Monday, April 28, 2008

Hooray for Target!

I don't shop at W@lMart for a plethora of reasons...but if I needed one more reason to choose Target, they've handed it to me. They now carry several lines of natural health and beauty products, like Alba, J/A/S/O/N, Weleda, and Kiss My Face.

If you've got to shop a big box chain, make it Target.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Story of Stuff

Set aside 20 minutes, and watch this video.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Poor Man's Irrigation

1. Drill holes in plastic milk jugs

2. Bury in flower/plant beds

3. Fill with water and cap.

The water will soak into the soil, directly at root level as needed. You can refill the jugs with gray water or water from a rain barrel.


Composting Workshop

Michael, MJ, and I went to a composting workshop at Harry's (a local farmers market purchased by Whole Foods) last night. While Michael said it was the most boring thing he's ever had to sit through, I thought it was really interesting. My composting efforts have been off to a very slow start...hopefully I can get things moving.

The speakers were a lady from UGA Co-op and Farmer D. Both had a vast knowledge and good advice. Here are some key points:

- I've decided to go with the chicken wire hoop method. Not attractive, but effective. You don't have to turn it if you...

-Use a drainage pipe with holes standing upright in the middle of your pile to keep air moving. Genius, and only about $5 at Home Depot.

-Keep it at 2 parts brown (dead leaves, etc) to 1 part green (produce scraps). The best pile has alternating layers (water between layers when building)

-Toss produce scraps in the blender first for faster compost. Leaves (esp. oak like ours) must be shredded.

-Don't compost pine mulch or put it around your flowers/trees. It needs to dry out for a year first. It has a high resin content and is acidic. Bummer...after the tornado a couple months ago, there are heaps of pine mulch everywhere around here!

Farmer D is a biodynamic farmer...fascinating stuff. If you live in Georgia, the UGA Cooperative Extension is available for free expert advice and services like soil testing at a nominal fee.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Babies R Us to go BPA Free

Toys R Us and Babies R Us announced plans to clear their shelves of all feeding products containing BPA by the end of 2008.

Washington Post Article.

Happy Earth Day

Let today be the kick in the pants you need to make the change you've been contemplating!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Let's Talk About BPA

[I've had this post in my back pocket for a while, but recent press made me decide to post it now!]

When I was pregnant, there was a lot of buzz circulating about a chemical called BPA (bisphenol A), which is found in many plastics, including baby bottles. When I read up on the stuff, I was immediately concerned. I emailed all my pregnant friends and marched myself right up to BRU to return the bottles I had registered for...they were guilty of containing BPA. I also decided that I would try diligently to limit the contact our food has with plastics. The main concern with BPA is that it can leach into food and drink, especially when heated. That's's found in water bottles, food storage containers, and the lining of cans (including formula cans!). Until recently, the FDA considered BPA safe. In the last week or so, some articles have come out that indicate that our government may finally be making some changes regarding the toxin. Today, Canada officially banned BPA in baby bottles (yay, Canada!).

Here's some reading for you:

Canada Bans BPA in Baby Bottles
April 15: BPA May Be Harmful (Didn't we already know that?)
August 2007: Baby Bargains Book Withdraws Recommendations
March 2007: Harmful BPA in Canned Goods

My Personal Recs:

Pyrex Glassware
Container Store Refrigerator Dishes
Sigg Water Bottles
Thermos Foogo Sippy Cup
Evenflow glass baby bottles

There are BPA-free plastics out there. You can pretty much tell the difference by looking at and touching them. BPA plastics tend to be very clear and brittle. BPA free ones are translucent and softer (the kind that turns pink if you wash it in the diswasher with spaghetti sauce :)). It's not a steadfast rule, but it works pretty well. Honestly, I'm just trying to get rid of plastics in the kitchen all together.

I think this issue should remind us all to be educated consumers. I made the choice to eliminate BPA in my kitchen over a year ago. The issue is just now getting some widespread attention...scary, huh?

Green Pets

Insead of picking up dog poop with a plastic grocery bag, try BioBags, made from cornstarch. They work just like plastic bags, but they are biodegradable, just like the poop.

For cat people, I can't recommend Feline Pine Clumping Litter strongly enough. I switched to this a while ago to be more eco-friendly, but it actually works better than any litter I've ever tried! The litter itself has no perfumy or ammonia smell, and it has no smell when used...I swear! I can't believe I ever used anything else. The best perk is that my cat Bogey loves it! Since he got sick a few years ago, Bogey has had some potty issues, frequently not using his box. We tried EVERYTHING: Super expensive fancy litter, training aids, even Prozac. I switched to Feline Pine, and not one "accident!" Where has this stuff been all my life?

An added bonus: BioBags and Feline Pine can be composted! I used to use plastic bags for walking the dog and scooping the cat box...not anymore. (Obviously, do not use in compost that will be used for growing food.)

Go Green When You Clean III

Chapter 3: Vinegar, the Wonder Cleaner

Why expose your family to all the toxins in most household cleaners when some plain old vinegar will do the trick? If you have white vinegar (and possibly some other basic pantry items, like baking soda), you can tackle most jobs.

To shine chrome sink fixtures
that have a lime buildup, use a paste made of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar.

Make your own scouring cleanser by combining 1/4 cup baking soda with 1 tablespoon liquid detergent. Add just enough white distilled vinegar to give it a thick but creamy texture.

Clean counter tops and make them smell sweet again with a cloth soaked in undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Clean and deodorize a drain by pouring in 1 cup baking soda, then one cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let this sit for 5 minutes or so then run hot water down the drain.

Deodorize the garbage disposal by pouring in 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes then run hot water down the disposal.

Deodorize and clean the garbage disposal with white distilled vinegar ice cubes. Make them by freezing full-strength white distilled vinegar in an ice cube tray. Run several cubes down the disposal while flushing with cold water.

Clean the microwave by mixing 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl. Bring it to a rolling boil inside the microwave. Baked-on food will be loosened, and odors will disappear. Wipe clean.

Clean the shelves and walls of the refrigerator with a half-and-half solution of water and white distilled vinegar.

Cut the grime on the top of the refrigerator with a paper towel or cloth and full-strength white distilled vinegar.

Avoid the bad smell when you heat up a newly cleaned oven by using a sponge soaked in diluted white distilled vinegar for the final rinse.

To clean a grease splattered oven door window, saturate it with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Keep the door open for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping with a sponge.

Remove soap buildup and odors from the dishwasher by pouring a cup of white distilled vinegar inside the empty machine and running it through a whole cycle. Do monthly.

To prevent good glassware from getting etched by minerals, wash then spray with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Give the glasses a hot water rinse before letting them dry or drying them with a towel.

For cloudy glassware, soak paper towels or a cloth in full-strength white distilled vinegar and wrap around the inside and outside of the glass. Let sit awhile before rinsing clean.

Get rid of lime deposits in a tea kettle by adding 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to the water and letting it sit overnight. If more drastic action is needed, boil full-strength white distilled vinegar in the kettle a few minutes, let cool and rinse with plain water.

Remove mineral deposits from coffee makers with white distilled vinegar. Fill the water reservoir with 1 cup or more of white distilled vinegar and run it through a whole cycle. Run it once or twice more with plain water to rinse clean. (Check the owners’ manual first.)

Remove stains from coffee and teacups by scrubbing them gently with equal parts of salt (or baking soda) and white distilled vinegar. Rinse clean.

For stained and smelly plastic food containers, wipe them with a cloth dampened with white distilled vinegar.

Remove odors from a lunch box by placing inside a slice of bread that has been soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave overnight.

Remove ugly film in narrow-necked glass jars, flower vases, and bottles by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar sit in them for a few hours. Add a little rice or sand and shake vigorously to loosen stubborn stains. Repeat if necessary.

To clean tarnished brass, copper, and pewter, use a paste with equal amounts of white distilled vinegar and table salt.

Make a metal cleanser by adding enough white distilled vinegar to 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar to make a paste. Rub it on and let it dry on the surface. Wash it off and dry with a soft cloth.

Polish brass and copper with a mixture of 2 tablespoons of ketchup and 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar. Rub it on with a clean cloth until dry and shiny.

Remove dark stains on an aluminum pot by boiling a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 cup hot water.

Discourage ants by spraying undiluted white distilled vinegar outside doorways and windowsills, around appliances and wherever you find the pests coming in.

Get rid of fruit flies by setting out a small dish of undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Clean the wheel of a can opener using white distilled vinegar and an old toothbrush.

Remove the smell of spoiled food from a refrigerator by first rinsing the area with soap and water. Spray surfaces with full-strength white distilled vinegar and wipe them down with a damp cloth or sponge. Fill some containers with baking soda and place inside. Close the door and leave for a few days.

Wipe grease off exhaust fan grids, the inside of your oven, or anywhere grease gathers with a sponge soaked in white distilled vinegar.

To make cleaning the grill easier, spray a solution of half water and half white distilled vinegar on the cooking surface.

To remove a label, decal, or price tag, cover with a cloth soaked in white distilled vinegar. Leave the cloth on overnight and the label should slide off.

Renew sponges and dishrags by placing them in just enough water to cover them. Then add 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Let them soak overnight.

Get rid of calcium deposits on faucets by soaking a cloth or paper towel in white distilled vinegar and wrapping the area tightly. Let this sit for a couple of hours or overnight.

Remove soap buildup from faucets by scrubbing them with a solution of 1 part salt to 4 parts white distilled vinegar.

Rid a faucet of lime deposits by tying a plastic bag containing 1/2 to 1/3 cup of white distilled vinegar around it and leaving it there for two or three hours. If mineral deposits don’t wipe off, scrubbing with an old toothbrush should complete the job.

Shine colored porcelain sinks by scouring them with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Rinse away soapy film on countertops with a solution of white distilled vinegar and water.

Clean grout by letting full-strength white distilled vinegar sit on it for a few minutes and scrubbing it with an old toothbrush.

Kill germs all around the bathroom with a spray of full-strength white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp cloth.

To remove grime, mildew, and scum from the tub, tile, shower curtain or door, wipe with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Rinse with water.

Spray shower doors with full-strength white distilled vinegar after you’ve squeegeed the glass, or before you step in and turn on the water. It will help release the hard water deposits so they don’t remain on the glass.

Mix up an inexpensive tile cleaner by adding 1/2 cup baking soda, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 1 cup ammonia to a gallon of warm water.

Get rid of stubborn bathtub film by wiping it with white distilled vinegar and then scouring with baking soda.

Soak a sponge or loofah overnight in a strong white distilled vinegar and water solution to remove dirt and slime. Rinse several times with cold water and let air dry (in the sun if possible).

Clean shower door tracks by filling them with white distilled vinegar and letting it sit for a few hours. Pour hot water into the tracks and wash and scrub away the scum with a toothbrush.

To clean a scummy showerhead, pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup white distilled vinegar into a sandwich bag and tie it around the showerhead. Let this set for an hour after the bubbling has stopped. Remove the bag and then turn on the water.

Deodorize the toilet bowl by allowing 3 cups white distilled vinegar to sit in it for about a half hour before flushing.

To make the toilet bowl sparkle, pour in a cup or more of diluted white distilled vinegar and let it sit several hours or overnight. Scrub well with the toilet brush and flush.

Freshen air in the bathroom by spraying into the air a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar, and 1 cup water.

Get a shining finish on a no-wax vinyl or linoleum floor by cleaning it with a solution of one cup white distilled vinegar for every gallon of water.

Apply full-strength white distilled vinegar directly to tough linoleum stains. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes before wiping it up. If that doesn’t work, apply white distilled vinegar again and then sprinkle some baking soda over the white distilled vinegar. Scrub the area with a brush or sponge. Rinse clean with water.

For an economical and environmentally friendly floor cleaner, mix a solution of 3 drops dishwashing liquid to 1/3 part white distilled vinegar, 1/3 part alcohol, and 1/3 part water. Spray sparingly and mop for a fast clean-up.

Some carpet stains can be removed with a paste of 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar and 1/4 cup salt or baking soda. Rub into the carpet stain and let dry. Vacuum up the residue the next day. (Always test on an out-of-sight part of the carpet first).

Bring out the color in carpet by brushing it with a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar for every gallon of water. (Always test on an out-of-sight part of the carpet beforehand).

To reduce soap bubbles in a steam cleaner add about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar. Use the same amount in the rinse water to remove detergent residue and make carpets stay fresh longer.

Wash indoor/outdoor carpet with a solution of 1 cup white distilled vinegar in 1 bucket of warm water. Scrub using a brush or a broom and then hose off.

Clean up pet accidents by first blotting up the area and then adding a white distilled vinegar-and-water solution. Blot until it is almost dry. Then sprinkle baking soda over the area and let it dry. Vacuum up the residue the next day.

Create your own window cleaning solution by combining 1/2 cup non-sudsy ammonia, 1 cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 tablespoons cornstarch in a gallon of water.

Remove the wax residue left by commercial window cleaners with a solution of 2 cups water, 1 cup white distilled vinegar and 1 teaspoon of liquid soap or detergent.

To remove paint from windows try using undiluted, hot white distilled vinegar. Give the solution time to soften the paint before removing with a razor edge tool.

To remove paint splatters from windows apply full-strength white distilled vinegar with a clean paintbrush.

Get rid of mildew, dust, and stale odors by wiping down walls with undiluted white distilled vinegar on a cloth or a sponge mop.

Clean woodwork and walls with a mixture of 1 cup white distilled vinegar, 1 cup baking soda, 1/2 cup ammonia and 1 gallon warm water. Wipe on with a sponge or damp—not wet—towel.

Clean wood paneling with a solution of 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 cups warm water. Wipe on with a soft cloth.

Remove wallpaper easily by using a paint roller to wet the surface very thoroughly with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and hot water. Or spray on until saturated.

Get decals off walls or doors by letting undiluted white distilled vinegar soak into them for several minutes before trying to peel them off. Repeat if necessary.

Remove white water rings from wood with a solution of equal parts white distilled vinegar and vegetable oil. Rub with the grain.

Remove fireplace soot and grime with undiluted white distilled vinegar. Use a brush to scrub and a towel to blot up the wetness and dirt.

Clean fireplace glass doors with a solution of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 2 parts water. Spray or wipe on, then wipe clean with a dry cloth.

To kill germs, spray full-strength white distilled vinegar on doorknobs and then wipe them dry.

Remove the smell of a dead mouse or other rodent (after removing all animal remnants) by wiping down the area with either white distilled vinegar or bleach. Then place a fabric softener sheet in the area to remove any lingering odors.

Never use white distilled vinegar on marble. The acid can damage the surface.

Before painting old concrete, clean with full-strength white distilled vinegar. Let it air dry.

Clean hardened paint brushes by simmering them in a pot with white distilled vinegar. Soak them first for an hour before bringing the white distilled vinegar to a simmer. Drain and rinse clean.

Remove mud and stains from plastic, fiberglass, or aluminum sports equipment by applying a paste of 1 part white distilled vinegar to 3 parts baking soda. Wipe off with soapy water and rinse with clear water.

Clean your grill by spritzing white distilled vinegar over wadded up aluminum foil and scrubbing the grill vigorously with it.

To remove film in glass baby bottles, fill with equal parts hot water and white distilled vinegar. Let sit for at least an hour. Scrub with a bottle brush.

To clean and disinfect baby toys add a good-sized splash of white distilled vinegar to soapy water.

Clean vinyl baby books or board books by wiping with white distilled vinegar. Wipe clean with a damp sponge or cloth.

Clean scissors that have become sticky (after cutting tape, for instance) with a cloth dipped in undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Clean and deodorize urine on a mattress with a white distilled vinegar and water solution. Then sprinkle the area with baking soda and let dry. Brush or vacuum the residue after it is dry to the touch.

From www.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

You're not in the wrong place...

I've done some sprucing up...Hope you like it!

Now do your part...please leave comments! They're what keep me excited about posting :)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Three "R"s

If you're a member of my generation, you heard about the three "R"s in school every April. It's the one time a year science teachers taught eco-friendly practices, thanks to the celebration of Earth Day on the 22nd. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

I'd encourage you to take a moment and think about 3Rs, and what each one means. And more importantly, appreciate them in that order. We ought to Reduce first, Reuse second, and Recycle last. Take for example, bottled water. The most eco-friendly option is to Reduce: fill a glass pitcher, or buy a water bottle (my favorites are Sigg and KleenKanteen, but more on that later). The next best bet, Reuse: If you must by a bottle of water, fill it up again, or use it for another purpose. The last choice should be Recycling. Yes, it's better than tossing the bottle in the trash, but it's still waste.

Let me suggest a 4th R...Replace. No one (unless you have unlimited cash) can be expected to go green in a day. I did not walk around my house one afternoon and bag up all toxic cleaners, paper towels, plastic storage containers, etc. What I am doing is replacing. As I run out of an item (or it breaks, etc), I make an effort to replace it with something more eco-friendly. Just used the last paper towel? Buy rags instead. Out of bleach-based toilet bowl cleaner? Try vinegar and baking soda or a more natural product. No more dryer sheets? Get some dryer balls.

Take a look at your shopping list...anything you can replace?

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Super Slacker Momma

Things have been crazy in my house. I apologize that the blog has slowed down a bit...I promise lots of good stuff soon! Hope everyone had a good weekend!

[I'm playing around with a new look for the blog, so things may be out of whack for a day or so.]

Now That You've Got the Hang of Shopping Bags

Thanks, BlueWalrus, for finding these awesome reusable produce bags. I've been wondering about the predicament, and can't believe I didn't think to turn to Etsy for the answer. I've already ordered them!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Shower with a Friend

Less water, more fun.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Here's Why...

you should "Go Green When you Clean." Check out this article.

Go Green When You Clean II

Chapter II: Disinfecting Cleaning Wipes

Inspired by the fabulous ladies on thenestbaby eco-friendly board, I made some all purpose reusable cleaning wipes. I layered the cloth wipes, folding one over the other so they pop up. I put them in an old wipes box and covered them with this cleaning solution:

2c hot water
1c white vinegar
1T dishsoap
10 drops of tea tree oil
Essential oil (I used lavender, it's my favorite) for fragrance.

Tea tree oil is anti bacterial and anti fungal, so they disinfect as they clean.

For the wipes, I highly recommend these, from Soft and Scrubby on Etsy. I bought them for diapering, and they are fantastic! The "scrubby" side also makes them great for cleaning. The seller is fantastic to work with and even made me a custom order.

I've never really been a wipes person (more of a spray bottle and rag person), but I think I'll keep a box in the bathroom for wiping down countertops, and one in the kitchen for the highchair!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Light the Way

Aveda's Organic Lavender Candle

Eco-conscious cosmetics giant Aveda is tying the sales of its Earth Day-inspired "Light the Way" organic Bulgarian lavender soy candle to a truly illuminating cause: clean water for all global citizens. Inspired by the almost unfathomable fact that 6,000 people die per day from drinking water contaminated by pesticides and other toxins, Aveda has partnered with the Global Greengrants Fund to ensure that proceeds from their Earth Month efforts go toward innovative water-related projects around the world (including, in full-circle fashion, Bulgaria). Not in the mood to jump on the whole commerce-for-change bandwagon? Simply text the phrase "clean water" to #30644 and Aveda will help tally and present the results to the U.N. to bolster support for its ongoing efforts to safeguard the increasingly endangered 70 percent of the earth's surface.

Click here to buy the candle.

Green Energy

Most steps to "going green" will save you money. Some will cost you. I've only given money saving tips so far, so now I'm going to suggest you spend a bit. Find out if your power company has any green energy sources. For example, I can pay $4.95 for a 100 kilowatt block of wind, solar or geothermal energy. Of course, that doesn't mean my house is being powered by a windmill, but it does mean that I've subsidized some cost of green energy in the grid. The Georgia Power website has some interesting info.

Surely you've saved $5 this month by not using paper towels, right? Right? ;)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

This fantastic website gives links to local groups for FreeCycling, or trading. I have given away an old fridge, an area rug, a kid's bike, some maternity clothes, and a golf bag. I've gotten a trash can for my composting, a patio set, and a flowering anise shrub. The only catch is that you have to offer something before taking something, and you must pick up your treasures.

This is so cool! A box of maternity clothes handed down to me is now going to a teen mom who can't afford any. My nasty old fridge is going to house produce and medicine for a parrot rescue organization. The alternative was paying $40 bucks for the city to pick it up and put it in a junkyard. Great, right?

So clean out your garages, basements and closets...and FreeCycle!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Adventures in Composting

I just ordered this kitchen crock to keep scraps until I can get them in the bin. I will be a lot easier to have a place to toss them while I'm cooking!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Don't Toss the Z1pLoc

Two posts today because I forgot yesterday...and these go hand in hand.

One thing I haven't been able to give up is my freezer bags. There's just not a substitute that works as well. I'm not okay with freezer burn. Instead of tossing them in the trash, I turn them inside out and wash in the top rack of my dishwasher. You have to make sure they're standing upside down on the little pegs and won't tip over, or they'll fill with grimy water. If you buy the high quality bags- freezer, not storage- they'll last through several washings.

Buy In Bulk and Get Friendly with the Freezer

Buying in bulk reduces the amount of packaging that ends up in your trash. I've noticed it most with meats...those little styrofoam trays add up. I try to buy things like chicken breasts and ground beef in large packages, then divide into portions (1 lb, 2 breasts, etc) and freeze. I also try to steer clear of the pre-prepped produce. I can shuck my own corn and save about $2 and a bunch of packaging. Same thing goes for the chopped onions, peppers, etc. It's convenient, but you pay such a premium and end up with a plastic container. Instead, spend 30 minutes when you get home from the market and chop your veggies. Again, freeze in quantities you will use. You weren't going to use that whole tub of chopped onions before they went bad they're frozen at the peak of freshness. Speaking of things going to waste, think of everything you buy that goes bad before you finish it, leading you to toss one container and buy another. For me, it was hamburger buns and chicken broth. Now I freeze the buns in a gallon-size bag so I can pull them out two at a time. Chicken broth: Freeze 1/2 portions in a muffin tin (I have a silicone one), pop them out, and toss in a bag.

See, I've saved you money and time with this eco-tip! :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Go Green When You Clean I

Chapter I: Harness the Bleaching Power of the Sun

There's more than one reason your grandma line dries her clothes. Sure, the laundry turns out crisp and smells like a spring breeze, but did you know the sun will whiten your whites?

Remember those kitchen cloths? Over time, they get dingy. I hated the thought of bleaching them every time I washed them. 1) It's harsh on the Earth 2) It's harsh on the cloths. So every few washes, I've taken the wet rags outside and dried them on the deck. In a few hours, they're crisp and white...almost like new. Try it!

(Oh, and this tip is a twofer...of course, line drying uses less energy than the dryer. ;))