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Archive for Green Living
May 4th, 2015
Finally the warm weather is here and with it I’ve noticed an constant stream of ants marching through our kitchen. These aren’t red ants or ants with wings. They’re black common house ants that look like this:
We’ve been trying to determine where they’re entering our house, but haven’t found the source. In the meantime we’ve been wiping all kitchen surfaces down, vacuuming and making sure that all food is stored properly.
Unless the situation is out of control, I’m not willing to use pesticides. I don’t want them near my kids or pets. Conventional pesticides contain toxic ingredients that can, according to the EPA, affect the nervous system, cause skin and eye irritation, affect hormones, the endocrine system, and cause cancer.
But before I share the natural ant remedies that do work, there are a few that I’ve tried that really haven’t worked.
- I’ve tried sprinkling cinnamon around the kitchen and it didn’t work very well. The ants tried to avoid the cinnamon, but ended up taking a different route. It’s also pretty messy.
- Lemon Juice mixed with water in a spray bottle and a vinegar spray won’t work in my kitchen. Ants don’t like them, but neither do my granite counter tops. Frequent use of vinegar or lemon juice will dull and weaken the sealant on the granite over time.
Here are a few non-toxic remedies to keep the ants away
- Clean up all surfaces. Vacuum floors, wipe down counter and stove tops.
- Make sure food is stored properly.
- Keep garbage sealed.
- Use soapy water in a spray bottle to kill individual ants. This will also clear away the chemical trail that is left behind for other ants to follow. I like using Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint for this.
- Find where the ants are coming in and plug the hole with a water/sugar/borax mixture on a towel. According to this article the trick is plenty of sugar and a tiny bit of Borax. More ants will appear initially, but in a few weeks they disappear.
- Another variation on the borax mixture above is to add a tiny bit of peanut butter to the borax/sugar solution and strategically place these homemade ant traps around the house.
- HERE are a few more interesting natural ant remedies that I might try if these don’t work.
How do you keep ants out of your home?
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photo credit: Peep out via photopin (license) and TN ant 111710 via photopin (license)
July 14th, 2014
A few days ago I went on a walk with my sister and stumbled upon this Little Free Library. Have you seen one in your neighborhood? What an amazing concept.
What is a Little Free Library?
It’s a “take a book, return a book” philosophy where neighbors share their favorite books. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone can stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share.
Have you seen them in your neighborhood?
I recently found one in my neighborhood, just outside our local bike shop. It’s been there for about three months and according the bike store owner it’s getting a lot of action.
How to Add a Little Free Library to the Map
If you’re curious and want to know if there’s a Little Free Library in your neck of the weeks take a look at this map. Not every Little Free Library is on the list, since someone has to manually enter each library.
To add a new library to the list be sure that your library has an official charter sign and number. If you do not have one, you can order one on the Make It Official page. There is a one-time payment of $34.95 per Library. If you already have your charter sign, then all you need to do is fill out to the register your library on the map form.
Did you Hear About This?
A Kansas family put up a Little Free Library in their front yard and then received a letter from a town official stating that their Little Free Library was in violation of the town code which bans any freestanding structures or buildings that are not attached to a person’s house. Say what?
Rather than immediately fighting the violation, the family voluntarily removed the library from their front lawn and then started a petition which over 22,ooo people signed. Good news! The Kansas town where this took place is now allowing Little Free Libraries! One more example of how consumer pressure really can make a difference.
Is there a Little Free Library near you?
photo credit: ali eminov via photopin cc
July 9th, 2014
Empty Stonyfield yogurt containers usually end up in the recycle bin over here. And there are plenty of them!
Many of you know that I’ve been working closely with Stonyfield as a Stonyfield Yo-Getter and have had the privilege of trying out Stonyfield products and reporting back to you. Thus, there are empty yogurt containers everywhere.
We’re pretty diligent about recycling and after much trial and error we have a good recycling system in place.
Have you heard of the three R’s? Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to recycling and reusing. Before I throw things in the recycle bins in my garage and before I chuck something in the garbage I’m trying really hard to pause and consider whether it has life left in it.
Quite simply, reusing an item lengthens its life span. What if before those empty yogurt containers landed in the recycle bin we gave them one more job?
While all three of my kids are at sleepaway camp our house is going through a major overhaul. We are purging. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?!
New Uses for Yogurt Containers
Over the years we’ve accumulated a lot of art supplies. The latest art projects over here have everything to do with gimp or lanyard. We’ve made key chains, necklaces and more. There are spools and strings of lanyard everywhere.
Thanks to an empty Stonyfield yogurt container the strings of lanyard now have a new home. The spools didn’t quite fit.
All the magic markers that have filled drawers and floors also have a new home.
And the sidewalk chalk fit perfectly.
There are so many more uses for these containers.
Next up…..we’re taking them to the beach for sand castles!
Can you think of any other great uses for yogurt containers?
This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own.
April 1st, 2014
Fat-free is a term that many of us are very familiar with. We see ‘fat-free’ on our food labels and we seek it out on the foods we love to eat.
What Does ‘Fat-Free’ Mean?
There’s an assumption that fat-free actually means free of all fat. Well it doesn’t. The label that reads ‘fat-free’ can actually be very misleading.
The FDA permits foods to be labeled ‘fat-free’ if they contain less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving.
Here’s the tricky part. If you eat over and above the serving size on the package chances are the food will no longer be fat-free. And we all know how small those serving sizes tend to be on a food label. Most are very unrealistic.
For example let’s pretend we are about to indulge and eat a fat-free, chocolate chip cookie for lunch. The label on the cookie packaging states that the serving size is 1 tasty cookie. We all know that it’s next to impossible to eat only one cookie. So now we add two more cookies to our lunch-time treat. While each cookie has under the 0.5 grams fat content to legally be called fat-free, when added together they exceed that amount. Those cookies are no longer fat free.
Does ‘Fat-Free’ Mean Calorie-Free?
Fat-free does not mean calorie-free. Not all calories are created equal, but it still holds true that a calorie is a calorie whether it comes from fat or carbohydrates. Packaging can say a product is fat free, but it could be loaded with sugar. Check labels carefully for calorie count and serving size.
Sometimes It’s OK to Eat a Little Fat.
The type of fat you eat may be more important than the amount of fat you eat. When choosing your foods think about finding sources of good fat, not necessarily fat-free foods. Bad fats in food can increase your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease. Consuming foods with good fat will help keep your heart and body healthy. Omega-3 fats are an example of good fats and can be found in Chia seeds, salmon and other fish and Brussels sprouts.
Best solution: Eat everything in moderation, do your best to stick with fruits and vegetables which are naturally low in fat and try to avoid processed foods as much as possible.
What do you think of the fat-free label? Is it important to you when you’re buying food?
photo credit: MyDigitalSLR via photopin cc
March 17th, 2014
I’m back in Boston after a day of filming a green living makeover video with the fabulous team from Manilla. As many of you know I’m Manilla’s Green Living Expert and I was asked to makeover a college student’s apartment that was a complete ‘green’ disaster!
There’s nothing like heading into Manhattan for the day. Yes, it’s exhausting, but it’s such an easy trip. I just hopped on the Acela and took a 3 1/2 hour train ride into Penn Station.
My morning in New York started off when I arrived at the prestigious Hearst Tower in Manhattan, home to Manilla and some of the most well known magazines including Marie-Claire, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping and Cosmopolitan.
The filming of the makeover took place on the 29th floor where Good Housekeeping Magazine is located. It was incredible to see the test kitchens and various rooms filled with appliances and vacuums.
Green Living Makeover
The purpose of the video: It was my job to makeover a college student’s apartment and turn it into a lean, green, eco-friendly machine.
Annie, a senior at Fordham University, was in desperate need of a green living makeover. Her apartment was filled with plastics and paper products along with toxic cleaning supplies. She was a great sport and so much fun to work with, as was the entire Manilla team.
I’ve filmed other videos for Manilla, but this was different. We spent about 6 hours filming, which will ultimately end up as a 4 minute video. We shot each segment over and over so the editing crew has quite a bit of footage to choose from. There were hand closeups, b-roll footage (extra footage) and me trying desperately to get through each take without a mistake!
We started off using cue cards, but that didn’t work very well. I ended up memorizing my lines and improvising. Now the makeover editing team will have to work their magic.
After the Green Living Makeover
I was really excited to see Annie’s apartment after some of my suggested changes had been made. Stay tuned to see what happened!
While you’re waiting feel free to check out my other Manilla Mini videos:
- Green Your Kitchen in 4 Easy Steps!
- 5 Simple Steps to a Greener Life
- Eco-Friendly Cleaning Tips and
- 5 Ways to Go Green and Save Green
- The Benefits of Going Green
If you were offered a green living makeover what’s the first thing you would want to change?
photo credit: simonk via photopin cc
March 10th, 2014
I’m patiently waiting for a sign of spring. Any sign. Waking up to yet another inch of snow this morning certainly didn’t help.
I’m going to have to pretend that spring is almost here.
Most of us associate spring with a time for starting fresh. Flowers start to blossom and the air carries that wonderful scent of new green growth. For many spring simply means cleaning out the dirt, dust and disorder that have crept in over the past year.
Here are a few ways that I’m planning to celebrate a green spring when it finally does arrive.
Do a Cleanse
Colon cleansing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to clean out our bodies by removing built up toxins from inside the colon. There are dozens of options available for clearing the colon of this accumulated waste and it’s important to find the solution that works for you.
The cleanse I do each year is a liquid fast for 5 days. I use a company called Blessed Herbs which puts together a kit with simple instructions for the cleanse. The kit comes in two flavors, ginger and peppermint. I prefer the ginger flavor, but it’s personal preference. There are a lot of cleanse options out there and it’s important to find one that works for you. Make sure to speak with your physician before doing a cleanse.
Green Your Grilling
At our house it’s not uncommon to find us barbecuing year round. We have been known to trudge out to the barbecue on snowy days just for the sake of a juicy veggie burger. Now that spring is just around the corner break out that grill and make sure you have green grilling utensils ready for use. Also read up on the proper temperature for cooking meat and other food on the grill. Research has shown that cancer-causing compounds are formed when protein foods (meats, poultry, fish) are cooked at high heat.
Green Your Spring Cleaning
Did you know that cleaning product companies aren’t required to tell us what chemicals they use in their products? From cleaning your carpets to your every day cleaning supplies, it’s time to reevaluate what products you’re using and either make your own or invest in safe products from companies that are completely transparent with their ingredient lists.
Invest in a Few Houseplants
Spring is coming and soon the windows will be open. If you’re looking for a simple way to improve your indoor air quality– indoor house plants are the answer. Many common houseplants act as an air filter, removing toxins from the air we breathe. Here is a list of the Top 10 Houseplants that Clean the Air.
Start Planning a Garden
Over the years I have been very diligent about planting a garden each spring with my three boys. Working together to create a vegetable garden has always been an incredibly rewarding process. Not much can compare to watching children tirelessly dig and craft a garden. If you are interested in planting a garden HERE are a few tips to get you started this spring.
How do you get ready for spring? Are you going to plant a garden this year?
photo credit: HereIsTom via photopin cc
October 3rd, 2013
Remember when I traveled to New York to film 5 short videos for Manilla covering the many ways we can all lead a greener life?
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!
The video is also airing on the Manilla blog and at Yahoo! Finance. More videos are coming so stay tuned!
photo credit: epSos.de via photopin cc