August 2011 - Our Daily Green

Friday, August 26, 2011

Thai Cooking Green

One of Our Daily Green's favorite topics is healthy and fresh eating. We often encourage cooking from scratch. But let's face it, we're busy people and starting from scratch for every single meal is not always feasible. It's easy to fall into the trap of take out food or fast food, which we strongly discourage, for a few reasons. First, the waste. The packaging, the styrofoam, the plastic utensils all fill our garbage cans almost faster than they fill our bellies. Two, the uncertainty of what is in the food we're eating. We prefer to know if the ingredients are healthy and sustainable, instead of factory farmed or laden with preservatives and chemicals.

To find a happy balance, in line with our 80/20 philosophy, Our Daily Green seeks out convenient products that do not compromise quality or health. To this point, we recently had the pleasure of testing the Thai Kitchen line of products after being selected to host a Thai Kitchen® Deliciously Different BBQ House Party™.

Thai KitchenIf you're unfamiliar with House Party, we highly recommend checking it out. Different companies put together party packs of their merchandise and hostess favors and send it to you. You are only obligated to share the favors and host a party. There are no sales involved. I find the parties a refreshing change from the direct sales parties that are such a popular way to socialize, especially as someone who eschews unnecessary consumerism/stuff purchasing.

Thai Kitchen saucesAfter studying the Thai Kitchen website and the ingredients used in the products, we felt comfortable with the quality of the product. We were impressed at the number of organic, gluten free, and vegan products. None of their products contained the highly processed high fructose corn syrup. We applied to host and within a few weeks we received a fabulous pack of Thai Kitchen products, as shown in the photos.

delicious thai buffetWe prepared several recipes, including Thai Broccoli Salad, Chicken Watermelon Salad, Thai Meatballs with Peanut Satay Sauce, and Coconut Milk Ice Cream.

(about the table decor? most of the decor is thrift shop finds, like the wicker and hats, while the tablecloth is actually a black bedsheet, the colorful center accent piece is a pillow sham, and the flower petals a cut up lei from another party... we even decorate in a green way)

From Thai Kitchen's website:
...Thai culture and cuisine is as diverse as Thailand itself, and there is no single dish or ingredient that truly exemplifies Thai food. ... are made up of contrasts—hot and spicy, sweet and sour, pungent and fragrant. Fresh fruits and vegetables, and seafood are the main medium to which the Thai cooks add their potpourri of flavorings—combinations such as chilies, garlic and onions, curry mixtures, coriander, coconut cream, basil, lemon grass, mint, kaffir lime, and tamarind.  Not to be forgotten are the meat and poultry. Culturally, Thais are not vegetarians. As opposed to Americans who see meat and poultry as a dietary staple, Thais see them as a garnish, placing the emphasis on the fruits, vegetables, and fish, serving smaller portions. These low fat-meals burst with flavor and are typically much more healthy than the average American diet.
From a green perspective, we appreciate that many of the products are in glass or metal containers, instead of plastic. We also are pleased to find the ingredients in the sauces are not laden with chemicals or preservatives. The food was tasty, delicious and because the sauces and seasonings were premixed and premeasured, we didn't have to buy jar upon jar of exotic spices that we would rarely use. We had an opportunity to get take out taste, without take out waste.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

People Towels Green

Our Daily Green is proud to announce that we are now a PeopleTowels Ambassador. We first wrote about this simple product at the beginning of this year when we encouraged our readers to discontinue the use of paper towels.

About a month ago, we won a Twitter contest sponsored by DoYourPart and received two complimentary PeopleTowels in a small drawstring storage bag. (retail value $15.99) (in the interest of full disclosure, while we first wrote about PeopleTowels in January, yes yes yes, it did take winning a contest to actually start using them). 

Honestly, we're a little embarrassed it took as long as it did. What a cute and cool product! After receiving them as a prize, we did a little more research and signed up to be a PeopleTowels Ambassador. As an ambassador, we received another PeopleTowel as well as access to special discount codes to offer our readers.

green america
Nominate People Towels by Sept. 12, 2011
I took my PeopleTowels on a recent trip and was impressed by their convenience. Admittedly, it's a habit to break to not reach for scratchy paper towels or slow working hand driers, or even the ever convenient leg of my pants. However, after a few hand washings, it became second nature to use my PeopleTowels to dry my hands.

The company founder, Mary Wallace was inspired on her trips to Japan, where it is considered good etiquette to carry a personal hand towel at all times. She was determined to share the BYOT (Bring Your Own Towel) concept back home.

From their website:
What are PeopleTowels? People Towels are the newest concept in sustainability, and the latest in eco-chic fashion. An on-the-go, sustainable alternative to paper towels in public facilities, these reusable personal hand towels are made of a patent-pending fabric that’s 100% certified organic Fair Trade cotton. The light-weight fabric is absorbent, yet dries quickly. PeopleTowels are printed with eco-friendly dyes, and come in a variety of designs to appeal to different tastes and styles. Convenient hangtags even allow you to clip or loop your PeopleTowels to your backpack, belt buckle or purse. PeopleTowels are machine washable and will last for years. The towels will soften and fade slightly after repeated washings. You may see slight variations in the towels.

Don't you think it's time to BYOT? 
Our Daily Green readers save 10% off the purchase of 2 or more PeopleTowels.
Simply enter the code at checkout: ambassador4xivp

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Guest Post: Sustainability at Home

Today's guest post is brought to us by Amy at is an interactive website for individuals to come and discuss the environment from green business to natural disasters. We feel it is important for people to come together and share their thoughts, ideas and visions for the future. The more we can communicate what is happening in our world, the more people can be educated and the more we can progress. Beyond you can find us on Facebook and Twitter where we are continuing to spread the message about our global environment and the impact that we have on it every day. 

When we talk about the environment, we associate sustainability, carbon footprints and pollution to the ever pressing concerns. While there are many ways that we can reduce our negative impacts on the environment in all areas of our life, the first and foremost way to help the environment starts at home.

For those of you who are building your own home, it is important to consider sustainability at every step.  While eco-friendly options can cost more in the beginning, they will not only save you money in the end, but will also help you to reduce your impact on our environment, which is worth its weight in gold.

If you’re building from the ground up, here are some things to consider when designing and building your home:

  1. Choose recycled or natural materials whenever possible during the construction of your home, including purchasing furniture made from recycled materials.
  2. Insulate your loft, attic and cavity walls as insulation helps to heat the home in the winter and cool it in the summer. This will make your home much more energy efficient.
  3. Use water based paints vs. oil based paints in your home. You may not think it has an effect, but oil-based paints are actually less energy-efficient and more toxic.
  4. Install double or triple-glazed windows. The energy savings are well worth the initial cost or the time spent replacing old single-glazed windows.
  5. Use locally sourced supplies and labor. It sounds simple enough, but it is often underestimated how much of a difference it can make when you purchase locally, not just to help sustain your community, but also to reduce the pollution required to get the product to you.
Credit: Central California Green Construction (CCGC)

Now, once the house is built, or for those of you who already have a roof over your head, there are many things that you can do within the home to reduce your carbon footprint, even if you don’t have a sustainable building.

  1. Conserve water whenever possible. You can do this in many ways throughout your home and even get kids involved in the process. Some of the easiest ways to conserve water are to take short showers, install low-flow toilets or shower heads, ensure the dishwasher and laundry machines are full before turning them on and not leaving the water running while you brush your teeth.
  2. Shut off all lights, appliances and electronics when not in use. Although you don’t necessarily realize it, even a small bulb takes a lot of energy, especially when it is not an energy saving version. When you leave those on all day, regardless of whether you’re in the room or not, you are upping your energy consumption. The same can be said for leaving appliances and electronics plugged in. Just because they are not in active use, doesn’t mean that they aren’t draining energy.
  3. Switch to energy-saving products. In follow up to the previous point, you can further your energy-savings by switching to energy-saving bulbs or appliances throughout your home when it is time to upgrade.
  4. Adjust your thermostat. Research shows that by increasing the temperature in your home by two degrees in the Summer and decreasing it by two degrees in the Winter can provide major cost savings as your heating/cooling systems don’t have to work as hard to maintain a lower/higher temperature. Thereby, saving you cash in the long run.
  5. Get an Energy Audit. Just because you aren’t aware of how much energy your home uses on a daily basis, is not an excuse not to live more sustainable. Do yourself (and your checkbook) a favor by getting an energy-audit to see how efficient your home is and get suggestions for the areas you can improve on.
Credit: pnwra

By following these energy-saving tips, you can not only sleep better at night knowing you’re doing your part to help the environment, but also knowing that your energy bill won’t come as such a shock next time! Remember, that in saving the environment, you also save money and we all like saving money.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

How to wash your car without water

Before eco touch
While many conscientious consumers will shop for cars with high efficiency and environmentally friendly components, they aren't aware of the environmental damage they do simply by washing the vehicle. A typical at home car wash uses between 80 and 140 gallons of water. Commercial car washes are much more efficient, at about less than 45 gallons of water per car, but the water use is still tremendous. Additionally, the dirt and grime from the cars, which includes toxic petroleum and salt residues, travels back into the groundwater supply as it's rinsed off the car.

When Our Daily Green was contacted by Eco Touch to test their product, we were skeptical. A waterless car wash didn't seem like it would be very effective, but we were excited to try it out. As you can tell from the photo montage, we started out with a pretty dirty car. It is important to use microfiber towels to protect the vehicle's surface. You'll need two, one for cleaning and one for polishing. Simply shake the bottle and spray it on the vehicle, working in small panels from top to bottom. Wipe the dirt off with the first cloth, then polish with the second. We were amazed at the results! As you can tell from the before and after window photos, Eco Touch did a great job removing the road grime and leaving a nice polish.

Eco Touch products are endorsed by Green America for their commitment to environmentally friendly business practices and products. They are the only manufacturer of car care products to be approved by Green America, the leading resource for all Green consumer products.

Overall, the results speak for themselves. It was nothing short of amazing how well Eco Touch took the grime off my car. The surface is again shiny and smooth and there was no water wasted. It was convenient. Our Daily Green highly recommends the next time you have a car to wash to give Eco Touch a try.

The same window after

The cleaning towel and the polishing one

The finished result

All ingredients: Filtered water, plant-derived surfactants (for cleaning: alkyl polyglycosides), polymer emulsion (for shine: dimethicone), soda ash, preservative (less than .05%).

Disclosure: Our Daily Green received the spray bottle of waterless car wash to test free of charge. We recommend driving a clean car to avoid finger writing on windows and other acts of mischief.