How Low Can You(r) (Thermostat) Go?

I don’t know about you, but where I live in Colorado it’s already gotten cold enough at night to warrant turning on the furnace. At least some people in this house think so. 😉

Every year I try to resist turning on the heat for as long as possible. You can often hear me staying things like, “Put on a sweater!” or “Wear your wool socks,” but between trying to motivate my kids to get dressed in the morning when it’s freezing in the house and the fact that we had a super-wowee uber energy efficient furnace installed this summer (not to mention listening to my husband complain that I won’t win any award for refusing to turn on the heat), I caved and turned it on about two weeks ago.

It’s funny because one thing I liked to complain about as a kid was how cold my Dad kept our house. I was always trying to nudge the thermostat up a degree or two and hoping he wouldn’t notice. You’d think now that I’m an adult, I’d keep my house as warm as a sauna, but nope. Although my Dad was likely keeping the temperature down to save money, I’m doing it both to save money AND because it’s more energy efficient.

Every year Deanna, AKA the Crunchy Chicken, challenges her readers to a Freeze Yer Buns Challenge. This year is no different. A lot of people are pledging to turn down their thermostat — from a degree or two to 10 or more! A few years ago, I wrote about how we inadvertently took part in the challenge and now I challenge myself and my family every year.

One of the many Acts of Green on One Million Acts of Green is Set Your Thermostat to 18C (65F) or Less in the Winter. I haven’t been able to go that low in my house (at least not during the day) yet, but every degree you can drop truly makes a difference. Per Crunchy Chicken‘s blog, “for each degree set below 68 degrees, energy consumption decreases by about 6 to 8 percent.”

Can you pledge to lower your thermostat by a degree or two or even pledge to go down to 65 degrees (or less!)?

Head over to the Freeze Yer Buns Challenge or get signed up on One Million Acts of Green and pledge to make a difference. It all adds up!

Disclosure: Rockfish Interactive, in partnership with Cisco, is compensating me for my considerable time on this project. However, my ideas, words, and opinions are my own and are not influenced by this compensation.

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Ditch the Disposables with the DivaCup – giveaway

It’s time for another giveaway to help (the ladies) with the Ditch the Disposables Challenge! Thanks to DivaCup®, I am giving away a size 1 or size 2 reusable DivaCup menstrual solution.

I haven’t personally used a DivaCup, but I do have my Moon Cup which, used alongside cloth pads (just in case), I have learned to love. It takes a little getting used to, but once you figure it out, you can’t imagine going back to disposable products. Seriously.

Using a DivaCup for your menstrual cycle is an easy way to live a little greener. According to DivaCup:

Women, on average, experience a lifetime menstruation span of 41 years (11-52). From use of disposable feminine hygiene, an estimated 12 billion sanitary pads and 7 billion tampons are dumped into the North American environment each year (1998). More than 170,000 tampon applicators were collected along U.S. coastal areas between 1998 and 1999.

Most tampons and pads contain surfactants, adhesives and additives. In addition, most pads contain polyethylene plastic whose production is a pollutant. Also, dioxin, a known carcinogen, is a by-product of the bleaching process of tampons containing rayon. In landfills, many of these substances can leach into the environment (groundwater, streams and lakes) causing serious pollution and health concerns.

Women can reduce dangerous landfill waste by choosing to use a reusable, silicone menstrual cup. When considering the pollution and volume of waste that is inherent in the use of disposable tampons and pads, replacing one’s feminine hygiene with The DivaCup makes good environmental sense and manifests in a positive eco-footprint every month!

More about the DivaCup:

The DivaCup is a non-absorbent menstrual cup that simply collects menstrual flow. It can be worn for up to 12 hours before emptying, washing and reinserting for use for another 12 hours.

The DivaCup is made from top quality silicone – the same material used in healthcare applications for over 50 years.

Silicone is phthalate-free, latex-free, plastic-free and BPA-free!

Due to government standards and the personal, hygienic nature of the product, we recommend a menstrual cup should be replaced once a year. Ultimately, it is still up to the consumer to decide when she feels it is necessary to replace the cup.

Win It!
If you want a chance to win a DivaCup:

  • First be sure you’ve entered the Ditch the Disposables Challenge
  • Then leave me a comment here
  • For an extra entry: Tweet (on Twitter) about the giveaway linking to this post AND including @crunchygoddess (hey, that’s me!) in your Tweet, AND leave me a 2nd comment here.

The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Oct. 13. The winner will be selected randomly using Random.org on Wednesday, Oct. 14, and emailed (so be sure to include a valid email address).

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Ditch the Disposables Challenge 2009 – checking in


Hey there party people! Oops. Wrong crowd. 😉 I mean, hey there my fellow Ditch the Disposables Challenge participants! 🙂

How are you all doing with the challenge now that we are nearing the halfway mark? Who’s got some great successes to share? Anyone have any amazing tips? Anyone run into any problems?

I got a little crazy the other week and signed up to participate in Crunchy Chicken’s Cloth Wipe Challenge (for #1 only). I figured if I suggest using cloth in my challenge, I should probably at least give it a try myself. I only did it about 50% of the time, but was honestly surprised how soft the cloth was. I will likely continue to use it on a part-time basis. Anybody else give cloth TP a try?

Stay tuned for more giveaways to help you with this challenge from GlassDharma straws, the DivaCup, and LunaPads! 🙂

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Ditch the Disposables Challenge 2009

Ditch the Disposables ChallengeIt’s been one year since the first Ditch the Disposables Challenge on Crunchy Domestic Goddess which, with nearly 150 participants, was a big success. Let’s do it again and see if we can get 200 participants this time around! For two months, September and October, I’m challenging you to Ditch the Disposables!

We live in a society of convenience, where throw-away products are the norm rather than the exception. But all of the disposable products take resources and energy to produce and then, of course, get thrown away, filling up our landfills. All of this is bad news for the environment.

If you’d like to participate in this challenge, please select one or two (or more! – this can be as challenging as you want it to be) of your disposable products to ditch*, then leave a comment saying which disposable product(s) you will leave behind for two months in favor of an environmentally-friendly reusable product. I will create a list in the sidebar linking to everyone’s blog. Of course, you don’t have to have a blog to participate. I realize that many of you probably are already living without some (many?) of these disposable products, but certainly nearly all of us can find at least one NEW thing we can give up in favor of something better for the earth. If you honestly don’t use a single disposable product, leave me a comment too and I’ll still include you in the challenge and link back to you. 🙂

Here are some ideas to get you started…

You can make the switch from:

  • Paper napkins to cloth napkins
  • Paper towels to cloth towels or something like Skoy cloths
  • Tissues to handkerchiefs
  • Paper, plastic or Styrofoam plates to your kitchen plates
  • Disposable utensils to regular silverware
  • If you order food “to go” or have food to take home from a restaurant, bring your own container rather than accepting Styrofoam or plastic
  • Inexpensive plastic “Take & Toss” sippy cups to Thermos or Camelbak bottles or the Klean Kanteen
  • Disposable water bottles to (again) reusable bottles like Thermos, Klean Kanteen or Camelbak
  • Plastic sandwich bags or paper lunch bags to reusable containers/bags
  • Plastic straws to glass or stainless steel straws
  • Swiffers (or similar products) to a broom and dustpan or mop (or use reusable cloths like cloth diapers/terry inserts in your Swiffer)
  • Disposable dust rags to cloth rags
  • Disposable diapers to cloth diapers
  • Disposable wipes to cloth wipes (inexpensive plain washcloths work really well)
  • Disposable feminine products (tampons, pads) to reusables like DivaCup, MoonCup, Glad Rags, Luna Pads, Pretty Pads, or New Moon Pads, among others. You can even make your own pads.
  • Grocery store bags to reusable bags
  • Disposable wrapping paper or gift bags to reusable cloth gift bags
  • Single-use batteries to rechargeable batteries

Or, for the really crazy dedicated:

  • Toilet paper to cloth wipes/washcloths (for #1 or #2 too if you are really, really adventurous)

Please feel free to spread the word about the challenge on your blog by adding the button linking back to this post. If you have other ideas for disposable products people can ditch, please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Thanks and good luck!

I’ll host a few check in posts (every other Sunday if I can remember) throughout the two months so everyone can stop by and say how they are doing, and offer support and/or tips to others as well. Together we can Ditch the Disposables!
*When I say “ditch,” please know that I don’t mean throw them away. I want you to try making a lifestyle change from a disposable product you use regularly. If you want to save your disposables until the challenge is over, that’s your prerogative. You might also consider Freecycling them or donating them to a local charitable organization. I do suggest that whichever product(s) you choose to give up, you pack away until the challenge is over, lest you be tempted to use it/them.

Also, I WILL have a few giveaways along the way to help you out with this challenge. Stay tuned! 🙂

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Joining the Food Waste Reduction Challenge

I’m joining the Food Waste Reduction Challenge that begins today over at Crunchy Chicken. I think we do a fairly good job with minimizing waste in our house, and the food that does go bad goes into the compost bin, but there’s always room for improvement. There are definitely occasions when we could eat leftovers instead of making something new and we do just the opposite instead and then the leftovers end up going bad, etc. Composting food waste rather than throwing it into the trash is definitely preferred, but it’s still wasting food, money and energy.

According to Crunchy Chicken, “A University of Arizona study showed that 40 to 50% of U.S. edible food never gets eaten. That’s $100 billion worth of edible food discarded every year in the U.S.. It’s a tremendous waste of resources and one that we are all guilty in contributing to.”

Will you join me in taking on this challenge? Visit Crunchy Chicken to sign up. This challenge is for the month of February.

Great Green Goals for 2009

I was rereading a post I wrote at the start of 2008 – Living Green past and future – where I outlined the things I’d accomplished in 2007 toward living a greener lifestyle and then added more eco-friendly things I hoped to accomplish in 2008. This year I’m going to do the same thing and Great Green Goals for 2009invite you to post about your green goals for the upcoming year too. If you write a post and link back to this one, leave me a comment with the URL and I’ll add you to a list at the bottom of this post.

First, here were my goals for 2008 and my comments on how I did beside them in italics:

Green goals for 2008:

  • Grow a bigger garden – Did it! I grew tomatoes, basil, green beans, carrots, strawberries, zucchini, and yellow squash.
  • Possibly join a CSA to eat more locally and shop at the farmer’s market – Did not join a CSA but I did learn more about them and picked up a friend’s CSA share one week (when she was out of town). And I did some of my shopping at the farmers’ market.
  • Buy some cloth diapers that can stand up to Julian’s nighttime pees and stop using disposables (7th Generation) at night (We cloth diaper during the day.) – Yes and no. We stopped using 7th Generation dipes at night and instead stuff a Fuzzibunz diaper with a prefold and a gDiapers insert (which are biodegradable). Not the perfect solution, but better than where we were at.
  • Learn how to can foods – YES! And here’s proof. I canned three types of jam/jelly, spaghetti sauce and pear sauce in 2008.
  • Learn how to make my own yogurt – YES!
  • Read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” – No, and don’t even have it yet.

In 2008, I also:

  • Made my own butter.
  • Started using a clothesline to dry our clothes/diapers (at least some of the time).
  • Started using an eco-friendly dish soap.
  • Bought a dehydrator and dehydrated apples, nectarines, and strawberries.
  • Joined a food co-op.
  • Started using a Moon Cup (like a DivaCup).

As for 2009, my green goals are as follows:

  •  Grow a bigger garden still! Although my yard is small, that is not the problem. The problem is that we have three large trees in our backyard that block out most of the sunlight. I’ve been trying to figure out if there are some places in my front yard that get good sun where I might plant some veggies, but we have a lot of trees there too. The only places in the front yard that I can think of that aren’t shaded are right by the sidewalk. We don’t have a ton of foot traffic on our street, but I’m not sure I want to dig up the yard to plant veggies when we want to sell the house in the next year or two. Hmmm. I think I might have to do some container gardening in addition to the small garden I already have.
  • Join a vegetable seed co-op.
  • Can more than last year.
  • Dehydrate more than last year.
  • Bake my own bread more regularly.
  • Continue to move away from the use of plastic and be mindful of plastic packaging.
  • Learn how to sew using my mom’s old sewing machine.
  • Read The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which I already have) by Michael Pollan
  • Learn more about ownership and care of backyard chickens (as our chicken crusade plods on)
  • And, of course, continue with all of the other things I’m already doing.

Now it’s your turn. This isn’t exactly your typical “Green Challenge,” but it is kind of similar. Write a post telling me your green goals for 2009, leave me your link and I’ll add it to the list below. (If you link back to this one, that’d be great too.) Or just leave me a comment telling me what your goals are. I’d love some more ideas! 🙂

Other bloggers making green goals for 2009…

No Plastic Holiday Challenge check-in

Christmas is just four days away now and I’m wondering how are you all doing with the No Plastic Holiday Challenge?

I’ve been doing pretty good myself. I haven’t been able to avoid plastic completely (and I didn’t expect to), but this challenge has made me much more aware of just how much plastic is out there. I almost hyperventilated walking through Target’s toy department the other day! Seriously! Ugh.

I managed to score some handmade wooden toys for the kids at a local craft show that I’m very pleased with. I also made them felt pizzas and they are getting lots of books, in addition to a wooden play kitchen from Costco, and a few things I picked up at the thrift store. I’m also dyeing some play silks that I will use to wrap their presents and they will, of course, double as toys. Play silks are awesome for imaginative play.

I can’t discuss anybody else’s presents here since they all can read, but (gulp) some plastic is involved.

So how about you? What worked? What didn’t? Do you have any plastic-avoiding tips to share?

The No Plastic Holiday Challenge

Plastic is all around us. From our kids’ toys to their sippy cups, from grocery bags to Tupperware bowls, from furniture to toothbrushes. That’s not even including all of the plastic involved in packaging – from food to appliances to toys to clothing. Plastic is everywhere and while it’s not good for our health, it may be even worse for our environment, so this holiday season I am challenging all of you to become more aware of your plastic consumption and make conscious choices to avoid plastic whenever possible.

Consider this information from Plastic Bag Free.com:

  • Plastic production uses 8% of all the world’s oil production.
  • At the current rate the world produces 200 million tons of plastic a year. Less than 3.5% is recycled. In other words, 96% of all the world’s plastic is not recycled.
  • The world plastic production is increasing at 3.5% per year. This means every 20 years the amount of plastic we produce doubles.
  • The world produces over 200 million tons of plastic annually. Around half of this is used for disposable items of packaging that are discarded within a year. This debris is accumulating in landfill and the problem is growing.
  • Plastics do not biodegrade, they photo degrade, breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil, waterways, oceans and entering the food web when ingested by animals.
  • The dawn of the plastic era was in 1950s. This was when we first started to use plastic for consumer goods on a mass scale.
  • Scientists estimate each plastic item could last in the environment anywhere between 400 to 1000 years.
  • In short, since the 1950’s almost every piece of plastic that we have ever made, used and thrown away is still here on this planet in one form or another, whether its in our homes, in landfill or in the environment; and it will be here for centuries to come.
  • Worldwide, at least 143 marine species are known to have become entangled in marine debris (including almost all of the world’s species of sea turtles) and at least 177 marine species (including 95% of all the world’s sea birds) have eaten plastic litter.

Additionally, Plastic Bag Free.com reports,

People often ask, “What is the most concerning form of plastic marine debris? Is it discarded fishing nets (ghost nets), is it plastic bags, is it six-pack rings?”
The truth is it’s everything plastic in the ocean. All plastic breaks down into particles. It does not dissolve; it just breaks into tiny pieces and stays there. At this size it is small enough to be ingested by every single organism in the world’s oceans – animals as small as krill and salps (plankton feeders) right up to the great Blue Whale. These particles known as oceanic microplastics are now so prolific in the oceans that they outweigh plankton. In some large areas it is at a ratio of 30 to 1 (so 30 times more plastic than plankton) and the problem is growing fast.

Disturbing? Yes. Frightening? Sure. Hopeless? No. While we may not be able to do anything about the plastic that is already in the environment, the choices we make today will affect our future as well as our children’s and our grandchildren’s. This needs to be a collective effort. Remember, we vote with our dollars. The more we buy plastic products, the more plastic will be manufactured. Conversely, the more we buy sustainable products, the more sustainable products will be made.

The Challenge
I challenge all of you to do something about the growing plastic problem. When shopping for gifts this holiday season, try to find alternatives to plastic items AND look for items that don’t come with excessive plastic packaging.

Of course I’m not going to tell you, “Plastic is everywhere” and then say “Don’t buy it!” without giving you some suggestions on how you can avoid it, because I try to be helpful like that. Here are several suggestions to help you with this challenge.

Homemade Gifts
Kalyn Denny wrote 10 Great Homemade Food Gifts, and No Cooking Required for Some! with a wide variety from cookies and biscotti to meals in a jar and pet treats.

Over at Lighter Footstep there Ten Elegant, Inexpensive Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas including homemade bath salts, holiday wreaths, reusable fabric shopping bags and home-canned fruits.

Kit Bennett has tips for Making Gifts on a Budget over at Amazing Moms.

If you don’t want to make the gifts yourself but like the idea of purchasing something homemade, check out Pledge Handmade where people can “Pledge to buy handmade this holiday season, and request that others do the same for me.”

Of course, one great place to find homemade items is Etsy. I can’t say that you won’t find anything crafted out of plastic there, because that’s just not true, but many things containing plastic have been upcycled. According to Wikipedia, “‘Upcycling is the practice of taking something that is disposable and transforming it into something of greater use and value.’ This process allows for the reduction of waste and use of virgin materials.”

Buy From Women
Over at Tip Junkie, is the 2008 Holiday Mom-preneur Shop-a-thon, where “the challenge is to buy your gifts from women & fellow bloggers.” “With so many struggling with the economy, we have the combined power and influence to make a difference in these women’s lives and give their families a wonderful holiday. All while enjoying their fabulous products in our own homes and those of our loved ones.” There are over 200 women-owned stores listed here in a wide variety of categories.

Also, over at Thoughtfully Simple is the Pledge to Buy Mom-Made challenge, where mompreneurs can leave a link along with a coupon code if they like to their store in the comments.

Eco-Friendly Gifts
Over at Green and Clean Mom, Sommer reviews the book Green Christmas which “gives some great suggestions on involving my family in the green Christmas movement. Suggesting ideas on cutting energy, reducing the waste of wrapping paper, recycling gifts and reducing the number of gifts given and received.” She’s also giving a copy of the book away.

At Modern Eco Homes, Kristen Banker wrote Top Eco-Friendly Charities and Fair Trade Gift Sites.

Give to humankind, and the betterment of life on earth, or to someone else’s life, which will make a mark on your own heart and soul. Giving charitable donations creates a feeling unlike any other. Buying from websites that give back to indigenous communities, creates a global unity. Just knowing that you are doing a small part to better this earth we inhabit makes all the difference in the world.

At Peekaboo, Caryn Bailey highlights some fabulously green gift ideas for moms and tots.

Reduce Plastic Packaging
Beth from Fake Plastic Fish wrote a great post with ideas on how to cut back on plastic packing materials too. Some of her suggestions include: “When ordering online, request zero plastic and Styrofoam packaging specifically” and “Find ways to wrap gifts without paper or tape.”

What do you think? Avoiding plastic doesn’t sound quite so hard now, does it? Are you game to give the challenge a try? Leave a comment below if you will take the No Plastic Holiday Challenge and I’ll add your name (and blog URL if you have one) to a list in my sidebar of challenge participants. Feel free to grab the button above to put on your blog (or email me if you need the code). I don’t expect perfection on this challenge, but I’m going to give it my best shot and I hope you will too. Don’t forget to take your reusable bags shopping with you!

Related blogs and posts:

Cross-posted at BlogHer

Ditch the Disposables Challenge : Check-in #2

We are now nearly a month into the Ditch the Disposables challenge and at last count there were just over 100 people signed up! That’s wonderful news! Thank you all for giving the challenge a go.

How are you doing with it?

As for me and my switch to the MoonCup and cloth pads (for backup), I don’t have anything new to report. It went well for me earlier in the month, but I haven’t had to use them again yet. As for my switch from tissues to handkerchiefs, I can’t say I’ve been doing quite as well. I received the cloth handkerchiefs that my mom made for me and while I’ve been using them some of the time, I still find myself preferring to use tissues or, now that I’ve run out of tissues, toilet paper for blowing my nose. My allergies seem to be particularly bad lately so I’m blowing my nose A LOT.

Hope you all are faring well. There’s only one more month let in the challenge (although if you want to make the switch a permanent one, I certainly won’t argue with you). Thanks to everyone who has been a part of this, who has blogged about the challenge and helped spread the word and inspired others to give it a try as well. 🙂

Ditch the Disposables Challenge : Check-in #1

We are now two weeks into the Ditch the Disposables challenge and at last count there were over 80 people signed up! Woohoo! Not bad if I do say so myself. But that, of course, begs the question – how are you doing with it? Are you finding it harder or easier than you thought? If you are having trouble with it, what is tripping you up? If you are breezing through it, do you have any tips to share?

I never did reveal what I decided to ditch for the challenge, so here it is. I’m done with disposable menstrual products. I’ve been working on making the switch to the Moon Cup for the past few months, but had been dragging my feet. This month however, with the exception of two disposable pads used as back-up at the beginning of my period, I did it! You may recall that I was having some trouble getting the hang of it initially and it took me a few months to fully adjust (I’ll write another post about what finally helped me find my happy place with it), but I’m now a Moon Cup lover! In addition to the Moon Cup, I also am using cloth panty liners on my heavier flow days as back-up because I’m not 100% confident using the cup alone yet (and am unsure if I’ll ever be).

In addition to ditching disposable pads and tampons, I’m also going to try to kick the Kleenex habit. I tend to go through a lot of Kleenex, and although I compost some of it, it’s still generating a lot more waste than is necessary (not to mention all of the trees used to make the Kleenex in the first place). I’ve asked my mom – who is much more skilled on a sewing machine than I – if she would make me a bunch of smallish cloth hankies and she agreed (thanks, Mom!), so once I get those I am going to cut back significantly on the Kleenex.

I had considered getting rid of toilet paper, at least for a week or two, but haven’t convinced myself to give it a try yet. Glad to see some others are though! 😉 My hat’s off to ya.

Anyway, I hope you will check in. Let me and everyone else know how you are doing. Don’t worry if you have regressed a bit or if you are still working on making the switch. I think just being aware that you are striving to make a change is important. Also, if you have questions about something particular, let me know. Maybe together we can come up with something that will work for you as we all try to reduce the amount of disposable products we consume.

We’ll have another check-in on Sept. 28. Keep up the good work and thanks for being a part of the challenge. 🙂