Saturday, July 31, 2010


We're half-way through the summer and even with summer camps, the kids are having their "I'm bored" moments. You can make simple crafts that will keep them occupied and entertained, and you don't have to go further than your recycling bin. Of course, some of these things aren't the most eco-friendly to have purchased anyway, but it's better to reuse before recycling to give it one more life.

Examples of what you can reuse:
2 liter bottles
water bottles
take-out containers
single serving fruit cup containers
toilet paper rolls
paper towel rolls
junk mail
tissue paper
paper bags
egg cartons

Get non-toxic paint, glue, pipe cleaners and go to town.

More eco-friendly options for crafts:
Use recycled paper if you don't have scrap paper lying around.
Use crayons made out of beeswax or soy instead of petroleum based.
Or make new things with broken crayon pieces:

Here are a few more websites with ideas on what to do with this stuff:

I hope this helps give you and the kids in your life some fun stuff to do while teaching them how to be green as well. Oh, and don't forget to recycle everything once you're finished. Enjoy the rest of the summer as eco-friendly as you can!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Support local green restaurants/grocery stores

After the news this week of the oil spill finally getting capped and seeing that people have already gone back to business as usual, I was feeling rather uninspired to write anything for this blog. But I was rejuvenated by my experience eating out last night.

We ate at Doner Bistro in Leesburg and was pleasantly surprised by their very green ways. Their menu consists of German food and if you plan on eating there I'd recommend splitting a meal as the portions are rather large. However, what inspired me was that their "plastic" eating utensils were actually made from corn, as well as their cups. And their to-go boxes are compostable! For an eco-nerd like myself I was in heaven.

So it got me thinking: why aren't more businesses doing the same? I don't like to get take-out too much since their packaging is usually the standard styrofoam, so maybe if I suggest to those restaurants to make the switch they would get my business more often.

I've done a little research for those of you in Loudoun County in Northern Virginia for restaurants and grocery stores who either choose to use local produce/meat and/or are using green practices like Doner Bistro.

Whole Foods
Trader Joes
American Flatbread in Ashburn
Chipotle in Ashburn, Sterling, Reston
Mom's Apple Pie in Leesburg (featured on Food Network)
Fireworks Pizza in Leesburg
Tuscarora Mill in Leesburg
South Street Under in Leesburg (who also have a stand at the Leesburg Farmer's Market. Delicious!)
Lightfoot in Leesburg
Vintage 50 in Leesburg
Vintage 51 in South Riding
Mangolia's at the Mill in Purcellville
Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville
Dominion Brewing Company in Ashburn
Clyde's at Broadlands in Ashburn

For a list of green restaurants in Virginia, visit:

For those of you in other areas of the country, google "green restaurants" and type the name of your county or city next to it. You should find plenty of options, hopefully.
Visit these restaurants and tell them you appreciate their efforts on being green. Hopefully it will be the standard for future restaurants.

Thanks for reading and try not to forget that oil is still a precious commodity. Even with the temps in the 100s, find something to do to be green. Thank you!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Paperless environment

Have you ever thought about how much paper you use in a typical day? Between receipts, work and home offices, and junk mail, it can really add up. What can we do to eliminate such waste?

Just say no...
to ATM receipts, gas station receipts, or any other automated receipt where they actually give you the choice. These little pieces of paper can amount to a lot. Less is more.

Print on less paper
When you print from home or work, think about 1) whether you really need to print it, 2) whether you could print on both sides of the paper, and 3) if you could use already used scrap paper instead. This will save you money in the long run by not having to buy as much paper.

Use recycled paper
This goes for printer paper, journals, notebook paper, etc. Less energy used to make virgin paper and it increases the demand for recycled products.

Eliminate junk mail
How? Visit:

Stop the catalogs!
Shop online instead. Call the customer service number on the back of the catalog and ask them to take you off their mailing list. Pottery Barn and their affiliates seem to be the ones that are delivered the most often, but there are several others out there.

Borrow instead of buying magazines
They have the exact same copies that are on the newstands at the library. And they're free! I believe you can check out the older versions but have to read the latest ones at the library. But it eliminates waste, fuel to deliver these magazines, and saves you money!

Online newspapers!
Unless you love getting the Sunday paper for the comics, coupons, or just to enjoy with your coffee, read your headlines on the computer. Or find other uses for your used newspaper, such as for packing boxes that you ship, or paper hats and paper airplanes for the kids. Use comics to wrap kids presents. Finish it off with a pretty ribbon and it makes a beautiful presentation. And when you're done, RECYCLE IT!!

Paperless billing
Pay your bills online. You can do this through your bank and with the company directly. This will eliminate those bills getting mailed to your home (less fuel), or having to go to the post office to get stamps and mail them back (less fuel). It's less paper to dispose of and less paper for those companies to have to produce.

If you want to take it one step further in your environmental efforts, reuse as much paper as you can. I cut my letter sized paper in 4 and use that for scrap paper to make grocery lists, etc. I use a lot of the paper from flyers or regular mail for my kids to draw on. And then, of course, I use some scrap paper for printing things like coupons that I find online.

Once you're done with your used printer paper, junk mail, and regular mail, please recycle it! Even your phone books are recyclable so don't just toss it so it can end up in the landfill. Don't forget all of the paper in your shredder! Every recycling center accepts paper.

More websites:
About paper in our society:
About the environmental benefits of recycled paper:

Try these tips in order to use less paper, or at least dispose of it in a more responsible way. Less paper, less clutter in your home. Reduce, reuse, recycle!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

home improvements the eco way

With the economy being what it is, people are less likely these days to just pick up and move homes as often as they did before. Instead they are improving the homes they're in with a few changes; some big, some small. So if you're in the home-improvement stage of your life, consider some of these environmental options before starting your next project:

This is the area I know the most about since I have recently painted several rooms in my house. I was pleasantly surprised to find the many eco-friendly options in the paint store. If you buy certain products, such as paint rollers and paintbrushes, you'll have most of the supply you need for future painting projects as well.
Paint roller covers are now made out of 100% recycled material (made from recycled water bottles) and only cost a few dollars more than the regular kind.
Paint trays are also available in an eco friendly option. They are made of 100% recycled pulp fiber, and its liner is made of recycled plastic. PLUS, they biodegrade within 6 months, rather than hundreds of years it takes for the plastic trays.
Use real drop cloths. Don't go the easy, disposable route with the plastic drop cloths. Buy real cloths available at the paint store and reuse them over and over again. Not only does this eliminate more trash in the landfill, but it will save you money in the long run.
Buy no-VOC paint. VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) found in paint are bad for the environment and bad for your health. These paints release gases that are toxic and are very harmful to the environment if not disposed of the proper way. Zero-VOC paints have no smell or harmful effects to your health. No-VOC paints can be poured down the drain with no harmful effects to the water system. And there is NO difference in quality of paint. The difference, as often is with environmental products, is the price. However, with coupons and sales you can actually beat the price.

This is an area I don't have any experience with, however there are many sources that can tell you more about recycled carpet. New carpet requires lots of oil to produce, and contain lots of chemical and toxins which pollute your home. Try buying recycled carpet or any other of the eco-friendly flooring options for your next project. Here's one website with more information on the subject:

Donate your used products:
If refurbishing or improving your home by replacing things like lightswitch plates, outlet covers, air vent covers, or even things like cabinets or light fixtures, donate your old ones to Habitat for Humanity's Re-Store. This is a resale outlet by this organization that uses the proceeds to support their efforts in building Habitat homes and community work. And as an added bonus, these gently used products don't end up in the landfill and are reused. Visit
to find your nearest ReStore.

Please consider these options the next time you want to spruce up your home. Less in the landfill, less virgin products, beautiful home and planet. :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

green clean

There's nothing like a clean house, except, of course, when it's clean AND toxin-free. As a mother, I'm concerned not only with how we are leaving our environment for future generations, but I'm also concerned with making sure my child's environment is as clean and healthy as possible.

Homemade "green" cleaning is easy and very inexpensive. All you need is a few simple ingredients to keep in your pantry, a few spray bottles, and some microfiber cloths, and you're on your way to being eco-clean.

Use microfiber cloths instead of paper towels:
Microfiber cloths are a godsend, especially for granite! Assign different colored cloths for different tasks. Glass-cleaning cloths are essential. And don't forget to use dishcloths for washing dishes, instead of sponges which harbor bacteria and then end up in the landfill.

Get a steam mop!
I got my Shark steam mop for Christmas last year and I have mopped more than I have ever mopped in my life because it's so easy and effective. There's no bucket to worry about, and there aren't any harsh chemicals because there are no chemicals involved. It's simply the steam that cleans. I love it! It's simple and the most non-toxic way to clean your floors.

Go to the dollar store to get the cheapest spray bottles and get several so you have one for each purpose: glass cleaning, all purpose, furniture polish, bathrooms, etc.

Then go to the grocery story for the rest.
Lemons, Borax, Baking soda, White vinegar, olive oil, castile soap, tea tree oil, hydrogen peroxide, and vodka, yes, vodka (get the biggest bottle of the cheapest kind you can find).

- Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and works as a non-abrasive scouring cleaner for the kitchen and bathrooms.
- Lemon Juice. The acid in lemon juice neutralizes hard water deposits, dissolves buildup and dirt on wood, and tarnish on silver, and is a natural disinfectant & bleach.
- White vinegar is also a great disinfectant. The infamous strong smell dissipates as the vinegar dries.
- Essential oils such as lavender, clove, and tea tree oil have antiseptic properties and are natural fungicides.
- Olive oil is a safe, natural and effective alternative to using many of the chemical and petroleum-based cleaning products and polishes.
- Borax has no toxic fumes and is safe for the environment. Borax cleans, deodorizes, disinfects,, softens water, repels cockroaches and other bugs.
- Liquid castile soap is effective for general cleaning (when used in a spray bottle with added water). It can also be used for bathing pets, washing clothes and shaving. It's great for those people with sensitive skin and may help improve skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
- Vodka: Use a ratio of 1 part alcohol to 4 parts water. The alcohol will kill bacteria and is effective at cleaning granite. No residue is left behind and the product dries quickly and is safe for use around pets and children, as long as they don't drink it.
- Hydrogen peroxide is natural, doesn't harm the environment, and is a great alternative to chlorine bleach. It kills mold and is a great disinfectant.

When you're done cleaning with all of these reusable, non-toxic, and effective ingredients, don't forget to wash the microfiber cloths, dishcloths, steam mop pads, and your reusable shopping bags so you're ready for the next cleaning frenzy.

If you're wondering if these homemade cleaning recipes are just as effective as the toxic stuff, they are actually better for you and your home environment because the toxic products will make you sick in the long run. They can cause cancer and breathing fumes, such as from chlorine bleach, is a health risk and can irritate your lungs.

For those of you who don't feel like making your own, despite how cheap and easy it is to make, there are plenty of earth friendly options out there. My favorites are Ecover, Mrs. Meyers, Method and Seventh Generation.
For those of you adventurous enough to make your own, here are a few cleaning recipes to get you started:

Clean YOUR environment and save money while you're at it. Clean home, clean planet! :)