Monday, August 31, 2009

Coal: By the Numbers

Sometimes something as purely simple as a few digits can show us what we are doing to our world. A while back I came across some such numbers in the Sierra Club magazine which really made things more clear to me and at least got me thinking, if not changing behavior. I thought sharing them with you might do the same.


Pounds of coal it takes to light a house with incandescent lightbulbs for just a month.


Pounds of coal it takes to run an electric dryer for a month.


Pounds of coal it takes to heat water for the average U.S. household for a month.


Pounds of coal it would take to warm the average U.S. household for a month.


Total pounds of coal the average U.S. household uses in coal each month, resulting in...


Pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.

What are you thinking? Are you inspired to change anything? What can you change?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Green Gracious Flea Market 8.28.09

I am jetting off to NYC for a meeting this weekend. But I wanted to leave you with some eco-eye candy so here is another edition of the Green Gracious Flea Market, featuring green products to ogle over.

In the market for a new TV? Is your husband? Steer him in the direction of this green screen which uses only 67 watts which is about half of a regular LCD, and the set is lead free.

I have some great friends and colleagues that love to bike. I am not into the trend yet. But that doesn't keep me from eyeing this awesome fold up bike. Especially in my very favorite color-orange!

Have you ever started your shower and sat there staring at the water going down the drain while waiting for the water to warm up and wondered about the wasted water? If you thought there has to be a better way, you were right, and now there is. One answer is this shower adapter from Evolve which keeps the water off until it gets warm. It then starts a slow trickle to let you know it's ready. A quick pull of the cord gives you full pressure and peace of mind.

Dry-cleaning is obviously not the the greenest solution, but sometimes it's still a necessary evil. One way to make your dry-cleaning experience more earth-friendly is by getting rid of the plastic. This bag is a brilliant multi-tasker which you can use as a tote to take your clothes in and a laundry bag to take them home.

Anything catch your fancy? Seen anything green and great out there lately?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mama, What Is A Landfill?

Did you ever watch the show "Kid's Say the Darndest Things?" You know the one with Bill Cosby as the host? This used to be my favorite show. My husband will tell you that while other college students were out drinking their weight in rum, I was in my dorm room tuning in and laughing my head off to this show. Because it's true, kids are hilarious and brilliant.

I was reminded of it this morning when, as I was emptying our garbage cans, Tucker asked:

"Mom, where does the garbage go?"

"To a landfill honey."

"What's a landfill?"

"It's a place where they dump all the garbage from everyone in the area."

"And then what do they do with it?"

"Ummm, nothing. It just sits there."

"For how long?"

"Forever pretty much."

"Yeah, but what do they do with it?"

"Sweetie, they don't do anything, it just sits there and then when there is enough they cover it up and grow grass on it."

"And can I roll down the grass?"

"No, not that grass. There is yucky stuff under it."

"Yucky stuff like vegetables?"

"No, worse then vegetables."

His wisdom amazes me once again. I am an eco-warrior every day and yet I seldom take the time to stop and think about how ridiculous the concept of a landfill is. Seriously-the trash just sits there. It doesn't DO anything. This idea is totally unfathomable to a four-year old! Maybe it should be to us grown-ups as well.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Would You Like Some Climate Change With That?

I don't go to the drive-thru very often, but every time I do, I think about all the cars idling in drive-thrus all over the world....all of the gas wasted, all the atmosphere harmed. I also think about it stopped at our villages many rail road crossings.

According to Sierra Club, every hour you idle you waste .7 gallons of gas. So it literally pays to turn your engine off if you are going to be still in your car for 30 seconds or more. Need more reason? Every year in the U.S. cars burn 1.4 billion (yes, with a "b") gallons of gas idling. That doesn't even include trucks which spend another 1.5 billions gallons sitting around. That's 58
million tons of carbon dioxide for nothing!

So engines off readers. At the drive-thru, at the rail road crossing, at the light that just turned red. Have you already started this? What are some other ways we can save on idling?

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Packaging Impact

I am pretty aware when it comes to packaging and trying to become more aware all the time. But I have to admit that I have never thought a whole lot about what re-closable packaging means for the environment. That is until a couple weeks ago when I opened a bag of Lundberg brown rice. As I turned the package over for cooking instructions I noticed this clever little section telling me that by switching away from re-closable bags, Lundberg saved 15% of the materials that go into the bag! By doing this, they save 35,000 pounds of plastic from going into landfills each year. Ok, two thoughts here:

1. Will I use a glass jar to save 35,000 pounds of trash? Heck yes!
2. If you ever doubted what a difference little changes could make in changing our world, let this show you that just changing the kind of rice you buy can make a big difference.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

New Products and Deals from Kids Konserve

The good people at Kid's Konserve recently contacted me with information on some new products they have coming out. Just as a reminder, Kids Konserve is a company that makes reusable products, specifically for meal use. They are celebrating their one year anniversary and they have some great new stuff!

Like this insulated lunch sak made from 100% recycled water bottles! Something reusable made from something reused? Yes, sir that is heaven in my book.

Then there is this nesting trio made from stainless steel for all your little snacks and goodies. I really need some of these for snacks in my diaper bag.

Finally there is the new non-toxic ice pak and sweat-free cover. Perfect for keeping everything nice and cool and the adorable squiggle cover is made from plastic bottles!

Ok, here's the best part...not only does Kids Konserve have all these great new products, but they are offering Green Gracious readers a special deal! To start off the school-year right, Kids Konserve will give you 15% off until September 30th! Just enter the coupon code: gracious, at check-out.

And make sure if you have school-aged children you take a look at the Kids Konserve waste-free lunch challenge. Maybe you can sign your school up today!

What do you think? What do you love? What do you want to order?

Monday, August 17, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Look at this beautiful, if small, bounty from my garden. Small is good since I seem to be the only one eating veggies around here these days. I love to dip these little guys in hummus for a mid-afternoon snack. Delicious!

I am clearly not the only one who has discovered the benefits of growing your own food to Earth and self. There has been a 19% increase in U.S. households growing their own fruits, vegetables, and herbs over last year. 54% of households grow their own food primarily to save money on groceries. And why not, just $70 spent on planting can yield $530 worth of produce per season!

Growing your own organic produce ensures that less pesticides and herbicides are used, the food has a shorter distance to travel to your plate, and you know exactly what you are putting in your body once it gets there.

What's growing in your gardens? How is your "harvest" going? What didn't you grow this year that you will definitely plant next year? Any organic gardening tips?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fall Shopping Cart: The Random

After exploring the new and the used this week, here are some random Mama E friendly items that I have had my eye on and wanted to share with you. Hopefully you will find something on here to wet your whistle, and maybe clean it as well.

I know I have recommended Pangea Organics in the past. What I didn't know, and you may not either, is that the biodegradable paper wrapping (from 100 percent post consumer paper) around some of their products (like this bar soap) is embedded with organic seeds. Not only do you get a good for you, good for Earth product, but when you plant the packaging you also get a spruce tree, basil annual, or amaranth flower!
I've never confessed this to y'all, but I have huge feet. HUGE! Which means shoes are hard to find, let alone eco and animal friendly shoes. So you can imagine how head over heels I was (pun totally intended) when I came across Simple Shoes. This company's tag-line is "shoes for a happy planet." And they mean it! Find footwear for the whole family and a whole section of vegan shoes for those of you shopping that route. Best of all, they come in big-foot sizes for people like me!
And if you are continuing the fashion trend, check out Loomstate for organic jeans! If you are going to invest in organic apparel, jeans are a great choice because they last forever.
And finish the look with a great vegan bag. Vamp Bags makes pretty purses and laptop bags, many of them made out of post consumer and 100 percent recyclable materials.

If it's the 6 month mark to replace that toothbrush think about a Radius. They are made from recycled and plant based materials and some of them just get the head replaced so there is ultimately less waste. Plus they look super cool.

Any random sites you have your eye on? Fill me in on what I am missing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fall Shopping Cart: The Used

On Tuesday I featured some sites with brand spankin' new eco-finds, but today in the fall shopping cart you will find my pure happiness. Nothing gets my motor running like a great second hand find on something I really need or want. Here are some great places I have used or can't wait to:
  • I just discovered Shop Goodwill. It has listings for Goodwill items from all over. You can search easily by desired category. I recently ordered a whole dish set through here. Although I do have to warn to watch out for shipping and handling. It can add a lot, although it may still be less then a new item.
  • Another one in the interest of home remodel. Check out Aged Woods. A great website that sells reclaimed wood flooring. Beautiful!
  • The Demolition Depot is super cool place just to look around if nothing else. But if you are in the market for things to spruce up or make your home more functional, by all means this is your place.
  • You have heard me rave about I Like It Mama and thanks to a reader's suggestion, I have found another online consignment store. 143 Kids is kid's stuff only but there are some great deals to be found. I just got my son 4 pairs of jeans for under $10.You can't beat that, especially with the way they grow!
I am dying to hear about your favorite online second-hand sites. Where do you go? What do you love? Which of these are you eager to try now?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Fall Shopping Cart: The New

I have recently come across a number of websites that are great for shopping green. Real Simple magazine featured a number of these in it's August issue. I am going to feature these sites this week in a couple different groups.
Today I am featuring websites that sell new eco-items. As most of you faithful readers know by now, buying new isn't always my top choice. But I know sometimes it is necessary, like when you are buying gifts, maybe you just can't find what you need resale, or maybe someone wants to buy a gift for you and is looking for a wish list. Here are some great sites to go to for those occasions.
  • If you're looking to redecorate this fall, check out Graham & Brown's eco-collection of adorable wallpapers!
  • For unique, earth-friendly finds buzz on over to Beehive Co-op for great stuff handmade by artisans.
  • More decorating and entertaining ideas can be found at Branch. This site features everything you need for your home from rugs to lighting.
Go check them out and let me know what you think. Tell me what's on your wish list (I have both this yellow necklace and that tunic on mine). Have you come across any other great sites for new and green?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Getting Your Move on At the Homestead

That picture is what I see every morning as I start my run.  It brings me joy.  It's one of the reasons I quite the gym this spring.  The other reasons are the following pictures and the fact that my 30 minute drive to and from the gym and time indoors were not bringing me even a little joy.
My view at the one mile mark

I love nature and this Summer I chose to take advantage of it by running outside for my daily workouts.  It feeds my soul, not to mention the earthly benefits.  Finding a way to get your workout where you live serves the planet well in a number of ways:

...cutting down on gas driving to and from the gym
...cutting down on electricity from machines, lights, and facilities used
...often times gyms use toxic cleaning chemicals to clean the building and machines, less time at the gym means you using and inhaling less chemicals
...getting outside allows you to enjoy and appreciate nature, perhaps allowing you to treat it better
...less equipment used means less equipment made, which means less resources used
The creek at 1.5 miles 

I know that running isn't everyone's thing, and there are some people who really need to go to the gym.  But for those who want to/can get moving at home there are lots of options:
  • Walk/Bike/etc...if you can, make it part of your commute
  • Get some exercise videos (check out Netflix, your local library, or Swap-a-DVD
  • Check Craigslist for used exercise equipment and set up a home gym
This perfect barn makes me happy there and back...but always a little more happy at 2 miles

What have you done to exercise at home?  How have you found that it helps you or the environment?  

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting Healthy Is Green

Since I started out the week on healthy home remedies, I decided to keep the health kick, well, kickin'.  Today I want to talk about why taking care of yourself is a green thing to do.  The truth is, taking care of yourself and taking care of our environment go hand in hand.  

I have mentioned before that using organic products without toxic chemicals and synthetic ingredients not only keeps those things out of the planet, but also out of your bodies. We have long heard that you are what you eat (more on that in a minute) but with your skin being one big sponge, you are also what you put on (and therefore in) your body.  We have to start facing the fact that some of our collective health issues may be arising from some of this stuff.

Which brings me are what you eat.  This is why it is important to choose locally grown and organic options whenever possible.  I won't jump on the vegetarian/vegan soap box right now, but it's something to educate yourself on when you have time.  When you treat yourself well, you treat Mama E well.  Not only because you are consciously consuming that which is good, but because... consume less medicine.  Less medicine = less chemicals. spend less time in the hospital.  Most hospitals are some of the least green places possible and use tons of energy. can stay active which means walking/biking more and driving less.
...working up a sweat helps to release toxins from your body
...carrying around less weight means less work for your car, plane, train, etc...
...if you are a parent you are raising a whole new generation of children of who appreciate the balance between the health of humans and the health of the rest of the planet.

We are all tied together.  Making yourself healthier, makes all of us healthier.  What are some ways you have found that being healthy helps you make less of an impact?

Tune in later this week for some tips on getting that health through home excercise.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Healthy Headache Cures

Ugh.  That's the only sound I can verbally utter from my bed today as I lay here with the my fifth migraine in as many days.  I know what you are thinking, "Then Willo, why the heck are you writing a blog?"  Well, the truth is folks, I can only sit and be unproductive for so long.  

We haven't been able to pinpoint where the headaches come from or to what they are related.  So there is some work to do there.  In the meantime, I am trying to keep up healthy eating and exercise (look for the importance of staying healthy later this week) and do what I can.

For me, this means rest, and a couple other all-natural things I have found can have a positive effect.  The first is the smell of mint.  A few drops of peppermint or spearmint essential oil right under my nose can offer a little bit of immediate relief.  

Another thing that can really help is cold.  I put my flax wrap in the freezer for an hour or so and then lay it across my forehead or drape it around my neck.  Like the mint, the cool offers a little bit of immediate relief.  I would highly suggest a flax wrap, but if you don't have one and need immediate relief, a washcloth soaked in cool water or put in the freezer will also work.  I have even used teething rings (clean of course) and placed them on my eyelids straight out of the ice box.  

I would love to hear from you on this!  What are your quick and green home headache remedies?  Have you tried any of these?