This is my first in a series of spring cleaning posts. I know it’s only February 29th, but spring is fast approaching and I want my house to be spick and span. (And do I really need a season to make me clean house?) I will be posting often about tips to cleaning out and finding great places to donate or recycle your “junk”.
I know that in my house we have a few old cell phones lying around. We keep them thinking they are full of sacred data, I mean hey some of them cost us a pretty penny so it’s hard to part with them. Plus knowing what chemicals go into these babies it’s hard to feel comfortable throwing them away. Cell phones contain toxic materials such as arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, antimony and beryllium. These end up in land fills leaching into the soil and finally into our water supply. The numbers are staggering, there are over 500+ million cell phones in landfills or on shelves unused to date, and over 130+ million more adding to that list this year alone. And YES the post photo is a cell phone pile! There are many organizations that will help with this issue, taking your old phone and recycling it properly or donating them to a good cause. This is one that I’ve found.
Collective Good is an organization focused on working with charities to maximize the recycled cell phone while minimizing its environmental impact . Collective Good provides refurbished phones to the “developing world” (a term I don’t really appreciate but that’s a whole other post) at low cost. Any part of the phone that is unusable for any reason is recycled properly, so no need to worry about that. On their website you can print out a mailing label and it’s FREE to ship! Of course you can get the address on their FAQ’s and send it yourself, thus donating a few more dollars to this great organization. I urge you all to think, do I still have that old phone? Ask friends, get a bunch together and send a whole load of them. And don’t worry, all of your personal data is removed so you can rest assure that there’s no security risk there.
Here’s the website:
www.collectivegood.com or you can go directly to the page at www.recyclemy cellphone.org
Fact: 11% of the money you spend on groceries is for the packaging and packaging makes up for 32% of solid waste. Avoid the single use packages, travel size and small versions!
(Info received from www.earth911.com)
You don’t need to tell me twice how hard it is these days to save money. That’s why giving to charitable organizations becomes harder and harder. We can’t forget them though! Here’s a great organization that not only does great things for the environment but you get something out of it.
Green Dimes helps to put an end to the piles of junk mail you receive at home by working hard to keep you off of those mailing lists including insurance offers, credit card offers, coupon mailers, sweepstakes, solicitations, retail catalogs you never elected to receive… but don’t worry, anything you have elected to receive (by signing up for example at a store or website for a catalog) they don’t interfere with. So for 20$ a year they keep you off the endless lists your name ends up on. In exchange they plant trees, giving back to the earth. They review mailer lists monthly to keep your mailbox clear. You’ll see results within 3 months. I’ve been a member for about a year, and I can say I have not received a credit card or solicitation since. Whoohoo.
Check out these stats:
*Since launching in September of 2006 they have stopped 3,349,517 pounds (!) of junk mail from reaching your mailbox, thus saving hundreds of thousands of trees from being cut down.
* Planted hundreds of thousands of trees as well (this number grows by the second on a chart on their website it’s up to 1,011,960 the last time I checked.)
*Stopped 542,362 catalogs from clogging your mailbox.
*Has over 191,632 members, will you be the next one to make their list?
It’s as easy as 1-2-3
1.Go to www.greendimes.com (link also in my websites box to the left)
2.Sign up and choose what you do and don’t want coming to your mailbox every day
3.Sit back and enjoy less junk mail, less garbage to toss (recycle I mean) and cleaner air to breath.
So, I’ve been dreaming of composting for about a year now. Imagining using my own nutrient rich compost soil in my little urban garden, gifting jars of it to friends who have houseplants and bringing a bag of soil home for my parents instead of a bag of laundry! It really is a beautiful image to me. Urban composting is a bit scary to jump into, especially since I live in a small shoebox apartment (lovely yes, but small). I think I’ve found the answer though. Nature Mill makes an automatic composter! Hard to believe but true. Until I have a big house with a backyard to be home to my large compost bin which I will turn lovingly to create rich compost soil I will resort to dreaming about getting myself this Nature Mill automatic composter.
*Recycles its weight in waste every 10 days!
*Can add food waste (including meat and poultry), up to 12lbs a month!
*Get nutrient rich soil every 2 weeks
*Can be used indoor or outdoor (slides into a cabinet!)
*Has a powerful carbon filter to extinguish any lasting odors
The one draw back, it costs $299 (expensive yes, but a dream still). The waste this thing will cut down is amazing, I’d love to figure out how many trash bags I’d save a year, how long would it be before I could call it even, hmmm…..and should I add this to my wedding registry?
Check out their site: www.naturemill.com.
To find out how green your candidate is go to http://www.grist.org and click the special election section. Grist is an site dedicated to environmental news & commentary.There you can learn where the candidates stand on environmental issues. What I'd like to see, where they stand on animal rights issues but that's a whole other website I am sure! Check out where your guy, or gal stands! (Image:www.polkelections.com)
Locavore- a person who tries to consume food grown, produced, processed (if needed) and distributed within a 100-mile radius. By doing this the consumer supports local agriculture and/or businesses and cuts down on the travel time thus cutting out the large amounts of fuel used to ship, drive or fly food around the country and around the world.
You can take part in this movement by purchasing locally produced goods, frequenting farmers markets, joining a CSA (community supported agriculture) that delivers you local farmed produce, dairy and sometimes flowers and eating what’s in season and grown locally (eating strawberries in December might be yummy, but I can bet they were shipped or flown in from far away where weather conditions allow them to grow during winter).
Locavore the word is said to have been coined in 2005 by a small group of women in San Francisco. Oxford American Dictionary declared ‘Locavore’ the Word of the Year last year! Yay!
So, find out what your state and cities around you produce locally, support those businesses and bam, you can call yourself a locavore! Easy as pie (made with locally and organically grown fruits of course!)
Go to www.localharvest.org and type in your zip code, state or city to find out what is available near you! Great site full of information! (Image:images.jupiterimages.com)
Beware of GreenWashing!
I was at lunch today discussing “green companies” and the topic of greenwashing came up. I thought it most important to bring this to Urban Branches for you all. How I define green washing:
GreenWashing: When a company claims they are doing something eco-friendly or green when they are really only doing it to gain profit or a better public image. While they may be making a lesser impact on the environment than before it doesn’t excuse the overall impact a company has on the world around them.
To me it’s the same as brushing your teeth with organic toothpaste but leaving the water on running at full blast while doing it. I mean come on, what is the priority, self love because you’re choosing something organic or environmental impact of your choices?
Please beware of companies who say they are “going green” or are being more “natural.” Really investigate their message and /or ingredients and practices. For example, there are companies that use a single natural ingredient such as an essential oil in their product and call the product the natural choice, while the rest of their ingredients are all chemicals that are horrible for both you and the environment. It is disgusting to me that companies are hanging onto the eco-friendly bandwagon by a thread catching the fame and glory and not to mention reaping the profits. I promise I will be adding specific product details to this topic and will continue to investigate it myself. I just wanted to get this out there while I am still riled up about it! Please let me know your thoughts and if you have product/brand specifics, let me know. When you do find a company whose commitment to nature and their consumers truly exemplifies the green message, embrace them and support them whole heartedly!
We are all looking for that 1 product that has many uses. I think I’ve found it. Calendula. It a flower in the daisy family and has been used since at least the 12th century to heal, and it is still going strong!
Think of calendula as your soothing friend, helping to sooth irritated skin due to eczema, cysts, minor wounds, diaper rash, chapped skin, burns, sore throats… Calendula can be made into ointment, salve, balm, cream, body lotion, soap, liquid form, tea and more I can imagine!
I use calendula ointment as a general-purpose soother for any minor cuts or irritations.
Calendula Usage Tips:
*Steep a calendula tea bag in water and once it’s cooled off, use as a gargle for a sore throat
*Apply to small cuts
*Use to soften calloused hands and feet
*Lip balm for chapped lips
*Sooth itchy eczema skin
*Apply to sooth diaper rash
*Apply to burns to aid in healing
So, grab a tube, bottle or tub and start healing!
(Image: Calendula Flower http://caliban.mpiz-koeln.mpg.de) (Image: Calendula Boiron http://vitanetonline.com)
I did my taxes today! They've been staring at me for weeks now taunting me with their numbers and confusing directions. It wasn't that bad actually and I found myself pleasantly surprised with the new technology based options online. I've used online tax filing options before but had to print and send them in myself, all 15 pages or so. I used TurboTax again this year and ended up doing my taxes completely paperless! They now have a complete e-file option. Plus I get my refund directly deposited into my bank account (again no paper!) and it only cost me about $50. I'd pay for not having to do them on paper any day, especially since they make it easy by loading your information throughout all forms once it's been entered once. Just a tip, when paying choose to pay with your credit card (instead of the "take it out of my refund"option) and you'll save $30! Good Luck! (Image: mobilemag.com)
I think so! Check out this picture Kevin (my fiancé) took of Brooklyn at sunset right before a big rainstorm. The city sneaks up and inspires me some days. It's important to remember that it's not always where you live, but how you see your world that matters.
What’s sustainable, grows extremely fast and is green all over? If you guessed bamboo you’re right!
Bamboo is a sustainable eco-friendly fabric choice that is making its way into the mainstream. Bamboo is often thought of as a tree, it’s actually grass and grows up to 75 feet in under 60 days! This makes it an extremely sustainable and renewable fabric choice. Bamboo does not require pesticides or herbicides naturally either making it an obvious choice for the earthy friendly seeking shopper.
Bamboo fabric is made by taking the pulp of the bamboo and separating it into thin fibers and then spinning it into yards, which is then woven into cloth. Pretty simple huh!
Bamboo is a wonderful cotton alternative, in my organic cotton post earlier we saw how destructive growing conventional (non-organic) cotton can be both on the environment and those farmers harvesting it.
It has becoming increasingly easy to buy bamboo products. A great way to start is buy purchasing bamboo towels. We’ve got some ourselves and adore them. Bamboo has excellent wicking capabilities, meaning it draws moisture away from the body (making it great for workout clothing too!). Up next for fabrics? Hemp… stay tuned
So, I couldn't do a city girl's guide to going green without adding my favorite recipe for granola could I! The beauty of this recipe is you can alter it to your liking. So if you hate almonds, add cashews, and if you hate raisons skip em'! This recipe is delicious with vanilla soy milk over it, stirred in with some yogurt and topped with fresh berries....yum!
Lindsay's Homemade Granola
4 cups of old-fashioned rolled oats (can do less if you are running low, just add more of the other ingredients)
3 cups of sliced almonds (just over 1/2 pound approx)
1 1/2 cups of sweetened flaked coconut (I've used unsweetened and it turned out fine)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried blueberries (dried strawberries work too!)
1/2 cup golden raisins (or whatever is available really)
a few pinches of salt
Just under 1/2 a cup of vegetable oil
Just over a 1/2 cup of honey
*Preheat oven to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Take out a shallow baking pan and line with foil. Put aside for now.
*In a bowl, mix together rolled oats, almonds, coconut and salt. Stir in honey & oil, and make sure everything is well covered. Spread out on your foiled baking pan and bake! Peek in and stir the mixture at least once. Bake for a total of 25-30 minutes (or until golden brown)
*When mixture is done, stir in your dried cranberries and blueberries and let cool. Store in an airtight container, should last 2 weeks.
Next time I make my granola, I will upload a picture of mine, but for today Image is from: http://veganyumyum.com/category/breakfast/
With the rising concern of GM (Genetically Modified) animals and foods we can rest assure that certified organic products are not allowed to be genetically modified. That means if it scares you that cows have already been cloned and their offspring have somehow been "lost" among the cow population and are making their way into your diet, stick to organic meat and poultry. In addition, conventionally (conventionally grown means NOT ORGANIC) grown produce is allowed to have 500+ additives in it! Think about that for just a second. Most of these additives are highly controversial chemicals under investigation as we speak. Why tempt the devil, buy organic and be safer!
The ever-growing public knowledge of the harmful effects of chemicals raises many concerns. It has become increasing hard to feel comfortable simply purchasing products for you or your family without investigating ingredients. In my opinion that’s a good thing. We are more interested in what goes into or around our bodies than ever before. I am always looking for a product line I can trust. Enter Ruby Blaise Essentials, created by a mother of twins looking to create a healthy and natural way to combat daily issues such as headaches, fatigue and low energy. All of her products are natural, healthy and non-toxic!
Her products come in array of essential oil blends such as adorably named Happy Mist (bergamot & grapefruit), Stress Free Mist (clary sage, lemon & lavender) and Sunburn Mist (which has soothing lavender, cooling peppermint & spearmint).
I adore the Floral Mist, containing rose otto, which has been known to boost immunity, aid in healing migraine headaches and is uplifting. In addition, Floral Mist contains ylang ylang, known as an anti-depressant, as well as having a euphoric and sensual benefit. I just sprayed this over my head and I will tell you the calming euphoric effect is settling over me for sure. I can’t help but smile.
We’ve been hearing about the benefits of essential oils for centuries. Cleopatra is said to have taken rich, moisturizing milk baths scented with geranium, mandarin and ylang ylang oils. If Cleopatra is bathing in it, I think it’s safe to say it’s a luxury worth looking into.Prices range from $6-$18 depending on the size of the bottle. Bottles are plastic, making them easily portable and great to take with you everywhere. I know I would like to spray the Stress Free Mist on my morning commute! The mists can be used as a room spray, deodorizer, body spray, disinfectant and as a light perfume. I am so excited to have had the chance to share this product line with you. When I believe in something I want so badly to see it do well. This is no exception. Visit her site at http://rubyblaise.com/. Pick up a bottle for yourself! Gift one to a friend who might need a pick me up! Enjoy!
Conventional (non organic) cotton growing involves the use of the following; chemical pesticides, chemical herbicides, chemical insecticides and chemical fertilizers. That's a lot of chemicals! Growing conventional cotton is one of the most environmentally harmful activities. Conventional cotton is one of the most chemically dependent crops, in fact 10% of all agricultural chemicals are used on cotton alone! Let me put it to you this way: to produce just 1 cotton T-shirt 1/3 pound of chemicals is used!! That's insane, right!
If that wasn't reason enough to seek out organic cotton here's a few more. Organic cotton farming uses compost as fertilizer, thus enriching the soil and naturally replenishing the soil fertility which helps build a more biologically diverse soil. Sounds like a win win to me.
This post stemmed from my search for linens to add to my wedding registry. My fiancé and I are trying very hard to keep our wedding as well as our registry as earth friendly as possible, and our sheets are no exception. I realized there's much more to sheets than color and pattern. In the coming weeks I will be sharing other alternative fabrics that can be used instead of the destructive chemically dependent cotton that seems most prevalent. Here's a list of companies that sell organic cotton sheets:
The Company Store
Bed, Bath & Beyond
The Natural Sleep Store
Next time you are buying a set of sheets, consider organic. Sleep happier and healthier. Also, check out www.nakedcotton.com for some organic cotton tees, or head to American Apparel and check out their organic cotton line. Enjoy and stay tuned, Bamboo as a fabric is next! (Image: historyforkids.org)
Homemade Laundry Detergent:
· 4 cups water
· 1 bar of soap
· 1 cup washing soda (Made by Arm & Hammer)
· ½ cup of borax (this is not necessary – but it does kick it up a notch)
· A five gallon bucket with a lid
· Three gallons hot tap water
Let the mixture cool overnight. In the morning you will have thick homemade laundry soap.
Both the Baking Soda and Borax–Borax is marketed as a laundry booster it is a natural mineral and is an alternative to the environmentally harmful detergents commercially sold today.
If you have an extra dirty load of laundry you can add extra borax.
GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY WASHING!! Love, Amy
Here are some quick facts for you:
*The bottle design has been shown at the MOMA in New York.
*They are durable, and pretty much unbreakable (go ahead and try).
*The lining is resistant to fruit acid, alcohol, carbonated drinks etc. so you can put any beverage in there.
*Bottle lining is scent neutral so you won't have to worry about that funky aroma anymore.
*The bottles come in a variety of styles include, flowers, skulls, cartoon characters, solids and stripes.
*Americans throw away 30+ million PET (petroleum based plastic) a year that end up in landfills, and of the ones recycled a portion cannot be reused. The manufacturing and transportation of these bottles burns 1.5+ million barrels of fossil fuels a year!
SIGG is an amazing company and is worth your dollar. They manufacture products in an ecologically-friendly environment and the bottles themselves are 100% recyclable. They are a member of the 1% For The Planet organization (they donate 1% of all sales to organizations focused on environmental causes) Sounds pretty good huh? There’s more!
They are doing some cool stuff on their site to celebrate their 100th birthday. They are showing the 100 eco-moments of all time on the site http://www.sigg100.com/. They've got a live chat where you can talk directly to environmental leaders like Laurie David, Ed Begley Jr. and Zem Joaquin (of ecofabulous.com). You can take a Global Warming IQ test and as if that wasn't enough you can win a fabulous trip to Hawaii for a 2 day music festival promoting environmental education in schools (wish me luck on winning)! So log on to http://www.sigg100.com/ and http://www.mysigg.com/ to purchase your very own SIGG bottle. I’ve got mine, now get yours. (Image Credit: www.inhabit.com)
When you gift something, let me know! I want to hear about it. My personal favorite gift to give? You can donate $90 and provide gender rights training for community activists, giving not just one gift but an ongoing community gift to the many women who will benefit. Oh, and the gift of the crocodile of course!
Current natural beauty obsession: Kiss My Face Honey Calendula Ultra Moisturizer. This stuff is amazing. They've blended amazingly luscious ingredients to keep you looking in tip top shape. Honey attracts the moisture from the air and calendula soothes your winter worn skin. Ingredients also include aloe, lavender flower, coconut oil and grape seed oil. It goes on thick and lasts all day. The scent is to die for, subtle honey, but not overpowering. And for a 16oz bottle it's around 10 bucks! Beat that! (Kiss my face can be purchased at Whole Foods, Drugstore.com and a health food store near you)
Many think organic is only related to what you eat, NOT TRUE! The flower industry is responsible for polluting so much soil with pesticides and chemicals. Not to mention the social impact this industry has around the world with the vast amount of jobs created that are often unchecked for fair conditions and fair wages.
Veriflora is the first program to label flowers so that the average citizen knows they are buying ecologically and socially responsible stems. Veriflora guarantees their flowers/potted plants are produced in an environmentally and socially responsible way (as well as meeting the highest standards of freshness & quality, nice!). When you choose flowers certified with Veriflora’s mark of approval you are buying into a system that promotes fair wages, resource conservation, eco-system protection and positive changes for farmers. Not only do you get the benefit of gorgeous flowers brightening up your home/garden, but you know you have made your dollar worth something greater than its monetary value. That is the best gift anyone can give or receive.
For more information on the Veriflora certification and where to purchase go to their website http://www.veriflora.org.
One site that offers Veriflora approved flowers is http://www.organicbouquet.com/. They have beautiful bouquets and potted plants. I’ve ordered from the site before and had great results! The picture included is the "1 Dozen Aphrodite Roses" for $49.95. Know anyone who loves beautiful roses? Ya, that's what I thought, go ahead and get to it.
I have chosen at this point in my life to refrain from eating any meat/poultry that hasn’t been raised humanely and fed an organic diet without antibiotics & hormones. What this means is that I believe strongly that the factory farming industry is literally a hell on earth for those stuck inside. I believe it is morally wrong to support those industries and when faced with the choice of meat or no meat, I will gladly choose no meat if it means I have lessened the suffering of an animal.
But, there are alternatives to the factory farming industry, and I have found that I can justify them on my moral spectrum. This is a choice that some may call hypocritical, I understand. I have been struggling with this myself. What has finally helped me clear my head is the idea that by supporting a small (hopefully local) farm that raises their animals with compassion for the natural habits and needs of their livestock I am saying to the world, I want more of this type of farming. I am willing to put my money where my mouth is.
Kevin, my fiancé and I have made the choice that under no circumstance does any meat/poultry enter our home that we don’t approve of. Yes, it means spending an extra dollar or two for that roast chicken meal. We have accepted this not as a luxury item, but as an ethical choice that we are not willing to give up. Eating out has become harder, but it has helped us find restaurants that support our beliefs and they have become our favorite spots for date night! In my opinion, not eating meat as much as before is a win win, and now when I do eat meat, I know it’s better for the animal and my health. So, please look for grass-fed beef (and milk/cheese products!), organically fed poultry and humanely raised on the labels. Support the stores that sell these products, let them know you appreciate it. And don’t feel guilty asking the waiter to find out where the meat comes from, maybe someone in the kitchen will get the hint and start ordering differently! Any thoughts…. (Picture Credit: Roy Lichtenstein's 'Meat')
This is a delicious way to enjoy desert and get a serving of fruit in your system. Plus you can find local and organic fruits to make this extra eco-friendly. So yummy!