Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A year of changes...

When I started this blog at the beginning of the year my goal was to share our experiences with others and to encourage more people in our circle and out in the world to start on their own greener path. It's been a busy year full of great experiences and many changes, here's a recap of our year:

1. We have completely switched to washing our clothes in cold water.

2. We are all using reusable bags including my husband at the grocery store. With my purchase of the Green3 bag for my purse - I always have a bag available for my other shopping.

3. We have switched all our light bulbs to CFLs.

4. We recycle everything possible! This has reduced our waste to one small bag a week.

5. We adopted our road and have cleaned it several times.

6. We have all switched to reusable water bottles.

7. We participated in 4 beach clean-ups this year.

8. We now receive all our bills online are doing our banking online - eliminating tons of wasted paper.

9. We have fostered 9 kittens for our local animal shelter. We also adopted a shelter cat who has turned out to be a loving addition to our family.

10. We have all eliminated a bad habit of brushing our teeth with the water running.

11. I have switched to all organic makeup.

12. I have participated in the local Freecycle network as both a giver and a taker.

13. We have done both a Live With Less and a Financially Free week - basically a week of buying nothing. I learned a lot from these weeks about why we buy, what we buy, how to save money, and what we really need.

14. We did a Reverse Trick-or-Treating where we passed out fair trade chocolates along with information on what fair trade is and why it is important to the houses we visited on Halloween.

15. We have adopted a new habit of unplugging items when they are not in use - eliminating phantom loads.

16. I participated in Buy Nothing Day on Black Friday, where instead of heading out with the hoards of Christmas shoppers I enjoyed the day at the beach gathering items for our Christmas decorating.

17. As a family we volunteered in many ways - we raised a guide dog puppy for Southeastern Guide Dogs who graduated and is currently working, we are currently raising another guide dog puppy, I donated 12" of my hair to Locks of Love, we donated food to the local food pantry, we headed up a food drive for the animal shelter, I've handed out reusable bags to shoppers at the grocery store, as well as many random acts of kindness.

18. Instead of sending out paper Christmas cards we sent a Smilebox greeting which everyone loved and several people were inspired to send Smilebox cards themselves.

19. We wrapped all our birthday and Christmas presents in reusable fabric gift bags we made ourselves.

20. Hopefully through our actions, gifts, store, and blog we have educated and inspired others to make some green changes in their own lives.

I think we have accomplished our goal of living our life according to Gandhi's saying - "You must be the change you wish to see in the world." Thank you for joining us on our journey this year and I hope you will continue to join us in the new year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Help Save the Rainforest

Make one of your New Year's resolutions a commitment to live your life in a way that helps save the rainforest. Making a few simple changes can make a big difference:

1. Reduce your paper and wood consumption since logging companies are cutting down some of the most endangered forests on the planet to make wood and paper products. How can you help - use both sides of each piece of paper, purchase paper with high post-consumer recycled content or tree-free paper, use your own cloth bags at the grocery store, use cloth napkins and towels, and avoid disposable paper plates and cups. When you need wood for home projects, choice reclaimed or recycled lumber or Forest Stewardship Council certified wood.

2. Reduce your oil consumption. Oil exploration is a threat to ecosystems and can result in massive deforestation. Also the burning of fossil fuels is the leading cause of global warming. When purchasing a car choose one that gets good gas mileage, carpool, use local mass transport, ride your bike or walk when possible.

3. Reduce your beef consumption as the U.S.'s demand for meat has resulted in two-thirds of Central America's rainforests being cleared.

4. Hold businesses accountable for their actions. If a company's actions are socially or environmentally irresponsible write the company to voice your concerns and let the company know you will boycott it until they change their practices.

5. Support companies that sell items that protect the rainforest. Check out

Monday, December 29, 2008


Now that Christmas is over what to do with the tree? Assuming you went the greenest route and bought a replantable tree, there are many online resources with tips to plant your tree. We personally went with live trees this year and recycled them in our curbside recycling program which turns the trees into mulch. To find out if your town recycles Christmas trees check If you used an artificial tree and aren't keeping it, donate it to a hospital, thrift store, or Freecycle it - anything to keep it out of the landfill!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Greening your Christmas Cards

If you're like me, you're torn on the whole Christmas card issue. On one hand it's a time honored tradition and on the other hand it's not very earth friendly - all the paper which rarely gets recycled, the chemicals in the photos, the gas used to transport the cards...the list goes on and on. This usually results in a yearly debate with my husband on whether or not I'm doing cards this year. In previous years I have done handmade cards with gorgeous photos of my daughter which some people still display, this does eliminate some of the waste issue but is very time consuming. Last year I rebelled and went the earth friendly route and didn't send cards - while this was better for our planet it felt like something was missing. This year I feel that I have found the perfect solution - Smilebox. Smilebox is an easy way to go green and send environmentally friendly digital photo scrapbooks with personalized messages to family & friends. There are tons of designs to choose from and customizing you scrapbook is super easy and best of all it's free. I personally upgraded our scrapbook to the premium package for just $2.99 - this allows my family & friends to watch my scrapbook free of commercials and for those who would like to have a hard copy of our scrapbook they can print the scrapbook out. To me this is the best of both worlds - no wasted paper, but for those on our Christmas list that would like to keep the photos they can. Best of all it's not to late to send your card - scrapbooks can be completed in just a few minutes and can be send via email immediately or even posted on your family's blog.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Day Without A Bag

Heal the Bay is hosting its second annual A Day Without A Bag tomorrow December 18,2008. This is an educational grassroots event coordinated by Heal the Bay that encourages businesses and individuals throughout Los Angeles County to forgo single-use, plastic shopping bags in favor of reusable bags. A Day Without a Bag focuses on education and raising consumer awareness about personal choices.

Even though I live in Florida I plan on sharing information about this event with my friends, family, and community. I personally use reusable bags every day and have given my family & friends reusable bags as gifts to encourage them to make a change in their shopping habits. Tomorrow I plan on heading to my local grocery store and handing out reusable bags to shoppers.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Driving Log

Now that gas prices have fallen drastically, have you changed your driving habits back to your gas-guzzling ways? A lot of people reduced their driving when gas was hovering around the $4 mark, now that it has dropped continue with those changes and save money and the planet. A great way to track your driving habits is to keep a driving log. It’s a great way to track where you're driving and for what purpose. Try to keep a log for one week where you note your destination, mileage, and purpose of the trip. At the end of the week, look to see if there are any trips you can combine. By planning your routes ahead of time you can run your errands more efficiently - saving gas and time.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Green your TV

Will you need to replace your television soon - or is it just hype? The switch from analog to digital broadcasts could needlessly send millions of analog sets with toxic lead-filled cathode-ray tubes to landfills. If you currently subscribe to cable or satellite service you will be fine. If you are using an antennae now to get a signal you could have a problem come February 18, 2009. If your TV was built after 2003 it may have a built-in digital tuner that will allow you to receive a signal. If your TV doesn't have a digital tuner you can purchase a converter box to receive a signal. Every household is eligible to receive two $40 coupons from the government to purchase a converter

When your old tv finally dies, avoid energy wasting plasma tvs which use more energy a year than the refrigerator - which is the largest energy user for most households. The most efficient model would be an LCD TV less than 42 inches with the Energy Star symbol. Be sure to safely recycle your old television to keep all those toxins out of the landfill, check to find a local recycling center. Remember to plug your new television into a Smart Strip which will shut down your home theater components when the television is turned off.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Delaney's Green Tips

Delaney is my 9 year old daughter and she is writing today's post about her favorite living green tips:

1. Always remember to turn off the lights when you aren't in the room.

2. Recycle cans, bottles, paper, and cardboard.

3. Buy food with less packaging.

4. When you get rid of stuff, donate what you can instead of throwing it away.

5. If you need items for craft projects, go to your local recycling center or reuse stuff you already have.

6. When you have parties don't use paper or plastic, use real silverware and plates.

7. Properly dispose of trash.

8. When you go to the beach, bring an extra bag to put trash you collect in.

9. Try using natural cleaners instead of chemical cleaners.

10. Adopt pets from animal shelters instead of purchasing them from pet shops.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Green Gift Ideas Under $35

Give a great earth friendly gift without breaking the bank. Check out my great finds for under $35:

1. Tees For Change tees - these fabulous tees are incredibly soft and sport great 2 word messages on them like breathe deeply, live simply, etc. For every shirt sold the company plants a tree. The organic cotton or bamboo tees are $32 and the tanks are $28

2. Prepare a gift basket of eco-friendly and healthy beauty products. Include some wonderful all natural soaps from Sustenance Soaps some silky lotion from Pangea Organics and some terrific cosmetics from Peacekeeper Cause-metics the first cosmetics line to give all of its after-tax distributable profits to women’s health advocacy and urgent human rights issues

3. Give the gift of green knowledge in the form of a magazine subscription. Check out Positively Green a great new magazine with wonderful tips for going green. A one year subscription is only $16.00 or for those on your gift list with kids, Kiwi magazine is great for parents trying to raise their kids a little greener and you can't beat the price of $11.95 for a year's subscription!

4. Want to give the gift of a little scandal? Check out Scent of Scandal's awesome candle line with it's great vegan soy candles with naughty little names like - Tighty Whities, Santa's Pole, and One Night Stand you are sure to find the perfect scent for everyone on your list. The company even has two candles that support organizations that work for animal rights - Farm Sanctuary and Sea Shepherd - the star of Animal Planet's new series Whale Wars.

5. Make a gift basket of little indulgences such as organic fair trade chocolate, locally grown wines, fair trade coffee, and fresh fruits from the farmer's market.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Greening the yellow pages

Here's a startling statistic - about 540 million unsolicited phonebooks arrive at American doors annually. Phonebooks account for about 660,000 tons of trash every year. With the internet, when was the last time you looked up a number in the yellow pages? Want to help save some trees and clutter around your house - remove yourself from the phone directory list at If you like receiving the yellow pages and use them, be sure to recycle your old book when you get a new one, many cities accept them in their curbside paper recycling bins. Not sure if your city recycles phone books - check

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Give the gift of time...

It's holiday shopping time again, but instead of heading to the mall why not give a different type of gift this year and help a friend or family member by sharing your time and talent. Everyone has little projects that get put off due to lack of time or the skill to complete them. Think you don't have a talent to share, check out some ideas:

1. Help someone by organizing their photos, closet, pantry, or collections.
2. Prepare some homemade meals to help stock a friend's freezer.
3. Help organize items for a garage sale.
4. Help with home decorating projects.
5. Lend a hand with any handyman projects - installing lights, cleaning gutters, lawn care, painting, etc.
6. Prepare and plant a garden.
7. Sew curtains, pillows, or perform wardrobe repairs such as hemming or sewing buttons.
8. Computer help - set up a blog or family website.
9. Help train a new puppy or attempt to teach an old dog a new trick.
10. Everyone has a special talent that friends admire them for, find out what yours is and share it with those you love.

Giving a gift of your time is green since it adds less stuff to the planet. An added benefit is that every time your friend looks at their well organized closet, they will remember the love you shared with them.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Skip the fabric softener

Ever wonder what's in fabric softeners like Downy and other major brands? Well one startling ingredient is dihydrogenated tallow dimethyl ammonium chloride - a derivative of rendered fat from cattle, sheep and horses mixed with ammonium. Gross! Fabric softeners also contain cancer-causing and neurotoxic solvents such as toluene and styrene. Looking for some greener options? Check out:

1. Earth friendly brands like - Method, Ecover or Seventh Generation

2. A cheaper and greener option - add a 1/4 or 1/2 cup of white vinegar to your laundry rinse cycle. Your clothes will be softer and static free without any vinegary smell.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Unique Green Gift

I got a great gift for my birthday that would make a unique earth friendly present for someone on your holiday shopping list - Retro 51's Bamboo Tornado pen.

This pen is fantastic - it is lightweight, beautiful, and writes like a dream. The pen barrel is solid bamboo, which despite it's hardiness is not a wood but is actually the fastest growing woody plant. The pen has a cute picture of a panda engraved on it, as bamboo is a favorite treat for pandas. In addition to its eco-friendly bamboo barrel, the pen also is refillable which is much better for the environment than disposable pens.

Despite it's great looks the best feature of the pen is when you purchase the Bamboo Tornado you are saving 250 square feet of endangered rain forest through the Arbor Day Foundation's Rain Forest Rescue Program. This great program has already saved more than two billion square feet of rain forest. Why is saving the rain forest so important? Despite the fact that the rain forest only covers 2% of the earth's surface, it is home to thousands of plant species that may help us find a cure for cancer and other diseases.

For more information on this gift that you, the recipient, and the planet can all feel good about visit

Monday, December 1, 2008

Fridge Facts

Refrigerators are the largest energy hogs in most homes, consuming about a third of the total energy used in a home. Here are some tips to improve your refrigerator's efficiency:

1. Fridges work more efficiently when they are full. If you have open space in your fridge, fill up some containers with water to help your refrigerator stay colder.

2. Store your food in glass containers. Not only is glass free from the harmful ingredients found in plastic, it helps food stay colder which helps the fridge work more efficiently.

3.Vacuum the coils twice a year since dust and pet hair make the coils work harder.

4. When planning a new kitchen or a kitchen remodel, place your refrigerator away from the oven and sunny windows to help it stay colder.

5. If your fridge was purchased before 1993, replace it with a new Energy Star model. When checking out all the great features available on new refrigerators remember, models with the freezer on the bottom or top use about 20% less than side-by-side models.

6. Remember your mother's reminder to close the refrigerator door? As usual mom is always right, the longer the fridge door is open, the more cold air you’re losing and the harder your fridge will have to work to replace it. So when getting items out of the fridge do so quickly. When putting foods away after your grocery trip instead of opening the refrigerator door multiple times, gather all the items that belong in the refrigerator together and open it up once to put everything away.