Tuesday, July 29, 2008

5 Minute Organic Herb Garden

I absolutely LOVE to try new recipes and I truly believe that fresh herbs can make or break a meal. But it gets rather expensive to buy fresh herbs for each dish that you make. My favorite Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Thyme just isn't the same with dried thyme so I used to buy fresh thyme for this dish and then throw the rest away. How often do you really use thyme? What a waste!

I always wanted an herb garden of my own but I mistakenly thought that they were too much work. That all changed when I discovered the organic potted herbs at my grocery store. Not only are they grown organically, they are planted in biodegradable pots so all you have to do is dig a hole, put the entire pot in the ground, fill with soil, and water. Voila! You have an organic herb garden in less than five minutes.

The picture above is my mini herb garden, which is nestled happily between my gerbera daisies and bougainvilla. Admittedly, this is a rather odd location for an herb garden but it works! If you don't have a yard, you can easily plant a window box of herbs in your kitchen or on your patio.

It's worth it knowing that I have these wonderful herbs at my fingertips. All I have to do is walk out to my backyard to pick cilantro, basil, oregano, parsley, and of course, thyme, for my summertime meals. Plus, I'm saving money (and last minute trips to the store) when I want to whip up a batch of guacamole. (Sorry but I can't link to that recipe because it's top secret.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Finally Switched to Reusable Bags

Okay, I am the first to admit that I am behind the times! I know as an environmentally concerned citizen that I should have been wielding my reusable totes YEARS ago. I wanted to, I really did! But to be honest, I was just too lazy.

Since we're on the quest to make small changes in our lives to be more eco-friendly, my husband and I decided to finally take the plunge and get some reusable bags. We proudly purchased five reusable totes last week at our local grocery store. On our first return trip to the store, we totally forgot to bring the bags with us. DOH!

Now the bags stay in the car and we use them whenever we can. It may take some time to get this down but old dogs CAN learn new tricks.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Eco-friendly Cleaning

Grandma always used to say that white vinegar and some elbow grease would clean just about anything. I have to admit that until recently, I thought it was easier (and better) to use the good ol' cleaning supplies on the market.

It turns out (surprise, surprise) that these tried and true cleaning supplies are loaded with toxins, and aren't good for my family, my home, or the planet. So I decided to listen to my very wise Grandma and give the vinegar a shot.

My first question was...how the heck am I supposed to use vinegar to clean??? Diluted or full strength? Pour or spray it on? Rinse it off or leave it be? I recently came across a web site that is chocked full of vinegar tips. It has so many fabulous ideas that I actually started cleaning as I was reading them. Plus, they have other vinegar tips for cooking, gardening, health, and more. Who knew vinegar was so versatile?

So check out the tips and don't forget to bookmark the site.

Happy green cleaning!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Story of Stuff

Do you ever stop to think about how all of our wonderful gadgets, gizmos, and gotta-have-em's are created? Or where they end up when we're done using them? The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. For instance, did you know that 99 PERCENT of everything that we purchase ends up in a landfill within SIX MONTHS?

So checkout The Story of Stuff now and learn a few fun-filled facts. You may think twice before upgrading to the latest iPod.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Save a Tree - Rediscover the Library

Okay, I will be the first to admit that going to the library isn't revolutionary. But I am thrilled to report that I have finally rediscovered my public library.

I don't know why I abandoned such a happy place. Growing up with little money, the library was always the place I knew I could find free entertainment. But as I grew older, my financial situation changed and I found myself thrilled to spend hours in Barnes & Noble or scouring amazon.com for my latest read.

My book piles expanded and I found myself happily lending books to friends or donating them to Goodwill (the books, not my friends). As I looked at those mounds and mounds of titles, I began to wonder if all of that consumerism was really necessary. After all, it wasn't like I was going to read any of those books again.

So this summer, I decided to reaquaint myself with my public library. Just walking through the front door, I was transported back to my childhood and felt the rush of excitement from the possibilities that lay before me. Okay, a little dramatic but I WAS thrilled to find the book that I wanted (which wasn't available at the local B&N) and shocked to discover the library's wide selection of DVDs and CDs.

From now on I plan to save my book money and a few trees by using my local library more often. Plus, I now have a new place to donate all my books for others to enjoy. What a novel (ahem) idea.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Tips to Green Your Next BBQ

Green Grill:
Gas is the most resource-efficient means of powering a grill and the least polluting. Gas barbecues produce about half as much CO2 as charcoal grills, and about 1/3 as much as electric grills. If you are a die-hard charcoal enthusiast, there are green options for you as well! Coconut Shell Briquette Charcoal is all natural and 100% chemical free.

Smart Food:
Your local farmer’s market is a great resource for local fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy products. If you are serving fish, the Sierra Club recommends wild-caught Alaskan or Canadian salmon and farmed U.S. catfish as sustainable choices. Organic meat is always a good choice if you can afford it.

Natural Drinks:
We used to always offer a tub full of bottled water on ice so our guests would stay hydrated in the heat (especially when serving alcohol). I’ve discovered the error of my ways and now serve up iced water in a glass jug filled with lemons, limes, or even refreshing cucumber slices. Looking for locally brewed beer? Check out BeerTown to find a craft brewer near you. If vino is more your speed, Chartrand Imports offers a list of sites that sell organic wine by state.

Savvy Serving:
Use cloth napkins instead of paper towels or paper napkins. You can find them on sale and you can use them over and over again. Use reusable or compostable plates, cups and silverware to minimize waste. There are some wonderful serving dishes made from sustainable resources or recycled materials. Check out these bamboo bowls and recycled glass platters.

Eco Cleanup:
Don’t dump the half-empty glasses of water down the drain! Pour them all into a bucket and use that water to refresh your potted plants, yard, or indoor plants. It goes without saying that all cans and bottles should be recycled. Leftover vegetables can go into your compost pile or you can send plates of leftovers home with your guests.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Renewable Energy - Not More Oil

I just cringe whenever I hear Bush and McCain talking about our need to increase off-shore drilling to solve today’s high cost of fuel. What’s sad is that they are playing on our fears (and pocketbooks) to make more money for themselves. Increased drilling will not have an impact on our immediate oil supply and therefore will not reduce the cost of gas today, tomorrow, or even next year.

I am feeling the pain at the pump with everyone else but in all honesty, it’s a necessary evil. This is the wakeup call that we have so desperately tried to avoid. We can’t hit that snooze button any longer – it’s time to do something different (and that’s NOT drill for more oil).

It’s time to change our way of thinking, our way of doing, our way of living. Can’t afford a hybrid? Carpool with your neighbors. Take the bus. Drive a scooter. WALK!!

In the meantime, sign this online petition to let your governor know that you want a clean energy economy based on renewable energy.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Best Green Blogs Directory

I'm constantly searching for new environmental information, new eco-friendly products, and new green tips and was thrilled to find a blog dedicated to promoting other like-minded blogs. If you are interested in perusing a plethora of information, the Best Green Blogs Directory is a great place to start! Check it out today...

Monday, July 7, 2008

Product Review - Eco-friendly Sandbox

My husband and I were excited to build our son's first sandbox this summer. In my quest to be friendly to the environment, I Googled "eco-friendly sandbox" and made my purchase from PlanetGreenSpot.

We were pleasantly surprised to see how compact the shipping box was. However, its small footprint is probably the greenest aspect of this sandbox. They also claim that the special waterproofing process done on the wood is safe for children, pets, and environment. That's great but why not take it a step (or two or three) further and use recycled plastic, FSC certified wood or renewable resources like bamboo?

Pros: The sandbox design is unique and we love the retractable roof. It ships in a very compact box. Free shipping. Claims to be eco-friendly.

Cons: It's made from a very soft pine that is not very sturdy. The directions and diagrams did not match the actual pieces but we figured out how to assemble it. Not really as green as I had hoped.

So far, our son LOVES his sandbox. How long will this sandbox last? That will be the real test.

As a side note, the owner of PlanetGreenSpot called me after reading my product review and is hopeful that the manufacturer will take further steps to make the sandbox "greener". A new version is coming soon soon and some of those ideas may be incorporated. In addition, he said that every purchased is guaranteed. Personally, I was impressed that he took the time to call me. I will definitely continue shopping with them.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Patriotic and Eco-friendly!

We just received our latest order from Amazon.com and were pleasantly surprised to see a small plastic envelope enclosed. This simple (postage paid) envelope allows you to donate your old cell phone to enable soldiers to phone home.

The donated cell phones are "sold" to ReCellular in exchange for pre-paid calling cards. The calling cards are donated to the soldiers and ReCellular recycles the cell phones. What a great concept!

This not only reduces the number of cell phones that end up in the landfills but also supports the soldiers who put their lives on the line for our country. And to think this patriotic program was actually started by a 12 and 13-year-old brother/sister team in Massachusetts. You can learn more about this program at http://www.cellphonesforsoldiers.com/.