Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Unfortunately like most holidays that provide a 3 day weekend, Memorial Day has become for many just a day to barbecue, head to the beach, or attend a party. Please take a moment today to remember the true meaning of Memorial Day - a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service. Thanks to all the soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tips from Green America

Here are some great living green tips from Green America...

1. Grow Your Own

"The biggest thing I'm doing this year is growing my own vegetable garden. It will be organic, and it doesn't get any more local than my own back yard. Plus, it's one heck of a money saver. It will even help me build community, because I will surely have extra fruits and vegetables to share with my neighbors."
— Jessica S., Littleton, CO

2. One Less Car

"I don't own a car. Even in the cold Minnesota winters you'll find me biking. Riding a bicycle obviously saves money and resources, but I believe it also builds community. When I am on a bicycle, I feel more connected to my surroundings, and I'm more approachable. I'm always saying hello to people as I ride past, whereas in a car, that interaction would be lost."
— Sarah P., Minneapolis, MN

3. One Less Car, Part Two

"Although I get 48 miles per gallon with my hybrid car, I still make every effort to plan my trips to avoid needless driving, to carpool, and to take public transportation and telecommute, as often as possible. I write and call my political leaders in support of laws and funding for mass transit, and for greener cars."
— Jeanne T., Springfield, VA

4. Reuse, Reuse, Reuse

"One way I have discovered to keep items out of landfills and save a bunch of money in the process is FreeCycle – an online group where members post things they are looking for, and what they have to get rid of. I have received a dining room set (complete with six chairs, buffet, and hutch), bunk beds for my kids, a set of night stands, and a really good juicer for no cost. And I've used FreeCycle to give away all the clothes that my kids have outgrown."
— Lea P-W., Painesville, OH

5. Stop the Leaks

"I'm unplugging the toaster, lamps, cell phone chargers, laptops, and other electronic devices when I'm not using them. These things leak energy needlessly when they are plugged in all the time. It's the quickest way to save energy and it saves me money on the electric bill too."
— Rachelle N., Nashville, TN

6. Harness the Sun

"We installed solar panels on our townhome in March along with another family in our homeowners' association. Several others had expressed interest before the economic meltdown and then backed off, but we hope that with our example others will see that in the long-run it's a money-saver, and they will understand the benefit for both the planet and their bottom lines."
— Ellen S., Boulder, CO

7. Waste Not, Want Not

"I compost. I keep my garbage creation to a minimum. I refuse packaging and bags whenever possible (bringing my own cloth bag). I explain to the checkout person why I am refusing the bag or giving back the packaging. Also, steel is 100-percent recyclable. The recycled steel isn't downgraded or 'downcycled.' I recycle every unusable nail, every screw, every wire, etc., at my local transfer station. Even my steel roof will be recycled when it is done being my roof."
— Ruth O., White Salmon, WA

8. Dispense With Disposables

"This may seem like a minor thing, but it really helps on my limited budget. I have ceased purchasing paper towels and instead use old rags for cleaning and wiping up spills. I wash the dirty rags and reuse them until they wear out. I didn't realize how many paper towels I used to go through before I started this new system."
— Sarah F., Tullahoma, TN

9. Reallocate Your Resources

"Our path toward sustainability began when we realized the value of doing things for ourselves. I began by making our own laundry detergent. It is all-natural and costs less than a penny per ounce to make! We used the money we were saving to take bigger steps: buying our meat in bulk from local farmers who raise their animals on pasture and sustainably, and buying Energy-Star appliances for our house."
— Carrie C., Salem, VA

10. Examine Your Diet

"By becoming vegan I cut my carbon footprint to at least 60 percent and the amount of money that each meal costs me by an average of 78 percent. Beans and legumes are so inexpensive compared to meat! I cut costs even more by growing herbs and vegetables for myself, and I earn fruits by offering to do the picking for friends with fruit trees, in exchange for keeping the surplus. I preserve them in glass jars and make pickled fruits and vegetables to extend them even further ."
— Sarah F., Tullahoma, TN

11. Green celebrations!

"On June 20, I am getting married green style. Oh, green wedding, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
1) Used wedding dress from eBay, $10!,
2) Organic, Fair Trade apparel for the wedding party that they can use afterwards,
3) Asking guests to carpool to save gas, money, and the environment,
4) Sending plantable wedding invitations [That's right, you bury the invitations and wildflowers spring forth, just like love blooms…],
5) Using leftover supplies from my cousin's wedding,
6) Buying organic flowers from the farmer's market … and more.
My fiancé Mark and I will be celebrating our day free from wedding-induced debt and the weight of a heavy carbon footprint!"
— Michelle B., Oshkosh, WI

12. Invest Wisely
(and Needs vs. Wants)

"We're always asking ourselves whether this next purchase is a 'need' or a 'want.' When we actually stop to think about it, there are precious few needs. People say things like 'I need cable TV,' but that's probably not true. Calling such things 'needs' cheapens the meaning of the word. We've also begun investing some savings with a community bank. Interestingly, in our experience, the smaller community bank with the social mission has been reliably beating the pants off of the mega-banks in terms of rate of return. We know that we're saving more by getting the higher rate of return, but we are also proud that our money is doing good in the community as well!"
— Steve O., Mamaroneck, NY

13. What Really Matters?

"I'm trying to stay focused on people and relationships rather than stuff. This helps me consider who is affected by what I do buy and from whom I buy it. I save by buying only thrift store clothes, but splurge on Fair Trade chocolate. I support locally owned businesses. I volunteer my time. And with some of the money I save, I use it to support organizations that help people help themselves. I do without stuff; that isn't what matters anyway!"
— Kelly G., Charlotte, NC

14. Get everyone you know involved in going green and saving green.

For more great green living ideas visit Green America at

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Loofah Kitchen Scrubber

For Mother's Day I got a great new eco-friendly gift - a natural loofah kitchen scrubber from Loofah-Art. The loofah scrubber is made from 100% naturally grown loofah and natural dye. The scrubbers are 100% non-toxic and bio-degradable and resist wearing.

The kitchen scrubber is gentle enough to scrub fruits and veggies, but tough enough to clean dirty dishes. I love it for scrubbing pots! The scrubbers are made from non-scratch fibers and are safe to use on a variety of surfaces including delicate non-stick surfaces.

You may wonder what exactly is loofah? Loofah is a vegetable closely related to the cucumber family. It originated in Asia and is grown in sub-tropical temperatures. Once the plant naturally dries on the vine, it is harvested and the outer skin is peeled off to expose the inner fibers, which form the natural loofah sponge.

Want more info, check out

Thanks for the awesome green gift Mom!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tips to Improve Your Fuel Efficiency

As fuel prices start to climb again, be sure your car is running efficiently as possible.

1. Be sure to perform your car's scheduled oil changes and tune-ups.

2. Check to see if you need to replace a clogged air filter.

3. Keep your tires properly inflated.

4. Drive smartly - use your cruise control on the highway, avoid quick accelerations and excessive braking.

5. Avoid idling, turn off your car in bank lines and school carlines.

6. Reduce drag by removing roof racks and avoiding excess weight in trunk.

Monday, May 18, 2009

10 Easy Ways to Save Energy

Looking to reduce your carbon footprint and save money on your electric bill? Here are 10 simple tips to help you out:

1. Always turn off the lights when you leave a room.

2. Monitor your thermostat - as the summer heats up set it up a few degrees and use ceiling fans to help you feel cooler.

3. Schedule a free home energy audit with your electric company.

4. Seal air leaks with caulking, sealing, or weather stripping to help keep your air conditioning inside.

5. Be aware of your lighting usage, during the day opt to open curtains to allow daylight in instead of turning on a light.

6. Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.

7. Make sure you aren't keeping your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 37° to 40°F for the refrigerator and 5°F for the freezer.

8. Turn off your computer when it is not in use.

9. Whenever possible, use your microwave for cooking. It uses two-thirds less energy than the stove and will keep the house cooler.

10. Looking for a fun way to save energy? Plan an Earth Hour celebration one evening each week where you turn off the lights and eat dinner and play board games by candlelight.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

One step at a time...

Looking to make greener purchases, but feeling overwhelmed and not sure where to start? You don't have to make drastic changes, start small. Change your actions one step at a time by choosing one product you buy often and commit to looking for a greener alternative. Once that change has become habit, look for another item to start buying green. Need suggestions:

1. Instead of reaching for a regular candy bar, choose a fair-trade certified bar. Fair-trade certification means the farmer is fairly paid and the cocoa beans are grown sustainably.

2. Purchase an eco-friendly laundry detergent like Seventh Generation which can now be found at your local grocery store.

3. Purchase toilet paper made from recycled paper. Publix's Greenwise products are earth-friendly and inexpensive.

4. Trade your paper napkins in for cloth napkins. Paper napkins are used for a minute and then are tossed, cloth napkins can be washed and used over and over.

5. Buy items with minimal packaging. Buy bulk items if possible, choose fresh fruits & veggies instead of canned or frozen which will eliminate packaging, and look for cereals sold in bags instead of a bag inside of a box.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Love Your Mother Earth

Mother’s Day is this Sunday, why not show your love for mom and the planet with some great green gifts.

1. Instead of cut flowers which only last a few days, buy mom a potted plant, a plant for her garden, or plant her an organic herb garden she can enjoy throughout the year.

2. Treat your mom to a day at an eco-friendly spa or put together a home spa gift basket. Find a fun reusable container and fill it with natural, organic, and paraben free spa products.

3. Give mom some sweets. In honor of World Fair Trade Day on May 9th, give mom a fair-trade and organic chocolate sampler or bake a batch of homemade organic cookies with chips from

4. Encourage mom to go green by giving her a reusable tote, a reusable water bottle, and a book on living greener.

5. Cut down on waste by giving mom a day of fun and enjoy some special time together - take a trip to a local museum, head to the beach, pack a picnic and go on a bike ride, or head to the local theater for a play.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

First Garden

The kitchen staff harvested the first vegetables from the White House garden, including oak leaf lettuce, red romaine, speckled lettuce, fennel and rhubarb last week. That evening President Obama and his economic advisers, dined on "White House kitchen garden salad with spiced Marcona almonds and lemon tarragon vinaigrette" which included lettuces and fennel fresh from the garden. In the Navy Mess, the administration staff enjoyed a garden thyme garnish and three types of lettuce. The kitchen staff was "thrilled to use produce from the White House kitchen garden," said White House executive chef Cristeta Comerford. "It is so exciting to see our efforts turn into usable goods.” The White House donated the rhubarb to Miriam's Kitchen who provides healthy homemade meals to the homeless in Washington D.C. Miriam's will use it to make a strawberry-rhubarb sauce for the mini cheesecakes it is serving at 100 Bowls of Compassion, its annual gala. In the future the bulk of the produce donated to Miriam's will be used for client meals.

Feeling motivated by the White House garden's delicious harvest? Start planning your own garden today. My husband planted some pineapples this weekend in our yard and I worked on planning our fall garden. Need some inspiration for your garden - check out

Monday, May 4, 2009

Phonebook Overload

Well it's that time again - new phonebook delivery time. In the next few weeks, phonebook companies will deposit their huge phonebooks on my doorstep. Their are two reasons that I get annoyed by all the phone books - first, I rarely use a phonebook as I tend to look up numbers on the internet and second phonebooks are a big burden on the environment - their printing require tons of paper & ink.

Now I need to unload last year's phonebook and the numerous unnecessary editions I will receive this year. Fortunately I can recycle the unwanted books in my newspaper recycling bin, check to see how to recycle phonebooks in your community. Since reducing is always better than recycling, I wish the companies would change their delivery system and only deliver books to those homes that actually want them.

This lead me to do some research online to see if there was a way to stop phonebook delivery and was very pleased with what I found. To opt out of phonebook delivery visit

Hopefully next year I will not have a mountain of phonebooks destined for my recycling bin.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Simple Steps to Greener Living

Ready to start living a greener lifestyle, but feeling a little overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? Here are ten simple things you can do this weekend and still have time left over to nap in the hammock.

1. Switch your conventional lightbulbs to Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFLs).

2. It's spring - open up the windows and let some fresh air in instead of running the air conditioner.

3. Clean or replace your air conditioning filter and put reminders on your calendar to complete this task monthly.

4. Hang your sheets on the clothesline to dry. What a blissful way to fall asleep - under fresh, clean sheets dried in the sun.

5. Buy and install a low-flow shower head.

6. Check to make sure your car's tires are properly inflated to save on gas.

7. Make up a batch of homemade earth-friendly cleaners with items found in your pantry. Check my archives for some easy recipes.

8. Tackle some of your weekend errands on your bike.

9. Go meatless this Sunday.

10. Shop your local farmer’s market. You will enjoy fresher fruits and veggies while supporting local growers.