St. Patrick’s Day – 5 Great Ways to Live a #Greener Life

Plant a garden with flowers, herbs and vegetables.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! One of my favorite holidays, not only for the color, but also to celebrate the Irish heritage.

Uncommonly warm and sunny in the middle of March in Ohio, St. Patrick’s Day inspires me to truly think & be green today – the greenest day of the year!

5 Ways you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and Live a Greener Life

1. Start a garden. March is the month to start planting seeds, repot last year’s houseplants, prep the ground (or planters) for your summer garden. visit your local greenhouse to answer questions about what you should plant and where. Living in an apartment with only the morning sun on my balcony does limit what I can plant; however, greens like lettuce, spinach and kale will fare well in mostly shade. Assess your space whether it’s a 8′ x 12′ plot in your backyard or a 6 foot cement patio, you can still fill your space with plenty of fresh herbs and veggies that will be ready when the summer heat hits.

2. Volunteer with a community garden. Even if you don’t think you have a green thumb (sometimes I wonder myself), there are plenty of tasks to do to keep a garden green and growing all season long. There’s weeds to pluck, seeds to plant, and oftentimes community gardens accept veggie scraps and leaves for the compost. Get your kids involved too. Ask around about community gardens, look in the newspaper or call your local city hall to find the nearest community garden. Urban gardens are sprouting up, literally, where abandoned houses and parking lots used to be. In my area, I’m just tickled green to see another fenced in garden in the most run-down neighborhoods. That’s urban development in the most greenest sense to me!

3. Start a compost. Thinking green, invest in creating or buying a composter for your kitchen or backyard. Amazon has
countertop compost bins if you don’t have space or the time to have one outside. Use the compost in potted plants, your garden, your neighbor or community garden. The nutrients combined with soil will yield better and organic crops. Read more about how to use compost in your garden here. Worm bins are also a great alternative to using indoor compost bins and buckets. Of course, you’ll  need worms and some soil, but worm poop is the best organic fertilizer for your plants and if you take care of “feeding” the red wrigglers, you won’t have to endure the stink of their process either.

4.  Eat more plant based food. Have you noticed the rising cost of food lately? Meat, especially pork, will continue to rise in price throughout 2012 and beyond. Do yourself, your health and your family some good and reduce the amount of animal products in your diet. Plant based diets are easily digestible, contain protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals to keep all your organs working properly. Start simply, eliminate one animal based meal a week with a vegetable or grain entree. Two of the 3 main meals I eat daily do not contain meat or animal by-products.  I buy tofu (soybean) based products as well as whole grains to replace the protein found in meats.

5. Buy local. Local farms and roadside stands are more abundant or maybe as abundant as they were 30 years ago. Buying local seasonal foods decreases fuel costs, lessens exposure to harmful pesticides and herbicides and puts your hard earned wages back into the community. Check out this resource to find a list of local farms in your area, LocalHarvest.org

I could go on and list more, but I know you really want to get out and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and I have some Irish recipes to tend to today, so enjoy this great Green day.

Go Irish!

Join the P.U.P Campaign to Reduce Water Contamination

Unlike other animal feces, dogs’ feces do not contain organic matter. Do you know where dog’s fecal matter ends up?

The Midwest is melting…well the snow is melting (finally) and what it leaves behind is muck and animal feces. Yuck! I like the scent of fresh rain, however that’s not what is in the air now – it’s my neighbor’s dog poop! Double Yuck!

Do your dog and community a favor, pick up the poop!

Unlike other animal feces, dogs’ feces do not contain organic matter. Do you know where dog’s fecal matter ends up? In lakes, streams and waterways which do not go through a filtration system hence you have contaminated water!

Northeast Ohio’s Pick Up Poop aka P.U.P. campaign is about educating dog owners the importance of picking up after their dog to reduce contaminated waterways. It seems simple enough to buy the recycled plastic bags or a pooper scooper to pick up the fecal matter and through it away in a designated trash can or dumpster; however, I know not everyone adheres to it especially in apartment complexes across the country.

Contaminated water is not the only hazard because dogs that walk through (how often do you see your dog walk around another pile) other dog poop are subject to parasites and harmful bacteria that could lead to Parvo, Roundworms, Tapeworms and other parasites that will affect your dog’s health.

Join the Pick Up Poop campaign today…go out and pick up the poop your dog left behind in the snow..dispose of it properly and responsibly and be healthy!

Other helpful articles about the importance of picking up and disposing of dog poo:

Poop! Cleaning Up After Your Dog
Flushable Doggy Doo Bags (bags break down in the water)
What to Do with Doggy Poo (alternate routes to throwing it away)

2011 Will Bring More Green Awareness by Consumers and Agencies

It’s not just about forecasting about employment rates and growth of the economy for 2011; consumers, government agencies and green companies are finally getting savvy enough to know what’s good for the environment and what needs to be changed.

What will 2011 bring to the table? Read about 5 green trends according to EnterpriseNews.

1. Savvy green consumers: More companies are marketing their “green” products and services; however, consumers are much wiser about what is really good for the earth and what is just “dust in the wind” when it comes to “greenwashing.” In face, “in 2011, the Federal Trade Commission will revise its guidelines for environmental marketing claims to combat “greenwashing,” or misleading information about environmental benefits of a product or practices of a company.” While you may not the difference between organic and non-organic, you can be aware by reading product labels and question advertising claims.

2. “Eco-superior” consumer products: Consumers want to have more choice for green products, but they also want them to deliver. Thus we will see more of these “eco-superior” products appearing in 2011.

3. Urban farming goes mainstream: Consumers and communities want more green in their cities, and they will likely get it too. More “municipalities across the country are revising their rules for keeping chickens, bees and other animals as Americans grow more concerned with eating local, unprocessed foods.” Also, more restaurants are taking on more liberal sustainability initiatives without relenting to government control. Cleveland, Ohio, has at least 2 restaurants that only buy local food – all year long. That’s keeping people coming back, costs down and local farmers happy.

4. Green data centers: Enormous computer centers evidently also consume exorbitant amounts of energy. So you’ll hear more about cutting down on energy by using “green data centers,” and your banking account info along with all your online passwords will still be safe from hackers. “The move towards “cloud computing,” or storing our data on the Internet, could also mean significant reductions in carbon emissions.”

5. Buying quality that’s built to last: Cheap products that wind up in the trash and thus add to the enormous emissions of chemical gas rising from landfills have many government agencies and green consumer advocates outraged. Consumers now see the error of their spending habits. So this year, 2011, you will most likely see more people buying locally made products or frequenting thrift stores more so than big box retail stores.

Repurpose Old Household Items Into Usable Ones

Stop! Don’t throw out all those paper towel rolls, popsicle sticks, old broken crayons, unwanted towels, holey jeans and t-shirts and plastic shopping bags and household trash…did you know that they can be reused to make other fun things?

There’s been a very popular movement the last few years to reuse and repurpose items rather than just toss them in the trash. It’s gaining in popularity because crafters have embraced using household items in green crafts.

The idea behind reusing household items in craft projects is to reduce the amount of trash going to our landfills. I think it also encourages us to THINK how much we consume and the results of that consumption–more trash!

How Can You Reuse Or Repurpose Unwanted Household Items?

I came up with a plastic storage bin of worn towels, unused sheets (don’t fit my bed), old t-shirts and blue jeans that didn’t fit that I felt I couldn’t quite part with.

I’m finding all sorts of fun ways to reuse & repurpose lots of things! Just knowing I’ve kept something out of the landfill is rewarding, but I love seeing an item have new life as something else!

Old Towels: lining for potholders, re-hemmed to wash cloths, reusable Swiffer cloths, doggie pillows. You can also donate your old towels to animal shelters.

Old or unused sheets: curtains, pillows, clothing.

Old jeans: tote bags, purses, aprons, and tablecloths. I’m dying to make a gardening apron when my husband tosses some worn out jeans!

Ideas are from Green Crafts, check out more ideas to live a greener life.

Be a #Green Shopper on #Black #Friday – Shop Online

I had my first Black Friday 2010 experience this morning at 12:25 am at a Walmart in Wauseon, Ohio. The parking lot was full and then some. The entire town was dark except for the looming lights in the Walmart parking lot.

As my son and I approached the automatic doors to the monstrous million dollar store, I realized that I was 24 minutes too late to grab the 4 items I really wanted & make my claim in one of the check-out lines. The lines of carts snaked through all the main aisles and a few of the short grocery aisles. While other aisles were roped off and impassable even without a cart.

After winding through several dozen shoppers & finding dead ends to maneuver our way to where I thought those few items I wanted would be. We “Abandoned cart!” and our intentions. I found a friendly Walmart customer service agent and politely asked where I might find 2 of the 4 items I was looking for. He gazed up from his Black Friday ad, and pointed to one of the main aisles where the eye-catching red boxes were laid out; however, the crossing guard dressed Walmart employee said the Egyptian cotton towels were probably already sold out and taken to the back. He didn’t know about the other item.

Alas, my son and I squeezed back through the main aisles of scant filled carts and early morning shoppers to the EXIT and leave the store for the night.

Our 15 minutes in this Walmart store proved to be futile, and I decided that online shopping would be less stressful, save gas & I wouldn’t have to stand in outrageous long lines to save a few bucks.

Thank you, Amazon.com!

Plastic State of Mind Musical Parody Forces Change – Will You?

I found a song I really like and an environmental cause I really believe in all wrapped into one…the result this video about making one change in your life….reducing the use of one time plastics such as plastic grocery bags, plastic bottles and plastic ware.

Thanksgiving without Turkey? Best Turkey-Free Recipes

I’ve heard more people talk about forgoing the turkey this year and opt for a Thanksgiving meal that is less work, and still delights the tastebuds. (This also includes forging the ham option too.)

Save a turkey and choose delicious vegetarian dishes instead for Thanksgiving this year.

My family and I have chosen to go the vegetarian route and not have a turkey or any other kind of meat this year. While everyone else is scrambling at the grocery stores (Saturday’s shopping at Aldi’s was just the beginning of the rush) to find the last package of celery, carrots or stuffing mix, I was stocking up on canned and fresh vegetables, breads and dairy products.

I found several other meal ideas for your annual family get-together on Thanksgiving that I’m sure you’ll love to try.

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes from The Daily Green includes savory and colorful squash soups and side dishes along with desserts that will tickle your tastebuds and not tamper with your waistlines. Enjoy Basmati Rice Pudding and Carrot Pistachio cupcakes to name just a few. A few of these delicious recipes are vegan too (non dairy).

Tofu Turkey for Vegetarians from Natural Mom’s blog shares how to make a vegetarian turkey taste just like it’s bird counterpart. Tofurkeys are more common now, so you may be able to find one that already is complete with herbs and filling.

Simpler Eco-Friendly Thanksgiving ideas from The Ocean Girl Project really have a plethora of ideas and links to other sites that provide a wide variety of healthy, eco-friendly and simple recipe ideas for Thanksgiving whether you’re a vegetarian or not.

Also, remember, you don’t have to cook traditional Pilgrim and Native American meals for Thanksgiving. Make your own family traditions. One year we made a crockpot of chili and had homemade bread, another year we had a homemade Mexican feast (we lived in Arizona at the time) with authentic homemade tortillas and pumpkin pie, and this year we’re suggesting vegetable lasagna, bread, local wine and homemade desserts.

Save Money with Homemade Laundry Detergent

Spend less with this homemade laundry detergent recipe.

Everyday I think of how I can make 1 change in my daily routine to be more green or substitute a commercial store bought product for something that is safer for the environment as well as for myself and family.

Today, I did a load of laundry using a phosphate free laundry detergent. I buy the largest bottle of the least expensive brand I can find every month. However, I still cringe that I have to buy my laundry detergent in a plastic bottle (I try to avoid buying products that are plastic). I have a friend who makes her own laundry detergent in bulk, which she says lasts her family of 5 about 2 months!

So I found this DIY laundry detergent recipe that is not only easy to make, but also eco-friendly and safe for your family to use too.

-1 bar of Dr. Bronner’s Lavender, Citrus, Peppermint, Almond or Baby soap
– 1 dry cup of Borax
-1 dry cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda
-optional a few drops of tea tree for disinfecting (esp. good for cloth diapering)

*grate soap into sauce pan- add 2 cups of water- stir, dissolve.
*into a five gallon bucket add Borax, washing soda and tea tree if using.
*dump melted soap liquid into bucket and stir quickly
*add water to about 3/4 of way to top- stir and put lid on.
*set overnight- measure out 1/2 cup of liquid for light loads and 1 cup for normal.

Source: Reply to DIY laundry detergent on DIYNatural.com

What recipe have you used for homemade laundry detergent? What is the cost comparison & effectiveness of using your own detergent vs. commercial brands? I’d love to hear your comments below!

Seasonal Produce at Ohio’s Farmer’s Markets – Sept. to October

What produce should be stocking up on now for the winter? Here’s a list of available veggies and fruit you should buy from your local farmer’s markets and roadside produce stands.

Welcome to Autumn! Today is the first day of Fall, and if you’re in the Mid-west to East Coast, you’ll notice the leaves are turning colors and although the weather may still be warm, it’s still a great time to stock up on all the delicious produce that’s available late September to early October.

What produce should be stocking up on now for the winter? Here’s a list of available veggies and fruit you should buy from your local farmer’s markets and roadside produce stands:
Apples
Broccoli
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Corn
Eggplant
Grapes
Lima Beans
Okra
Onions
Potatoes
Pumpkins
Tomatoes

Mmmmm….these look and taste soo good when you can buy them fresh out of the garden or fields. I’m also still picking red, yellow and green peppers from roadside produce stands.

I have a delicious recipe for Red Pepper-Tomato soup as well. Look for this in my next post!

Eco Friendly Household Cleaners

This weekend I’ve been moving out of one apartment and into another, and I’m committed to only using eco friendly household cleaners to do the necessary cleaning when one moves out of a place.

So far I’ve been using lemon juice and hot water and it’s been doing a great job on cleaning and disenfecting the refrigerator and it leaves a fresh lemon scent as well.

Other eco friendly household cleaners that really do a great job are:

  • Baking soda
  • Baking soda and lemon juice – for cleaning a stove’s interior.
  • Mule Team Borax soap
  • Table salt – great for getting the grime out of your tub.
  • Vinegar

Combinations of the above work well together too, but vinegar and baking soda do cause quite an adverse reaction, although this might work well on those stubborn food stains in your oven.

What eco friendly household cleaners work for you? I’d love to hear other ideas. Post your comments below.