Going green without breaking the bank – Blog Action Day 2007

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today, Oct. 15, 2007, is Blog Action Day where I join over 15,000 other bloggers to write about the environment. I have chosen to write about ways to go green without breaking the bank.

The decision to go green is a wonderful one – both for you and your family and for the environment. However, it can be overwhelming at first, especially if you are living on a budget as most families are. Today I’m going to make some suggestions for ways you can become more environmentally-friendly without breaking the bank.

Something important to keep in mind is that going green is a work in progress. You don’t have to do everything today to make a difference. You can start by selecting one or two things and add onto it every week or month. Every little bit helps. By the end of a year, you’ll be amazed at all of the changes you’ve been able to make.
Here are just a few things to get you started to go green without spending a lot of money.

  1. Make your own household cleaners. Vinegar and baking soda are two important ingredients for homemade cleaners. They are inexpensive and, chances are you already have both in the house! I found some great recipes here and here. Imagine how nice it will be to clean your bathroom with your kids nearby or in the same room without the fear of toxic fumes in the air. And you can breathe a sigh of relief when your teething toddler chomps down on your coffee table because you don’t have to guess what chemicals are on the table (and in her mouth) when you know it was cleaned naturally with olive oil and lemon juice. Not convinced that homemade products can cut the mustard? Here’s an interesting science project that compared the efficiency of both commercial and homemade cleaning products.
  2. Unfortunately, along with better health for you, organic foods also tend to come with a heftier price tag than their conventional counterparts. However, the good news is that not all foods are horribly pesticide-laden. Get yourself a copy of the Organic Dirty Dozen, keep it in your purse or wallet and shop for organic foods accordingly. Here are the 12 most contaminated that you should buy organic if you can: • Apples • Bell Peppers • Celery • Cherries • Imported Grapes (from Chili) • Nectarines • Peaches • Pears • Potatoes • Red Raspberries • Spinach • Strawberries. On the flip side, here are the 12 least contaminated where buying organic isn’t as critical, especially if money is an issue: • Asparagus • Avocados • Bananas • Broccoli • Cauliflower • Corn (sweet) • Kiwi • Mangos • Onions • Papaya • Pineapples • Peas (sweet). Even better and cheaper than buying organic is to grow your own organic produce. Here’s more about which organic foods are worth the extra money.
  3. Use reusable bags instead of plastic or paper bags at the grocery store and ALL stores. Stores like Vitamin Cottage, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, IKEA, Trader Joe’s and even Safeway are now selling reusable bags – some places for only $0.99 each. You can buy 6 for under $6 which should accommodate your groceries for the week. The bags are sturdy and hold a lot more than plastic bags do. You can also buy reusable bags at Reusablebags.com and 1 Bag at a Time. Unsure why plastic bags are so bad for the environment? Here’s a 10-minute film to enlighten you on the curse of plastic bags.
  4. Unplug your appliances when you aren’t using them. Even if items are in the off position, they are still using energy. Unplugging doesn’t cost you a cent to do and will save you money!
  5. RECYCLE your plastic, glass, aluminum and paper! Go to Earth911 and enter your zip code to find out what is recyclable in your area.
  6. Shop at second-hand stores for clothing, etc., and donate, give or sell your old clothes, shoes, etc. to others. It is especially easy to buy gently used clothing and items for babies and toddlers. I just bought the kids some “new” (to them) clothes this weekend. They are cute, in good shape and very affordable. Again, this tip will save you money.
  7. Change the light bulbs in your house to energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL)CFLs are four times more efficient and last up to 10 times longer than incandescents. They cost more upfront, but will save you money on your electricity bill almost immediately and they last from 8 to 10 years!

For even more tips on going green, please visit my Earth Day 2007 post.

While today is a special day to blog about the environment, you can be sure this is not my last post on the topic. There will be more from me in the months ahead as I learn more ways that I can do my part to help save the planet. 🙂

Lastly, I want to say congratulations to Al Gore for winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I hope this honor helps bring more immediate attention to the serious matter of global warming.

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Did you participate in Blog Action Day? Please sign Mr. Linky below with the link of your Blog Action Day post so that others can go read what you had to say about the environment. 🙂

Go veggie for a day

World Vegetarian Day

World Vegetarian Day is being held on Oct. 1, which is also the kickoff of vegetarian awareness month.

Some of you may know that I’m an on-again/off-again vegetarian. I’ve had a couple of vegetarian stints in my life. I haven’t eaten red meat for about 9 years, but I do currently eat poultry and fish on occasion. For the most part, I try to make a variety of vegetarian meals, but meat is sometimes a part of our diet.

Wondering what the big deal is and why vegetarianism so important?
Some of the Benefits of Vegetarianism are:
• reducing the risk of major killers like heart disease, stroke and cancers while cutting exposure to food borne pathogens;
• offering a viable answer to feeding the world’s hungry, through more efficient use of grains and other crops;
• saving animals from suffering in factory farm conditions and from painful slaughter;
• conserving vital, but limited freshwater, fertile topsoil and other precious resources;
• preserving irreplaceable ecosystems, such as rainforests and other wildlife habitats;
• mitigating the ever-expanding environmental pollution of animal agriculture; and the list goes on.

Eating vegetarian doesn’t just mean salads and veggie burgers (though it certainly can). There’s a whole world of tasty, meatless meals out there. 🙂 To help you commit to going meat-free on Oct. 1, I’m listing some of my favorite vegetarian recipes that I’ve blogged about in the past:

Are your taste buds tantalized? Feeling hungry? Feeling motivated? If you want join me in pledging to have a meat-free day on Oct. 1, please sign Mr. Linky below. (Already vegetarian or vegan? Awesome! Please sign up and join in too!) I’m personally going to try my best to make the whole month of October as meat-free as possible for me and my family. I’ve been on a roll already this week making only vegetarian meals (some of which I need to post on here and add to the list).

If you feel so inclined, please feel free to snag my button (above) and blog about this too – linking back to this post if you like. We don’t have much time before Oct. 1, so I hope some of you will spread the word. Feel free to share any vegetarian recipes you have on your blog. The more people we can have join in, the merrier! 🙂

Bag winner!

The winner of the two reusable bags is #41 – Jill H.! Congratulations, Jill.

Thanks to everyone for participating and thinking green. Remember you can still get your own bags from Reusablebags.com and save 20% with this coupon code – mth6cp (provided it is still good).

Stay tuned – A new contest will be coming up next week! 🙂 In the meantime, check out my contest page for other contests going on around the ‘net.

Green lunch kits for back-to-school and a contest

Updated: The winner of the bags is #41 – Jill H.! Congratulations, Jill. And thanks to everyone who entered. A new contest will be coming up next week!

“According to the New York State Department of Conservation, parents who pack a child’s lunch in disposable bags or containers generate 45 to 90 pounds of garbage every year. That equates to 18,760 pounds of lunch waste for just one average-size elementary school.”

When Ava went to the farm camp this summer, I went through a lot of plastic sandwich bags (Disposable plastic baggies can take 1,000 years to decompose!) and napkins and felt that there had to be a better way to pack a lunch and cut down on the trash. I started looking around for a reusable lunch kit to use for preschool and found the Laptop Lunch Kit at Reusable Bags.

laptop lunch kit

I bought the Laptop Lunch Kit for Ava to use for her preschool lunches this year. I love that the small colorful containers allow for a variety of healthy foods to be packed, better portion control, and I won’t have to use 3 or 4 sandwich bags each time I pack her lunch. The kit includes a thermal, zippered carrying case that houses a large snap-shut tray, five reusable microwave safe food containers, a sport bottle, and a stainless steel fork and spoon. Also included is a 96-page “User’s Guide” loaded with healthy recipes and tips for reducing throwaways which I’m sure will come in very handy on those days I’m feeling less than creative about packing a lunch.

I really think this will make packing Ava’s lunches more fun for me and more fun for her to eat. And we will be doing something good for the environment.

1st bento

Here’s a picture of the first lunch I packed in her snazzy new lunch box. It wasn’t that creative (I’m still learning), but I thought it looked pretty. 🙂 It included an almond butter and jelly sandwich (no peanut butter allowed because of another child’s allergies), mandarin oranges, cucumbers and baby carrots, Ranch dressing for dipping in the little blue container, and Annie’s whole wheat bunnies.

Ava’s preschool teacher loved the lunch box and asked where I got it. She is thinking of getting one for her mom to take with her to work. 🙂

Even before I heard of this study, I’d been having my concerns about chemicals from plastic leaching into the kids’ drinking water and had been on the lookout for some stainless steel cups for the kids. I came across the Klean Kanteen Sippy Cup, also sold at Reusable Bags, and decided to get one for Julian. Ava heard me talking about it to Jody and chimed in that she wanted one too, so I got one for each.

I stumbled across an online coupon code for 20% off my total from Reusablebags.com, which helped soften the blow a bit. If you are in the market for some cool lunch kits for your kids or other reusable bags, water bottles, etc., feel free to give the code – mth6cp – a try yourself. 🙂

Win it!
And now for the giveaway…

Reusable Bags has offered up two of their best-selling reusable bags to one lucky winner : the
Workhorse Style 1500 and the Lightweight Recycled Cotton Tote with Dual Handles, both made by ACME Bags.

Workhorse ACME bag Cotton tote ACME bag

If you’d like a chance to win the bags, please:

  1. Sign Mr. Linky below
  2. Link to this contest on your blog (or tell a friend about the contest if you don’t have a blog)
  3. Leave a comment

The deadline to enter is 10 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26. The winner will be chosen at random (using random.org) on Thursday, Sept. 27, and announced that day. Good luck! 🙂

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