Thursday, April 19, 2012


I'd like to consider myself a free-spirit.  I don't like to conform or to follow blindly, and I hate being told what to do.  However, I wouldn't consider myself a leader either.  Being responsible for raising 3 human beings and shaping who they'll ultimately become in their future selves scares the heeby-jeebies out of me.  Sure, I'll take the initiative to plan and organize things, but once someone puts that responsibility on my shoulders, I freeze.....except when it comes to this environmental thing.

I love being able to lead people in the right direction when it comes to being green.  I love when people ask me how they can be a little more eco-friendly and I can give them baby steps.   I will jump at any opportunity to tell people what they can do to be kinder to the environment (tactfully, of course).  Some people don't want to be bothered with it, and I get that, so I leave them alone and instead brainwash their kids to pester them at home.  Kidding, of course.  Sort of.

Most of all I love to lead by example.  By no means do I lead a strictly eco-friendly lifestyle.  Even this hardcore environmentalist can see the value of convenience every once in a while.  I think it's funny when my friends have me over and apologize for using disposable plates.  At least they are conscious of it and maybe feel a little bit guilty.  And maybe next time they'll think twice about it.  Maybe not, but that's okay, too.

If I can change the mind or action of just one person, I've done my job.  If I can get someone to question whether or not convenience is better than living a little more sustainably, then I haven't wasted my time.  If I can convince even the most conservative person that acting a little more responsibly and selflessly can affect our planet now and for future generations, then I feel like I need to continue to spread the word.

So for this Earth Day, check out some of my past eco-tips and take a baby step towards protecting our planet.  Thank you for reading and trying to be a little greener.  Check out your local Earth Day festival and learn some more.

Happy Earth Day!!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lessons from the Lorax

This past weekend, the movie "The Lorax" based on the Dr. Seuss book was released.  I took my children to go see it and they loved it.  Lou Dobbs recently was claiming that the movie was trying to indoctrinate children into believing the liberal agenda of environmentalism.  As I've blogged about before, I'm not sure why protecting the environment should be a political issue.

The planet belongs to everyone, regardless of your political affiliation, so why wouldn't you want to keep it as beautiful as possible.  Whether or not you buy into the global warming/climate change debate, this should be something everyone should be vested in.  Natural resources, such as trees, are limited, so let's use them less and protect them more.

"If you put it in a plastic bottle, people will buy ANYthing!", touted one of the characters in the movie.  In this case, they were talking about selling bottled air since the air had become so polluted without the trees (that had been all chopped down many years ago) to provide oxygen and clean air.  This could also be said about how we've bought into the bottled water craze.  Some companies have become a little more eco-conscious and started making the bottles with less plastic or with plant based components, but it still ends up as trash in the landfill, or worse, in the ocean.

So indoctrinating your kids into caring about what kind of Earth is left for future generations isn't really a bad thing.  Remember some of the lessons we grew up with?

Give a hoot, don't pollute:
This little slogan began in the 1970s, teaching kids to not litter and to clean up their environment.
This land is your land, this land is my land:
This song didn't really have to do with the environment but did talk about the beauty of the United States of America.  I've always interpreted it to mean "Take care of our land" but that's just my hippy state of mind fitting it to what I believe.  :)

And my favorite, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:  
I remember this mantra from my youth which was first coined in the first Earth Day back in 1970.  Most recently, Jack Johnson made a song with the same name which was featured in the movie "Curious George".  It's a catchy tune, sure to get your kids singing and hopefully living it.

Here is a link to the Lorax website that gives kids (and their adults) tips on how to be green.  Print out the list (on recycled or the back of used paper) and put it up so you can be reminded daily on little things you can do to make a positive impact.

We could learn a few things from the wise Dr. Seuss.  :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Plastic-free New Year

Happy New Year!  This year I am looking forward to learning new things about how to live green and sharing these tips with you all.  The good news is, you learn something new every day.  The bad news is, you learn something new every day.

Unfortunately for me, once I learn something about the environment it's extremely difficult to get it out of my head.  This can be a blessing and a curse.  The latest example is that now I have learned more about plastics than I ever cared to know, and now I must incorporate that into my everyday life.  This article breaks down all the numbers in the magic triangles according to their recyclability and what these plastics are made from. Most importantly, though, it tells you that most of it is bad for your health.

Here's the breakdown of it all:

  • 1 is safe unless exposed to heat and then it releases toxins
  • 2, 4, and 5 are safe
  • 3 and 6 are NOT safe
  • 7 is safe as long as it's BPA-free.  

It says the plastic containers should be tossed if:

  • They're old
  • Have been exposed to heat (like the dishwasher or microwave)
  • Have been cleaned with harsh detergents
  • Are scratched or worn

If you have plastic containers:

  • DON'T use in microwave (even if labeled microwave-safe)
  • DON'T use to store foods that are hot, oily, fatty or acidic
  • DON'T reuse the take-out or disposable containers since they are only meant for ONE-time use
  • DON'T wash in dishwasher, and wash by hand instead

So, I went through my cupboards and got rid of it all.  Including many of my water bottles.  It goes against everything I've been taught in the eco-world to toss things, but as long as I'm putting them in recycling it's staying out of the landfill.

From now on, we'll use stainless steel water bottles.  I particularly like the Thermos brand stainless steel for kids lunches since they are shorter and wider and much easier to clean.  For leftovers I'll use glass or ceramic containers and will use any BPA-free plastic containers to store dried goods like Goldfish crackers or cookies.

Whatever I can do to keep the kids away from toxins or carcinogens and at the same time keep our environment a little greener, I'm all for it.  I toyed with the idea of going completely plastic-free but it's close to impossible in this society.  Packaging alone contains so much plastic that I wouldn't be able to buy practically anything from the grocery store, toy store, or even clothing store.

I'll start with baby steps, in the kitchen first and see where that takes me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cloth Diapering: Part Two

It has now been about 8 weeks since I've started cloth diapering and I'd like to tell you what I've learned, what have been the advantages and disadvantages, and my take on the whole thing.

What you need:
As I said in my previous post, cloth diapering isn't as difficult or as daunting as it seems. The diaper option I've chosen is the cloth diapers that pretty much look like regular disposable diapers. They're called "All in Two's" and I've tried two different brands: Bum Genius and Tiny Tush. They consist of a cloth diaper with snaps to adjust to the girth and length of your baby, and have a microfiber insert that you take out when you're ready to wash them.

Cleaning them requires a diaper sprayer so you can spray the poop off the diaper before you throw it in the wash. They say you can throw them directly in the wash if you're only breastfeeding, but I think that's pretty darn nasty so I rinse them out first. I bought 18 (at a deal of buy 5 get one free) and have had to do laundry every 3 days or so. I've thrown other things in the wash with them in order to make it a full load (things such as shower curtains or bath rugs) to be a little more energy efficient. I hang them up to dry so I save even more energy in the process.

What works:
You have to have a system, from what I've learned, in cleaning the darn things. I unsnap them completely before I take them off for a changing, and separate the microfiber inserts from the diaper. I have 2 wet bags (which are lined cloth bags that contain the odor miraculously),
one large one for the liners and the already rinsed diapers, and a small one for the poopy diapers. I then take the small bag to the bathroom with the diaper sprayer and start cleaning.

What I need to do in order to make it less of a pain to clean is to start rinsing them every day at the end of the day. Otherwise, they just sit in the bags and become a little more difficult to rinse off. Of course, I can't let them sit too long since I'll run out, but even a day in the bag gets crusted up. (I know, nice visual).

Also, after they have been washed I assemble them so they're ready to go when I need them. At night I put two microfiber cloth inserts to make sure they are extra absorbent and have one extra assembled diaper in case I have to change him in the middle of the night. In the beginning of my trial with cloth diapers, I found that I wasn't adjusting the diapers tight enough and had many leaks. It's a learning process but once you get the hang of it it's super easy and convenient.

I have even gotten brave enough to leave the house with cloth diapers in my diaper bag to change while I'm out and about. I did NOT, however, take them with us for our trip during the holidays since I didn't want to do laundry while we were away. Again, it's still less disposable diapers than if I hadn't started cloth diapers at all.

I think I'll buy another wet bag to keep in my diaper bag so I can use less plastic bags. And I might just buy a few more cloth diapers so I can go an extra day without doing laundry.

What didn't work:
I took a stab at the cloth wipes, but found them to be more of a pain in the ass because they're not easy to clean unless you get your hands all over them, so I just eliminated that out of the equation. Less stress makes it more enjoyable and more likely that I'll continue to do this. Yes, I'm creating waste with disposable wipes, but it's much less than what I would have made with disposable diapers.

So there's the good and the bad so far in my cloth diapering journey. I'll write another post once the baby starts solids. Something I'd like to delay as long as possible since I don't want to think about those poops.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Breastfeeding: Nature's Gift

Hello again!

I apologize for being MIA since having my baby, but life got crazier than I had anticipated adding a third child to the mix.  I plan to post more often, but probably won't promise more than once a month.  Please stay along for the ride, as I hope to add more interesting and helpful ways to live green.

This week, I'd like to talk about breastfeeding.  I know there is a mommy battle out there about formula vs breastfeeding, and that not everyone is able or willing to nurse.  I'd just like to give you a little more insight on why it works for me, and why it's a little greener.

1.  It's free!!  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is such a thing as a free lunch, at least for your baby.  As long as you keep hydrated and eat right, you can provide your infant with enough nutrients to thrive without spending a dime.  Compared to formula that can cost quite a bit over the long haul, you can't beat the value!

2.  It's convenient:  No bottles to prepare and heat up, like in the middle of the night when you don't feel like doing anything but sleep.  All you have to do is find a discreet place to nurse.  So easy!  This is especially great when traveling or out of the house running errands.

3.  Bonding:  I know you can bond with a child by bottle feeding, even if you've adopted a child, but there's something about being able to provide your child with your milk that is special.  I melt just about every time I look at my child when he's nursing which just makes all the sleepless nights and poopie diapers worth it.

4.  The Best Weight-loss Method:  Did you know that you can burn 500 calories a day by breastfeeding?  I lost all of my baby weight (except 5 lbs) just by nursing?  My baby just turned 2 months, by the way.  If that's not an incentive to breastfeed, not sure what is.

5.  Less smelly poopie diapers:  Poop is poop and, of course, it'll smell a little, but not nearly as bad as formula fed poop.  This is a big plus in my book.

6.  Less pollution, waste, electricity used:  No method of feeding your child is more eco-friendly than breastfeeding.  Nothing was produced in a factory, there's no packages to produce or throw-out/recycle when you're done, and nothing had to be shipped to the store for you to drive to pick up.  Green all around.

7.  Better for baby's health:  The antibodies in breast milk are beneficial in SO many ways.  Packed with essential nutrients and vitamins, it boosts your baby's immunity to diseases, it can help with pink-eye, runny noses, less ear infections, the list goes on and on.  Check out this site for more ways you can use breast milk.

8.  More me-time:  While I'm nursing, I can catch up on my emails, DVR'd shows, and even Words With Friends.  Of course, it doesn't let me do much else except what's available at my fingertips, but at least I get something from that time.

There are, without a doubt, some DISadvantages to breastfeeding:
1.  Sleepless Nights:  The baby won't sleep through the night as soon as a formula fed baby since breast milk is digested quicker, so on average, the breast fed infant will nurse every 2-3 hours for a few months at least.

2.  Sole Provider:  Unless you're pumping the milk to put into bottles, you'll be the only one able to feed the baby, which means you'll be the one up all night.

3.  Engorgement and Mastitis (and other wonderful infections):  These can be painful and hopefully prevented, but sometimes they rear their ugly heads and are a beast to deal with.  

4.  Less Freedom:  You will be tied to a schedule and tied to your baby during this time that you are nursing, unless you can bottle the milk to let someone else feed.  Even then you can't go too long without pumping the milk out or you will run into #3 and be in major pain.

So, looking at this pros and cons list, if you are pregnant and wondering which is the best eco-friendly option for feeding your baby, consider these advantages and disadvantages in making your decision.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Car shopping

Hello, friends!  I need some advice.  I am about to add a third child to our brood and feel that we may have outgrown our current vehicle.  I have a crossover SUV that I love because of the way it drives and also for all of the room we have in the third row and back trunk space.  What I don't love is how many other problems we've had with this car, such as, the windows not rolling down, or the AC turning ON after I turned the car OFF.

So now we are debating to either pay off the car and have no car payments, but still deal with the weird quirkiness about it, OR get a new car that is better quality and will last us at least 5 years.  If we go with the latter, then we have to decide what kind of car to get.  We went car shopping last weekend and the choices are endless.

I'd love to get a hybrid, but wonder if it will have enough room for 3 kids and still be affordable?  Is the third row comfortable enough for a 6 ft tall boy/man (which my son will most likely be in the next 5 years)?  Is it fuel-efficient?  Is it reliable and safe?

We found several cars that are big enough, but are gas-guzzlers and drive like tanks.  We found a few that were fuel-efficient, but not roomy enough in the back.  We found others that are fuel-efficient and have enough room, but are ridiculously expensive.  Then there was the debate of clean-diesel and whether or not that was really the most environmental choice (which, it turns out, is pretty eco-friendly.  Not to be confused with clean-coal).

So, friends, do you have any recommendations for a fuel-efficient, roomy, not outrageously expensive vehicle that's reliable?  (And for now, a mini-van isn't an option.  My vanity won't allow it).  If one exists, I'd love to know which it is so we can get to that dealership ASAP.  The baby is due very soon, and I'd like to get my ducks in a row.  Thanks!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Peaches, corn, and tomatoes, oh my!

I've already divulged my grievances about the CSA, but since I have another couple of months to receive this fresh farm produce, I thought I'd share with you what to do with all of these vegetables.

For the past month or so, I've received countless peaches, at least 15 ears of corn and about as many tomatoes.  And as a favor for watching my neighbors' cats, they stopped at a farm stand to buy me peaches, corn, and tomatoes.  The fruit flies in my house are having a heck of a buffet so I'm trying to come up with ways to use all of this before they turn to mush.  So here's what I've done so far:


  • Salsa:  Good for chips, tacos, burritos, any Mexican dish, and to top fish or chicken.  (This recipe is for Fish Tacos, but the salsa in the recipe can be used for ANYthing).
  • Gazpacho:  This is best eaten fresh, and can last for up to 5 days in the fridge.  It's my favorite summer soup and so refreshing. (This recipe by Alton Brown is so simple to make).
  • Marinara:  Freeze to use for chicken parmesan, lasagna, spaghetti, or any other pasta dish.
  • Bolognese:  This is how I get my daughter to eat zucchini (I shred it into the tomatoes and she never knows it's there).  I also add ground turkey or beef if it's not a meatless night. 


  • Creamed corn
  • Cut the corn off the cob and freeze to eat later
  • Grilled corn on the cob- This recipe says to leave on the husks, but I take them off to get that charring on the outside & it still turns out yummy.
  • Corn Cakes: This recipe is sweeter, or you could add cheese (& delete the honey) which would be great to go on top of chili.
  • Mexican Salad: This is a great summer potluck dish.  It can sit out room temperature and is delicious.  Instead of the balsamic vinaigrette I squeeze 1 lime and toss.  
  • Grill & top with ice cream- Check out this recipe with whipped cream & caramel.
  • Make preserves- Although I haven't tried this yet, it seems extremely simple.
  • Cobbler- I chose Paula Deen's recipe because no one does Southern cooking like she does.  
  • Salsa- Great with pork, fish, or chicken.  Or just on top of rice for a vegetarian dish.
Hopefully, these recipes will help you use up the produce you have on your counter or in your fridge.  This is the season to get the freshest produce for cheap.  And if you're adventurous enough, you can also can these fruits and veggies to last you throughout the year.  Canning, along with composting, is something I'd like to try out sometime in the future, and hopefully by that point it'll come out of my very own garden.  :)

Buon Appetit!!

(PS:  I apologize for my lack of posts.  My excuse is that it's summer, the kids are out of school, and I'm VERY pregnant.  I hope to pick up the frequency of posts by next week, after the kids have gone back to school and I can get my routine back.  Thanks for reading!)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

eco papi: part 2

My last post about my hubbie depicted him to be not so interested in the environmental movement and doing things half-heartedly just so I don't nag him to death about it.  But lately he's surprised me with his enthusiasm to contribute.  And he even told me to post a few things about his efforts.  

So here's what he's been up to lately:
He's a yard guy, and loves to take care of and then show off his green lawn.  Thanks to a treatment he did in the fall, we had a green lawn for most of the fall, winter, spring and summer.  With these extreme temps though, he's been having to tackle the dry spots.  So he mentioned filling up a bucket in our shower (while we're waiting for the water to get hot) and using that bucket to pour on the dry spots.  And he came up with that on his own!!

Also, he reiterated that we need to use the leftover water from water bottles, especially from the big jugs the kids use for soccer camps, and use that to water our plants and mini-garden.  That was a previous eco-tip of mine but I'll give that one to him since he's actually listening to me.

Finally, he repositioned the sprinkler heads in order to get the maximum coverage on our lawn.  That way, we aren't watering the sidewalk or driveway instead of the grass and shrubs that so desperately need it.

I am so proud that he's getting the message.  In comparison to some of my neighbors, our energy bill isn't nearly as high since we're doing things like putting the thermostat to 77-78 during the day and 73 at night, and also by using less water.  My dream is to get solar panels, rain barrels (or even a cistern), and a tankless water heater.  But that won't happen for a while so I'll take what I can get.

Don't get me wrong, there is still a lot that can be done, but as I always say, "Baby Steps".  At least he's headed in the direction.  We still battle over the thermostat in the house (as he likes it MUCH colder than I do), and he still recycles EVERYthing, but he's making progress, and I'm very proud of him for that.  Looks like he's turning out to be a true eco-papi after all.  :)

Here's a link for more tips on eco-friendly lawn care:

Friday, July 22, 2011

CSA: not for me

I just read back on my previous post about trying out the CSA and regret that I have to eat my words now.  1 1/2 months after trying it for the first time, it's lost it's charm on me.  It's still exciting to see what goodies are coming in my basket every week, however, it comes with a little dread that I'll get yet another bag of lettuce that won't get eaten.

I was game for trying the new vegetables, like kale and swiss chard, and was thrilled to find the staples in our diet, like squash, zucchini, and peaches.  But I had my fill of green onions, red lettuce, bib lettuce, and beets.  The beets have been sitting in my fridge for weeks now because I'm not quite sure how to cook them.  I don't even know if they're any good at this point.  And I LOVE beets, just never made them myself.

Washing all of this produce is another pain in the butt and finding little critters in your food wasn't my favorite either.  I was very excited when we started getting cherries in our deliveries until I opened one up and found a worm in it.  Not appetizing at all.  Makes me very leery to shuck corn or dig through the box of mystery vegetables.

On a more positive note, one of the advantages of being a member of a CSA is you get to go to the farm to pick your own fruits and veggies that don't normally come in your weekly box.  But I've been pretty pregnant since the farm opened to members, and have had absolutely no desire to bend down and pick anything off the ground, even if it IS edible.  So the moral of the story is:  I'm not getting my money's worth.  I'd rather go to the farmer's market and pick what I know I'll eat without wasting my money while still supporting my local farms.

There is a terrific movement in Northern Virginia this month that is promoting local farms and their wares at local restaurants.  It's called Farm to Fork and it features participating eateries that will be serving locally produced wine, beef, and produce from July 21-31.  I LOVE this idea and hope that more local restaurants will do this on a regular basis.

So whether it's from your local farm, local farmer's market, or your very own backyard garden, as long as it's local it's good for the earth.  You pick what's best for your lifestyle. I just thought I'd give my two cents with full disclosure.  I guess I should've tried it longer than a week before I started tooting their horn.  Lesson learned.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cloth diapers: easier than I thought

When I thought of cloth diapers, I envisioned having to fold a cloth into a triangle and use safety pins to secure them, then cover it all with rubber pants.  Not to mention hand washing every last one.  Boy has that changed!

I was lucky enough to see my sister-in-law use hers this past weekend and I was surprised at how easy it really is.  As I said in my previous post, I have only used disposable diapers because honestly, I was intimidated by the process of going the cloth route.  There are so many options these days in cloth diapers alone that it can fit anyone's lifestyle.

She uses Bum Genius cloth diapers, and even uses reusable cloth wipes.  I had a million questions for her, such as, what does she do in public, and how often does she wash them, etc.  She made it seem so simple that I felt ridiculous for not using them before!

Hers are adjustable so I would only have to buy about 15-20 and just change the size according to the baby's size as he grows.  It has a washable cover, with a cloth insert that you slide under the flap inside.  She uses a diaper sprayer (attached to her toilet) to spray off any poop that is in the diaper, and then she just throws it into a zippered lined bag.  She waits until she has 3 full bags and then throws it in the wash. She washes a load of diapers twice a week with a newborn.  Doesn't seem bad at all.

She even makes her own laundry detergent for the whole process, so she's truly an eco-mami in so many ways.  As I mentioned, she uses cloth wipes and just sprays either the wipe or the baby's bottom directly.  When she's out in public she carries a smaller zippered bag and puts the whole diaper in there, sometimes using disposable wipes and a disposable insert in the cloth diaper.  It's all very doable and I'm intrigued to see if I am up for the challenge.

She's used cloth diapers for all 3 of her kids and still leads a very active lifestyle.  Cloth diapers aren't just for hippies or homebound parents.  It's also said that cloth-diapered babies tend to potty train earlier since they feel when they're wet.  An added bonus!!

I say why not try it and see how it goes.  I'd rather not throw yet another diaper in the landfill and worry about it never decomposing.  Yes, cloth diapers require energy and water to wash, but I'd rather have that on my head than more waste.  Plus, the cost is so much cheaper when you think of how many disposable diapers I'd have to buy in the span of 2 or 3 years.

I'll post an update once the baby has come and I've tried out this method, but I'm very excited to get started!  Who knew changing diapers would be something I anticipated!

My sister-in-law is a mom extraordinaire and I'm always in awe seeing her parenting skills.  She's happy, calm, and seems to have it all together, while I'm frazzled, impatient, and hoping to make it through the day most of the time.  (Not really, but some days that's how I feel.)  Check out her blog which has some great tips on parenting, not to mention this post about cloth diapering.  Here's to you, Miche!!