Here's another wonderful post by my future sister-in-law Amy H. Enjoy!
If you live in an area where you can have goats, they make a wonderful addition to the family as well as providing a nicely trimmed lawn. Goats are low maintenance animals, as long as you have two of them (they are social animals) and have some sort of shelter for them (they despise the rain), they make nice pets. I would suggest getting younger goats so you can tame them or you may be able to find an old petting zoo selling their animals, so those goats would be super tame -- plus you would get a recycled animal. :)
We have a small herd of Nigerian Dwarf Goats, we bought them to keep the pasture trimmed and for weed abatement.
This past fall we borrowed a billy goat from our neighbors and our three females had babies in March, The baby goats are adorable and so much fun. They chase each other and hop around and play hide and seek. They are so sweet and gentle with our daughter.
The environmental upside is that we don't need to use a gas/electric powered mower or edger to keep our back yard and pasture weeds and grass under control. We rotate the goats to different areas on our property to keep the weeds away, so when the dog's yard is getting overly green, we put the dogs in the goat pasture and let the goats munch at the greens in the dog yard for a day or two.
When we sell our babies in June, the money we make will be enough to pay for the food for the goats for the upcoming year, so they are pretty much self-sustaining. Additionally, our neighbor offered to clean out the goat barn because the goat droppings and the hay had mulched and created a wonderful fertilizer for his family garden. Typically we only have to clean out the barn 2 times a year and we simply rake out the droppings into the pasture and the rain and sun break them down and all the nutrients go back into the land.
If we were up for more of a challenge, we could milk the goats and make goat cheese, goat milk soap, or simply drink the goat milk. But with full time jobs and an almost 2 year old, for now we simply have the goats as pets/lawn mowers.
Other than de-worming the goats two times a year and an occasional hoof trimming (depending on the goat, some goats have genetically better hooves that don't need as much trimming) and providing them with fresh water, a mineral block (ours has lasted over a year) and a bale of alfalfa grass--- that is about all you need for a happy, healthy goat. The benefit to you is one less chore in the yard -- plus the entertainment of watching the goats play.
Here are some links for more info on goats:
Labels: Amy H. Posts
There's an excitement in the air as Kevin and I prepare to turn out lights off for the 8pm hour. We are getting ready to light candles and enjoy the atmosphere this event has created. How are you enjoying the night?
Kevin and I have been cooking more and more. While it's easy to pick up premade bottles and packages of things, making it yourself gives you complete green control! You can choose ingrediants yourself and you can nix the chemicals you don't need. Here's a recipe for homemade vinaigrette that is just delicious. You can store this in a reused jelly jar in your cabinet (not the fridge!) Lasts for weeks (if you don't eat it all up right away!)
Lindsay's Homemade Vinegrette
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teapsoons whole-grain mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Put vinegar, lemon juice, mustard and some salt and better in the food processor (you can use a hand blender for a thicker dressing if you'd like), then slowly pour in your olive oil and viola, istant dressing. Kevin and have made a few adjustments to this recipe, you can too. We add 1 clove of garlic and a few olives for taste. Also if we're out of the whole-grain mustard we just put in some extra Dijon. Easy as pie.
Have eczema? Switch to chemical free earth friendly detergent- chemicals are irritants to the skin. And don't switch the the big name brand "free and clear" that only means no scent, stick to natural cleansers to wash your clothes and your skin will thank you. Kevin and I like Mrs. Meyer's (pricey, but lovely), Seventh Generation and Ecos. Stick with the natural brands for fabric softener too.
Wondering what free and easy step you can take to make this world a better place? Turn off your lights is one way to start. You’re saving energy and money simultaneously. This weekend marks the second 60 Earth Hour. Earth Hour was created by The World Wild Life Fund and started in Sydney Australia last in 2007 where over 2,000 corporations and countless households shut their lights for an hour. You may have seen this on the news, the bright beautiful skyline was shut down to say to the world, hey, it’s time to wake up and make a difference. This was all over the news and captured the interest of people worldwide. This year, Earth Hour has taken the world’s stage and is happening in cities all over the world, 370 cities are taking part this year, 35 in America alone. The event in 2007 was equivalent to 48,000 cars being taken off the road, imagine what this year will do. Pull out that bag of tea lights, light those beautiful scented candles that adorn your shelves and get romantic this Saturday night at 8pm. Take part in something amazing. Make a difference, it’s as easy as turning off the lights. You can sign up for information and cool news at www.earthhour.org you can also check out their video on YouTube and watch last years event unfold.
1. Go to www.Youtube.com
2. Search for Earth Hour 2008
3. Watch and be inspired
I can’t wait to hear about all of your experiences, so come back and tell me what you did Saturday at 8pm!
Labels: Global Warming
Finally here are your Eco-WORST fish choices. We can all make such a difference if we put our money where our mouths are and vote with our dollar. Don’t let an appetizing meal steal you away from doing what’s right. Hopefully things will change in our lifetime, I believe it can.
Eco-Worst Fish Choices:
*Chilean Sea Bass- HIGH LEVELS OF MERCURY, overfishing causing population decline, illegal fisheries and bycatch deaths including sea birds
*Grouper- overfishing causing population decline
*Monkfish- overfishing causing population decline, fishing method of dredging from sea floor causing major environmental damage
*Orange Roughy- HIGH LEVELS OF MERCURY, overfishing causing population decline
*Farmed Salmon (Atlantic)- HIGH LEVELS OF MERCURY & PCB’s (PCB’s are man made chlorinated industrial chemicals), raised in densely populated netpens which high rates of fish escape causing mixed breeding and parasite transfers to natural populations
*Shark- HIGH LEVELS OF MERCURY, overfishing causing population decline, sharks only produce a few offspring in their lifetime.
*Swordfish (Imported) - HIGH LEVELS OF MERCURY, bycatch deaths include sea birds, sharks, sea turtles and other fish
*Big eye Tuna/Yellowfin (Imported) - HIGH LEVELS OF MERCURY, bycatch deaths include sea birds, sharks, sea turtles and other fish
*Bluefin Tuna- HIGH LEVELS OF MERCURY, highly corrupt fisheries, overfishing causing population decline
To find out a ton more fish and what list they fall under Eco-Best, Eco-ok and Eco-Worst visit www.edf.org.
As March is coming to a close, April showers are springing up in advance, and before we know it, summer will quickly be here. All this cold wetness makes me long for the sun and intense summer New York heat. I say this, however, as I sit by the pool in sunny, hot LA, (don’t hate me) wondering why I don’t live here!
As I entered the pool area, all I could see was a sea of tanned and chiseled bodies. Leaving my low self-esteem at the door, I de-layered to my swimsuit and instantly was aware that all eyes were on me. No, it wasn’t because I have an absurdly amazing body, far from it. It was because my skin was white. NO, not white, like, beacon in the night white, like lighthouse light shinning in the night white. And of course, it never crossed my mind to bring sunscreen. I mean, I did come when LA decided to have freakishly hot weather. Its okay, I thought to myself, I’ll just ask to borrow from someone, but after the third try, I realized all these people were greasy with tanning oil. I had to ask the lone man with two kids in the corner to borrow something higher than SPF 4.
That got me thinking. I don’t have to go into the ramifications of sun damage or the fact that I was secretly thinking that I’ll probably outlive all these people with my white and pasty, wrinkle free skin. As far as wrinkles go, this is Hollywood baby. I’m sure they’re all thinking “sun wrinkles? Eh…I’ll just Botox…”. I mean let’s be honest. In the next ten years when I’ll really have to worry about wrinkles, I’m sure they’ll have some handy dandy at home Botox kit where we all can live in a wrinkle free and expressionless world!
But seriously, although Vitamin D is good for you, you can’t reverse the damage of skin cancer or saggy wrinkly arm skin…not cute. As I finish lathering, I stare at the back of the bottle. I start to wonder, what the heck am I putting on my skin to ward off the suns evil rays?
I had just applied Neutrogena Sensitive Skin SPF 30 sun block lotion. The Sensitive Skin aspect claims that there are no irritating chemical sunscreens in it. It’s a “Gentle oil-free formula that physically blocks the sun’s damaging rays to provide instant protection without irritating chemical sunscreens. Enriched with anti-oxidants and special moisturizers for healthier looking skin. Vanishes on skin for a weightless, non-greasy feel”. They make it sound enticing but I can’t get the thought out of my head about exactly what was vanishing on, or rather into, my skin. It doesn’t claim to be chemical free, just hypo allergenic. Unlike any time before, I couldn’t understand what made this any better than the non-sensitive kind. The ingredients were still products that sound horrifying. Titanium Dioxide, Neopentyl Glycol Diethlheanoate, Glycerin, Aluminum Hydroxide, Iron hydroxide, Steric Acid, something about a acrylate crosspolymer…I could go on…the list of ingredients covered half the bottle.
There were lots of ingredients to make this thing supposedly “enriching”. But are they needed? I needed to find out, so I decided to investigate further. Banana Boat is a big sunscreen brand, one I usually use because it makes you pasty white when you put it on, thus making me feel like I literally have a shield on my skin against the sun. But it only has three ingredients. Octyl Methoxycinnamate, Oxybenzone, Octy Salicate. Then I looked at what their version of the kids’ sunscreen was composed of. It was pretty much the same three ingredients but with different endings. If I were a chemist I’d gladly go into what they mean, but I can only think that they’re a composite of the original element just broken down so they aren’t as strong, and thus not as likely to irritate a child’s skin. (or just not be as harmful)
With ingredients of chemicals I can’t even pronounce, I wondered if there was something safer for your skin. Being Australian, I learned from a very early age to always wear sunscreen and a hat if you were to be outside. Today there are swim suits made with long sleeves and in some cases long legs. It looks like a revival of an early 1900’s swim suit, but it protects children from the harmful rays as well as limits the amount of chemical sunscreen put on the skin. Being in the direct hole of the ozone, Australia has always been the frontrunner in Sunscreen and Sun protection technology, so I decided to look there to see if they had any alternatives to chemical sunscreens.
Soleo Organics, an Australian sunscreen brand, had the solution. A trusted alternative to common synthetic sunscreens, this new and improved formula from Australia provides SPF 30+, broad spectrum, 3-hour water resistant protection without the use of chemical UV-absorbers, titanium dioxide or synthetic preservatives. Because of the hypoallergenic formula this sunscreen is suitable for all skin types including sensitive skin. Soléo Organics uses a special form of "nanofine" zinc oxide, which means unlike common zinc, it won't leave your skin ghostly white. Furthermore zinc oxide is considered the single best broad-spectrum sunscreen (protecting from UV A and UV B rays).
It is formulated with natural and organic ingredients and is fortified with botanical extracts to moisturize and care for the skin. I mean, look at the ingredients: grape seed oil, macadamia oil, green tea extract, roman chamomile extract, sunflower oil, capric/caprylic triglycerides (plant oil derived), beeswax, theobroma butter, candelilla wax, lecithin, vegetable oils, cucumber extract, tocopheryl acetate (Vitamin E), the active ingredient being zinc oxide.
These ingredients make me want to put on the sunscreen as an after shower lotion! Yahuuu! So I wondered if sunscreen could be organic, what the hell was putting on chemicals for so long doing to me? Have we been all caught in a catch 22 where we are protecting ourselves from sun damage, but ultimately harvesting damage in another way?
Though chemical sunscreens have not been studied to determine if they generate free radicals upon sun exposure, many are concerned that this is a very likely possibility. There are well-known scientific studies by Switzerland's Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, which prove that chemical sunscreens have unintended detrimental consequences. The chemical compounds in sunscreens can accumulate in body fats, in mother's breast milk and can cause hormonal changes within the body. These chemicals mimic estrogen, and induce hormonal activities.
But…at the end of the day, everyone has been applying sunscreen for years, and no one has reportedly died from an overdose or perpetual use of sunscreen, just melanoma. SO, at the end of the day, I would say USE SUNSCREEN at all times. But at least now you have an organic alternative! They don’t have a specific website, but if you Google: “Soleo organics sun screen” it will pop up. But here’s an example: http://www.purehealthcafe.com.au/manufacturers.php?manufacturerid=61
(Egyption Art Image: www.megamart.co.nz)
Hopefully you read Go Fish v.1 yesterday and saw lots of your favorites on the list. Here is a list of 10 Eco-Ok choices. Tomorrow I will post the Eco-Worst choices that you should stay away from. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but in my opinion ignorance is not bliss, its avoidance.
Eco-Ok Fish Choices:
*Wild Clams- some dredging which causes damage to sea floor habitats
*Pacific Cod- catch methods include line & trap which are less environmentally destructive. Some dredging is also done causing damage
*Snow Crab- population fluctuations require proper management (often not up to par) and no overfishing
*Flounder/Sole (Pacific) - caught by trawl method which is damaging to the sea floor habitat. Overfished in Atlantic
*Lobster (American/Marine) - Lobster pots are not too damaging to the sea floor
*Scallops (New England/Canada)- caught by dredging which is damaging to the sea floor and has high rates of bycatch including sea turtles.
*Shrimp (US Wild) - high by catch, but the U.S. now requires the use of devices that allows for bycatch such as some fish and sea turtles to escape the nets
*Squid- squid fisheries are largely unregulated leading to high bycatch, but they reproduce quickly helping keep the population numbers high
*Tilapia (Latin America) - most Tilapia in the US comes from Latin America where the fish is not typical to the area meaning that escape from farms causes considerable damage to the existing eco-system because of breeding. US Tilapia is an Eco-best choice though most is brought in to the US from Latin America, go figure.
*Canned Light Tuna (Skipjack) - most pole & line caught but sometimes purse seine fleets used which causes damage to the sea floor habitat.
Hope this helps you choose your next fish dinner. I know I am having Tilapia Tacos tonight, and I am eager to ask the waiter exactly where the fish is sourced from. (fingers are cross for US Tilapia!)
Buy the refills of products whenever possible. Like soap for example, if you use liquid hand soap or shower gel look for brands that sell refillable sizes. Method does this I know. Also buy in bulk and refill your smaller containers (so you don't have to lift 10 pounds of extra virgin olive oil like the one I bought at Costco!)
A lot of people are trying to eat less red meat and poultry to reduce the environmental impact on the earth and in many cases their health as well. Eating fish seems like the perfect option, fish are high in omega 3’s and are often prepared in healthy ways. Before you think “wow that was easy”, you should know there are eco-friendly fish choices and not so eco-friendly fish choices out there. What makes a fish eco-friendly or not eco-friendly you ask? Well, many types of fish production (fishing, farming, netting…) are poorly (if at all) managed, meaning there is often unregulated waste pollution and poor worker rights, a high bycatch (meaning in their nets they catch sea turtles, dolphins, sharks, sea birds that all get killed by mistake), chemical run off and finally fish escape and bread with natural populations changing the biological makeup of the fish forever. In this 3 part series I will tell you the best and worst eco-friendly fish choices. Tomorrow I will give you the eco-ok choices, and finally the eco-worst choices on Wednesday.
Eco-Best Choices (and 1 reason why):
*Anchovies- reproduces quickly thus replenishing the population
*Artic Char- fish caught with gear that has little environmental impact
*Atlantic Mackrel- fast growing fish, thus replenishing the population
*Farmed Oysters- raised on suspension systems instead of dredging up the ocean
floor, which causes harm to the sea bed ecosystem
*Sablefish- fish caught with gear that has little environmental impact
*Salmon (wild Alaska)- fish caught with gear that has little environmental impact
*Sardines- reproduces quickly thus replenishing the population
*Rainbow Trout (farmed)- well managed farm reduces waste runoff and escape
*Albacore Tuna (US or Canada)- caught by pole & line thus reducing environmental impact of bycatch
Good Morning! Sorry about the sparse posting this weekend. I am in Connecticut for the weekend and trying to stay off the computer! I wanted to let you in on my weekend dilemma...
Kevin and I are off to Costco today to stock our house up with cheap bulk items. The question that comes to mind is if it's bulk and not earth or animal friendly is it ok?
I know how much more environmentally friendly bulk items are, but what guns am I sticking to today? I plan on buying a 50 pack of toilet paper and paper towels, but that means I will be ditching my great Seventh Generation and Green Forest for months!
When it comes to food is it best to buy items in bulk but forgo the organic brands I have come to love? We'll see, I did have a dream that I would walk in and see my Seventh Generation paper towels in packs of 20, bulk containers of whole wheat flour, organic apples and ethically responsible meat. A girl can dream can't she?
Hello, hello my eco-beauties. In a world that claims to go green, how can we tell what is green in terms of being eco-friendly, and what is for show?
Beauty products have come a far way since Aveda, in terms of them being the frontrunner in carrying all natural, all botanical products that aren’t tested on animals. They also revolutionized the beauty packaging industry. By minimizing their packaging, and maximizing the use of post-consumer recycled materials, they use materials that can be and are recyclable, and designs their packaging so that the individual parts can be separated for recycling. They also work with suppliers who manufacture our packaging materials using renewable energy.
Today, I would say that is passé. Most beauty companies have gravitated towards animal-free testing and recyclable packaging. (And if they haven’t, you should be boycotting them…) Bravo to Aveda doing their part, but in a consumer society, packaging sells, and we are easily captivated by the “newest” products that tickle our fancies.
That being said, and one that truly falls into that category, I’d like to profile CARGO’s new PlantLOVE lipstick.
The mindset is behind the creativity being eco-friendly is simply amazing. Are you sitting down? Good. The carton housing the lipstick is biodegradable, embedded with seeds so that when moistened and planted, flowers will grow. THEY WILL GROW!
The line consists of multiple coloured lipsticks with the tube made from compostable corn plastic, and thus considered a renewable resource. (But can we say plastic then??) And the lipsticks themselves are not made with Petroleum based ingredients but a patented Orchid complex, which, for 20 bucks for a tube of lipstick, should make your lips feel like bio-degradable silk
If you thought the buck stopped there, your wrong. CARGO is donating two dollars from the sale of these lipsticks to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Not only will you look great, the seeds sewn are truly from the heart and will not only affect future generations, but the planet as well. So invest; in the earth and in our children.
You can pick one up at Sephora or go to: http://www.cargocosmetics.com/plantlove.html
And order a whole bunch.
What better way to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY or I LOVE YOU than planting a lipstick garden?
Pop into my favorite shop Hayden Harnett in Greenpoint Brooklyn or go online to: www.haydenharnett.com and pick up a GREEN IS GOOD canvas tote for a mere $27! You can use this for groceries, gym clothes, books or as your purse! The proceeds (100% of them mind you!) go to Farm Aid!!! Here's a snippet from Hayden Harnett's site:
Help support organic, sustainable farming practices and education with the purchase of our exclusive "GREEN IS GOOD" organic cotton eco-tote. 100% of Hayden-Harnett’s proceeds from the sale of our GREEN IS GOOD organic cotton tote supports Farm Aid's efforts to promote local, organic, and sustainable farming through education and training. Promoting green farming is a great way to help the environment and ourselves. Using this eco- friendly tote, rather than plastic bags, is another great way to be kind to our planet.
To learn more about Farm Aid, please visit: farmaid.org
I love this shop, I drool over every single bag! I am lucky enough to have a few but now I want this one too! Kevin can't get mad, it's for charity, there, I won. Ha!
I love to read and I have been known to have bookcases full of them. I know I really should be going to library instead of buying books, but I write notes all over them and I love lending them so it’s hard! That being said, I have been doing some spring cleaning and books were my first mountain to conquer. I have come up with a great list of ideas on what to do with those old books that I thought I’d share with you all. First though you’ve got to go through your home library and really take out what you don’t need to be keeping. I organize them into these categories:
Category 1- Not even up for debate.
Category 2- Haven’t read yet, so obviously keep if I plan on reading someday
Category 3- Read and loved, might read again, might lend or might need to pull from it someday
Category 4- Did I read that? Did I like it? (aka TOSS)
Category 5- Gifts from family or friends that you’ll never read and you keep for what reason again? (again, easy aka TOSS)
Once you’ve made your piles now it’s time to figure out what to do with them. For the books you are not going to keep here are some great ideas on how to reduce, reuse and recycle them!
*Call your local library or public school and see if they take book donations.
*Look online for a local used bookstore that may give you a few bucks for them. (in New York City you can sell your books at Strand)
*Sell them online at Amazon.com and make a few bucks. (super easy to set up, I promise)
*Organize a small cocktail party at your house where everyone brings books they don’t want to swap.
And if all else fails RECYCLE THEM!
There, one more in our Spring Cleaning Series!
1,500 miles: that is the average number of miles your food travels from farm to plate. Eat Local! It's up to you to check the label, shop where you know they serve local produce and products and ASK questions when you're shopping.
While I am writing this, I have CNN on TV and they just began a news spot discusing how much oil is used to transport food/goods across the country and all over the country. All of those trucks bringing you out of season fruit whenever you want (that for some reason doesn't always taste as good as when it's fresh) are guzzling a lot of gas! Think twice before you support that industry.
For a great short film about this go to www.youtube.com and search 'Watch Your Odometer' in the search box and click on the first image that comes up calleed 'Watch Your (Fo)Odmeter. Tell me what you think, I loved the simplicity of it and the great message.
Happy 'Green' Day! Yes yes, I know it's for St.Patrick's Day but it's still green isn't it! And that is good news to me! :)
I spent 10 minutes one weekend looking for new eggs for my Sunday breakfast at home with Kevin. What I was looking for was company/farm that insured me the chickens were raised on pasture and had eaten their normal fare (including some grass, insects and grub). What I found was a lot of attempts to be ecologically and animal friendly. Including many touting CAGE-FREE, FREE-RANGE and my favorite RAISED NEAR SUNNY PORCHES AND WINDOWS.
I settled on Organic Valley’s half dozen large brown eggs, cage free and fed on 100% vegetarian feed. Seems nice and cozy doesn’t it. Well after all my reading I am learning to read between the lines. First things first though, what I DID learn about free-range chickens that are raised for meat is this:
The USDA requires the following of chickens raised for their meat; chickens are required to have access to the outdoors in order to be granted the free-range certification. This is great news. What I did find sad and frustrating was that eggs from “free-range” chickens have NO regulations. They are firmly resting on the honesty of the farmer to label themselves. Many egg farmers will sell their eggs with the free-range label simply because their chickens are housed in cages 2-3 inches above the average size or because there is a window in the shed. What this means for you and me is that when a farmer raises chickens merely for egg production there are no rules and they are free to label them as free-range if they so choose in order to help sell their product. This is insane! These farmers are allowed to claim free range on their packaging while doing nothing to back up the claim. Yikes! Note to self, no longer by “free range chicken eggs” unless I know the farmers standards specifically. That being said this is my interpretation of what I’ve learned by reading many books, articles and testimonials on this subject. It is my opinion and how I choose to shop.
Here is what I’ve learned about the different terms I see on packages:
Free-Range: For meat, the chicken is required to have access to the outdoors. You have to be somewhat skeptical about what exactly that means, but feel confident in choosing free-range chicken.
This by no means implies to be that these chickens enjoying a sun drenched afternoon with their fellow chicken buddies, no. But it is a choice
This to me means the farmer does what is required to gain the certification. This could include a porch the chickens have access too. Sorry to be so negative, but I’ve read a lot that has turned my stomach.
Note: Free-Range, according to the USDA only (only!) can be used for poultry. Meaning that there are absolutely no rules for beef, pork and other non-poultry meats. There are no rules stopping farmers and meat producers from writing “free-range”on their package. There is no certification behind the label and to me it might as well not be there at all.
Cage Free: Ohhh this one makes me mad. This means the chickens are not incased in cages so small they can barely move, but that they are inside a concrete (most likely) barn with no windows living in cramped conditions in horribly dirty and retched conditions. Great, I feel much better.
100% Vegetarian-Fed Chickens: This is what I see on the label of eggs at the store. Seems nice, if you’ve read the post on what animals are often fed this label will surely make you sleep sounder at night. But, there’s one thing it’s missing. The hidden reality that these chickens are not living and eating as they should be. Chickens are NOT vegetarians, and by claiming this statement, it implies this chicken is not roaming free, on the pasture. If that had happened, then they would have most likely ruined their 100% vegetarian fed label by *gasp eating a worm! So while it’s nice that they aren’t being fed animal byproducts they still are not eating how they should.
Pasture Raised: This is what I am searching for, this label implies that chickens are being raised in a manner most like their natural habits. It means to be that the animals is living close to a natural life and in some cases quite a good life.
Organic Eggs: Only regulates that the animals cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics and organic feed. (and don't worry a pasture can be certified organic)
My egg choice for the time being by producer Organic Valley had this statement on their website:
"While "free-range" suggests a better life for hens, it does not have defined standards beyond those common to all egg production. There is no independent, third party certification as with organic. Producer's of free-range eggs can use antibiotics, hormones, and non-organic feeds."
I know how confusing this all is, trust me. I spent a long time trying to wrap my head around these definitions myself. There is much more to this post that what I’ve put here. I will address other definitions soon. But for now I wanted to focus on my search for eggs from chickens living as good of a life as possible. You know, like the paintings and children’s stories we read as kids when we believed that farm animals were happy.
When your washing your hands, teeth or face, cut your water usage in half by following this rule of thumb: The water stream should be slightly wider than a pencil. Also when the water gets too hot, its instinct to increase the cold water, do the opposite lower the hot. Voila!
You've seen my take on bamboo fabric, here's Brett's! Enjoy!
Bamboo is one of the world’s most sustainable recourses. So it makes sense that eco-friendly clothing manufacturers are moving towards it as an organic alternative to cotton. It’s not only a great alternative, growing it as a resource helps the environment.
Environmental benefits of bamboo
-Cleans the air. Bamboo gives us clean air to breathe, consumes carbon dioxide and, because bamboo forests are so dense, returns 30% more oxygen to the atmosphere than trees. Some bamboo sequester up to 12 tons of carbon dioxide from the air per hectare.
-Requires less energy, water to grow. It takes much less energy to grow and sustain bamboo than other similar trees and plants used for fiber production. Bamboo plantations require very little maintenance. Bamboo also requires very little water and can survive drought conditions as well as flooding.
-Reclaims land. Because of its rapid growth and root structure, bamboo can, in a very short time, reclaim land destroyed by overgrazing and over-building and clean the soil of toxins.
-Can be grown without pesticides. Bamboo can be grown without pesticides or chemicals because of its own anti-bacterial agent.
-Can be harvested sustainably. Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on the planet, making it a high yield renewable resource. It can be selectively harvested annually and is capable of complete regeneration without need to replant.
-100% biodegradable. Unlike synthetic fibers which incorporate petroleum additives, bamboo clothing is safe for municipal disposal programs, whether by landfill or incineration.
Bamboo fabric is used for a range of clothing, such as shirts, dresses, socks and slacks, and because of its antimicrobial properties, is ideal for active wear. Bamboo is often blended with 30% cotton to add structure to garments. Bamboo is also used for sheets and pillowcases, because its smooth fiber lends a satin feel; bamboo sheets also feel warmer in winter and cooler in summer. As an added benefit, bamboo products are often less expensive than their cotton, silk or rayon counterparts.
Due to its qualities of being breathable and soft, I am a big fan of bamboo yoga wear as well as home products such as towels and sheets. As an avid yogi, I find it hard to find great and simple active wear. Let’s face it…..new organic alternatives have a ways to go on the runway. I mean, all fashion forward styles and trends are rayon and lycra, no?
But always on the quest for the perfect T-shirt…I have found that bamboo is the best. It’s comfortable and fits the body well, perfect to breath during yoga, as well as paired with jeans and flats.
I’d recommend checking out:
They have great T-shirts. Their website is a bit crap, but I find they have a really great mix of home wear, baby products and t-shirts. And honestly….I just really like the guy fronting as the model for the website. I do. Yum. Mm.
I've decided to make my "tip of the day" part of the postings instead of at the bottom as they are now. This way they are more visible and will be sent in your daily emails if you've signed up (hint hint sign up) Enjoy!
Tip of The Day: March 14
Buy your music online at itunes for example, reduce all that plastic and paper that comes when you make a cd. Plus less clutter at home! It sounds like a win win to me.
Tip of The Day: March 14
Buy your music online at itunes for example, reduce all that plastic and paper that comes when you make a cd. Plus less clutter at home! It sounds like a win win to me.
So, I was on the subway heading home last night after a lovely dinner with a friend and I see a girl standing next to me on the train with roughly 7 shopping bags. 3 were grocery bags, all doubled (so 6 bags in actuality) 1 was a large shopping bag that appeared almost empty. The remaining 3 bags were slightly larger than the size of the book I was reading containing small items. I looked at her is disbelief, why would she continually take bags from stores when she obviously already has a place for the items she’s purchasing. I recently bought mascara, when the lady behind the counter actually handed me a large black shiny bag with the mascara in it I laughed. I said, thank you but I think I can find room for this in my purse. I know that her job is to put customer’s purchases in a bag for them, I understand, but it was crazy to me that we haven’t come up with a better system. This paired with the girl on the train got me thinking I really do need to post some great alternatives to taking that paper or plastic.
To put it in perspective: Some Facts
*According to sources: 500 billion plastic bags are used a year, that’s 1 million per minute!
*Plastic bags are created with petroleum
*Plastic is NEVER biodegradable, it only breaks down into smaller parts, and releases toxic gases into the environment
*Up to 80% of the trash in the ocean is plastic bags
While in Paris Kevin and I noticed how in grocery stores, almost everybody brought their own bags or small carts. Plastic bags were tiny, fitting one or two items only, possibly to encourage the ‘bring your own’ habit. Ireland imposes a tax on plastic bags and from that tax has generated millions of dollars for environmental programs. In addition, 1 billion fewer bags (90% reduction) were used in just the 1st year alone.
In my house there is no shortage of canvas bags to go around, in fact I have been banned by my fiancé from bringing home any more! But, if I were in the market I’d start with these:
*Envirosax: who makes bags out of materials such as bamboo, hemp and linen. They’ve got a great kids line, making shopping with the kids much more fun! Check out the site: http://usa.envirosax.com
*Green-Kit: who makes cloth grocery/shopping bags that are just adorable! Check out the site: http://www.green-kits.com/greenkits.html (click the cloth grocery bag link on the top)
*Reusable bags: which offer a variety of different type of bags, including the type I am longing for, those European string bags in all different colors! Hint hint Kevin. The site also carries SIGG water bottles, which I’ve posted about before, so if you haven’t gotten yours yet, this is a perfect time to get your reusable bag as well as your bottle! Check out their site: www.reusablebags.com
Now that you have multiple choices for bags, you really have no excuse. I have a great one that literally folds down to the size of my cell phone, I take it with me always because you never know when you may want to duck into a shop or market for something.
The average American eats 186 pounds of meat annually (including poulty, beef, lamb, pork and veal) and almost 600 pounds of milk, cheese and cream!
That's insanity, making the choice for organic, sustainable and ethically raised, processed and sold that much more important. Do we all agree here?
Source: 'Real Food' by Nina Planck
Let’s just get this out of the way first. Hemp fabric is NOT marijuana and no you can’t smoke your t-shirt after you’re done wearing it. It is a long standing myth that the fibrous hemp plant is the same as the marijuana plant. They are two different plants producing two different results, only one of which is drug related. Phew, now that we’ve said that, onto Hemp fabric!
Hemp fabric is a lovely, soft and durable fabric (x4 more durable than cotton!). It can be made into 25,000-50,000 products including fabric, food, paper, paint, linoleum and biodegradable plastic. It is illegal to grow in this country, though it can be grown in climates and all 50 states. It is not illegal to import the fabric in, so it is available to all of us. Why you ask is it illegal to grow? Well as most things in this country it is important to follow the paper trail back to money and power. In the 1920’s and 1930’s Henry Ford along with some big US companies were on the brink of a Hemp revolution, creating huge quantities of products from hemp. When the petro-chemical and pulp paper industry got wind of this they were not too happy about it. They, including Randolph Hearst launched a huge negative publicity campaign against hemp complete with coverage in Mr. Hearst’s own newspaper.
Here are some quick facts about hemp that will make your head spin (not in the marijuana way though)
*Hemp has been used for thousands of years; archeologists have unearthed hemp fibers in China over 10,000 years old.
*Betsy Ross made the first American flag out of hemp
*The Founding Fathers were hemp farmers
*1st and 2nd draft of the Constitution were drafted on hemp
*Levi Strauss made the first pair of jeans out of hemp canvas
*Hemp is anti-microbial
*Can be grown in all climates and in all 50 states
*Cultivating hemp is illegal in the United States
*Hemp fabric is soft and durable
Hemp also has huge environmental benefits as well. Because the plant is resistant to insects they require no pesticides, herbicides or chemical fertilizers. This helps reduce the runoff of chemicals into our waterways and into the soil. And unlike conventionally grown (non-organic) cotton, hemp does not deplete the soil of rich nutrients. Just to make this point hit home, ½ of all agricultural chemicals sprayed in this country are on conventionally grown cotton. Enough said.
There are many of us who still fear the four-letter word! TOFU! I understand it has a texture that takes getting used to, but there are ways to add tofu to your diet without it taking over the dish. (It’s almost like sneaking it in there) One such way that I love is by making black bean hummus. The benefits of black beans are amazing, they are chock full of fiber. This recipe came from the ’12 Best Foods’ cookbook, which spotlights the 12 best foods for your body. They give a great array of recipes for each, many including more than one. This one has 2, black beans and tofu.
Lindsay's Homemade Black Bean Hummus
1 (15 ounce) can organic black beans (drained)
1 clover garlic, minced
1/4 cup of soft silken tofu (this texture is easy to whip up and make creamy)
2 tablespoons tahini
1-teaspoon ground cumin
1-tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 small lime
Sea Salt (healthy pinch)
Freshly ground black pepper
Put all ingrediants into a food processor and blend until smooth, empty into bowl and place into the fridge to chill. Then bake your pita in the oven/toaster oven until golden brown (my oven takes about 25 minutes, but I'd check it every 10.
The tofu makes the bean dip creamy and thicker. This is a great way to introduce tofu into your diet. Kevin and I brush pieces of pita bread with olive oil and garlic and bake in the oven to dip in. So yum! Enjoy.
The Spring-cleaning continues in my apartment today. It’s rainy in New York and the perfect day to get things done around the home. I repotted baby aloe leaves with roots that had been pushed off of my giant aloe plant, hopefully I can grow them like their mom, big and robust. Back to Spring-cleaning now…
I was cleaning out and found a pair of old glasses, not knowing what to do with them I started doing some online research. I found a great organization to donate them to: Unite For Sight. I urge you to think for a second, do you have any old reading, distance or sunglasses lying around that you don’t use? Donate them!
Unite For Sight is an organization that’s been working hard since it’s inception in 2000. The foundation sponsors eye surgeries across 3 continents, Africa, Asia and North America. So far they have aided in 12,144 sight restoring cataract surgeries. They also provide treatment for eye infections and diseases. They have a huge team of 4,000 volunteers, including doctors, nurses, students and public health professionals. They need donates of eyeglasses and sunglass. You can donate your glasses by going to their site, filling out a small form, they will then email you an address to ship. This is a great way to reduce your impact on the earth while helping someone else out in the process.
Website Spotlight: EatWellGuide
You may have noticed a new green box on the bottom of Urban Branches where you can type in your zip code. Go ahead, you can stop reading to try it….
Ok, now that you’re back…you typed in your zip code you got to a page where you can select to see all of the food related organizations results. Those results are a well selected list of co-ops, butchers, farmers, restaurants, organizations, bakers, caterers, personal chefs, stores and online shops that cater to the sustainable, organic and local food markets. The site stresses their commitment to finding food vendors that don’t use hormones, antibiotics and is produced in ways that is healthy to the animals, the farmers/producers and the environment. All so you can live healthier and happier. How nice are they!
The sites additional resources include a ‘Hormone Free Dairy Map’ where you can find products sold in your state as well as the ‘Seasonal Food Guide’ to find out what’s grown in season in your state, making eating fresh that much more of a no brainer!
You can also add vendors that they will review and put up on their site.
They are partnered with SustainableTable which is a site I will review next. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, type that zip code in if you haven’t already…Stay tuned, but in the meantime, type that zip code in if you haven’t already…
American Airlines is being blasted by environmental groups for flying 5 passengers from Chicago to London last month, using 22,000 gallons of Fuel in the process. Originally they had a full flight going to London, after rebooking all but 5 passengers they realized they needed the plane in London to bring people back to Chicago! So what do they end up doing, send the almost empty flight anyway. Good job guys. For the rest of the article copy this link into your browser:
Labels: Shame on you
I couldn't be more excited to introduce my 'eco-fashionista' writer, Brett. She’ll be updating us on eco-friendly fashion here on Urban Branches. This the first of many posts from her. Please let us know if there’s something you hope she covers in her posts! Enjoy...xxLindsay
Remember when we were kids? Well, for me I am a child of the 80’s, but beside the odd pair of spandex and side ponytail photos, I don’t remember much of it. I remember a severe revival of 70’s in the 90’s. (So it seems like every few years there’s another 70’s revival, but bear with me) Mainly I think it was because I remember more of those years, but mainly it was because I never took off my 70’s inspired painted on flower jeans. Far from fashionable, I longed to be like my friend’s older siblings, who, on civil day (a day once a month where we private school, uniform wearing kids could wear anything we wanted to) would be clad in long hippie skirts, flowers in their hair and Birkenstocks. (Remember those!) Okay, so it was an all girl school, and I’m pretty sure most of those girls came out sometime in college. Seriously. But when my friends and I went shopping to dress like them all we could find were these scratchy, somewhat expensive hemp products in stores filled with clothes and souvenirs from India and Nepal with an incense stench so strong I couldn’t be in the shops long enough to try something on.
Now at the time, I didn’t know what hemp was. I couldn’t equate it to being the organic byproduct of a plant that these clothes were made from that made these so called hippies vie for these eco friendly products. I certainly couldn’t grasp the fact that it was from a Marijuana plant. You can smoke it? Ah to be young and naïve.
But over the last decade there has been a major shift in eco friendly clothes, not only for those who make them, but for those who wear them. No longer are they, dare I say it, ugly. No longer are they uncomfortable. And no longer are they worn or made by those that still wish they were living back in the 70’s. The sentiment of eco-friendly clothing has changed in the mind as well as we all move forwards environmentally to help stall the ever changing climate due to global warming.
So what am I talking about, you say? There are a few lines that I absolutely adore that are eco-friendly. (And when I say this, I mean all components that are used to make the product are grown organically and are all natural, fair-trade products.) And each week I’ll showcase some outfit/product fit for the budding fashionistas!
I start with men! RawGanicque is an organic hemp company started by two guys in England. Their Mantra:
“We believe in quality, not fads. That is why the organic products we offer will never go out of style: we design our products to be practical, good-looking, and eco-friendly. Eco-friendly means certified organic, sweatshop-free, and without harsh chemicals and heavy metals. Whenever we design a new product, we go back to how it would have been made 100 or 200 years ago, when chemicals weren't the norms of production. With this in mind, we try to replicate heritage traditions as much as possible, resulting in a purer, more sustainable products that people can feel safe using in their homes.”
Their women’s wear, not so hot, but these suits for men make a girl’s heart go pitter patter! So check them out: Rawganique.com (you can copy the link into your browswer)
The subject of grass fed vs. grain fed is in my thoughts a lot. Kevin and I have exclusively switched to drinking only grass-fed milk at home (we drink Natural By Nature whole milk and we love it), and grass fed beef as well. There are many reasons why, and I really wanted to share why. My next task is finding grass fed dairy products, which I think is a bit harder to locate, but just as important. I give a warning, this post is not pretty, but if you decide to stop reading it I hope someday you learn this information. We are all in charge of our own bodies and what we put in them is quite possibly the most important thing we decide daily. We are what we eat they say, right?
You should always be seeking out grass-fed/pasture raised poultry, meat and dairy products. Always! Cows are ruminants, their natural diet is grass, in fact what they are forced (list below) to eat causes major health problems which are addressed with high amounts of antibiotics (those of which end up in our systems and waterways through their waste runoff). Chickens naturally poke around on pasture for bugs to fill their stomachs; they don’t naturally eat what we feed to them.
In today’s industrialized factory farming industry cows, pigs and chickens are fed a range of things including; corn, soybeans, cattle manure, swine waste, poultry litter, feathers, skin, hooves, blood, plastic, sand, wood, dirt, intestines, rendered road kill, euthanized and rendered cats & dogs and finally rendered pigs and poultry can be not only be fed to cows but fed back to pigs and chickens (who are allowed themselves to eat rendered cattle, so in turn we are cannibalizing the cattle as well) I am not speaking of a select few underground factory farms doing this on the sly, this list is what is LEGAL in this country to feed farm animals. LEGAL! From my extensive reading on this subject, companies do this across the board, companies with names we all know. Why would they do this you ask? How can they sleep at night you ask, knowing they’ve fed their pigs their fellow pigs? MONEY. If that isn’t reason enough to switch to grass fed meat and poultry I will elaborate:
Here are some health reasons to switch:
Grass Fed/Pasture Raised Meat/Poultry/Pork contains much more omega 3’s, Vitamin A, Beta Carotene and other antioxidants. Grass fed beef fat and butter contains the powerful CLA (which is a hard to find nutrient), CLA is a powerful anti-cancer agent which aids in weight loss and builds lean muscle tissue. Grass fed animals contain more muscle and less fat because they are walking on pasture to eat instead of bending over eating from a trough of “food” (see above for reminder of their food). That translates to less fat for you and more essential nutrients.
Now, to the environmental benefits of grazing animals:
1. Grass is much more easily grown without the use of chemicals, as opposed to grain or soybeans which tend to need more care, leading most farmers to use pesticides and chemical fertilizers
2. When grazing, farmers move their herd around from patch of grass to patch of grass, thus allowing for regrowth and natural activity in the soil
3. When animals are outside there is much more room for them, leading to much lower rates of infection and disease.
Here’s a quote from ‘Real Food’ by Nina Planck that helps sum up the environmental benefits, “The constant cutting and regrowth of grazing stimulates dense root growth, improving soil fertility and preventing erosion, and because cows walk around manure is spread evenly, reducing nitrogen runoff."
Thank you for sticking through this post, I know it’s disgusting and I don’t want to gross you out, but telling you this in this way is the only way I know how to share the truth, and the only way I can imagine telling you, there’s no need to sugar coat this as the industry has, this is what we eat for gods sake and we are what we eat aren’t we? And if that’s true, what does that mean we are now?
Here are some choices you have when you shop:
For a range of dairy products:
A great quick overview with lots of information on this subject:
http://www.ucsusa.org/- great resource for information, for information related on this article click the Food tab or go to the following link: http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_environment/
Image: Painting by Lowell Herrero
After many, many debates I am waiting for the republican and democratic candidates to be asked questions revolving around environmental issues, and apparently I am not alone. Al Gore in a recent conference slams the media for the lack of questions posed to candidates. Honestly I have been saying all along, I need a candidate to talk details, not a skimming of clean energy etc. I am so happy that Al Gore has stepped out and made a statement, I just hope he is heard and maybe it’s not too late to make the environment a key issue (more than just in words and promises) Copy this link in your browswer to read article.
It occurred to me as I was walking to work this morning that there’s a lot I do each day to start my day. A lot of which are earthy friendly and healthy choices. I thought I’d share some of my morning routines, it will help me discover ways in I can improve as well. Please comment on this post, share the ways you start your day green!
Here’s how I start my day: I wake up, take as short of a shower as I can (to save water of course) with my delicious organic French vanilla shower gel, natural (not fully organic ingredients, I am working on finding one I like as much!) shampoo and conditioner and then I hop out and dry off with my organic cotton towel (which are amazing by the way, sooo soft). I make sure lights are off before heading to the kitchen to make lunch of whole wheat bread slathered with natural peanut butter and natural jam tucked into a reusable container. Then I throw some organic baby carrots or crackers into another reusable container. Having completed my lunch preparation I finish getting ready, water my 7 plants, make sure everything is unplugged and/or turned off and head to the bus. Once out, I duck into get my morning iced coffee (yes I know I could bring my own but with a packed train it seems like a slasher film waiting to happen). I do bring my own reused “sleeve” holder to keep my hands from freezing off on the walk to the office though and I pour in yummy organic vanilla soy milk. Once in the office I check on 2 small plants at my desk, and get cracking on the day…. How do you start your day green?
Labels: Urban Life
I’ve used my fair share of dishwashing liquids that are gentle on the earth. Some a good, some are bad, and some are so expensive I feel guilty using it on dishes. I have finally found a great inexpensive brand that works great. Planet Ultra Dishwashing Liquid. For $3.99 you get 25oz. Not a bad deal!
The stuff cleans wonderfully, has no scent and really cuts through grease, plus their bottles are made from 25% post consumer recycled plastic!
The company Planet was founded in 1989. They believe strongly that caring for the earth falls not only to individuals but to companies as well. They annually donate to Earth Justice (which fights the environmental fight in the courtroom) and River Network, which helps keep our rivers and watersheds clean and healthy. Go Planet!
Pick up a bottle at your local grocery or health food store; if you can’t find it, you can online at www.amazon.com or www.drugstore.com. In addition to Ultra Dishwashing Liquid, Planet makes laundry detergents and all-purpose cleaner.