The first video is ready to share! I would love to hear what you think.
Simple Steps to a Greener Life
If you’re not a green king or queen, switching to a more environmentally friendly lifestyle can be daunting. Fortunately, there are simple ways to reduce your environmental impact without drastically impacting your daily life.
1. Phase out plastics from your home—especially those used for food storage:
Plastics can leak harmful toxic chemicals into our food, which can affect our long-term health. Switch to glass storage containers to ensure that your food stays fresh and you stay healthy.
2. Switch to reusable bags:
The next time you visit the supermarket, bring along reusable bags. Leave them in the front seat of your car or in another visible spot so that you remember them. Not only will you be saving the environment, but you’ll also be reducing the clutter in your home.
3. Start using non-toxic cleaning products:
Conventional cleaning products are filled with toxic chemicals that don’t belong in your home. Instead, try to find brands that don’t contain harsh chemicals like. ammonia, synthetic fragrance, chlorine bleach, parabens and phosphates, or consider making your own cleaning supplies.
4. Replace your personal care items with safe, non-toxic alternatives:
The most eco-friendly way to a greener life is to replace items with environmentally conscious alternatives as you run out of them. When your shampoos or other personal care items run low, replace them with non-toxic products like those found on the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. If a product has a high hazard score, it shouldn’t be coming in contact with your body.
5. Leave your shoes at the door:
While the Jones’ lawn might be green, it’s also full of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. All of those toxins march right into your living space when you wear your shoes from outdoors into your home. Create a space outside or in the garage where you can kick off your shoes until the next time you venture outside.
I would love to hear your steps for a greener life!
If you use eggs to cook you know how frustrating it can be to get a piece of egg shell out of a mixture. There’s good news-no extra tools or fingers required. Simply use another piece of egg shell from the cracked egg to scoop it out. For some reason the extra shell cuts right through the egg and easily scoops up the annoying piece of shell. Try it and you’ll be amazed.
Get Rid of That Garlic Smell
I love garlic and all of its superpowers, but I can’t stand the smell it leaves on my hands after chopping. Here’s a trick to get rid of that stinky garlic smell: After working with garlic, rub your hands on your stainless steel sink or with a stainless steel utensil for 30 seconds before washing them. Bye, bye stinky garlic smell.
Chopping Onions Without Tears
Cutting onions and crying seems to go hand-in-hand for most of us. Here are a few tips for keeping those tears at bay when chopping an onion:
Sharpen those knives. Using a sharp knife means that less enzymes are released since the onion is sliced through, not crushed.
Cut or peel your onion under running water.
Dunk the onions in cold water for 15 minutes before cutting,
Refrigerate or freeze the onion for a few minutes before cutting or chopping.
Chop near a flame. The rationale seems to be that the flames sucks in many of the offending vapors before they reach your eyes.
Spray a little vinegar on your cutting board before you slice.
Do you have any simple cooking tips to add to the list?
Paying attention during March Madness is not high on my priority list, but if Wisconsin is playing and there’s a way to combine the games with good food and good friends I’m in. The Badgers didn’t last long this year, losing in the second round of March Madness to the Ole Miss Rebels. That didn’t stop us from having a dinner with friends and their families.
Our dinner was fantastic.
Everyone brought something to share.
Aren’t these basketball cupcakes da bomb?
We were given a challenge-to host a March Madness party with only one bag of trash at the end of the night.
That might sound easy on a regular day, but when you have 8 adults and 8 children eating together it becomes a challenge to stick to greener habits. Many times when entertaining takes place eco-friendly habits fall by the wayside. According to the Clean Air Council, 43,000 tons of food are thrown out every day in the United States, and each year Americans toss out enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times. Those are some scary statistics.
Considering composting and recycling before throwing something in a trash bag makes it easy to reduce overall waste. During our party our guests were instructed to place all of the food scraps into this Simplehuman Compost Pail. We also had recycle bins available. Making small eco-friendly tweaks to your party planning can ultimately have a big impact on the environment.
Here are a few tips for keeping it green when entertaining.
Email your invites. I actually didn’t use formal invitations for this party. We just kept an online dialogue going about timing and menu.
Buy what you can in bulk. Buying from the bulk bins at the grocery store can be a great way to save money on your grocery bill, but that’s not the only reason to shop the bulk bins. I like the ability to buy only what you need and decreasing the chance of creating excess waste.
Use reusable napkins. We have 5 people in our family-if we eat just one meal a day at home using paper/disposable napkins we are using 1,825 paper napkins per year. That statistic was enough to make me switch to reusable napkins. Making the switch is a simple way to help the environment and save yourself a few pennies in the long run.
Go for real dishes, reusable water bottles or cups and flatware. Not only do they look nicer, but you’ll be doing the earth a favor. Using reusable dishes, cups, water bottles and utensils prevents disposable paper or plastic from unnecessarily entering a landfill. If you don’t have enough dishes for the party consider borrowing from a friend.
Donate leftover food. This never seems to be an issue for us. We have a family of healthy eaters! If you have leftovers check with your local food pantry for donation options.
Have recycle containers and a compost bucket ready for action. Show your guests where to place their refuse. Every city and town has their own recycle system in place, so follow along with their guidelines. We are novice composters over here, but we have a compost bucket that can handle any food scraps.
Use a compostable garbage bag to collect your one bag of trash. As most of you who follow this blog know I’m on a mission to reduce the amount of plastic in my life. With 5 people and a dog our garbage bags can get pretty messy and runs the risk of leaking. The best alternative I’ve found is a compostable garbage bag by Glad which is made with a vegetable-based material that’s 100% biodegradable and compostable. If a plastic bag is needed for garbage, they’re a much better option than true plastic bags.
Here’s what we were left with after everything was recycled and/or composted. Not bad for 16 people!
Do you think you could have a One Bag party and throw away only one bag of trash?
Stay tuned….I’ll be posting a giveaway in the next few days for a One Bag party kit so you can give it a try. You can also enter for a chance to win $10,000 toward your own personal One Bag party through March 31, 2013 HERE.
I don’t watch the news that often. I find most of the stories depressing and a sad commentary on the state of the world-something that I’m already well aware of. This week was a different story: on Wednesday night I watched the news from start to finish.
Let me back up for a minute before I get to why I watched the news. As many of you know I started a petition over at Change.org demanding that Procter & Gamble (makers of Tide) strip a harmful cancer-causing chemical out of Tide Free & Gentle®. The petition went viral. Over 78,000 people signed, demanding that Procter & Gamble change the formulation of their Tide laundry detergent. After almost a year Procter & Gamble realized they could no longer ignore our concerns. Victory! Procter & Gamble agreed in a California court to reformulate its detergents to reduce levels of 1,4 dioxane by September of 2013!
Now I can tell you why I watched the news.
I received an email on Wednesday from Amalia Barreda, (a local Boston reporter shown with me in the photo above) asking if she could interview me about the Tide victory.
I remember from my last two television interviews that the turn around time was very quick. This was no different. They showed up at my doorstep in an hour an a half. Somehow I managed to pull it together by shoving a lot of stuff in cabinets and closets. My house had the outward appearance of being somewhat clean .
They came in and we began casually discussing the Tide petition. I barely noticed when the cameras started rolling.
What I loved most about this interview was the casual tone that Amalia set. It was as though we were having a friendly conversation. Her questions were insightful and clear. We spoke for a bit and then they filmed some footage of me doing my bloggy thing-working on my laptop!
Here’s the clip if you missed it. The quality isn’t fabulous for now, but hopefully you can hear most of it!
Walking up and down the bulk food aisle at your local supermarket can be somewhat overwhelming. There are so many bins to choose from filled with grains, cereals, dried fruits, nuts, spices or baking ingredients. I’ve learned the hard way that I should never head down the bulk food aisle when I’m hungry-that generally leads to a lot of extra bags filled with chocolate and candy!
Why shop the bulk bins?
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:
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
Why are bulk bins less expensive?
Bulk foods are generally cheaper than pre-packaged foods because-
No packaging needed. All that plastic and paper needed to wrap and protect food is very costly. Bulk foods have no packaging, which in turn reduces the cost of the product.
No brand name. There are no marketing or advertising costs needed to sell the products.
Less cost for transportation. Bulk products are less expensive to transport since they can be carried in large containers.
How to save big when bulk food shopping
A little planning is needed before you hit the bulk bins.
Make a list before you head to the market. Buying in bulk allows you to buy just what you need. Make a list and stick to it.
Bring your reusable bags or containers. The stores generally have plastic and/or paper bags available for carrying your bulk food home. Bring your own reusable bags or glass containers to cut down on waste. Glass Mason jars are a good option.
Save on cost by determining the tare weight of your container before filling it. Stores will allow you to deduct the weight of the container (tare weight) from the total weight. Check with the customer service department regarding the stores procedure-they may want to weight the jar or bag for you.
Bring a measuring cup or spoons to ensure that you don’t buy more than you need.
Look for organic ingredients (generally clearly labeled). Organic products in the bulk bin are generally much less expensive than their packaged counterpart.
Take time to compare the bulk bin prices to the cost of prepacked products. In most cases bulk bin prices will be much less.
Do you use bulk food bins? Do you bring your own containers?
Organic bedding has come up a lot in conversation lately. Seems strange I know, but here’s why. A few weeks ago I had some time to myself so I headed to the store. My youngest son needed new bedding-the cars and trucks weren’t cutting it anymore now that he’s nine. I brought home what I thought was the greatest bedding set for his room. Just as we were about to break open everything we started to talk about chemicals in the bedding.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while you know that I’m all about everything in moderation. I know that we can’t be perfectly bright green all the time (at least I can’t). We do the best that we can to keep our families safe. I began thinking about how much time we theoretically spend in our beds. My kids spend a good 10 plus hours in their beds each night. I shoot for a solid 8 hours of sleep or I’m a frightening force to be reckoned with.
Toxins in sheets?
If bedding has been treated so it’s permanent press, no-iron, crease resistant, shrinkproof, stretchproof, stain-proof, water repellent, water-proof or flame resistant it could be emitting toxic chemical vapors.
Now I’m on the lookout for organic bedding. It’s not easy. There are very few cute patterns or colors. Everything seems very neutral. But I decided that was the route I was going to take. So slowly, over time I’ve been replacing our bedding with organic sheets, covers and pillow cases.
Magnolia Organics offers organic bedding (including crib sets), towels and reusable bags. The company is committed to fair labor, sustainable materials, minimalist packaging, and they keep a close eye on the carbon footprint of each product.
The timing was perfect. The nice folks at Magnolia Organics were kind enough to send me an organic sheet set to try out on my own bed. The sheets are 200 thread count percale and come in a variety of colors, which is unusual for organic sheets. I chose the sheets in a neutral Ecru color.
After washing the sheets I crawled into bed, excited to test out them out. My initial impression was that the sheets weren’t as soft as my previous conventional sheet set.
I’ve been using the sheets for about a month and they are finally feeling much softer. Several times through the washing machine has really helped to break them in. The sheet set is well made and I’m guessing it will be around for a long time.
The price point for these sheets is pretty reasonable as far as bedding is concerned- ranging from $64.99 for a twin set to $79.99 for a king set.
Now on to replace my kids bedding. All in good time.
Many of us have those few tried and true green products that make their way into our lives on a daily basis. We’ve tried other green products, but they just don’t compare. Once we find a green product that works it becomes ingrained in our routine and we become somewhat dependent, knowing they are safe, non-toxic and environmentally friendly.
We learn from each other
Most of the green products I use come from recommendations from others and brands I trust. Here are a few of my favorite green products that somehow work their way into my daily routine.
Klean Kanteen. This stainless steel reusable water bottle comes with me to the gym, meetings and sits by me in my office while I’m working.
Reusable Shopping Tote by ChicoBag . These are fantastic! They hold up to 25 lbs and easily stuff into a small pouch for storage. I carry a few in my purse so I have no excuse for forgetting my reusable bags.
I’m sure there are more, but these are things I’ve already used today.
Lori Popkewitz Alper, Founder and Editor of Groovy Green Livin, provides eco-wellness consulting for businesses, schools, homes and individuals; and inspiration for a greener lifestyle through her Groovy Green Livin blog and website. Read more….