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
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Friday, October 9, 2009
You may have heard some noise being made about the Wal-Mart Sustainability Index--if you haven't, it's an initiative that will eventually rank every product on the retail giants' shelves so every customer will know exactly how sustainably it was produced. So how is this going to affect shoppers--and does it mean you can feel good about heading to WalMart again?
First of all, let me briefly explain how the Index will work.
First, the program will require every single company that sells products to Wal-Mart to disclose its carbon footprint. Each of these suppliers (big guns like Hasbro and Ocean Spray) will have to reveal how sustainable they are in four areas: energy and climate, natural resources, material efficiency, and people and community. To do this, they have to fill out a 15 question assessment detailing their practices.
Then, Wal-Mart will gather an independent group of scientists, academics, and consultants to analyze the responses. Finally, the findings will be revealed to the public in a yet-to-be-determined ranking system that will be displayed on each product it carries.
So in the not-so-distant future, every shopper will be able to see how green each company is--potentially impacting people's buying decisions. In theory, this means that you'll be able to stroll down the aisle at Wal Mart, pick up a toy or sweater or whatever, and be able to compare how sustainably it was produced to its competitors.
Changing Shopping for the Greener
And this could actually have a tremendous impact on the environmental practices of companies--say you pick up a toy from Hasbro, and because it buys some its electricity from renewable sources, and has cut down on packaging, it has a 7.5/10 on the Sustainability-O-Meter (they haven't figured out their system yet, but you can be pretty certain it won't be called that, but let's call it that for now, just for fun).
Then you pick up a similar toy from Corporation X, and it has a Sustainability-O-Meter ranking of 2.0/10 because its products create a lot of waste, and ships its goods inefficiently. You make a simple, quick decision, and you might feel better about buying the Hasbro toy. This happens in stores around the world, and Hasbro is rewarded for having good, sustainable practices. Corporation X loses out, and rushes to become a greener company.
Business around the world are already scrambling to hire environmental consultants to help improve their operations--the Index could also help create a slew of green jobs this way.
In theory, it's a great idea. In practice, we'll have to see how transparent the assessment process is, and whether the Index will really force companies to make serious changes. If not, we might have to brace ourselves for greenwashing on a scale like we've never seen before. But I do have to give my reluctant kudos to Wal Mart for at least advancing this idea--it's such a major player in global business that it really does have an opportunity to change the world for the greener.
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Related: Kid Friendly Compost
Thursday, October 8, 2009
While some cell phone companies are introducing convenient ways for you to recycle your phone once you're done with it, a new start-up is making it just plain simple. EcoATM will be deploying kiosks at retailers around the country where you can drop off your old phone, have its value assessed and immediately get an in-store trade-up coupon or gift card.
The first of these kiosks has been stationed at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha for the last year. After great success with that one kiosk, the company is going install the e-cycler at wireless and big box stores in San Diego, Washington state and Vermont in the next couple of months. By the second quarter of next year, the kiosks will be popping up around the country and the machines will soon be able to accept other gadgets like MP3 players, cameras and laptops.
The EcoATMs have cameras that can detect damage to the phone and then come up with its value. If the phone is worth nothing, you can still choose to have it recycled and receive a free waterproof phone case and, for every phone recycled, the company plants a tree. The machine will also recycle your used batteries.
The company makes it beneficial to the retailers by installing the machines at no cost and making the payments redeemable in-store, increasing their sales. It also allows them to apply donations from the machine to their favorite charity.
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Tuesday, October 6, 2009
I’ve written small green cleaning articles on my website however, I haven’t published an article on how to clean everything in your house the true green way. I thought maybe I should create a single post with all the natural cleaning information I have collected so you can bookmark this one post and refer to it when you need it. Of course, this is for for homemade products, but for those less adventurous there are plenty of safe, natural cleaners on the market. If you have something to add, please be sure to leave a comment or email me and let me know!
Cleaning Metal Surfaces:
Silver – Put some water in a pan with a few teaspoons of washing soda, bring to a simmer. Throw in alittle piece of aluminum foil, and then dip your silver right into the mix. Pull the item out, dry it off, and shine it clean with a rag.
Pewter – Wash your pewter items in warm soapy water (use biodegradable soap!), rinse, and polish with a clean cotton cloth. Instant clean!
Chrome – You can clean anything that is chrome just by combining 1 tablespoon of ammonia with 1 pint of water. Just rub the concoction on the chrome and watch the dirt come right off.
Iron – If you have iron cooking pans or other items that are looking a little rusty, you can clean them with a damp cloth and some steel wool. Wipe down the item with the cloth, scrub lightly with the steel wool, rinse and then dry. Be sure to rub in a little vegetable oil once it is dry to inhibit any further rusting.
Brass & Copper – By combining a few tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of baking soda, you have a great brass and copper cleaning agent. Just rub in on and then polish it off…so shiny! If your items are heavily soiled, you can soak them in hot vinegar and some table salt. The shine will start showing up on its own, and once you see it, take the item out and rinse it. You can also rub lemon on brass and copper to get into any grooves that need cleaning…just be sure to wipe it off once it is clean.
Remove Candle Wax From The Carpet:
First lay the newspaper down on top of the wax and set an iron to low. Once it has warmed up, start running the iron over the newspaper right on top of the wax. Slowly the wax will start melting and get absorbed into the newspaper, lifting up off the carpet. I had to do this once in my old apartment and it worked like a charm There was a little residue and color left over, but it was way better than the big hard chunks of wax that were on the floor.
To Clean Wood Floors:
Before you work on making the floor sparkle, they should be cleaned with vinegar and water. A small amount of vinegar in a bucket of warm water will do wonders for your wood floor. Make sure your floor is sealed and you wring out excess water before mopping the floors, as too much water could damage your wood. That all being said, once they are clean, you can now work on making them shine:
- If you have natural unsealed wood floors (which you probably don’t), you can use linseed oil with a rag, allow it to soak in for a little while, and then mop it up with a little more oil.
- For sealed floors, you can use 1 part white vinegar to 1 part vegetable oil to give it a great shine. Just combine the two, grab a rag, and rub it in like you are polishing a car. The shine will blow you away.
To Clean Appliances:
Microwaves – Mix 1/2 of water with a few teaspoons of baking soda in a microwave safe bowl. Put the bowl in the microwave and run it for 2 minutes. Take out the bowl and wipe it clean with just a rag; every last spot will come out!
Ovens – You can rub the inside of your oven with wet steel wool to remove the tough stuff, and then sprinkle baking soda throughout the oven. Let it sit for a few minutes, then just wipe it all clean with a wet rag…all done and no caustic chemicals!
Coffee Makers – When the coffee maker is empty, pour in a mixture of 1 cup white vinegar and some hot water to fill up the reservoir to the top. Run the coffee maker like you were making coffee, just without any beans in it. Once the cycle has finished, run it twice more with just plain water, which will rinse out the vinegar and any build up left inside. The coffee will taste better the next time you make a cuppa Joe!
Refrigerators – Baking soda all the way…why would you want to spray chemicals in the giant box that holds your food! Make a nice paste from baking soda and water (equal parts of both) and scrub away. Wipe down with a clean cloth and all will be clean!
- On white items, apply white vinegar or lemon juice to the stained area. Allow to soak in to the fabric then wash as normal. The stain should come right out as if it had never been there!
- If you happen to spill wine onto your clothes, grab the salt before doing anything else! Dump some salt on the stained area right away, which absorb a lot of the moisture before it sets. Wash as normal as soon as you can.
- For red wine stains, chocolate or other dark stains that have been there a while, you can try to soak the item in a bowl of glycerine, available from your local grocery or natural store. Soak the clothes for a half an hour and then wash.
- Party guest spills red wine on your nice carpet? Get up as much of it as you can with a wash or dish cloth, then quickly pour white vinegar directly on the spot. Let it soak for a few minutes, then rinse it out with a wet rag. And then berate your party guest!
- If your kids come in covered with grass stains, you can usually get them out by soaking their clothes in either glycerine or or washing soda prior to washing.
To Remove Mold In The Bathroom:
You can use Borax and white vinegar to make a spray that you can aim directly at the mold in the tub or shower. Once you spray it , leave it to sit for 30-60 minutes and then go back in and wipe it off. Presto, the mold will start coming off and you did not have to inhale toxic chemicals to do so. Just mix about 2 ounces of Borax and a cup of white vinegar and you are ready to go. As a back up and a maintenance tip, you can also periodically spray the moldy “areas” with straight vinegar and just let it sit there and soak in. The vinegar will kill the mold that might be growing and it will halt the growth of new mold.
Unclogging Your Showerhead:
Just remove the shower head, find a bowl or cup big enough for it to sit in face down, and fill it with about an inch of vinegar. After letting it sit for an hour or more, remove it from the bowl and run water through it at the sink for a few minutes. Put it back in the shower, and presto, your water pressure is restored.
Here is what you need – Salt and lime juice. Yep, that’s it. Already have them in your house? Great, your rust remover is now free. Just sprinkle some salt on the rusty spot and put some of the juice right on top of the salt…but not so much that the salt floats away. You want the mixture to sit right on the rust. Leave it to sit for a few hours and come back with a scrubber and go to work. It won’t take much effort to remove the rust, I promise.
Cleaning the Toilet:
Lemon Juice – I use real lemons by squeezing out the juice. When I am done, I put pieces of the peel down the disposal to clean it out.
Distilled white vinegar – I know you have this already!
Borax – Ok, you might not have this one. But it is widely available for a few bucks and its cleaning powers go back years.
You will need to combine the ingredients to make a nice paste in a bowl. Put about 1 cup of Borax and about 1/4-1/2 a cup of either lemon juice or vinegar and it will mix together nicely. All you need to do is spread the paste you just made
into the toilet bowl and let it sit a while. Then come back and scrub it with a scrubbing sponge (we use the washable kind, not the disposable kind) and flush the toilet.
The first ingredient is water, of course. Get yourself a spray bottle and put 3 cups of water in there. Once the water is in your sprayer, you will be adding two additional items:
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar
Add them to the spray bottle and shake the bottle up a little to make everything mix together. That’s it, that is all the wood polish you will ever need. Be sure to test the spray somewhere on the furniture just to make sure you have the mixture right and you will not damage the wood.
- You can add 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil to a gallon of water to wash windows, floors and toilets to scrub away the germs.
- To chase away bugs, but a drop of tea tree oil near where they are coming in and you can bet they won’t be coming in that way anymore.
- Lavender oil or tea tree oil can be applied directly to cuts and scrapes where it will cool the pain and help fight infection.
- Mixing a few drops of tea tree oil with some water in a spray bottle can clean mold in the bathroom, disinfect the floor after the dog has an accident, or can clean up after your child has been sick. (or you, after a night like the ones in college)
Clean The Air:
For starters, the easiest way we have found to make things smell better is to use essential oils. In an empty spray bottle I mix water and a bunch of drops from a bottle of essential oils. Done! You can adjust the amount of drops you put in the bottle and of course you can always change the scent any time you want. Right now I have some cranberry scented essential oil in our water bottle…the place smells amazing and it can be sprayed on anything; the couch, the curtains, etc.
- Another thing you can do is to simmer water on the stove in a pot with cinnamon sticks or essential oils in it. However, since this one uses natural gas or electricity, it is not the best choice. Plus, you have to remember to keep your eye on it so it doesn’t burn off and start catching the pot on fire!
- You could also put little boxes of baking soda around the house to absorb any bad odors. We do this for the litterbox. Even though our cat is not exactly a stinker, the baking soda absorbs any strong smells that he might leave behind. This also works great in the refrigerator to absorb the leftover smell from last night’s chili.
- And lastly, you could always get some flowers from your local farmer’s market and put them in vases around your house. The smell of fresh flowers is always a pleasant one and it leaves behind no toxic residue like plug-ins and sprays.
Unclog Your Shower Drain:
Step 1 – Put the DRY baking soda down the drain. I use about 3/4 of a cup.
Step 2 – Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar down the drain after the baking soda. Be sure to cover the drain immediately after wards with a rag or plug, filling the hole completely so nothing can escape. This is because the interaction of the two will cause a “mini volcano” that will want to come up and out of the drain..you want to keep it down there.
Step 3 – Leave this concoction in the drain for about 30 minutes. While you are waiting, boil a tea kettle full of water.
Step 4 – After 30 minutes, remove the plug and slowly pour the HOT water down the drain.
And there you have it! An easily accessible natural cleaning list. If you have any additional tips or ideas, please let everyone know in the comments!
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Monday, October 5, 2009
Designer Jeff garner dresses the stars and says its all about style and being good to the environment. He hand picks his fabrics and makes sure they are certified and he even has a organic garden which he uses to hand dye the garments. Watch the video to learn more about his eco friendly fashion.
Related: Going Green This Halloween
Sunday, October 4, 2009
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Written by John Simonetta
Published on September 10th, 2009
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and as I wrote before, from a marketing standpoint, the month of October will be filled with awareness raising events in which companies and organizations are often asked to show their support through donations of time, resources, and yes promotional items.
Here are a few more eco-friendly ideas for Ecopreneurists looking to support local Breast Cancer Awareness events and organizations with branded promotional items.
One item that groups always seem to need are gift bags, and the pre-printed non-woven Breast Cancer Awareness bags from Leeds give the Ecopreneurist a chance to donate a stylish “pink” bag at a low cost.
Indeed the pre-printed Support The Cause line from Leeds provides pre-printed art for a wide range of eco-friendly and traditional promotional items including bags like the 100% Recycled PET Lake Convention Tote and PolyPro Big Grocery Tote and water bottles like the Optimus Stainless Bottle and Santa Fe Aluminum Bottle.
Another great idea for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the BreastCancer Awareness Journal ThemeBook from JournalBooks.
ThemeBooks personal guides provide helpful information on a variety of topics including Breast Cancer Awareness, Healthy Heart Tips, Recycle Tips, Fitness Tips, Nutrition Tips, Travel Tips and even Wine Journals.
The BreastCancer Awareness Journal is 5″ × 7″ with 100 sheets of ruled, 100% recycled, 60# quality writing paper. The journal includes stock imprint on front cover plus a full color information sheet printed on 80# gloss cover stock. The EQP on these journals is $5.79.
Pricing also includes foil color imprint or deboss up to 16 square inches. Black binding wire is standard with white, silver, or bronze wire optional. These units are made in the USA.
These items work great for Ecopreneurists looking to attach their brand to a seminar or other gathering discussing cancer awareness that is asking for donations of journals/notebooks for attendees.
If you are a promotional items distributor contact Joel Kaufmann for more information on ThemeBooks and Mary Beach for more information on Leeds’ pre-printed line.
Related Articles: Indoor Air vs. Outdoor: Which Is Cleaner
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
TODAY’s Natalie Morales talks to Sharon Lowe, founder of the Climate Quilt Campaign, about how kids are stepping up to help the environment.
Related: Seven Eco Friendly Homes That Float
Thursday, September 24, 2009
A new company in Washington D.C., Envion, believes it has come up with a way to efficiently convert waste plastic into fuel by using carefully controlled infra-red energy. The $5-million plant was unveiled this morning.
The process that Envion has created is still tightly under wraps, but the plant includes a chemical reactor with internal agitators for mixing the liquid and heating elements that deliver the necessary infra-red energy. Since the infra-red energy is easily controlled, the process is very efficient. The plant is able to convert 82 percent of the waste into fuel and the resulting sludge is usable too.
The liquid can be mixed with other components to become gasoline or diesel. Envion has already signed up one company to use their recycled oil as motor fuel and is negotiating contracts with others.The plant can recycle all types of plastic except for #1 PET. For each ton of waste the plant can produce three to five barrels of fuel, with each barrel costing about $10 to make
Go Green & Win FREE green cleaning supplies from ecover
By Adria Vasil, author of Ecoholic
Walk into a drugstore these days and you'd think every shampoo and body wash on shelves was plucked directly from the lushest patch of nature the world's ever seen. Sure they've got a little ylang ylang or aloe extract somewhere in there, but otherwise, their ingredients read like an advanced chemistry student's shopping list.
Truth is, the beauty industry is a bit of a Wild West with no sheriff in sight. Anyone can call a product "natural" even if a tube of lipstick is 100% synthetic. That means lotions and potions packaged with pretty green leaves on the front and the word "nature" or "herbal" in their name can and, unfortunately, often do contribute to your daily chemical bath. The average woman slathers over 125 chemicals onto her scalp, body, face, and lips each day (next time you're getting ready in the morning, scan ingredient lists and do your own count!).
That wouldn't be such a big deal if they were all cleared by health officials, but only 11% of the 10,500 chemical ingredients that go into personal care products are actually tested for safety.
Here are some quick tips for picking out the greenest goods for your body:
* Put on your reading glasses: Start flipping products over and reading those tiny ingredient lists. Making sense of what's on there shouldn't feel like you're trying to decode Sanskrit! Reach for beauty products with pronounceable ingredients (you can generally spot chemical names pretty easily though some natural ingredients might be written in Latin).
* Crack the certified organic code: Not all organic products are created equal. You'll find the USDA organic seal on goods that are at least 95% certified organic (the purest of the pure). If a product is 70-94% organic it will say "made with organic ingredients." And the rest? Well, keep in mind that plenty of beauty blends advertise two or three certified organic ingredients while the rest of their contents are totally synthetic.
* Look for the natural seal of approval: The Natural Products Association recently kicked off a new certification system for beauty products that are at least 95% natural. The seal doesn't signal the ingredients are in any way organic (i.e. farmed without pesticides), but it does tell you that a lip balm, eye shadow or foot cream is largely plant- or mineral-based.
* Know your score: Punch any product name into Environmental Working Group's ranking of tens of thousands of personal care products and you'll see just how it ranks on the group's safety scale. These guys cover everything from mascara to your man's after shave and cross check the ingredients against toxicity databases. At the click of a mouse, you'll get a good sense of which beauty concoctions are truly clean and green so you can start lathering up peacefully.
Bottom line, don't sink your dollar into just any products labeled "natural" or "organic" (even many health store brands aren't as pure as you'd think!). Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products & Services takes the guesswork out of shopping by filling you in on all the purest and best performing eco beauty products on the market -- brand by brand.
Adria Vasil is the author of Ecoholic: Your Guide to the Most Environmentally Friendly Information, Products & Services. She is a best-selling author and journalist for Canada's NOW, where she has been writing the "Ecoholic" column for five years. She lives in Toronto. For more information please visit www.ecoholicnation.com.
You might also like: Green Your Refrigerator
Monday, September 21, 2009
Your fridge looms monstrous over the rest of your kitchen. If you think about it, the fridge is essentially a storage locker for the dead plants and animals that we like to eat. Spooky, right? The refrigerator needs to be kept nice and cold because dead things tend to decay fast. Fridges use up a lot of energy while making the coldness. You can do things to make your fridge more efficient. Here are five easy steps to make your refrigerator run more efficiently.
Cover your food. Your fridge's compressor has to work extra hard if there is moisture inside of it. By covering your food in Tupperware or with lids, you can reduce your refrigerator's carbon footprint.
Clean your compressor coils. Do this annually. Pull the fridge away from the walls. Unplug the fridge. You can simply vacuum the coils or give them a thorough wash.
Keep the correct temperature. I've read that anywhere from 35 F to 40 F is optimum run temperature for a fridge. The freezer should be set between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. I would consult your owner's manual to find what works best for your particular model.
Check your seal. Slam a piece of paper in the fridge door. If you can get the paper out without ripping it or opening the door, it may be time to replace your seal.
Move Your Fridge. Lots of houses are built with a fridge in mind. For those that aren't, you should keep your fridge away from direct sunlight. If it is in direct sunlight, move the thing to the dark side of the kitchen
You might also like the Easy Green Kitchen Makeover
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Gardening isn't just for people with lots of land. You can raise your own tasty crops in the smallest and oddest of containers. If you have access to some sun, plus time to water and care for seedlings, every little spot in the world is your garden.
About.com has tips for growing a head of lettuce in a Whole Foods reusable grocery bag. Typically, these bags are reused when you buy salad fixings at the store, but why not use them to raise fresh salad at home? Doesn't look that hard.
In fact, an entire Flickr group is devoted to Grow Bag Gardening. People around the country are growing potatoes in potato sacks, fertilizing plants in bags of fertilizer, and even raising crops in tin cans.
The container gardening site at Texas A&M also suggests using a cake pan as the site to grow green onions, radishes, or beets. What a great way to use an old pan that's scratched or warped or to use something found at the thrift store.
(Photo: britta and rebecca / Flickr)
Some people have flowers in a window planter. But the Window Farm Project takes it a step further and shows people how to turn an urban apartment window into a hydroponic farm.
All you need is some plastic water bottles (at last, a use for those things!), some netting, piping, and fishing wire. Hook it all together with a little water pump, and you can churn out a salad every week.
Maybe you want to take your garden on the go. Like the Truck Farm. It's a vehicle, it's a garden, it's a movie.
By loading the bed of an old grey Dodge up with organic compost and planting heirloom seeds, filmmakers at Wicked Delicate created a mobile garden in Brooklyn, NY. Check out the movie's trailer:
So where does your garden grow? What container is the vehicle for raising your fresh food? Share your ideas in the comments below.
For all the details about smuggling illicit cleaners, DIY green cleaning recipes and commercial green cleaning brands you can trust, check out Brian's interview.
Eco Friendly Modular Homes
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Here is the recipe i used for powder laundry detergent:
1 bar Fels Naptha bar soap (about 4 cups grated)
2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax
2 cups washing soda
Grate the soap and mix it with the borax and washing soda. Then seal in an air tight container.
For light load, use 1 tablespoon.
For heavy or heavily soiled load, use 2 tablespoons.
The estimated cost per load is about $0.08 which means you'll be saving a ton of money and helping the environment.
I also used 1/2 cup white vinegar in the rinse cycle in place of fabric softener.
Try it out and let me know how you liked it.
Other Ways to Launder Your Clothes The Green Way
DIY Green Cleaning Really Works
"Host Kahi Lee takes the Koo family living room to a whole new level and gives it a complete Green makeover according to their needs and goals.
Green Done Right presented by Scott Naturals is a web series focusing on making sustainable-living, budget-conscious design choices."
You might also like the Easy Green Kitchen Makeover