As more attention is placed on how our store bought fruits and vegetables are grown and harvested and the tremendous amount of pesticides used in conventional farming practices, organic and pesticide free produce is becoming more popular. With just a little bit of space and some soil, you can grow your own organic fruits and veggies right from the comfort of your own home – pesticide and chemical free. Here is what you need to know to get started.Good Soil
The best way to start an organic garden is by beginning with good soil. Get the dirt in a potential garden plot tested for pH balance, nutrients, and chemicals that may already be in the soil. There are at home kits which can be used to test all of these things in the soil, available at your local garden supply store. After testing, gardeners must amend the soil with what is missing in order to give the growing plants the nutrients they need. Forget about Miracle-Gro; this can be done naturally with compost, grass and leaf clippings, and even by adding in worms to help break down the compost into good dirt. Earthworms also have the added benefit of not only helping the soil but as a form of natural pest control by protecting the garden from slugs.Picking Plants
When starting an organic garden, it’s important to choose your plants carefully. It is often easier to grow plants from seeds to ensure that they have been started without any chemicals. Choose only plants that are best suited for the temperate zone and location in the garden. Some plants do grow really well when in an organic garden and produce lots of produce. Indeterminate Tomatoes are great because they keep growing and producing fruit until the winter frost. Zucchini, non-hybrid pole beans, Swiss Chard, Snow Peas, and Sugar snaps are also high producers.Planting Time
When planting the garden, create wide rows between the plants to help promote air circulation. This cuts down on fungal growth. Try to water plants in the morning to prevent evaporation, while giving the ground enough time to dry out before nightfall when plants can become damaged by growing fungus and bacteria. After plants are established, water them once a week with about an inch of water. Gardeners need to get down on their knees and remove weeds from around their plants on a regular basis. Grass clippings, straw, and wood chips can all be used as mulch around the base of the plants to keep weed growth down.
With loads of care and attention, gardeners will soon have the best tasting organic produce anywhere. Be sure to start picking during the peak growing season to keep fruits and veggies from rotting on the vine. This also encourages further growth of produce too. Check the garden daily to see what has come in.
Hot water is a triple whammy for your utility bills. First you pay for the water (water bill), then to heat the water (gas/electric bill), then to dispose of the water (sewer bill). Here’s a step-by-step guide to cutting your losses on all three, while sacrificing nothing. “Go on….”, I hear you saying. Well thank you, I will.
So it follows that the less water you use in a shower, the less you’ll spend on each of these bills, right? But if you’re like most Americans, you don’t like the idea of “sacrifice” and recoil at the idea of taking shorter showers. (It’s ok, I’m an American, too…I know how it is in our culture, and why idiots like George Bush get elected to the highest office in the world by saying that “the American way of life is not on the negotiating table” when referring to global climate treaties. But I digress…let’s get you on to cutting your utility bills.)
Without taking shorter showers, here are the tools you’ll need, and the two devices that can help you save big bucks.
Depending on the shower head you buy, you can save almost a gallon a minute over standard showerheads. In this case, we used a Sava Spa Showerhead, rated at 1.75 gallons per minute. We chose this one because, well, they sent it to us for free to review for this article. Hey…bloggers don’t get paid much, so back off, ok? We’ll take free stuff when we can, especially when it’s awesome. (No, not kidding. See the “contact us” page for more info). The teflon tape costs a few bucks at the local hardware store and you just use about 2 inches of it to help prevent leaks in any plumbing junctions.
The flow valve is called a “shower control valve”, and all it does is allow you to alter the flow rate with a little lever on top of the device. The beauty of this is that, while you’re soaping up, shampooing, etc., you don’t need the full flow of the shower, right? But you’re also American, so sacrificing by turning off the shower is simply not an option, right, because then when you turn it back on it’d be the wrong temperature, and eh, so inconvenient. Polar bears will probably survive. Rest assured. The valve is American-proof. You flip the switch, and go from this:
Beautiful, elegant, and takes about 5 minutes to make the install and start saving money right away. Here’s how:
- Start by removing your old showerhead. The showerhead should be tight at first, but once loosened, should come off with a few turns of your adjustable wrench.
- Wrap the pipe threads in teflon tape. No need to go nuts. Just once around should do it. It’s just there to prevent leaks through the threads.
- Put flow valve on, tightening by hand at first, then cranking it down one full turn with the adjustable wrench beyond where your own fingers can get it. The one trick–make sure the lever ends up on top. Otherwise it leaks.
- More teflon tape on the male threads of the flow valve.
- Put on the new high efficient showerhead the same way as #3, above.
And voila. You’re done. You’re welcome…enjoy all the money I just saved you for the rest of your life. “How much?” I hear you asking. Well, some simple math:
0.9 gallons per minute saved, times 10 minutes per shower, times 4 people, say, in your house, times 365 showers per year. That’s 3285 gallons per year of heated water that you then pay to flush down the sewer. Depending on your local rates…it’s a lot. Here in Honolulu, we calculated it at almost $200 in energy costs annually, and over $100 in water costs annually. Not bad for a showerhead that costs $25 and a valve that costs $3.
Buying an energy efficient refrigerator is just one step toward cutting your utility bills and carbon emissions, and is not an option for many people either for cost or situation (i.e., they’re renting). In this post, we’re going to cover a “cool” (wow…a pun in the second line, sorry about that) way to check your refrigerator and freezer and make sure they’re operating at the most efficient level possible, while also treating your foodstuffs the way they should.
Two data points will help you set your fridge and freezer to their most efficient settings: temperature and humidity. A temperature that is set too cold will end up using too much electricity. A more humid fridge will require more energy to cool (simply because the water molecules in the air require cooling, too). So make sure things you store have a lid (will prevent moisture from escaping the food and into the fridge air…better for food, better for energy use).
So here’s what you do. Get yourself a hygrometer, a cool little gadget most commonly used for cigar storage, which measures both temperature and humidity.
Using a hygrometer, test the temp and humidity in a variety of places in your fridge, especially the vegetable drawers. You ideally want an average temperature in your refrigerator of about 4-5 degrees C (37-40 degrees F), and a temperature of about -18 to -17 degrees C in your freezer (0-4 degrees F). You’ll notice, though, if you test a variety of locations in your fridge, you’ll learn where it’s coldest and where it’s warmest. From that, you can place more perishable and less perishable items accordingly.
In terms of humidity, many refrigerators come with drawers that have humidity settings. In general, you want stuff that will rot to be in the lower humidity drawers, and stuff that will wilt in higher humidity drawers.
Store in higher humidity
Store in lower humidity
As a general rule, thinner stuff likely needs more humidity, thicker stuff less. Several readers on Green Living Ideas have pointed out that leafy greens and broccoli are actually best stored in just a bowl of water (think flowers), which will keep them really lively until you’re ready to eat them.
Putting a box of baking soda in your fridge will help dehumidify and deodorize it, making the fridge work less and also helping the fridge stay cleaner.
Other efficiency operation tips
Perhaps the most effective thing you can do no matter how new or old your fridge is, is to right-fill it. Think about what happens when you open the fridge door. Cold air comes rushing out. If your fridge is more full, less air comes out (that volume of air is replaced by a volume of something stored there). That reservoir of cold left in the fridge helps keep the fridge colder when it’s opened. Same thing goes for the freezer. So if you’re a bachelor with a chronically empty fridge, get some stuff you’ll never use (wine coolers?) and put them in your fridge. You can freeze containers of water, or get some extra bread, tofu, etc., to put in your freezer, to help prevent all the freezing air from escaping when you open it, as well.
The title of this article is metaphoric only, because I assure you there is no way I could physically keep up with Mariel Hemingway, if I ever had the opportunity or notion to run with her! And yes, it is my clever way of trying to weave in her two current projects — a documentary film about her family, Running from Crazy; and her new book with Bobby Williams, Running with Nature. And to continue the running silliness, she did say during our a recent interview in the GD studio that now that she is with Bobby, she is running WITH crazy, and we all laughed heartily. The atmosphere in the studio was light, refreshing, definitely fun and funny and sparkled with great energy.
Wish you could hear it? well, me too. Everything was brilliant, but the technology fairy was asleep at the wheel, and the green diva at the control board missed one tiny setting, and as it happens, it was a critical one. I own it. I was blinded by the natural light of Mariel and mixed my input with my output and well, you’ll get to read the highlights instead, and I’ll do my best to be descriptive and thorough.
During our last call-in interview with Mariel, Mizar brazenly invited Mariel to visit us in the studio when she came to New York, and as it turned out, her next visit to New York ended with a weekend of business in northern New Jersey, 5 miles from the GD HQ. We were the fortunate beneficiaries of Mariel’s ongoing whirlwind book and film tour.
I retrieved Mariel and her assistant, Heather from New York and from the moment I saw her, she hugged me and put my nerves at ease and we talked like great friends separated for years, trying to catch up. Without our even knowing it had occurred, we lapsed into a comfortable cadence of fun and familiarity.
When we finally settled in front of our mics in the studio, the conversation went quickly to the film featuring her and the Hemingway legacy called Running From Crazy, which was done by Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Barbara Kopple and executive producer Oprah Winfrey.
Early in the interview Mariel said, “A lot of people say the word crazy has such a bad connotation, but my feeling is that Running from Crazy is about me and my family, literally my feeling like I was running from this genetic or inherited thing. I was scared. But I think by speaking the word, it loses its power.”
For her, nature had always been a sanctuary, and her latest book, Running with Nature is a healing progression from the revelation and healing that is evident in the documentary to her experiences with her life partner, Bobby Williams. Mariel said, “Running with nature has always been my saving grace.”
- Mariel Hemingway
One thing we all agreed about the book, was that it doesn’t scream, “this is THE way!” As Mariel put it, “It is about finding you. We are not gurus. We’re not trying to get you to follow us. We want you to find you.”
I noted that early in the book it says, “All it takes is a little willingness.” We laughed about how hard that willingness can be to come by and GD Mizar asked a great question about taking that first step, which can seem so overwhelming. Mariel’s response was, “I say to people, keep it simple. If you want to change your food, change your breakfast.” We went on to talk about how vital it is to start the day more slowly and intentionally, with a few solid minutes of quiet, creating a routine that includes gratitude.
The book offers a low-stress way to reconnect with nature and reconnect with yourself. There is a point system after each chapter, which at first made me bristle, but instead of being about gathering points to ‘win’, it offers encouraging ideas on a spectrum that allowed me to feel better than I thought I would about the chapter on adventure!
I mentioned that reading the book was like a stream of reminders of so many of the healthier habits I already know, but allow myself to get distracted from engaging in. Other than the rock climbing, real running and seriously advanced yoga, I related to the book more than I thought I would. It is a refreshing reminder of the many ways we need to re-engage in what we know is our own healthy nature, and of course nature is the key.
Green Dude, Eco Ed Schwartz was patient and waited his turn to do a separate Green Dude segment with Mariel, which of course was also lost in the technical vortex that was my great misfortune that day. I’m thinking he still enjoyed being in the studio anyway, basking in the wonderful green diva energy (Heather included in this awesome feminine overload).
After an unusually uplifting session in the studio, Mariel graciously signed a couple of books for us, and we unanimously decided that after all this talk of nature, we needed to get outside in the sunshine and take a group shot near a tree.
Part 2 coming soon: Somewhere in the first part of our ride to New Jersey, we got on the subject of food and my recent healthy detox and my desire to lose weight and feel better. She immediately volunteered to help me and encouraged me to keep a detailed daily food journal and confidently offered to look at it and give me insight. She did, stay tuned to find out what I learned . . .
Please listen to this week’s podcast of the Green Divas Radio Show featuring the Dark Ranger, Kevin Poe, who enlightened us about light pollution . . . or Read the post with all the details, links and resources for the show!
We all know that bicycling is best way to decrease our carbon footprint, save money on transportation costs, and keep our butts in steely form. Heck, bikeability is even good for real estate value of your house! Need more– here’s 10 reasons why biking is good. Across the world, bicycle commuting is becoming the new normal, and it now regarded not as a fringe activity, but as an everyday adult activity to engage in (even been to San Francisco or Amsterdam?). And Melbourne-based Papillionaire bicycles are making gorgeous vintage-style bikes to make biking that much cooler.
Papillionaire, a word made up word playing off the French word for butterfly, is an Australian company that recently celebrated it launch in the United States. Their focus is Dutch influenced, vintage style bikes that work for city and country riding. Their bikes are gorgeous for both ladies and gents, but in Australia 80% of their customers are women, and the percentage is almost as high in the US. This is opposite from the usual statistics which put men as the majority of bike commuters.
Papillionaire believes that for the ladies among us, we’ve been largely left out of the bike conversation, with bike shops run by and cater to gearhead, lycra-wearing men, and selling bikes that just don’t appeal to our refined aesthetic sense (or work with skirts!). But their line of gorgeous bicycles appeal to everyone’s sense of beauty and functionality. They’ve been actively working to encourage companies to adopt bike fleets for their workforce. They can do orders from 10 to 100,000 bikes to support companies looking to decrease their footprint, save money, and improve employees’ health. They have also branched out from traditionally health focused companies working with many types of brand to promote their gorgeous bikes. Check out their blog for information about bike accessories, bike etiquette, and more.
Soon Papillionaire will release their Mixte, a single speed and racer city bike in 2 months, for those of you looking for a more modern, hipster ride. Check out their line or beautiful bikes online, and get free shipping to celebrate the company’s launch into the US market. And check out Clean Technica’s list of the most bike-friendly cities!
We were recently sent this cool infographic and thought that you, inquisitive readers, might like to know about VAPOR INTRUSION.
Vapor Intrusion occurs when vapors and gases from contaminated soil and groundwater seep into indoor air posing potential health problems to the residents. These vapors move through the soil and seep through cracks in any type of home or commercial building with basements, slab foundations, or crawl-space foundations. The people most at risk include elderly, pregnant or nursing women, infants, children and those suffering from chronic illnesses. Vapor intrusion might manifest sickness, but this depends on the type of chemicals found, the length of exposure, one’s sensitivity to chemicals and the overall health of the exposed person. And as we know, low-level exposure to certain chemical over years may raise risk of cancer and chronic diseases.
Most states have some laws regarding Vapor Intrusion… but not all! If you live in the following states, contact your representatives NOW and get some rules on the books!
- South Carolina
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- New Mexico
This great infographic comes to us from EDR, where you can sign up to get your free neighborhood environmental report.
Adopt A Tree is passionate about developing environmental sustainability for future generations. They provide tree planting and marketing services to businesses that want to become greener, and individuals who want to dedicate trees to anything. Purchase trees for family, friend, lost ones, celebrations or just because you want to help the environment!
Here’s their story:
“Adopt A Tree was founded by a group of students and recent graduates that are very passionate about the environment. We began planting trees on our land along the Assiniboine River during the Spring of 2012. An individual came to us asking if we could plant some of our trees in the name of his late father. His father had loved nature and being outdoors, so his son felt that it was a great way to honour him. We loved the idea and began offering this service locally. The response was great, so we decided to expand our business online.”
The primary goal of Adopt a Tree is to create more forests, to preserve the environment, and ultimately create a lovely, natural experience that is often difficult to find in a farming community on the prairies. Tree planting and managing will create and maintain recreational locations for people to camp, hike, mountain bike and enjoy the outdoors.
Planting a tree is a great way to celebrate a loved one, create a new type of holiday giving, or just because. But it’s also a great way for businesses to make their company carbon neutral. By planing trees, companies can offset their carbon emissions in an easy way. If you choose to make your business carbon neutral, Adopt a Tree will help you by providing:
- A professional plaque and certificate recognizing your business contributions
- Adopt A Tree website recognition
- Calculations of offset carbon emissions
- Annual Report
- Onsite signage and pictures
- Social Media promotion, including Facebook and Twitter recognition
Yes, spring has sprung around here! Trees and flowers are blooming and buds of summer fun are everywhere, and so of course are many of our allergies. More on that in a minute . . . We were so thrilled to have one of our regular guests, Jessica Arinella, creator of the fabulous What You Can Do TV series, call in to talk about their wonderful Earth Day campaign, which was all about saving the rainforest.
Listen to this week’s Green Divas Radio Show podcast for all the GD fun.
BUT, please read on for even more details!Green Dude Segment
We are located in what is known as “allergy alley” here in northern NJ. Green Dude Eco Ed did a nice report on some natural ways to alleviate allergy suffering.
Listen to the 5-minute Green Dude segment on natural ways to help with seasonal allergies.
I chimed in with my nightly health elixir that I think has helped minimize my allergy suffering a great deal — I’ve got some watery eyes and a little sinus congestion, but it isn’t bad and I’m able to get by with a little Xlear up the nose in the morning.GD Meg’s Health Elixir
For GD Meg’s Health Elixir Recipe, please see the original GD Show post!Green Diva Mizar’s DIY
This woman never stops. Before the show, I had been playing with plants on the back deck and I pointed out my amazing dried pumpkin left over from last fall. She decided it would make an excellent bird house and like a surgeon with laser focus on saving a patient, she started asking for implements of creativity. She made a bird house in less than 15 minutes! THAT fun tutorial is coming. This week was part 2 of her upcycling in the garden series and she talked about a fun planter she made from materials she found at Habitat for Humanity‘s local Restore.
did you know, researchers estimate that . . .about 1 football field of rainforest is destroyed by man every second!
We always love talking to the very busy and inspiring Jessica Arinella, creator of the wonderful What You Can Do TV series. As always she and her crew are helping to highlight issues that need our attention and action. She shared their recent Earth Day campaign, which was all about saving the rainforest. What You Can Do teamed up with The Rainforest Site to raise awareness about the vital role the rainforest plays in our global ecosystem, and offer us some simple ways to help preserve it. Watch a couple of the What You Can Do videos on rainforest conservation to learn how by just ONE CLICK, you can save 1 square foot of rainforest – DO IT!
What You Can Do is a brilliant series of 1-minute videos that help debunk the theory that we are “too busy” to help. Jessica offers simple ideas in a brief format, so that no one can ever say they are too busy to make a difference.
Please Listen to this week’s Green Divas Radio Show podcast for this great interview.
rainforest image via Shutterstock
During warmer months I love coming home to some cold iced herbal teas. Though I cannot surrender my hot green jasmine tea in the morning, warm afternoons require something a bit more refreshing, and there are often at least two varieties of iced herbal teas in the fridge at any given time. The following are some simple recipes for delicious homemade herbal teas that you can serve throughout the summer.Lemon Vanilla Tisane
2 Tablespoons chopped lemongrass (fresh or dried)
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon zest
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla powder or 1 chopped vanilla bean
2 Tablespoons dried hibiscus tea
Lemon, to taste
Sweetener, to taste
3 Tablespoons dried peppermint leaf
1 Tablespoon fennel seed
1 Tablespoon licorice root
- Add all tea ingredients to a large jar or bowl.
- Bring four cups filtered water to a boil. Pour boiling water over tea and cover. Steep for 10 minutes. Strain, and let cool to room temperature. Add additional lemon or sweetener to taste. Serve over ice and enjoy!
- All tea leftovers can be refrigerated in a glass jar for about three days.
Thank you to everyone who entered Plant Therapy giveaway for the Essential Oil Starter Kit! We had an enthusiastic response from people around the world. Alas, we had to choose just one, and our winner is Anna N. who says this about using essential oils around the house:
Congratulations Anna, and thanks to everyone who entered! Stay tuned, because we’ll certainly have another giveaway soon!
Instead of offering an explanation of permaculture, or trying to explain my opinions, this post starts with a quote from permaculture expert David Holmgren, the co-originator of the permaculture concept:
“Permaculture is design for sustainable living and landuse. From its Australian origins in the 1970’s permaculture has spread around the world creating positive and future-proof environmental solutions. Over more than three decades permaculture activists have pioneered many of today’s mainstream environmental solutions from landcare to school gardens, from passive solar design to compost toilets, from ethical investment to farmers markets.
But the autonomous, diffuse and decentralised nature of permaculture has tended to hide its great contribution to improving communities across the nation. Interational Permaculture Day is an opportunity to shine a light on the diversity of permaculture projects and people that are building our sustainable future now.”
Permaculture Day, celebrated the first Sunday of each May, is the celebration & demonstration of all things Permaculture. According to the Permaculture Institute, permaculture is defined as,”an ecological design system for sustainability in all aspects of human endeavor. It teaches us how to design natural homes and abundant food production systems, regenerate degraded landscapes and ecosystems, develop ethical economies and communities, and much more. As an ecological design system, permaculture focuses on the interconnections between things more than individual parts.” The permaculture training that I’ve attended focus more on this idea of interconnectedness rather than a blueprint for how-to-plant-a-permaculture-garden. The focus on balance, companion planting, deep nourishment of the soil, and balance can be found in natural eco-systems, and the goal of permaculture design replication of this natural balance.
Some of the Permaculture events planned for tomorrow include One Million Seed Balls for Sandy Relief in Queens, New York; a Permablitz in Klimagarten, Germany; Food Garden design in Victoria, Austraila; a Slow Money Gathering in Boulder, Colorado, and so much more. What activities are happening to celebrate Permaculture in your neighborhood? Check out the list of activities at Permaculture Day.org.
If you are looking for a clever and homesteady theme for warm weather celebrations, what about hosting your own homemade cocktail party? This idea comes to us from Small Measure, one of my favorite DIY and homesteading blogs. Ashley English and her family hosted a party featuring infused vodkas with a variety of natural mixers, and as she notes in her original post, each drink came out tasting fantastic with unique flavor combinations for everyone. She says in the post that this cocktail party was so fun and delicious that she wants us to steal the idea…. but I like to think of it as borrowing!
The following are Ashley’s suggestions for how to host an awesome homemade cocktail party. And if you want to get really buzzed, check out this list for fantastic healthy homemade cocktails. http://www.smallmeasure.com/mixing-it-up/
- A week or more before the party infuse your vodkas. Here’s a good primer for how to make your own infused liquors, and here are some more links to make homemade homemade limoncello or infuse vodka with fresh blueberries. Give the liquors time to infuse properly; taste them periodically (try to save some for the party!)
- For the party: Gather a bunch of fresh herbs. Trim, wash and set aside in small bowls.
- Gather your mixers; Ashley used coconut, pineapple and pomegranate juices.
- Get your shakers and glasses ready. Make your ingredient sticks (see photos below), then add to a jar and let guests choose one of each color. Get shakin’! Enjoy!
All photos from Small Measure.
If you love tropical fruit but strive to live a green life, then you have a bit of a conundrum to solve, especially if you live in the decidedly un-tropical United Kingdom. Many of our favorite healthy and delicious fruits arrive to shops and supermarkets from distant lands, clocking in a fair number of food miles before they reach your mouth.
Buying from a supermarket isn’t the only option, though. It is possible to grow many tropical fruits in the UK, even in the famously chilly British climate, provided you have a warm, sunny conservatory to grow them in. Conservatories are often referred to as greenhouses in the US, and they can be lovely as attached additions to your home or built separately from the main house. The following are some of the tropical delights you might want to try growing to keep yourself supplied with great fruit without causing damage to the planet.
You might not know that conservatories were originally used in the UK and other parts of Northern Europe to grow oranges when they were first introduced to this chilly land, which is why conservatories are sometimes called orangeries as well. These were often grand and luxurious types of greenhouse in the grounds of stately homes, many of which still exist today and are seen as tourist attractions or local landmarks. Nowadays you can buy a good value and effective conservatory from companies like Anglianhome and grow your own oranges and other citris fruits regardless of the climate. Try a dwarf variety or one called Calamandon or Calamansi, which is a lovely small variety of citrus.
This is a tropical fruit which grows surprisingly well in the UK, especially in the southern part of the country. If you have a south facing conservatory these gorgeous flowering and fruiting vines will grow quite well. These are easy to grow in pots and are not too fussy about the quality of the soil.
The delicious mango is one of the tastiest tropical fruits which UK homeowners could grow in their conservatory. There are different varieties of mango around and if you are going to be growing it indoors then you will want to look out one of the miniature varieties, as full-sized mango trees are easily 30 feet tall! Fresh, ripe mangoes are some of the most delicious foods on the planet, good for salads, smoothies, and simply peeling and eating on their own.
This fruit is mainly grown in Asia and and South America, where it is also called carambola. When it comes to growing it in the British climate you will want to keep the plant well protected from the cold weather during winter. It is a slow-growing tree and you can expect it to reach a maximum height of maybe five feet after about five years or so. If you are lucky you will get flowers on the plant a few times a year as well as some lovely fruit for snacking.
This post is published on behalf of Anglian Home Improvements, the conservatories and double glazing specialist in the UK, who provided financial support for the article.
Ok, I know I wrote all about being a non-consumer for Earth Day . . . And I did celebrate Earth Day this year as I have for many years, by unplugging (mostly), not buying anything, cooking nourishing meals, and getting outside as much as possible. It is always a great time to sort out my priorities, and I usually find a bit more balance between my ideals as a green diva and the reality of the world I try to live in harmony with. Let’s face it, this is what makes me a green diva!
I strive to be more conscious about everything I do and the potential impact it has on me, my family, my community, animals and ultimately the earth. Seems lofty, right? Well, thankfully I don’t have to live off the grid and make everything by hand, which is an awesome concept, but probably not realistic for me at this time. There are companies making progress in providing healthier, more sustainably manufactured products that keep people and planet higher on the priority list.
We get offered products to review EVERY day — some rather large and expensive things like cars, which are fun reviews, but most are practical, every-day things. We have gotten backed up with a nice bounty of great things we chose to review and play with, and finally spent some time focusing on most of them. We decided to dedicate a show to sharing about our favorites, and well, we just didn’t have enough time, so there is another roundup coming soon!
Important note: we are never compensated for reviews, and we only review products that we like and want to recommend. So, while we don’t get paid cash, we do have a lot of fun and hope to offer some good ideas for our listeners to try new healthy products that are good for us and better for the environment.
I will list some of the products from this week’s review show, but to see the full post by our awesome intern GD Jamie (this was her last show and we will definitely miss her – great job, we love you Jamie)
but for ALL the fun details and witty commentary, please listen to the Green Divas big review podcast!GREEN DIVA KITCHEN Pure Sky Living
Pure Sky Living offers an alternative to reusable paper towels. They are durable, 100% all-natural cotton towels that will allow you to finally kick paper towels — and save a few trees! When you buy them just remember to wash them in cold water a couple times, so they become more absorbent.Wean Green
Wean Green is a Canadian company dedicated to providing safe and environmentally friendly products. There glass food containers are created for babies and kids, but can be used by anyone. They are handy and so much better than plastic containers. An added bonus is that Wean Green is a partner of 1% of the Planet, an organization dedicated to building and supporting an alliance of businesses financially committed to created a healthy planet.
The GreenPan uses Thermolon, a non-stick technology that is heat resistant and will not release toxic fumes. GreenPan products are also cadmium and lead free and emit 60% less CO2 emissions producing Thermolon than traditional coatings. Green Diva Meg got to try the egg expert which makes the perfect breakfast egg.FOOD & HEALTH Kaeng Raeng Detox
Read Green Diva Meg’s posts about her experience with the 3-day Kaeng Raeng Detox. Kaeng Raeng is an all natural detox meal replacement designed to help you lose weight, remove toxins, bolster your immune system, and improve your digestive system. GD Meg did the beginner level and said she lost a few pounds and just felt better after she got over the initial grumpiness.Balance Bars
Balance Bar was one of the originators of energy bars and sent us their new Balance Bar Dark. We were like locusts and descended upon the box as if we hadn’t eaten in 17 years — I think we loved these. We got to sample the dark chocolate crunch, the chocolate peanut, and the dark chocolate coconut. Green Diva Mizar barely even let the other Green Divas try the dark chocolate coconut bars because she loved them so much.Bixby Bars
The foundation of Bixby Bar ($15.99 for 4 bars) is pure chocolate, completely free of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), preservatives or added sugars. All their chocolate is combined with exotic spices, healthy nuts and dried fruits. All ingredients are natural or organic and delicious!Crunchies
For the last two weeks the Green Divas having been munching away on Crunchies ($4.99). We were lucky enough to be sent the Roasted Veggies and Tropical Fruit variety but they have many more and they are all freeze-dried, sugar free, gluten free, with no preservatives and high in fiber. Just beware they are most definitely crunchy!Numi Tea
After Green Diva Meg wrote about earl grey tea, Numi Tea sent her a package of their Aged Earl Grey, which has already disappeared because she loved it so much. Numi is 100% natural, organic, and uses eco-responsible packaging.
(green divas LOVE their shoes!) Naya Shoes
Naya sent me a pair of sandals, which didn’t exactly fit, so I gave them to our intern GD Jamie as a goodbye gift — she earned them! These shoes don’t compromise style, they are fashionable and environmentally friendly, because Naya uses materials that reduce environmental impact. They will definitely go with any summer outfit.Teysha Shoes
Teysha sent an adorable pair of flats to me, and they are my new go-to summer shoe. The shoes are unique, handmade in Panama and Colombia and help to create jobs for women, who might not have jobs otherwise. A portion of their proceeds got to Global Village Initiative which works to incubate social enterprises, provide educational opportunities, increase food security, create access to technologies, and off set their environmental impact through reforestation and sustainable development.
To find out about some wonderful organic, non-toxic, natural skincare products and more, please visit the full post by our awesome intern GD Jamie
for ALL the fun details and witty commentary, please listen to the Green Divas big review podcast!
Biodiesel can be made from a variety of sources. Oil seed crops are some of the most reliable because they can be grown easily, but another common source is used restaurant oils, comprised mostly of vegetable oil but may also include lard or beef tallow, or other forms of animal fats.
Despite its biological origins, raw materials (feedstock) must be refined before it’s suitable for conversion into fuel. These refining steps are fairly basic and environmentally friendly. All debris like twigs, leaves, crumbs and other non-fat particles are filtered out. Then, the feedstock is treated to remove any water that may be present. If the water is left in the batch, it will cause the fat to turn into soap instead of biodiesel when it’s processed. For more information about biodiesel production, see this biodiesel 101 post here. And did you know you can also make biodiesel from algae?
Once all debris and water is removed, the oil is reacted with alcohol to produce biodiesel and glycerol. Excess alcohol will also be present along with a trace of remaining water. All of these unwanted products are separated from the fuel before it’s sold.
Due to the flammable nature of the oil, the reaction components and the resulting fuel, processing facilities are regulated as industrial operations. This means that it can only be mass-produced in industrial areas, despite the existence of numerous manuals on running diesel engines on used cooking oil. It makes sense that municipalities don’t want to have unskilled hobbyists making hundreds of gallons’ worth of explosive fuel in residential neighborhoods.
One issue that is holding up the conversion of truck fleets to biodiesel fuel is a lack of availability. This shortage means that in many cases, the fat-based fuel must be mixed with regular diesel. A ratio of 20 percent biodiesel to 80 percent regular diesel is common.
Trucking companies have been implementing many new practices and technologies in recent years to reduce their carbon footprints. One of these methods is the use of alternative fuels for powering their fleets. There are many alternative fuels, but one of the most promising is biodiesel.
Trucking companies that wish to be even more environmentally friendly should consider fuel management practices to ensure they’ll be able to run their fleets on minimal fuel. One of these methods is the use of EOBRs, or electronic on-board recorders. These devices, along the software that goes with them, allow companies to plan the best routes for their vehicles. They also let dispatchers find trouble spots and detect fuel-wasting practices.
Other fuel-saving practices include making sure that the truck fleet is well maintained. Frequent tune-ups, watching tire inflation and other basic measures can increase fuel efficiency by a surprising amount. Some companies even insist that the trucks be driven at a speed that is lower than the legal maximum in order to make fuel stretch further.
Many fuel saving methods have no downsides, while others will need to be given a proper cost-benefit analysis to ensure that the profits aren’t being destroyed in the pursuit of lower fuel usage. If you’re thinking of converting your fleet to biodiesel, do the math to find which fuel-saving methods are truly effective. That way, you can help the environment without sacrificing the bottom line in the process.
Biofuel cartoon from Mckeown Biofuels.
There are so many ways to green your lifestyle. Incorporating healthier foods, removing potentially toxic items from your house, and growing a garden of organic foods are major changes that might seem daunting, but sometimes the smallest changes that can make a big difference. You’ve surely ditched the bottled water habit, but perhaps you still enjoy your daily cup o’ joe from your local coffee shop. And you probably bring your own cup, but did you know you can also bring your own straw?
GlassDharma Glass Straws bring a new definition to “Sipping Responsibly”.
We were super excited to receive a review set of straws from GlassDharma to help them promote their Earth Day fundraiser and straw giveaway. The GlassDharma straws are known for their uniqueness, strength, and beauty. This great company has been handmaking glass straws in the United States since 2007. Their mission is to create world-wide awareness about single use plastics and how damaging plastic straws are to our environment. According to their site, enough plastic straws are produced annually to fill over 46 THOUSAND full sized school buses! These types of single-use plastics are rarely recycled, never reused, and are tossed out to fill our landfills. Glass straws provide an alternative that eliminates the need for straws made from plastic.
To demonstrate their commitment to reducing waste and improving our world, Glass Dharma is encouraging everyone to make a PlanetCare™Pledge! You can receive a coupon for a free GlassDharma straw by making a pledge during the month of April! Head over to GlassDharma and make your pledge and get a free straw today!
As of the beginning of 2012, GlassDharma’s shipping numbers total over 200,000 straws world-wide; but their goal is much more grand– the Company aims to provide glass straws to at least 2% of the American public, and with the population at about 300 million, this works out to 6 million straws! David Leonhardt, founder and master lampworker at GlassDharma, thoroughly believes in the mission behind his exquisite glass straw product line. David explains how reusing glass straws reduces waste that ends up in our landfills and the oceans. He says, “My commitment is 3-fold – creating the highest quality, most durable glass straws, having them be elegant and stylish and for them to serve an important purpose!”
GlassDharma straws are made from borosilicate glass, the safest and strongest glass commercially available; they are even dishwasher and microwave safe! GlassDharma offers an unprecedented lifetime guarantee on their straws, and promises that if your straw breaks, it will be repaired or replaced. Not only do glass straws replace their toxic plastic counterparts, their beauty and style are really fun to add into your green living toolbox! The straws are:
- Great for both hot and cold drinks
- Kid-friendly and safe
- Different sizes for different drinks: bubble teas, iced drinks, shakes and smoothies
- Beautiful accessory for cocktails or cafes
- Helpful for those worried about tooth staining: try with wine, coffee and tea
GlassDharma straws are available in three collections: Simple Elegance, Beautiful Bend, and the color accented Decorative Dots. Offered in many lengths and widths, GlassDharma straws are available individually or in sets. The accessory line includes cleaning brushes and hemp soft sleeves for carrying your straws on the go.
In case you have not yet heard, bottled water is an ecological disaster! All those fossil fuels, all that toxciity, and all the waste. Ick. And of course we all know it’s super important to keep your body hydrated and feeling good, but what about all those chemicals leeching into our groundwater?
The best way to hydrate your body is with water that has been filtered to eliminate common contaminants in our drinking water: chlorine, atrazine, and more. Unless you live near a mountain stream, this type of water in bottles. But if you are looking for a way to ditch the bottled water and still ensure that you get healthy, filtered water, consider investing in a water cooler that purifies your water as needed. The Quench company offers free standing and countertop versions of water purification and dispensing systems that features a layered carbon filter and optional reverse osmosis. This cleans out gunk from your water supply, and helps you save 300 to 2,100 5-gallon plastic water jugs annually. The Quench water systems use the full array of purification technologies to remove bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, and bad taste, and claim to be the only ones in the industry who do so.
Their seriously awesome purification system includes they use include UV sanitization, 5 stage carbon filtration, reverse osmosis, BioCote anti-microbial protection, food-grade tubing and stainless steel tanks to create delicious, pure hydration. Having a water cooler in your home or office allows you to keep your body hydrated and happy and keep all those plastic water bottles from being purchased!
This post was sponsored by Quench, a provider of bottleless water coolers for your home and office. Check them out and see if their solutions are a good fit for your home and/or office.
Here are Green Living Ideas we’re big fans of natural remedies, and essential oils are almost always a part of our plant-based solutions. If you’ve always wanted to learn more about this ancient yet modern healing method, read on and check out our awesome giveaway at the end of the post!
First, some basics: Essential oils are are fragrant compounds derived from plants, herbs, bark, and roots that contain beneficial properties and concentrated fragrance that can help our bodies in multiple ways. Essential oils can be made from many parts of plants:
- greens and leaves (basil, peppermint and eucalyptus)
- skins (lemons, limes, bergamot)
- roots (ginger)
- seeds (anise seed, black pepper, vanilla and juniper)
- flowers (chamomile, rose, neroli and lavender)
- woody parts (cinnamon, cedarwood and patchouli)
Essential oils are concentrated, potent plant extracts that can be used for aromatherapeutic healing and for other natural solutions for home and body care. Essential oils are most often used topically (with a proper carrier oil), in diffusers for scenting a room, or internally (but please note that not all oils are edible!). Oils can be used singularly or in blends to create a synergistic healing effect. Some oils work best alone (like patchouli, one of my favorite earthy, awesome scents), but others (like lavender) pair well with sweet, woody and citrus scents. Carrier oils are important to both dilute the essential oils and ensure the longevity of the scent. Carrier oils are generally made from other plants, like almond, coconut, jojoba, and more. Green Living Ideas was recently sent a review set of essential oil synergies by Plant Therapy. The synergies came packed in a cute little box and included their most popular synergies:
- Relax (a calming blend of Lavender, Marjoram, Patchouli, Mandarin, Geranium and Chamomile.)
- Sensual (a warming, floral blend of Ylang Ylang, Patchouli, Orange Sweet, Lavender, Sandalwood, and Jasmine.)
- Immune-Aid (a boosting blend of Frankincense, Tea Tree, Rosemary, Lemon, Eucalyptus, and Sweet Orange Essential Oils.)
- Germ-fighter (a helpful blend of lemon, clove Bud, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary)
- Tranquil (my favorite featuring citrusy Bergamot, woody Patchouli, sweet blood orange, floral ylang ylang, and bitter grapefruit.)
- Energy (Peppermint, Rosemary, Lemon, and Eucalyptus.)
Though I enjoyed all the blends, I got the most mileage out of my Relax Synergy, Tranquil Synergy, and the Immune-Aid. The package happened to arrive when I was fighting a nasty cold bug, and gargling with the Immune-Aid helped clean the germies out of my throat, and within a day I felt much better. The Relax and Tranquil synergies feature some of my favorite essential oils and blended perfectly with a base of raw Shea butter or Plant Therapy’s mild Almond carrier oil. These oils are delicious on your skin after a warm shower, or after shaving your legs. Both warming and calming, these scents are beautiful and deeply relaxing. The Sensual blend is lovely, but a bit too floral for an evening with the boyfriend. The Energy is yummy as well, but generally I need calming instead of energizing, so I didn’t get to use this synergy very much either!
In addition to the synergies, Plant Therapy offers a wide range of single origin essential oils, including a small variety of organic oils. They also offer some amazing sets of essential oils featuring singles and blends. Plant Therapy was started by a certified aromatherapist and Naturopathic doctor who is a mother of eight children and the company is dedicated to natural health. She understands the importance of high-quality and affordable essential oils. They purchase from dependable sources to ensure purity and quality of their therapeutic oils.
And you, lucky readers, have the chance to win some of these great essential oil products.
Plant Therapy has generously offered an essential oil starter kit to one lucky winner. This kit includes a set of their Top 6 Synergies Set OR an Organic Essential Oil Sampler Set, in addition to a carrier oil of your choice, and The Essential Oils Handbook: All the Oils You Will Ever Need for Health, Vitality and Well-Being. They’ve also offered a coupon code for all readers to get 20% off their products; use coupon code greenliving20 (valid until May 8 2013). To enter, simply comment below telling us why you would like to try essential oils, and if you already use them, share your favorite way to use them in your life! Contest runs today (April 24) until midnight Hawaii time on May 1 2013; winner will be chosen at random with the random number generator. One entry per person, please. Please be sure to leave an email or website contact so we can tell you if you win! Good luck!
Full disclosure: Green Living Ideas was sent a review set of oils for this post and Plant Therapy is donating another set for giveaway, but we were not compensated in any other way.
Inspired by our recent Earth Day radio show, I did a fun Care2 post about 25 ways to celebrate Earth Day without buying anything. Here’s a little bit of that rant:Make it a non-Consumer Earth Day AND become a smart, eco-friendly consumer all year round
There are millions of new wonderful ‘green living’ gadgets, trinkets, and practical every-day items manufactured with a lighter carbon footprint that may leave less of a toxic trail in the landfills and oceans. But we still are a culture that consumes much more than we really need. Our landfills and oceans are quickly becoming overwhelmed with garbage — much of which will remain there for hundreds if not thousands of years (thank you plastic!).
I’ve been really trying to be less of a consumer. My husband and I are living with less new stuff, recycling, up cycling, fixing, sharing, swapping and just buying less one-time-use items. Partly because it just feels good — simplifying for us AND the environment, but I have to be honest, it also saves a TON of money!
I proceeded to state a lot of scary facts about all the WASTE we produce and offer some ideas on how to be a more conscious, earth-friendly consumer. Read the original Care2 post with all the stats . . .
I listed 25 ways to celebrate earth day without buying anything, knowing there were thousands, and I was so impressed with some of the suggestions, I thought I would incorporate them into this updated post and give my Care2 peeps a little credit. Really, these are things we should find ways to incorporate into our every-day lives, so . . .50 Free or Cheap Ways to Incorporate Earth Day Every Day
or at Least on a Regular Basis!
The original 25 . . .
1. Unplug – minimize electronic activity
2. Go outside
3. Observe nature
4. Meditate in nature
5. Walk barefoot in some grass
6. Eat vegan or vegetarian (local, organic, non-GMO when possible)
7. Do a fun DIY upcycling craft project
8. Visit your local library – be amazed
9. Read a real book
10. Play with your kids or grand kids or any kids
11. Talk to kids about nature, the environment, and earth day
12. Listen to your favorite music
13. Dance to your favorite music
14. Make your own music
15. Make music with others
16. Organize a potluck dinner
17. Plant something – anything, a small pot of herbs maybe
18. Walk somewhere instead of driving
19. Bike somewhere instead of driving
20. Drink more water, less coffee or soda
21. Drink fair trade tea
22. Meet with friends
23. Talk to friends about what earth day means to you
24. Turn off lights in the evening – sit by candle light
25. Play a board game or cards with friends or family
more from our Facebook fans and Care2 community peeps . . .
26. Pick up some trash (Dave C.)
27. Plant a tree (Cynthia B.)
28. Encourage each other to get outside (Anne F.)
29. Do something charitable and help someone out (Robert O.)
30. Compost your kitchen waste (Jacquelene S.)
31. Volunteer at an animal shelter (Valentina R.)
32. Unplug/unwind/relax, too! (Christine S.)
33. Go to an Earth Day Fair (Michael H.)
34. Go to Starbucks with travel mug and get free coffee! (Edvanir L.)
35. Visit Care2, get points and plant a tree! (Mari S.)
36. Go for a walk with a loved one (Lynn D.)
37. Befriend our environment (Fi T.)
38. Offset your carbon output at Carbonfund, TerraPass, etc. (Dave C.)
39. Toss the gas mower, get a push mower! (Jacquelene S.)
40. Avoid fluoride (Andrew H.)
41. Save breadcrumbs for the birds (Nermine G.)
42. Creative painting with your favorite music (Adena Z.)
43. Pledge to buy only organic non GMO foods (Sherry C.)
44. Visit local SPCA or animal shelter and take a dog for a walk, or play with the cats (Jeanne M.)
45. Bardzo dobre pomysły, na pewno skorzystam (Malgorzata Z.)
46. Pick up some rubbish that is not yours! (Carol Ann O.)
47. Give up paraffin candles (Lydia W.)
48. use candles in the evening instead of turning on lights (Mary D.)
49. Wear eco-textile shoes! (Emelie H.)
50. Comment to help Stop the Keystone XL Pipeline (Peter H.)
Big gratitude to all those who chimed in. So glad to see so many souls joining in the fun on behalf of momma earth!
We still want more though . . . c’mon be part of the online video madness with us!BE PART OF THE GREEN DIVAS (AND DUDES) EARTH DAY EVERY DAY VIDEO!
Eco Ed always has great ideas, but he spontaneously erupted with this one on the air and we LOVE it! We really want to know what YOU are doing this Earth Day, so why not send us a 10-second video either telling us or showing us what you are doing to celebrate mama earth this Earth Day and how you will do it throughout the year. We will compile a fun video and you will be a green diva or green dude star!
eat. blog. be merry!
image of woman reading in flowers: Shutterstock
Despite using the same technology from the beginning (sound waves and cables), communication in the 21st century can be carried out in many different forms. Apart from talking to each other face to face, there are also phones, messaging electronically and online video chats. These modern technologies were initially created to make our lives easier by enabling us to converse over long distances or ‘on the go’. Nowadays, people are trying to figure out the right balance of staying in touch as people are able to contact you during all times of the day. Such convenient services do require a lot of energy, for example the transmission of waves and the maintenance of the machines responsible.
As communication has generally become increasingly prominent in people’s professional and private lives, one should not hesitate in investing in energy saving devices in order to be more efficient with your overall power usage.
Convenience and sustainability
Regardless of saving energy, no one wants to lose the convenience of communicating in any way. That means maintaining a clear connection and the space to roam freely. For that reason, energy saving cordless phones like these are a good investment as they guarantee a good connection and still save energy when switched off. The company Gigaset works to develop further existing technologies while focusing on environmental aspects. Here is a list of achievements they made:
The concept behind the Gigaset phones is its ECO DECT. Its target is to reduce the power necessary for the transmission of signals as well as the power needed for maintaining the modes while the phone is not in use.
Due to this technology, every household can save up to 60 percent of the energy normally used for a telephone device without this feature.
Moreover, one can reduce the power consumption for phones in the unused phone to almost nothing when the ECO mode is chosen. This will save extra energy, since in a normal household, the phone is usually in use for only two hours a day.
Like all modern devices, companies and designers are thinking wisely when it comes to the energy use, as that is also on the minds of their consumers. Along with the exchange of light bulbs becoming a popular way to reduce energy, the focus on buying sustainable energy devices should be promoted, too. As in this day and age, communication is just as important as other daily necessities.