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June 13th, 2014
Father’s Day. A time for honoring fathers, celebrating fatherhood and recognizing the influence of fathers in our society.
This Father’s Day I celebrate all the fathers in my life. Those here now and those no longer with us.
Born in Queens, New York I was destined to be a city girl. When I was about 5 my family picked up and moved to Madison, Wisconsin. Just like that, this city girl was plopped in the country. I was not happy. And now I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
One childhood memory stands out. When I was growing up in Madison we joined a community garden. At the time I was so angry at my father for making us do this. My valuable time as a tween was spent lugging milk containers filled with water from our home to this garden. At a very young age I had a chance to connect with the food we were eating and the opportunity to eat seasonal, fresh, organic food that came from our very own garden. Thanks to my father I try very hard to instill that same connection with my own children, whether it’s through a CSA, farmer’s market or gardening. I’m not always successful, but good intentions are always there.
In honor of Father’s Day I asked a few bloggers to share their thoughts on any ‘green’ lessons (or not so ‘green’ lessons) learned from a father figure in their life.
Here’s what they had to say:
My father taught me not necessarily about the art of living green, but about the art of living simply. He is a man who does not need much to be happy. No flashy car, fancy clothes, or other materialistic item can light up his face. All he needs in life are his wife, his daughter, and now his grandsons. What a fabulous lesson about what is really important.
~Jessica, Eat Sleep Be
My dad, Bob, he’s always been “green” so to speak. In fact, he’s the first person who ever told me to not use bottles with BPA and I thought he was crazy at the time. What did my dad know about bottles and BPA!? Well, father knows best and I’m glad I listened to him. He’s the man who shared with me how to garden, cook and not waste food. When I didn’t like to go into the woods or be outside because I was too girly, he encouraged me and took my sister and me out hunting, four wheeling and fishing. I might not have enjoyed all of it back then but now I appreciate what he did for me and I’m thankful. He’s really a great dad and so many of his attributes have rubbed off on me and helped make me who I am today.
~Sommer, Green and Clean Mom
While I had an abundance of fresh produce around growing up in tropical South Africa, I never had the experience of growing my own fruits and vegetables other than my grandfather’s mini farm. He lived in a small town called Ladysmith 3.5 hours away from me and he had a decent amount of land where he grew things like carrots, cabbage, plums, peaches, and he even had a grape vine. I recall him yanking a huge carrot out of the ground, rinsing the soil out under the faucet and giving to me to eat. My grandmother was fussy about eating it right there, but he kept watch for her as I munched on it. I don’t think anything tasted better than that carrot or anything that grew on that land. I’ve always been determined to grow something and each year I try with our veggie garden and each year I learn to do it better. I don’t think I’ll ever get over the miracle of seeing food come out of the ground.
My father instilled a very strong work ethic in me. He taught me to stick to my values and not be afraid to go out on a limb for what I believed in. From him I learned that hard work pays off and that loving your job makes all the difference!
What’s your favorite Father’s Day lesson?
photo credit: pipitdapo via photopin cc
January 16th, 2014
It’s time for my newest video, Green Your Kitchen in 4 Easy Steps! This is the fifth and final video in a series of 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. The fourth video is The Benefits of Going Green.
The kitchen is the central location in the home. Families meet there to eat, chat, and hang out. But it’s also the room that produces the largest amount of waste. Green your kitchen by following these easy steps.
1. Replace kitchen cooking utensils with eco-friendly alternatives
As your utensils get old and warn out, choose greener options, like stainless steel and wood to replace them. But before you go tossing out your silverware drawer, remember that the greenest thing you can do is to use what you already have and replace the old only when needed.
2. Choose healthy pots and pans
Non-stick pots and pans are coated with Teflon. When used at high temperatures, Teflon can emit toxic fumes that can kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms. To avoid this—and other potential health risks—choose cast iron or stainless steel options.
3. Use reusable napkins
Think of all the paper you are tossing out after each meal. If a five-person family eats just one meal a day at home using paper or disposable napkins, they are using 1,825 paper napkins per year. Switching to reusable napkins is a simple change that will have a big impact.
4. Invest in non-toxic cleaning products
Our food comes in contact with counters and other surfaces in the kitchen. Using non-toxic cleaning products to clean those surfaces is very important. Try to find brands that don’t contain harsh chemicals or try making your own from baking soda, vinegar and other non-toxic ingredients.
How have you added a little green to your kitchen?
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: granite-charlotte via photopin cc
November 30th, 2012
The week flew by leaving me with a few Groovy Green things to share. After taking time off for Thanksgiving I spent most of the week playing catch-up. While I was responding to emails and writing a few things came across my desk that I thought worthy of sharing.
Your couch is toxic
On Wednesday a startling new study came out in Environmental Science and Technology, showing that couches across America contain high levels of toxic chemicals. Great coverage of the study can be seen on the front page of the Chicago Tribune. The study found that 85% of couches tested contained toxic or untested flame-retardants. And the newer the couch, the more likely they were to contain toxic chemicals. The use of flame-retardants has increased over the years and now over 94% of new couches contain one or more of these toxic chemicals. Not good.
What can you do?
That’s the 20 million dollar question! The bottom line is we need better laws to prevent this from happening. We need the Safe Chemicals Act to pass. Take action today and join the movement today to help limit the use of toxic chemicals in our couches and other consumer products.
Opinionated friends rock!
Big thank you goes out to my friend Mary from In Women We Trust (IWWT) for putting together a fantastic list showing how some of the speakers on IWWT “speak out regularly to keep pushing the culture into a green and socially sustainable direction.” Seeing it on paper really gave me perspective and reaffirmed that we are all doing something pretty spectacular. Thank you Mary for including me on your list.
As the holidays come knocking on our doors I want to give a big shout out to a few of my wonderful sponsors whose long-term support help keep this blog rolling. Please take a minute to check out their sites and share some love. Maybe you’ll even find something special for the holidays.
- Mightynest-Shop for a stylish, eco-friendly and non-toxic home. Super products on this site! They’re offering free shipping on orders over $50.
- Essential Safe Products-Offering 20% off of all products right now with free shipping on orders over $100. ESP is a place where you can find non-toxic and safe products, and also great tips and information to help you make healthy lifestyle changes.
- Abe’s Market-Offering free shipping through the end of the year. Abe’s Market sells natural, organic and eco-friendly products.
- The Organic Mattress-With a brand new online store, this little gem of a shop offers organic mattresses, bedding (even for baby) and more.
- BagInspiration-It’s your one-stop shop for stylish and trendy eco friendly bags of all types
- Starlight Creatives-The most delicious, hand-decorated cookies. I dare you to try to eat just one.
There you have it. Have a groovy green weekend y’all.
Any spectacular plans?
photo credit: Pink Sherbet Photography via photopin cc
October 5th, 2012
This week was full of surprises-good surprises. Part of what I truly love about this job is that I rarely have any idea what each day will bring. I can plan and organize as much as I want, but sometimes that inbox has something else in mind for me. And I like it that way. The down side of the surprise element is that I sometimes don’t get as much accomplished as I would like during the day. This was one of those weeks where I was off-track, but somehow landed back on. Here are a few of the highlights.
Disney Petition Update
This week I want to send a shout out to a few of the incredible supporters of my Disney petition.
At last check 57,716 of you had signed the petition asking Disney to remove toxic chemicals from their Spiderman and princess lunch boxes. THANK YOU.
If you haven’t signed the petition and would like to please click HERE.
Selected for Global Team of 200
I’m honored to have been selected by Mom Bloggers for Social Good as part of their Global Team of 200. According to Mom Bloggers for Social Good:
The Global Team of 200 is a highly specialized group of members of Mom Bloggers for Social Good that concentrates on issues involving women and girls, children, world hunger and maternal health.
Over the year I will be writing and sharing some pretty cool initiatives all in the name of social good. Stay tuned.
Named Top Green Influencer
Thank you to Factory Direct Promos for naming me (along with many other familiar names and faces) to their list of Top Green Online Influencers for 2012. I’m honored to be in such good company.
Go Green this Halloween with a Costume Swap on October 13th
Time to put a little green into our Halloween. There’s a way to make this Halloween eek-o-friendly by participating in a National Costume DayTM swap. Again this year Green Halloween, Kiwi Magazine and Swap.com have partnered together to promote National Costume Day TM Swap on October 13, 2012. There will be costume swaps taking place all over the country. Check to see if there’s one near you!
I hope your week was filled with wonderful surprises. Have a groovy green weekend.
Here in Massachusetts we have a three day weekend. Woot! Any big plans in your neck of the woods?
photo credit: PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE via photopin cc
August 30th, 2012
Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer and this year it’s bittersweet. Over the past few weeks our summer groove has finally fallen into place and I’m not ready to let it go. I admit there’s a slight craving for a routine-normal bedtimes, some sort of schedule and consistency. But I’m still not ready. Thankfully we have a few days and a few BBQ’s planned before school kicks in. If you’re planning to head to or host a barbeque this Labor Day (or any other day) there are a few simple ways to make it eco-friendly.
1. Green your grilling
As delicious as grilling is, research has shown that cancer-causing compounds are formed when meat, poultry or fish are cooked at high heat. Try cooking your food at low temperatures, flip it frequently and don’t leave it on the grill longer than necessary. While grilling your food make sure to use green accessories to help you create a delicious and safe meal.
2. Reusables instead of disposables
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average American produces about 4.4 pounds (2 kg) of garbage a day, or a total of 29 pounds (13 kg) per week and 1,600 pounds (726 kg) a year. That’s a lot of trash. BBQ’s are know for their abundance of paper products and plastic utensils. How about mixing it up a bit this year and adding in a few reusable products in place of those single-use plastic and paper products? Using reusable cloth napkins, stainless steel flatware, reusable plates or even stainless steel straws would be a simple way to make a big impact.
3. Non-toxic bug repellent
The bugs can be fierce this time of year. DEET bug repellents can be toxic if we apply too much and leave it on our skin too long. Thankfully there are a quite a few bug repellents out there that are DEET-free. There are even plants that can be strategically placed around your yard that act as natural bug repellents. Our DEET-free bug repellent of choice this summer is Buzzaway.
4. Recycle bottles and cans
I cringe at the number of bottles and cans tossed into the trash at a barbeque. If you are hosting the party take the time to set up a extra bin or two for recyclables. If you’re headed to a BBQ and there’s no recycle container you might just have to carry it home.
5. Use fresh, seasonal and local food
- Safe for you-Grill and prepare organic and hormone-free meat, poultry and wild fish whenever possible.
- Safe for the planet-Buy local food whenever possible. When the food is locally grown or produced it doesn’t need to travel far to reach you-which means less fuel is needed to transport.
Looking for something delicious to bring to your barbeque this year?
My friend Amie over at The Healthy Apple has a spectacular recipe for your Labor Day BBQ. It’s a gluten-free twist on a traditional pasta salad and one that you won’t want to miss: sweet orange n’ grape pasta salad. This lovely recipe has no added sugar, no processed dressings and takes about 20 minutes to whip up. Hope on over to The Healthy Apple to check it out and while you’re there make sure to spend some time reading about Amie’s awesome approach to clean eating.
How are you spending Labor Day weekend? Any BBQ’s in your future?
Vegetable kebab. | Stock Photo © jura13 #2494373
Linked up with Seasonal Celebration.
August 27th, 2012
A challenging piece of my ongoing green journey has been to reduce the amount of paper used in my home. Let’s just say upfront that I draw the line at toilet paper. There will be no reusable toilet paper in my house. Ever.
I have the reusable napkin piece down. We have a drawer in the kitchen dedicated to all different designs and sizes of reusable napkins.
The paper towel switch to reusables has been a bit more challenging. Thanks to our dog and three young boys we are constantly in need of something to clean up the messy trail left behind.
Now there’s a one-stop shop for paper towel alternatives and green kitchen products: Paperless Kitchen. The founder of Paperless Kitchen, Sachin, grew up in a household obsessed with paper towels and was shocked by how easily as a culture we become used to using something once and throwing it away. The company was formed to help all of us adopt greener lifestyles by offering alternatives to single-use kitchen paper products. Here are a few of the products that Paperless Kitchen offers-
I have been testing out SKOY cloths from Paperless Kitchen over the past few weeks. The cloth is great for everything from wiping the table to cleaning up dog disasters. The SKOY cloth is a European created product which is completely 100% biodegradable. Using one SKOY cloth is equal to using 15 rolls of paper towels in an average house. My only complaint is I wish the cloth came in a variety of sizes.
I have been a fan of PeopleTowels for a long time and thanks to the generosity of Paperless Kitchen I now have my very own. They are reusable personal hand towels and are a fantastic alternative to paper towels. Made of 100% organic Fair Trade Cotton, they are an easy way to go green, save trees, reduce landfill waste, cut CO2 emissions and conserve water. An added bonus: there are so many adorable designs to choose from.
Paperless Kitchen is generously offering the Paperless Kitchen Starter Kit to one Groovy Green Livin reader. This kit is valued at $130 and includes:
You can also connect with Paperless Kitchen on Facebook and Twitter. By entering your name and other information you acknowledge that you have read and are agreeing to our Official Rules.
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Disclosure: Paperless Kitchen generously sent me SKOY clothes and PeopleTowels to try out. The opinions are my very own.
August 17th, 2012
Running over the finish line in my annual triathlon
Over the years I’ve had plenty of foot injuries. Plantar fasciitis has tormented me through many years of running and a heel spur made walking and running pretty uncomfortable. Thankfully my injuries haven’t been acting up lately I think in part because I religiously replace my running shoes after 6 months and use prescription orthodics in all of my running and exercise shoes.
My fascination with barefoot running
I’ve always been facinated by barefoot running. I’ve wondered whether running without all that man-made support in traditional running shoes would cure my foot ailments. When Planet Shoes, a sponsor of the Go Green Get Fit Challenge, offered to send me a pair of shoes to test out I jumped at the opportunity to give barefoot shoes a try.
I’ve worked with Planet Shoes in the past and absolutely love this company’s mission. From their eco-friendly selection of shoes and carbon free shipping option to their partnerships with charitable organizations, this company rocks the true meaning of green.
I chose the Merrell Dash Glove barefoot running shoe. Have you seen the Vibram® Five Fingers shoes with 5 toes? These shoes have a Vibram® Sole. I like the look of the Merrell shoes much better than the Vibram® Five Fingers.
Starting off slowly
Everything that I’ve read about barefoot running suggests starting off slowly so your feet have a chance to become accustomed to the barefoot experience. I started off wearing them around the house. They are extremely light and comfortable. The shoes feel very different from my running shoes-there’s very little built in support and I wasn’t using my orthodics.
Next I ventured out on a walk with my new shoes. I have to admit that I missed the extra inch in height my running shoes give me. Barefoot shoes are flat, with no heel whatsoever. The walk went well. My feet and knees felt completely normal.
The gym was next on my list. I went wearing my new barefoot shoes, but not to my usual high impact class. I tested them out in a body conditioning class where there really wasn’t much jumping or running. One person commented that they looked like water shoes, which I hadn’t thought about but they really do.
Running barefoot up next
My next step will be taking these purple and pink pretty shoes out for a run. The Merrell site suggests:
Choose familiar terrain at first. Different types of terrain can affect your training. Steep ups and downs and areas filled with obstacles, like roots or rocks, should be avoided until you’ve built up greater endurance and strength.
After one week in these shoes I’m not completely sold on barefoot running. I’m planning to continue easing into them slowly. My traditional running shoes are still in the rotation and I don’t see them going away anytime soon. The good news: I haven’t had any knee pain or foot pain during my transition to these shoes. From all I’ve read it sounds like barefoot running is best on off-road trails. I’m a bit leery about their performance on asphalt, which is where most of my runs take place.
Have you tried barefoot running? Any words of wisdom for us beginners?
Disclosure: I was provided with a pair of shoes, courtesy of PlanetShoes.com, a sponsor of the Go Green Get Fit Challenge, from The EcoMom Alliance Sustain YourSelf series. There are a few affiliate links in this post-if you purchase through these links it will place a few pennies in my pocket and help support this blog. Thanks!