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March 28th, 2014

Take the Pledge to Love Bulk Food

Groovy Green Livin Bulk Food

Walking up and down the bulk food aisle at your local supermarket can be somewhat intimidating and overwhelming. The sheer number of bins is mind-boggling and the choices are endless. Take your pick from bins of grains, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, spices or baking ingredients.

Buying from the bulk bins at the grocery store is a great way to save money on your food bill, but that’s not the only reason to shop the bulk bins. Here are a few more reasons to buy in bulk:

  • Get more bang for your buck
  • Bye bye wasteful packaging
  • Buy only what you need
  • Ability to test out new products without a big investment

Take the “Pledge to Love Bulk Food”

To help celebrate Earth Month this April, the Bulk is Green Council (BIG) is challenging consumers to take the pledge to “Love Bulk Foods” (foods bought from the bulk bins of a grocery store). 

Why should consumers take BIGs pledge to Love Bulk Foods?

  • If Americans purchased all of their coffee from the bulk bins for 1 month (Earth Month), 20,000,000 pounds of foil packaging would be saved from landfills. That¹s the equivalent weight of 7,667 compact cars.
  • If the average American family bought peanut butter in bulk for 1 month, 1Ž2 pound of waste per family would be saved from entering landfills.
  • If Americans purchased all of their almonds in bulk for 1 month, 6,000,000 pounds of waste would be saved from landfills. That¹s the equivalent weight of 522.5 elephants.
  • Purchasing oatmeal from the bulk bins saves 5x the waste of its packaged equivalent

What is the Pledge to Love Bulk Food?

Take the pledge to purchase bulk foods once a week during the month of April, Earth Month (remember to bring your reusable bags!). If you’re interested in taking the pledge head on over to the Love Bulk Foods pledge page and sign a digital pledge. To make it easy to get on board with foods from the bulk bins, the Bulk is Green Council has outlined week-by-week the best bulk foods to purchase during Earth Month, that also offer significant environmental benefits (check out the infographic below).

Groovy Green Livin Bulk Food Infographic

If you pledge you’re automatically entered in a drawing where winners will be selected once a week at random and receive their very own Earth Month starter kit filled with everything needed to help create a natural and organic pantry and get on board with bulk foods. The prize pack includes recycled glass storage jars and a starter kit of common/popular natural and organic bulk foods that can be found in most bulk bins of natural food co-ops and grocery stores from the following brands: SunRidge Farms, Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Lundberg Family Farms, and several other bulk brands.

Do you use bulk food bins? What are your favorite bulk foods to buy? 

photo credit: bcmom via photopincc

November 21st, 2013

3 Benefits of Going Green (VIDEO)

Groovy Green Livin Going Green

It’s time for my newest video, The Benefits of Going Green! This is the fourth in a series of 5 videos filmed during my trip to New York City and  produced by the amazing team over at Manilla Each video covers some of  the many ways we can all lead a greener life. If you missed the first video, 5 Simple Steps to a Greener Life, you can find it HERE. There’s also Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips and 5 Ways to Go Green and Save Green.

Hope you enjoy!

Benefits of Going Green

We all know we should “go green,” but we don’t all know the reasons why. Here are three important benefits of going green.

1. It saves you money

There are several ways to save money and live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. First, consider switching to energy efficient appliances (affiliate links included). Although it’s a bit of an investment up front, you’ll notice the long-term monetary benefits in your lower monthly energy bills.

Second, unplug your appliances when you’re not using them. Use a power stripto make it easy. Not only will you save energy, you’ll also save money.

2.  It keeps you healthy

Eliminating toxic chemicals found in cleaning supplies, cooking products and personal care items can drastically improve your health and reduce instances of skin, eye and respiratory irritations.

Also, if it’s an option, consider walking orbiking when possible instead of driving or taking public transit. Not only is it a free option, but it will also keep you healthy and active.

3. It has a long-term impact

Going green is a lifestyle choice that has both immediate and long-term benefits. Living a more environmentally conscious lifestyle today helps ensure a more vibrant planet tomorrow. Reducing carbon emissions, recycling, eliminating plastics, and saving water are all ways we can promote long-term environmental health.

Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site. Thank you. (Read all the fine print here.)

Photo credit: Iulia Pironea Photography via photopin cc

October 17th, 2013

4 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips (VIDEO)

Groovy Green Livin Eco-Friendly Cleaning

It’s time for my newest video, Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips! This is the second in a series of 5 videos filmed during my recent trip to New York City and  produced by the amazing team over at Manilla Each video covers some of  the many ways we can all lead a greener life. If you missed my first video, 5 Simple Steps to a Greener Life, you can find it HERE

Hope you enjoy!

4 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips

Conventional cleaning products are expensive and can be hazardous to your health. Not to mention the amount of paper we waste using paper towels. Green your cleaning process by following these easy eco-friendly cleaning tips.

1. Ditch your Swiffer

Single-use mop pads are expensive and wasteful. Invest in a reuseable mop with a detachable head that can be tossed in the washing machine, hung dry and used again and again.

2. Make your own cleaning products

Making your own cleaning products is simpler than it seems and requires few ingredients. The four basic staples are baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice, and water. If making your own products still seems like too much work, consider swapping out your current cleaning supplies with non-toxic alternatives found at health food stores as you run out.

3. Hang dry your laundry

line drying your clothing may seem antiquated, but it actually preserves the integrity of your clothing, saves you money, and uses less chemicals.

4. Stop using paper towels

For most of us, using paper towels is a habit—and habits can be hard to break. But, using reusable cloth and old linens as rags can dramatically reduce your household waste and save you up to $1,500 a year.

What’s your favorite eco-friendly cleaning tip?

photo credit: _namtaf_ via photopin cc

August 14th, 2013

How I Fought Fruit Flies and Won

Groovy Green Livin Fruit Flies

I’m at war over here. A war with fruit flies. And I’m proud to say I’m winning.

The piece that I’m struggling with is that there’s nothing that could possibly be causing these little buggers to multiply like wildfire. I know how they got here- there was ripe fruit on the counter. That piece makes perfect sense. But I’m having a hard time understanding how they’re still here after we were out of the house on vacation for over a week.  The disposal’s been run, the garbage emptied. counters wiped and the fruit flies have still managed to find something in our home to help them thrive. And thrive they are doing very well.

The only theory I can surmise is way back when we did have ripe fruit on the counter the fruit flies decided to lay hundreds of eggs which then hatched into larvae and then decided to stick around for a while.

The bottom line is they’re here and they’ve been calling our kitchen home.

Until now.

I have always taught my kids to try their best to release bugs found in our house safely outside. Yes, I’m one of those parents. Last night was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. There  were too many fruit flies and releasing them outside wasn’t working. I was finished sharing my home with what felt like thousands (probably only 50) of them.

Here’s how the fruit fly battle went down.

How to get rid of fruit flies naturally

Groovy Green Livin Fruit Flies

What’s needed:

  • A glass jar. I used a glass Pyrex measuring cup.
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Plastic wrap. I don’t use it for many things, but it was helpful for this
  • A rubber band

Instructions:

  • Fill the glass jar with 3/4 cup of apple cider vinegar.
  • Add a squirt of liquid dish washing soap and mix them together with a spoon.
  • Cover the top of the glass jar with plastic wrap and hold it in place with a rubber band.
  • Poke small holes in the plastic wrap (so the fruit flies can get in, but can’t get out).

I woke up this morning and discovered that I’d won. There are still a few hanging around, but they’re pretty interested in the apple cider vinegar concoction. I’m guessing they won’t be around for long.

There are many ways to combat fruit flies. Some are very similar and others different.

  • Stephanie from Good Girl Gone Green has a similar solution, but doesn’t use plastic wrap. Might have to try that next time!
  • Becky from Eat Drink Better had success with the same sort of fruit fly recipe.  She points out that the dish soap breaks the vinegar’s surface tension so the flies can’t land on the surface of the vinegar without sinking.
  • Tiffany from Nature Moms creates a simple trap using a jar, plastic wrap and a piece of food.
  • Karen from EcoKaren had similar success with the apple cider vinegar method.

How do you deal with fruit flies? 

April 1st, 2013

How to Clean Stainless Steel Appliances

Groovy Green Livin Stainless Steel

Stainless steel appliances can give any kitchen a contemporary and fresh look. With three tween boys our stainless steel doesn’t stand a chance. Fingerprints, smudges and food end up covering most stainless steel surfaces in our kitchen.

Here are a few tips for keeping your stainless steel surfaces clean.

DON’T wipe with a damp cloth and let it dry au natural. This will cause big streaks and possibly rust. Been there.

DON’T use anything abrasive including steel wool.  This will scratch and ruin your stainless steel.

If you need something a bit stronger try one of these non-toxic techniques:

DAMP CLOTH

Use a damp cloth (not wet) to wipe down your appliances. Make sure to thoroughly dry after wiping down to prevent water streaks and stains. This will work for most smudges and fingerprints.

OLIVE OIL

Apply a small amount of olive oil to a soft cloth. Make sure you don’t over do it! Buff out the area on your refrigerator or stove top that has stubborn finger prints or smudges.

Flip over the cloth and re-buff the area with the clean side of the cloth.

That’s all there is to it!

FLOUR

Use dry flour and a clean, soft cloth to buff out your stainless steel.  With a little muscle power your stainless will look sparkly and shinny. This might be a bit challenging on upright appliances, but will work wonders in your sink and on smaller appliances. Use this technique on your stainless steel pots and pans. Place the leftover flour in your compost bin!

VINEGAR

One of my all-time favorite cleaners, vinegar, makes yet another appearance in helping to clean stainless steel. A simple white vinegar and water solution works wonders on stainless. Mix 3/4 cup white vinegar and 1/4 cup water in a spray bottle and you’re ready to go. Not a fan of the vinegar scent? I happen to love the smell of vinegar, but feel free to add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the mixture.

If you want info on how to clean your stainless steel pots and pans check out my tutorial HERE.

How do you keep your stainless steel clean?

 

photo credit: jhiner via photopin

May 3rd, 2012

Green Questions Groovy Answers-How to Recycle Teflon

Groovy Green Livin Recycle Teflon pans

Welcome to week two of Green Questions, Groovy Answers. A big thank you to everyone who submitted their excellent name suggestions for this new weekly column. Rebecca from Natural Mothers Network came up with the winner: Green Questions Groovy Answers. Thank you Rebecca! If you have a question you would like answered please submit it through the comment section, Facebook, Twitter or shoot me an email.

This weeks question came from @twituva on Twitter.

What should I do with my old Teflon non-stick pans? Is there a preferable way to recycle/discard them?

Despite the ease and con­ve­nience of non-stick pots and pans such as Teflon, many health conscious people are tossing their non-stick and replacing them with healthier options.

What’s wrong with Teflon?

Non-stick pots and pans are metal pans (such as aluminum pans) coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. Teflon is toxic. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), toxic fumes from the Teflon chemical released from pots and pans at high temperatures have lead to many pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year.

Thankfully, there are many green and non-toxic alternatives on the market.

Now the 20 million dollar question: What do we do with all of our old Teflon and non-stick pans?

This is a challenging question. Do we really want to donate something that could potentially harm someone else?  If we throw them in the trash they’ll end up lying around in an overflowing landfill, leaching toxins into the soil. So what’s the answer?

I decided to turn this tough question over to some of my favorite green gurus in the blogosphere to see what they had to say.

Nancy from Surviving and Thriving on Pennies says ” I donated mine to Goodwill a few years back. What I think is bad might be a perfectly good pan to others. In a way helping others get stuff for cheaper. Still bothers me though.”

Suzanne from Mommy Footprint has a fantastic suggestion and Karen from EcoKaren agrees : “tough one…many play-based preschools have sand boxes with pretend kitchens. This is the perfect spot for discarded Teflon…it won’t be heated back up!”

Deanna Duke from Crunchy Chicken suggested “As much as I hate passing the toxic buck to someone else, giving it to Goodwill is a decent option. If someone else buys it, then that’s one less new pan being purchased and, in the end, produced.” Stephanie from Good Girl Gone Green agrees that donating the pans is a good option.

Anna from Green Talk came up with a few creative uses for those non-stick pans: “I wonder if you could put a picture in the middle of the pan and create kitchen art. Lots of people have those hanging pot racks. Or maybe you could take the handle off and use the pot for plant drainage.”

Diane from Big Green Purse came up with an interesting thought “Why not send them back to the manufacturer?”

Beth from My Plastic Free Life agreed with Diane “I love Diane’s idea of sending them back to the manufacturer with a letter explaining why. I donated mine to Goodwill. I don’t like ‘passing the buck’ either, but I figure if someone wants Teflon pans, better they use my old ones than buy new ones and encourage the market for Teflon.”

What do you do with your old Teflon pans?

[Photo used under creative commons from Jerry Pank/Flickr]

Linked up to Natural Mothers Network

April 9th, 2012

How to Buy Safe Seafood

Fish market sustainable seafood

Fish generally ends up on our dinner table once or twice a week. Salmon is a family favorite with other types of fish being hit or miss. About a year ago I was part of a fish CSA. I loved the concept of buying fresh fish from local fishermen, but what I learned quickly was that I had a lot to do before the fish was ready to eat. The fish were delivered whole-with everything intact. That meant I had to filet it and remove all the parts that weren’t edible. For those of you who don’t know me well, I’m a bit squeamish. I don’t do well with blood, gore and guts. I tried to be a trooper and gave fileting the fish my best shot. It didn’t end well and I turned to my husband, kind friends and neighbors who took over the fileting process. As a result, my fileting days were short lived. So now I frequent the market in search of safe and sustainable fish.

Walking up to the fish counter at the grocery store or at a farmers’ market can be a bit overwhelming. The signs placed in front of each type of fish are confusing unless you know what each term means.

Here’s a general guide to buying safe and sustainable seafood:

Buy wild when possible (in most cases)

Farm-raised fish are generally placed in crowded cages and given antibiotics and exposed to pesticides. Their living environment is less than desirable. Wild fish are out in the wild-living and swimming as they were meant to be. Wild fish aren’t exposed to the same toxins as their farm-raised cousins.

Smaller is better

Larger fish generally have a higher chance of being contaminated with mercury and other heavy metals. The reason for this is bigger fish tend to live longer and have more time to accumulate these toxins. Smaller fish  have a shorter life expectancy and are less likely to be polluted by heavy metals. Pregnant women and women of child-bearing age need to be careful of mercury levels in all fish, whether wild or farm-raised.

Buy local

Do you want to eat fish that traveled for days to reach your table? Think about all the fuel used for transport. Try to buy fish from a local source.

Avoid added coloring

Farm-raised salmon generally has artificial color added to give it that nice pink color. When salmon are raised in a farm-raised environment they are  fed “fish meal”, made up of ground fish parts, and as a result, the fish color is a shade of gray rather than pink. Coloring is added because consumers expect their salmon to look pink.

Ask questions

You have the right to know where your fish is coming from. Ask the person behind the counter or at the farmer’s market questions about added coloring, chemicals and anything else you might want to know before purchasing the fish.

More fish info

Take action

Say no to GE salmon HERE.

Where do you buy your fish?

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I like to make noise and stir the pot especially when an issue hits home and effects the health of our families. Join me as I make some noise and share along the way tips for living a green and healthy life. Read more.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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