Day 90 – Subscribe to Online News

What's in the news?

 The way we learn about news has changed a lot over the years from word of mouth to written letters to newspapers to electronic downloads and digital media.  Paper printed with toxic inks and tossed away with yesterday’s news and brought to you in carbon-emitting vehicles is not good for the environment.  Sure newspapers are recyclable, but many people just don’t do it!  If you have a printed newspaper subscription and love it, then please, PLEASE recycle it when you are through.  Use it for wrapping paper or something.  Just don’t toss it in the trash.

A great way to learn about the news is online.  Major news publications have subscription options so that the current news is delivered to you either via. headlines in a text message, online access to a full newspaper, or automatic downloading to a handheld electronic device. 

If all else fails, ask your friends, neighbors, and coworkers.  Word of mouth news will never go out of fashion!

Day 89 – Go Apple Picking

Freshly Picked Apples

Thanks to my friend for providing me with this photo showing the bounty of her apple-picking excursion!  Picking your own fruit is a fun outing for family and friends.  Apples are in season now, and you’ll want to stock up on them.  They’ll last for a few months in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. 

You can assemble raw apple pies and freeze them, taking them out when you’re ready to bake them for the holidays.  Make yourself a salad with apple slices, golden raisins, and walnuts for a healthy and delicious lunch.  If you’re slicing apples for your child’s lunch, dip them in real lemon juice to keep them from browning before meal time.

Eco benefits of apple picking include the fact that they’re locally grown, so carbon emissions will be at a minimum.  My personal favorite fact about fresh, locally grown apples that you pick yourself is that they are not coated with wax like the ones at the store.  I’m willing to give up shinyness for being able to eat the peeling!  One more thing…choose organic apples whenever possible so that you know that chemical pesticides were not used.  Pesticide residue is not easily washed off the skin.

Day 88 – Maximize Automobile Efficiency

City Suburban Auto

 

We all can’t go out and buy a hybrid vehicle, and public transportation is often not an option.  What are we supposed to do?  Maximize your automobile efficiency! 

Here are some tips for maximizing automobile efficiency from the owner of City Suburban Auto, 5674 N. Northwest Highway, Chicago, IL 60646 Phone: (773) 355-5550.

1. Change engine oil regularly.  Check your owner’s manual.  Most shops recommend doing this every 3,000 miles.  It prolongs the life of your engine and can save money over the long run.

2. Rotate tires.  Every 6,000 miles is usually recommended.

3. Check and replace air filter if dirty.

4. Make sure tires are properly inflated.  Check this every 1-2 weeks.  Many gas stations have areas for checking this.  Properly inflated tires help you get better gas mileage.

5. Check spark plugs for wear.

6. Make sure your brake system is functioning properly.

7. Check and fill all fluids.  Letting this go too long can damage your vehicle.

8. Check alignment.

9. Make sure there are no exhaust restrictions.  Many states have required emissions tests.

10. Check steering & suspension components. 

11. Make sure your battery is free of corrosion and that your charging system is working.

12. Make sure there are no hazardous fluid leaks.  Even small leaks can allow hazardous fluids to enter the eco system. 

Thank you to City Suburban Auto for the great advice!  My husband and I keep our cars maintained regularly, and you should, too.  It’s better for your car and for the environment.

Day 87 – Window Cleaning Cloth

Window Cleaning Cloth

 

This is my washable, reusable window cleaning cloth.  When I use it, it gives me a streak-free shine and I feel good, too, because I am not using a lot of paper towels.  It has a woven, mesh texture and does not leave lint on the windows like other types of towels.  It is also great for stainless steel and mirrors.  When you can eliminate disposable goods like paper towels, you are saving trees, carbon emissions from transportation, and plastic packaging.  It is much better for the environment! 

Click HERE for more information on this cleaning cloth.

Day 86 – For Here Cup Please

"For Here Cup, Please"

You know the places: chain restaurant cafes and coffee shops that have a great deal of  “to-go” or “take away” business, but food that is specified “for here” is served with washable and reusable dishes.  A recent trip to such an establishment led to my order of hot cocoa being served in a disposable cup as a part of my “for here” order.  So, alright, I’m a nice person and did not chew the poor girl’s head off, but I did ask why.  She sheepishly admitted that she didn’t want to wash any extra dishes.

Let’s stop for a moment.  Analyze yourself.  Are you of the “no extra dishes” mindset?  If you are, we need to have a little talk.  That disposable cup is most often not recyclable and the cafes I frequent don’t have recycling facilities anyway.  That means that for your coffee, tea, or cocoa enjoyment lasting 20 minutes if you’re able to sit and really enjoy it has a price of a cup spending eternity in a landfill.  I really hope you have a problem with that.

You can do a couple of things to solve this issue.  My first choice is to say, “in a for-here cup please.”  The cute ceramic cups look so adorable and sometimes make me feel like I’m in a cafe on TV.  My second choice is to bring my own cup.  This is a great option if you are ordering a “to-go” or “take-away” drink, too.  Third, your option is to find a place more eco-friendly to frequent.  You may not have an option here, though.  The goal here is for me to teach you and for you to educate others and so on and so forth.  That is how we will activate the winds of change.

Starbucks and Panera have “for-here” cups.  If you know of other places, let me know.  If you bring your own cup to Starbucks, they will give you a 10-cent discount.

Day 85 – Green Diet

The Gorgeously Green Diet

Check out this book by Sophie Uliano.  It is awesome!  I’m excited to soon be implementing some sage advice found in this book.  I am sick and tired of dealing with diets that push low-fat (high hydrogenated oils), sugar-free (high chemicals), and low-carb (high hormone-filled meat)!  Can’t we eat naturally and really focus on our health, too?  This book is the answer!

The Gorgeously Green Diet (2009, published by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.) boasts “nearly 100 ecolicious recipes” that help you “save money and the planet.”  Sure, the author tells us to exercise and eat right, but she also focuses on educating us about specific foods educating us about what words on the labels mean and what to choose when.  For instance, did you know that, “It is really important to buy organic maple syrup because nonorganic syrups use formaldehyde in the extraction process.”  Yes, she said formaldehyde – the same stuff used to preserve dead things to dissect in 8th grade biology class…YUCK!

It is important to learn our options.  Only then can we make better decisions.  The world has changed a lot, and I’ve learned that the pictures in my head from visiting friends’ farms 20+ years ago is not the same as the reality of corporate farming today.  My goal is to get back to a healthier life.  Who is with me?

Day 84 – Learn to Preserve Food

Homemade Canned Goods

Preserving food is a great way to be in touch with your food source.  I believe that when we are in touch with our food sources, we are more apt to care about how we use food to feed ourselves while decreasing waste.  More and more people I know are learning to preserve food.  This summer, recipes from my friends have floated around social media sites being shared from person to person.  It is an exciting time to learn about preserving food.

If you have produce from your own garden, that is great!  Instead of piling up the counters and having so much that you consider paying people to take it, instead try preserving some of it.  If you’re not a gardener, then go to the local farm stand or farmer’s market and stock up on produce.  In season produce is delicious and inexpensive and better for the environment because it’s usually locally grown. 

To help you get started, here is a link to a great site with step by step instructions for beginners!  http://www.freshpreserving.com/  Plus, here is a recipe courtesy of my friends at the Knauff Farm in Indiana:

Zucchini Pear Marmalade

5 cups zucchini, shredded and peeled
2 lemons
2 oranges
1 pear cored and grated
4 cups (1L) sugar

-Fill boiling water canner with water. Place 4 clean half pint (250 ml) mason jars in canner. Cover, bring water to a boil;boil at least 10 minutes to sterilize jars.
-Wash and peel zucchini. Slice zucchini fairly thin to yield 5 cups (1.25 L) Place in large stainless steel or enamel saucepan.
-Using a zester, zest oranges;add zest to zucchini. Peel oranges and lemons; tie in a large square of cheesecloth making a spice bag. Tie ginger in a separate square of cheesecloth. Add spice bags to zucchini.
-In food processor or by hand, finely chop oranges, lemons and pear; add to zucchini,
-Place saucepan over medium-high heat. Add sugar, stirring until sugar dissolves and mixture is boiling. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, 45 minutes or until marmalade reaches the gel stage. Discard spice bags.
-Boil snap lids 5 minutes to soften compound.
-Ladle marmalade into a hot sterilized jar to within 1/4 inch (0.5 cm) of top rim (head space). Remove air bubbles by sliding rubber spatula between glass and food; readjust head space to 1/4 inch. Wipe jar rim to remove any stickiness. Center snap lid on jar; apply screw band just until fingertip tight. Place jar in canner, repeat for remaining marmalade.
-Cover canner; return water to boil;process 10 minutes. Remove lid wait 5 min. Then cool and store

Day 83 – Clean with Cherries

Cherry Scour Off

Imagine cleaning your house feeling nauseated and getting a headache from the toxic cleaners mixing in the air.  What if you could smell the fresh, clean scent of real cherries instead?  This is the cleanser that I use for the jobs around the house requiring a mild abrasive.  Scour Off is safe and nontoxic.  It is a paste that only requires a little portion to work with mighty power to clean a variety of surfaces.  In my house, I use it on porcelain, laminate, and stainless steel – wherever I might use the abrasive cleaners that come in a bottle at the store.

What makes Scour Off better than store-bought cleaners?
1.     It is safe and nontoxic.
2.     It does not offgas toxic fumes into the air.
3.     It is made out of cherries.
4.     It will biodegrade naturally once rinsed down the drain.
5.     The manufacturer is carbon-neutral certified.

Click here for more information: http://greendesign.myshaklee.com/public/us/en/category.php?main_cat=HomeCare&sub_cat=GetCleanHousehold

Day 82 – gDiapers

gDiapers

These attractive diapers come with inserts that can be flushed, composted, or tossed with no worries.  There is no plastic in these diapers.  Unlike plastic diapers which have a terrible environmental impact and, according to gDiapers, can last in landfills for 500 years, this eco-friendly diaper alternative is better for the environment. 

These diapers have earned Cradle-to-Cradle certification.  According to gDiapers’ website: “gDiapers have no elemental chlorine, no perfumes, no smell, no garbage and no guilt.”  They are the best of a cloth diaper and a disposable one.  Plus, I have priced them against good quality plastic diapers, and the price is comparable. http://www.gdiapers.com/gdiapers101/flush-compost-or-toss

Calling all moms with little ones out there…please try them and tell me what you think!  I have no benefit save a fascinated curiosity and wonder.

Source: gDiapers website www.gdiapers.com

Day 81 – Green Your Packed Lunch

Lunch Box

Are you in the habit of scarfing, wolfing, mowing down – whatever you may call it – a fast-food lunch?  not only is most fast food loaded with extra calories and fat, but it also creates an inordinate amount of packaging waste.  For food that you may stuff in your mouth for 15 minutes, does it make sense that the paper and plastic packaging may spend eternity in a landfill?

Green your lunch!  First, buy a sturdy lunch box.  Hard-cased lunch boxes are generally more sturdy and will last longer.  This one is metal and can be recycled at the end of its usefulness.  Second, find reusable containers for your food.  Do you like sandwiches?  Find a resealable plastic container that will fit a sandwich.  How about a salad?  Find a reusable bowl with a lid and a small container for dressing.  Are snacks your thing?  Consider natural snacks with little packaging, or make your own snacks.

In other posts, I focus on specific food choices that are healthier for you and for the planet.  That is important!  However, I also want you to consider the packaging of the foods you eat every day.  A granola bar may be packaged in an envelope, inside a decorative box, and may come to the store in a larger cardboard box.  Considering what you eat for lunch is a great way to drill down on the details of the reality of all of the packaging.  You may be buying more than for what you’ve bargained.