Sunday, May 31, 2009

Juice Organics Review

I am constantly on the look-out for great green beauty products.  So when I saw Juice Organics products on clearance at my local Target lately, I had to try them out.  While the line over all was ok, and I was happy to see it at Target, I am not so surprised that they were on clearance.

To begin with, the ingredients, while much better then your average department store facial products, are not the most non-toxic on the market.  They still include many an ingredient I can't pronounce or recognize on site and the Skin Deep Database marks them at a 2-5 (yellow light) depending on the product.

I attempted the Brightening Facial Serum, Revitalizing Eye Treatment, and Light Tint Moisturizer.  The products wet on easily, and a little bit went a long way.   However, they were much too sticky for my taste and after using the first two, the moisturizer didn't go on very smoothly.  The one thing I did really enjoy about them however was the smell, like fresh oranges for the face.

I would try the products again, but I am more inclined to try something else first.  Has anyone else tried these?  What was your experience?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Good Will

This morning I am off upholding a monthly habit that saves green in two ways.  I am at the Goodwill for their monthly 1/2 off sale.   This means that I get almost every clothing item for $2 or less, saving green in my wallet and the planet at the same time.  Plus it makes me feel a little better better that I only spent $2 on a shirt when the kids get a stain on it about 3.6 seconds after I put it on, or they grow out of something before they can even get a chance to wear it.

Goodwill is super Mama E friendly because it A. Saves items from the landfill and B. Keeps new items from needing to be produced.  So go see what your Goodwill (or other neighborhood second hand store) has to offer this weekend and fill me in on all the deals.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Green Grab Bag 5.29.09

Welcome to Friday!  I hope your week has been amazing so far.  We have been dealing with a lot of rain, restless boys, and mosquitos here.  But the weekend is ahead and we are looking forward to it.  If you have some time to kill, check out some of the things in this week's green grab bag.

Before you shop this week, check out these Words that Define a Generation.  Totally prophetic.
  • If you are a radio person, check out this crank/solar powered radio.
  • You know how much I love tea so I am lusting after these adorable cups.
  • Personalized lunch boxes help keep lunch waste free and make your kid popular at the lunch table.
  • A fellow reader has opened a new Etsy shop, she now has Owly and the Fox for perfectly pretty pendants and other pieces and jewelry supplies.
  • Finally, I know many of us self-classified greenies tend to write off American made cars, but if you are in the market for a car you owe it to yourself to see all the green changes Ford is making.

Have a splendid weekend!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Water Disaster

My friend Marilyn shared this with me and it was too good not to share with all of you.  Sometimes I think we just need to see things in another way to realize how important they are.  Hopefully seeing this issue this way will allow you to make the change to reusable water bottles.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reused Refreshment

When I started working at the golf course, every employee used plastic cups, lids, and straws to consume their free soda.  Sometimes they each used several a night.  I had to put a stop to this as soon as possible so I went out and made an investment in the planet by purchasing reusable BPA-free water bottles for everyone.  Not only can they use these to replace waste at work, but they can take them home and do the same.  

Now I know not everyone is in the position to buy water bottles for everyone they work with, but could you talk to your employer?  Could you ask if they could sponsor the earth through reusables?  What else could you do along these lines to reduce the amount of waste produced through cups, lids, and straws in the work place?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

10 uses Tuesday: Milk Jugs

Welcome back to the work week.  I hope you all had a beautiful and meaningful Memorial Day.  We are easing back into the week and out of the compost with today's 10 uses Tuesday all about Milk Jugs.  

My additional use is something we first tried a couple weeks ago.  My mom brought some herbs from her house for me and we planted them in the small flower bed outside.  Some of the herbs are very prone to spreading so we cut off the top and bottom of a couple containers and planted them in around the plants to keep them in their area.

Any milk jug ideas?  Any stories from the long weekend?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Compost in the kitchen

I thought I was ready to wrap up compost week until I remembered that I forgot to mention how to take compost from your house to your pile/container.  If you have your container right outside your kitchen area, I suppose you could put it right in there as you go.  We don't have this luxury, so we use an old 3 gallon drink container to put in scraps as we go and empty it when it gets full (about twice a week).  

It's great if you can reuse an old container (5 gallon bucket, old trash can, kitty litter bucket, giant snack container, basically anything with a lid) you have at home for this, but sometimes you might not have one lying around or available.  In that case there are several options for purchase.  There are ceramic, metal, and plastic options.  It's just a matter of finding what works best for you.  

What do you currently use?  Any suggestions?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Have compost, will travel

I mentioned to y'all last week that I have started working at the golf course.  And the amount of waste that takes place there is absolutely astounding.  So I am trying to do my part to cut back.  One of the ways I have done that is to encourage my fellow staff members to recycle/compost via me.  So every night I take in this reused kitty litter container and we put everything recyclable/compostable in there.  Every morning after I work, I separate it at home and put everything in the correct place.

It takes a little extra work on my part, but it's totally worth it to know that every night I work, I save at least that much from going to the landfill and put it to good use.   Plus, my compost pile is growing and getting more diverse. 

Is this something you could implement somewhere?  Where you work?  Your kid's school?  Any other ideas?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Compost Creations

I hope you are having a beautiful Saturday!  Today my mom is visiting.  She brought some raised garden beds and we are going to do some veggie planting.  I will do a whole post on it soon, but I am telling you now because it is just one of the ways I will be using my compost.  

Compost is magical in a way because it takes any type of soil (dry, sandy, clay, etc...) and makes it better.  It's like the organic solution to almost every gardening woe.  And it's FREE!

In addition to the raised beds, I mixed compost in with just plain old soil (from my yard) that I put in the pots to grow veggies in my greenhouse.  I also put a small layer of compost between the sunflower seeds I just planted and the top soil I placed back over them.  Basically anything I plant that I want to succeed, gets a little compost help. 

So what do you do with your compost?  What do you want to do with it?  Any tips?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Green Grab Bag 5.22.09

This week's Green Grab Bag as I have been super busy with work, volunteering, and trying to be outside as much as possible to enjoy the beautiful weather we have been having here in Michigan (sometimes while I work or volunteer).  I hope you enjoy it!
Only a couple of things to check out on the shopping front this weekend.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Not for Compost

I know given the post on everything you can put in compost, it's hard to believe 
there are things that can't go in it.  But alas, there are.  Here is a quick and dirty list of what not to put in your compost pile/container:
  • Human waste (although if you wanted to get a composting toilet that would be awesome!)
  • Pet waste (with the exception of the cage bedding mentioned Tuesday)
  • Meats, bones, and fatty wastes
  • Pernicious weeds (basically anything you are worried about re-growing, this is what Over Coffee mentioned)
  • Diseased plants
  • Chemically treated wood products
Got it, good!  Now I have to share with you that between the compost and my dog, we have zero food waste going into the trash.  It works out perfectly that she loves everything that can't be composted and doesn't really care for that which can.  I know avoiding trash isn't the best reason to get a dog, but it's a huge bonus and it will save you on dog food.  

Questions?  More compost concerns?  How we doing so far?  Tomorrow is the Green Grab Bag, but I will wrap up Compost Week on Saturday and Sunday with how to get the compost from your house to your pile/container and how to take your compost on the road.  

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Compost Container Options

I am glad you are all so excited about composting!  And I am glad you are sharing your compost needs.  As I mentioned, I am well aware that a pile near the woods won't work for everyone.  So I have found several options depending on where you are at.  I am a visual learner, so I tried to find some videos in case y'all are as well.

If you are in the country and have the option, I would highly recommend just having a pile, or making a small enclosure such as this one.  It's cheap, easy, and uses very limited resources.  Plus the more open your pile is, the less you will have to worry about it getting enough drainage and sunlight, which is what prevents the pile from smelling.  Here is an example of how to make a simple, easy, and upcycled compost bin.  (Miss A-check this out, it is exactly what you were asking about:)

For those of you who need a more contained container, there are several options.  One of the simplest and least expensive is to make a compost bin out of a trash container, preferably one you already have lying about.  

Here is a fun take on making a worm composting bin.  Totally kid-friendly so you can make it a project for the whole family.

For those of you who prefer a more standard commercial compost bin, there are some great options out there.  These are also going to be the best kind for readers like Lizzie and MLDB who live in a subdivision and need something contained and discreet.  They are a bit pricey, but remember that you will using them for a very long time and saving yourself tons of money in soil from the gardening store.  I love this one because it's made from recycled plastic and at $70 it's one of the most affordable commercial versions I have seen.
Then there are the spinning versions which help you rotate your compost (much like I do weekly with a shovel in our lovely pile) right in the container to get even distribution and ideal soil composition.  Like the compost tumbler and tumbleweed composter.

Ok, so I think I included something for everyone there in terms of compost bins.  What am I missing?  Do we still have questions on the actual bins?  What other compost questions do you still have?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

10 uses Tuesday: Compost Style!

The composting continues here on Green Gracious, for 10 uses Tuesday. Now, if you are a regular reader of 10 uses Tuesday you may quickly realize that today's is going to be a little different. Instead of 10 (or 11) uses for one thing, today I am going to fill you in on at least 10 different things you can put in your compost pile that you may not have realized. I know the first time I heard about some of the things that can be composted, I was shocked, and it has diminished the amount of trash I have every week since.

So let's get started. Everyday things you may never have known you can compost:

1. The stuff in your vacuum.  Permitted you haven't just vacuumed up plastic or glass or some such thing, most of the stuff in your vacuum bag or canister is good to go.
2. Paper towels.
3. Kleenex
4. Wool socks.
5.  Dryer lint
6. Nail clippings.  Eeew right?  But still cool.
7. Coffee grounds.
8. Weeds
9. Newspaper
10. Rodent (guinea pig, mouse, rat, etc) old bedding 

and my 11. Receipts.  I have taken to putting these in the compost because I can and it saves them from recycling, which means ultimately it saves energy.  

So there are 11.  And of course there are the usual suspects, old fruit (peels, stems, pits, seeds, etc...) old yogurt, soy milk, stale bread, old pasta, weeds, etc..

Go forth and build your compost and if you have a favorite compost fodder that we've missed, please fill us in!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Let it rot!

This is my lovely compost pile!  This little pile saves hundreds of pounds of "trash" from the landfill every year, helps to grow beautiful flowers (and hopefully veggies soon), and help feeds countless bugs, worms, and other woodland creatures.  Did you know that food scraps make up 20-30% of all garbage!

I am going to dedicate much of this week's blog posts to the joys of compost.  I am going to talk about things to put in your compost, what to use compost for, and because I know not everyone can just start a pile on the edge of their property, I am also going to discuss other composting options.  

So grab your food scraps, a bucket, and some willingness to do green good and join me for the ride.  And tell me because I am dying to know, what do you want to know about compost?  Have you been wanting to start and have questions I can try to answer?  Are you a compost expert with some expertise to lend us?  Come on folks, let's get down to the nitty gritty!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Goodbye Skittles, Oreos, and Girl Scout Cookies.

This week I was innocently perusing my Sierra Club magazine (which, by-the-way, is one of my favorite magazines ever, but more on this later) when I was bombarded with the fact that Skittle, Oreos, and Girl Scout cookies, along with anything else containing palm oil is now as off limits as I can make it for myself.  Here's why; palm oil is a food additive that has replaced trans fats in many processed foods (i.e. the sweet snacks mentioned above).  But in order to produce this palm oil, Indonesia and Malaysia, the top palm oil producers, have cleared 25,000 square miles of native forests.  This has left many orangutans without homes.  

The worst part about all of this is that there is a safe, sustainable alternative.  Canola oil can substitute in most cases for the dangerous palm oil.  So I am laying off the sweets.  It can't hurt, heck, it will probably help my health too.  Isn't it funny how the things that are bad for Mama E are often bad for us too?

What have you heard about palm oil?  Has anyone given it up?  Has anyone heard anything about it?  I also found this blog totally dedicated to the issue if you are looking for more info.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Green Grab Bag 5.15.09

I hope you are having a splendid week thus far and are looking forward to a beautiful weekend!   Isn't this nest great?  It sits in a tree right outside my kitchen window and I get to watch mama Robin as I wash the dishes every day.    She inspires me to keep going with things like this.  Here is this week's Green Grab Bag.  
Before you go shopping this weekend, please know that I am not the only one constantly harping on unnecessary packaging materials, here is Soy is the New Black's rant.
  • Look at these lovely bracelets made from Girl Ran Away With the Spoon reusing old silverware.  Brilliant!
  • Here is something else to think about before you run out to buy makeup.  Josie Maran, apparently a green washer.
  • Finally, I love supporting crafty readers of the blog (so if you are one, let me know) especially when they make beautiful products like this gorgeous bag I am lusting after.
Any big plans for the weekend?  I am working and planting.  Hope you have a great one!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sprig Toy Review

I have been meaning to write a review on Sprig Toys for a while.  These cars, trucks, tractors, and even insects are made out of recycled plastic and wood and are kid (not battery) powered.  They are also shipped in very little recycled cardboard.  I got the Rally Racer for my youngest son for Christmas and both of my boys have been having a blast with it ever since.  

Kids can also log onto the website to download coloring pages and stories of their toys.  I can't wait to get my oldest one of these tractors because he is so into them right now.  It is an incredible feeling buying a toy for your children that they can enjoy, learn from, and benefit the Earth.   

Has anyone else seen these?  Has anyone purchased any of them?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cosmetics cool

Look what I found at Target!  Isn't it cute?  The other day I lost the little cosmetics bag I keep in my purse with all my organic lipstick, chapstick, lip gloss and mineral makeup in it.  Bummer right?  I still have hope that it will turn up eventually, but in the meantime I have started replacing my goodies and was realizing that I need something to keep them from floating about my purse and diaper bag. 

This is the kind of thing that is very difficult to find second hand, especially to put your cosmetics in.  Which is why I was over the moon when I came across this little bag at Target made out of recycled fabrics.  They have others as well.  All it took was a little looking to find a great alternative to something I had to find new.  

Any great finds you want to tell me about?  Y'all are very quiet lately!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

10 Uses Tuesday: Coffee Filters

I haven't told you all this yet, but I took up a part-time job working at a golf course as a bar tender and server.  It gets me out of the house and social with other adults.  It's also a job strewn with wasteful behavior that I am working to curb, but more on that another day.  I tell you this now because last night at work, my silly coworker decided to put coffee filters on her head to be funny.  All I thought was, "Great, now we can't use those again."  But with today's 10 uses Tuesday on coffee filters, I have found 11 ways we could use the tainted coffee filters. 

I would add to #3 (the air freshener) that you could put a couple drops essential oil in with that baking soda for a really pretty smell.

For my own suggestion I found another great use for coffee filters that applies perfectly to my own life.  My son has been asking a lot about solar systems, planets, and the Earth orbiting the sun.  I got him some books on the subject, but I thought this project would be perfect to help him see it in a more tangible way.  You can make Earth pictures (and I would assume Sun as well with different paint) from coffee filters!  What better way to frame a conversation on reusing, conserving, helping Earth, etc...!?!  

Ok, I am ready for yours.   Bring 'em on!  What are your brilliant coffee filter uses?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Go Green Garage Sale-ing

Raise your hand if you love garage sales!  Ok, I know I am not the only goofball sitting here with my hand in the air, because garage sales are great, right?  Let's see, you can get stuff you need for cheap and save a ton of stuff from languishing in a landfill for eternity.  Win-Win!

If you are on the other side of the table, as I was this week there is also the benefit of green in your wallet.  What better way to make money then to get rid of things you don't need by selling it to those who can put it to good use.  So, this week we packed up all of Everett's old baby clothes, random gifts I have been given that I won't use, and any number of toys that the boys don't need or play with anymore.  I priced them reusing old stickers we had around the house, placed them in reusable containers, and took them to my girlfriend's house so I could take part in her neighborhood sale.  

We smiled at people, talked with each other, and took in money while enjoying the beautiful sunshine.  We even had someone drive up to the sale on a lawn mower.   Is this normal?  Anyone?  

So who's having a garage sale this summer?  Who's getting their stuff from garage sales this summer?  Any great garage sale-ing tips?