August 2010 - Our Daily Green

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Business Boycotting Green

This story has also been syndicated by the wonderful non-profit group Your Olive Branch.org

One of the most effective ways a consumer can vote is with their wallet. Choosing to spend or not to spend with a business is a determinant of the business' success. However, recent calls for the boycott of BP gas stations proved to be more harmful to the small business owner than the corporate entity. A boycott, as defined by Mirriam-Webster, is "to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with (as a person, store, or organization) usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions". Simply translated, this is marketplace democracy in action - consumers voting with their dollars for social and economic change.

Organized boycotts are only one way a consumer has to "cast a ballot" of approval or disapproval. Some interesting facts about boycotts, from Green America's Boycott Organizer guide:

The term originated in Ireland in 1780 when English estate manager Charles Cunningham Boycott was "boycotted" by famine-threatened Irish farmers for refusing to lower rents. Since then, boycotts have become an important part of American history, used to protest everything from government involvement in industries to unfair labor practices...
Any concerned group can call a boycott. Groups have been more successful in calling and executing boycotts than individuals because there is strength in numbers...

An increasing number of environmental groups are using boycotts as a means of influencing corporations and effecting change.
Sometimes, a business may be guilty of carelessness or thoughtlessness, versus outright maliciousness. We would like to see consumers first take a chance informing the company before organizing a boycott. We read and experience unfriendly business practices on a regular basis. Our Daily Green recently read about some transgressions involving a major department store as well as a national restaurant chain. Both examples involve less than green practices which need to be rectified. Is it better for the consumer to contact the company and give them a chance to rectify the wrong or to simply stop shopping there?

After personally spending 15 years in retail, it's industry knowledge that the customer to worry about is the one who says nothing, but to treat the complaint as an opportunity. For every complaint, there are another 10 customers who say nothing. As an activist and concerned shopper, there is more to gain by voicing concerns versus a simple boycott. A voice of dissention is worth 10 silent voices.

Caring for Our BlessingsOur Daily Green increasingly hopes to be a venue for positive change rather than negative. Rather than discouraging consumers from shopping certain venues, instead we would like to encourage better places to shop and thereby vote with our dollars. Responsible Shopper is a comprehensive search engine to check any company before making a purchase to determine if their policies fit in personal philosophies. We prefer to encourage our readers to find where they'd like to shop versus telling them where not to shop. Blindly boycotting a company can often hurt the very folks we encourage.

Have you ever stopped shopping somewhere? What were your reasons? Did you make them known to those in charge?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Washing Machine Green

This story is also featured on the fabulous non-profit site, Your Olive Branch.org.


Did you ever wonder why the washing machines at laundromats are usually front loaders? Laundromats are in the money making business and a front loading washer saves both energy and money, giving the owner a higher profit. But front loaders aren't just for professional use.  They are a fabulous way to save money and water for the homeowner as well. A front loading washer can save up to $100 annually in reduced utility costs of both electricity and water.

Whirlpool Duet Sport HT : WFW8400TW 27in Front-Load Washer - WhiteA front loading washer works with gravity to move the clothes through the water, instead of a bulky agitator which takes up more room in the wash basin (less laundry in the load) as well as burns electricity to move the laundry around. Additionally, a top load washer must fill to the top with water to ensure the entire load gets clean, while a front loader pulls the water through the clothing instead of pulling the clothing into the water. Since gravity is working to wash the soiled laundry, a front loader is also more gentle on the fabric, helping clothing to last longer.

On average, a front loading washing machine uses over 30% less water than a top loading machine, about 28 gallons compared to 41 in a top loader. These numbers will vary according to brand, but the savings is significant. Additionally, there may also be local rebates available on the purchase of Energy Star appliances, such as sales tax exemptions or credits, or rebates on qualified products.

Water conservation may not get the same focused media attention as petroleum, but saving water is also something fairly easy the average consumer can begin doing immediately. Here is a list of 100 (and eleven!) Ways to Conserve Water.

How many ideas can you check off?
What ones were new to you?  


Friday, August 27, 2010

Paperless Book Green

When the Apple iPad debuted in late April, a new wireless reader debate launched about iPads, Nooks, Kindles... and several more coming out before the end of the year. In an informal survey of friends on my Facebook page, opinion is split about 50/50 in favor of or rejecting an e-reader, with equally impassioned reasons and a lively discussion ensued. Some excerpts (with thanks to Anne, Susan, Beth, Ken,  Christine, Michael, and Karen for weighing in):
As much as I embrace technology, I love the feel and smell and ritual I guess, of holding and enjoying a good book.
... reads about five books a week normally. I got him an e-reader for papa's day and he loves it. For me it saves space in my house.
Call me old fashioned, but I am a bibliophile. Maybe its because of my history degree, but anywhere in my house where there is a bookcase or a shelf of any kind, we have books. I tried to count them once, when moving from my parents' house, and there were nearly 1,000 of them
I can carry around thousands of books in one hand with my iPad.
Nothing like the smell & feel of a book! Plus, when I see how far I've read, or how far I still need to read, it's a major motivator!!

...have the iPad, but I refuse to buy books for it, so I read the web, pdfs, free books on it
I'm big on technology, but I really don't think of it as the answer to everything, including things that I don't even really think of as problems.
book bookshelf,
a 2009 entry in a Spring Greening Contest at Inhabitat
The answer is clear that while eReaders will not be replacing books anytime in the near future they will certainly have an impact on book production. How much impact remains to be seen. The environmental implication of eReaders replacing books certainly shows a reduction in paper processing, but what about all the books already in existence?

The futuristic predictions of Farenheit 451 and George Orwell's 1984 where books are burned and no longer welcome certainly is far away, but hardcopy reading such as newspapers and magazines is sliding replaced by internet reading.

Our Daily Green's house is a reading home. Books are stacked in corners, on shelves, on tables, in boxes.  We borrow, trade, buy at thrift stores, and sell online. The revolving door for books is pretty active at our house. A book in many ways is a friend, either newly acquired or long lost, but always welcome.
Rebound Designs

Lately, we've seen several ways to re-purpose books. With digital formatting, words no longer are required to be captured on paper, so an old favorite book can find a new life. Two of my favorite findings are:

A true "pocketbook" and genuine alternative to book burning, from Rebound Designs etsy shop and a bookshelf fashioned from actual books. A myriad of ideas are found online, including furniture, lamps and other assorted repurposes for books.

While it doesn't seem paper books are going anywhere in the near future, there may be a market for repurposing books as eReaders gain acceptance and popularity. Our Daily Green is curious, if you could only save three paper books in your collection and everything else had to be digital, what would you choose?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Green Bean Green

Our Daily Green is in the process of switching computers in between living green, so I'm just going to share a favorite recipe of mine that is light enough for our cooler evenings, meatless, and a great use of green beans. This recipe is great for those "oops, they got too big" green beans.

Adapted from: Farm House Cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis
Green Bean and Potato Soup 

  • Farmhouse Cookbook1 1/2 lbs. of washed and potatoes (cut into 2-inch chunks) leave skin on
  • 1 tbl. coarse sea salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 lb. green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 6 tbl. olive oil
  • 6 large sliced garlic cloves (slicing releases more flavor than dicing)
  • Salt and pepper to taste



Bring potatoes, salt and water in stock pot over medium high heat. Cover and bring to a boil. Cook about 15 minutes until potatoes are soft. Add beans and cook another 15 minutes or so until they lose their bright green color.

While soup is cooking, in a small pan, saute the sliced garlic in olive oil, stirring constantly, until the garlic is a golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

When beans and potatoes are cooked, add garlic and oil to soup. Serve immediately. You really need to try this soup because for as few ingredients as it has, it is deceptively delicious. I swear it has a meaty flavor but for the life of me cannot figure out why. Any guesses?

~~~~~~~~~~~~

That is all for this simple and quick recipe. I like to add a crusty loaf of bread or maybe some cut up raw veggies. It's dinner tonight as we juggle a bunch of end of summer activities.

Also, I cannot say enough wonderful things about the cookbook I referenced up there. I've had it nearly 20 years and it never fails to inspire me with new ways to enjoy the bounty of fresh produce. If you love cooking from the garden, you'll love this book!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Legislating Green?

image courtesy of Eco Friendly Emporium
This week, the City of Cleveland, Ohio proposed legislation to fine non-recyclers $100.00 by the City of Cleveland. In essence, recycling behavior would be tracked via computer chips in recycling bins and residents who weren't recycling would be subject to trash inspections and fined if they were found not recycling.

This news filled Our Daily Green with mixed feelings. As a strong supporter of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, anything that keeps more trash out of landfills sounds like a good idea. However, if the price is to have Big Brother rifling through trash cans and inspecting garbage, suddenly, it feels more invasive than encouraging. It would seem the municipality could find a better way to encourage recycling.

It would seem that recycling should be second nature to most folks by now, but the reality is, up to 25% of people do not recycle. The most common reasons given are that they don't have the time or do not trust that the items they separate are really recycled, so it is not worth the trouble.

In order to change such perceptions, the consumer needs to feel that items are recycled and that it is worth their time. RecycleBank is a company working to do just that. We've written about their company previously. This innovative trash collection company has partnered with corporate sponsors to provide homes with special recycle bins and the customer accrues rewards for recycled trash. RecycleBank weighs the separated trash and sends the customer coupons or rewards based on the amount recycled. RecycleBank makes profits by saving municipalities landfill fees.

Much like the proposed bins in the City of Cleveland, the trash is still being tracked. However, rather than punishments for noncompliance, the customer receives a reward for compliance. Rather than the threat of a $100 fine, the homeowner has the potential to earn points good for approximately $20/monthly in assorted discounts and rewards.

Positive reinforcement of desired behavior is much more effective than negative. Our Daily Green would like to see the City of Cleveland reconsider their costly and offensive plan and study alternatives. Turning a win/lose proposition into a win/win is the kind of green Our Daily Green gets excited about!


Monday, August 23, 2010

Greenwashed Green



The Seven Sins of GreenwashingOne of the biggest challenges in our quest to live more green is practicing mindful consumerism. Green has become a desirable trait and many companies want to convince the consumer of their green-ness. Alas, sometimes, the only thing green is the money the company makes convincing the consumer their product is somehow or another friendlier to the environment. There are many examples of this and Sins of Greenwashing has an excellent educational site filled with quizzes, games and reports to assist the consumer.

Our Daily Green would like to address two personal green peeves today.

The first peeve is about bamboo fabric. Bamboo is a  wonderful sustainable grass, renewing rapidly and naturally. Bamboo flooring is an incredible choice for eco-friendly decorating. Bamboo fabric, however, is ridiculously far from organic. Bamboo is a grass, not a fiber. The chemical process involved in turning bamboo grass into a fiber that can be woven and turned into fabric is far from eco-friendly.

According to Organic Clothing:

While specifics can vary, the general process for chemically manufacturing bamboo fiber using hydrolysis alkalization with multi-phase bleaching technology – which is the dominate technology for producing regenerated bamboo fiber – goes like this:  
  • Bamboo leaves and the soft, inner pith from the hard bamboo trunk are extracted and crushed
  • The crushed bamboo cellulose is soaked in a solution of 15% to 20% sodium hydroxide at a temperature between 20 degrees C to 25 degrees C for one to three hours to form alkali cellulose 
  • The bamboo alkali cellulose is then pressed to remove any excess sodium hydroxide solution. The alkali cellulose is crashed by a grinder and left to dry for 24 hours 
  • Roughly a third as much carbon disulfide is added to the bamboo alkali cellulose to sulfurize the compound causing it to jell 
  • Any remaining carbon disulfide is removed by evaporation due to decompression and cellulose sodium xanthogenate is the result 
  • A diluted solution of sodium hydroxide is added to the cellulose sodium xanthogenate dissolving it to create a viscose solution consisting of about 5% sodium hydroxide and 7% to 15% bamboo fiber cellulose 
  • The viscose bamboo cellulose is forced through spinneret nozzles into a large container of a diluted sulfuric acid solution which hardens the viscose bamboo cellulose sodium xanthogenate and reconverts it to cellulose bamboo fiber threads which are spun into bamboo fiber yarns to be woven into reconstructed and regenerated bamboo fabric 
This gives some feel for how chemically intensive the hydrolysis-alkalization and multiphase bleaching manufacturing processes are for most bamboo fabrics that are promoted as being sustainable and eco-friendly.

A second peeve is recyclable plastic bottles. Yes, yes, #1 and #2 are recyclable, as well as a specially handled #5. Our Daily Green has written about it ad infinitum. However, to consider that 30-40 years ago, most products were not even available in plastic bottles (RE: water, hand soap, milk jugs, food products), the fact that such items can be recycled is still a second stage. Plastics are turned into polar fleece, carpet and plastic lumber. They are not turned into bottles again, so in essence, more resources are still used to make more plastic bottles. Recycling them only creates a second use for them. Do any of Our Daily Green's readers remember returnable bottles? They could be sterilized and reused for exactly what they started out their life being. Aluminum cans become aluminum cans again, glass bottles return to glass bottles... plastic becomes something else still necessitating the need to continue making plastic. Where does it end? Only when we vow to use less plastic.  
 
Do you have any green peeves? 




Saturday, August 21, 2010

Garbage Mogul Green

Our Daily Green is proud member of the TerraCycle blogger group.

TerraCycle is one of the coolest companies around, taking trash and turning it into cool, funky treasures, all while raising funds for schools and other charities.  They sponsored a giveaway last month on my blog and tonight the company will be showcased on the reality show, Garbage Moguls. Set your DVR if you cannot tune in. During the show they will be posting trivia questions on their Facebook page for prizes.


Terracycle, Garbage Moguls
Tune in tonight!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friendly Friday Green

I cannot believe I missed a day of posting, but summertime has a way of taking a bit of our industrious productivity away, at least in this household. Gotta enjoy the sun while it shines!

Anyway, I have had the incredible honor and pleasure of getting to know some new green bloggers lately and I must share their wisdom and green adventures here, it's quite a community of fellow green jeans folks!

Michelle over at Green Earth Bazaar is a new friend and follower. She has a fabulous space over there, filled with musings, tips, DIY projects, and loads of green love. Her recipes make my mouth happy!

From Michelle, I discovered Peace, Love and Muesli a fabulous healthy eating blog. I cannot WAIT to try her deep fried beets! In fact, after reading her recipe last week, an hour later, I was at a flea market and bought a brand, new never been used deep fryer, simply for the opportunity to make the beets.

Christy over at Frugality and Crunchiness with Christy has another blog loaded with fabulous recipes. Watch for me to highlight one of her recipes in the very near future on Cooking With SuperFoods.

And finally, my friend Tracy over at ECOSiZE Me, a fellow TerraCycle Blogger. (In fact, she is running a giveaway now with some really cool TerraCycle goodies!) She blogs and has an environmental business that I think is absolutely brilliant. Her and her partner do Environmental Education programs at the school districts in her area. I love that she is helping children learn about loving our planet at a young age, so it's a natural behavior.

I encourage you to visit all these lovely green ladies and let them know I sent you! I'm in such good company, I want to share the joy!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thrift Shopping Green

With many schools either back or almost back to school, the inevitable back-to-school shopping advertisements are inundating our households. Other than school supplies, we try to avoid the back-to-school buying frenzy that is created by all the advertisements, for a few reasons:
  • Children grow and not necessarily at preordained by the mall times. Purchasing jeans, jackets and sweaters while the temperatures are still summer-like almost guarantees they will be too short or small when the time comes to wear such merchandise.
  • Summer vacations and activities already have inflated our monthly budget. I would rather not tack onto our household expenses with a late summer shopping spree.
  • Often, nothing new is needed, but maybe just a little refurbishing. One year we covered a princess thermos with a more neutral contact paper, rather than buying a new thermos/lunchbox set.
  • Once children reach a certain age, fashion is dictated by peers. It's easier to know what is "cool" after a few weeks in school.
(this post has been picked up and published over at Your Olive Branch.org)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fresh Tomato Ideas *Red*

Our Daily Green has ripened to a lovely shade of RED today in honor of a plethora of fresh tomatoes from our garden. We are overjoyed!

Our family has been enjoying caprese salad, fresh salsa, pasta with fresh tomato sauce, pizza with fresh tomatoes, you name it! Today I'm trying oven dried tomatoes again. Last year, I wasn't so successful and wound up with something closer to a dried tomato paste (which was delicious in soups!) but we'll attempt to rectify last year's failure today with this oven-dried tomato recipe

I also am going to share my Soon to be World Famous Salsa Recipe because it's just too good and simple to keep to myself.
  • 15 ripe plum tomatoes, 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 fresh lime, zested then juiced
  • 2 finely chopped jalapeno peppers (seeds removed for the faint of heart)
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 1/2 bunch of cilantro, finely snipped with kitchen scissors
  • 2 cloves pressed garlic
(if you wish to make a peach salsa, just dice up 2 ripe peaches into the salsa)

Mix all these ingredients together. That's it! Salsa tastes better if flavors have about an hour to mingle. Please be very careful handling the jalapenos, wash your hands several times or wear gloves to handle them. The oil stays on the fingertips and can really burn if you rub your eyes after.

Whether you say tom-ay-to, or tom-ah-to, don't call the whole thing off, slice/dice/stew/chop 'em... but make sure you enjoy them!

 

Monday, August 16, 2010

Single Serve Green?

One of the most frustrating issues I encounter is the issue of invented or manufactured need. Society has been indoctrinated into believing that we cannot use water fountains or pour a liquid out of a pitcher into a glass.

We are reminded of our busy lives and time saving devices, but when you really consider it, how much time do we save buying our beverages in single serve containers? Bottled water, soda, juice bags, juice boxes? Does it really save our time to have to purchase additional items at the store, transport and unload them and then still have to handle them when consuming? Have you ever tried to unwrap a case of water then twist off a hermetically sealed lid or open a cardboard sealed box of juice bags and pierce the bag with the straw after unwrapping the straw? Wouldn't it be easier to just pour a glass of water?

These products are not more convenient nor do they save time, let alone the environment. When we purchase single serve beverages, our time, money, and environment pays. There is also significantly more waste in pre-measured servings. How many juice bags or cans of soda never are finished? Who determines what an adequate thirst quenching portion is? Many parents with active children on team activities are encouraged to bring bags and boxes of refreshment. What if each child was given a personalized bottle to bring to each event and parents rotated bringing a spouted beverage cooler?

Our Daily Green would like to encourage our readers to invest in a good reusable, washable beverage bottle, start using a thermos and turn on the faucet again. Drinking water is safe for human consumption and if that remains a concern, water is easy to filter. I've featured two bottle companies on the bottom of this post that make customized water bottles. What a great back to school or end of the season idea!

Sugared drinks are not healthy, but the pre-made beverages are usually sweetened with chemically modified  high fructose corn syrup. When I serve my family or guests something to drink besides water, I prefer to sweeten it myself with natural sugar.

I've included a very simple recipe for homemade lemonade. With all the time saved not buying single serve beverages, you'll have time to make a pitcher and savor a glass over ice.
Ingredients:
  • two quarts water
  • juice of 4 lemons
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
Really, it's that simple. It's healthy,delicious and friendly to the earth. And I really hope neither my life nor yours is ever so busy that we don't have time to pour a glass of lemonade... Enjoy!


Friday, August 13, 2010

Food Safety Green

According to the US Recall News, the USDA has issued over 20 food recalls in the past month alone for possible food borne illness bacteria. Lettuce, spinach, apples, hamburger, and sprouts; all have been recalled. The very food that should be sustaining life becomes life threatening. According to the medical site Wrong Diagnosis,

Listeria can be caused by eating food from an animal infected with an infectious agent, or from food that is contaminated from the food handler (who is infected with Listeriosis), or from contaminated soil or water, or from toxins produced by an infectious organism.

E. coli can be caused by exposure to toxins, poisons, environmental, or other substances or eating food from an animal infected with an infectious agent, or from food that is contaminated from the food handler (who is infected with E. coli food poisoning), or from contaminated soil or water, or from toxins produced by an infectious organism.

Salmonella is caused by exposure to toxins, poisons, environmental, or other substances. or eating food from an animal infected with an infectious agent, or from food that is contaminated from the food handler (who is infected with Salmonella food poisoning), or from contaminated soil or water, or from toxins produced by an infectious organism.
Notice a pattern here? The problem begins with factory farming. The crowded conditions allow for easy spreading of disease among the feedlot. An additional concern once the livestock is ready for market is the nature of the processing. The animals are processed in massive machines, over a thousand heads at a time. One sick animal can infect an entire run of meat, resulting in possible contamination of millions of pounds of food. In all fairness, much of the food may not be contaminated but due to the high volume processed at the same time, it's impossible to narrow it down. Therefore an entire batch must be recalled.

Likewise with vegetables. Factory animal farm water run off to fields of mass produced fruits and vegetables and the contaminated water brings the bacteria up through the roots of the vegetable, embedding it in the food. Again the system is so large, it is impossible to trace the to the infected plant thereby necessitating massive recalls.

These concerns are the crux of the slow money and slow food movement from the very inception. Small farms, small gardens, independent business people. If something goes wrong, it's easy to trace the root of the problem and quick to be fixed. The waste of millions of pounds of food due to the impossible nature of tracing the source of the bacteria just appalls me.

Animals raised in fresh pastures with safe food will not become diseased. They are not breathing on top of each other. They are not infecting the water sources near their farms with massive amounts of sewage overflows from their infected waste. The nearby soil remains healthy. The vegetables and fruit grow hearty and healthy, free of bacteria.

I've written about shopping local and small businesses in the past. It seems now, indeed, our very health depends on it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Extreme Green

Yesterday, I read a story about a new car powered by methane from human sewage.  My first reaction was "no thanks", but then I got closer to thinking to "why not"?

One of the essential elements of the green movement is to challenge our comfort zones. I've heard people say, "I'm busy, I don't have time to separate my trash", at a party as I try to separate the aluminum out of the clean up bags. I've heard the argument that "global warming" is just left wing propoganda and that it really doesn't matter anyway. Truthfully, I'm not a scientist and the conflicting reports remind me that you can find a statistic to say anything you want to hear. I'd just prefer not to politicize a love of the planet.

I began to consider some of the hyper-eco heroes we've seen in the headlines. Colin Beavan's No Impact Project immediately comes to mind. Mr. Beavan and his family spent a year living with "no impact" by buying nothing except for locally grown food, walking or biking everywhere, and creating zero impact by offsetting everything they did with an ecofriendly offset. I've not had a chance to see the documentary, but it has a national television premier, August 28th on Planet Green (click here for the trailer).

Another inspiring story is Amy and Adam Korst, with their Green Garbage Project. From July 6, 2009 to July 6, 2010 they conserved and documented every single piece of trash they generated. They made conscious steps to produce zero trash. At the end of they year, the trash they had fit in a SHOEBOX. Consider that the next 52 weeks when you wheel your full garbage can to the curb for trash collection.

These are only two examples of the sort of folks I consider "extreme greenies". They are going beyond mindfulness and into full fledged activism. I am inspired, but also the first to admit, I don't think I could do what they've done.

In a recent conversation with my pastor, (while he was talking more about our spiritual paths), he challenged me to choose one thing that I am completely comfortable doing and one thing that I am uncomfortable doing. I thought to apply this to my ever increasing choices to live green.

There are a lot of areas of complete comfort in my greening of my life. I compost kitchen scraps, I dry clothing on a line, I wash in cold water, I use(d) cloth diapers, buy thrift clothing, blah blah blah. I even have walked an occasional errand. (truthfully, where I live the roads are unsafe for bikers, but I can walk in a ditch and avoid crazy drivers that way).  I also use reusable female products after an embarrassing service call from the Roto-Rooter man. Perhaps that is TMI, but there is nothing like being told "those really shouldn't be flushed" by a stranger holding a bucketful of a years' worth of such items to make someone get over the squeamish factor.

I began to consider the choices I am not comfortable making. I recently read an article about living without toilet paper. No. I cannot go there. We only eat out about twice a month and I cringe when our overly generous portions of food are slung into styrofoam containers for us to take back home. Would I take my own containers to the restaurants? Hmmm, that does challenge my comfort zone, a lot. I'm not an aggressive ambassador for green living. I do it for me, but other than writing the blog, I let other people make up their own mind. This would take my greening into the world. Maybe it's time. I'll think about it. One other comfort zone challenge is the shampoo free one, the challenge to not use chemical shampoos on my hair. It sounds like a pain, but using cloth diapers did at one time, also.

The point Our Daily Green wants to make is simple. We all know where we draw the line personally. Today, I'm going to challenge you the same way I've been challenged. Pick one practice you are comfortable adapting and one that makes you a little uncomfortable. Start doing both of them. See what you can do that makes you comfortable and see what pushes your comfort zone. Before long your boundaries expand and you've adopted a new behavior.

Tell me, friends, where do you draw the line? Consider what you could do instead. Perhaps instead of going "toilet paper free" you may go to one ply, or recycled tp, or just to use less sheets. Incidentally, putting it on the roll over saves paper, also. Yes, it's proven. Maybe splitting a meal at a restaurant so there are no leftovers to contend with. Maybe showering every other day (using half the water and shampoo) instead of daily. The point of "extreme" green is to inspire us to reach higher. Unlike an Olympic runner, I will never win a gold medal, but that doesn't mean I cannot lace up running shoes and jog.

Our Daily Green would love to hear about what you decide and the behaviors you decide to adopt (as well as not adopt)... Happy Greening!

Green Products -  Save Money & Energy

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Local Staycation Green

For a variety of reasons, this was the first year Our Daily Green & family did not take a week long summer vacation. As August kicks off and back to school fliers appear daily, I must admit, I feel no deprivation but instead, relaxation about not going anywhere. No packing suitcases, filling the tank with obscene amounts of gasoline, no prepackaged convenience foods along the drive. All in all it was almost more rejuvenating to stay home than to go away.

Reflecting on the summer of staying home in no manner suggests we did nothing. In fact, part of the joy of staying home was having the time to look in our own backyard and enjoy our local pleasures. We had the opportunity to stop saying, "that looks like something fun to do someday", and actually get out there and experience it.

From the bicycle Tour of the Valley
We volunteered at a local festival of the arts and met several artists and craftspeople. They were kind enough to reward our time with discounted merchandise. We did several 5K runs for local charities and found ourselves joining the camaraderie (and or commiseration) of the local running club. We went kayaking at a local lake in a nearby metropolitan park and we hiked beautiful nature trails along the same lake and woods.  We attended parades and local sports events. We discovered new farmers' markets and farmers. We ate at new restaurants, mingled with local musicians and enjoyed the offerings our area has.

Such pleasures are not only found in large metropolitan areas. Our Daily Green is in a small town. We are in a sparsely populated area halfway between Cleveland, Ohio and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, near Youngstown, Ohio. If we can find so many wonderful things to do nearby, imagine what can be found in your own backyard.

Dear readers, here is your chance to showcase something fun to do near where you live. You're invited to include links in your reply.

What is your favorite thing to do close to your home?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday Blog Hop Green

I've just learned about blog hops and while late in the day, I still thought I would link up. Any fellow green bloggers are welcome to join the hop, it's a way to find new blogs and read some different views. I really liked the Green Earth Bazaar so I'm happy to be in such fine company!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Popcorn Green

One of my favorite, healthy snacks is fresh popped popcorn. In the not so distant past, I had quite a discussion with some friends about "things that our kids know nothing about". The conversation included record players, cassette tapes, typewriters, percolator coffee makers, and film cameras. Then someone said, what about popcorn that doesn't come out of a bag in the microwave?

It never occurred to me how few people make popcorn from scratch anymore. The convenience of microwave popcorn is not worth the taste sacrifice. Oh, I admit, I've purchased it a time or two, but the small servings, the higher calories, and the trash it generates always makes me wonder why I bought it. Microwave popcorn often utilizes unhealthy oils.

I'm a popcorn connoisseur. I've been using a  stovetop popcorn popper for years. It looks exactly like the one in the photo, but it's a bit more time worn. It has a crank handle to keep the popcorn from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan and fills the popper with every batch. If you haven't made popcorn outside the microwave lately, I highly endorse this product.

If you want to make kettle corn with one of these poppers, just add 3 tablespoons of sugar to the oil and kernels at the beginning. Keep cranking the handle and you'll have fresh perfect kettle corn.

Popcorn made fresh on the stove is lower in calories, cost, and garbage. I buy my popcorn in bulk, not single serve packets wrapped in plastic. It's one of the least expensive, healthy and fresh snacks I can serve.

Studies indicate a snack before bedtime can increase seratonin levels and promote quality restful sleep. Carbohydrates increase seratonin levels in the brain. Complex carbohydrates, which raise the level of tryptophan in the brain, have a calming effect as well. A combination of the two is ideal as a pre-sleep snack. It takes only 30 grams of high-quality carbs to see an increase of seratonin levels in the brain. A small bowl (approximately 4 cups) of popped popcorn equates to 30 grams of carbohydrates.
Happy Popping!




Sunday, August 8, 2010

Partisan Politics Green

The mini-rant brought to you courtesy of a friend who sent me a note questioning my opinion of The First Lady's trip to Spain and the carbon footprint it created on tax payer dollars.Thank you for the inspiration, I hope this clarifies Our Daily Green's position.

I responded as best I could borrowing generously from a NY Times editorial/rebuttal of the criticism. The truth is, I don't have a strong opinion about the matter. I am not the parent raising my child in a spotlight. I am not the child growing up under a microscope.

Children of Our Daily Green DC, April 2009
We traveled to Washington DC last spring and one of the things that struck me standing outside the White House fence, spying Secret Service snipers on the roof and watching press corps mulling around the grounds is how the First Children will never just be able to run to the playground.

I cannot speak to the decisions that a Presidential family makes because I'm not walking that path. I think though, if I were, I would probably offer my child every opportunity possible to experience the world and enjoy the privileges for the sacrifice of a normal childhood.

But that aside, while that was the spark for today's post, I would rather like to ask why caring for our planet, our environment, healthy living, and saving money has become a partisan issue?

I don't understand why "green" has been deemed a "left/liberal" issue and "consumption" a "right/conservative" issue. Neither issue need be mutually exclusive. Everyone can care about our planet and want to conserve resources. We need not debate about global warming to know that oil/gasoline are not infinite. We need not debate whether garbage is attractive. We need not debate whether it's better to feel healthy than not. These are human issues not something along party lines.

Does flying in an airplane leave a carbon footprint? Yes. Do I expect that planes will stop flying? Not likely. Our Daily Green is a blog about small steps and simple choices we can make that will add up to make a difference. We've written about not using bottled water, buying less stuff, shopping thrift stores, eating at home more often, and air drying clothing. Small manageable steps that anyone can adopt. I try to encourage and educate about different ways of living that are more in harmony with our planet. I don't want to politicize my love of the earth. Our Daily Green just wants to share this passion in an approachable, honest, and manageable way.

Choosing green just feels natural.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Night Pizza Green

Our Daily Green spent the day doing several green and several less than green things, including, hanging all the laundry (that was washed with organic soap in cold water) out to dry, mowing the lawn, vacuuming and driving the kids to and from band camp, cross country, and more cross country. (I have one more trip yet today). These are the days when cooking is low on the list of priorities.

But before I say "Let's order pizza", I'm more likely to say, "Let's make pizza".

Pizza boxes, while made from cardboard, are NOT recyclable once they have been used. While the boxes are a lovely earth friendly corrugated cardboard, the grease from food ruins the paper and will contaminate the recycling process. Frozen pizzas are hermetically sealed in plastic then placed in cardboard and often, it's difficult to tell where the box ends and the pizza begins. Nevermind even trying to read the list of ingredients. Processed food is simply that... processed. It has ingredients designed to help the food maintain it's texture and flavor after being made, cooked, sealed, frozen and recooked.

Tonight's Dinner
Pizza may be my most favorite food on earth so there has to be an environmentally friendly solution. Naturally, it's to make it from scratch. The price and environmental footprint are lower and the flavor is higher.

I am going to share my easy easy pizza dough from scratch recipe with Our Daily Green's readers. I adapted it from a cookbook so long ago, I cannot remember where it originally came from, but just know that it's well worth the effort. The key point is to measure the temperature of the water and your crust will be perfect. I recommend investing in an instant read thermometer.

EASY pizza crust 
  • 1 packet of yeast 
  • 1 cup of warm water (between 105 and 115 degrees)
  • 2 1/2 cups of flour (you can use whole wheat)
  • 2 Tbl. oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Mix in the sugar, salt and oil. Pour yeast mixture into a well in the middle of the flour and mix well. Let crust rest 5 minutes. Knead on a floured surface, but don't overhandle the dough. Shape into crust and cover with your favorite sauce and toppings. I often toss handfuls of any leftover veggies onto my pizza, add fresh basil & tomatoes from the garden, and experiment with the types of cheese I use. A favorite is herbed goat cheese. 
Bake at 425 degrees on the bottom rack for 15-20 minutes.

A few other hints: oil the cooking sheet then sprinkle it with corn meal. That will really give your crust an authentic taste.

Top your pizza with whatever you like. I usually have a 3 part pizza, each section with everyone's favorite toppings. My daughter has watched me make it often enough that she usually makes the crust. (see, I don't have to cook!!)

In the time it takes to order a pizza or preheat an oven to cook a frozen pizza, you can make your own for less money, with fresh and organic ingredients, no packaging, and a quick cleanup.

What are your favorite pizza toppings?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

One hundred things green

Today is Our Daily Green's 100th post. In the past year, I've posted 100 different ways to live a greener life for both your wallet and our planet. I've shared household hints, ethical companies, worthy charities, and earth friendly ideas.

When I started this blog it was with the hope that it would feel like a conversation between friends, not preachy. As a fun departure today and in the hopes of nurturing a friendship atmosphere, I want to share 100 things about FreshGreenKim that may serve as a springboard for common ground to build on that. Without further ado, I thank you in advance for your indulgence.

  1. My favorite food is fresh tomatoes. I cannot think of anything that makes my mouth water faster. I've been known to sit right in the garden when I'm supposed to be picking them, wiping them on my shorts and eating them right off the vine.
  2. A big fresh tomato was my eldest child's first solid food.
  3. I find very little to like about housekeeping.
  4. But I love clean floors and will spend hours a day vacuuming, mopping, sweeping. I also will clean on my hands and knees once a week because the mop doesn't get everything. I'm a bit OCD that way.
  5. I never liked sewing and some of my 4H creations looked like they were made for aliens, not humans.
  6. My idea of a perfect afternoon probably involves drinking red wine or a cold microbrew.
  7. I don't know how to order fancy coffees. The folks at coffee shops always look so disappointed when I ask for a plain, black coffee.
  8. I could drink plain, black coffee by the potful.
  9. I have unusually short fingers. I've never met an adult with smaller hands than I.
  10. But I have a large ring size, about 7.5 (in case you were inclined to buy me jewelry).
  11. I may be the only woman on the planet who doesn't like shoes. My feet are also a freak of nature.
  12. I have very short, wide feet and find most shoes horrible torture devices or like clown shoes because I have to buy them two sizes too big to accommodate the width.
  13. I live barefoot, in flip flops or slippers. And most of my socks have holes in them.
  14. When I was 5, I sang Silent Night at the top of my lungs during the pre-Christmas Eve mass. I'd like to imagine it was cute, but it probably was pretty obnoxious.
  15. When I was 10, I won Outstanding of the Day and Week at the Ohio State Fair for a public speaking contest.
  16. When I was 11, I represented my elementary school at the regional spelling bee and was eliminated in the first round on the word incense. (I overthought it, I*N*S*C*E*N*T*S). Incense has a scent, right?
  17. I never wanted to be a nun, but used to say the rosary with my grandma everyday when she was visiting to suck up.
  18. My other grandma taught me how to bake bread from scratch, a skill I still exercise from time to time.
  19. She also taught me how to fish, but that is not a skill I exercise, ever.
  20. She also taught me how to knit, and I taught my daughters. It's a skill they exercise far more often than I.
  21. Instruments I have played (not with any amount of skill, but usually with someone finally giving up on me): piano, clarinet, harp, and dulcimer.
  22. Harp and dulcimer were from girls who lived with us and tried to teach me. Unsuccessfully.
  23. I love music because I tried so hard to master an instrument. I appreciate the work that goes into making good music
  24. Literally, I had to stop piano lessons because my fingers stopped growing. (see #9)
  25. I admit it, I think fart jokes are funny.  Not the farts themselves though.
  26. I don't watch much television at all.
  27. When I do, my first choice is reality television, nothing esoteric or documentary-ish. I figure if I'm going to waste my time, I really want to waste it well. (shows I like include: Top Chef, American Idol, Celebrity Apprentice, Hoarders,  oh and ... Real Housewives of NJ)
  28. When I get into a book, the world disappears. I literally cannot put it down.
  29. I have tried to cook a meal with one hand and book in the other.
  30. I also tried to iron clothes the same way. Bad idea.
  31. I am a laundry freak. I love ironing, and even will iron polo style shirts, as well as my cloth napkins. It's how I get to catch up on reality TV.
  32. Organization does not come naturally or easily to me. I'm scatterbrained, but prefer to think of it as having multiple interests. {Oh look, a penny!}
  33. I cannot sing or remember the words to songs, but that never stops me.
  34. I hate hate hate the "slug bug" game.
  35. I invented a different game, where you tap the person next to you very, very lightly when you see a Cooper Mini.
  36. Speaking of hate, it's always been considered a curse word around Our Daily Green's house. So I amend #34. I cannot stand, abhor, cringe at the "slug bug" game.
  37. I also cannot stand eggplant. I cannot handle the slimy texture. Really. There is no way you'll sneak it a dish. I have a sensitive palate.
  38. I love jewelry, but not gems or expensive pieces. I don't want to have to worry about something I'm wearing.
  39. I developed a metal allergy and haven't worn earrings since my second child was born. She has the same issue.
  40. That is the ONLY reason my naval was never pierced 10 years ago when it was a really cool thing for moms to do. I never thought I'd be grateful for that allergy.
  41. I know it's unhealthy, but I love getting a tan. I love being outside in the sun. I try to be good about sunscreen, but sometimes am careless.
  42. If I could, I would move to a tropical Caribbean island and write all day. I'm thinking St. Martin, the French side would suit me well.
  43. I don't speak French, but spent about a year and a half as a translator for a French website. Thankfully, I knew the material and had good software.
  44. I don't speak any other language but wish I did. I had 3 years of Latin in HS and one year of German.
  45. I went to 3 different high schools, and the 3rd one didn't offer Latin, hence the year of German.
  46. I once dropped a phys ed class in college because I couldn't find the right entrance to the gym. All the doors I went to were locked, so I dropped the class.
  47. I almost didn't graduate from college because I waited until the last quarter to take that phys ed requirement again.
  48. It was volleyball and I thought it would be easy, even for a non-athlete like me.
  49. Our instructor (are college phys ed teachers Professors?) wanted us to master the overhand serve to pass the class. Hand eye coordination is not my strongest suit.
  50. Actually, coordination in general is not my strong suit.
  51. I always have a bruise somewhere on my body that I don't know how it got there, but I must have walked into something. (probably while reading a book, see #28-30!)
  52. Every single one of my freakishly short fingers has a scar on them.
  53. Nobody has ever called me to be a hand model.
  54. But I was in a television commercial. Two of them, in fact.
  55. I can speak publicly with ease, but acting paralyzes me.
  56. I've also sang karaoke in public, but to quote my spouse, "Don't feel bad, nobody's any good". He wasn't invited back.
  57. I have never found anything about exercise enjoyable. I think it's that clumsy thing (#50).
  58. I still do it, but not at gyms. Just in case I cannot find the door (#46)
  59. I run, but that's a generous term for it. I enjoy 5Ks mostly for the camaraderie, not the running part.
  60. When I was 12, I spent a season of softball where the only action I saw during games was running to roll up the coaches' windows when it started to rain.
  61. I've pretty much always gotten what I wanted, but I usually worked really hard for it.
  62. I was painfully shy throughout high school, probably from being the new kid all the time.
  63. Before then, I used to get in trouble for talking too much.
  64. By college, most of my shyness retreated again.
  65. My first real job was making keys and engraving gifts. 
  66. My next real job was at a grocery store.  
  67. My next real job was as a union rep. for the grocery store.
  68. I walked on a picket line when I was 8 months pregnant.
  69. My hardest job is the one I have now, being a parent.
  70. My easiest job is the one I am working on now, writing.
  71. I love to cook and will try almost anything.
  72. I've never liked cooking fish, though.
  73. I often order some sort of fish when I eat out and let someone else master the fish cooking.
  74. When I eat out, I really would rather eat 5*star less frequently than 3*star more often.
  75. My best dishes are probably Chicken Piccata or Tarragon Shrimp. Or maybe Chicken Paprikas. Recipes only given under duress or for major dollars.
  76. Yes, I can be bought.
  77. Though, I will probably give most of what I get away.
  78. I love helping the little guy. (#67)
  79. I am in love with a good cause. And I'm terminally gullible.
  80. I give money to beggars/panhandlers when I see them. The dollar I give them won't make my life worse, and POSSIBLY it will make theirs better, even if just for a moment.  
  81. My children make me smile and scream. Often within the same hour.
  82. I'm not afraid of hard work, but I'll always look for a shortcut.
  83. I have finally accepted that leadership is not a strong skill I possess.
  84. I don't like to delegate. I do all the work myself and then get mad that nobody helped.
  85. That's why I'm a better worker than leader.
  86. I like to weed my garden. Really. There is something zen-like that happens when pulling weeds.
  87. I am a former smoker, but not preachy about it. That's because I know I could pick it up again in a heartbeat. I could always take it or leave it. That's why quitting wasn't that hard for me, but starting up wouldn't be difficult either.
  88. The fact that I listed something about weeds and smoking one after the other is sheer coincidence. I do not partake in anything illegal. I cannot imagine how anyone could trust "the drug dealer" so I won't go there.
  89. That's why I like wine or beer. I trust Ernest and Julio's label. I know exactly what will happen if I have a glass or two or more.
  90. My faith has carried me through a lot of tough times. What Would Jesus Do is not just a trite rally call, but a reminder how to live.
  91. I sometimes cry when I see how people of faith hurt each other. It makes me want to hug an atheist.
  92. I cry easily and empathetically. When people I love hurt, so do I.
  93. Most people tell me my best feature is my smile. That makes me smile even more.
  94. My vision of the world is one where everyone loves each other and grasps hands, and maybe even sings Kumbayah. You don't even have to be on key or know all the words. (#56)
  95. I hate debating controversial issues, but I often start them anyway, so I can hear how other people feel. I just don't want to be the one countering. I prefer to throw it out there and sit and watch it unfold.
  96. I believed fervently in Santa Claus until I was (gasp) in 5th grade. My Sunday School teacher said something about "now that we're old enough to know there is no Santa, let's talk about what Christmas is really about".  As everyone nodded their heads, I felt my cheeks turn crimson.
  97. While I may have stopped the Santa belief, nobody will ever shake my believe in my fellow man. I believe honestly and sincerely that people are GOOD.
  98. People rise to the level of what we expect from them. I expect good.
  99. I wish I could be a stand up comic, but that's too close to acting.
  100. I really believe we can change the world for the better, one small step at a time. Wouldn't you join me?
Would you please share something with me that resonated with you or that may give me a smile?