Cascadian Farm Organic Goodness

WELCOME TO OUR ALMANAC! READ ABOUT ALL THINGS ECO FROM ORGANIC VEGGIE
GARDEN TIPS TO GREEN FAMILY ACTIVITIES.

 

Recycling is a simple way for consumers to help the environment by taking a product that has reached the end of its useful life and transforming it into another product. Recycling helps to preserve valuable resources, and is essential for the health of our environment and communities.

Many of you are probably already utilizing curbside recycling bins for household paper, glass, aluminum, and plastic recycling. However, recycling goes well beyond the curb—there are recycling services available for an array of other common household products, from electronics and prescriptions to automotive parts and hazardous waste.

Read on to learn how to find recycling facilities in your area for products that you aren't sure how to dispose of properly.

 

1. Electronics: Electronic waste, or e-waste, is a huge problem for our environment, because if it isn't disposed of properly it can be hazardous. You can find an e-cycling center in your local area at E-cycling Central, which offers a huge array of electronic recycling services.

2. Rechargeable Batteries and Cell Phones: Although rechargeable batteries and cell phones do last quite some time due to their recharging abilities, they will eventually no longer work or become obsolete. Call2Recycle offers the only free rechargeable battery and cell phone collection program in North America. You can find a drop-off location in your areahere.

3. Hazardous Materials: Have you wondered how you should recycle that leftover paint from your kitchen remodel, or those toxic household cleaners? Earth 911 offers a database that allows you to find recycling centers in your area that can dispose of hazardous material properly.

4. Automotive Parts: If you have an automobile that is inoperable, or are wondering what to do with used auto parts that you no longer need, contact the Automotive Recycling Association (ARA). The ARA offers automotive recycling to help conserve the future. You can find an ARA recycler in your area here

5. Plastic Bags: The best option when it comes to plastic bags is to refuse them. However, if you have some that you are looking to recycle, PlasticBagRecycling.org can help. PlasticBagRecycling.org recycles the plastic bags into composite lumber and “new” plastic items. You can find a drop-off location in your area here.

What items do you need to recycle?

Photo Credits: “Trash Recycling with Disposable Containers” by epSos.de”7th Street e-Waste” by greenbk“Beautiful Junk” by Rainy City.

 

Hi friends! This past Saturday, we held our Change Flows cleanup of the DuPage River in Illinois, and it was a huge success. Hundreds of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds showed up to lend a helping hand. The volunteers spent three hours on a Saturday morning pulling all sorts of junk out of the DuPage River and its tributaries.

The volunteers were armed with Cascadian Farm T-shirts, trash bags, gloves, garbage pokers, water, and our Cascadian Farm granola bars to keep them going.

Change Flows

When this river was cleaned in previous years, it wasn’t unusual for volunteers to collect as much as 11 tons of debris. Now, that number has dropped to about seven tons. Part of the decline can probably be traced to a greater public awareness of our environment, but persistent cleaning also keeps junk from piling up.

Change Flows

It was amazing to see all the debris that was pulled out of the river. We found a grocery cart, a playhouse door, coils, and even a public hand-washing sink. Everyone left with a real sense of accomplishment seeing all the debris that was cleaned up. It’s truly remarkable what people can accomplish when they come together with a common goal.

Chang Flows

Change Flows  

Brett Adams, the Pioneer Park Cleanup Coordinator, had this to say:

“This is such a great project for people of all ages! We have a mix of middle schoolers, high schoolers, and adults, and they all have fun and get something out of it. It’s amazing the types of items we found, and it’s awesome to see the difference you can make in just a few hours.”

Change Flows

Andrew Fahlund, Senior Vice President of Conservation for American Rivers, said:

“With the help of Cascadian Farm, we were able to raise awareness of the issues facing our rivers, and help people learn how important they are to a healthy community. Simple steps like participating in a local river cleanup can help our waterways thrive for generations to come.”

Thanks again to everyone for your support. We couldn’t have made this big of an impact without you! In the next month, we will have more details on how much debris was actually taken out of the river. Stay tuned…

It’s always nice to freshen up your home right in time for summer. However, buying new things to brighten up your home isn't exactly eco-friendly. You can spruce up your home with very little impact on the environment and without breaking the bank. You have heard of the three Rs (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle); read on to learn my seven Rs for freshening up your home. Then lay back, relax, and enjoy the summer to come in your “new” space.

1. Rearrange: By simply rearranging your current furniture, you can get a whole new look without buying anything new. Consider moving pieces of furniture, accessories, and even pillows and artwork from one room to another.

2. Re-cover: Do you have a sofa or chair that has seen better days, but still has great bones? Consider re-covering it with a slipcover, or have the piece reupholstered. It is much more eco-friendly to reupholster a piece of existing furniture than purchasing new. For a quick update without the larger price tag, consider swapping out your existing living room pillows with brighter, fresher ones for an instant makeover.

3. Reorganize: The quickest and simplest way to freshen your home is by reorganizing and de-cluttering. By simply recycling old paperwork, and tidying up closets, cupboards, and dressers, you can clean up a space in a snap. Take this time to go through your closets and decide on items to sell or donate. Then, take a few minutes to walk through your home, removing any objects that are simply collecting dust.

4. Revamp: It’s amazing what a new coat of no-VOC, eco-friendly paint can do to a room. Painting is the fastest way to give a room a new look and instantly freshen up your home. Paint can give an added pop of color to older pieces of furniture, giving them new life. Another option is to replace doorknobs and the existing hardware on cabinets and dressers, which will give furniture a quick, modern makeover.

5. Refresh: Give your bathrooms a quick makeover by switching out your regular towels with plusher, softer, eco-friendly versions. New linens add a newness to your bedroom and make you feel pampered every time you use them. Another way to refresh your home is by adding several potted plants and scented soy candles.

6. Repurpose: If you have a dresser that isn't being used, consider repurposing it as a buffet in your dining room or use it as kitchen island. An armoire can be easily converted to a toy closet or gift-wrapping station. And a small table that isn't being utilized can be used as a desk in a child’s room or a plant-potting station on the patio.

7. Reconsider: Above all else, the next time you consider purchasing a new piece of furniture, appliance, or accessory for your home, ask yourself these questions: Is this item something that I really need? Do I already own something that could be used instead? Is this item something that I could borrow from a friend or rent from my local hardware store? By simply asking yourself a few questions, you can save yourself a lot of money and save the environment at the same time.

How do you freshen your home for summer?

 

Photo credits: Repurpose photo via NolaClutterBusters, Refresh photo via sfllaw

Recycling is a simple way for consumers to help the environment by taking a product that has reached the end of it’s useful life and transforming it into another product. Recycling helps to preserve valuable resources and is essential for the health of our environment and communities. Many of you probably are already utilizing curbside recycling bins for household paper, glass, aluminum and plastic recycling. However, recycling goes well beyond the curb -- there are recycling services available for an array of other common household products from electronics to prescriptions to automotive parts to hazardous waste. Read on to learn how to find recycling facilities in your area for products that have reached their end of life.

 

Editor’s Note: Our Change Flows initiative may have come to a close, but here at Cascadian Farm we aim to make Earth Day every day. Here is some great information about how you can set up a river cleanup in your area!

Every year, huge quantities of trash find their way into our rivers. This garbage takes away from the natural beauty of the river and pollutes the water, wildlife, nature, and communities that it sustains. America's rivers provide our drinking water, fish and wildlife habitat, and recreation areas—making the health of our rivers everyone's priority. Clean rivers supply a healthy, vital source of water that is essential for a thriving community and environment.

You can make a difference in the health of our rivers by helping to restore a river in your local area, either through participation or organization of a river cleanup. In just a few hours of your time, tons of trash can be removed from our rivers. You can find a national river cleanup to participate in through American Rivers here. You can also learn more about organizing your own local river cleanup by watching this fantastic video from American Rivers. It gives you an outline of all the steps you need to take to make your river cleanup a success.

 

 

Sources:
American Rivers: www.americanrivers.org
Howcast: http://www.howcast.com/videos/265972-How-To-Organize-a-River-Cleanup

Photo Source: 
“MN- Mason Neck River Cleanup” by vastateparkstaff

We know that you understand how precious water is to life, vitality, and growth—for our communities, families, and farms. Keeping our waterways clean is only part of the battle; we also need to focus on conserving water. Every drop is precious, and wasting water is something that we cannot afford to do. Wondering how you can conserve water in your own home? Read on to learn how you can start today.

1. Turn It Off

When washing the dishes, consider filling each side of the sink—one with soapy water to clean the dishes, the other with fresh water to rinse. This is always a better option than simply letting the water run. It is also a great idea to turn off the water while brushing your teeth and soaping up in the shower. Don't leave the hose running outside while gardening or washing your car—the less water you use to perform these daily tasks, the better. And if you have leaky faucets or toilets, you’ll want to fix them immediately!

2. Reuse It

Consider purchasing or making your own graywater system. A graywater system can range from a simple, low-cost system to a highly complex, very expensive one. A graywater system collects water from sinks, washers, and dishwashers that can be recycled on-site for use in landscape irrigation. You’ll want to check with your state’s guidelines as to whether they allow use of a graywater system, and remember that graywater is not suitable for drinking.

3. Capture It

In the past, we’ve talked about the benefits—both ecological and economic—of harvesting rainwater. Harvesting rainwater is an ecologically beneficial way to irrigate your gardens and flower beds, wash your car, flush your toilets, or to purify and use as a source of drinking water. The 600 gallons of water for every 1 inch of rain that fall on your 1,000-square foot roof equal a significant amount of water that you can reuse each year, thus saving you a lot of money.

4.  Xeriscape and Xerogarden It

This spring, when you start planning the gardens and landscaping for your yard, consider xeriscaping and xerogardening. Xeriscaping and xerogardening reduce and/or eliminate the need for irrigation watering by incorporating plants that grow well in your climate region. Choose plants based on the amount of water and light they require. For further conservation, use mulch and eliminate plants that require large amounts of water.

5. Don't Bottle It

If you are still purchasing water in plastic bottles, now is the time to consider an alternative. Although drinking bottled water isn't necessarily wasting water, it is wasting the resources used in its production, manufacturing, and transportation. Today, there are many fantastic stainless steel and glass water bottles available on the market that make staying hydrated quick, easy, and fashionable. Leave these refillable bottles in your car, gym bag, office desk, or any other convenient place and eliminate the need to buy bottled water.

Photo credits: “Clear Water” by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region, “Leaky Faucet” by VanDammeMaarten.be, “Urban Harvest Tour – Rain Water Barrels” by jbolles“Retention Area” by dpatricklewis

There are many activities that your family can enjoy together that will promote a stronger family bond while adding an appreciation for the environment. Finding ways to promote a healthy planet and a happy family, while having fun is a great way to celebrate spring. Read on to learn more ways that your family can enjoy each other and help the planet at the same time.

1. Visit an Organic Farm

Nothing is more fun that spending a warm spring day at your local farm. If you live near a farm that raises animals, it is the perfect time for your children to experience the beauty of new life. An animal farm will be teaming with baby chicks, newborn sheep, goats, cows, horses and piglets - all of which your family will delight in. If you live near a farm that specializes in fruits and vegetables, such as our very own Cascadian Farm in Skagit Valley, Washington, it is the perfect opportunity to learn about sustainable organic agriculture methods including; preparing the land for planting, composting, natural pest repellent techniques and the water shed. It is also the perfect place to grab a strawberry shortcake or fantastic icecream cone!

2. Start your Garden

Now is the time to start preparing your garden for early spring planting. You can start by planting the cold-crops in your garden including; broccoli, peas, lettuce, spinach, and cabbage. You will also want to plant your strawberry patch and other bare-root plants. You can start your your tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers inside from seed, ensuring that the seedlings will be large enough to plant in your garden when the weather permits. Now, is also a great time to remove any non-native plants that didn't survive the winter and plan to replace them with draught-resistant, native plants that are also edible.

3. Invite the Birds

One of the first signs of springtime is the chirping of the morning birds. To prepare your yard for feathered visitors, take the time to clean, sand and repaint (with Eco-friendly paint) your bird houses, feeders and bathes. Visit your local bird shop to educate yourself on the types of birds that live in your area and what types of foods and shelters they prefer. When choosing foods for the birds, consider organic ones, free from synthetic pesticides.

4. Get Spring Cleaning

Springtime is synonymous with spring cleaning and now is the time to get your family involved. Check out these Eco-friendly cleaning supplies. Then, assign each member of your household a part of the home to thoroughly clean. Make sure that you clean out the rain-gutters, get your rain harvesters ready for those spring showers and clean your refrigerator coils. The idea is to make sure that everything in your home is in good working condition. If you get the entire family involved, they will appreciate your home a little more.

5. Plan a Spring Break Staycation

Spring Break is right around the corner and many families may not be traveling due to economical hardship and to lessen their impact on the environment. However, you can have a fantastic spring break, close to home. Plan a family camping or hiking trip, or spend the afternoons strolling through your local nature center or botanical gardens. Your family doesn't have to venture far from home to have a fantastic time. There are so many great activities that can be enjoyed in your local community - just look around.

6. Get Ready for Fun

Early spring is the essential time to get your warm weather gear in check. Pull the bicycles, canoe, kayak, hiking boots, and camping equipment out of the garage. Check to make sure that everything is in good working condition and order any necessary replacement parts. Check to make sure that your child's rain gear and hiking boots still fit and spend a little time making sure that you have all of the supplies necessary for an impromptu trip to the lake or camping adventure. Clean and pump up the tires on the family bicycles and get ready for the fun, warm days ahead.

7. Plan a Family Nature Day

Whether your family is into hiking, biking, camping or canoeing, plan a family nature day around your favorite outdoor activity. You can find many great national and state parks that are perfect for a day trip. Let each member of the family have a say in how you will celebrate Nature Day. Prepare the backpacks with an organic, high-energy lunch, water, and snacks and then hit the great outdoors. Don't forget your hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and rain gear!

8. Adopt a Pet

Springtime is a great time to adopt a pet from an animal shelter. The weather is warm enough to potty train and your new pet will have plenty of outdoor time to play and run. Your children will be home from school in a few short weeks, making the perfect time for them to bond with your new arrival. Since, many animal shelters are filled to capacity with animals that need a second chance at life - adopting a pet is one of the best things you can do this spring.

9. Build a Composter

Gather the tools, supplies, and your family member together to build a family composter. Children love to work with hand tools and it is the perfect opportunity to discuss the importance of composting with your children. If you live in a home that doesn't have space or doesn't allow a composter, you can consider purchasing an indoor composter or make a simply, fun children's' composter to show your child how composting works.

10. Shop for a CSA

If you live in an area that offers a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture), spring is the time to join one. A CSA gives consumers the opportunity to purchase local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. Usually, a family will sign up for a membership and in turn will receive a box of vegetables, fruits or other farm products each week throughout
the farming season. A CSA will give your family the opportunity to get to know the local farmer who grows their good, allows you to eat food that is local, fresh and in season and become exposed to new vegetables that your family may not be currently eating. It can have a huge impact on your family, community the the CSA farms. You can find a CSA in your local area at Local Harvest.

What Eco-friendly activities do you have planned for your family this spring?

Photos by Jennie Lyon

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it is time to decide how you can celebrate without the harmful impact on the environment. For many, this will mean forgoing any type of love day celebration. However, others will find the fun of love day simply too hard to resist. If you plan to surprise your loved one with Valentine goodies, focusing on supporting sustainable, responsible and local organizations will leave both your sweetie and the environment grinning until spring. You can get started with my favorite 7 ways to green your Valentine's Day.

1. An Organic Rose By Any Other Name: Over 200 million roses are harvested for each Valentine's Day - and that is only roses! Most flowers are grown using a highly toxic cocktail of chemicals and over 80% are imported from far distances. This Valentine's Day choose organic, local flowers to say I love you. My favorite option is an organic flowering or fruiting potted plant purchased from a local nursery that can be enjoyed all year long.

2. A Chocolate a Day, Keeps the Doctor Away: Almost everyone loves chocolate. However, many people may not be aware that the production of chocolate uses the 2nd largest amount of pesticides, only to cotton. When choosing chocolates for your sweetheart, choose ones that are USDA organic certified and fair trade. Knowing that your chocolates do not negatively impact the environment or the animals and people who inhabit it, is a sweet thing.

3. A Card to Say How Much you Care: Most likely your loved ones do not need a card to tell them how much they mean to you. However, if you would like to express yourself with a card, consider choosing one that is made using 100% post consumer or 100% recycled paper or even a card that can be planted, offering beautiful blooms in the spring. Another option is to make a card using odds and ends that you find in your home and recycling bin.

4. A Way to a Man's Heart is through his Stomach: A lovely way to show how much you care is by surprising your love with a home cooked organic meal. Every year, my husband prepares a fantastic dinner that we share by candlelight. It is the perfect gift - complete with quiet time just for the two of us. And who wouldn't love to be celebrated while enjoying a savory meal? Just remember to plan a fabulous dessert and don't forget the wine.

5. Speaking of Wine: A Valentine's Day meal just wouldn't be the same without a sip or two of a delicious wine. When picking a wine, ask the shopkeeper for help choosing one that is local, organic or bio-dynamic. Some of my favorite organic and bio-dynamic wines are from Parducci - they utilize 100% renewable green power and employ Eco friendly packaging - not to mention they make their wine using locally farmed grapes, recycle 100% of their winery waste water and are family owned.

6. Are Diamonds a Girl's Best Friend?: If you plan to adorn your sweetie with jewelry for Valentine's Day, please consider jewelry that is conflict-free, fair trade, recycled, or vintage. You can find a fabulous selection of handmade, Eco friendly jewelry on Etsy and your local antique stores will have a nice selection of vintage baubles.

7. Give the Gift of Yourself: One of the loveliest Valentine's Day gifts that you can give is the gift of yourself. By planning an activity that you can share with your loved one - whether it is a hike in the mountains, a picnic in the park, a home cooked meal or doing a project that she has been dying to do - the time that you spend with your special someone is the part of the holiday that is important -no impact on the environment necessary.

How do you green your Valentine's Day?

Photo Credits: heart, chocolate, cards, wine, jewelry.

Winter is one of the times of year that you can really see an increase in your utility bills. This is especially true, if you live in a climate where everything is cold and icy outside. There are simple, Eco-friendly ways that you can save money on your utility bills. Here are my top 8 tips to get you started.

1. Get with the Program: The simple act of installing a programmable thermostat will pay for itself twice over within the first year. For every degree that you reduce the temperature on your thermostat, you will save 5% on your seasonal heating bill. A programmable thermostat will also assist you in remembering to turn down the heat when you are away at work or asleep at night.

2. Go Low Flow: You can save 25% to 60% more water and 50% more energy by switching to low flow shower heads. And don't fret, the new low flow shower heads have just as much power and water pressure as the older conventional ones. They are affordable too, ranging from $10 to $20 each.

3. Seal it Up: By weather stripping only the front and back doors of your home, you can save over $30 a year in heating costs. Now, just think how much more you can save if you insulate your attic, garage, basement doors, windows and outlets.

4. It's Laundry Day: Did you know that washing your clothing in cold water, not only gets them just as clean as washing them in hot - it is also better on your clothing, making them last longer? Plus, when you wash all of your laundry in only cold water, you save over 50% more energy. To make even a larger impact, only wash loads that are full.

          

5. Flip the Power Strip Switch: Plugging your energy vampire gadgets and appliances into a power stripe is a great way to save money and the environment. A good rule of thumb to remember is that if your gadget or appliance has a clock or remote, it will continue to consume energy even when it is turned off. In fact, 40% of the total energy is consumed when they are turned off. An affordable power stripe is the answer, when you aren't using these gadgets and appliances, just flip the switch off.

     File:Energy-star-logo-big-image.jpg

6. Wish on an Energy Star: When your refrigerator, washer or dryer finally gives out - replace it with an energy star appliance. Depending on the age and repair of your current conventional appliances, energy star appliances can save you up to 80% more energy each year and a lot of money too!

7. A Bright Idea: The next time a light bulb burns out, replace it with a CFL. CFL's may cost a little more upfront but the amount of money and energy that you save overall really outweighs the upfront cost. Each CFL bulb last ten times longer than a conventional light bulb and will save you around $60 per bulb over its lifetime.

8. Put a Jacket on it: If your water heater isn't insulated or was purchased prior to 2004, consider wrapping an insulating jacket around it. You will save 10% on your water heating bill each year.

How do you save money on your utility bills?
How do you lessen your impact on the environment when it comes to your utilities?

Photo Credits: Home, Thermostat, Shower Head, Weather Stripping, Laundry, Power Strip, Energy Star, CFL, Water Heater,

Editor's Note: At Cascadian Farm, we believe that there shouldn’t just be one day devoted to Earth Day, there should be 365 days. That’s why this year, we’re helping you live more sustainably every day by giving you tips and advice on how to do just that. If we all make a conscious effort to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle everyday, we will be helping to protect the planet for many generations to come. Below, Jennie Lyon from MySweetGreens.com gives us ten tips to get your New Year started a little greener. Over the next year, we will have more tips and advice on how to live greener, so keep a look out for those in upcoming e-newsletters.

1. Go Local: One of the best ways to live a sustainable lifestyle is by going local. Finding and supporting local resources is also great for your community. Research and find local farms to support while purchasing local food. Local artisans are the perfect resource for the purchasing of home goods, personal care products, clothing, jewelry and gifts. Going local can also include utilizing public transportation, frequenting thrift shops and tag sales and vacationing in your local area. The key is to try to stay within 200 miles of your home.

2. Find a Green Energy Supplier: Switching to a green energy provider may be one of the largest impacts that you can have on the environment. Most areas have a green energy program that you can enroll in. You pay a small premium on top of your normal energy bill each month, which puts green energy on the grid. You can find Green Power providers in the U.S. here and Green Power Providers in Canada here.

3. Conserve Water: Consider taking shorter showers and choose an Eco friendly shower head. Remember to turn off the sprinklers when it is raining outside and turn the water off while brushing your teeth. If you can, reuse rainwater or gray water to care for your yard, flush your toilets or wash your car. You can also help to save water by only washing full load of dishes and laundry.

4. Eat Less Meat: You don't have to become a vegetarian or vegan to make a huge impact on the environment. You can reduce your carbon footprint by simple making more of your meals meatless. Whether you decide to cut out meat during the weekdays or become a member of the meatless Monday club - less meat equals less emissions and pollution.

5. Refuse, Refuse, Refuse: Think of how many purchases we make, simply because we can. If you ask yourself the simple question, "Do I need this item?" before every purchase, you can reduce the impact on the environment and your finances. Also, there are many other venues to consider when you do need to make a purchase, including; thrift shops, garage sales, free-cycle or even borrowing items from a friend or family member.

6. Alternative Modes of Transportation: When choosing how you get around, consider other modes of transportation besides your car. If you are traveling to school or work, can you carpool, walk, bike or catch the bus, train or subway? Can your children walk or bike to school? If you have to get out to run errands, consider grouping all of your errands into one trip, this will save you time, money and the environment will thank you too.

7. Conserve Energy: When you leave a room, flip off the light. When you aren't using your electronics, power them down and turn off the power-strip. Choose a programmable thermostat and unplug electrical items that you don't use. If you have to change a light bulb choose a CFL. If you don't have to drive your car, ride your bicycle. Think twice before you purchase a new item and again when you think of throwing something away. All of these small things can save a good amount of co2 and money.

           

8. Recycle, Reduce, Reuse: Consider adhering to the three R's as often as possible. Reduce your consumption of products, resources, energy and water. Recycle and reuse anything that you are able to. If you no longer have use for a particular item that can be used again, consider selling or donating it before tossing it in the trash.

                      

9. Choose Quality Items: When you do need to make a new purchase consider quality over quantity. Choose items that are built well, are energy efficient (if it is an appliance or vehicle) and that will last a long period of time. Refuse to purchase anything that is disposable or is only good for a one time use. For items that you have to dispose of including toothbrushes and razors, choose Eco friendly versions including toothbrushes and razors where you only replace the head. Also, look for products that come in minimal, recyclable packaging.

                                 

10. Buy Local Organic: When possible, choose local, organic goods. Especially when it comes to meat, poultry, dairy, fruit, vegetables and personal care products. If there isn't a local organic version available, consider the local product first. Purchasing foods or clothing that have been shipped across the world isn't as Eco friendly as buying an item that is local.

What ways do you plan to live more sustainably in 2011?

Photo Credits: Local, Green Energy, Conserve Water, Eat Less Meat, Refuse, Transportation, Conserve Energy3 R's, Quality, Organic

My recent post about composting got me wondering how much of the trash in landfills is comprised of food waste. Well, according to the Department of Agriculture, it’s approximately 100 billion pounds every year. The average household alone ends up throwing out 14 percent of their food purchases. It’s pretty shocking. Many people assume that food waste is not a big deal because it is biodegradable, but a single carrot can take up to 40 years to fully break down. An even bigger issue is the methane (a greenhouse gas) that is released from rotting food. Our households are not the only source of food waste; it comes from farms, supermarkets, restaurants – check out this interesting article in the Wall Street Journal about of the cycle of food waste. However, there are some easy things we can all do to reduce the amount of food that we personally throw away. Since the life of most of your food usually begins and ends in the refrigerator, it’s important to take a closer look at our kitchen’s most used appliance.

  • Check the temperature settings. Food should be refrigerated at 39 degrees, frozen at zero; warmer than that will encourage your food to go bad sooner.
  • Keep it neat and organized! A messy fridge makes it difficult to see what you have and easy to over look leftovers. Store them and very perishable items at eye level in clear containers so you see them at first glance. Try to always keep condiments and sauces in the same location so you don’t end up with multiple, half empty bottles.
  • Freeze large quantities in single servings in freezer safe bags or containers and label them with the date and contents. If you really love organization, you can print these pretty labels from Martha Stewart on adhesive back paper. Since most recipes only call for a small amount of stock or broth at a time, freezing the leftover portion in ice cubes trays (then transferring to freezer bags) is a great way to avoid waste and save money – organic, free range chicken stock is not cheap!

 

Try those easy tips to reduce the amount of food wasted in your home. And I challenge you to be conscious of all the food you throw out this week. Keep track of which veggies are going bad in the crisper and what goes stale in pantry. Chances are, buying smaller quantities and shopping more often will make a big difference.

 

Photo by petrr

For many families the start of the holiday season is marked with choosing a holiday tree. Each holiday season more than 25 million coniferous trees are cut and sold as holiday decorations. Although, the holiday tree is an important symbol of the holidays, it can be a hard choose to make when considering the environment.

It can take up to 15 years to grow a holiday tree that will be used for about a month. Many holiday tree farms use large amounts of pesticides and fertilizers which pollute the waterways, land and poison wildlife. Then after the holiday season, these trees usually disposed of in our local landfills.

You do have options when it comes to choosing a holiday tree and many of those choices can be friendly to the environment - and beautiful in your home too. Here are my top 6 favorite holiday tree alternatives.

1. A Potted Holiday Tree: You will see many varieties of potted trees that are available at your local, organic nurseries. When choosing a potted tree, consider one that you will be able to replant in your own backyard or that can stay indoors all year. If planting in your own backyard isn't an option, you can donate the tree to an organization that will plant the tree for you. Remember when purchasing your tree that you will want to buy one that is indigenous to your region and will fit in your yard, once it becomes full grown.

2. Rent a Tree: There are many companies popping up our there that you can rent a holiday tree from. These companies will deliver a full sized holiday tree to your home and then picked up after the holiday season is over. These companies use minimal energy to bring the tree to you since the trees are locally and organically grown, then delivered to your doorstep via a bio diesel truck. When the holiday season ends, they nuture the tree until the following year or plant them in local parks, watersheds or schools.

3. A Reusable Tree: There are many reusable tree options available that are PVC free. I have seen trees made from magazines, reclaimed wood, recycled glass bottles, cardboard, and even tinker toys. Many of these options are available for purchase, however, I think that it would be more fun to build one of these alternatives with your family as a holiday tradition.

4. Local, Organic Cut Tree: Although purchasing a potted tree or renting a tree would be the more Eco friendly option, many people still prefer the convenience and affordability of a cut tree. To minimize your cut tree's impact on the environment, purchase it from a local, organic tree farm. Organic tree farms grow the trees without the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Most organic tree farms, also plant 1-3 seedlings for every tree that is cut down. Remember if possible to recycle your tree when the holiday is over.

5. Decorate a houseplant: There are many large potted houseplants that you can decorate for the holidays. You could also choose to decorate an outside tree. The best part is that these "trees" can be enjoyed all year long and when the holidays come around again next year, you are already prepared.

6. Deck the Walls: Use cardboard, paper, paints or even lights to create a holiday tree on any wall in your home. There are also companies that sell reusable canvas holiday tree stickers that are bright, colorful and festive. You can arrange the gifts on the floor belong your wall tree.

I hope these suggestions give you some inspiration when choosing your Eco friendly holiday tree this year.

If your family celebrates with a holiday tree, what Eco friendly alternatives have you found?
Is there a tried and true "green" tree that your family enjoys?

Potted Tree, Rented Tree, Wooden Tree, Local, Organic Tree, Light Tree

Halloween is nearly upon us, and as my ghouls and goblins head to the streets for some trick-or-treating, I am preparing to have a little autumnal gathering for all their monster-clad friends with all kinds of soup and bread to warm small bellies and a few trick-or-treats of my own before they embark off into the cold night.

Before I send my dragon, dragon slayer, black cat and trooper off into the neighborhood, I'll be filling them up on mom-approved treats. These granola bites are perfect for small mouths, and they are a hit with kids both young and old.

Do you have any Halloween traditions in your family?

Granola Boo Bites

2 boxes Cascadian Farm Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate or 12 ounces white chocolate or a bit of both

½ teaspoon coconut oil

Paper popsicle/candy sticks

Black Decorator's Icing or Gel

Cut the granola bars into thirds. Stick a popsicle stick into each granola piece and press granola bar around it to secure in place. Roll the granola pieces and mold with fingers to round the edges. Place the granola pieces in the freezer while you melt the chocolate.

In a small double boiler, melt the chocolate (one variety at a time). Add in ½ teaspoon coconut oil for each 12 ounces chocolate to help make the chocolate smoother and easier to dip. Dip frozen granola bites in the chocolate and place the sticks in a piece of foam or a container filled with rice to stand up while they dry. It may be necessary to dip the white chocolate variety twice.

When the white chocolate is dry, pipe faces onto white-covered bites to look like ghosts. For mummies, drizzle extra chocolate around the "head" and then make two eyes. For the semisweet tombstones, pipe "RIP" onto the front.

Serve to ghouls and goblins as a fun and exciting treat they won't forget this Halloween night.

Makes 30 Boo Bites.

Photos by Shaina Olmanson

We know that Halloween is right around the corner because our pumpkin patch is almost picked clean. If you're in the Skagit Valley area, you can still stop by and grab one for your last minute Jack-O-Lanterns!

We hope you and your families have a fun, and safe Halloween this weekend, but we would also encourage you be sustainable with your spooky celebrations. Last week we asked our Facebook community for tips on how to "green" your Halloween, and they came through with some fantastic ideas! Thank you for all your suggestions.

Here are 10 great ideas for a green Halloween from our Facebook community:

1) Go Local: Buy locally produced pumpkins from a farmers patch, local apples, cider etc.

2) Make Your Own Costumes: Resale shops are loaded with Halloween costumes this time of year that have been worn only once and donated. Buy your costumes from there or be creative with used clothes making clowns, scarecrows using old clothes and straw, etc.

3) Reusable Candy Bags: Use a paper bag or pillow case as a trick or treat bag.

4) Use Real Produce for Decorations: Rather than buying plastic pumpkins, window clings, and other decorations, use real pumpkins, squash, and other food to decorate your home with.

5) Plant Pumpkin Seeds for Next Halloween: Use the seeds from this year's pumpkins to grow next year's in your backyard!

6) Re-use Your Pumpkins: Use face paint to paint your pumpkins so that you can wash them off and use them to make pumpkin pies and muffins.

7) Cut Out the Candy: Pass out individual packets of trail mix,boxes of raisins, or cranberries, instead of candy.

8) Compost Your Old Pumpkins: Put your left over pumpkins in your compost pile and use the compost in your garden or flowers.

9) Be Creative: If you’re throwing a party, make your own decorations, recycling materials you already have. Be creative!

10) Donate: Give away the surplus of candy your kids accumulate.

My family made a cross country move last weekend and while moving can be a lot of work, it doesn't have to have a huge impact on the environment. There are many things that you can do before, during and after your move that can make your transition as Eco friendly as possible. Here are 8 tips that my family used while making our move, hopefully next time you move, these tips can help you too.

1- Get it Sold: Usually, the first thing that you will want to do before moving is sell your existing home. During the listing and selling process, consider using a website with fantastic pictures and details of your home for potential buyers to view rather than those costly home listing fliers. If you do opt for the fliers, instead of loading the 'For Sale' sign box with them, leave them inside your home by the front door. Hopefully, then only really interested buyers will take them and less will find their way to the landfill.

2. It's Time to Downsize: My family decided that the best way for us to make our move as Eco friendly as possible was to majorly downsize. This took a lot of preparation time, but we were able to sell several thousands of dollars worth of things that we no longer used or thought that we would no longer need. You can sell your items via eBay or Craig's List or donate them to your local charitable organization. This saved us a lot in the long run, less things to pack, transport and then unpack when we arrived at our new destination. It also gave us a nice amount of money to use towards moving expenses. Plus, it was nice to see my previously loved items go to new homes where they will live a second life.

3. Pack it Up: Once you have decided exactly what items you are going to take with you, pack it up the Eco friendly way. If you are doing your own packing, consider using recycled boxes, bubble wrap and other packing supplies (you can find a great supply on Craig's List or Freecycle.) My family decided to use a large supply of reusable recyclable plastic bins with locking lids that we have used on our previous moves. This bins are fantastic because they are water proof, have locking lids with handles for carrying, stacked nicely on top of each other in the moving van and can be reused in our new space for storage of season items. Any bins that you are unable to reuse after your move, can be sold or donated. Also, I used linens to wrap up breakables and valuables. I figured I will be taking the linens with me, so they should be put to good use in the process. If you do need to purchase packing supplies, consider choosing supplies that are made of recycled materials.

4. Home Sold-Time to Green Clean: Once your home sells and you have packed up all of your belongings, it is time to give your home one last good cleaning. Consider using all Eco friendly cleaning supplies and when you arrive at your new home, only stock green cleaners in your new kitchen, bath and laundry room.

5. Moving Day: If you are using a moving company, consider choosing one that uses green moving methods including recyclable packing materials, low emissions bio diesel fuel efficient trucks and Eco friendly business practices. If you are moving yourself, remember to pack everything up with Eco friendly packing supplies and then rent your own bio diesel truck if possible.

6. Make It Fun: Moving can be super hard on the entire family, especially if you are all traveling via the moving can, as my entire family did. My husband, nine year old son, 2 dogs and myself all traveled cross country together in a moving van. However, we were able to make it fun by talking, singing, playing games, reading and watching movies. Just continue to remind yourself that a few days of traveling will all be worth it.

7. Bring Your Own Body Fuel: Traveling can be hard on your body, especially if you are eating fast food or truck stop "convenience" store items. We stocked a cooler full of easy to eat, organic snacks, fruits and veggies to keep us going on the road and when we did stop for a meal, we tried to pick the healthiest option available. Also, while traveling bring a reusable beverage mug for each member of your family. It is super Eco friendly and much more affordable to refill a mug at the gas station. And those coffee breaks will be imperative during your move!

8. Time to Get a Good Green Rest: If your move is going to take several days of traveling, you will most likely need to stay in a hotel or two. Try to choose hotels that are committed to sustainability and Eco friendly practices. Green hotels lists hotels that choose water and energy saving equipment and techniques, use Eco friendly cleaning supplies, organic linens and also recycle and compost all waste. Now, that is something that can be celebrated with a good night's rest. You deserve it!

Now that you have made it to your new home, it's time to get unpacked and start living life again. Remember to reuse, donate, sell or recycle any of your packing supplies and enjoy your new space.

How will you or have you made your move Eco Friendly?

Please leave your comments below!

 

Photo via Alden Jewell

Last month, I wrote about the benefits both ecologically and economically of harvesting rain water. Ecologically, harvesting rain water to irrigate your gardens or flower beds and to wash your car, flush your toilets or to purify as a source of drinking water is a great way to recycle rain water. Economically, using the 600 gallons of water for every 1 inch of rain that falls on your 1,000 square foot roof can equate to thousands of gallons of water that you can reuse each year, saving you a lot of money.

However, many of you had questions about rain harvesting. Today, I am going to answer some of these questions such as; is the rain water that washes off my regular roof contaminated? Where can I buy a rain harvester? How do I set it up? How do I use it, once it is installed? And how to keep mosquitoes from breeding inside the rain harvester?

Hopefully, this will answer some more of your rain harvesting questions and give you more information as to what you will need to start harvesting your share of the rain.

 

Question: Is rain water that washes off a roof contaminated, will it hurt my gardens?

Answer: The water that washes off of your roof may be contaminated with chemicals, moss or even bird droppings. You can filter the rain water that comes off of your roof with a "floating extractor". A floating extractor floats in the water in the rain harvester, it intakes water from the middle of the tank where the water is at it's purest. The floating extractor is attached to the spigot, so when using the water, you will always be using the cleanest part of the water. You can also purchase a downspout filter that will capture any larger debris that finds its way into your downspout. Many rain harvesters that purchase from your local garden center will come with a built in filtering system. Just make sure to clean the filters on a regular basis.

Question: Where can I buy a rain harvester?

Answer: You can purchase a rain harvester from many local gardening stores. Garden stores typically sell 55 to 75 gallon rain barrels with leaf screens and built in spouts for $50-$250 dollars. It depends on how large and what type of a system you are looking for. You can also make your own rain harvesting system for a fraction of the price. This DIY Rain Harvesting Video shows you exactly how to make one.

Question: How do I set up the rain harvester?

Answer: Setting up a rain harvester is simple. First, decide which rain gutter you want to use for rain harvesting. Position the rain harvester directly below the downspout on level ground, I suggest using concrete blocks to raise and level it. Set the rain harvester on top of the concrete blocks with the spigot facing the garden. Cut the downspout to fit directly above the rain harvester and wait for a good rain storm. Here is a great video on How to Install a Rain Harvester.

Question: How to I get the water out of the rain harvester?

Answer: Gravity is the simplest and most budget friendly way to remove the water from your rain harvester and into your yard. All you need is a spigot at the bottom of the tank. Unless you need the water to move up to a higher level than where the tank is situated, if so, you will need a pump. You can purchase a pump from your local gardening store as well.

Question: How do I keep mosquitoes from breeding in the barrel?

Answer: To prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the barrel, make sure that the barrel is always covered or has a screened top.

I hope this helped to answer some of your rain harvesting questions.

If you have other questions, please leave them below and I will answer them for you!

 

Photo Via wwarby.

It’s 2010 and being “green” is no longer just a trendy catch phrase, fortunately it’s become a way of life for many of us (each in our own way). And it’s no longer simply about conserving energy or recycling, being green has extended in the cleaning products we use, foods we eat and our skin care products. Unfortunately, green-washing abounds in the bath and body department. It seems like everything claims to be made with “natural” ingredients. It can be difficult to distinguish which shampoos and body lotions are safe and which are made up of synthetic chemicals (many of which are known or probable carcinogens or reproductive toxins).

As with food, packaging is very often deceiving. It’s really important to read labels to know what we’re “feeding” our skin. The skin is the largest organ of the body, whatever we put on it is absorbed right into the bloodstream. However, according to the Environmental Working Group, only 11% of the 10,500 ingredients in beauty products are tested for safety – pretty shocking!

While I’m no expert, I’ve gotten to know where I can find information about which scary ingredients to avoid. In general, I try not to buy products that contain parabens or phthalates (often hidden under the ambiguous term, “fragrance”). Needless to say, I would steer clear of products that don’t list their ingredients at all!

Since there are quite a few more difficult to pronounce chemicals to avoid, I refer to following websites and their “cheat sheets” to help me make safer skin care choices.

· Gorgeously Green (a great book and website) has a downloadable “Skin Care Shopping Cheat Sheet” that tells you which chemicals to avoid, in order of importance. I keep this in my purse.

· The Environmental Working Group’s site is a great resource, as is their Cosmetic Safety database, Skin Deep (they rate almost every shampoo, skin care and beauty product out there).

· I often refer to Safe Mama, as well, a blog that focuses on safe products for baby. They’ve created a number of cheat sheets listing the safest lotions, sunscreens, etc. for your little ones.

Photo by Kari Burks

 

You may live in a community where you are allowed to capture falling rain water from your rooftop for reuse. This type of irrigation known as rain water harvesting is a budget and Eco friendly way to reuse rain water to irrigate your gardens or flower beds or even to wash your car and flush your toilets. You can also purify the water and use it as a great source of drinking water.

Since the average U.S. household uses nearly 250 gallons of water per day, the benefits of harvesting rain water can really add up. A household with a 1,000 square foot roof can capture over 600 gallons of water for every 1 inch of rain. Depending on the annual precipitation in your region, this can equate to thousands of gallons of water each year.

Besides being the ultimate in water recycling, rain harvesting also reduces storm water run off which can pollute and contaminate our waterways once pesticides, lawn chemicals, oil, grease, bacteria and debris are washed down the storm drains. Rain harvesting is also a great solution for areas that are prone to drought and water rationing.

When choosing a rain barrel, you will want to consider the size of the area or the ways that you will be using the water. If you plan to use the rain water to simply water your small backyard garden or wash your car, a traditional and inexpensive 55 gallon rain barrel should suffice. They come in an assortment of styles and colors, so you should be able to find one that will look great in your backyard.

If you plan to use the rain water for all of your gray water needs or have a large garden, yard or farm area, you may want to consider a larger rain water collection tank or cistern. Rain barrels are easy to use and install within a few minutes with only minimal tools required. You can even make your own, any large container can be used as a rain barrel.

Do you harvest rain? Would you consider rain harvesting? Please leave your comments below.

Photo via aussiegall.

I have a friend who laments the popularity of digital photography. He even has handed his DSLR over to his wife and returned to his film SLR. He loves to tease me and go on “digital-is-evil” rants with me, just to get me going.

And while I understand his point that film holds value that digital cannot replace, I cannot imagine going back to my film SLR. (Although I do hold onto it for sentimental value as it belonged to my late father.) In fact, going to a digital SLR camera was perhaps one of the greenest (and easiest) choices I have ever made.

You see, when I had my first child, my father had recently passed away and I had inherited one of his Canon SLR film cameras. I loved photography, but new very little and I had not used an SLR before. I remember staring at my new son and thinking, “Well, I guess I better learn how to take beautiful photos of you.”

So I picked up that SLR and started learning.

In the first year of my son’s life I spent approximately $2,000 on developing film. And that wasn’t even on enlargements, etc. That was just to develop them, check out how I had done, learn from my mistakes and then toss out the tons of garbage shots.

As everyone who has ever photographed children knows, you can’t take one or two shots and hope you got the perfect picture. No, each photography session included hundreds of photos to get the ones you want.

And, I actually often developed with duplicates or triplicates, (I know – shudder!) But it cost a dollar to add in the extra set and a heck of a lot more than that to get copies of any that happened to be good enough to share with the grandparents. So I was throwing hundreds of copies in the garbage AND I still have boxes and boxes of unsorted photos in my basement!

When my son Jackson was about two years old Canon introduced the first digital Rebel. I was desperate to get it, but I waited, hesitant to buy the first one out of the gate.

But not much later, my twin sister’s first baby was due and her husband bought the brand new Nikon D70. He had barely ever taken a photo in his life, so the arrangement was pretty much that I got to use the camera and take all the photos I could of their daughter. Worked for me!

And so my digital photography life began.

I now shoot with a Canon 50D (I had to return to Canon – it feels like home) and my DSLR is my most precious possession. (When my Canon 40D was stolen on the way to Disney World I was completely lost without it. I still have nightmares about losing my cameras.)

As I download thousands of photos on to hard drives, I am so grateful that not only am I saving thousands of dollars not developing film, but I am not tossing thousands of printed photos in the garbage.

Yes, my DSLR might just be my “greenest” (and my favorite) part of my day. If only all “green” choices were as easy to make!

Has your family been looking for an environmental friendly way to spend the day or weekend without breaking the bank? There are many opportunities to explore and immerse yourself in the world around us in a quick day or two. Spending time together as a family in nature is as beneficial to your family bond as it is in bonding your family to nature. Here are some of my favorite day trips that will envelope your family in natural beauty and will you leave you with a greater appreciation for our Earth.

National Parks

You and your family can explore the natural world at more than 60 National Parks around the United States. National Parks are an excellent way to introduce your family to nature, history and culture. National Parks are usually centered around a specific topic. These topics include environmental topics such as; caves, coral reefs, endangered species, fossils and dinosaurs, hot springs, glaciers or volcanoes. Also, historical topics such as; American Presidents, Civil War, early explorers, human rights, invention and industry, Westward Expansion and Revolutionary War.

My favorite National Parks that my family has visited include; Mesa Verde National Park -Colorado, Dry Tortugas National Park - Florida, Yellowstone National Park -Montana, Wyoming and Oregon and Rocky Mountain National Park -Colorado. You can find state parks by name, location, topic or activity here. There are many ways to view a National Park, my favorites include; hiking, biking, rock climbing, swimming, snowshoeing, camping or on horseback. You can also view a National Park by guided tour, which is an fantastic way to learn about the park while viewing it.

Although my husband Drew and I just had our first baby in November, we officially became parents 3 years ago when we brought home Molly (our Bernese Mountain Dog, pictured above). We immediately fell in love with the adorable ball of fur and our lives were changed. We want her to have the best of everything: veterinary care, food, toys, bedding - and I know many of you feel the same way about your dog. Well, I stumbled across something I didn't even know Molly needed - a dog house with a "green roof"! Green or living roofs are covered in plants and soil, on top of layers of a waterproofing membrane, drainage and often irrigation systems. Green roofs have caught on in large cities where they not only absorb rainwater and help insulate buildings, but actually reduce air temperatures (which are higher in urban environments). Like the living walls I wrote about previously, they look amazing! Green Roofs Australia's blog has great photographs of all types of green roofs.

Sustainable Pet Design is bringing the green roof concept to a backyard near you with their stylish dog (and bird) houses. There are a number of different styles, all worthy of your pampered pooch. The dog houses not only look great, but are entirely pet safe. Each home is constructed with non-toxic materials: red cedar wood, zero VOC paints and beeswax waterproofing. They even created a palatial dog house for Bo Obama, "the first dog". The people at Sustainable Pet are not the only ones making designer digs for dogs. Architects Kohn Pederson Fox designed a stunning dog house with a green roof that could pass for sculpture. This short video on YouTube shows how they came up with their inspired design. It would be an amazing complement to a modern home - unfortunately the $6000 price tag is out of my league! However, I found the perfect solution on Instructables: a DIY project to build your own green roofed dog veranda. Now I just need to find the time - I'll keep you posted.

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, now is the time to start planning how you can make Valentine's Day lovely for your sweetheart and the environment. There are several ways to make Valentine's Day Eco friendly that are simple, affordable and that will let your sweetie know that you were thinking of them.


Valentine Cards:

Did you know that over 1 billion Valentine cards are exchanged worldwide every Valentine's Day? That is a lot of trees being used for cards, that in most cases are simple thrown away or recycled once the day is over. With this in mind, consider alternatives when shopping for Valentine's Day cards such as; tree free blooming cards, 100% recycled post consumer cards printed with soy or vegetable ink, sustainable wooden cards or e cards.

Give a Gift that Gives Back:

If you will be purchasing a lovely gift for your significant other, spouse, child or friend this Valentine's Day, think of gifts that give back. Organizations such Ten Thousand Villages and Novica work with artisan groups throughout the world to bring you fair trade jewelry, home decor and other lovely gift ideas. The best part, fair trade enables artisans in other countries to earn a fair wage and it provides them with the opportunity to live a better quality of life.

If your sweetie has a soft spot for animals or loves the great outdoors? You may want to consider making a donation to her favorite charity in her name. Some charities to consider would be the ASPCA, The Human Society or The Nature Conservancy.

Do you want to save gas, money and the environment when using your automobile? You don't have a drive a hybrid to be more Earth Friendly. There are several simple green steps that you can take to green your current automobile.  For instance, have you considered only having one automobile? My family is a one car family and has been so for almost 9 years.  Since, most of the work that I do, can be from home and my husband's work is only a few miles away, we are able to live quite happily with one car. At first it did seem a huge inconvenience but I soon found a lot of enjoyment out of walking, biking and busing my way around town. Also not having a car payment didn't hurt either and since our car has been paid off for several years, it has freed up alot of funs for other things in our budget.
 
If you are like my family and want to continue to use the car that you have, you can do so and help the environment at the same time. Here are my simple steps to keep your current car with minimal impact on the environment. Then, when your current car is on its last leg, you can consider one of the many fabulous hybrids and electric vehicles that are hitting the market.
 
1. Drive Less
Have you considered how many places that you may drive to every day that are within walking or biking distance? I prefer to walk or jump on my bike to run errands and get a great workout in the process. My bike has multiple baskets on the front and back so there is always room for groceries, library books or other goodies. In some areas, you may be able to get to work or your errands faster by bike or public transportation, since you can bypass the traffic congestion. How about carpooling? If you live near several of your co workers or friends, this is a fantastic way to catch up with each other, lower the number of cars on the road and save some money at the same time. I really love public transportation because it gives me an excuse to sit back, relax, catch up on the news or read that best seller. Since walking, biking, public transporation and carpooling is so affordable you will have extra funds in your budget. You will also save a lot of money on gasoline, car repairs and maintenance and need for two cars if you drive less.
 
2. Tune it Up
Getting your car tuned up when manufacturers recommends can save you 4-40% on your MPH. Also, when you keep all other auto functions in check and running smoothly will help to avoid untimely and expensive repairs all year long.
 
3. Get Inflated
Each month, check your tire's pressure with a tire pressure gauge. If your tires aren't properly inflated you are wasting hundreds of dollars worth of gasoline each year. It only takes a couple minutes and can save you and the environment big time. You should also have your tires rotated and aligned when the manufacturer recommends to avoid improper wear which can waste gasoline too.
 
4. Clean the Air {Filter}
Make sure your air filter is clean. A dirty and clogged filter will block the air your automobile needs to burn fuel efficiently. You don't have to replace the air filter every time you get an oil change, but you can ask the service attendant it to 'blow it out'.  They will use the air compressor to blow all of the dirt and gunk from the filter, allowing you to use the same air filter for much longer, which will save you money and the landfill in the long run.
 
5. Get A Mug
Do you stop for a morning Cup o Joe on the way to work or a soda pick me up at the end of the day? If so, always keep a reusable stainless steel mug in your car. This will keep you from purchasing a beverage in a cup, can or bottle that will end up in the recycling bin or landfill. Also, did you know that most gasoline stations will let you fill your mug with your choice of beverage for a fraction of the cost of a cup, can or bottle of your favorite beverage. Just ask how much it will cost to "refill" your mug, you will be pleasantly surprised. This little tip will save the environment from countless cups, bottles, lids and straws and will save you some money too.
 
6. Enjoy the Ride {Slow Down}
Did you know that every five miles per hour you go over 60 MPH, you lower your gas mileage? Waste gas by speeding will only cause you to pay for more for gasoline fill ups. Not to mention speeding tickets are bad on your wallet, your insurance rates and possibly your health. So, sit back, relax, listen to your favorite radio program and enjoy the ride. 
 
How do you get around?
What other tips do you use to green your automobile?
Photo Via:: Zach Heller Photography on Flickr


Organic living is definitely a way of life, but if you have a family with kids, you may find that buying organic and eating organic often seem to be less than frugal.  It doesn't have to be that way.  In fact, there are ways to live organically that won't break your pocketbook and can even have you living more economically friendly for the New Year.

1.  Buy in bulk.

Buying large quantities is often cheaper per ounce/pound than buying individual-sized portions.  Consider a warehouse membership or just look in your own grocery store for larger packaging.  Look for recipes for interesting and new ways to utilize the larger amount of food to be sure it gets eaten or flash freeze it and store for use later.

 

2.  Join a CSA.

Look into Community Supported Agricultural shares at a local organic farm.  You'll be supporting a local business and benefitting from seasonal produce during growing season.  Find a CSA near you.

 

3.  Visit your farmer's market.

Make a habit out of going to the local farmer's market to buy product and meat.  You'll get to know where your food is coming from and you're sure to be buying in season and will cut out the middleman of a grocery store by doing so.  Oftentimes heavy fruits like melons and squash that are paid for by the pound in the store are significantly cheaper at a flat rate from the farmer's market

 

Going green is something that you can start by taking simple steps and I think you will find the process to be very liberating and rewarding. I think that when it comes to going green, the best and healthiest place to start is at home, since this is the place where you probably spend most of your time with your children and your pets. This is also the place where you can have a large impact on the environment, just think of the things that we could accomplish as a people, if we all followed these few simple steps.

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