Saturday, July 30, 2011

Put Your Green Stamp On It

The United States Postal Service is now offering Go Green stamps.  Each one features a go green tip such as, "recycle more," "plant trees," "use public transportation," and "adjust the thermostat."  These are part of a whole line of Go Green stuff including recycled tote bag, postcards, and more.   Most of us need stamps anyway.  Why not use them to make a statement on a topic that's important to you and educate along the way?  

Personally, it kind of makes my day to put my Go Green stamps on my recycled paper envelopes (yeah, still using that same box).  It's the little things.

Friday, July 29, 2011

On My Mind :: Juicing Garden Goodness

This week we have been able to make our morning green juice with kale and broccoli right from the garden.  Health we grew ourselves!

What's on your mind this week?
Linking to:  Down to Earth

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Who Knew About Vacuums

We must be hard on vacuums around here.  We're on our third in less than 5 years.   My local vacuum guru informed me after my Dyson broke (again) that because it was made with all plastic parts, it had staying power of about 3-5 years.  Now I don't know about you, but I am not prepared to drop hundreds to fix or replace a vacuum every couple years.

 I really don't care for plastic in just about anything, so why had I bought an all plastic vacuum in the first place?  Because it was cool.  Because everyone had one.  Because I bought into the hype...and had a 20% off coupon at Bed Bath & Beyond.

We decided not to fix the pile of plastic, but to invest in something much more long term.  Something made in the US with all metal parts and serious staying power.  The new Riccar not only works like a dream, but has exposed us to a lot less dust and allergens.

The Dyson wasn't all bad though.   It definitely taught me a lesson in taking a hard look at why I buy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pure Citizen

Y'all probably know by now that I don't recommend rushing out buy new things.  But the fact remains that they occasionally must be purchased and it is great if you can do good when you buy good.

Pure Citizen offers 30-90% off daily on products from companies trying to make better products.  You can also choose to donate money to a non-profit (by reducing your discount) with your purchase.

I love that with each daily email I learn about a new company or a new product that might help our planet a little.

Today's offer is Eclipse.  A product I found brilliant for making (super cute) cleaning tools from recycled bottles.

What great companies/products/ideas have you heard of lately?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Recipe :: Summer Dinner

This is what summer dinner recipes look like for us:

In season local veggies + grain/legume/both + extra protein source (tofu, tempeh, seitan) if we have it + seasoning = YUM!

I switch it up with how we cook the veggies.  We prefer roasting (coat with olive oil and salt, 450 for 20 minutes) or a light saute.  You could also steam or grill.  What else?

Here's what went into this dish:
Peppers (red, orange, yellow)
Acorn squash
Butter beans
Wild rice
Salt and Pepper

What do summer meals look like for you?  What's your favorite

Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What To Ponder Before Purchasing

There have been a lot of bigger than usual purchases taking place or being considered in our household lately. We have tried to make each one in a very thoughtful way, seeking to minimize our impact on the planet with our purchases.  I think it's worth noting though, that we did not necessarily run out and buy organic/recycled/sustainable/whatever-other-greenwashing-terms each time.  These are some things we considered with each purchase and some examples.

1. What can we reuse around here?  I shop around first and try to use innovative economy to come up with creative solutions for reusing our things.  I was able to do this with the frames in the robot room.

2. Can we make it/fix it?  Let me clarify, we are not handy people.  So our ability to make things and fix things is limited.  But when we can do it, like with our clothesline, it saves us from most any purchasing.  We were also able to do our best on the floors, saving us thousands.

3. Can we hire someone locally to make/fix it?  When we cannot do the work ourselves (which is often), we look to hiring local people to help us.  This supports our local economy and cuts down on travel, production, and often manufacturing impact.  We were able to find someone local to make the loft bed in Tucker's room.  We took the check together to Mr. Harry and the result of doing good by keeping the money in our neighborhood was tangible to all of us.

4. Can we get it second-hand?  I always look to second hand early in the shopping process.  If I can find something second-hand locally, that is a new-to-me product with virtually no impact on the planet.

5. Is there an affordable "green" alternative for purchase (first locally and then by order)?  I love doing the very best for the planet, but I am not made of money.  And unfortunately, many of the green options out there still require quite a bit of it.  Luckily, when I ask questions 1-4 first, this one often isn't a concern.  Sometimes I get to this point and I have to really look at where I can best spend my money.  For Tucker's mattress, we went "green" because second hand wasn't an option.

6. What are the special considerations for our home and what will last the longest?  When buying each product we really consider, how long will this last.  That often goes into how much we are willing to pay and the product's long-term impact on the planet.  With the rug in Tucker's room, I could not find a second-hand, local, or green alternative we could afford.  I also knew that we needed a certain type of rug, or the dog would destroy it within days.  So I purchased an affordable, but not green rug.  There is certainly a trade-off.  The rug smells like the chemicals it was created with, but it will not need to be replaced for quite some time and suits our needs quite well.

There isn't one cut and dry answer for every purchase.  But as we train our minds to take into account the whole picture for our health, our pocketbooks, our communities, and the planet, we will start to make better purchasing decisions.

What are the things you ponder before purchasing?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Boys' Room Makeovers :: The Reveal

Wall Color: Olympic no VOC paint from Lowe's in Serenity
Bedding: Target
Artwork: MRC and my mom (the trees)


Wall Color: Olympic no VOC paint from Lowe's in Secret Passage
Bedding: Dwell from Target and Organic Cotton sheets
Floor border: Valspar low VOC paint from Lowe's in Soul Chocolate
Mattress: Pure Eco from My Green Mattress
Loft Bed: Harry's Real Wood Furniture with no VOC stain (in Ebony) from Bioshield.
Artwork: Tucker

Everett's room will sooner or later (probably sooner if he has his way) have the carpet removed and the same brown border and rug as Tucker's.

Questions? Have you been doing any redecorating/renovation lately? How have you kept it green?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Boys' Rooms Makeover :: The Prep

One of our bigger projects this Spring was to "redo" each of the boys rooms.  We hadn't done much to them when they moved in and after 4 years of the kind of abuse only little boys can inflict, they needed some help.

Originally I had planned on painting the woodsy room blue (keeping the outdoor/camping theme) and the other room grey and using a nautical theme.  But when my oldest heard that a room was going to be grey, he instantly called dibs and renamed it, "the robot room."

No VOC paint was a must.  This paint is becoming more widely available and affordable all the time, so for us there was no question.  As I researched which no VOC paint to choose, I found vast price differences and availability.  By all accounts on the web, Benjiman Moore no VOC is the best on the market.  But at $50 per gallon plus shipping, I had to find a better alternative for our rooms.  Enter Olympic no VOC from Lowe's.  I love this paint because:

a. It is widely available at any Lowe's and comes in all the colors of the regular Olympic brand.
b. The cost was a mere $15 per gallon!

While at Lowe's I loaded up on a surprising variety of "green" painting products.  I picked up:

Biotray-a reusable, biodegradable paint tray made of 100% post consumer recycled pulp fiber that biodegrades in 6 months (compared to the typical 500 years for plastic).
Whizz paintbrushes-made with recycled materials and a bamboo handle.
With our earth-friendly products and paints in hand we were ready to get started.  Stay tuned for the reveal!

Have you been green-tackling any paint jobs lately?  Any great product finds?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Do-Good Garage Sale

On Mondays I usually post my garage sale finds. This weekend found me on the other side of the table for a great cause. A group of friends and I hosted a multi-family garage sale in May and again this weekend to raise money for a water purification system for Clean Water for the World.

The sales were a huge success on so many levels. We were able to find good homes for unwanted items, donate a lot to the Salvation Army at the end of the sale, and (between the 2 sales) raise over $800 for Clean Water for the World!

What do you do with unwanted items? What causes are you working passionately for right now?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Farmer's Market Report :: July 15, 2011

It isn't that I haven't been going to the Farmer's Market the past few weeks. We've been every week, enjoying the easy, nutritious food that supports our health and the local farmers. But between broken computers and crazy schedules, the posting has lapsed...until now.

And what a week it was, from the berries (blue and rasp) that will be eaten by handfuls and thrown in morning oatmeal...
 ...cherries for the perfect snack... the zucchini, corn, and summer squash, and peppers that will make up our dinners...
...and finally the piece de resistance: the cantalope that Tucker has been requesting daily.

What did you find at the farmer's market this week? How are you using your finds?
Linking to: Farmer's Market Report at Green Phone Booth

Friday, July 15, 2011

On My Mind :: Precarious Tree

We had some fierce storms blow through here Monday. Given all our trees, I am surprised we didn't have more damage or even lose power. The one exception is this fella, tipping towards our house in precarious balance and potential disaster waiting to happen at any time. When living with nature you have to take the good with the bad. And call the insurance agency.

What's on your mind this week?
Linking to: Down to Earth