Tuesday, January 5, 2010
For green tips please visit Green & Clean where I update content daily giving green cleaning tips as well as other ways you can lower your carbon footprint while saving some green.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
"Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without" is a favorite adage in both frugal and green circles, and it is something I strive to live by. One of the best ways to "use it up" is to think differently about our food and ways to avoid wasting it.
The statistics for how much food we waste in the U.S. are, frankly, appalling. On average, we waste 14% of our food purchases per year, and the average American family throws out over $600 of fruit per year. Most of the food we waste is due to spoilage -- we're buying too much and using too little of it.
We've all had it happen: Half the loaf of bread goes stale because no one wants to eat sandwiches today, and the grapes we bought as healthy snacks for the kids' lunches languish in the crisper.
With a little creativity, and an eye toward vanquishing waste in our lives, we can make use of more of our food before it goes to waste. Here are a few ideas for you.
Use up vegetables
1. Leftover mashed potatoes from dinner? Make them into patty shapes the next morning, and cook them in butter for a pretty good "mock hash brown."
2. Don't toss those trimmed ends from onions, carrots, celery, or peppers. Store them in your freezer, and once you have a good amount saved up, add them to a large pot with a few cups of water and make homemade vegetable broth. This is also a great use for cabbage cores and corn cobs.
3. Don't toss broccoli stalks. They can be peeled and sliced, then prepared just like broccoli florets.
4. If you have to dice part of an onion or pepper for a recipe, don't waste the rest of it. Chop it up, and store it in the freezer for the next time you need diced onion or peppers.
5. Roasted root vegetable leftovers can be turned into an easy, simple soup the next day. Add the veggies to a blender, along with broth or water to thin them enough to blend. Heat and enjoy.
6. If you're preparing squash, don't toss the seeds. Rinse and roast them in the oven, just like you would with pumpkin seeds. The taste is pretty much the same.
7. Celery leaves usually get tossed. There's a lot of good flavor in them. Chop them up and add them to meatloaf, soups, or stews.
8. Use up tomatoes before they go bad by drying them in the oven. You can then store them in olive oil in the refrigerator (if you plan on using them within a week) or in the freezer.
9. Canning is always a good option. If you're doing tomatoes, you can use a boiling-water bath. If you're canning any other type of veggie, a pressure canner is necessary for food safety.
10. Before it goes bad, blanch it and toss it in the freezer. This works for peas, beans, corn, carrots, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and leafy greens like spinach and kale.
11. Too many zucchini? Make zucchini bread or muffins. If you don't want to eat the bread now, bake it and freeze it, then defrost when you're ready to eat it.
12. Pickle it. Cucumbers are the first veggie most of us think of pickling, but in reality, just about any vegetable can be preserved through pickling.
Cut down on fruit waste
13. Make smoothies with fruit before it goes bad. Berries, bananas, and melons are great candidates for this use-up idea.
14. Jam is really easy to make, and will keep for up to a year if you process the jars in a hot-water bath. If you don't do the water-processing part, you can keep the jam in the refrigerator for a month, which is a lot longer than the fruits would have lasted.
15. Dry your fruit and store it in the freezer or in airtight containers.
16. Make fruit leather.
17. Make a big fruit salad or "fruit kebabs" for your kids. For some reason, they seem to eat more fruit if it's in these "fancier" forms.
18. Use up the fall bounty of apples by making applesauce or apple butter.
19. Don't throw out those watermelon rinds! Pickled watermelon rind is a pretty tasty treat.
20. Make a fruit crumble out of almost any fruit you have on hand. Assemble and bake it now, or leave it unbaked and store it in the freezer for a quick dessert.
Put extra grains to good use
21. Make croutons out of day-old bread.
22. Turn day-old bread into homemade bread crumbs.
23. Freeze leftover bread. This way you'll have day-old on hand whenever you need bread crumbs or croutons rather than using fresh bread.
24. All of those little broken pieces of pasta in the bottom of the box? Collect them and mix with rice and veggies for a simple side dish.
25. A few tablespoons of leftover oatmeal isn't enough for a meal, but it is great sprinkled on top of yogurt.
26. Add chopped bread to a soup. It will dissolve and thicken the soup.
27. Made too many pancakes for breakfast? Put them in the freezer, then toss in the toaster for a fast, tasty weekday breakfast. Ditto waffles.
28. If you make plain white or brown rice with dinner, use leftovers for breakfast the next morning by adding them to oatmeal. This provides extra fiber and allows you to use up that rice.
29. If you or your kids don't like the bread crusts on your sandwiches, save these bits and pieces in the freezer to turn into bread crumbs later. Just throw the crusts into a food processor or coffee grinder to make them into crumbs. Season as you like.
30. If you have just a smidge of baby cereal left in the box, and it's not enough for a full meal, add it to your baby's pureed fruit. It adds bulk and fiber, and keeps baby full longer.
Make the most of meat
31. Don't toss those chicken bones after you eat the chicken. Boil them to make chicken stock.
32. Ditto for bones from beef and pork.
33. The fat you trim from beef can be melted down and turned into suet for backyard birds.
34. Turn leftover bits of cooked chicken into chicken salad for sandwiches the next day.
35. Use leftover roast beef or pot roast in an easy vegetable beef soup the next day by adding veggies, water, and the cooking juices from the meat.
Use dairy before it expires
36. If you've got a few chunks of different types of cheese sitting around after a party, make macaroni and cheese.
37. Eggs can be frozen. Break them, mix the yolks and whites together, and pour into an ice cube tray. Two frozen egg cubes is the equivalent of one large egg.
38. You can also freeze milk. Leave enough room in the container for expansion, and defrost in the refrigerator.
39. Use cream cheese in mashed potatoes or white sauces to give them thickness and tang.
40. Put Parmesan cheese into the food processor with day-old bread to make Parmesan bread crumbs. This is excellent as a coating for eggplant slices, pork, or chicken.
Get the most out of herbs
41. Chop fresh herbs and add them to ice cube trays with just a little water. Drop whole cubes into the pan when a recipe calls for that type of herb.
42. You can also freeze herbs by placing them in plastic containers. Certain herbs, such as basil, will turn black, but the flavor will still be great.
43. Make pesto with extra basil or parsley.
44. Dry herbs by hanging them by their stems in a cool, dry location. Once they're dry, remove them from the stems and store them in airtight containers.
Don't waste a drop
45. Leftover coffee in the carafe? Freeze it in ice cube trays. Use the cubes for iced coffee or to cool down too-hot coffee without diluting it. You can do the same with leftover tea.
46. If there's a splash or two of wine left in the bottle, use it to de-glaze pans to add flavor to whatever you're cooking.
47. If you have pickle juice left in a jar, don't pour it down the drain. Use it to make a fresh batch of refrigerator pickles, or add it to salad dressings (or dirty martinis).
48. You can also freeze broth or stock in ice cube trays, and use a cube or two whenever you make a pan sauce or gravy.
49. If there's just a bit of honey left in the bottom of the jar, add a squeeze or two of lemon juice and swish it around. The lemon juice will loosen up the honey, and you have the perfect addition to a cup of tea.
50. If you can't think of any way to use that food in the kitchen, compost it. Everything except for meat and dairy will work in a compost pile, and at least your extra food can be used for something useful -- such as growing more food!
Related: Surprising Uses for Alka Seltzer
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Swine flu has been all over the news as of late. Who knows how this is going to turn out? Hopefully, the illness will die out with a whimper the way bird flu and other trumped-up media illnesses have in the past. I don't know. We can only hope.
Now that we are talking about colds and flu, it's a good time to re-raise the issue of honey as an alternative to dextromethorphan-based cough medicine. A study out of Penn State found that that buckwheat honey works better as a cough suppressant than over-the-counter cough medicine.
Please note that the study at Penn State was funded by the Honey Council. However, this is a minor problem compared to the problems of DM cough medicines.
Reasons Why You Should Choose Honey of Cough Medicine:
1. Honey has other applications, therefore, it is less likely to go to waste.
2. Honey is an organic product.
3. Dextromethorphan is considered dangerous for young children. Honey is not.
4. The side effects of Dextromethorphan include:
1. body rash/itching
7. blurred vision
8. dilated pupils
11. shallow respiration
13. urinary retention
Honey has none of these side effects. (unless you have a honey allergy)
5. Dextromethorphan can be abused as a drug and is habit-forming. Very few people have ruined their lives on honey-binges. Winnie the Pooh is the only person who has ruined his life over honey.
6. The World Health Organization recommends honey.
7. Honey has anitoxidant and antimicrobial properties.
Related: Surprising uses for Alka Seltzer
Monday, October 26, 2009
Making homemade baby wipes is even easier than making your own cloth diapers. If you can cut a straight line and run a zig zag stitch you can make organic baby wipes with the cloth that is left over from diaper making.
Flannel works especially well for this and it is a great way to use up old baby blankets, worn flannel sheets, and other items.
Making Baby Wipes
You are going to need a few supplies:
* You will need a container to keep your cloth baby wipes and solution in. The plastic containers from commercial baby wipes work well, as does almost any other container with a tight fitting lid.
* You will need flannel, terry, fleece, or other soft fabric that is durable.
* Fleece does not ravel so it will not need to be hemmed. For any other fabric you will need access to a sewing machine with a zig zag stitch.
* Baby wipe solution (recipe follows)
* Two waterproof zippered bags. One for storing the unused baby wipes when you are away from home and one to store the used baby wipes.
How to Make Homemade Baby Wipes
* To make your baby wipes cut an equal number of 6 inch by 6 inch squares from your chosen fabric. You can adjust the size of the wipes to fit in your container.
* Place two squares together, wrong sides facing each otherr, and zig zag stitch around the entire square. That is it. You have a baby wipe. You will probably want at least two dozen if you have a new baby and about one dozen for an older baby.
* Fold the baby wipe so that it fits in your container and add the baby wipe solution. After use, toss the wipe into the diaper pail with the soiled cloth diaper and wash. Hang in the sun to line dry and then put it back into the container for the next time.
Baby Wipe Solution
While commercial wipe solution may have any number of chemicals in it homemade baby wipe solution is gentle and healthy. It helps keep your baby's skin moisturized so that it can defend itself against diaper rash.
Baby Wipe Solution Recipe
* 2 cups purified or distilled water
* 2 drops organic essential Lavender oil
* 2 drops organic Tea Tree Oil
* 1 vitamin E capsule
* 1 tablespoon organic cider vinegar
Squeeze the contents of the vitamin E capsule into the remaining ingredients. Shake well and pour over homemade baby wipes.
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Related: How To Go Green With Babies
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Food and Drug Administration is warning parents to be wary of Halloween face paint, which the agency has limited jurisdiction over.
Halloween costume makeup is recommended as a good alternative to masks for kids who will be walking the streets trick-or-treating, since masks can obscure vision.
But Halloween face paint can have toxic ingredients (like lead and mercury) if not formulated according to the law; it can cause reactions in those who are allergic to certain ingredients; and it can cause reactions if applied to the wrong parts of the body.
The FDA recommends these simple steps to keep safe:
Follow all Halloween face paint directions carefully, including warnings against using around the eyes.
Don't decorate your face with products, paints, and colorings that aren't intended for your skin.
If your Halloween face paint has a very bad smell, this could be a sign that it is contaminated. Throw it away and use another one.
Before using new Halloween costume makeup, perform a simple simple patch test, particularly if you or your child are prone to allergic reactions, a few days before Halloween.
Read ingredient lists and don't buy any product that has non-approved colors. The FDA lists coloring agents approved for use in cosmetics.
Don't use products with fluorescent colors (D&C Orange No. 5, No. 10, and No. 11; D&C Red No. 21, No. 22, No. 27, and No. 28; and D&C Yellow No. 7) near the eyes.
Don't use luminescent (glow-in-the-dark) colors (zinc sulfide) near your eyes.
Wash thoroughly (and follow label instructions) once trick-or-treating or the party is over; don't go to sleep with Halloween costume makeup on your skin.
Before using older products, check it against these two May 2009 recall notices for Fun Express children's face paints.
If you have a bad reaction to Halloween face paint, report the incident to the FDA, so that other consumers can be protected.
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Realted: New Life For Plastic As Fuel???
Monday, October 19, 2009
Bringing another human being into the world is a huge commitment and a unique opportunity. Your eco-habits displayed from birth can serve as a template for a lower impact life. To rock the green cradle, waddle over to Planet Green's "How to Go Green: Babies."
Top Tips for Greening Your Baby
Diaper Dilemma: As you read this, some 95% of babies in America are doing their baby thing while wearing disposable diapers. This results in 18 billion dirty diapers tossed out each year –comprising 5% of landfill waste. Of course, washing cloth diapers takes water, energy, chemicals, and time. If only we could have diaper-free babies.
Breastfeeding: There's no controversy: breastfeeding is the way to go. But this doesn't mean all is green. New mothers can opt for re-usable organic cotton instead of disposable breast pads, and locally produced olive oil or organic lanolin works fine as nipple cream. If and when bottle-feeding becomes a factor, pumping your own is the first choice followed by a fair-trade organic infant formula.
Green Surroundings: Every step of the way—food, toys, clothes, furniture, cleaners, and more—provides an opportunity to introduce healthier, greener options into your child's life. Again, this not only lessens the massive carbon footprint of a new human being but it also has the potential to shape that new human being's future choices.
Did You Know?
* The average baby uses 6000 diapers before potty training
* 49 million disposable diapers are used per day in the United States
* It takes petroleum-based disposable diapers 200 to 500 years to decompose
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Related: Raising Green Kids
Thursday, October 15, 2009
A recent study by the Cleantech Group revealed the much lower environmental impact of e-readers - specifically the Kindle - compared to traditional publishing, but the devices still require charging from the grid. LG's new e-reader takes care of that: it's outfitted with its own integrated solar panel, allowing it to run on clean, renewable, solar power.
The thin-film panel is 10 cm wide and just .7mm thick, adding only 20 grams to the product. The panel is 9.6 percent efficient and needs 4.5 hours of sunlight to juice the device for an entire day.
Last year, LG introduced a display that can be illuminated by sunlight instead of the backlight when used outdoors, increasing visibility and cutting energy use by 75 percent. Press for the new e-reader doesn't indicate what kind of display it uses, but this product would be even more impressive if it included the sunlight-illuminated one. That way you could read easily outdoors while charging the device at the same time.
via Greentech Media
Eco Friendly Cleaning Kits
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Related: Kid Friendly Compost