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!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Diapers: An environmentalist's dilemma

I'm now 6 months pregnant and still haven't decided which route I'll go with the diapering situation.  I'm ashamed to admit I've only used disposables (and not the environmental kind) with my first two children.  However, I'm willing to try the more eco-friendly option this time around.  But which option to choose?

There are the chlorine-free diapers that are hypo-allergenic and latex-free.  They're made of renewable resources, such as corn, wheat, wood pulp and don't pollute as much as traditional disposable diapers.  The downside to these is that they end up in the landfill.

Another option is G Diapers.  There are two styles to these.  The first is one with the disposable insert that is flushable, and the cover is machine washable.  So far this is the option that is winning for me.  Their other style is the cloth insert that you have to wash.  This doesn't seem too different from a cloth diaper so I'm not sure I would go this route.

The final option I have is to use cloth diapers.  I know a few people who have recently had a baby and LOVE cloth diapers.  I have to see this process in action in order to judge better whether this will work for me.  There is a cloth diapering service around here but not in my town.  I wonder if they'd make a special trip out for me or if I'd have to drive out to them.  Washing them in my own washer seems like the better option but do I want to deal with the hassle?

I have 3 months left to choose which eco-option I will try.  Cost, hassle, and environmental impact will weigh in on my decision.

Maybe I could just start potty training from the beginning.  There is a new movement that gets kids potty trained starting at 4 months.  The thought of no diapers sounds like bliss, but running to the bathroom every time an infant needs to go sounds like anything but heaven to me.

I'll keep you posted on what option I choose.  Decisions, decisions....

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Natural food dyes

Each pregnancy is different, and the longer you wait in between pregnancies, the more stuff changes.
The latest trend for expecting parents is to have a Reveal Party.  This is a get-together where the couple either knows the gender or is surprised by the revealing of the gender with cute little things like the color of a cake inside (pink or blue, obviously), or having a sales clerk wrap a onesie and unwrapping it in front of family and friends.  I recently had one of these and had my husband find out during the ultrasound, but kept it a surprise until I cut open the cake in front of my family.

Having read about the effects of food dyes, especially on pregnant women, I thought I would go for a naturally-dyed cake.  Sounds simple enough.  Either use strawberry for pink or blueberry for blue.  Not so simple.  I tried all of the different grocery store bakeries, and none of them made their batter from scratch, nor did they dye their batter at all.  The frostings they used weren't natural dyes, nor could they use them.  I finally found a place nearby which sells organic and natural food, who were willing to use natural food dyes but were going to charge me $5/person.  Are you kidding me?!!! It would've been more than $100---for a simple CAKE!  

So I ended up just buying the cake from the grocery store with the blue icing in the middle and just didn't eat any of it.  

I'm very disappointed that the only organic bakery around here would try to highjack the prices so much that it wasn't even an option.  I find that a lot of eco-friendly products and services are much more expensive than the regular variety that it turns a lot of people off from even considering purchasing them.  It's a shame that this fad has turned into a money-making scheme for some people and companies.  

I understand that some of the artifical and toxically made things are cheaper to mass produce, but shouldn't they be mass producing the good stuff too?

There are ways to offset these costs by using coupons for other things, but for the average Joe this just won't be an option.  Sure, the benefits to the environment and overall health of people and animals should outweigh the costs of the products, but in this economy, with money so tight, people will buy what they can afford.  These companies need to start being a little more cost competitive or the fad will disappear, instead of turning into a legitimate lifestyle.  

Some food for thought.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fresh produce

What's better than buying fresh, local produce that's in season?  It's tastier, cheaper, and better for the environment, especially if it's grown organically.  This is the first year I've tried joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) at my local farm.  I split the share with a neighbor friend and get just enough produce to feed my family of 4 for the week.  It's delivered right to our doorstep once a week so it's convenient.

I love to cook, so finding the goodies in my box each week is a fun challenge for me to come up with recipes to make throughout the week.  Some things I've never cooked before, or even eaten before, but so far my kids have been game for what I've made.  Well, except for the asparagus.  There's no disguising it's unique taste, not even covered in cheese & bacon.  Oh well, more for me and my husband.

Last week for my first delivery, I received kale, and a lot of it.  I had no idea what to do with it so I came up with this recipe that my kids devoured.  They even asked for seconds!  I sauteed it with onions, chorizo, and tomatoes and then served it all over rice.  Delicious!

If you've never tried a CSA before then I highly recommend it.  You also have the option of going to pick up the produce directly at the farm, or in some areas you can pick it yourself.  The vegetables/fruit are delivered with dirt on them because they pick it and put it directly in your box.  What a great way to show your kids where your food comes from.  And more incentive to protect our environment.

If you don't have a participating CSA near you or are too late (or too scared) to commit this season, try going to the farmer's market instead.  This way you can pick which vegetables or fruit you will eat and there's no waste, especially if your family members aren't very adventurous in what they eat.

Buon appetit! :)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vacation: can it be eco-friendly?

Last week, my husband and I finally went on a vacation without kids after 8 years since our last one.  We went to the Bahamas and had a very relaxing time.  However, being the obsessed, eco-conscious person that I am, I couldn't help but notice a few things that could use some improving.

The Sandals resort we went to was on an island that wasn't very populated (about 3500 people) and tourism is the main economy these people rely on.  So I understand that some things aren't easy to incorporate in the way they conduct business, but there are simple things they could do to make things a little more eco-friendly.

As most hotels do, this resort had a card from housekeeping that said if you want to reuse your towel to just hang it up and it won't be washed.  I hung it up but it was still taken to be washed.  Strike 1.
There was no recycling on the facility, anywhere.  Strike 2.
Fortunately, there was no Strike 3 so I will just kindly suggest that some of these things be changed for our next trip out there.

They used little golf carts to get around everywhere.
They didn't keep their lights on all night in places that weren't in use.
Their water sports weren't gas-powered.  Only kayaks, sailboats, and beach bikes.
The AC wouldn't come on unless the patio door was completely shut, which prevented wasting energy.  I LOVED this.
The seafood was local, fresh, and delicious.

The highlight of my trip, environmentally speaking anyway, was on our flight back home.  The flight attendants were actually collecting the trash and recycling separately.  I thanked them probably too enthusiastically, to my husband's embarrassment, but I was beaming all the way home.  So to American Airlines, I say THANK YOU!!

The Sandals website says that they recycle and have a green initiative, but I didn't see it in practice. I hope to say that on my next vacation there will be some changes made in their recycling and towel reuse program, or maybe I'll just have to get a job there and make the changes myself.  Wouldn't that be nice? :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Have you ever watched any of the TV shows about hoarders?  Doesn't it motivate you to start clearing out your own junk?  That's the effect it has on me, anyway, when I catch a glimpse of all the crap that these people accumulate.  I've gone through purging binges lately and have gotten rid of trash bags full of junk that's cluttered my life for decades.  It's a very cleansing feeling, but I have a long way to go before I'm living the simple life.  

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard is an excellent video about how our society is based on getting more things to make us happy.  Colin Beavan wrote a book (and a movie) about living in a way which he wouldn't produce any trash, called "No Impact Man".  He even has a blog about it.  Check out some of the ways he's decided to not make an impact on this planet.  

In this economy, people have had to curb their shopping tendencies in order to pay the necessary bills, or else face increasing debt and credit card bills.  I wonder, though, if people will ever be happy with what they have and focus on the important things in life.  Countless people have lost their homes in the tornadoes that have ripped through the country recently, and they're just happy to be alive.  I've heard of people who've lost their homes in fires and see it as a fresh start to not focus on the things so much.  Does it take a major disaster to see the value in everything that's not material?

I have to admit, I don't get retail therapy.  I never have.  I'd rather spend the day with my family and/or friends any day of the week over getting another piece of jewelry or an outfit that will be outdated in the next season.  But I know that a lot of people in Western cultures fill a sense of void in their lives by buying shiny new things.  It's time we wake up!

The more things are in demand, the more things they're made, which causes more pollution and trash and clutter.  Take perspective and inventory into your life and assess what you could get rid of and still be happy.  And the next time you go shopping, think twice before buying yet another item you don't really need.  Try the simple life and focus on what's important.  It'll be great for your budget, it'll fill your life with so much value and good memories, and isn't bad for the environment either.  

Friday, April 29, 2011

Disaster preparedness...

With the beautiful Spring also comes turbulent weather.  There have already been record numbers of tornadoes in southern and midwestern states (almost 300 dead with millions of dollars worth of devastation this week alone), so this is probably the time to start an emergency preparedness kit, (if you haven't already).  But how to do this in an eco-friendly way?

Here are a few essential items you'll need to get your kit together:
  1. Hand crank radio: To keep you informed of weather conditions, doesn't require batteries
  2. Hand crank flashlight: Doesn't require batteries and is always ready to go when you need it.
  3. Water: Get the biggest water jug you can find at the grocery store and then use reusable water bottles to drink from.  
  4. Blankets and rain gear
  5. Waterproof safe: to contain all your valuable papers.  Or better yet, make copies of your most important documents, such as passports, birth certificates, social security cards, and keep them in a safety deposit box at the bank.
  6. Latex-free band-aids
  7. Food: Organic snacks and canned food (plus manual can opener)
  8. Baby supplies: such as baby food, diapers, wipes (if needed)
  9. Solar cell phone charger
  10. Supply of toys, books, games 
  11. Tools
  12. Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  13. Photos: Download your digital photos to an online service, such as Shutterfly or Snapfish and try to scan your paper copies.  Photos are my most prized material possession and irreplaceable.  
Keep these things in a rodent-proof container in your basement or most secure room in your house.  Remember to have at least a 5-7 day supply of these things, just in case it takes that long to restore power.  It's a good idea to keep a mini version of this kit in your car also, as well as things to survive if you stall out or get stuck in a winter storm.

I hope that no one will need these in the future, but will at least be prepared.  There's less environmental impact with these supplies, but everything you need just in case.   

Here are a few links for more information on disaster kits, as well as a link to LL Bean who sells a handcrank radio and flashlight.  

Green Disaster Kit
LL Bean flashlight
LL Bean radio

Stay safe!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

One year ago....

It's been one year since the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, which resulted in 11 deaths and 206 million gallons of oil spewing into the waters.  Since then, the local economy as well as the wildlife in the Gulf have been devastated.  Yet somehow, life goes on in the US with little thought about what happened only one year ago.

The immediate urge to conserve energy and look for renewable energy began to wane by Christmas.  Americans are still going about their lives as if nothing happened, regardless of the energy we are so dependent on that is still very limited.  And that's not mentioning the wars in which we get involved because of this oil crisis.

I've had to make a few small changes since the spill.  I refuse to get gas from BP stations, which used to be my station of choice since it was the only gas company to tout itself as environmental.  I also don't eat fish or seafood from the Gulf, even though reports have claimed that there is no trace of carcinogens nor oil in these products.  I'm not taking any chances, especially because they haven't tested the effects of the dispersant they placed into the waters in order to clean up the oil chemically.  Dolphins, sea turtles and other wildlife in the Gulf have come up dead---mysteriously, is what they say in the news.  I'm not buying it.

Our addiction is destroying the world. The effects of drilling for oil, the pollution from refining the oil, and the waste from consuming this oil is not sustainable.

Our addiction to oil is directly affecting us.  Our soldiers are dying unnecessarily in needless wars just to satisfy our oil needs.  Oil prices are at $4/gallon and keep rising.  It's time to change this pattern of energy use.

I've always been an avid environmentalist but since the oil spill I have been more motivated to spread the word about conserving energy and doing our part to not be a problem on this planet, to share this Earth with other animals, and to leave something for future generations.

Please do your part to be a responsible and considerate citizen of the planet.  Conserve where you can, be conscious of your impact on the environment, and take baby steps to go green.  Visit my site every week for more tips on how to do this, a little bit at a time.  And please visit the eco-mami Facebook page for 30 days of eco-tips in honor of Earth Day.

Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy Earth Month!

One year ago this month, I started posting 30 days of eco-tips on my eco-mami Facebook page.  I'm providing more eco-tips in honor of Earth Day again this month.  These are just little ways each of us can make a difference in putting a dent in our energy consumption and our impact on the environment.

Unfortunately, last year was especially significant environmentally due to the Gulf oil spill that lasted for months.  This year has been marked with the nuclear disaster in Japan, as well as the wars that are still happening in the Middle East over oil.  It is time we become energy-independent in this country but agreeing on how seems to be an impossible task with the politics that are involved.

I know that we can do our part by conserving the energy we use and by the choices we make every day.  Not depending on oil in every aspect of our lives, especially plastic, is one way to help curb our need for this limited resource.  Not buying into the disposable trend and using as many reusable things as we can is another way.  Being conscious of our purchases including everything from cars to dishwashers to the food we eat impacts the energy we use.  Every little bit counts.

So make an extra effort this month to be green.  It's not just a trend, it's our planet.

Look for events in your area to learn a few things about how to be kind to Mother Earth.  Here are a few events in honor of Earth Day happening in the Northern Virginia area:

Loudoun County:
http://www.earthdayatloudoun.org/ at Clyde's in Ashburn, VA
http://villageatleesburg.com/events.php?page=2 at the Village in Leesburg, VA (Wegman's shopping center)
Fairfax County:
http://www.cleanfairfax.org/blog/?page_id=48 at Fairfax Government Center
http://www.alexearthday.org/ in Alexandria, VA
Charlottesville, VA:
http://www.virginiawine.org/events/earth-day-vineyard-tour-at-keswick-vineyards-6332 at the winery
http://www.virginia.org/site/features.asp?featureid=603 which lists events all over the state


Monday, March 28, 2011

Ready for another eco-mami challenge?

Earth day will be upon us soon and I will begin my 30 days of eco-tips on the eco-mami Facebook page again.  So I decided to start this upcoming month of posts with a more elaborate description of eco-tip #1:
Go energy-free for a whole day.  Saturday was Earth Hour, an event started by the WWF in 2007, that encouraged people to turn off their lights and electronics for 1 hour starting at 8:30 pm.  This is an expansion of that.  I know this seems like an impossible challenge in these technological times but it can be done.  Of course, keep your fridge on, but there are more ways to do this without putting a complete cramp on your day.

1.  Go TV-free for 24 hrs:  This includes video games & DVD players.  Find other things to do with the kids and with your loved ones, such as board games, cards, or going outside.  Keep your DVR on record to catch your favorite shows but catch up on them another day.

2.  Turn off the AC/Heat:  With the mild spring weather, you won't even notice it's off.  Just open some windows to bring in some fresh air (after it's stopped snowing, of course).

3.  Give your kitchen a break:  Eat cold foods (like sandwiches or salads), eat out, or grill out.  That way you don't have to use the stove, oven or microwave to make your meals.

4.  Leave the dishwasher/washer/dryer off for a day.  Handwash or just leave it til the next day.

5.  Go gadget-free for 24 hrs:  If you need a laptop for work, wait for the weekend for this 24 hr electricity-free day.  Use your cell phone only to make phone calls.  And go off Facebook for 24 hrs.  I particularly know how hard this will be, but the less we use our gadgets, the less we have to charge them and the more energy we save.

6.  Turn off the lights:  Have a candlelight dinner.  The kids will love this (if they're still awake at that hour) and couples will enjoy it even more.  

If you are successful, why not try it once a week?  What will you get out of it?

  • It'll be fun for kids, once they've stopped whining
  • Great bonding time for families and friends
  • Maybe it'll spark more romance with your special someone (candles set the mood, after all)
  • It'll save you some money on your bills
  • You'll save energy, which reduces the need for oil, which reduces the pollution, which reduces the wars, which reduces... you get the picture
So, pick a beautiful day to go energy-free.  What do you have to lose?

Monday, March 21, 2011

To nuclear, or not to nuclear?

After the recent natural disaster in Japan that triggered one of the biggest nuclear disasters in history, everyone is questioning whether or not nuclear power is safe.  Germany closed it's nuclear power plants just in case.  France said it was ridiculous to shut down anything just because of this one disaster.  And people here in the United States are just confused.

I've always been hesitant to support this growing trend, even though Europe seems to be pretty dependent on this type of power and is very proud of not having to rely on foreign oil.  But I can't help but think back to Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.  Although I was too young at the time to really understand what happened, it stuck in my mind as being a very bad thing that no one ever wanted to repeat again.

From what I understand, Three Mile Island was caused by human error.  The incidents in Japan were triggered by the tsunami.  I'm still not clear on what exactly is happening except that there are meltdowns occurring with lots of radiation being released.  They've evacuated up to 20 miles surrounding these power plants and lots of people are just leaving the country.  Radiation levels are high even in Tokyo, which is 180 miles away.

It doesn't help that the Japanese government is saying this is a lethal and toxic situation, while the nuclear power company is saying it's just fine.  What are the citizens supposed to do and who are they supposed to trust?

The other lingering question is if the radiation cloud will be carried over to the US atmosphere.  Scientists keep saying "no", but who really knows.  The most important question, however, is
"Is nuclear power really safe?"

Sure, we want to be off of foreign oil and find new ways to feed the energy addiction this country has, but I don't think that's the answer.  Also, disposing of the nuclear waste has always been an environmental concern. With these disasters happening around the world, however many years in between each incident, these are major things to consider.  In my honest opinion, it's too risky, and there are far better, less environmentally-damaging ways to bring us electricity.

We DO need to get off foreign oil, but why not try CONSERVING.  We don't need every TV on in the house all day long.  We don't need to have the AC/Heat on if it's 70 degrees outside.   We DON'T need to IDLE our cars (because of the pollution, the noise, the waste, and the cost).  There are ways to not have to use so much fuel/energy in one day.  RENEWABLE ENERGY is another solution, nuclear is NOT.

I'm no expert, but that's my 2 cents.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tech detox

The first step in AA is admitting you have an addiction.  So here it is: I'm addicted to the internet, particularly my smart phone.  My iPhone has the capability of checking Facebook, my email, USA Today, NPR, Huffington Post (Green section, of course), the weather, the movies, making lists, and most importantly, my calendar.

The fact that I can do all of this makes it extremely difficult to get out of bed in the morning as I check all of these things before I start my day.  Unfortunately, however, it doesn't end there.  No, I actually had to make an effort this week to only check my phone once an hour.  Isn't that sad?

This doesn't exactly fit the mold of a tree-hugging environmentalist, does it.  We're supposed to be completely disconnected from the technological world.  But, as I mentioned before, I'm not your normal hippie.  I own a TV and even have cable.  The internet is my friend but perhaps being too connected isn't so eco-friendly (because of all the power it takes to charge all of these devices).  I think it's time for a change.

I've seen so many news articles about how our kids are being neglected by parents being on their smart phone or laptops that I started taking a look at myself, and it ain't pretty.
Here's the steps I've taken so far:

  • Only get on my laptop while the kids are at school or are in bed.  
  • Only watch TV if the kids are watching or after they've gone to bed.  
  • I even try to not listen to news radio when my daughter's in the car so I can give her my undivided attention.  
  • And my phone, well, I'm trying to keep it out of reach in order not to be tempted to look at it.

So far the strategy is working.  I keep the phone ringer on super-high so I can hear it ring anywhere in the house.  I don't keep the laptop within reach when my daughter is at home.  The problem is when I'm out and about.  I have the phone in my hand usually if I'm grocery shopping and old habits die hard.  Even my daughter is addicted to the phone as I use it to keep her occupied at doctor's appointments or soccer games (that she's watching, not playing in.  Now THAT would be addicted!).

So this is my goal:

  • To be less dependent on that darn 3x5 device that sucks up my mind once I pick it up.  
  • Treat every silent moment to build my patience, not as an opportunity to see which basketball team won the NCAA game that day nor to email a friend.  
Let's see if I can start living in the moment, giving my kids all of my attention, and not having to fill all of my time with technology.  Who knows, maybe I won't even notice the difference after a week or so.  :)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Take-out waste

My husband has been traveling on business trips...a lot, which leads me to take on the parental duties alone for 2 kids.  I have not had any desire to cook, which is rare for me, so I've relied on take-out maybe a little too much lately.  But as with most things that are convenient, there are environmental implications.

Remember when it was a big deal when McDonald's finally crossed over to the green world (somewhat) by changing their styrofoam boxes to paper/cardboard?  Why, then, have other eateries not done the same? It seems so wrong to have this stuff still in existence, yet so many places offer no alternatives if you order take-out.  I just read an article about Congress starting to scrap their green options in their cafeterias and it just seems like such antiquated thinking.

At least this is an option that can be recycled, but still very wasteful.

Plastic bags
There is that debate on Paper vs. Plastic but I'd rather take paper than see another plastic bag floating in our streams and oceans.  Or take your own bag to put the stuff in.

Aluminum foil
This can also be recycled, but still very wasteful and not very energy efficient to produce.

There are at least a few places out there that offer green take-out packaging that is made from biodegradable, plant-based materials.  This is the least guilt-inducing of all the take-out waste and I wish more restaurants would use them.  It's more costly, I'm sure, but it's a great thing to label yourself a "green" restaurant which can entice more customers into your business, no?

The super-hippy way
I guess the best way to get take-out without adding to landfill waste is to bring your own containers to these establishments (and risk getting looked at like you have 3 heads when you ask them to put your food in it).  I haven't quite reached this level of bold eco-friendliness, although I have been tempted at times.

So there you have it, more ways to feel guilty about convenient living.  I felt terrible by the end of the week for not making my own food.  I usually only eat out once a week and very rarely get take out because of the implications.  Maybe I'll go meat-free just to make up for it.  Maybe.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Trying to live clutter-free

I'm on my way to a simple life.  I purged through my old files, my kids' schoolwork and artwork, along with old magazine clippings, and 2 trunks of memories.  Most of the junk in my life is finally gone.  But how long will it last?

What I'm trying to figure out is how to handle everyday clutter.  Kitchen clutter, study clutter, paper clutter.  I feel inundated with papers EVERY SINGLE DAY.  Whether it's the mail, or school flyers, or articles from magazines that I find interesting, there's always something.

Here are a few tips that I've used to at least condense the amount of paper clutter in my home:
1.  Create a home for everything:  I've set up file folders in a stand on my kitchen counter to organize some of this randomness, but it doesn't contain everything.  I've also bought 2 plastic scrapbooking bins for each of my children to put their schoolwork in.  At least that part is organized.

2.  Find a basket to put everything else:  I also have a basket for all of these papers that I intend to organize at another time.  I think as long as I keep the basket down to one, compared to the one in every room system that I used to have, then it'll be much more manageable.

3.  Stop the junk mail.  There are a few sources to get rid of your junk mail, and although I still receive some, it's not nearly as bad as it used to be.
Here are a few links to help you get started:

4.  Get your news or magazines online or at the library.  Less clutter to get rid of later.

5.  Give yourself distance:  I know my problem is not unique, but most people don't have as hard of a time letting go of these papers like I do.  My "just in case" mentality is exhausting, but if I leave the pile for a month or so, it gives me enough distance to get rid of the stuff without a problem.

6.  Recycle or shred: I have a shredder under my kitchen desk in order to get rid of junk mail containing any personal info in it.  This way I get to the biggest culprit immediately.  And then recycle the rest.

I still flock to the magazines that tout in bold letters "organize and de-clutter your house in 3 easy steps", thinking it'll have some transformative information that will rid me of this problem forever.  But nothing is fool-proof and obviously, I still have this problem.  So, if you have a method that works for you, please share it so I can make my kitchen desk a little less cluttered.  I'd greatly appreciate it.

Now where did I put that field trip permission slip....

Monday, February 21, 2011

Vegan, Vegetarian, and Meat-eater, Oh My!

I just finished watching Oprah's episode about her staff going vegan.  I know it's been almost a month since it aired, but it's been sitting on my DVR since then.  Honestly, I was scared to watch it because I wasn't sure how it would affect my eating habits.  I watched the episode a couple of years ago when she first featured Michael Pollen, who made the documentary "Food Inc", and I haven't shopped for food the same since.

The vegan diet has never been something that appealed to me because it seems like it's too much to think about.  How would I get my calcium and protein without milk or meat?  Do I have to start eating things I can't pronounce, like quinoa?  Will I lose so much weight that people will think I'm anorexic?

So, after this vegan episode, I must say it wasn't as scary as I thought it'd be. What I got from it is that you should be conscious of what you're eating and where it comes from.  I buy only organic and free-range meat when it's available at the store, and I try not to buy too many boxed, processed foods.  As Michael Pollen suggested, I try to shop in the perimeter of the grocery store where things are fresh and refrigerated or frozen.

So the ethical question is this: Can I be an animal lover and an environmentalist if I like to eat meat or animal products?  I know for a fact that I will never be vegetarian or vegan.  I like steak, chicken, and cheese too much to give it up (and don't get me started on bacon!).  But I am conscious of where my food comes from and buy from local farms or free-range sources when I can.  I also only eat red meat once a week and make at least one vegetarian meal a week.

I know the environmental impacts of factory farms are detrimental to our water supply and contribute to global warming, but if the farms are smaller, treat the animals humanely, and are more conscious of their impact, then maybe it's not that bad.  Last year, I learned about Temple Grandin (thru the HBO documentary about her life and contributions to the way cattle farms are run) and am relieved to hear that many farms, and even McDonald's, use her methods to treat the animals more humanely.  If more farms were run that way, with more consciousness of how they affect the planet and the animals, we'd all be better off.

In my opinion, I CAN be an environmentalist and animal lover AND eat meat and animal products.  I respect veganists and vegetarians as well.  To each his own, right?  Who said there's only one right way to eat anyway?  Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Keeping warm: Gas vs. Logs

This year, we seem to have experienced such a long, cold, and agonizing winter.  The weather seems to be warming up a little bit now, but who knows if we have another winter storm ahead of us.  After all, spring is still 5 weeks away.  With so many days at or below freezing, my utility bills have skyrocketed and I wondered about the environmental impacts of the ways people heat their homes.

Do you have a fireplace in your home?  Do you ever wonder if the natural gas logs are better for the environment than the traditional wood-burning stoves?  Are there any alternatives to either choice?

Here are the environmental advantages of having a gas fireplace to heat your home:

  • No wood means no trees to cut down 
  • It can save 25% on your energy bill
  • There are no fumes or particles that are being released into the air, no pollution
  • Some models have a blower that circulates the heat into the rest of the home (and if you don't have a blower you could use a ceiling fan switched to turn the opposite way you do in the summer)
  • If you lower the thermostat while the fireplace is on, it increases more energy efficiency (and lower bills)
Here are the environmental advantages of having a woodburning fireplaces:
  • You can use reclaimed or waste wood to burn; wood that would be taken to the landfill
  • They're cheaper to run than conventional heating systems
  • Reduces your dependency on electricity and natural gas
  • Wood is a renewable resource

And here is alternative source of materials to burn in a woodburning fireplace:
Terracycle, an organization that is based around making products out of trash, has a wonderful product called "eco-friendly fire logs".

  • It burns cleaner than the alternatives and gets rid of some of the waste from the landfill.
  • They also offer a fire starter product  that is made for woodburning stoves and charcoal grills.  
Another way to stay warm this winter and paying a little less on your energy bills is by lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees (65 at night).  And an even better way to do this is to get a programmable thermostat to regulate the temperature to be lower when you're sleeping and when you're out of the house for long periods of time (like when you're at work).  These are just a few ways to help your wallet survive this winter.  Remember, only 5 weeks to go.   :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Memory Clutter--good riddance!!

As I've mentioned before, I have a terrible memory.  Blame it on the wine I've consumed in the last 15 years or maybe on my 2 kids (I never got over pregnancy brain, apparently).  Whatever the reason is that I can't remember anything, I've kept too many things hoping it would trigger some memory of an event that has occurred in my life.  Unfortunately, it doesn't work too well.

I've kept two foot-locker trunks full of crap memorabilia that I am starting to go through and purge.  The tip I gave a few posts ago about giving yourself distance really works.  I've given myself 20+ years distance on a lot of the stuff and can't remember why I kept half of it.  My goal is to condense them into just one trunk.

Remember when we used to pass notes in class, as in the ones written on a piece of paper?  For those of you young folks who only know texts and emails, this is the way we communicated in the old days.  I found at least a dozen shoeboxes full of these notes and discovered that I had the past all wrong.  Maybe I was romanticizing it, but I kind of wish I never opened up that pandora's box, literally.

While I don't remember most of the details of my high school years, I do remember the lessons of these events, or bad friendships/relationships.  Isn't that what counts anyway?  I regret a lot of the decisions I made back then, but there are no do-overs in life, so it is what it is.  I am who I am because of those decisions.

I'll admit that I don't remember a lot of the people from my high school who have friended me on Facebook, but does it really matter how we were back then if we've become better people now?  I'm glad I don't hold on to the past because I don't think I would have made the friends from my high school that I have made this past year.  Maybe losing my mind isn't such a bad thing after all.

I can't wait to get rid of more stuff and be done with it forever.  It's very cathartic to let go of the past in such a permanent way. I would've burned that stuff as a symbolic gesture but sent it to the recycling instead (because burning it wouldn't have been very eco-friendly, now would it).  Revealing the "drama" that I went through as a teenager makes me so thankful of the life I have today, and a little anxious of what's to come in the future with my kids when they become teenagers.

So this week's eco-tip is to let go of the past and your memory clutter.  You'll find that most of it has no significance whatsoever.  And remember to recycle it if you can.

Thanks for reading!
Next week: gas logs vs. woodburning fireplaces

Monday, January 31, 2011

Surviving the winter, the eco-mami way

For those of us in the DC area, we dodged quite a few storms while the Southeast and Northeast got slammed with snow for the past few months.  Unfortunately, our luck ended this week and I've had kids with cabin-fever.  No, it's nothing like "snowpocalypse" from last year, where we had about 2 weeks of cancelled school, (at least that's what it felt like).  However, it's been bad nonetheless.  A teacher workday and 3 snow days and the week's to-do list went out the window before I even got started.

But like a good boy scout, you must be prepared.  I've managed to occupy them with things like building forts, doing schoolwork (sometimes computer games so they don't realize they're doing homework), playing out in the snow, or making crafts.  As hard as it may seem, it IS possible to keep them busy without just turning on the TV.  Don't get me wrong, I still turned it on between some of these activities, but not for hours on end.

Some more ideas for staying busy while you're snowed in or if it's too cold to play outside:

  • Cooking together: My kids love to help me bake goodies or make dinner.  (And you can teach them math without them realizing it).
  • Scrapbooking: Maybe it's not a gender neutral thing, but my daughter loves it. 
  • Board games: The kids just got a bunch of games over the holidays so that kept us quite busy.
  • Stock up: not just on groceries.  Head to the library before the storm hits and get a bunch of books and movies for both you and the kids.  

Obviously, I haven't had much time to do things that I need to be doing, such as continuing my purging mission, but I figure that crap isn't going anywhere.  So I'm taking this time to enjoy my kids, let them have fun on their own or with me, and the rest of the stuff on my list will be there when they go back to school.

How is any of this eco-friendly?
Less TV wastes less energy.  Making crafts with recycled materials is less wasteful.  Making our own snacks is better since it requires no packaging (which means less waste).  And hopefully these activities will be passed on to my children's children when they look back on how we survived yet another snowstorm.

Stay warm, everyone!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The eco-papi challenge

As much as I have tried, I just can't convert my husband into becoming as environmental as I would like him to be.  No amount of begging, bargaining, or nagging has made him concerned enough to take his reusable bags to the grocery store (and I have them stored in his car for his convenience).  Instead of getting too frustrated, I see it as a challenge that if I can convert him then I can convert ANYone.

Leaving the lights on is something seemingly simple that he could change.  Unfortunately, it's still a bad habit of his so I'm thinking of installing those automated lights that only turn on when triggered by motion.  Maybe that'll save me some time by not having to follow him all over the house turning the lights off.  And will help with the power bill too. :)

Another eco-unfriendly habit he has is idling in the driveway every night when he comes home because he's usually on the phone for work.  (The phone is hooked into his car's speaker system and sometimes when he turns off the car it hangs up the call).  Idling is a big pet peeve of mine since it wastes gas, pollutes the air, and wastes natural resources.

I'll give him credit on at least trying to recycle.  Right now he errs on the side of caution and throws everything into the recycling bin.  Of course, not everything is recyclable but at least he's not throwing everything in the trash.  I guess it can be confusing knowing what exactly is recyclable and what isn't.  I'm always looking for the magic triangle underneath packaging to see if the number is accepted in my local landfill (which is usually just #1 and #2).

Thankfully, there are a few things he doesn't have much choice on when it comes to living green.  Since I do most of the cleaning, grocery shopping, and cooking, he has to eat what I make, use the products that I have in the house, while not changing a single thing about his daily routine.

He's not completely hopeless.  I guess as long as there's one participating member of the household that's willing to go green, that's enough to make a little positive impact on the planet.  One day in the future I hope to blog about his miraculous transformation into eco-papi, but until that day I'll do enough for the both of us.  It's better than nothing, right?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Purging: Part 2

So you want to get rid of your stuff but don't know how to go about it in an eco-friendly way?
Here are a few suggestions on what to do with the things you no longer want in your home.
Last week I mentioned a few ways to get rid of your clutter in order to simplify your surroundings.  

A quick recap:
- Scan as many papers as you can (& don't forget to backup the computer)
- A place for everything, everything in it's place
- Go through your kids belongings every few months to weed out the toys & clothes no longer used
- Designate a spot to put things to sell, donate, consign, or give away (freecycle)
- Recycle what you can
- If you have a lot of personal papers no longer needed, take to a shredding event in your community

Here are 5 more tips on how to declutter & get rid of your stuff:

Tip #1: Pick a "home" for the stuff & make sure it fits in it.
One of the most useful tips on those hoarders/organizational shows is to pick a container for your stuff (it's new home) and make it a goal to fit everything in that place.  The example one show used was a house overrun with toys.   Their solution was to condense to only what could fit in one bin.

Tip #2: Get rid of something before bringing something else in
As an incentive not to build clutter in the future, that same couple was told to make sure they got rid of something before they brought something else in.  That's another GREAT tip, which could be applied to the closet, the kitchen, the bookcase, or any other room in your house.

Tip #3: Baby steps
You can't expect to declutter your house, or even one room, in a day.  But if you do a little bit (15 minutes) a day it will progress.  Before you know it you'll have cleared out a space and wonder why you didn't do it before.  It seemed to be a daunting task for me to get rid of the papers and papers and papers that I had in almost every room in the house, but I'm chipping away at it and feel great after a day's worth of purging.

Tip #4: Give yourself some distance
Every school year when the kids get out of school, I go through their papers and instantly throw out the things I don't want to keep.  However, as time goes by, I wonder why I kept most of the stuff to begin with.  The longer you wait to get rid of the stuff, the less you'll keep.

Tip #5: Make a photo book
For your children's artwork and some school projects that you want to keep, you could scan them into your computer and make a photo book.  Sites like Shutterfly or Snapfish are great places to get these things made, often at discounted prices if you become a member.  This is definitely on my to-do list once I condense the piles and piles of stuff I want to keep.  You can keep those drawings without adding to the amount of crap you already have in your house.  Lovely!

Some more suggestions on where to take the stuff you don't want:
Books: Library or used book store
Toys & baby items: Church, daycare, preschool, some high schools
Clothes: Planet Aid bins, consignment, yard sale, thrift store, homeless shelter
And everything else: consignment, homeless shelter, ebay/craig's list, freecycle

I've been purging for about a week now and it is mentally exhausting.  But with the goal of having a simplified and clutter-free home, it's worth every minute.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Declutter and simplify!

Maybe I've been watching too many hoarders shows on cable TV or maybe I'm just sick of looking at the clutter in my house these days, but I'm on a purging mission.

Since I moved in with my husband 14 years ago, we've moved 11 times.  Out of those places we lived in each place less than 3 years, with the exception of our townhouse where we lived for 4 years.  I have moved the same crap from house to house for 14 years. So now, since this is the last house we'll live in til we retire (I hope!), I am taking it upon myself to finally purge of this shhhtuff.

It's a very liberating experience, and I've always wanted to live more simply.  I have what the organizational experts call "memory clutter", and LOTS of it.  I keep ticket stubs, theater programs, and city maps of places I've been.  Mainly it's because I have the worst memory and would forget about these events otherwise.

But on the other hand, I'm very type-A and believe in "a place for everything, and everything in it's place". I also believe in the technique of getting rid of something if you bring in something new.  I go through the kids toys, books, and clothes as often as I can (once every 2 months or so) and have a designated spot in my storage room where I'll either sell the stuff (in a yard sale or consignment sale), or I'll donate it.  My husband gave me a scanner for Christmas which has me scanning recipes, articles and, hopefully soon, receipts so I can have less mounds of paper in my life.

Knowing the stuff isn't going into a landfill is the most gratifying thing for me.  And getting it out of my house is the best feeling in the world.  Breathing a little easier without stressing about this junk in my life is the best reward, and not a bad way to start out the new year.

Hope you can purge and de-clutter your space in order to live more simply.  Remember to recycle the papers you get rid of and back up any files you put into your computer.  Also, get a shredder to dispose of personal documents or take your stuff to a community shredding event.

Happy purging!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Need a resolution? Take the eco-mami challenge

The holidays are over and it's time to look forward to the new year.  Most people make resolutions to lose weight, save money, and live a healthier lifestyle.  If you take the eco-mami challenge you could knock all of these out at once!  When you learn to live green it'll amaze you how much better you'll feel about your body, your budget, and your planet.

Here are 5 simple steps to get you started.  And if you're new to this blog, look at my previous posts for more ideas.  

Step 1:  Recycle.
So easy, a 2 yr old can do it.  Plastic, cardboard, paper, cereal boxes, aluminum, glass. It's all recyclable and less to go in the landfill.  Bonus: less to put in your garbage means less trash bags, which will save you money.
Step 2:  Eat less meat.
I'm not vegetarian but I try to eat one meat-less meal at least once a week.  Bonus: buying less meat will cost you less at the grocery store, and is much healthier for your body.
Step 3:  Reduce.
Buy less disposable things, such as one-use items like juice-boxes and buy in bulk instead.  Be more aware of the waste in product packaging.  Bonus: it will save you money, guaranteed.
Step 4:  Reuse.
Use reusable water bottles, mugs, lunch bags, and tupperware.  Get a filtered water pitcher instead of buying bottled water.  Bonus:  this will also save you money, guaranteed.  After buying these things once it will pay for itself ten-fold before you know it.
Step 5:  Clean green.
Go the non-toxic route in cleaning your house.  See my previous post about green cleaning for recipes on making your own cleaners.  Or buy non-toxic products such as Method or Seventh Generation.  Bonus:  this will save you LOTS of money and is much better for your health.  

These five simple steps will get you on your way to live green, save you money, and will improve your health.  Not a bad way to start 2011.  Happy New Year!!!