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May 7th, 2014

New Use for Old Shoes: How to Make a Shoe Planter

Groovy Green Livin Shoes

Shoes are made for more than just walking.

This photo was taken on our way to a Red Sox game in Boston. I’m always amazed to see what people can do with their small patch of green space in the city. Some of the gardens are breathtaking. I once spotted a bed frame converted into a flower bed. Not my taste, but very clever!

Shoe containers embrace the true meaning of reusing.

The saying goes: “One person’s trash may be another person’s treasure.”  We live in a use-and-toss society where most of the time we don’t give a second thought to using an item once and then tossing it. If we stopped before tossing we might realize that some of those items that seem ripe for the trash  can be repurposed into something completely different for our own use.

That trash could become our own treasure.

Reusing something is different than recycling. Recycling is the process  by which old goods are re-manufactured, allowing them to be turned into new products. Reusing or repurposing is taking a product that’s already in existence and lengthening its life by using it for something new.

The flower containers we spotted are a perfect example of creative reusing. I love how the shoes filled with flowers add a pop of color to otherwise drab steps.

We certainly have plenty of old shoes.

Groovy Green Livin Shoes

If you’re interested in using your old shoes to brighten up a walkway or stairs, here are instructions for making your own unique shoe containers.

  • Get your kids involved!
  • Take a look at the space where the shoes will be placed to determine the amount of sunlight. Base your plant selection on this.
  • Find small plants that don’t need a deep space to root.
  • Pick colorful plants that complement each other. You might want to mix up the plant colors, plant height and the shoe colors to make the design more whimsical.
  • Make several holes in the soles of the shoe so the water can drain.
  • Fill your shoes with potting mix and plant.
  • Decorate the exterior of the shoe if you’re feeling artsy. Use a mixture of glue and paint and add in a few sparkles. My only concern is the decorations could wash off when it rains. 
  • Arrange the shoes!

 While I love the concept of shoe containers, I’m not so sure I would put them on my front steps. Would you?

May 22nd, 2013

When You Drive the Earth Smokes

Groovy Green Livin Earth

My nephew Eliot is a rock star in my book (not that I’m biased or anything). Eliot submitted this cartoon and won the Yahara River Writers Top Ten Award  for his creation (an event sponsored by Greater Dane County TAG Network).

At age 11 he gets it. He understands that vehicle exhaust is the leading source of the earth’s hazardous air pollution. He’s fighting for clean air and he doesn’t even drive yet.

Somehow he knows that children and cars don’t mix well. Something compelled him to draw this cartoon showing that when you drive the earth smokes.

What we’re inhaling from cars and trucks has been linked to asthma, strokes and heart attacks. Toxic air pollution is killing us and it’s killing the earth and will continue to do so unless we make some changes.

Here are a few tips from the Environmental Protection Agency to help reduce air pollution from cars:

  • Keep tires properly inflated and aligned.
  • In the summertime, fill gas tank during cooler evening hours to cut down on evaporation. Avoid spilling gas and don’t “top off” the tank. Replace gas tank cap tightly.
  • Avoid waiting in long drive-thru lines, for example, at fast-food restaurants or banks. Park your car and go in.
  • When possible, use public transportation, walk, or ride a bike.
  • Get regular engine tune ups and car maintenance checks (especially for the spark plugs).
  • Use an energy-conserving (EC) grade motor oil.
  • Ask your employer to consider flexible work schedules or telecommuting.
  • Report smoking vehicles to your local air agency.
  • Join a carpool or vanpool to get to work.

And that’s why my nephew rocks.

Any other tips to help reduce air pollution from cars and trucks?

In honor of  not-so Wordless Wednesday I’ve linked up with Better in Bulk, Dagmar’s MomsenseLive and Love Out LoudProject Alicia,  and I Thought I Knew Mama.

February 13th, 2013

Buried in Snow: Nemo Found Us

Groovy Green Livin Nemo snow

We finally dug out from under the piles and piles of snow left behind by winter storm Nemo. It was an incredible storm. We were among the fortunate who didn’t lose without power or heat. There are many still reeling from the effects of Nemo and my heart goes out to them. More than 400,000 customers lost power in Massachusetts. Much of the power has returned, but there are still some without.

It was an official snow day as the storm moved in. School was canceled and we settled in to watch the snow begin to fall. The state took extreme steps to assure that no one was on the road when the snow picked up. They issued a travel ban. No cars on the road. It was the first travel ban on roads since the Blizzard of ’78, a ferocious storm that dropped 27 inches of snow, packed hurricane-force winds and claimed dozens of lives. State police credited the travel ban, which was lifted late afternoon Saturday, with only 30 drivers needing to be rescued.

During the two days of the storm my kids, along with neighbors, managed to sled, build an igloo, a fort and several tunnels throughout our yard.

Groovy Green Livin snow

This double tunnel was one of their favorites and mine too. It provided hours of entertainment.

Groovy Green Livin snow tunnels

The snow was incredibly deep-over 2 feet in some spots.

Groovy Green Livin snow mailbox

This tunnel ultimately collapsed as the plows went by.

Groovy Green Livin snow tunnel

The day after the storm was gorgeous. The sun was shinning and everything looked white and beautiful.

Groovy Green Livin snow day

Did Nemo find you? 

It’s no-so Wordless Wednesday so this is a simple post which features photos to convey a message that speaks for itself without using many words.

In honor of  not-so Wordless Wednesday I’ve linked up with Better in Bulk, Dagmar’s MomsenseLive and Love Out LoudProject AliciaMama Dweeb, Farmer’s Daughter and I Thought I Knew Mama.

February 6th, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Instagram Images

Groovy Green Livin Instagram Peace Out

I’ve mentioned before that I have an addiction to Instagram. For those of you who have yet to join, Instagram is a free photo sharing network that lets anyone take photos with their smartphone and apply some pretty cool filters to make the photos extra special and then share with other Instagram users or on Facebook and Twitter.

Yes, Instagram has had some pretty big issues that caused a lot of user backlash after they changed their terms of service giving the company commercial rights to user accounts and images. Initially the changes seemed to allow Instagram to sell our photos to advertisers without our permission. After many users threatened to leave Instagram the company took a step back and said they wouldn’t make those changes.

So for now I’m sticking with Instagram and really enjoying  all of your photos and sharing some of my own.

Here are a few of my Instagram photos from this week.

My nine year old son made the best organic fruit salad.

Groovy Green Livin Instagram Fruit Salad

My 12 year old got some pretty fancy new kicks. He designed these himself.

Groovy Green Livin Instagram New Kicks

I stumbled upon these vegetables at the market. I was amazed by how many of you knew what they were called. What’s your guess?

Groovy Green Livin Instagram Tomatillo

If you want to see the rest of my photos come on over and find me on Instagram at GroovyGreenLivin. Let me know how to find you!

It’s Wordless Wednesday so this is a simple post which features photos to convey a message that speaks for itself without using many words.

What’s your favorite thing to photograph?

In honor of  not-so Wordless Wednesday I’ve linked up with Better in Bulk, Dagmar’s MomsenseLive and Love Out LoudProject Alicia, Mama Dweeb, and I Thought I Knew Mama.

 

January 30th, 2013

Why is There Plastic Wrap on That?

Groovy Green Livin Why is there plastic wrapPlastic wrap is my nemesis.  Have you ever asked yourself  ‘why is there plastic wrap on that?’

I have never touted myself as perfect when it comes to green living, but there are some things that seem so simple, so intuitive that it’s beyond me why they happen.

Take for example this organic cucumber that I recently bought at the market. Yes, it was wrapped in plastic wrap.

Groovy Green Livin Why is there plastic wrap

My kids love cucumbers and this was the only organic version available. I’m having a hard time with this one. Plastic wrap on a cucumber? It reminds me of Del Monte wrapping their organic bananas in plastic. They added a layer of plastic wrap to a fruit that comes with its own natural, biodegradable packaging. Cucumbers, like bananas, have a peel. Maybe its not as thick as a banana peel, but still.

Needlessly covering fruits and vegetables with plastic wrap is an enormous waste. Also (and probably more important on my end) I really don’t want plastic touching anything I’m going to eat.

So I was torn. Standing there in the supermarket staring at the fruits and vegetables I saw a sea of plastic wrap. My choice was to buy the organic cucumber or leave it behind. I opted for the cucumber along with the plastic wrap.

I wonder if plastic wrap is really necessary for packing fruits and vegetables? If packaging is needed for transporting produce there must be a better alternative.

What do you think about plastic packaging on a cucumber or any other fruit or vegetable?

Wordless Wednesday, a simple post which features photos to convey a message that speaks for itself without using many words.

In honor of  not-so Wordless Wednesday I’ve linked up with Better in Bulk, Dagmar’s MomsenseLive and Love Out LoudProject AliciaMama Dweeb, and I Thought I Knew Mama.

photo credit: Ksayer1 via photopin cc

January 23rd, 2013

Climate Change in a Winter Wonderland

Groovy Green Livin climate change

It’s officially winter. Today my thermometer reads 8 degrees. There’s no denying that winter is upon us. There are days where I sit at my desk bundled in a coat and scarf. I’m always cold. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There’s nothing like being outside in the winter. Skiing, running and exercising in the cold weather is invigorating and ideal in my humble opinion.

Part of New England’s charm is the distinct four seasons. But I’ve noticed a change. Snow cover is decreasing, storms have become fierce and spring arrives earlier.

I worry. The planet continues to get hotter with 2012 being the warmest year ever recorded, by far.

Groovy Green Livin climate change

President Obama thankfully talked climate change during his inaugural address.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

Groovy Green Livin climate change

We need more than just words, we need action. Betraying our children and future generations just isn’t an option. Let’s all agree to take action.

In honor of  not-so Wordless Wednesday I’ve linked up with Better in Bulk, Dagmar’s MomsenseLive and Love Out LoudProject AliciaMama Dweeb, Organic Mama, Savvy Suburban and I Thought I Knew Mama.

Wordless Wednesday, a simple post which features photos to convey a message that speaks for itself without using many words.

Have you noticed any climate changes in your neck of the woods?

January 9th, 2013

Really Cool Recycled Puzzles

Groovy Green Livin puzzle

Puzzles have always filled our toy closet. One of our first was a 6 piece wooden puzzle with different shaped airplanes. Each  piece had a handle, making it easy for little hands to manipulate and practice spacial orientation.

We have since graduated from 6 piece puzzles to 1,000 plus pieces. Some are 3D and others come in strange shapes and packaging. According to my kids, the more challenging the better.

We just received the coolest puzzles as a gift and I had to share. Have you heard of MUJI?  MUJI  is a Japanese company which sells a large variety of household and consumer products, including really awesome puzzles.  MUJI is known for it’s minimal designs, emphasis on recycling, avoidance of waste in production and packaging, and no-logo or “no-brand” policy. The name MUJI means No Brand Quality Goods. They spend little money on advertising or marketing. Most of their success comes from word of mouth. How cool is that? There are a few stores in New York City and others sprinkled around the globe.

We received three different puzzles, one for each child.

Groovy Green Livin puzzle instructions

At first glance, the puzzle pieces are extremely plain. No color or fancy design. They basically look like pieces of cardboard made from recycled paper.

The instructions were relatively simple and when they finished we had three incredible, 3D puzzles.

We quickly discovered that the puzzles could be shared. They took the pieces apart and swapped. The elephant above was put together and taken apart several times.

The owl was one of my favorites. It looks somewhat daunting in this photo.

Groovy Green Livin owl puzzle

The airplane was an interesting gray color. If you look closely you can see how the numbers are used to match up pieces.

Groovy Green Livin airplane puzzle

These interesting puzzles make a fantastic gift!

Do you have a favorite puzzle?

In honor of  not-so Wordless Wednesday I’ve linked up with Better in Bulk, Dagmar’s MomsenseLive and Love Out LoudProject AliciaMama Dweeb, From PDX With Love and I Thought I Knew Mama.

 

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About Lori

I’m Lori Popkewitz Alper, a recovering attorney, mom of three and the Founder of Groovy Green Livin. I hope you'll join me as I embark on a journey to live a healthy life. Along the way I might make a few pit stops to fight for issues that affect the health and safety of our families. Come along with me as I work hard to make the world a little safer for each of us. Together we'll discover that simple, small changes can lead to a healthier lifestyle and a greener planet.

Click HERE to contact Lori

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Lori on ABC World News

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