Posts Tagged With: organic

What Matters Most?

Since we are getting close to the new year, I’m planning my future research and product reviews and wanted to pose to the people: What matters most to you?

I’ve listed the top-ten most common things that crop up as questions regarding the healthful qualities of a better-for-you product.

Please let me know what matters to you and I’ll put those things highest on my list to delve into this coming year.

And thanks in advance for playing along!

The Southern Girl

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Green ‘n Healthy Gift Baskets Ideas – Part 2 (Minty Spicy Delights!)

So, last time I wrote, I recommended a slew of “beach-themed” gift-basket fillers for the person on your gift list who yearns for summertime year round. For something more seasonally appropriate for winter and holidays and warm-feely-good feelings, you might be looking for gifts that have more some traditional fragrances like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mint, or pine. Try some of these green & healthy products for a wintery-basket for those who relish the season of snow!

For some sweet, Christmas-y perfumes, look no farther than Demeter. Demeter makes all kinds of crazy scents that are “at least 95% derived from natural and sustainable sources, and…use no artificial color or phthalates or parabens” (from their website). The best-reviewed holiday-themed fragrances are: Egg Nog, Christmas in New York, Cinnamon Toast, or Fraser Fir. They also came out with a Candy Cane Truffle this year. Sounds delish! This is a very affordable perfume line and the fragrances are great for layering. I recommend spraying this perfume on clothing, rather than skin, for a longer-lasting effect. Since Demeter doesn’t use the harmful phthalate-based chemicals, these fragrances do tend to volatilize faster than non-natural perfumes when sprayed directly on the skin.

candy cane truffle

For a good body wash, look for JASON Orange Clove, Cranberry, or Frosted Plum. I’ve seen some combo packs with a natural sponge included for about $6. JASON is a company created and committed to the purpose of providing healthy products based upon scientific knowledge and human-based testing, only. This product is terrifically moisturizing, too, which means it will not only smell great, but also chase away the itchiness of the dreaded winter skin. Hooray!

You might also want to try Nourish Organic’s Spiced Citrus body wash paired with the Spiced Orange Hydrating & Smoothing lotion…these products are certified organic and come highly recommended not only for the lasting and delicious fragrances, but also for the product effectiveness and extremely high standards of purity. Nourish Organic also promises the following: “No parabens. No phthalates. No sulfates, petrochemicals, synthetic dyes, or silicones. No propylene glycol, mineral oils, synthetic dyes, triclosan, EDTA, or aluminum. And absolutely no artificial fragrances or preservatives. Period” (from their website). They are also cruelty free, use recycled packaging, and most products are vegan (except those containing beeswax). They also have several products in Lavender Mint, which is seasonal, but also can be used year-round.

spiced citrus

Everybody knows Aveda, right? They are preferentially featured in fancy hotels and chic hair salons and their Rosemary Mint is a great, greeny-wintery fragrance that works well for men and women. You might be a little reluctant to buy hair products for your giftee because everyone has hair product issues, but you should be fine getting the body lotion and maybe even a bar of soap in the Rosemary Mint. According to their website: “Aveda’s products are formulated without parabens, phthalates and sodium lauryl sulfate.” And their “definition of a green ingredient requires that it meet at least one of the following criteria: Be naturally derived, which we define to be those for which more than 50% of the molecule comes from a plant, non-petroleum mineral, water, or some other natural source; be certified organic; and/or be sourced from sustainable or renewable plant-based origins, and does not negatively impact the ecosystems from which they are sourced.” And because they do specialize in hair products, look for the travel-sized sampler—enough to try and still experience the splurge of a special product.

And you might like to try a few things from Love + Toast, which touts its products as having “No parabens, no phthalates, no mineral oil, no propylene glycol, no retinol, no synthetic color, never animal tested.” Sounds cool, right?

Wait. I just realized something.

Maybe you’ve noticed a plethora of citrus-y things on this list…It just now occurred to me that “citrus” might not seem Christmas-y to many people. Well, before I recommend yet more citrus for this list, let me explain. When I was a kid, on Christmas Eve, there was always a big church pageant with the kids and a candlelit “Silent Night,” and when we left church all sleepily excited for Santa (yes, the cultural amalgam of religious/secular Christmas was completely, overwhelmingly, and magically confusing), some dear soul at our church passed out mesh stockings full of oranges, grapefruits, apples, uncracked nuts, and hard candy. The smell of those ripe oranges and grapefruits in the midst of the cold, quiet hush before bed has been burned into my olfactory memory forever. Put my grandmother’s orange-spiced tea recipe with that and I’m in Christmas heaven. That’s why oranges and grapefruits equal Christmas. Sorry if it doesn’t for you (but get these things anyway, because hello, they smell delicious!)…

ANYWAY, Love + Toast has a “classic” collection called Mandarin Tea that features a blend of these fragrances: African rooibos, Pomegranate, Neroli, and Orange blossom. YUM. The collection includes one of each: Handcreme, Eau de Parfum, Little Luxe Eau de Parfum, and Vanilla Chai Lip Balm.  They also have a classic scent called “Sugar Grapefruit” that just sounds good enough to eat!  One of their newer fragrances is Persimmon Plum, a wonderful blend of fruity + woodsy that will be sure to remind your giftee of a delicious, juicy winter punch. They have body butter and sugar scrubs among other body care items to choose from. Sounds marvelous!

persimmon plum

And again, fill your basket or stocking with some all-natural extras like a pumice stone or natural-fiber wash cloths, a loofah or a natural-bristle nail brush to round out the gift set.

Next up: MAKE IT YOURSELF! (I promise it’s easy and people will be so impressed)

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Holidays are coming…are y’all getting ready?

There are so many things to get ready for!  It’s overwhelming, right?

Well, maybe this year will be different.  Maybe this year you can be greener since you are already planning in advance and you actually have time to do some green planning.  I posted a few holiday ideas last year…you can read them here, here, here, and so on and so forth…go take a peek! But enough of last year…this is 2013, baby!  We need to send it off in style!  A more environmentally-friendly and healthier style, that is.

So…where to begin?

At this stage in the holiday games…Thanksgiving is first usually pretty easy, right…it’s all about food!  Some green tips:

1. Go Local!  Try to buy as much of your menu ingredients as you can from your local farmer’s market, or from a grocery store that sources produce and meat from your local region.  Of course, there are special dishes traditional to Thanksgiving like cranberry sauce and pecan pies and apple pies and whatever might be your family’s favorite that are just never going to be local to you.  That’s fine, but do what you can.

Why? Not only will you support your local economy and hard-working farmers, but you save the environmental impact of whatever fuel it costs to get the food to you–that’s a smaller carbon footprint and reduced greenhouse gasses!  And you know…it wouldn’t hurt to be adventurous and introduce more local ingredients to your Thanksgiving table, even if they aren’t “traditional.”  Mix it up a little!  Make NEW traditions!

2. Be vegetarians!  GASP!  I know, I know…but seriously folks…we all know the sides are the best part of the meal and most sides are already vegetarian.  When I first told my parents I was not eating meat anymore, they sort of panicked about what I was going to eat, but when my plate was full of potatoes, dressing, three different salads, green beans, candied applies, and a big ol’ roll, I told them, “Look, I don’t even have room for the meat!”  And they got it.  Surprise, surprise!

Why?  Livestock and poultry production is problematic in a variety of ways.  It is beyond an environmental stressor.  Do a little research of your own.  Start here. And the animals are all so beautiful. And who wants to stress out about a dry turkey? Just skip it. And if you really want to have an even more positive impact on the environment…it might be a little bit harder…but try a vegan meal. Maybe not this Thanksgiving, but next? I’ll just let you ponder that…

3. Decorate (if you are into that sort of thing) with…food! Fruits and veggies are traditional fillers for a Thanksgiving cornucopia, all in the harvest theme, of course. The thing with this type of decor is, of course, it’s edibility. You can also use fall leaves, branch and twig cuttings, pinecones, berries on the stem, and the like. It’s rustic, it’s compostable, it’s very possibly FREE, and in the spirit of the season. Maybe you even saved some of those gourds and pumpkins from Halloween…plunk them in a pretty bowl, line them up on the mantel, or place them on the porch. Heck, set them in the fireplace with candles and make a sweet substitute for a fire (especially advised if you live in not so chilly parts of the country, yet find yourself with a fireplace). I like this:

thanksgiving fireplace

Why? It’s cheaper than fake decorations made of plastic or styrofoam or the like. It also had a much smaller environmental impact in its creation since nature made it with sunlight, soil, and water. It better represents the true spirit of the harvest celebration that gave origins to the holiday. It’s totally compostable, as long as you don’t paint your natural products with toxic paints or glitter, and you can potentially grow your own pumpkins/gourds next year! And let’s face it…it’s sooooooo super easy. I am so about the least amount of stress!

4.  If you have to use disposable plates or cups (heaven forbid!), for goodness sake, use paper-based or otherwise compostable products.

Why?  It’s compostable, way less toxic than the chemicals used to make plastic and styrofoam, and it keeps those non-compostable products out of the environment and out of the landfill.  Even paper products have a pretty nasty chemical trail, but there are reasonable, non-bleached products out there that have less of an impact than plastics and foam-based products.  You can also find some corn-based “plastics” that are compostable and perfect for one time usage.  Regular plates and glasses/cups are preferable, of course, because you can just wash them and be done with it.  But I get it…you might not have enough place settings for ALL of your guests…it makes sense for such an occasional situation to have a temporary solution.

5.  And finally, go organic!  If you can get organic ingredients, do it.

Why?  Organic ingredients are often fresher, though possibly superficially flawed.  Don’t let a few spots deter you from that organic apple…you’re probably going to peel them anyway for that pie, right?  Organic ingredients also lack potential toxic chemicals that some non-organic foods may contain.  The fewer toxins you consume, the healthier you will be in the long run.  And the fewer toxins used in growing the food, the healthier the environment will be.  Also…and maybe this is just some kind of placebo effect…I think organic foods taste better.  YUM!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone…I hope you find other ways to be green this holiday!

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Go Green(er) This Month…It’s only 28 Days!

Holy moly, am I behind on this one!

My sincerest of apologies on this ever-so-tardy update to “Southern Girl Goes Green.”  The end of 2012 really threw me for a loop, it seems.  So, now, a whole month into 2013 and I am just now getting to making resolutions.  There is nothing wrong with taking your time, I say.  Right?

So, as I am considering what I want to try, what I want to do, and what I want to change, it occurs to me that February might just be the perfect month for starting a 28-day challenge.  I know, I know…it can be daunting to keep up with things on a daily basis, but hey, there is no harm in setting goals and reaching for them, even if you falter.  At least, you tried!  And so, these are what I am thinking about for the coming month:

  • How to be a Greener Cleaner using greener, more natural cleaning products, providing recipes for products you can make yourself, as well as some new reviews on products you can find at a store near you.
  • How to be a Greener Eater with vegetarian and vegan recipes, gardening, and exploring local and organic products.
  • How to be a Greener Partier including great ideas about decor, hosting, and gifts.
  • How to be a Precycler, discussing the notion of packaging, preventing waste, making things last longer, and homemade solutions.

It seems so exciting, I know, so tune in this month to see what’s brewing in this green mind of mine!  It’s going to be so much fun!

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WHAT? Only 7 Shopping Days Left?!

AAAAAAHHHHHH!  How did this happen?!  Time is flying!

All the more reason to make living greener a priority now.

My whole blog started a year and a month ago, because I watched “Bag It,” the documentary.  And I started learning about all the harmful chemicals we have around us, not only in toys and products and all things plastic, but everywhere.  It takes a real commitment and continued vigilence to start living a cleaner, greener life.  But it doesn’t have to be hard.  That’s the part where I think a lot of people get overwhelmed.  I think blogs like mine and stores you should have near you (and yes, online stores, if you are more rurally-located) are making it much easier to live healthier, less polluted lives.

So…with 7 days left until Christmas, I am going to point  you in some directions for last minute shopping, if you haven’t already found them yourselves.

1. Sprouts/Whole Foods/Central Market – These grocery stores have a wide range of all kinds of products that are suitable for stocking stuffers and gift baskets.  Each of these stores have quite the treasure trove of natural/healthy personal care products in all sizes and for all purposes.  Even a gift card for one of these stores could be a most excellent gift!

2. Target/Walmart – I KNOW most of you are close to one of these stores.  If you are looking for personal care products that might be nice for gifts, I have had luck finding Burt’s Bees products in most Walmarts.  They also usually have “Yes to” products.  These are normally in the cosmetics aisle, not where shampoo or lotion are.  Depending on your store, they may have much, much more to choose from–this seems to be especially true for Target.  Not only do they have Burt’s Bees and “Yes to” goodies, they may also have Shea Moisture (a luxurious line of bath and hair products), Dr. Bronner’s liquid soaps (Peppermint is a nice wintery zing!), natural candles by Mrs. Meyer (in Iowa Pine!) and Beeluxe (Mandarin Clove is a awesome seasonal scent), and I even found some Caldrea products (on sale, no less!).  Take a tool around the aisles and see what you find!

3. Your Local Department Store – Okay, so call me crazy, but TRY IT.  You might be surprised.  There are a few premium brands that are healthy and you never know what your store might carry during the holidays.  It seems like Origins might be your best bet for a higher end product line that “are formulated with natural and certified organic ingredients and 100% natural essential oils.  And formulated without parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, mineral oil, PABA, petrolatum, paraffin, DEA and animal ingredients.  We manufacture using a combination of renewable resources, wind energy, and earth-friendly practices.”  They have lots of great gift sets that are probably perfect for someone on your list.  Maybe yourself? (I totally bought myself a gift box of this stuff on Black Friday…shhhh…don’t tell).

4. Sephora/Drugstore.com/iHerb.com – All of these places have a bevy of products with a lot of information about ingredients (usually in separate tabs on the product pages).  You can get reviews at these places, too, to see if you really want to get something.  If you are going to buy something here, though, you better do it asap because they do have to ship it to get it there before C-Day.  Sephora is probably the best bet for sussing out perfumes and specific products within a brand line (like Philosophy) that are better than others.  Drugstore.com has really huge variety of things, especially things that are hard to find in a store.  iHerb.com has more “regular” products, but you can find some items at super awesome prices.  Give ’em a whirl…but do it today!

5. Amazon – Same thing goes with Amazon for the shipping, but this is (as most of us know), the new general store of the world.  Because individual vendors can post their own products, you really can find almost anything.  I was looking for more BeeLuxe products, and that’s where you can find them.  Of course you can also get books and media and other things…where Amazon started it all.  Look up some books about natural products and/or how to make your own products for the craftier folks on your list…everyone likes new know-how and recipes (at least I do).

6. Pinterest – Okay, so maybe you have some time to do some last minute creations…go perusing for ideas here!  I think I just might go find some of the more excellent recipes, print them out on some nice paper, create a little box or book of them, and use this for a stocking stuffer for some of the cooks/bakers in my life.  It doesn’t have to be super elaborate…maybe even write a few recipes out by hand and tie them with a ribbon.  Or, heck, make some of those marvelous creations and take them with you to the office party or give out samplers to your friends in lieu of “stuff.”  Your only limitation at this point is time!

7.  Etsy.com – Again, time/shipping is of the essence, but this website is the website of crafters the whole world wide.  You can buy anything from art to  jewelry to homemade soaps or purses or shirts or even vintage items…just anything really at this site.  Individual crafters/collectors have their own pages, so you will be paying them and they will be shipping the items. HOWEVER, there is a “search by” feature that can limit your options to a zip code or town.  I can’t guarantee that a seller would be willing to have you come over to their home, but you can communicate directly with people via a messaging system (if you create an account)…you could probably work out some sort of “pick-up” method.  This way you can get something super-special and unique from a local crafts person AND avoid the shipping (thereby reducing your carbon footprint).  You might even make a new friend or become a loyal customer if you find the right craftsperson.  You never know until you look.

I hope this gives you some ideas at the very least…GOOD LUCK, Last Minute Shoppers!  Go get ’em!

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25 Days ’til Christmas! Day 1 Gift Ideas

Now that the season is upon us, it is time to think about celebrating the traditions, sharing good times with family and friends, and making new memories.  In our pursuit of a greener holiday, there are all sorts of options to have a smaller impact on the environment while still making the holidays special.

Some of us may be choosing a life of reduced consumerism, while others may finally have a little bit of money they’d like to spend on nicer gifts this year.  Some of us may merely be on a budget, while others may be wanting to keep their money in the local economy. 

Over the next month, I’ll try to give everyone some good ideas that are greener, cleaner, local-er, and still special.

Today’s idea is one that may not be available to everyone, but you never know until you do a little research. 

For the foodies in the family, for the localvores, or really anyone who enjoys fresh food, check into your community for farms that participate in a CSA program.

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  How it works is usually something like paying for a magazine subscription, except instead of a magazine, you get fresh, usually organic, usually extremely local, freshly picked vegetables and fruits.  Many of the farms that offer CSA participation call your investment in their farm a “share.”  Most CSAs operate under the concept that you are helping support the farm by paying for the products they produce in advance of the season.  With this investment in a share, farms are better able to plan their seasons, crops, deliveries, and profit.  Some farms (most of the ones I’ve checked out) even offer eggs, dairy, and meats also raised on the farm or a partner farm for an additional cost.  Some CSAs deliver while others have pick-up locations at farmer’s market locations.  You can even tell them which vegetables you would rather not get or trade with another shareholder.

You can get weekly or bi-weekly (meaning every other week) “shares” of food that are in season.  Of the farms local to me, they indicate that throughout the year there are 60-70 types of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and sometimes flowers you can get as part of your share, and most shares are 6-10 different kinds of produce that come to you in a box or paper grocery bag–sometimes up to two paper bags full.  What you get, of course, depends on what is in season. 

Additionally, several of the CSAs I have read about have “field” days where you are invited to come help harvest or do other work on the farm, which is optional and completely up to you.  Some even offer a “work for your food” kind of plan where you can earn your food through sweat-equity.  A couple of CSAs come with newsletters and recipes for cooking ideas.  There are even a few that have community meals where members come to the farm once a season and dine with fellow CSA shareholders and the farmers.  It sounds like so much fun!

As for payment plans, they seem to be as varied as the vegetables you can get.  Some have an annual fee, some break up payments throughout the year, some charge “per box” and some have a system that sounds like a season-specific plan, where you get anywhere from 4 to 8 boxes per season.  Right now, many of the local CSAs are offering gift cards or gift plans for as low as $25 for the holidays.  Of course, you can gift as much as a whole year’s worth, if you want, and I am sure they extend the gift-card giving to birthdays and other special occasions.

Considering how much produce I buy every week, this sounds like an amazing alternative/supplement to getting grocery-store fruits and vegetables that are sometimes already “over the hill” or weeks away from being ripe.  Additionally, you’ll not only get more nutritious food (because it’s so fresh–sometimes picked that day!), but you can also have the peace of mind that organically grown foods are lacking in toxic pesticides and have a lower impact on the environment with less inorganic inputs.  Since these foods have been grown so close to home, less energy has been spent on getting the food to you, which reduces air and water pollution.  At the same time, you are actively supporting farmers and their families make a more reliable living without having to be so dependent upon bank loans.

It is a really exciting option that I know I am going to look into not only for my own family but probably a few of my friends.  I hope you will look into a CSA for the holidays and think about giving this gift of green not only to the people on your shopping list, but to yourself as well!

 

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10 Ways You Can Go Green, Too!

If you don’t want to be green because you think it is too hard, and you’ll have to give up too many things you don’t WANT to give up, remember it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  Make the changes that you feel like you can, and when you feel like you are ready to take the next step, take it.  I promise the sense of accomplishment you’ll have will make you feel like doing more.  And knowing that you are becoming part of the solution in a variety of efforts (improving your own life, your environment, preventing future health issues in your life and maybe your kids’ lives, maybe your parents’ and friends lives, maybe even your pets), is its own reward.

A warning, though:  No one likes a scolder or a nag, even if you mean well (I apologize to my work friends who have taught me this lesson).  But try leading by example, or pointing your friends to this blog or others like it so they can decide for themselves or at least start asking questions about the way we live and why so many products on our shelves and in our houses are not good for us or the planet.

1.  Recycle.  This seems obvious, but if you don’t have curbside recycling (like I don’t) or if you live in an apartment, it takes much more effort to do.  If you get some dedicated bins, it might help you start thinking about where your trash is going…to a landfill? or to a place that it can be used again?  If we are talking about aluminum, you can get money back.  If you take that money to buy some replacement earth-friendly products, it technically pays for itself.  Glass is one product that is not only the safest to consume products from, it is one of the most efficiently recycled.  Texas doesn’t have a program anymore to pay bottle “deposit” returns, but some states pay 5 – 10 cents per bottle recycled…you could really clean up, literally (pun intended).

2.  Only buy plastic products with 1, 2, or 5 recyling numbers on them.  These plastics are least likely to leach chemicals into your food and they are also the most often recyled products.  Still, do not heat up anything in plastic, but you can use it for cold storage and transportation (like refilling a water bottle to use again).   Better yet, try buying some glass storage containers for your food/drink.

3.  Filter your water.  This can be as easy as buying a Brita pitcher or putting a filter directly on your tap and/or shower head.  There are a lot of chemicals used to treat municipal drinking water, and while this is obviously a good thing to keep us from catching diseases, we really don’t need (or want) to be putting these chemicals into our body on a daily basis.  A filter can cut down on heavy metals that may leach from pipes, as well.  It also achieves the simple result of making your water taste/smell better so that maybe you’ll drink more of it instead of buying bottles of water that have to be recycled or something like soda or sweet drinks we don’t really need.  And if you make tea/coffee/soup with this filtered water, I promise it will all taste (and be) so much better.

4.  Change one or two of your products.  So, some of my friends have gone into a panicky “I CAN’T GIVE THIS UP” reaction to some of the products I’ve outed as not so good for us.  So, if you love your shampoo, by all means, please keep using your shampoo.  But maybe try a different body wash (or lotion or perfume) that is free of negative chemicals.  You don’t have to go through a big purge like I did, but just try a few different things.  If you like them, yay! Keep using them!  If you don’t, keep trying!  I promise you will find things you like.  If you HAVE to wear your signature perfume, and you think it has phthalates in it, just compensate by trying to use other phthalate-free products.  Remember that (especially with hair and skin products) your body is going to have to adjust to new products.  Give it a good college try for two weeks.  If it just isn’t working for you, please go back to the tried and true.  You can always be green in other ways 😉

5.  Turn off and un-plug.  How many electronics do you leave plugged in all the time that you do not use on a daily basis?  Your toaster?  Your blender?  A stereo with lots of components?  Your hairdryer?  Your phone charger?  Now, obviously, we leave some things plugged in because we don’t want to crawl back behind a big piece of furniture to unplug them.  Why care about unplugging stuff?  Even if you aren’t actively using it, a plugged in appliance draws electricity that is often referred to as “standby” or “vampire” electicity use.  If you’ve had to live through “rolling blackouts” because the demand for energy surpassed that of the electrical grid, this is one of the reasons to unplug.  But what is worse, most of us get power from combustion-based power plants that use coal or natural gas.  Both of these types of combustion produce green-house gasses, but also take a significant toll on the environment to get and transport.  So, unplug appliances and your cell phone chargers when you aren’t using them.  For things like stereos, think about getting a “smart” power strip that shuts down unused electronics via its own monitoring sensors.  This will also cut down on your electricity bill.

6.  Buy organic.  Buy local.  Eating organic food eliminates a large number of toxins from pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones that we don’t need or want in our bodies.  Most grocery stores have organic options these days, but they tend to cost significantly more than non-organic varieties of the same product (and sometimes look uglier).   Don’t worry about the little blemishes or lack of shine on some of your fruits and vegetables…this means they haven’t been artificially dyed or coated with things to keep them artificially perfect.  A spot won’t hurt you.  You can often find organic products at local farmers markets for better prices and you (usually) also get local products there.  Local products reduce the impact of transportation and ensure that things are much fresher, and therefore much better for you.  Again, you don’t have to go whole hog all at once, just make changes as you can.

7.  Change your lightbulbs.  I know it’s a pain to go through the house changing out those old incandescent lightbulbs, but I promise it is worth the money and energy savings to get compact fluorescent bulbs or similar new, energy-efficient bulbs.  Not only do they save significant energy in consumption, but they are cooler (making your AC work more efficiently) and last much longer.  I have some that I think are 5-years old already and work just like the day I bought them.  Not like those annoying incandescents that seem to burn out every six months.

8.  Compost, if you can.  For apartment dwellers, this is a little harder, but not really.  Compost is basically throwing out your plant-based food scraps and yard cuttings/leaves into a dedicated location that will allow it to naturally break down into mulch.  If you live in an apartment, you can get a compost bucket, and either find a “natural setting” to dump it, or think about getting together with some neighbors to ask the apartment complex to designate a spot for a compost pile.  Avoid putting meat and droppings from dogs/cats in your compost pile, but egg shells are okay.  I have a big flower pot next to my back door that I dump this stuff into…I think it is 50% coffee grounds, and with natural filter paper, it all breaks down into stuff that is good for your flowerbeds.  This is nature’s recycling, and obviously it keeps this stuff out of the landfills.

9.  Be old-fashioned.  Now this one is broad in its potential, but I feel like half of the “improvements” we’ve come up with in our lives are not improvements but wasteful.  My grandmother (who was my babysitter when I was a child) grew up in the Great Depression,and she was the mother of 6.  She did not waste a thing.  She cooked in uncoated pans, made coffee in a percolator, and saved and ate all the left-overs until they were gone.  There were only paper bags from the grocery store when I was a kid, and these became trash bags.  She used rags to clean the kitchen and bathroom, not papertowels or other one-use throw-aways.  She hung clothes and sheets out on a clothesline to dry when she could.  She patched and mended clothes when they got  a little worn, and when they were worn beyond use or fashion, she cut them into scraps for other things like quilts or altered them into something else.  It doesn’t take a lot of ingenuity, it just takes thinking, “how did we do this before?”  What am I wasting?  You’ll also find yourself saving money.

10.  Start asking why.  If you are as befuddled about some of our products as I am, start contacting the customer service departments of these companies via e-mail or toll free phone numbers and ask why products aren’t recycleable (like K-cups),  if their products contain BPA and/or phthalates and why, if they do.  Ask about other toxic ingredients.  Ask about their sustainability practices and what they are doing to protect the environment.  If enough people start asking, they WILL listen.  Especially if you stop using toxic products.  Companies will feel it in their finances, which is really the best way to communicate to a big company.  I can’t do it alone, but if everyone starts asking, more people will know and eventually changes will begin.

I don’t want to preach to anyone, but if we want this planet to last for future generations, we have to start taking care of it.  And if we look at how the chemicals are impacting us, you can imagine what is happening to other creatures on this planet that have no choice in the matter.  It doesn’t have to be a complete lifestyle overhaul (but it can be, if you want to)–little changes do add up.  Just start.  You’ll be happy that you did.

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