Saturday, May 29, 2010

Don't toss it!

I have a problem with lots of trash.  When most of it can be avoided, composted, reused, or recycled.  The landfills are so full that it is becoming a problem as to where to put the trash.

When it comes to avoiding trash, that starts in the store.  Think about how something is packaged, when there is tons of styrofoam with no # or tons of "blister" packaging, think twice before you buy it.

By reusing things, I repurpose them. We make bird feeders out of milk cartons.  To-go containers for lunch are butter, sour cream or cottage cheese tubs.  Toilet paper tubes are used as binoculars for the kids.  Or I literally reuse things by using freecycle or donating to a charity. I even take used egg cartons to my local friendly egg supplier (or you can take them to the farmers market).

I love to garden, so it made no sense that I went to Home Depot to buy compost when I could make it myself at home.  It couldn't be easier. I layer "brown" (yard waste-leaves, pine straw, weeds)  and "green"(kitchen waste, rinds, eggshells, napkins, pasta, etc.) and I add a little water and the sun adds the heat. I wait a few months and I have beautiful black gold (aka compost).  I did learn a few months ago that I should NOT add receipts from restaurants and stores. These receipts commonly are printed with ink that contains BPA.  That BPA does not go away when you make compost, therefore getting into anything that you grow. Yuk!

Luckily I live in Roswell, GA and recycling here is pretty advanced. We don't have to sort recycling and we  can recycle plastics #1-6.  Most cities are 1 and 2 only. Regardless of this fact, I would still recycle everything some way or another.  If in doubt, I go to my favorite recycling website.  This place has it all and even some tips that even die-hard-greenies might not know.  One thing I do make sure to do is remove the tops of all containers, no matter what material.  Hard plastic tops can be recycled at Aveda.  Some things that I have learned along the way: aluminum foil doesn't have to be washed, just pick off the food, so the bugs don't have a picnic. All paper is recyclable as long as it is not shiny. Break down boxes, small and large. Don't put broken glass in the bin.  Make sure your area recycles paper milk cartons (usually 1/2 gallon), most don't, so don't buy them.  Most importantly, don't let trash get in your recycle bin.

I feel like I have an obligation to my kids and their kids and their kids' kids' to leave the earth better than I found it.  I might not be here in a hundred years, but my trash will be. That should be a reason to care.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I love dirt (when it is outside)!

My garden is thriving this month and I can't wait for the next month to show even more color. The veggies are growing, slowly, but surely and everything seems to be bigger and better than last year.

All of my yard and garden are organic. Not certified, but close. he he  I use no pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, funcicides, or fertilizers that are not completely natural or certified organic.  I haven't used any of these chemicals for years and my grass, flowers, fruits and veggies are beautiful proof that I am doing something right. 

To prep soil, I use compost from my bin, mushroom compost and natures helper.  To fertilize, I use Miracle Gro organic fertilizer for the whole yard.  For weed control, I use corn gluten on the lawn and shredded newspaper in the plant beds with a heap of mulch.  When there is something bothering one of my plants, I spray soapy water on it, slugs get cups of beer and caterpillars get picked off and squished.  If I really need help, I bring a leaf or more to a Master Gardener friend to help and make suggestions about incecticidal soap or other organic bug traps.

My reward: My kids and my dog can play in the yard at their leisure and I never lose sleep over it,  I attract more birds and toads and wildlife, and I am never polluting the waterstream or anything else for that matter.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Keeping the dirt at bay

Cleaning is one of my least favorite activities. It is always on my to-do list and it never seems to make it to the top.

When I decided to go "green" with my cleaning supplies, it was exciting to think that I would only have a few bottles of cleaner under the sink, rather than dozens. My first "aha" moment was when I opened the newly run dishwasher and one of my small kids was breathing in the fumes. From there on out, we were a "green" house.

I buy mostly "products" like seventh generation, method, and trader joe's brand for cleaning. For some things, house hold products work well, vinegar & baking soda for drains, lemons and the juice for the garbage disposal and bleach replacement, vinegar to kill weeds, borax for laundry and to kill pests, essential oils for fresh smells and good old fashioned non-antibacterial soap to clean almost everything.

My house is still not the most spic and span place you'll visit, but at least it does not smell like cleaners.

Check out this link for some good info.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Where do I begin?

For several years, I have been gradually increasing the amount of "green" things that I do in my life and I would like to be able to tell my friends about what I have learned along the way.

I have been a consistent recycler for years, but that did not seem like enough. Then I had kids and my view of the world in which we live, changed. Now, most of the "green" moves that I make are motivated by two little people that don't even know what they have inspired.

I started with food and realized all of the chemicals and hormones and antibiotics and who-knows-what-else was not what I wanted to put in our bodies. After switching to organic milk, I started with the "Dirty Dozen" list of fruits and veggies that Environmental Working Group recommends that you buy organic.  I started pricing out where to get the cheapest apples, pears, strawberries, etc. I also learned out to save food and eat in season. (That is quite a challenge, since I still can only freeze food and we just eat a lot of frozen fruit in the winter.) I buy most of the pears and apples in bulk at Trader Joe's and strawberries from May-July where I find them cheapest (sometimes Costco has frozen ones). I buy potatoes in a big bag at Publix. Blueberries I either pick in July and freeze or buy frozen at Costco. Salad greens I get at TJ's.

From the fruit and veggies, we moved on to meat. As many of you know, I don't eat much meat, but I have watched Food Inc., and many other food documentaries (as well as read the book, "Skinny Bitch" by Rory Freedman) and I know what they do to it. Scary stuff, if you don't already know, you need to find out. So, I buy organic chicken at Costco and grass fed beef and organic beef hotdogs at Trader Joe's (along with most of my other food). I have gotten fish recommendations from Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Now I try to buy all organic when it comes to what the kids eat. Whole foods has the best and cheapest cheese sticks and boxed mac and cheese, both organic. TJ's has organic tomato sauce and pasta and cereal. Costco has great frozen organic veggies and peanut butter and jelly and edamame.

Now that I am set with where I buy food and what I buy, I am concentrating more now on where it comes from. I would rather have local than not and I would rather have made in the USA than China. For example, I needed honey. Publix honey is made in FL, but the Organic Goodness Brand was made in CA. No question about that, I bought the one from FL.

I still have a lot to learn and I am learning more daily. Keep reading.