Sunday, July 27, 2008

Method Body Wash - Follow-up Review

It's been almost 3 weeks since I started using my Method body wash and I have to say that I am still digging it as much as I did the first time I used it. My skin is soft and smooth and I smell good when I get out of the shower. I mean, what else is there to say?

I would recommend getting a loofah or a sponge or so meting to make the wash lather a little before you put it on. I usually just use my hands and get it all sudsy before I wash but this body wash doesn't lather all that great. The bottle will last longer and you'll be able to wash more of yourself if you use something.

Final Verdict:
I am really digging this product and I will buy it again when I run out. It smells great and it delivers on its promise to give you ridiculously soft skin. But, like I said, it's probably time to get a loofah.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Kiss My Face Deodorant - Follow-up Review

Well, so much for the two week mark. It's more like a 2 and a half week mark. I have been faithfully applying my deodorant everyday to make sure that I can get back to you with an honest review and because I care about you, my readers, I spent more time that anyone should smelling my own armpits. But after many a smell test and several sweat tests I have this to report back to you: This stuff rocks!

As you may know, I live in Kansas where it's not just insanely hot it's muggy too which means that any time spent outside in the sun means that you will be sweating like crazy. Last week while I was babysitting I decided to put the kids in the stroller and take a spin around the neighborhood to see how well my deodorant stood up to some real sweating. When we got back to the house I was soaked in sweat (and ready for a nap) but my armpits smelled just fine. I was shocked.

I even asked my mom to do a pit smell test, just to make sure that there were smells that I was missing. And let me tell you folks, she had her nose in my armpit taking some very deep sniffs and she says that she couldn't smell anything. She was so impressed that she has decided that she is going to start using it to.

I have found that it works the best when you apply it liberally to your pits, but even on days when you go a little on the light side you still don't have to worry about smelling bad. And while it might feel a little weird to put liquid in your armpits for the first few days you start to use it, you will grow to love it. I love it. My armpits have become quite sensitive (which is the whole reason that I bought it in the first place) and when I get out of the shower and they hurt from shaving, nothing is quite as soothing to them as rolling on that cool liquid. It's pretty awesome.

The Final Verdict:
I love this product and I am going to start recommending it to everyone I know. I mean, you know it's good ... I even got my mom to switch from her old spice stick (she has sensitive armpit skin too and it's all that used to work for her - until now!).

Friday, July 25, 2008

Yet Another Way to Reduce and Reuse!

Every now and then I will go out into the world wide web and just keep my fingers crossed that I will find something worth sharing with you all. Well, yesterday I found something amazing. While wasting time on the internet I stumbled upon this Twist and Spout which can turn a 20 oz or 2 liter soda bottle into an instant watering can. Amazing!!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Drive Without AC? I Do It.

The most common response I get when I tell people that I don't drive with AC unless I'm on the high way is a very surprised look followed by, "Why in the world would you do that to yourself?" I just smile because, yes it is hot sometimes, but for the most part I really enjoy doing it. And I'm one of those weirdos who likes to be warm - or hot - so unless it's really hot I'm usually not all that bothered.

Yes, you might get a little sweaty, but think of how wonderful it is to feel the wind blowing through your hair during your morning commute. Or you could be like me and use it instead of your blow dryer (I think my air looks better overall when I let it air dry instead of subjecting it the heat of the dryer everyday).

Here are my tips to drive with the windows down and still be pretty and not smelly when you get to the office:
  • Get a good deodorant.
    • I am in love with my Kiss My Face deodorant. It won't stop you from sweating, but it will block any and all smells from exiting your armpit.
    • My mother swears by baby powder and it's ability to soak up your sweat whether it be on your feet or under your arms.
  • Wait to put on your make-up.
    • I have ridiculously oily skin, which means that foundation has a tendency to turn orange and streak down my face when I get sweaty.
    • Waiting until you get to the office means that you can have the chance to wash your face and give your make-up a chance to stay on your face without streaking.
  • Keep a hairbrush in the car at all times.
    • If you drive with your windows down, your hair will probably need to be brushed when you get to where you're going (if you have long hair, that is).
    • Find a small hairbrush to keep in your glove box or in your purse.
And here are some positive aspects of driving with your windows down that you may not have thought of before:
  • You can make friends with the people in the cars that you sit next to you at long stoplights.
  • You could stumble upon your next favorite band thanks to the guy that's playing his music really loudly.
  • You could have a stoplight dance party to the music that the guy next to you is playing really loud (yes, I have done this before)
  • If you sing along to your music in the morning, you might find yourself next to a record producer at a stop light you will hear your lovely vocal stylings and will sign you on the spot for a million billion dollar contract. How about them apples?
You also might want to stop and consider the fact that you will be saving gas when you shy away from using the AC when you're running your errands around town. By own calculations, my 4-door sedan usually gets 200 miles to a half tank. The last time I filled up I payed close attention to my AC usage (as well as some other hypermileing tricks which you can read up on here) and managed to get an extra 40 to my half tank of gas. 40 miles! I have to say, I am willing to get a little sweaty if I can get that many more miles a gallon overall.

If you really can't bring yourself to endure the heat of the afternoon, which I understand (it's 93 degrees here today), then consider just doing for your morning commute. Usually at the time that you're driving to work it's just starting to get warm out which means that the breeze from your windows should still be kind of cool. If you look a little wind-blown when you get to the office, brush your hair and you should be good to go. I bet you'll see an increase in your gas mileage too. Even if it ends up only being a small jump, a little is better than nothing!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Buying Green Products Responsibly

I'm sure that at some point in your life you've heard of businesses who are caught using child labor or exploiting works. Kathy Lee Gifford comes to my mind and I found this article that talks about worker exploitation in New York City. So how can you avoid buying products that have been greenwashed into looking like sustainable, responsibly made products when they're really being made from trees from the rain forest by children in China, Japan, Vietnam, or some other far away country that has a record of using child labor.

A website that I happened to stumble upon called Rate It Green can help. It's an online community of people who are concerned with purchasing their products from green retailers who are really green. Although it seems like it's used more for people who are contractors, you still might find something helpful.

Green People is a website that is dedicated to bring you the resources you need to bring your shopping to the next level. They have links for everything from baby products to eco tourism. All of their lists of suppliers are available to view by location or as a complete listing depending on what you're looking for. This site looks like a great resource for finding what you need.

I also found a website called Green Seal that will only give it's seal of greenness to companies whose products have passed their stringent testing and comparison to other products in its class. They also provide resources to find the products that they have given their seal to. Their list isn't very long but it is another good place to start looking to find the products that you might need.

Keep your eyes open and please feel free to let me know if you find any other websites that do the same! I would love to keep adding websites to this list.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Online Shopping vs. The Mall

I know that I provide you with a lot of links that take you to websites where you can purchase things to help you green up your life ... but have you ever wondered weather or not online shopping is better or worse for the environment? It's something that I've been thinking about lately. Sure, I could buy all of my 7th Generation products from Amazon but I know that I can also get them at some grocery stores. Is it worth purchasing everything online? I decided that I wanted to find out.

There is no getting around the fact that in order to get anything you need you'll probably have to burn some gas to get it. Unless you have a big basket on your bike and live fairly close to the store and you have the leg power to get you there and back (if you do, you are my hero). But if you consider the distances and the number of trips it takes for you to get the item that you're looking for, you will probably find that online shopping is better suited for some products while physically going to the store is better for others.

The Grocery Store
A typical trip to the grocery store for me has two legs: I drive there and then I drive home. As long as I know that you will find everything on my list in one store, I figure it can't hurt to drive there. But you can get your groceries delivered to your door if you would rather. You can read an article about it here and you might want to look at companies like Netgrocer and Dinewise if your local grocer doesn't have their shopping site online yet. Personally, I like to get out of my house every now and then and I think grocery shopping is something that you don't have to take online if you don't want to.

If you want to be a little greener about it (and have more fun at the same time), ask your neighbor if they want to go along with you. You'll save gas when you carpool and it will be great bonding time for the two, or maybe three, or you. If you're scared to ask your neighbor to go with you because you've never talked to them before, you can start the conversation by making them a batch of cookies just to be nice.

The Mall
This was quite interesting to read about online when I was doing my research for this article. There are several things that malls are doing these days to green up the way they run business. This includes providing recycling options for retailers when they are disposing of their cardboard stock boxes to putting a garden on the roof! However, this doesn't make up for the fact that these sprawling malls take up a ton of land space, space that probably was a farm at one time, and covers it with tons of asphalt. This alters the landscape and can cause all sorts of drainage problems when rain water can't be absorbed into the ground like normal. You can read about all the different problems that can come from paving large areas in this article from Florida.

But again, you can make a mall trip only have two legs: one to get there and one to get back. And usually when I go to the mall I go with another person so I carpool too. But depending on where you live, your mall could be very far away (it takes me 20-30 minutes to get to mine) and the traffic could be terrible on the drive over. My mall is in the middle of a commercial area with tons of apartments and neighborhoods around it which means that there is always traffic and there are tons of stoplights.

Shopping Online
There are many benefits to taking your recreational shopping habits online rather than to the mall.
  1. You save gas, time and energy.
    • You save money on gas because you don't have to drive to get to your computer, hopefully.
    • You save time because you don't have to drive anywhere and you can find websites with the wares you want in 5 minutes with a Google search.
    • You save energy in two forms: it costs less and does less harm to the earth when you run an internet search than it does for you to drive to the mall and back home. Also, you don't have to wear yourself out walking around the mall to go to every store that you need to.
  2. You can shop and compare from multiple stores at once, in the same browser.
    • The next time you're at the mall and you see a pair of pants you like but you want to compare them to the pants that they have in the store down the hall, you have no way of doing that without getting tackled by a security guard in the end.
    • Using the internet you can read reveiws and compare your pants to any other pants your little heart may desire without the fear of getting any shoplifting charges added to your rap sheet.
  3. You can find exactly what you want instead of settling for something close.
    • There are lots of times when I go shopping I have a picture of something in my mind but I can't find it anywhere and I end up settling for something that's close but may be something that I don't necessarily want.
    • You may have trouble finding all the eco-friendly products that you need at a store near you. Rather than drive all around town, you can check around online and find exactly what you want.
I found a couple articles that are worth reading about the benefits of shopping online, for you and the environment. This EcoIQ article sums it up very well and while this New York Times article may not be about online shopping, it talks about how shopping malls affect our environment. Quite interesting.

The bottom line is, if you can get everything in one trip at the same store without spending a bundle to get there, then shopping in the real world is the way to go. If you know that what you want is going to be hard to find then I think that online shopping is the way to go. Use your head, be smart, and shop on my greenie friends.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Line Drying - Back in Style

Line drying your clothes isn't just for your grandmother anymore. There is a movement afoot in the green community to get back into the habit of line drying your clothing for a few reasons.
  1. It will save you money.
    • No joke! Your dryer, refrigerator and washer are the biggest electricity hogs in your house.
    • The sun acts as a bleaching agent and it's antibacterial which means that you don't have to buy any more bleach.
  2. It's relaxing.
    • Just pretend that you're playing house in the 1950's. Dig out that apron you have with the ruffles and saunter into your back yard to get to work - I like to do it at least. The trick is to reward your hard work with a martini when you get back in the house.
    • Lots of blogs I've read on the subject mention that it's just nice to spend some time outside and getting their chores done all at the same time, and I agree.
  3. Your clothes will last longer.
    • The lint that you pull off the screen in your dryer comes from your clothes, but did you know that it's because they're being destroyed? I never put 2 and 2 together until a few months ago.
    • The less time your clothes spend in the dryer the more fibers stay in your clothes which will make it much easier to make it through the 365 no new duds challenge with your pants in one piece.
  4. Your clothes will smell "sunshine fresh".
    • Another common 'thread' (haha) in blogs and articles about line drying is just how good your clothes will smell when you bring them down off the line.
    • You can stop paying more for the smelly detergents because you are now getting the smell for free.
Don't believe me? Check out this Mom Advice article on the subject as well as Thrifty Jinxy's thoughts on the matter (which also happens to be an Ideal Bite tip!). They will pretty much tell you the same thing. The Mom Advice article also give you some great ideas on how to reduce the amount of wrinkles in your clothes as they dry on the line.

Don't let your line drying days come to an end when it starts to get cold outside! You can just as easily dry your launder on a few folding racks, which is what I use right now anyway. I find that my clothes get dry just as fast as they do when they are in the dryer and I haven't had any trouble with stiff clothes at all, something that can happen when you dry outside.

Now that I know you're all ready to get out there and line dry your clothes you will need some supplies to get you started. Here's where to get the goods:
  1. A clothes line
    • I found this outdoor clothes line setup that was something I thought I might like ... if I had a backyard.
    • You might also want to consider a retractable clothes line if you don't want a giant thing standing in your back yard all the time.
  2. A drying rack
    • Thanks to Ideal Bite, here is a site that is dedicated to sustainable production of wooden drying racks and boy do they have a bunch of styles. I was really impressed.
  3. Clothes pins
    • You can't get the clothes to stay on the line without these little guys! You can find them several places around town probably.
    • Here are some wooden clothes pins and here are some plastic clothes pins. I personally prefer the wooden ones.
  4. Clothespin bag
  5. A ruffled apron and martini shaker
    • This apron will blow your neighbors away.
    • These aprons have a very vintage look to them if you really want to look authentic.
    • I found a site called Martini Art that should become your one stop shop for any martini supplies you might ever want or need. They even have drink recipes!
And there you have it. Every question you may have had about line drying your clothes answered and several resources at your finger tips. So what are you waiting for? I'll see you in the back yard!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Conserve: Water in the Garden

So now that you've got your shower bucket catching all the water that you were wasting before, and you have your nifty container garden started, it's time to talk about how you can use the water your saving more effectively.

  • This little snippet talks about conserving water in your container garden. It's important to keep in mind that your container plants have limited root systems, which means that they don't get watered as much as plants in the ground do.
  • Watering in the morning means that more of your water will be absorbed in the soil instead of evaporating into the air. Watering at night can invite pests into your garden, which is not something that you do not want to do.
  • Adding some organic matter, like compost or peat moss, is almost like adding a sponge to your soil. It will help retain water, which means that you can water less often.
  • Water by the roots. It's where the water is needed and it avoids getting the leaves wet, which can lead to fungal diseases.
  • Be sure not to over water your veggie plants! Looking for signs that your plants need water, like wilted leaves, is a good sign that it's time to water.
  • This fact sheet from the University of Georgia is quite helpful and easy to read and neatly summarizes everything I've read about how to conserve water in the garden.
  • Here are a few last tips from on how to save water in the garden. I found their idea on how to clean your garden tools without water quite helpful.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Digging a Little Deeper into Composting

Every now and then I like to go back through my old posts to hunt for ideas for my newer posts and I discovered that while I do have some helpful links for you on how to start your own compost box (or pile), I didn't provide much beyond that. So today I decided that I would spend some time exploring the lovely world of compost.

There are a few different ways that you can compost.
  • A pile out in the yard (the old school way)
  • Vermicomposting - a bucket is filled with stuff and red worms are added to the mix to break down all the stuff you throw in.
  • Bokashi - similar to vermicomposting but instead of worms you mix up some wood shavings and microbes that break everything down.
From everything I've read, vermicomposting is the way to go if you're short on space and it produces a better end product than bokashi composting does. So I will be looking mainly at it.

If you clicked on the click above you may already know everything that I will be writing about because The Compost Guy's website is so awesome it almost hurts. So, let's talk worms and trash.

The first thing that you're going to need is a bin with a lid. From everything I've read it's best to get one that about 10 gallons of softer plastic (like a Rubbermaid Tub) and you need to make sure that it's a solid color. The worms are light sensitive and if you have a clear bucket you will cause them unnecessary stress and make your new pets very unhappy.

Next you'll need to drill holes in your bin to make sure that your worms and your compost can get the air that they will need. I would recommend that you watch the video that is posted on the compost guy's vermicomposting page (click the link up above to access it). He builds a deluxe worm habitat, but once the movie is over with you have the option of watching other videos that he has posted and several of them are all about making smaller and simpler worm homes.

Once you have your holes drilled, you will need some bedding. Tear up some newspaper and cardboard (the compost guy's favorite because it allows for more air to get into the mix) and spray it down until it's damp. Once your bedding is in and damp, add your food scraps. Now comes a very important question that must be answered.

What exactly can I put into my vermicomposting bin?

Well, according to this list I found on Red Worm Composting (the Compost Guy's other site) here is a basic list of what is good and bad in a worm bin:


  • Veggie and Fruit waste (but at citrus in moderation)
  • Starchy Materials like Bread, Potatoes, Rice, Pasta
  • Aged animal manures
  • Shredded newspapers, cardboard, and used paper towels
  • Rinsed out and crushed up eggshells
  • Coffee Grounds
  • Tea Bags
  • Human/Pet Waste
  • Non-Biodegradable Materials
  • Dairy/Meat
  • Oils/Grease
  • Harsh Chemicals

And then the last thing that you will need are, of course, your worms. You can toss them right in and they should get to work right away. According to a few other sites I've looked at (including the ones in my old post) you might want to think about keeping your scraps in the fridge for about a week and then putting them all in at once so that you don't disturb your worms quite as often. Your dirt should be ready to harvest in about 3 months.

If you want more information I would high recommend either looking at either of the compost guys' websites. They are both wonderfully informative and easy to navigate. He also sells the worms that you will need to purchase to really get your compost box on the move!

I am going to be starting my own worm bin in the coming weeks so that I can have some soil ready for when I start my container garden next spring. I will be sure to post pictures and updates as I go along!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Conserve: Water in the Kitchen

Since I recently looked at the many ways that you can conserve water in your bathroom, I thought I might look into conserving water in the kitchen. And when you look at conserving water in the kitchen you can't help but stumble upon the question that everyone is asking ...

Is it better to hand-wash dishes or use the dishwasher?

Well, I am here to tell you that every website I looked at said the same thing. Dishwashers use less water overall than you would if you were hand-washing your dishes. Especially if you have a energy star dishwasher. There was even a study that proves that using a dishwasher is better for the environment than if you were to wash your dishes by hand. This is a link to an article on Tree Hugger than also has a link to the study.

So now that we have that figured out, are there any other ways to save conserve water in the kitchen? You bet there is.
  1. Make sure the dishwasher is FULL before you run it.
    • It not only saves water, it saves you money and the time that you would spend putting away those 5 loads that could have all gone in at the same time.
  2. Don't let water run down the drain.
    • Don't defrost meat by running water on it. Plan ahead and let it thaw in the fridge or use the defrost feature on your microwave.
    • When you rise your veggies, do it in a plugged sink or in a bowl of cool water.
    • Consider keeping a jug of tap water in the fridge so that it's just the right level of chilly so that you don't have to wait for the tap to get really cold.
    • Save all the grey water you can! You can use it to water the garden or anything else you can think of.
  3. Use your garbage disposal sparingly.
    • You will save quite a bit of money by not running the water to wash all the nasties down your sink.
    • What is your other option? Start your own compost bin! Save water and make your own dirt for your garden.
  4. Get an aerator for your kitchen sink.
    • By these work like a low flow shower head and can significantly cut down on the amount of water you use.
  5. Be sure to have any leaks fixed.
    • Leaks = wasted water (and a higher utility bill).
I found these and other fabulous tips at the Queensland Government site,, and The Town of Cary site.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

My First Self Challenge

Yes that's right, a challenge. And even though it says SELF challenge up there in the subject line I would like to think that you, loyal read and like minded person, would also like to challenge yourself to make less of an impact on your earth and do something to better yourself. My first self challenge is one that I came up with while I was cleaning my room last night. I had clothes everywhere and I couldn't help but think about what a pain it was to have so many things to find homes for. And that's when it hit me ... are you ready for it? Drum roll please ...

I am challenging myself to go 365 days without purchasing a new article of clothing.

Now, this may seem daunting to some of you out there, but don't be afraid. I know that when I stop and think about it, 9 times out of 10 when I go shopping I buy things that I know (or think I know) I will wear even if I don't really need it. My favorite jeans are holding up just fine, but that didn't stop me from buying another pair in a different color last week. I wanted them, I don't need them. And unless you're a kid and either out growing or destroying all of your clothes then odds are what you have now is sturdy enough to see you until the end of the year.

If a year seems like a few months too long to go without purchasing another pair of jeans then that's fine. You can shorten it however much you would like. A month, 2 months, 6months ... whatever feels right to you.

And, if you were curious, there are a few exceptions to this challenge.
  1. If I get pregnant and need to get some maternity clothes (doubtful)
  2. If I am asked to stand in someone's wedding and need to buy a bridesmaid dress (also doubtful)
  3. If my apartment should catch fire and all of my closet is burned (very, very doubtful. I hope.)
I think that this challenge will do a few things for me. I think that I will be able to better appreciate what I have, which is something that a lot of Americans could benefit from. I don't need to constantly add to my closet in order to be happy. I think that it will fun to talk about with other people. I can finally really figure out what I don't wear and send it to a charity or make something out of it. Plus, think of all the money I'm going to save!

Did you know that on average Americans throw away more than 68 pounds of clothes per person per year? 68 pounds! These are textiles that could probably be mended, given to a charity, or recycled into something new. If you are curious to read more about the environmental impact of the clothing industry you can click on the link and it will take you to an article from the Environmental Health Perspectives website which I found very interesting and really helped me become more motivated to stay out of the mall for the next year.

And there you have it. My self challenge. Are you going to do it with me? Post a comment and let me know!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Container Gardening - Part 1

If you're like me and live in an apartment without a yard, we face the same problem when it comes to gardening. If you want to grow some veggies at home to help offset your grocery bill and to help conserve our food sources, what are you going to do if you don't have anywhere to plant your plants? Have no fear, you can garden in containers just as well as you can in a yard!

This article I found on the benefits of container gardening from West Virgina University. It even has a table that tells you all about which veggies are best suited for growing in your garden. It is very informative article that is really easy to read and understand. They also offer some ideas for planting arrangements of flowers as well as other useful information.

If you are more into being organic and want to bring that to your container garden, I found this article on the Gaiam Life website all about it. It has a nice organic soil recipe (1 part soil, 1part compost - better get that box started- and 1 part sand) and other tips on how to avoid using synthetic media, fertilizer, and insecticides in your container garden.

Another great article I found was this one courtesy of Texas A&M. It is another great article, although there is some overlap of information with the West Virginia article, with another good media recipe and ideas for treating some common problems that you might encounter in your container garden. Best of all, it has fun little pictures! I love the tables at the bottom of the page which tell you which types of veggies do well in containers, when you can transplant the seeds if you're germinating them yourself, and lists common problems that you might find in your container garden as well as an explanation and solutions to the problem.

Part 2: Going to the garden store to talk to them about container gardening and possibly picking out some seeds.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Conserve: Water in the Bathroom

If you want to take your water conservation out of the shower and into your bathroom as a whole, I found some great tips and ideas for that too! Below are the best 4 that I found.

  1. Watch your toilet bowl!
    • If you have the money and the desire, go to your nearest home improvement store and buy a new low flow toilet to replace the water guzzler you have now.
    • If you don't have the cash to replace all your pottys don't fret, you can put a bottle or bag of rocks in your toilet tank to reduce the amount of water you use when you flush.
    • While it may make you think of college boys being lazy, you might want to consider this rhyme: "If it's yellow let it mellow, if it's brown flush it down". Not flushing every time can save water and money for you. Just make sure that you don't let it sit forever because that's gross and it'll probably start to smell. And any house guests you might have will probably be a little put off if they were to discover it.
  2. Get an aerator for your sink faucet.
    • They act like a low flow shower head and mix a little bit of air with your water so that you end up using less water overall. Check out this little beauty on Green
  3. Check for leaks and get them fixed.
    • A leaking facet or toilet can waste a ton of water and cost you more on your utility bill.
    • By finding and fixing leaks, you can save yourself from wasting around 400 gallons a month.
    • To find a leak in your toilet, just drop some food coloring into the tank. If it ends up in the bowl without a flush involved, you've got a leak.
  4. Don't let the water run!
    • Now I'm sure that once in childhood you were reminded not to let the water run while you brush your teeth, and you really shouldn't.
    • While it may not save you a ton of water, you can still save about 3 gallons a day by just turning off the water when you aren't using it.
Keep working to save water and save the planet!

Monday, July 14, 2008

BPA Free Nalgene Bottle Review

A few of you might be wondering why I'm reviewing the BPA free bottles that Nalgene is making these days when I said that I wasn't quite ready to throw my old one in the trash just because of a little concern some people have with the possibility that the BPA might cause cancer in humans. If you want some more information about you, check out this old post.

Well, I ended up leaving my trusty Nalgene bottle at a friend's house and decided that instead of driving 45 minutes (one way) to pick it up I would rather go get a new one and spend $10 and get my other one this weekend when I can spend some quality time with my friend too. And if you're wondering why I didn't just tough it out, I was getting ready to go on a road trip to visit family over the 4th and not having a watter bottle was not an option.

So far I don't have any complaints. It holds water just fine (ha) and comes in the same pretty green color that my old one is. But the plastic is not as hard and that bothers me a little. The old Nalgene bottles were advertised as being indestructible and I've even heard that they come with a lifetime guarantee not to break because they are so heavy duty. My old bottle has some scratches on it, but none of them are deep and it looks fine.

My new bottle, however, fell out of the car during my trip and has several small dings on it from where it hit the ground, not that it's going to stop me from using it. Also, if you wrap your hands around the bottle and give it a squeeze, you can feel it give a little - something my older bottle won't do. It makes me wonder if these newer bottles will be able to hold up the indestructible reputation of the bottles that came before them. I certainly hope so.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Conserve: Water in the Shower

I am all about greening up my life style, but I am not about to suggest that we all stop showering or something. I want a clean Earth, not a smelly one. So I decided that I would go out onto the world wide web and bring back for you the best water conservation tips I could find about saving water in the shower.

#1. The number one most important tip to saving water in your shower is to install a low flow shower head. You can find them at The Shower Head Store, Evolve Shower Heads, or you might even head over to your local Home Depot or Lowe's to see what they have if you don't feel like ordering your stuff online.

#2. The next thing you should consider doing is using a bucket to catch the water that runs before your water warms up. You can use this water for any number of things like watering your container garden or flushing your toilet. Personally, I'm going to use it to water the garden ... when I get it started.

#3. Also, consider shortening your shower as much as your can. Even a minute or two will help. Some ideas to shorten your time under the water are ...
  1. Cut out the conditioner.
    1. I've stopped using it in the shower and just use a pray on when I get out. It works great and I don't have to wait two minutes before I rise it out.
  2. Shave out of the shower.
    1. This might not be a problem for you guys out there, but when I shave my legs in the shower I usually end up adding 5-6 minutes to my overall shower time. Use some of the water you collect in your shower bucket for your shaving. You can warm it up on the stove and off you go!
  3. Multi task when you can.
    1. I put on my body wash and then put on my face wash while I'm rising off my back. It works great and saves me a little time.
  4. Don't mess around.
    1. When I was a kid I could take 45 minute showers because I wanted to play in the warm water. If you want to enjoy the water and take your time, consider taking a bath instead. At least that way you're using a fixed amount of water instead of having a running flow the whole time.
I use these tips myself and I can say that I have cut my shower time down by about 4 minutes. It's great in the mornings because I hate getting up early. So the faster I can shower, the later I can sleep. It's incentive enough for me!

Want more ways to conserve water in the bathroom? Check out my next article where we take conservation bathroom wide!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Closer Look: Reducing

Here we are, at the final R of the trio. I have to say that this was the hardest R to research out of the three. I had to try a couple searches in order to get the right keywords to bring up pages that were relevant. But I did find a few gems.

Reducing is just as easy as it sounds. And if you are practicing your other two R's (reusing and recycling) you are have already laid the ground work to start effectively reducing your waste as well! By shopping smart and cutting back on the amount of stuff you throw away, you are reducing! A compost box is a way to reduce your trash output and so is taking canvas bags to the grocery store instead of using the plastic bags they give you. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has a pretty cool website that has tips for reducing waste divided up by where you want to reduce your waste output (like at home or the office).

I found this consumer handbook put out by the Environmental Protection Agency to help you start reducing your trash output, and from the parts that I've read it pretty much says things that you already know. But it does offer links and information for educating others which could come in handy if you're a parent or if you know someone who wants some more information.

And I found this article from that lovely website by the California Waste Management Board (they cover so many topics!) about how to reduce waste during the holiday season! Which, when you think about it, is probably the time of the year that we produce the most waste. I know how much wrapping paper we use at my house every year and it boggles my mind to think about the landfills if everyone in America had the same amount as we do.

So there you have it ... the three R's explored a little deeper. I hope that these few articles have helped you learn ways to incorporate the three R's into your life and possibly even gotten you excited about doing it!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Method Body Wash Review

I have been using Method's products since I saw an insert in a magazine that promised you could clean naked if you wanted to because their cleaners were natural and are much nicer to your skin than bleach or other household cleaners.

Well, several months ago a friend of mine brought to my attention the fact that Method is making bath and body products in addition to their home cleaners. I am an avid fan of their hand soaps and body washes. They are lightly scented (which is something that's important to me - too much smell and I will get a headache), never dry out my skin, and I can read the ingredients and understand the words. Pretty impressive. While I couldn't seem to find the body wash I usually buy (which is what the body wash link will show you), I did find some new body wash that Method is making now.

I decided to purchase their new Olive Leaf body wash last night. The packaging is beautiful, it looks like a pillow, and it perfumed but very, very lightly. My skin has never been so soft, and I'm not kidding. I can't stop touching myself! I would already recommend going with Method's stuff ... and I think I might be in love with my body wash. I even used it to shave my legs this morning and they feel amazing. I will write another review for you in two weeks to let you know if I'm still in love with my new body wash.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Brown Bagging It ...

If you don't already take your lunch with you to work, then it's something that you really, really should consider making a habit. Once you start I will promise you that you will wonder why you haven't been doing it for years! I know that you will get several things out of taking your lunch to work: the satisfaction of reducing the waste you send to the landfill, eating healthier (hopefully), and you will save money. How do I know these things you might ask? Because I bring my lunch to work with me almost everyday and I have experienced these results first hand.

First, lets look at how you will be reducing the amount of trash you send to the landfill. By bringing your lunch with you to work, you have the opportunity to have a waste free meal if you pack all your food is reusable containers and carry it all to work in a reusable lunch bag. Just take a moment and think about how much waste is produced when you're done with your value meal:
  • The cup, including the straw, the straw wrapper, and the lid
  • The bag
  • The napkins in the bag
  • The wrapper for your burger or the box for your nuggets
  • The container for your fries
  • Any little extras like ketchup packets or receipts
  • The wrapper from the toy (if you get a kid's meal), any instructions it comes with, and ultimately the toy itself when it breaks (they always do)
By taking the single, small step of bringing your lunch to work you will be practicing two out of the three R's: Reducing and Reusing. I spent a while looking around on the interenet to find products that are stylish, Earth friendly, and so easy to use that there could be no way that you avoid wanting to use them. These are my favorites:
  • I thought that this lunch bag from Built NY was super cute and functional (I'm thinking about getting the one that folds out into a place mat). How could you go wrong? I would also take some time to check out the Built website, their products are awesome.
  • These sandwich "baggies" aren't plastic! But they do just as good a job according to the reviews. Plus, they act as a plate too which would help cut down on the number of crumbs on your desk after you're done eating your sandwich.
  • If you are feeling crafty and want to creatively recycle some of the stuff in your home, consider making your own sandwich wrapper! I found these instructions for making your own. Here is the post where I got the link to the blog article.
Now, I don't want to make your stomach turn, but do you know what you're eating when you go to McDonald's? Do you understand just how many calories you are consuming in one single sitting when you have your double cheeseburger with large fries and large Coke? You might be shocked by the answer: Over half of your recommended calorie intake for an entire day. Not to mention the fact that while McDonald's has been talking about it, not all of their restaurants use trans-fat free oil to fry their french fries and so you could be getting about 7 grams of it every time you eat an entire serving of fries. Don't believe me? Check out the nutrition page and calorie calculator on the McDonald's website and see for yourself.

NOTE: But don't get me wrong, I eat at McDonald's every now and then and I am not fat or sick with a heart condition or at a greater risk for a heart attack (I hope) or anything. The name of the game when it comes to maintaining a healthy body weight and healthy eating habits is moderation. If you want it, don't make yourself go without it forever - that can sometimes lead to overeating in an effort to make up for whatever it is you're craving (believe me, I've done this before too). In fact, talking about McDonald's is really making me want some. I might go get some for lunch.

If my other two points had no effect on your desire to start brown bagging it at work, maybe my last point will. I want to give you a quick breakdown on how much money you could save if you didn't eat out for lunch everyday. Let's assume for a moment that you get a $5 meal at a fast food place everyday.
  • Lunches for one week means that you've spent $25
  • Lunches for one month means that you've spent $100
  • Lunches for one year means that you've spent $1,200
$1,200?! Just think of what you could do with that much money! You could go on a pretty sweet little vacation with your family or maybe just that special someone. Or you could pay off that credit card debt that just won't go away. That money could also equal 120 hours of babysitter pay (if they charge $10/hr) so that you can start dating your spouse again. Or you could start funding your retirement account. Or you could use it to help green up your house like installing solar panels on the roof or buying an energy efficient appliance to replace an old one. The possibilities are endless and just think that you could earn that much by getting up 10 minutes earlier and throwing together a salad or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Kiss My Face Deodorant - My First Product Review!

Well, I've decided that I to start reporting to you about my switch to organic and earth friendly products. Last night I went to target and decided that I would take a look around their health market to see if they sold any all natural products like what I have been looking at online. I specifically was looking for deodorants.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that they carried three lines of all natural deodorants! They had Jason, Kiss My Face and one other that I can't remember the name of. I took the time to sniff all of them, and my conclusion is that either you can choose to smell like nothing (the aloe sticks for sensitive skin), you can choose to smell like a giant lavender bush (they aren't kidding around with the lavender smell), or you could choose to smell like a hippie (which may sound terrible, but I do know some hippies and I know what they smell like. They smell like patchouli.).

The whole reason I was looking for natural deodorants in the first place was due to the fact that my regular stuff has started to make my armpits itch really bad. Which is embarrassing and gross. Have you ever had an itch in your armpit that was so bad that you were willing to scratch it even when you were sweating like a pig? Those were the kind of itches that I was having at work. Not fun. So I chose to purchase the Kiss My Face Liquid Rock roll on with aloe and no smell for my sensitive pits.

This is the first morning I've used it and so far I really like it. The liquid took a while to totally dry and so for about an hour this morning, every time I lifted my arms to do something I got a completely wonderful little breeze in my armpits. It might sound weird, but I really liked it. So far I'm not smelly at all which is great but I'm also not doing any major amount of work. Sitting behind a desk = no sweating. So we'll how it handles this afternoon's heat. I promise to write up another review in two weeks to let you know if my opinions have changed about my switch to all natural deodorant.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

A Closer Look: Reusing

Article two in my three article series brings us to, quite possibly, the most important of the three R's: Reusing. Why do I say the most important? Well, when we reuse something instead of throwing it into the trash bin, we are essentially doing all of the R's at once - you're reducing your trash output and landfill contributions and recycling whatever it is you're reusing.

I thought that I would explore what other people had to say about reusing and I found a wonderful article, attached to a great website called Care2, all about why reusing is so awesome. You can read the article here. She had some very good insight into why reusing is so important, including the list that I have included below.
  • "Reuse keeps goods and materials out of the waste stream"
  • "Reuse advances source reduction"
  • "Reuse preserves the “embodied energy” that was originally used to manufacture an item"
  • "Reuse reduces the strain on valuable resources, such as fuel, forests and water supplies, and helps safeguard wildlife habitats"
  • "Reuse creates less air and water pollution than making a new item or recycling"
  • "Reuse results in less hazardous waste"
  • "Reuse saves money in purchases and disposal costs"
  • "Reuse generates new business and employment opportunities for both small entrepreneurs and large enterprises"
  • "Reuse creates an affordable supply of goods that are often of excellent quality."
So what can you do to reuse the things in your home before they end up becoming trash?

I found a website called The Recycling Revolution that lists a ton of ideas for re-purposing potential trash items and the list is divided up by whatever object you want to reuse. I glanced over the list and discovered a few ideas that I hadn't thought of before, like tacking the empty cereal box to the wall and cutting a hole in the bottom front to make a plastic shopping bag dispenser.

The other day my mother and I had a conversation about reusing plastic sandwich baggies. I used to use them until they got visibly dirty, which sometimes took a long time to happen, and then switch them out for new ones. Well, my mom pointed out to me that if you don't wash them in between uses you are accumulating bacteria that are probably loving being stuck in a warm plastic bag. So, the moral is wash your plastic baggies in between uses to insure that you won't get sick from trying to save the planet. I found this baggie drying rack at which I think I might invest in for this purpose.

I also found a website that has TONS of resources for reusing all sorts of things. It's called Green Living Ideas (aptly named I think) and is a great portal to all the information you might ever desire on reusing the potential trash items in your home. This is a site that I think I will be spending quite a bit of time on in the coming weeks.

Well, there you have it. Reasons why reusing is so important and several new websites that you can use as resources in your own quest to recycle and now reuse. Stay tuned to learn all about reducing in my next article!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Closer Look: Recycling

Well, here is the first article in the series I promised you about looking closer at the three R's. To organize my research I asked my friends and family what questions they had about recycling and as it turned out, they all seemed to want to know the same thing more or less. While they didn't all ask the same questions, I figured I would narrow them down into only a few instead of answering the 20 I had on my list when I started my research.

1. Where are the recycle centers in my area?
You may be one of those lucky people who live in an area that offers curbside recycling. But what if you aren't? I would recommend saving up your recyclables and taking them to a local center at the end of each month. Well that's all well and good, but how do you go about figuring out where you recycling center is within your community? Earth 911 has a wonderful recycling center locating tool. Just put in your city and state and what you want to recycle and it will tell you where to go in your community. It's brilliant!

2. What exactly can I recycle?
These days you can recycle a lot more than just plastic, cardboard and glass. If you can find the right facility in your area you can recycle just about anything, including motor oil (who knew!). The California Zero Waste website has tons of information on what you can recycle and even goes so far as to provide links to the information or locator's you need to find the centers in your area (even if you're like me and don't live in California).

3. Can I do more to recycle that what you've already recommended?
There is, and always will be, more that you can do to cut back on your contributions to your local landfill, like starting a compost box to take care of your organic wastes. However, I feel like this question would be better answered in my next article about the second R: Reuse. Reusing things that you would ordinarily send to the dump is a great way to recycle and reduce your landfill contributions.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Creative Recycling

I know that I haven't been posting any pictures of my own recycling projects, but that will soon change! I have a ton on my camera just waiting to be uploaded and posted! As I look around my house and since I have started paying closer attention to the things that I toss out all willy-nilly, I keep wanting more creative recycling projects to do beyond the few that I've already come up with on my own.

So today I decided that I would go out into the world to see what other people are doing to get creative with their recycling. The kinds of articles that I was looking for were few and far between, but here are a few that I might think about using at some point in my own life.
  • This site has lots of ideas separated by the item you want to recycle
  • I liked the ideas that this article brought to the table.
  • JACKPOT! Not only does this blog post have a great idea for recycling boxes, it has tons of links to other great creative recycling ideas! Be sure to read some of the similar articles that are listed under the blog post.
  • I found this article on my other favorite website It talks about gardening with old containers that you may think about throwing out.
So now that you have some more wonderful ideas to reduce, reuse, and recycle, get out there and create!! Please send pictures of your projects as well as any ideas you have for creative recycling projects you might come up with! I would love to post them here!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Can Smoking Be Eco-Friendly?

Since I have decided to look, or at least do my best to look, at every aspect of life and try to make it a little greener, I thought I might take a look at cigarettes and see if there were any that tried to say that they were 'green' or at least earth friendly.

Well, so far no luck on that 'green' cigarette but I did find an interesting article on cigarette filters that dissolve in rainwater. Makes you think about the possibilities huh? Unfortunately, I'm sure that big tobacco will claim that it would cost waaaay too much money to make these filters and that keeping their production methods just the same as they are now would be much more Earth friendly.

You can read here about how big tobacco is claiming the their production methods and products are Earth friendly. Although I feel obligated to tell you that I got the article from a blog. I will do my best to find an article from a newspaper or something so that this guy's claims can be backed up a little.

I also discovered a new term, seeing as how I'm pretty new at this whole green thing, called greenwashing. It's when people claim that a product is organically grown or is sustainable to make more money. I found this article that gives ten tips on how to avoid purchasing greenwashed products and it even has a link in it to a greenwash guide that looks like it could be a good read.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Happy 4th!!

What a wonderful day! You can celebrate America and your right to live a green and Earth friendly lifestyle!! Have fun and be green all at the same time with these awesome products ...
  • 7th Generation is great stuff that's affordable. They have great products like napkins and trash bags (and tons of awesome cleaning products to help you clean your house after everyone leaves)
  • is where I found a lot of green living products like these recycled cutlery and plates that would look great on your table!
I know that my grocery store carries 7th Generation products in the "health market". If you don't want to order them online, and given the fact that Friday is the 4th you might not have time to get your things by then, check out the stores in your area! Even if it's not 7th Generation, I bet that you can find some kind of eco-friendly brand to buy instead.

Have a wonderfully safe and neon green 4th everyone!!

Greenie Love - Beth

A Closer Look at the 3 R's

You've had it beaten into your head since you were a kid. The three R's: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. And while it's wonderful that you know your three R's by heart, do you really understand what they mean? Do you know where you can access the information you might need in order to actually apply the three R's to your life?

Yes, I had them beaten into my head as a child too. But I realized the other day that although I knew what I was supposed to be doing, I didn't really know how to go about it. So I've decided that I will travel out into the world of the internet and bring back for you all the relevant information you might need in order to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

My first article will focus on the most publicized of the three R's: Recycling. Sure, you put the green bin out by the trash every week but is there more that you could be doing? There sure is. Did you know that you can recycle just about everything? You can even recycle oil and batteries is you know where to take the stuff.

Stay tuned to learn about how you can take your recycling beyond your regular paper, glass, and plastic.

Nalgene Concern

You may have already heard about this on the news, unless you live under a rock like me, but I thought it was worthy to write an article about. There is concern that BPA, a chemical used in the making of Nalgene bottles and other plastic containers could cause cancer in humans. I found this article on the subject from the Washington Post. I thought it was an easy read and did a good job of summing up the big issues of the argument.

I don't know what I think right now. I love my Nalgene bottle ... I drink out of it ALL the time (yes, I'm sipping out of it while I write this). It's sturdy and cute (mine is lime green) and I know how much I've had to drink when I finish two of them (about 64 oz.). When I have it near me, I want to drink out of it because I think it's so cool. So I don't think I'm ready to toss it out quite yet. But if you are wanting to trade up, Nalgene is now making the BPA free version of its product and you can find them here.

While reading up on these articles, I thought I would also look at the normal care that you should do for your bottle. I wanted to know how often you should wash it and even how often you should change out your straw (if you're like me and you use one. It makes me drink more, faster). And after much time and effort, I located a page on the Nalgene site that gives cleaning instructions (although not recommendations on how often you should clean it) and you can read it here. I'm to go ahead and just assume that it would be a pretty good idea to wash it out every two weeks or so. Same with changing out your straw.

Being the neon green person I know you are, you might even consider washing your straw and using the same one until it completely wears out. This is something that I plan to start myself in the coming week. I spent a few minutes looking around for reusable plastic straws online, but I am quite partial to the bendy kind so I think I will just keep washing mine.

Keep sipping out of those reusable bottles! You are doing a little part to keep your landfill contributions to a minimum! Way to go!