June 2011 - Our Daily Green

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Drying for Freedom is Green

airdrying, clotheslines
The Mini Greens, c. 2000
Can you imagine living in a place that told you how to spend your money? Essentially, that is exactly what homeowner associations that forbid clotheslines do. Running a clothes dryer for a year can cost an average family about 50 cents/hour. Based on 10 loads/week, an hour to dry, that is an annual expense of over $250. In an economy where folks are cutting back, it hardly seems fair to be forced to spend money on something that otherwise would be free.

clotheslines across americaBeginning July 5, 2011 through October 4, 2011, Alexander Lee, founder of Project Laundry List will be riding his bike across the United States in a Clotheslines Across America tour to promote the benefits of air drying clothing. Additionally, the tour will focus on resetting temperatures on water heaters, eliminating standby electricity (aka "phantom loads" or "vampire power"), thermostat adjustments, more efficient driving, carpooling, water conservation, eating more vegetarian meals, and trip chaining.

Helping Mama Green, c. 2000
The clothesline movement is growing. British filmmakers Steven Lake and Adam J. Merrifield have produced a movie, Drying for Freedom. The film examines the right to freedom to use clotheslines from both an environmental and economic impact.

As evidenced by today's photos, Our Daily Green has used clothes lines and drying racks for many years, finding ways to make the smallest members of our family pitch in and do chores. We enjoy air drying our clothing year round, as it also helps clothes last longer (lint in the dryer is clothing fibers breaking down!), saves on ironing clothes as they dry without as many wrinkles, and also helps humidify the house.

Do you ever airdry your clothing?

(this story has also been syndicated at Your Olive Branch, your place to read positive, life affirming stories)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Clothing Swap Green

Thred UpThis is an idea whose time has come! Our Daily Green has long promoted the idea of thrift shopping to save money as well as resources on clothing. However, there are several drawbacks to thrift shopping, primarily the lack of predictability and the time investment. There is no guarantee that a shopper will find the right size after hours of combing the racks in a local thrift store. Online auction sites can overcome such concerns, but often at a premium price as bidding escalates.

But what if you could receive a flat priced box of the right size and style of clothing (of over 10 pieces) shipped right to your door? What if you received a prepaid shipping box to package your clothes to swap without ever having to set foot in a post office?

ThredUP is a great new online clothing and toy swap. For a nominal fee ($5.00/box plus $10.95 flat rate shipping), parents can receive a box of properly sized clothing as well as share theirs. ThredUP matches the needs through a national swap network. ThredUP capitalizes on the three Rs of environmentalism, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. ThredUP also offers book and toy swaps.

Thred UpThredUP has peer reviews and rankings to insure integrity between the swap participants. The site is easy to navigate and membership is free. Billing itself as the place for America's busiest families to easily exchange kids clothing online.  As of May 2011, the San Francisco based company's users were projected to swap over one million items. That's a lot of reusing and a lot of green saved! Our Daily Green encourages our readers to look into this swap service. ThredUP was recently featured in both The Economist and The New Yorker.

FTC disclosure: Our Daily Green is affiliated with ThredUP and receives a commission for each sign up. Nonetheless, we only promote companies that fit with our mission and that we think would be of interest to our readers. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Cars 2 Green

The Pixar animated movie, Cars 2 debuted with a number one spot at the box office this past weekend. The original Cars movie was a tribute to the heyday of American road trips on the iconic Route 66. While the original Cars took a look back in time, the sequel takes a look forward, by introducing a new character, former gas guzzler Miles Axlerod now converted to an electric car.

Cars Lightning McQueenThe movie has come under some criticism from conservative groups, but in an interview with Adam Chitwood of Collider, director John Lasseter insists that Cars 2 was not intended to be a message movie, but rather to simply reflect current events and headlines. From the interview:
... who would be a good bad guy in this world? And I kept thinking, in the world of Cars I think Big Oil could be an awesome bad guy. It was interesting, because while we were working so hard on the story the oil platform disaster in the gulf happened and it was so interesting to see how that all played out—we had nothing to do with that by the way (laughs).
We had already set on opening on an oil platform and I kept looking around like “I can’t believe this.” But it’s that notion of, me being here in California where everybody is—you know I have solar panels, I’ve taken my house off the grid, I’m in line for one of these new electric cars, and all this kind of stuff you know we’re just so focused on alternative fuels and “Why can’t we have alternative fuels now?!”
And I started thinking, it’d be awesome to have Big Oil so scared of alternative fuels that they try to undermine it and give it a bad reputation on a world stage, and I thought this could be something that could be a really interesting subject of the conspiracy and the bad guy. Because it’s sort of a little bit set in what’s going on right now. And part of that is, it’s not a message film, it’s just making it believable for today’s audiences.
Have you seen Cars 2? While Our Daily Green appreciates the showcase for electric/alternative fuels, the mass merchandising of plastic toys made overseas to compliment the movie probably offsets any encouraging environmental messages. Nonetheless, we're likely to see the movie. The original Cars charmed our family and we're looking forward to more of Lightning and Mater's antics.

What do you think? Should movies have a message or just stick to entertainment? 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Junk Mail Green

As fast as Our Daily Green discourages excessive consumerism, advertisers encourage it with mass mailings, catalogs and fliers. Even if you have opted out of junk mail in the past, somehow your name winds up on another list and your mailbox overflows with more advertisements. These advertisements not only tempt their customers to buy more stuff, they also have a tremendous impact on the environment.

Much of the unwanted mail  comes from sources the customer never sees or can track personally. Third party marketing services trade names and databases culled from prior purchases. Catalog Choice works to remove personal information from third party marketing lists and personal search services. With an annual donation of $20 or more, Catalog Choice will communicate and monitor all opt-outs to a list of key marketing companies. The company also has a free service to opt out of title-specific catalogs.

Catalog Choice is a nonprofit corporation based in Berkeley, California. They work with respected collaborators such as The Ecology Center, National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council. They are supported through tax-deductible donations as well as  grants from the Overbrook Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, Kendeda Fund, Goldman Fund, Weeden Foundation, Mead Foundation, and Johnson Family Foundation. Catalog Choice offers a valuable service to customers by protecting their privacy as well as saving natural resources by reducing unwanted mail.

Catalog Choice works with communities around the United States to save costs by reducing waste, engaging  their citizens, and building community pride. To join communities like Chicago, Berkeley, or Seattle in measurable waste prevention programs, request a return on the investment analysis for your specific community.

Follow Catalog Choice on Twitter and on Facebook

In accordance with FTC disclosure laws, Our Daily Green has been compensated for this article. 
Click here to sponsor a post on Our Daily Green

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Vacation Green

Last year, Our Daily Green had the summer staycation where we explored our own town. It was fabulous to see what was in our very own backyard from a tourist's viewpoint. We biked, kayaked, found local restaurants and farm markets, went to art festivals and ran 5K races. We saw our town at a slower pace and spent many hours exploring the second largest metropolitan park in the United States. 

This year, we are traveling, but we're trying to figure out the greenest ways to do so. We have been researching bike shares for the cities we can visit as well as the public transportation systems.  We also discovered some amazing tips as well as a contest at Recyclebank's site. This summer, readers have a chance to enter their Green Your Vacation  from 12:01 a.m. EST on June 22, 2011 through 11:59 p.m. EST July 31, 2011. The site offers valuable tips and interactive games to earn points as well as get educated.

Our Daily Green first showcased Recyclebank back in 2009, and the company has grown significantly since then. They now offer trash pick up in many cities throughout the United States, paying customers to recycle via rewards at local stores and discounts on national brands. Recyclebank makes money by saving municipalities landfill fees.

Even if your community doesn't offer Recyclebank's services, you still are eligible to enter their vacation contest and be eligible to win a trip to the Galapogos Islands or Costa Rica.

Recyclebank offers simple tips such as packing lighter to save on fuel costs for heavy baggage (take paperbacks instead of hardback books, for example). Heavier vehicles and cargo decreases fuel efficiency, so packing light doesn't just save your back, it also helps the environment.

What are some of your favorite tips to enjoy an eco-friendly vacation?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Canning guide green

Last week, Our Daily Green shared about our plethora of lemons. We found ourselves with an entire case of them and after exhausting many possibilities, we decided to try a bit of canning. While growing up on a farm, I was frequently an assistant to many canning projects, but I had never actually attempted to can anything solo and I really wasn't sure where to start.

Fortunately,  Our Daily Green received a fabulous guide to get us started with home canning, put together by another mom and blogger, Simply Sharon. I wasn't sure if I could work with the items I had in the house without buying canning equipment (just in case canning wasn't my cup of tea), but her canning guide, Simple Steps, walked me through the safest and most cost effective ways to can, how to can certain foods, and what I could use for which foods.

There are two types of food to can, low acid and high acid. High acid foods, such as lemons, do not require the same precautions as lower acid foods. There is a lot more explanation in the guide, but for my purposes, my questions were answered about lemons. Lemons are a high acid food, which can be safely canned in a water bath and also with reused jars. This is not the safest method for low acid foods, which again, is covered in the 41 page e-book.


Sharon's book is straight forward, with simple explanations and many pictures. All safety questions were answered as well as some methodology. Our Daily Green is so encouraged by her guide that we purchased a starter canning kit from an online auction. We also are researching a pressure canner for the lower acid foods we may want to can later this season. Her guide includes an overview of the basics, which canner to use, how to use both kinds of canners, what sort of equipment is needed, how to know the food is done, what to do if the jars don't seal. All the information a novice canner would need to get started.

Simply Canning is available in two formats. For an immediate download, Simply Sharon sells an e-book on the site. Otherwise, if you're more patient, and don't need all the information immediately, she also offers a free 6 week course, with one lesson weekly delivered to your email. The site has a vast array information and recommendations as well as a question and answer forum.

Simply Canning offers one of the most comprehensive places for information Our Daily Green has seen. With the help of the guide, we were able to make Moroccan Preserved Lemons, Lemon Marmalade, and fresh squeezed lemon juice. I love knowing that our food is prepared at home without any harmful ingredients or unnecessary fillers.

We received a canning guide for free using Tomoson.com created by WebBizIdeas.com. Regardless, Our Daily Green only recommends products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson product review giveaway disclosure.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Consumer Education Starts Early

The first R of an environmentalist's education is Reduce. The easiest, quickest way to reduce is not to buy something in the first place. In a consumer culture where buy, buy, buy is encouraged, it takes a strong will to resist the barrage of advertisements.

Even more so when the advertisements are directed to children. Many nations have restrictions and laws against marketing directly to children either via television, radio and print – as well as new media (Internet and other electronic media) policies in place making it illegal to advertise directly to children. Packaging, in-store advertising, event sponsorship and promotions can also be ways to market directly to children.

The United States has few advertising restrictions, and in fact, frequently encourages corporate sponsorship as a way to offset the cost of educating children. Companies such as Scholastic have partnered with companies such as Cartoon Network, SunnyD (a sugary artificially flavored drink that touts high fructose corn syrup as the second ingredient and has been named Worst Food of the Week by Consume This First), and fast food icon McDonald’s.

In a recent controversy, Scholastic partnered with the American Coal Foundation to distribute educational material called the United States of Energy. Due to widespread protest, the campaign was pulled after two days. However, corporate influence on education continues to grow. Scholastic defended their decision with this statement,
“We acknowledge that the mere fact of sponsorship may call into question the authenticity of the information, and therefore conclude that we were not vigilant enough as to the effect of sponsorship in this instance. We have no plans to further distribute this particular program.”
The Boston based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) asks Scholastic to go further and reject corporate sponsorship of curriculum. At change.org,  Christine George eloquently states, "I don't want Scholastic to sell my children's minds to the highest bidder."

When Scholastic partnered with the American Coal Foundation, the NY Times reported the CCFC's reaction, 
The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood, a tiny group in Boston, has often been at odds with Scholastic, a $2 billion company whose books and other educational materials are in 9 of 10 American classrooms. 
Last year, the group criticized the company for its “SunnyD Book Spree,” featured in Scholastic’s Parent and Child magazine, in which teachers were encouraged to have classroom parties with, and collect labels from, Sunny Delight, a sugary juice beverage, to win free books. The campaign has also objected to Scholastic’s promotion of Children’s Claritin in materials it distributed on spring allergies. 
And in 2005, the campaign tangled with the company over its “Tickle U” curriculum for the Cartoon Network, in which posters of cartoon characters were sent to preschools and promoted as helping young children develop a sense of humor.
One of Our Daily Green's friends, children's musician Raffi said in a 2009 BlogTalk interview, "
“It is simply unethical to advertise to those who are too young to understand what they’re being sold. My question is, If it’s morally and spiritually repugnant to exploit the innocent, why is it legal? In three decades of doing this work, I’ve never once advertised to children.”
His worldwide fame proves that it is not necessary to market directly to children in order to be a success. What do you do to keep your children safe from the influence of advertising?


Friday, June 17, 2011

Electric Bill Green

This week, EcoFactor, a Dallas, Texas company announced the results of their test pilot programs for energy savings. Their fully automated broadband service saved the average homeowner 17% on their electric billEcoFactor's energy management engine collects, stores and processes 24,000 points of data each day from individual homes, local weather stations and numerous other geographic inputs. Since approximately 50 percent of the average energy bill for American homes goes towards heating and cooling, such reductions result in significant cost savings.

Smart algorithms manage a home’s thermostat throughout the day, tweaking the settings to reduce energy consumption, yet maintain comfortable temperatures. The algorithms factor weather reports, the physical characteristics of the home, as well as manual input from the home owner. This service has limited availability currently, but is growing.

Sample rates from New York State's
Until your utility company has such a service in place, there are still many ways to reduce your energy consumption. Many electric providers offer a time of use (TOU) discount with a special meter to customers who use the bulk of their power during off peak hours.

Off-peak power consumption does not stress the electrical grid as much during day, so local utilities don’t need to use incremental generating facilities. Additionally, due to the way electric companies generate electricity, their turbines must run 24 hours/day to meet the peak demands. They cannot slow down their generators during off peak hours because it would take too long and require too much energy to get them running efficiently again for the peak hours. Therefore,  the companies want to reward the customers who use the electricity during the slow times, which also reduces the strain on the electrical grid.

A quick phone call to your local utility company can tell you if they offer TOU packages. Most of these packages do have a monthly fee, but if the consumer changes their habits to off-peak use, the savings will easily offset the cost of the program.  The utility companies will not tell the consumer about these programs, the home owner needs to inquire.

Even without a special meter and program in place for TOU rates, running the larger appliances at night (especially in the summer) keeps the appliances from competing with the air conditioner. A washing machine, dishwasher and clothes drier all generate heat. If they run during the warmest part of the day, it makes it that much more difficult to cool the house and reduces the strain on your air conditioner.

Speaking of air conditioners, if you've not had yours serviced yet this season, check your electric company's website for rebates on service calls. Simply by having an annual check up on your system, the customer is eligible for a rebate. In Ohio, our local utility company (First Energy) is offering a $25 dollar rebate on HVAC service calls. There are a number of ways to save on your electricity, often by starting at your local provider's site, where a consumer can find many tools to analyze their usage as well as make suggestions for savings.

Consumer Reports suggests raising the air conditioning temperature to 78 degrees and letting your fans do the rest.  A homeowner saves two percent in utility costs for each degree warmer on the thermostat. Check the energy-efficiency rating (EER). The EER is supplied by the manufacturer and typically certified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers. The higher a unit's EER, the lower its operating cost compared with other models of its size.

The image on the left is from an analysis of Our Daily Green's home. By seeing that the bulk of our usage is from hot water and laundry, we've contemplated a boycott of both showers and laundering clothes, but that may create new issues. There are a few other ways we can save, starting with shorter showers, turning the water off while lathering, and an insulated cover for our hot water tank. A little research and consumer diligence can save a significant amount  of both money and energy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons

Life has recently given me a case of lemons. Actual lemons, lovely tart football shaped fruit. Bursting with juice and flavor. An entire case of them. Any regular reader will know that Our Daily Green hates to waste food. We've blogged about ways to find new recipes for leftovers and how to use every piece of food that comes into the house. This unexpected case of lemons is no exception.

Since our children are past the age of lemonade stands, Our Daily Green hit the search engines for ideas. We already know that lemons are a SuperFood sidekick, as an excellent source of Vitamin C, nearly half the daily allowance. Lemons also contain limonoid antioxidants which have been shown to have healing properties that combat many carcinogenic toxins that could cause cancer.

Our Daily Green spent the past few days making Moroccan preserved lemons and lemon marmalade, as well as homemade lemonade. We plan to make a lemon meringue pie later today or tomorrow. We also use lemon in savory dishes and salad dressings. There is no shortage to the ways lemons can be used in the kitchen, but even then, a case is an awful lot of lemons.

Beyond the dietary benefits, lemons also have beauty applications as well as housekeeping uses. Lemon juice restores the skin's natural acid mantle that gets stripped by soap and hard water, working much the same way as apple cider vinegar, which we have written about in the past. A cut lemon rubbed on rough elbows and knees works as an exfoliator, while lemon juice is a good natural astringent that cleans the pores without disrupting the skin's natural pH. Lemon juice also will bring out natural highlights in lighter hair as well as soften dry, flyaway hair by smoothing the hair shaft and also helping with dandruff. Lemons also will lighten darkened fingernails.

Lemons don't just take care of the internal and external body; they also can be used to clean around the house. One of the easiest and most effective ways to clean copper is by dipping a cut lemon in salt and scrubbing copper with the lemon, stripping the tarnish and grime and restoring a sparkling shine.

Lemons also remove stains from wooden cutting boards and plastic bowls. A quarter cup of lemon juice added to a load of laundry is a nontoxic alternative to bleach.

And if you still don't know what to do with all those lemons, take a look at the charity, Alex's Lemonade Stand. Founded by Alex Scott, a little girl with cancer, she decided to raise money for other children also battling cancer. In August of 2004, Alex passed away at the age of 8, knowing that, with the help of others, she had raised over $1 million to help find a cure for the disease that took her life. Alex's family - including brothers Patrick, Eddie, and Joey - and supporters around the world are committed to continuing her inspiring legacy through Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation.

The next time life gives you lemons, celebrate! There are so many uses for this natural fruit that you'll find no shortage of ideas.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kinetic Energy Green: nPEG personal energy generator

*As seen on Shark Tank

Last weekend, my daughter and I walked 24 hours to raise money for the American Cancer Society. We walked with about 20 others and one of the primary ways our fellow relay walkers stayed entertained was with music devices or cell phones. One of the most powerful personal motivators was the text messages of love and support we received throughout the walk from far flung friends and relatives. Until the devices ran out of charge. Wouldn't it be fabulous if we could convert the energy from our footsteps into power for our electronics? Turns out, that's not such a far flung idea.

Personal Energy Generator
In fact, Aaron LaMieux asked himself that very question while backpacking through the Appalachian Trail. Aaron's engineering background led him to recognize the wasted kinetic energy as his backpack rubbed against his shoulders and hips with every step. His question led him to invent the nPower PEG,  Personal Energy Generator. This device generates power from movement. His Cleveland, Ohio based company, Tremont Electric, is a sustainable company that is dedicated to providing renewable energy to consumers around the world through a unique method of  kinetic energy harvesting. In March 2011, Fast Company named Tremont Electric one of the 10 Most Innovative Companies in Consumer Electronics.

As a practical example of how minutes moved convert to power,
nPower PEG• 1 minute of walking provides approximately 1 minute of listening time
on an iPod Nano
• 11 minutes of walking provides approximately 1 minute of talk time
on an iPhone 2G
• 26 minutes of walking provides approximately 1 minute of talk time
on an iPhone 3G

The device has applications for anyone who moves, including; backpackers, runners, college students, armed forces, first responders/emergency relief, exercisers, foot or bike commuters, and travelers. Imagine not having to stop for batteries or worry if you'll be able to plug your device in to charge. Imagine the convenience of generating your own power, simply by moving.

The nPower PEG will be featured at next week's Consumer Electronics Week in NYC, after placing 2nd in the October 2010 Consumer Electronic Association competition for innovative electronics.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Farmegeddon Movie Premier

The world premier of Farmegeddon is this coming weekend July 17-23, in Washington DC,  in conjunction with the Weston A. Price foundation.

From the press kit, a synopsis:
Americans’ right to access fresh, healthy foods of their choice is under attack. Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why. 
Filmmaker Kristin Canty’s quest to find healthy food for her four children turned into an educational journey to discover why access to these foods was being threatened. What she found were policies that favor agribusiness and factory farms over small familyoperated farms selling fresh foods to their communities. Instead of focusing on the source of food safety problems -- most often the industrial food chain -- policymakers and regulators implement and enforce solutions that target and often drive out of business small farms that have proven themselves more than capable of producing safe, healthy food, but buckle under the crushing weight of government regulations and excessive enforcement actions. 
Farmageddon highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasonably burdensome regulations. The film serves to put policymakers and regulators on notice that there is a growing movement of people aware that their freedom to choose the foods they want is in danger, a movement that is taking action with its dollars and its voting power to protect and preserve the dwindling number of family farms that are struggling to survive.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Organic Food (with a side of nepotism)

A few weeks ago, I shared a persuasive essay my 15 year old wrote. Her 13 year old sister had also written a paper, but didn't receive it back until the end of the school year so I had to postpone sharing her work. (Either that or the older one is my favorite!) Just kidding, sweetie, I like you better. But your sister is my favorite. (see how diplomatic that was?)

Eating healthy and locally is truly a family affair in Our Daily Green's home. We rarely have processed junk food, we like farm markets, we go to food shows, we enjoy eating and we make healthy choices. It was no surprise to me that both children chose similar topics for their separate essays. Especially when they regularly have to endure my pontifications. 

I am honored to introduce my daughter as today's guest blogger, featuring an editorial from her 7th grade English class. This is the Internet equivalent of posting it on a refrigerator. Thank you in advance for oohing and ahhing. 

organic food
image from: Tiki World
"Yes, I'd like an extra large hamburger with fries."

Is it even close to believable that when the person at the cash register goes and grabs that order; they are getting it from a farm in the back of the fast food restaurant? The truth is they are getting their food from factory farms coming to that restaurant from all over the United States. People should eat organic food' it is better for their healthy and local farms.

If people start to eat organic food, imagine what would happen. It could help all those organic, grass-fed livestock farms. If those farms are supported, more money stays local, which means better local economy. Also, there will be less money going to corporate big-box industrial farms. That means less money going overseas, which also will contribute to a better economy in the whole country.

Think about the treatment of animals on the industrial farms. It is very hard to conceive that each animal is cared for individually and treated well. Actually, they are fed with corn because it is cheaper, but cows are not able to digest corn correctly. They are supposed to eat grass. Since they do not digest the corn properly, this can lead to an E. coli outbreak, endangering everyone who might eat one of the cows that was diseased. The chickens on these industrial farms are fed with arsenic laced food to make their breasts grow faster. This is because the chicken breast is the most popular part of the chicken, and industrial farms want to produce as much of it as they can so the big-box farms can make more money. But, since the chickens grow unnaturally fast, they are not able to stand. Since they are not able to stand, they lay in their feces all day, contaminating their eggs, and giving them unhealthy infections, that might be carried to a person who eats one of those chickens. Also, all these animals are locked in dark, dirty barns. This has proven to significantly decrease the Vitamin D in the eggs of the hens.  (as of this writing the arsenic laced food has been banned two days ago
grass fed beef

In organic food, there are fewer chemicals. It was mentioned in the previous paragraph that the animals are given doses of hormones and steroids to make the popular parts in them grow bigger in a smaller amount of time. Some of the cuts of meat they affect are sirloins and chicken breasts. Also, organic fruit has fewer chemicals in and on it, too. A regular apple that is sold at a supermarket has an average of 30 pesticides on it, even after it is washed. Organic livestock and crops are raised with little or no synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or artificial chemicals. Organic farmers usually use compost as a fertilizer and rely on natural predators to control pests.

It is understandable that factory farmed livestock and crops are cheaper. This is because they grow the food in such unnatural ways, they have lot of supply, enough to satisfy the demand, and keep it at a good price. The average price for a pound of factory farmed ground beef is $2.49. The average price for a pound of organic ground beef is $3.76. Organic beef is more expensive, but extra money brings quality. If it is possible to spare the extra dollar, it will really pay off in the long run. An organically raised animal consumed by someone had a happy, healthy life. It was not raised in a dark barn, full of hormones, and the animal would be able to hold its own weight since it was grown naturally.

Organic food is so much better for your health than commercially produced food. Think about it. The factory farm animals are injected with hormones and steroids. This has been causing children to go through puberty and mature much earlier. Their bodies are not used to the extra hormones at such a fast rate, so just like animals, the children are becoming young adults at an earlier age. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 23% of American children are overweight. It is believed to be mostly because of the growing fast food industry. Also, there is an average of 10,000 cows in the concoction of one fast food hamburger. If one of those cows had E. coli, consumers have a huge chance of getting one of the tainted burgers, which could threaten their life. Remember those thirty pesticides on that apple? Those pesticides have been shown to cause cancer, obesity, Alzheimer's, and some birth defects. With that at stake, does anyone really want to eat factory farmed crops and livestock?

Envision an organic livestock farm. The chickens are running around in the sunshine, not lying in their feces. The apples are apples. They are not tainted with chemicals; they are fertilized with compost and protected by nature. The cows are grazing on long, lush grass, not corn. In those factory farms, there are no chickens running around or cows grazing on grass in the sun. The apples have a lovely coating of pesticides and the livestock is infected from feces and full of drugs.

Now, is it more convincing that organic should be the food people eat?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Reduce, reuse, recycle... can it go too far?

One of Our Daily Green's favorite forums is The Freecycle Network. We've discussed Freecycle in the past as a great way to share items that are no longer needed, but not ready for the dump. It's a green lifestyle haven, reducing the need to manufacture, reusing usable goods, and recycling other items. What is great about Freecycle is the way to match up goods with people who need them.

From their site mission statement:
Welcome! The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,951 groups with 8,520,467 members around the world. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by local volunteers (them's good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on 'Browse Groups' above the search box. Have fun!
Exhibit A
As the child of a long line of pack-rats (farmers have so many barns so they can keep stuff), I believe in saving things. Exhibit A is the photo from my garden of the string holding up my green bean plant. It is from a dog food bag. I confess that I save the pull strings from dog food bags to use to tie up plants. I also cut old pantyhose into strips to tie up plants, as well.  I'm not sure how much I'm saving the environment by keeping that string out of a landfill... but I've recently received proof that I'm not alone in my commitment to keep stuff out of landfills.

Enter Freakcycle, a site dedicated to the crazy stuff folks try to give away on The Freecycle Network. Set up by an avid Freecycler participant who has a funny bone that is NOT being given away,  Freakcycle accepts submissions from around the nation and I probably spent two hours reading and laughing. My sides hurt and I laughed until I cried.

The site contains stellar examples such as freezerburned leftovers, a chair with broken springs that smells like dog, or dead man's underwear. Some of these items are so absurd, I want to stage an intervention. I want to show up at the homes of these posters with a garbage bag and assure them that it's okay to throw stuff out on occasion.

If you no longer can find a use for it, why on earth would you think someone else may? Do you doubt your personal creativity that much? This coming from the woman who ties up plants with ripstrings from dog food bags. Believe me, if you haven't thought of a way to reuse this item, nobody else will. HAVE confidence in your ability to pack-ratify your life!

In all seriousness, Freakcycle is one of the funniest sites I've found in ages. It will do for the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" folks what People of BigBoxStore did for well, people who shop at BigBoxStores. Offer a little proof that all of us can go overboard at times.

And perhaps, just perhaps, we can find a use for 10 bags of concrete that were left out in the rain and now are rock solid, but they are free for the taking.

Freakcycle has a Facebook page and Twitter account as well. Give yourself a laugh today and check it out! It's worth it at half (err what IS half of free) the price!

Disclaimer: Our Daily Green would like back the hour we spent guffawing. Other than that, we received no compensation or consideration for this endorsement. Just a lot of laughs, and those are priceless.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Guest Post: How to Use Your Air Conditioner and Be Green

After a short hiatus, just in time for the summer heat wave, Our Daily Green is back today with a guest post from Darin Hansen, an HVAC veteran who has seen just about every side of the HVAC business from web wholesaler to the manufacturing floor. Darin operates an information site that has articles on anything from reviews of specific AC units or heat pumps to what is Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) and Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE).

Introduction by Our Daily Green: 
In the past half century, air conditioning has changed the American landscape. The impact of AC on our nation is so immense that when the National Academy of Engineering chose the 20 greatest engineering accomplishments, air conditioning ranked 10th, above even the Internet, highways, and nuclear technology.

from Salon, July 2010,
It’s pretty much unanimously believed that if we had not had air conditioning, we could not have had this huge migration of population from the North to the Sun Belt, and we certainly wouldn’t have seen 70 percent of all economic growth happening in the South since 1960. 
Air conditioning is found in 9 out of 10 homes. We don't want to live without our air. But the energy consumption is tremendous. Rather than go without air conditioning, today's guest blogger has a few tips and suggestions for how to use our air conditioner more efficiently.

Thank you, Darin for your input!

In this day and age it seems that we can’t seem to turn on the TV for more than a few minutes without hearing someone professing that a green lifestyle is paramount to the future of the world. While they do make a solid argument, in all honesty, the majority of people aren’t willing to forgo the sweet environment that air conditioning brings. With that said, finding a way to green up your life a bit doesn’t need to be an effort in futility if you are looking to still enjoy the modern comforts of the world.

Thankfully finding a way to save energy and still enjoy the comforts of a cool house do not need to be mutually exclusive.  Even without one of the top rated central air conditioners on the market, these tips will apply to you. There are several ways to increase the efficiency of your HVAC systems but some ways are better than others.

The purpose of air conditioning is to keep heat out of the house and allow the cool air your AC system creates its easiest way to get into your home. The best way to keep your house cool in the summer is to keep the heat out in the first place. Many people plant trees to shade their house, and if you have a couple decades this is a great approach! For those of us that don’t thankfully there is a great way to keep the heat out. Close your shades or blinds during the day. The sun’s rays heat up whatever they hit, so if it hits the floor, furniture and so forth it is simply going to heat up your home. Many have reported savings up to 20% simply by closing their shades during sunny day.

The other great way to lower your cooling bills and save energy is to change your filter often. Companies are inundating consumers with advertisements for high tech allergen reducing filters that claim to last 3 months to a year.  Unfortunately, while that will indeed keep your air cleaner, it will also reduce the air flow through your coil and in turn slow the flow of cool air to your home. 

Additionally, if you do the same thing in the winter with your furnace, you are going to have furnace problems. Cracked heat exchangers and other furnace maladies are common in the winter for people who don’t change their filters often enough.  We recommend replacing the filter at least once per month. If you follow these two tips this summer you will save money on your electrical bill and use less energy at the same time.

Stay cool this summer!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hand Sanitizer Green

One of the most popular ways to clean up when soap and water isn't available is with hand sanitizer. Be warned that not all hand sanitizers are created equal and there are a number of health risks associated with certain kinds of hand sanitizers.

In fact, a popular antibacterial ingredient, triclosan, has been found to be a hormone disruptor as well as a possible carcinogen when exposed to chlorine (think public pools). In fact, the American Public Health Association proposed a policy to ban the ingredient in 2009. Such concerns are valid and it's an ingredient to avoid when choosing a hand sanitizer.

The next most popular ingredient is an alcohol based sanitizer. In order to be effective, there must be a 60% concentration of alcohol in the sanitizer. This can lead to excessively dry skin and actually has also caused intoxication in small children, who may lick their hands after application. A popular email warning regarding the dangers of alcohol based hand sanitizers has been confirmed on Snopes.com and Clinical Pediatrics warns against alcohol based hand sanitizers.

New England Journal of Medicine:
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are widely used in the United States as low-viscosity rinses, gels, or foams. They contain 60 to 95% ethanol or isopropanol. Ethanol has greater activity against viruses than does isopropanol, and the ethanol-based formulations are used much more commonly in the United States than are the isopropanol-based formulations. Many of the ethanol-based sanitizers also contain small amounts of polyethylene glycol or isopropanol.
Prefense has an active ingredient of benzalkonium chloride, which has been used as a disinfectant in hospitals for years.  It can be allergenic in people with eczema or skin conditions, but is generally considered safe for topical use. While benzalkonium chloride is toxic when ingested, the dilution is .12%,  a small percentage of one-percent. Prefense works by creating a germ barrier on the skin with a silica-based, non drying, formula.

We took Prefense with us on a family vacation, where we spent hours away from soap and water, but still exposed to germs and bacteria in crowded airports, amusement parks and restaurants. A peace of mind pump of Prefense was perfect for such moments. The travel size bottle of 1.5 ounces is small enough to keep in a bag and still go through airport screenings.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns that overuse of antibacterial products can create "mega-resistant" strains of bacteria, leading to a greater resistance to antibiotics, as one side effect. While Our Daily Green suggests soap and water as a first defense against germs, we also recommend Prefense as the next line of defense when soap and water is not available.

Just in time to kick off summer fun, Our Daily Green has teamed up with Prefense to offer a lucky reader an 8 ounce bottle of Prefense. To qualify for the giveaway, you must leave a comment on THIS post. For an additional entries, follow the Prefense Facebook page, the Prefense Twitter page, and Our Daily Green's Facebook page. When you follow Prefense, please tell them you found their page from Our Daily Green. Leave a comment for each entry. Good luck! All entries must be received by May 31, 2011 at midnight EST. The winner will be drawn by random number generator June 1, 2011.

Our Daily Green received a 1.5 ounce sample of prefense hand sanitizer for free using Tomoson.com created by WebBizIdeas, a Minneapolis SEO and Web Design firm. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will be good for my readers. Our Daily Green is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson product reviewgiveaway disclosure.