January 2011 - Our Daily Green

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Five Hours

This story isn't green but I wrote it on my other blog. It's just about being a member of the human race.

If you ever wondered what it is like to volunteer at a soup kitchen, here is my first hand account.

Five Hours

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Laundry Detergent Green

After last week's challenge to do a "Body Soap Detox", a lot of folks asked the obvious question, "What is so bad about soap?" We need soap to keep ourselves clean as well as our homes and our clothing. The problem lies more in what is used to make the soap and the additives for scent,softening, filler and to make it work more efficiently. Since our skin is in constant contact with fabric, how we clean that fabric is just as important as how we clean our actual skin.

Many modern laundry detergents are complicated mixture of chemicals. According to How Products are Made,
Very rarely is soap simply soap. For example, although people commonly refer to laundry detergent as "soap," it is actually a synthetic combination that functions much like soap, utilizing derivatives from crude oil to create a surfacant which is what bonds to the dirt to wash it away. Water contains minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese which react with detergent to form a precipitate that doesn't rinse out, eventually causing laundry to feel stiff. To offset the formation of precipitate, manufacturers add in sulfuric acid making it more difficult for the minerals bond with the water.  

In addition to a surfactant, modern detergent contains several other chemical builders such as different phosphates which make the surfacant more efficient and also sequester minerals, meaning that they hold them in solution, preventing them from precipitating out. Although many detergents are now limiting the use of phosphates, they still utilize several other chemicals, including agents that help prevent soil from settling back on washed clothes. Fluorescent whitening agents are also common. Oxygen bleaches such as sodium perborate improve the detergency of the mixture, especially in low-phosphate or no-phosphate products, as well as helping to remove some types of stains. Processing aids such as sodium sulfate are also used to prevent caking and to standardize product density.

Perfumes are also found in commercial detergents to cover the odor of the dirt and any chemical smell from the detergent itself. Suds control agents also have a role in detergents—too many suds can cause mechanical problems with a washing machine.
Charlies Soap Laundry PowderSound confusing? We think so. Sound like something you want to wear all day? Not us, especially considering that residual chemical scum is deposited on the fabric with every washing. After about 10 washings it reaches 2% of the weight of the fabric (Clemson University rinseability test available). This residue is perfume, ultra-violet brightening dyes, salts, surfactants, processing sids, washing machine lubricants, and a variety of oils, fats, and polymers which stiffens the fabric by binding the fibers together.

It really doesn't need to be so complicated or laden with chemicals. By subtracting instead of adding, we can get a better, less expensive, and safer product. Last summer, Our Daily Green discovered Charlie's Soap, a biodgradable, hypo-allergenic, and phosphate free laundry soap. Charlie's Soap does not cover up stains and odors with scents and brighteners. It is made with a unique blend of biodegradable coconut-based detergents and high-grade, completely soluble, and naturally occuring washing soda from the Green River area of Wyoming.

We ordered Charlie's Soap and were amazed to learn we only needed a TABLESPOON per load. That's all! After using regular detergent with all the chemicals, we did need to clean our washer of residue left behind. It was really disgusting to be honest, to see the grey sticky gloppy stuff that came out on our rags the first few loads. To think that had been next to our skin! After about 3 washes, all the residue was gone and our laundry got softer and softer. We haven't needed to use fabric softener at all. (Stay tuned for Monday's guest post about ways to naturally soften clothes and cut down on static). Charlie's Soap arrived in a reusable cloth drawstring bag, with no other bulky or unnecessary packaging.

After using it for several months, we're not ever going back. In fact we are getting ready to order a 5 gallon bucket of it, that we estimate will last 4 years! (Remember, it only uses a TABLESPOON a load) And it works wonderfully in cold water, too. Our clothes are clean and soft and our towels are fluffy!

Our Daily Green is so impressed by this product that we contacted the company to see if we could host a giveaway. One lucky US reader in the month of February will receive an 80 load bag of laundry powder and a 17 oz. spray of all purpose cleaner. In order to qualify for the giveaway, all entrants must comment on this post and send me your email address so we can contact you if you win. For additional entries: "like" Our Daily Green and Charlie's Soap on Facebook and tell me as much in your comments.

Giveaway is open to US readers until February 28, midnight EST.

DISCLOSURE: Our Daily Green received a few samples of Charlie's Soap and a small sample bottle of all purpose cleaner. We just really love this product and wanted to tell you about it. The people at Charlie's Soap were quite gracious to offer the giveaway.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Pay It Forward Green

Pay It ForwardThe pay it forward movement became popularized by the movie of the same name. The premise of "paying it forward" is about karma, doing a good deed without any expectation of reciprocity, but simply for the pleasure of doing something nice.

Pay it forward 2011: I promise to send something handmade/homemade to the first 5 people who leave a comment here. They must in turn post this and send something they make to the first 5 people who comment on their status. *The rules are that it must be handmade/homemade by you and it must be sent to your 5 people sometime in 2011.

I decided to take that pledge from my personal page to Our Daily Green. Inspired by a friend of mine who already sent me her pay it forward gift, Our Daily Green wants to share five different people, organizations or businesses that inspire us and encourage you to support their venture and in turn share with us some of your favorites.

We are located in the heart of what is sometimes called the Rust Belt, the corridor from Pittsburgh, Youngstown, Cleveland, and Detroit, through Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. These are industrial areas that have lost a lot of steel and manufacturing jobs. When we shop our local economy, we keep our dollars in the community.

Starting in the Detroit area, the jewelry making friend who inspired this post, Janet's Designs. She accepted my pay it forward challenge and then I commented on her post. She sent me a lovely sea glass necklace. Janet has an Etsy shop for her jewelry and makes stunning hand crafted pieces. Etsy is a fabulous way to find handmade gifts. It's a national venue for the crafty. If you're in the market for something personal and unique, Etsy is the place to find it. Check her page for this month's special.

Next on our trip through the rust belt is a Cleveland, Ohio artist, Lindsayknits. The owner and creative force is also a Cleveland city school teacher. She is active in local craft guilds, including the  Salty not Sweet Indie Craft Show in Ohio City. Her hand knitted purses, sweaters and coin purses are also available at her online Etsy shop.

Continuing the journey along the rust belt corridor is the Junior Achievement of Mahoning Valley. Junior Achievement promotes an entrepreneurial spirit and educates local young people with confidence and savvy. They sponsor fundraisers throughout the year, including the highly successful holiday auction through Bidding for Good, profitable online auctions for non-profit causes.

Located in Youngstown, Ohio Catullo Meats is an old fashioned hometown butcher shop. Their owner has engaging cooking videos and volunteers around town teaching children healthy eating and easy recipes.

Last stop in our rust belt tour is a farm I've written about in the past, Walnut Hill Farm in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. Their family farm raises pasture raised cage free eggs, poultry, beef and lamb.  Their owners are a wealth of information and graciousness. (Pst, Walnut Hill? Meet Catullo's!)

Each of the five people, organizations or businesses are folks Our Daily Green has a personal connection with. We have received no compensation for our endorsement other than a lovely necklace from Janet's Designs as part of the pay it forward movement that inspired this post. Our Daily Green is affiliated with Bidding for Good after making auction donations to the JA auction last December. I was so impressed by the set up that I partnered with their group. If you work with a charity and want to learn more about how to set up your own online auction, follow the links contained on my blog. Our Daily Green will receive compensation for every new charity that joins Bidding for Good.

We invite you to share some of your favorites in the comment section and give a shout to someone who has made a difference in how you do business.  Please list the location as well to help promote your area!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

No Soap Results

Last week, Our Daily Green's household embarked on the soap free challenge outlined here. When I posted the link and challenge on my personal Facebook page, a fascinating discussion ensued and two friends also joined the challenge. In short, I know five people (including myself) personally who embraced the challenge, although I only was in close proximity of three (again including myself) of them.

Now, to be fair and honest, my teenage daughters would probably be mortified that I am writing about their soaplessness in a public forum. I bribed them with the possibility of a $100 shopping spree on organic, fancy fou-fou stuff. Mr. Daily Green didn't embrace the challenge and admittedly was a bit skeptical. Similar skepticism was voiced throughout the Facebook discussion. Jokes about smell, hygiene, and French people ensued. There was a snickering tone to the entire premise, but with my blogging integrity as well as potential to win on the line, I stood strong.

I consider the soapless time a skin detox. I gave my skin a break from the constant chemical stripping and then replenishing of its natural defenses. That is what soap does. It absolutely strips the dirt from the body, but it takes the natural oil with it. Then it adds back in another sort of oil to compensate.

In the winter, I tend to only shower every other day as my skin is dry and I'm not working in the yard getting muddy or dirty. So I extended the challenge an extra day to get in three soapless showers. I used an unlathered washcloth, and still washed my body as I would with soap, but just with water.  The first thing I noticed was that I didn't have that "squeaky clean" feeling, but also that my skin didn't feel like it was being pulled tight. Instead, I felt refreshed.

My family did agree that we felt a little itchy. I'm relatively sure that is more a function of the hard water (and we always are a little itchy, just not paying as much attention and trying to decide if there was any effect of the soaplessness). One of the points about spreading germs was mentioned and I had to reiterate that the challenge didn't call for filthiness, but rather soapless, and not on the hands. Common sense stays intact. Washing hands with soap is crucial to keeping germs from spreading.

I think ultimately the point of the experiment was to show us that we don't need soap as often or in the quantities we think we do. There is no doubt I love a good lathering up. I'm not prepared to give up my artisan soaps however, now I see that smearing it on my skin repeatedly day after day is not NECESSARY to good hygiene. I think the point was well made.

You're not likely to ever read a post from me that says I went "a year without soap". While I commend such soapless pioneers, I don't consider myself that adventurous. I do think we ought to reconsider that which we've always accepted blindly. I will try the experiment again in the spring, summer and fall... and if it is met with success, I will only use soap every other shower, or when I'm really muddy, or that sort of thing. I have a lot of skin allergies and problems, I've tried creams, lotions, cortisone and steroids. Maybe it's time to realize it's not about adding something but subtracting something to get my skin healthy again.

The past 8-9 years of my life where I've been embracing and really studying organic/green stuff, I've learned to reconsider what I thought was true. It's not about dismissing everything or any sort of radicalism. It's about opening our minds to a simpler, less complicated choice. This is just one of them.

PLEASE NOTE: If you did the No Soap Challenge and want to enter to win the $100 gift certificate to Nubonau, you need to submit your entry by TOMORROW, Jan. 26th! Send your no-soap experience to nomoredirtylooks (at) gmail (dot) com, with NO SOAP in the subject line, and keep it to 100 words or less. Please include your first name and city of origin.

Monday, January 24, 2011

LED Lightbulb Green *chance to win a light makeover*

One of the single biggest energy consumers in the house are traditional light bulbs. While many consumers are making a switch to compact fluorescent bulbs, which is indeed an improvement, there are still some problems with fluorescents that can be circumvented by use of LEDs.

LED lights (light emitting diodes) are literally cool. They emit no heat, they are highly energy efficient, and they contain no mercury so that in 17 years (approximately) when they burn out and need disposal, there are no hazardous waste considerations. Other advantages include the ability to dim an LED light, to soften the mood, when necessary.

Fluorescent bulbs DO contain trace amounts of mercury. While it takes a long long time for them to burn out, when they do, their disposal must be handled as hazardous waste. In fact, it is illegal to throw out CFLs in many states. (Here is an interactive state by state guide, courtesy of 1800recycling.com).

Our Daily Green has utilized LED holiday lights, and looks forward to the next phase. We liken CFLs to LEDs the way cassette tapes are to compact discs. Both deliver the same product, but the latter is much more user friendly and efficient. Our Daily Green is honored to promote a fabulous contest for anyone who uses light in their building. That's right! If you turn on a switch to see what you're doing in your space, you are eligible to enter this promotion!

Cree CR6 LED downlight
Cree Lighting, a revolutionary LED company is offering one lighting makeover/monthly to a lucky entrant. All the entrant has to do is take a photo of a poorly lit area, explain briefly how an LED makeover would benefit their space and they are eligible! Really, it's that simple!

Each month the Cree prize selection committee reviews the photos and selects a winner to receive 5 Cree CR6 LED downlights. These are lights intended for recessed lighting fixtures. They only consume 10.5 Watts, but they deliver warm light and are designed to replace up to a 65 Watt incandescent light. They also work with dimmers and are dimmable to 5 percent.

As a disclaimer, Our Daily Green has received nothing for this post. Really, other than the joy of knowing we can promote LED lighting as the next step in truly green living. Our Daily Green was contacted by Cree to guage our interest in their product and liked the contest so we wanted to share it with you. Currently, LED bulbs are pretty expensive. The value of a makeover with an estimated retail value of $49/lightbulb is around $200!

If you are in a building that could benefit from a lighting makeover, be it a school, home, church, or business... get your camera out, polish up a few words and send in your entry. Cree chooses and showcases one entrant a month.

Past winners are featured here, including a cat shelter in Michigan. Customers include Lee University and Denny's restaurants. Cree also has partnered with Habitat for Humanity International  and pledged $1.5 million to provide high-efficiency Cree LED downlights for the kitchens in all new Habitat homes built in the United States over the next three years.

What are you waiting for? Get your camera out and ENTER to win...
Good luck and please let me know how this works out for you! If any of the winners come through Our Daily Green, we will do a feature story on you in the future!

Now stop reading and go... 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Healthy Money Green

Our Daily Green would like to invite you to join us for the Healthy Money Summit. It’s a free online event happening the week of January 24-27th featuring 24 pioneers and experts helping us create a healthier, happier, more productive relationship with money.

Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility MatteredThe visionary author Woody Tasch, of the Slow Money movement, is in the spotlight. We wrote about Slow Money last summer.  

Keypoints of the seminar include:

•New ways of earning and spending that liberate your time and passion for your real life's work
•New investment strategies that favor the triple bottom line and sustainable business practices
•New psychologies that favor generosity and sharing over hunkering down
•New currencies that favor connection and community over hoarding and lack
•New economies that favor Main Street over Wall Street, and prioritize community well-being as the new bottom line
•And a new money spirit of "enough for all," rather than "winner takes all"

Hosted by bestselling author Vicki Robin who co-wrote the bestselling Your Money or Your Life, you’ll also hear from luminaries such as Riane Eisler, John Robbins, Hazel Henderson, Lynne Twist, Alisa Gravitz, David Korten, Satish Kumar and many more. For a complete list of the speakers and their bios, see the registration page.

The speakers in this series will reveal their latest insights and wisdom on how we can create a better financial future for us as individuals and as a collective whole. It’s all on the phone and you can participate in as many sessions as you like.

We're excited to learn from these amazing leaders, and hope you can join Our Daily Green!

Registration is free. See HEALTHY MONEY SUMMIT to sign up!

Co-sponsors include:
The American Sustainable Business Council, CSRwire, Global Sufficiency Network, Intent.com, Global Exchange, The Shift Movie, The Shift Network, MaestroConference.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Super Bowl Sunday Green

In 18 days, the National Football League will present Superbowl XLV, in Arlington, Texas at Cowboys Stadium which opened in 2009. Cowboys Stadium is listed as one of the most beautiful eco-friendly stadiums in the world, leading the way for future building to adopt environmentally responsible practices. While such arenas are notorious for their wastefulness, we commend any effort to improve. Cowboys Stadium incorporated truly innovative and thoughtful green measures.

A few features at Cowboys Stadium include:  

  • Reduction of solid waste by 25%
  • Energy use reduction of 20%
  • Recycled plastic seats
  • Reduction of water use by 1 million gallons
  • 90% of the old stadium construction waste recycled
  • Renewable energy purchases
  • 30 acres of grass parking to reduce toxic runoff into nearby waterways
  • Highly efficient LED display (world's largest)
  • Use of native plants and trees
  • Recycling bins

While the majority of us will be not be at the actual stadium watching the game, Our Daily Green has the opportunity to share some downloadable Super Bowl Party Games. Python Printable Games has a fabulous selection of clever, ice breaking, interesting games for many occasions. I was given a sample of their Super Bowl Party Games and cannot wait to play them with our group of friends.

Quite frankly, sometimes the best part of a football game is company and what better way to enjoy it than with some friendly, fun games? The pack I received contained games for everything about the Super Bowl, from commercials, to halftime shows, to football, to food, to beer trivia. Each download also comes with an answer sheet. I think the games will make the party that much more fun and look forward to sharing them.

I appreciate downloadable games because there is no wasteful packaging or carbon footprint from shipping. You can print as few or as many games as you need, so no paper is wasted. Python also offers several FREE printable downloads to test their product and they also offer a 30 day money back guarantee.

I received the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.  Product review giveaway .

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

No Soap Green

Last year, Our Daily Green contemplated the idea of Extreme Green and examined how far we'd be willing to go for a greener lifestyle. Personally, I like pushing my boundaries and seeing if each day I can take one more step. Now, we have found a contest to motivate us.

The authors of the fabulous book, No More Dirty Looks are sponsoring a unique challenge over at their blog of the same name. No More Dirty Looks is a no-holds-barred guide about the truth behind the toxins found in today's beauty products. Authors Siobhan O'Connor and Alexandra Spunt ask their readers to STOP USING SOAP for the next week or at least 5 days between now and January 26th. You can still shower, rinse, rinse, do your thing. But hands off the bar of soap and body wash. 

So why target soap?

The fact is, we really don't need soap as much as we think we do. In some cases soap can do more harm than good, especially in the case of an anti-bacterial soap, which contains triclosan, an ingredient linked to endocrine disruption that is linked to early puberty and reproductive issues. However, even soaps without this antibacterial agent are not necessarily good for the body.

Soaps contain chemical surfactants that allow oil and water to mix. Soap with more surfactants is better at removing oil, but it disrupts the skin's pH balance when it strips the oils. Healthy skin has a slightly acidic pH of about 5.6 to 5.8 on a scale from 0 to 14, but most soaps are highly alkaline with a pH between 9 and 10.  Essentially, even a soap that is made for dry skin first strips the oil then replaces it with added oils.

With the skin being the largest organ on the body, it is important to care for it properly. Like other popular detoxing diets cleanse the body's organs, a "soap detox diet" could balance the natural protective pH of the skin, helping with dry skin, eczema, and other skin issues. Many soaps are simply too harsh for the skin, loaded with risky chemicals and alcohol, which can cause premature skin aging and irritation.  While conventional wisdom has us convinced that Cleanliness is next to Godliness, the point is that soap may not be needed to be clean. The contest isn't asking us to avoid water and washcloths, just soap.

The contest was inspired by blogger Sean Bonner's account of a year without soap, after being inspired by Richard Nicoley's testimony to soap free washing.  In Sean's words,
As I just mentioned, my skin feels better than ever before. Not that it ever felt bad, really, but it feels awesome now. Still no stink at all, I swear even when I'm really active and sweating I don't notice any B.O., and I used to be ├╝ber self-conscious about this and would think I was stinking if I walked up a flight of stairs too quickly. So this is a huge improvement for sure. And with the exception of changing climates drastically, even the dandruff is history. My previously wavy and mostly unmanageable hair now seems much more willing to bend to my will, a dream of mine since I first looked in a mirror, brush in hand, then tried and failed to make any sense of that monster. So I approve for sure.
Here are the details of the contest:
The rules: No soap, no body wash, nada. This one isn’t about hair though, so you can totally shampoo—just don’t be cheating with those suds. (And yes, for the sake of basic human decency, we encourage you to continue to wash your hands and private parts, obviously.) 
Instructions: Send your no-soap experience to nomoredirtylooks (at) gmail (dot) com, with NO SOAP in the subject line, and keep it to 100 words or less. Please include your first name and city of origin. We need all stories by end of day, Wednesday, January 26th. We will post the best testimonials on our site, as well as on our Facebook page. The person with the most compelling one, be it good or bad, will get a $100 gift certificate to shop at the killer natural beauty store NuboNau.

Pretty please: Help us spread the word! Tweet it, Facebook it, scream from the rooftops, and tell your friends to get on board with you. Besides, it’s better not to stink alone.

The reason for the challenge: Just to test conventional wisdom. More and more people are choosing to go without soap and other conventional cleaning methods. We still use a little, but less than we once did and our skin is happier for it. Give it a whirl.
So are you game? Would you join the no-soap challenge?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Remember your bag green

One of Our Daily Green's first posts of 2011 reminded us to take our own bags to the store. Personally, my biggest problem was more about remembering to take my bags IN the store. Week after week, I either would do either run back out to my car, try to juggle my items without a bag (but with keys and a purse, not such a graceful sight to behold), or the worst option, just get the store bags and vow to remember my own "next time".

Shortly after that post, we discovered a wonderful company whose mission is to educate and assist implementing this very small but vital step. ConservingNow is the dedicated mother/daughter team of Gayle and Meghan:
Meghan is a lawyer who believes that lasting change requires community and legislative action. She is deeply committed to environmental living and blogs about conservation issues and news. She was inspired by cities (such as San Francisco, CA) and countries (such as Ireland), in their quests to rid their environments of toxic plastic bags. 
Gayle began her career as a first grade teacher who believes that early education creates positive lifelong habits. She was widely recognized for her innovative teaching style as one of the first educators to utilize computers in the classroom to teach reading. As a former educator and CEO, Gayle understands the challenges business and community leaders, teachers and parents face in creating positive and sustainable, long-term changes.
ConservingNow's site is filled with many resources to educate and assist. One of the simplest items is a FREE window cling reminder.  They also sell an array of colorful and compact Envirosax™, a durable, water resistant, compact bag that carries up to 44 pounds/20kg. The Envirosax™ is available in over 20 different designs, and folds down to approximately the size of a tennis ball, to conveniently be carried in your purse or jacket pocket at all times.

One of  the most valuable resources ConservingNow offers is their age and grade appropriate teaching kits. What a great Earth Day lesson for a classroom! Each kit contains 30 window clings, canvas bags, and books, templates, and calendars, as well as an oversized bag for the teacher.

Conserving Now will send one Our Daily Green Reader the Envirosax™ of their choice. To be eligible, please like their

Facebook Page: ConservingNow

and leave a comment in this post so we can verify. For additional entries, tweet or share this post and leave a comment indicating as much. This giveaway will end January 31, 2011 at midnight EST. The winner will be chosen from random qualified entries.

ConservingNow also is offering free shipping on orders over $25.00 as well as 10% off a first time purchase.

a fabulous way to use Envirosax™ as a gift wrap
love love love this idea
much better than a disposable gift bag

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Organic Chicken Green

One of the biggest reasons people do not eat organically grown and raised food is the higher price. We're so accustomed to artificially low priced food available in massive quantities that we balk at the higher prices. Rightfully so. In a belt tightening economy, we want to get the most value for our dollar, and food is a necessity. Everyone needs to eat.
healthy &
happy chickens get a chance to move!

Today, Our Daily Green's focus will be on chicken, as it's the most popular meat in the nation and considered healthier because chicken breast is a white meat. The myth of white meat being healthier is a clever marketing campaign that confuses what is truly healthy or unhealthy. Ounce for ounce white meat is lower in calories, but dark meat is higher in nutrients.

So what is the big deal about organic chicken?

As we've discussed previously, factory farming produces a lot of food at low costs but high risk. In the case of animals, they are force fed an unnatural diet and given massive doses of antibiotics (ever wonder why antibiotics don't work so well on us anymore when we get sick? We've built up a resistance to them).

One of the things to be cautious is the advertising claim on chicken that it contains no growth hormones. That is because it is illegal to feed growth hormones to chickens. Instead, chickens are fed growth additives. One of the commonly used additives is roxarsone, which has been used since the 1960s by commercial chicken farmers. Roxarasone controls internal parasites, stimulates growth and improves the color of the chicken meat. Roxarasone also contains arsenic. In 2009, New York Representative Steve Israel introduced the Poison Free Poultry Act of 2009, but the bill never became a law. Commercial poultry is still fed arsenic laced additives to make it look pretty. We can only imagine what it is doing to the inside of our bodies.

Eating free range, locally produced chicken is the way to ensure safe food. Find a local farmer and ask what they feed their chicken. Look for chickens that eat bugs and plants, foraging for the food that they've always had naturally. Learn what you're eating and spend a few extra dollars today. Don't let food factories sneak additives into your food so they can sell you cheap food and make huge profits by volume. Local Harvest is a fabulous resource for finding farmers by zipcode.

Don't be chicken! Go find a safe, healthy source of poultry!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Such Simple Green

Over the past week or so, Our Daily Green has highlighted ways we can change/shift our lives to become more mindful and filled with thoughtfulness.

This is so simple, so easy... so c'mon you can click and give a bit of info.

We live in stressful economic times. I regularly showcase the ways we as one person can live in a more frugal and ecologically friendly way. What if... we could encourage those in charge of opinion making, and their constituents to do as much? How cool would that be?

HERE is a formal way for you to encourage your elected officials to do the very thing I hope we encourage you to do.

Our Daily Green has repeatedly encouraged our readers to give up bottled water. We've showcased the assorted ways it is just as healthy, way more green and way less impact on the environment. If it's good enough for us, it's good enough for those we elect.

Here is a way to encourage them to set an example...

Enter your zipcode. Fill in your name and address. Click and mail. Could it be more simple?

Please. Go, Click, Encourage. It matters

Please comment if you clicked, I'd love to learn about your efforts. I have copied the reply from one of our Senators here in Ohio. What is your state up to?

here is the reply from my Senator:

Dear (FreshGreenKim):

Thank you for sharing your thoughts about bottled water and our nation’s water usage.

Not only must we ensure that the water we drink is clean and safe, but we must also be responsible stewards of this and other irreplaceable natural resources. You may wish to know that in my Washington, DC office my staff and I use filtered tap water.

In the future, should relevant legislation on this issue come before the Senate, I will keep your views in mind.

Thank you again for getting in touch with me.

Sherrod Brown
United States Senator
We encourage our readers to ask their elected officials to give up bottled water. Please feel free to share their reactions here. I'm still waiting on two more. I will post as they arrive.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dry skin green

Today's post brought to you by the annual winter case of dry skin and flyaway hair. As we've recently talked about water and showering and the sort, one of the most drying elements to our skin actually is the water we use to clean ourselves.

The deposits in tap water, such as calcium carbonate and magnesium actually reduce the effectiveness of the soap we use, resulting in using more soap, and drying the skin more. These minerals are also highly alkaline, stripping the skin of moisture, as our skin has a natural acid mantle, with a pH of 4.5 to 5.  Additionally, municipal water is also treated with chlorine to purify it. The purpose of chlorine is to kill unwanted bacteria in the water supply, but it also will damage any living tissue (skin/hair) that it contacts.

As Our Daily Green has attempted to embrace more earth friendly and frugal choices in our walk, one of the major concerns is replacing unnatural chemical beauty products, which may temporarily cover the problem, but in turn create new problems in the way of additional chemicals absorbed into the body and plastic waste generated by the packaging.

Two of our favorite products are directly from the kitchen pantry. Apple cider vinegar and used coffee grounds. Both are acidic, working to naturally restore the pH balance of the skin and hair. (from Alive.com)
photo courtesy of:

There are a couple ways to use cider to soften your hair. Some folks use it as a final rinse after shampooing, but Our Daily Green sprays the cider on dry hair and lets it penetrate the shaft for about 15 minutes before shampooing. While the cider is soaking in, we exfoliate with our cooled coffee grounds (that we mix with a little olive oil).

Apple cider vinegar can also be used as a body splash to soften skin and coffee can also be used as a hair treatment (although we wouldn't recommend it for lighter hair as it may darken the hair).

If you're suffering from dry skin this winter, consider some of the natural and green ways to alleviate your discomfort.

Do you have any natural beauty tips or hints that you'd like to share?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Gasoline Green

Yesterday's LOW Impact Green addressed some of the easy greener choices we can make to lessen our environmental impact. Inspired by the No Impact movement, Our Daily Green hopes to inspire green couch potatoes to walk before they run. Or perhaps, more accurately, to the topic of today's post, drive more efficiently.

Giving up gas powered vehicles is a noble choice that we truly applaud. However, due to the design of many cities and suburban areas, it's not always feasible. For example, there are a limited number of errands within walking distance of our home, There is a (irony) gas station with a small convenience store, a dog washing facility, a small specialty grocery store and a hardware store. There are no sidewalks along the curving road, and the ditches are deep. Walking on the edge of the road is the only option (the gravel berm even makes bike riding risky). This is the case with many residential areas, especially in the suburbs, making driving a necessity. 

Rather than bemoan the lack of public transportation, bike lanes, sidewalks, Our Daily Green concedes that driving is the way most of the population moves around town.

However, there are several driving tips that use less gasoline. As gas prices go up, less gasoline use is not just environmentally friendly, but also bank account friendly.

  1. As tempting as it may be to let a car warm up and idle on cold mornings, 30 to 45 seconds of idling time is adequate for the engine. The rest of the time just wastes gasoline.
  2. That same time can be spent cleaning off snow and ice from the vehicle. Unremoved snow and ice causes tremendous wind resistance and can quickly add up to an additional 100 pounds, lessening fuel economy.
  3. Speaking of which, any unnecessary weight will decrease fuel economy. Keep your trunk empty, remove bike and ski racks when not being used.
  4. Do not use drive through services, where the car can idle for 10 minutes or more. Park the car and go inside the building for errands. 
  5. Use the cruise control feature, which automatically accelerates at the most efficient rates. 
  6. Coast whenever possible, such as on hills or when approaching a red light.  
  7. Make certain your tires are inflated to the maximum PSI. Under inflated tires cause higher fuel consumption. 
  8. When idling at a railroad crossing or long light, shift your car to neutral to allow the transmission to cool. 
  9. Travel the speed limit. When driving in the city, where most lights are timed to stay green based on the posted miles per hour. Any speed over 40 MPH forces your auto to compensate for wind resistance.
  10. Buy gasoline at the coolest hour of the day, when the gasoline is more dense and you'll get more fuel for your money.

Challenge yourself to see how long a tank of gasoline will last. Keep track of improvements and see how efficient you can become with your driving. Bigger steps include carpooling, choosing a more fuel efficient car, and yes, walking whenever possible.

Do you have any hints you'd like to share? Please leave a comment below to add to this discussion...

Thank you!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

LOW Impact Green

This week, Our Daily Green has been receiving emails to participate in a fabulous week long No Impact project showcased by Yes! Magazine. If you're unfamiliar with the book, blog, and documentary by Colin Beavan, watch the short clip below. Briefly, he set out to live for a year with no environmental impact and chronicled his adventures in several media outlets. He's truly a "rock star" to the environmentally aware.

Such individuals inspire me to do better, but in complete honesty, I look outside at the 20 degree weather, with nothing but locally grown snow cones and salted roads, and I just find myself grateful for my heated indoor space and vehicle to move me from one heated space to another.

Much like aerobics classes can be too intense for a beginner, so can going green. That is why this week I've chosen to discuss LOW impact changes instead of the NO impact changes. (Today's No Impact challenge was to consume less energy and they suggested Herculean efforts that would intimidate a novice *a green green?*) 

Just like a couch potato will not do well in a triathlete competition, we'll start with baby steps here. Consider Our Daily Green your personal trainer.

Let's get started!

1. Get up and walk around your house and turn off any lights, radios, or televisions that are in unoccupied rooms. Pretend your father is walking around the house asking if someone owns stock in the electric company. Yes, that is part of the universal dad code, inspecting for unnecessary lights that are on.  

2.Make note of how many of those lights are still incandescent bulbs and put fluorescent or LED bulbs on your shopping list. Replace one bulb a week until you no longer use incandescent bulbs.

4. After you push the refrigerator back in, fill empty containers with water and put them in the refrigerator. A full refrigerator runs better and more efficiently.

5. Air dry your laundry. In addition to saving energy, it will add moisture to the dry winter air and also the clothing will be less staticy.

6. Lastly, now that you're warmed up, drop your thermostat a degree or two. Grab a sweater or blanket if you get chilly.

Not a bad LOW impact workout! Congratulations!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Stop drinking bottled water

This week, Our Daily Green is promoting simple measures we can take in our everyday walk to nurture a more economical and eco-friendly life.

bottled water is rubbish
photos from: London Design Festival: We Want Tap
If you take no other green steps this year, we implore you to kick the bottled water habit. Yes, yes, we've harped on this before; here, here and here (and probably a few other times as well).
One of the most frustrating "gimmicks" about water bottles is the recycling symbol. Unlike empty aluminum cans or glass jars, plastic bottles do NOT turn back into plastic bottles. Therefore, every bottle of water made of plastic continues to deplete petroleum resources by using virgin materials. Plastic bottles are recycled to synthetic carpet or plastic lumber. Ever try to drink water from a carpet swatch or lumber bottle?

The waste generated by bottled water is astronomical. Only 30% of water bottles are even recycled, the other 70% wind up in landfills or floating as plastic waste islands in the oceans and waterways.

We've been duped into thinking bottled water is somehow safer or more convenient. Consider the logic. Restaurants still serve tap water. If any industry were concerned about safety of what it is serving, it would be restaurants. But bottled water is no safer and also is ridiculously more expensive. Not to mention, what is more convenient that turning on a faucet and filling a glass exactly as full or half full as your thirst dictates?
drinking fountain app
There's an (FREE) app for that!
Oasis Places
Water fountains still exist in public places. In fact, Thermos company has sponsored an iPhone App to locate water fountains and encourage refilling (naturally) a thermos, but any water bottle will do. The app is free.

If water safety is a concern, several companies make water bottles with built in filters or water can be filtered in a pitcher or via the home faucet.

One hot day last summer, spending the afternoon at an outdoor amusement park, every member of our group had a refillable water bottle. We estimated that we saved half the cost of admission by filling our water bottles versus buying bottled water at $3.00/bottle. We each filled our bottles about 5 times and there were 5 of us. That was a savings of $15.00 per person for simply one day.

Rethink the obsession with overpriced, environmentally unfriendly, and no more safe than tap water from plastic bottles.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Banning Plastic Bag Green

Bring Your Own Bag Static Window Cling
Conserving Now
Today, Our Daily Green will share the thought process that is likely familiar to several of our readers as we try to green our lives, lessen our impact and save some money in the process.

Several municipalities around the USA have banned plastic bags or tax them or charge for them, and around the world, several countries have also banned plastic bags, most recently, Italy. 

By now, we've heard ad infinitum about carrying our own bags to the store and I'm pretty good about reusable bags in the grocery stores, but admit that I often forget them for other merchants.

We do reuse the plastic bags that make it into the home, but they seem to grow and multiply. I'm not a fan of plastic bags, but they are difficult to avoid completely. Since I don't get as many bags from shopping, I save the bags from bread and veggies, the zipper bags from cheese, small bags from stores when the clerk beats my request for no bag, etc. I swear the bags then have babies. What do we reuse all these bags for?

The number one use for plastic bags in Our Daily Green's home is dog waste. We have a 65 pound Rhodesian Ridgeback and he seems to generate his own weight in waste. It occurred to me that I couldn't go without plastic bags completely because I wouldn't know what to do with his waste. Then it occurred to me that there really must be a more environmentally friendly solution than tying his waste in sealed plastic bags then throwing it out. Veteran composters know waste from carnivores cannot be composted with vegetable and plant waste, as the bateria will contaminate the soil. All manures are not equal. Herbivore manure from horses and the like is fine for fertilizer but not dog or cat waste. Many garbage collectors ban disposal of pet waste resulting in a terrible conundrum for the responsible pet owner. 

Drum Digester Tank
This led Our Daily Green on a search to discover the Drum Digester Tank. It is buried beneath the ground and is designed to break down the wastes from your pets by using natural enzymatic processes and beneficial microbes like a septic tank for dog waste. There also are worm composters that break down the waste and remove the hazardous bacteria, but as cited earlier, the pet waste cannot be mixed with plant material, so two separate composting systems would be needed. The tank seems like a much less labor intensive solution. (Additional reading for cat owners: How to Compost your Cat Litter)

To bring us full circle, composted pet waste is another way to eliminate the need for plastic bags. Plastic adds nothing useful to our environment and in fact is quite harmful. There are always alternatives with a little research and effort. Our planet will thank us.