking soda dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water.

7. Exfoliate your skin. Apply a soft paste made of three parts baking soda and one part water. Massage gently with a circular motion, being sure to avoid the eye area; rinse clean.

8. Remove burned-on food from a pan by letting the pan soak in baking soda and water for 10 minutes before washing.

9. Clean sterling silver jewelry with a paste of baking soda and water. Use a soft cloth to wipe away all tarnish.

10. Think you have a lot to cleaning to do? More than 100 tons of baking soda were used to clean the Statue of Liberty’s inner copper walls during its 1986 restoration.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Free & Green

One of the main complaints I hear about trying to be greener is the cost. Many items that are eco-friendly are more expensive than their conventional counterparts. So here are some green tips that will cost you nothing and may even save you money!

1. Reuse your towel - after showering, hang your towel up so it can be reused

2. Turn off lights, televisions, etc. when you leave a room.

3. Use natural daylight as much as possible, open blinds or curtains during the day to limit the number of lights you need to turn on.

4. Use your library for books, movies & magazines

5. Recycle!

6. Freecycle - check out this great movement at www.freecycle.org

7. Use cloths to clean up spills instead of paper towels

8. Stop using disposable items - paper plates & cups, paper napkins, etc.

9. Reduce your shower time - by keeping your shower time under five minutes, you can save as many as 1,000 gallons per month.

10. Go paperless with your bills and use the internet instead.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to all the green moms out there and Happy Mother's Day to the most important mom - Mother Earth. Respect her by making one green change in your home this week.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Save a life ...

Looking for a new friend for your family? Please check out the great animals available at your local shelter or rescue agencies. When you get an animal from the shelter you save a life - euthanasia is the single greatest cause of death for cats and dogs in the U.S. Each year, 8 to 12 million animals are euthanized or 1 pet every 4 seconds. Our county alone euthanizes over 10,000 animals a year! Also by adopting a cat or dog from the shelter you will be helping to reduce the demand for the puppy and kitty mills where animals are horribly abused. If you are looking for a particular breed of animal check your local shelter, many purebred cats and dogs are also abandoned or check for local purebred rescue agencies. Online resources - www.petfinder.com and www.pet911.com

Want to help, but not ready to commit to a forever friend? There are many ways you can help. We are currently "fostering" 4 abandoned kittens for our local shelter. Baby animals are at risk in the shelter since they are to young to be vaccinated against respiratory diseases and other diseases they may be exposed to in the shelter. Our job is to help them eat well and gain weight and to give them tons of love - not a bad job huh? When they are older they will return to the shelter for their vaccines, be spayed or neutered and will be available for adoption. Animal shelters always need donations of food especially kitten, puppy, and canned food as well as towels, and kitty litter. They also need volunteers to help with the animals and with office work, contact your local shelter for more information.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dine with the planet in mind

When planning your meals, be sure to consider the impact your choices have on the environment. Some great ways to be kind to the earth:

1. Buy in bulk - bulk buying reduces the amount of packaging used

2. Buy local - help support community farms and reduce the amount of gas used to transport your food

3. Reduce meat consumption - the livestock industry alone is responsible for nearly one-fifth of the greenhouse gases —more than all transportation

4. Buy organic - reduce the amount of pesticides your family is exposed to and help support farmers who protect the planet with their farming techniques

5. Compost - help reduce the impact to landfills by composting as much food waste as possible check out www.compostguide.com for composting tips

Monday, May 5, 2008

Green Window Cleaning

An easy step you can take to green your cleaning is to replace your neon blue conventional glass cleaners with a mixture of vinegar and water in a reusable spray bottle. This will reduce your household’s impact on the environment by reducing packaging and will keep your indoor air clean and free of toxins. Conventional glass cleaners can contain a number of different toxins including ammonia - an irritant to eyes, noses, throats and lungs.

Some people get turned off by using vinegar and water because when they first use it to clean windows they have streaking. The streaking is caused by the residue left over from conventional cleaners, not the vinegar. When first making the switch to vinegar cleaners, start with a mix of about 1/3 white vinegar, 1 tsp. of Dr. Bronner's soap, and 2/3 water. The next time you mix the cleaner, omit the soap and you will continue to have sparkling clean windows.

To be extra green, use microfiber cloths to clean your windows instead of paper towels.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Okay not the healthiest pancakes, but the whole wheat does offset the chocolate a little right?

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Pancakes

2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. evaporated cane juice
4 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 4 Tbsp. warm water (or 2 eggs)
1 1/2 cup soy milk
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Tropical Source chocolate chips

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

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Plastic Bag Facts

1. Currently our planet uses well over 500,000,000,000 (that's 500 billion) plastic bags annually, or almost 1 million per minute.

2. Single-use bags made of high-density polyethylene will accumulate and persist on our planet for up to 1,000 years. Four out of five grocery bags used in the US are plastic.

3. In 2001, Ireland used 1.2 billion disposable plastic bags, or 316 per person. An extremely successful plastic bag tax, or PlasTax, introduced in 2002 reduced consumption by 90%.

4. According to The Wall Street Journal, the U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags.

5. Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year when animals mistake them for food.

6. The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store.

7. Nearly 80% of the plastic trash in the US comes from bags and packaging and only 3.2% is recycled.

8. Each reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Organic Fruits and Veggies

Due to the contamination of fruits and vegetables with pesticides, I highly recommend buying organic. If you are unable to buy all organic, concentrate on the fruits and veggies with the highest levels of pesticides. The following fruits and vegetables consistently have the highest amount of pesticides and you should opt for purchasing organic varieties:

1. Apples
2. Bell peppers
3. Celery
4. Cherries
5. Grapes
6. Nectarines
7. Peaches
8. Pears
9. Potatoes
10. Red raspberries
11. Spinach
12. Strawberries

Thursday, May 1, 2008

10 Simple Green Tips

1. Save paper - remove your name from junk mail lists. Contact the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) and register with their Mail Preference Service online at www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailinglist or download a mail-in form.

2. Save electricity - when the sun is out, turn off lights and open blinds

3. Save water by fixing leaks. Leaking faucets, toilets, showerheads, and hoses can waste hundreds of gallons of water each day.

4. Do a little Spring cleaning – properly dispose of hazardous materials found in your home and garage. Go to www.earth911.org to find locations to drop off your hazardous products.

5. Recycle - check with your town to see what items can be recycled curbside - you might be surprised how much you can recycle.

6. Change your light bulbs - CFLs last longer and save energy.

7. Support local farmers and crafters - buying local supports your community and reduces the amount of gas consumed in this country.

8. Ride your bike for one errand this week to reduce the CO2 you generate and to save money.

9. Use a reusable bag when you go shopping.

10. Change your cup - stop using styrofoam single use cups for your morning tea or coffee and bring your own china mug to work.