Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Website Review:

Want to know how much water, oil and greenhouse gas you'll conserve annually by getting your bills online? Look no further than

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Website Review: Parent Tested Parent Approved

I stumbled upon the Parent Tested Parent Approved (PTPA) site and was immediately intrigued. Their mission is "to discover and appraise new products designed for children and families.We research new products and coordinate testing with parents. Award winning products are selected based on value, functionality, quality and appeal." Sounds like the perfect fit for a green and frugal mom like myself.

So what does PTPA have to offer? Well, instead of have marketers push products based upon a company's revenue goal, these are items that are sampled by moms and dads who are giving their genuine recommendations based on their experience with the product or item. In addition, the site has a blog, newsletter and also offer a Green Award for those products that are especially great, innovative and green.

My first stop was at the Winning Products section in the environmentally-friendly category.

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Natural All-Purpose Cleaner was listed in this category, but it's not immediately clear how or why it was selected. I realize it's eco-friendly, but what did the testers think? How did they use it? What were their findings? The research and rationale fell a bit short.

Overall, I thought the site was mediocre. I'd rather use a site like where the products are evaulated using a scale of 1 to 5 so you understand why certain products were ranked.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Product Review: Reynolds 100% Recycled Foil

I'm a big fan of Reynolds products. So when I saw that they came out with a recycled version of their aluminum foil, I couldn't wait to try it out! Call me a green geek, but I wanted to see if there was a difference between the recycled version and their standard foil.

First of all, the box is made from recycled cardboard and water-based ink was used for the printing. The foil itself is very thick and sturdy. I actually think it's heavier than its normal foil.

The website has a very cool recipe widget and you can get a coupon for Reynolds Wrap 100% Recycled Foil. Plus, there's information on how to green your kitchen, FAQs, a sweepstakes and a Friends & Community area.

So I used the foil to cover up some leftovers. It's very sturdy, held its shape well and didn't get any food stuck to it. I have to say that I do like the recycled foil much better than the regular.

Get your coupon
and try it today! Let me know how you like it.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

Go Green: Are You Up for the Composting Challenge?

Our home has quite a bit of land for Bergen County, NJ (1.3 acres to be exact), so I’m all over gardening. With that, I’ve been dying to try composting. (Okay, yes, I’m a bit too excited about using decomposed food scraps for my garden.) We’ve been looking for a composting bin for a few months. They tend to be a bit expensive and hard to find. Although, I have seen compost bins on and

We recently found a composter through one of the local towns for $43.50. I really wanted the kind that is a big drum that you can turn to mix the compost. This one looks like a black garbage can without a bottom. It has vents and the top twists off so you can easily add your food scraps. There’s also a door on the side by the bottom to retrieve the compost and you use large plastic screws to ensure it stays put.

Next, we had to figure out where to put the composter. Where in our yard would we want a giant trash-can-looking device? It made the most sense to put it near the garden, but we plan to relocate our garden next season. (The current spot just didn’t seem to get enough sun. Most of my tomatoes were still green in the middle of the summer.)

So it’s in place, but the one thing we didn’t think about was: how are we going to get our scraps out to the composter? I don’t feel like trucking out to the far corner of the yard in the middle of winter to throw in some food scraps. The plan is to use a large bucket with a lid and keep it on the deck. We can easily add food to it, but keeping it outside will hopefully keep the smells at bay.

We struck gold at a recent garage sale outing. We nabbed a $35-$40 countertop compost pail with lid for$1. It looks nice and is functional -- score! Now it's a matter of taking the pail and emptying in the compost bin.

I’ll keep you posted on how long it takes to get our first batch of compost. Stay tuned…

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Green and Frugal: Let's Get This Garden Started

Spring has finally hit NJ this week. With spring comes gardening time! My hubby has determined the sunniest corner of our yard will be the best place for our gi-normous garden. Last weekend he broke out the rototiller and created a nice area to plant our vegetable garden.

As you know, we joined in a community-supported farmer's share, which provides 5-10 pounds of fruits and veggies each week from June through November. We also invested in a food saver (on sale at Kohl's for $79.99, plus a 20% coupon), so we're ready to not only harvest, but also store our goods.

Last year, we didn't realize that it's really hard to consume pounds upon pounds of greens, squash, zucchini and garlic. Unfortunately, this resulted in some spoilage. We've wisened up this year! We plan to use the Food Saver and freeze as much as we can.

Here's our game plan (this is sort of what our garden would look like if my digital camera worked prop:

  • Build a 4-foot gardening fence to keep the deer out

  • Keep the taller plants (tomatoes, etc.) in the middle of the garden and the low-lying veggies (cucumbers, jalapenos, etc.) on the outskirts

  • We'll create a "+" in the middle of the garden using slate from our front steps that are falling apart (another summer project)

  • Lay down black weed tarp (left over from the previous homeowners)

  • Plant marigolds and other stinky flowers outside the garden for aesthetics as well as to keep out groundhogs and rabbits (you'd think our cats would take care of this!)
We're hoping to get some abandoned veggies to get us started at the end of June. My husband is a high school teacher and last year the horticulture class abandoned all of their plants after the school year was over. We adopted them and tried to grow them as best as we could. But we got a late start and our haphazard garden was overrun by deer and other wildlife. Not this year. We have a game plan.

The kids are getting involved, too. They're going to help us build a scarecrow so the birds stay out of the garden as well.

As a beginning gardener, I'm sure there are key aspects that I'm missing. What else should we be prepared for that will elicit a bumper crop, but keep costs low??

Stay tuned for my next update on our new composting bin...

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Go Green: The Importance of a Healthy Environment

As you know, going green means being healthier, for yourself and for your environment. That's why I'd like to bring an informational site to your attention -- It's dedicated to spreading knowledge about the hazards of asbestos exposure and it’s health consequences, such as mesothelioma cancer.

As you know processing fossil fuels and reliance upon outdated energy sources is harming our environment and harming the workers of our country. In recent months, there has been a surge of asbestos-related health complications among those who worked in oil refineries and other energy processing centers, mainly due to the amount of asbestos used in these industries.

Additionally, with housing prices down, coupled with the new $8,000 first-time home buyer credit, construction and renovation is also on the rise. As a result, many individuals are searching for information on how to safely remove asbestos, and replace it with a greener and healthier alternative.

Check out

The website is a wealth of information, conveniently categorized for easy-to-find topics, such as types of meothelioma, treatment and causes. In addition, you can get news alerts, ask questions and learn more with articles, case studies and abstracts.

Hopefully, with sites like, this type of cancer can be eradicated. Another reason to go green!

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Green and Frugal -- Friday Round-Up of Cool Posts

Let's end the week with some sweet posts! From Earth Day to saving money, check out these top blog posts...

Happy reading -- here's to a fabulous weekend!

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Go Green: The ABC's of Reducing Garbage

I have two young children and my oldest is in kindergarten. He came home with a worksheet entitled "The ABC's of Making Less Garbage." I think it's great that kids are learning about being more environmentally aware at such a young age.

The ABS's of Making Less Garbage

Aluminum cans are 100% recyclable and can be reused over and over again.

Bring your lunch to school in reusable containers.

Compost leaves, grass, and fruit and vegetable remains. This compost will become a rich, healthy soil that is very good for plants and gardens.

Donate old clothes and toys to charity instead of throwing them away.

Every town in Bergen County has a recycling program and a Municipal Recycling Coordinator who is in charge of that program.

Fix broken toys and furniture instead of buying new.

Garbage is everyone's responsibility!

Help your family and school recycle.

Identify materials that can be recycled in your town and recycle them.

Junk mail can be recycled with magazines and may become napkins, paper towels or greeting cards.

Kick the throw-away habit...Recycle!

Look for the recycling symbol on that products that you buy.

Make less garbage by recycling.

Never throw something in the garbage that can be recycled.

Oil from your car should always be recycled.

Pens and Pencils can be made from recycled paper.

Question...How much garbage does the average person throw away each day?

Reduce, Reuse & Recycle are three words that begin with R that will help you make less garbage.

Steel cans are easily separated from other recyclables by magnets.

Tires from you car can be recycled into pens.

Use paper grocery bags for book covers.

Valuable natural resources can be saved by recycling.

Worms help turn garbage into compost.

eXert eXtra effort when it comes to recycling and making less trash!

Yo-Yo's are sometimes made from recycled plastic.

Zero garbage is our goal!

How do you (or your local school) teach your child(ren) about recycling?

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day - Let's Celebrate!

What to do on Earth Day? There's so much, and only one day. Here are some last-minute ideas -- some are for pure enjoyment and some are a small what you can help Mother Earth:
  • Enjoy free admission to the Museum of the City of New York today to enjoy the last day of their exhibition -- Growing and Greening New York: PlaNYC and the Future of the City. The exhibition explores the future of NYC and its sustainability by 2030.

    The exhibition takes viewers through an imagined day in the life of the city to make the complexities of greater environmental sustainability in New York City vivid, compelling, and understandable, and by bringing environmental concerns to life on an individual, human scale. Organized in terms of the hours of a typical day in the life of a New Yorker—8 a.m., for example, discusses traffic and transportation—the exhibition explores six essential areas addressed by the Bloomberg Administration’s ambitious five-borough plan for sustainability by 2030: water; transportation; energy; open space; land; and climate change. Growing and Greening New York features architectural models, interactive displays, diagrams, renderings, photographs, hands-on examples of new materials, videos, and more, many of which have been created expressly for the exhibition.

  • Start a garden. Whether you have a small plot of land or a window box, you can easily plant herbs, vegetables or flowers.

  • Plant a tree.

  • Freecycle an item you no longer want or need so you save it from the landfill and from cluttering your home.

  • Buy produce from a local farmer. Check out for more info.

  • Switch to online banking and paying your bills online.

  • Change over your light bulbs to CFLs. Okay, this may cost a small amount of money. But in the long run, you'll conserve energy and ultimately save money.
I plan on starting my garden and teaching my kids why recycling is important. What will you be doing today to celebrate Earth Day?

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Go Green: Get Ready for Earth Day

10 No-cost Ways to Celebrate Earth Day in 10 Minutes or Less
  1. Turn your thermostat down two degrees and keep it there. And turn it off altogether tonight, heaping on the blankets if necessary.

  2. Send Happy Earth Day e-cards to a half dozen friends.

  3. E-mail your state or national representatives about a green initiative.

  4. If you're in the supermarket, track down the manager and encourage him or her to source local products.

  5. Make signs to put on the mirror over faucets to remind family members to turn off water when they are brushing their teeth. (You can save an average of nine gallons every time you do this.)

  6. Call several people and arrange to carpool for an upcoming event such as a child's sporting activity or a club meeting.

  7. Go online and join a group like Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, Kids for Saving the Earth, the Wilderness Society or Co-op America.

  8. Make a family pledge to walk everywhere today.

  9. Talk to the principal at your children's school about instituting environmental education in the curriculum.

  10. Sign the " Healthy Yard Pledge" at

Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Weekend Round-up - Green and Frugal Posts

I'd like to share some great posts I stumbled upon this week. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did:

I'd love to hear your comments.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Get a FREE Sample of Dunkin' Donuts Coffee

Dunkin' Donuts. Dunkin' keeps me blogging. Try Dunkin' Donuts Coffee For Free. Get a Sample

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Website Review:

Have a desk job and wondering how to fit in time for exercise? Look no further than Break Pal!

I recently had the pleasure of testing this exciting new service. Think of it as "deskercise." In a nutshell, you download a simple widget to your computer, and every 30 minutes (or whatever amount of time you decide works best for you), you're prompted to do 2-5 minutes of exercise. The exercises are easy, and no, you won't look silly as your co-workers walk by.

Since the creators of Break Pal are martial arts and fitness instructors, many of the
desk exercises are martial arts-based. You'll notice jabs, blocks and punches -- get out your aggression and get in shape! Who could ask for more?

Plus, when you visit, you'll have access to a social network of other Break Pal users who are also trying to get or stay in shape. You can compare notes or even compete to see who can accumulate more points! The site also has a blog, FAQs and testimonials. There's even an option for companies to roll out Break Pal as a wellness program to their employees. What a great idea!

As a former fitness instructor and current desk worker, I thoroughly enjoyed Break Pal and think it's a truly innovative idea. One caveat: if you use Break Pal at work, you may want to check with your IT team to make sure it's okay to download the widget.

Enter to Win Your Own Break Pal

Want to try Break Pal? Three lucky winners will be randomly selected to receive a free membership, courtesy of Break Pal. Hurry, this contest runs for just one week. See below for all of the details

For more information, visit

Contest Details

Contest begins Friday, April 17 at 8:00am and ENDS on Saturday, April 25 at 8:00am.

The winners will be posted in a separate post within one week of the contest's end.

Winner will be notified either by blog or e-mail and will have 4 days (96 hours) to claim their prize. Time begins when I post the winner.

If the prize is not claimed within this timeframe, a new winner will be chosen. NO exceptions.

Entries will be entered into and chosen by

How to increase your number of entries:

1) Visit the
BreakPal website, come back to this post and tell me what you liked or disliked about the site. (This step is mandatory for the other entries to count.)

=5 entries

2)Follow my blog.
=10 entries

3) Join my mailing list.
= 10 entries

4)Twitter about this giveaway.(Please provide a link or your Twitter id.)
=10 entries

5)Add this contest to your Facebook status
=10 entries

6)List and add up all of your entries in one comment.
=15 entries

For example...
I really like the images on BreakPal =5
I already follow your blog =10

I signed up for your newsletter = 10
I twittered about this giveaway =10
I added this giveaway to my Facebook =10
I have tallied the entries =15
Grand total = 60 entries

Let the contest begin...

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Frugal Tip Thursday -- 15 More Tips for the Green and Frugal

Who couldn't use more tips on ways to save money and go green? Here's 15 more...

  1. Put all your major electronics on power strips. Even when appliances are turned “off,” stereo equipment and computers continue to draw electricity. Turning off a power strip at night or when you leave the house reduces energy consumption and saves money. Cost: As little as $10.

  2. Wash your clothes only in cold water. Hot water takes an enormous amount of energy for your washer to generate. Cold water and soap get your clothes just as clean. Plus, there's less strain on the clothes (hot water tends to fade and shrink clothing). Cost: Nothing, really!

  3. Stop junk mail. Free services, such as Opt-Out Prescreen and Catalog Choice, can help end most of your junk mail. Cost: $0.

  4. Use rechargeable batteries. Think about all of the batteries that you throw out. If you buy a full set of rechargeable batteries for all of the gadgets, remotes and smoke detectors in the house, you'll keep that many batteries out of the landfill and save money in the long run. Cost: $10 and up.

  5. Make your own all-purpose cleaner. Just use baking soda and water. Combine 4 tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of water in a spray bottle. You can use this combination to clean almost anything. Cost: $1.50

  6. Use washable rags instead of paper towels. Using old rags instead of paper towels not only saves you money, but also keeps paper out of the landfill. You can also use cloth napkins versus paper. Cost: Potentially $0 if you have rags laying around.

  7. Use both sides of computer paper. Once you print something and no longer need it. Flip it over and put it back in the printer to print on the other side, or use it for scrap paper. Cost: $0.

  8. Stop the bottled water use! Studies have shown that bottled water is no better than your typical tap water. It just costs more and leaves a trail of empty plastic bottles everywhere. Invest in a faucet or pitcher water filter, and save money and the environment. Cost: $20.

  9. Bring your own bag to all stores. Most people talk about bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, but why not bring them everywhere? Leave a few in the car in case you stop to shop somewhere unexpectedly. Cost: A few bucks, if not free.

  10. Use online banking. Online banking -- which is extremely secure -- saves time (writing checks), money (no stamps needed) and the environment (no checks, paper bills or envelopes). Cost: $0.

  11. Rotate your car tires on a regular basis. Keeping your tires inflated to the right PSI (pounds per square inch) and rotated regularly saves fuel. Cost: $25 a couple of times a year.

  12. Read your favorite newspaper or magazine online instead of receiving the paper version. Try to keep delivery subscriptions to the bare minimum, only your absolute favorites, and try to read the rest of them online. Cost: $0.

  13. Get yourself a library card and use it. Great free way to read your favorite books. Cost: $0.

  14. Shut off your computer and monitor when you leave work for the day. Save energy -- even if it's not in your home! Cost: $0.

  15. Buy it used. Anything - furniture, clothing, electronics - can be bought used in good shape. This saves one more thing from going to a landfill! There are many sites to choose from, including Freecycle, Craigslist and Ebay. Cost: Cheaper than new.

    Have any other tips to add to the list? I'd love to hear them!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Go Green: Product Review -- Organic BellaBand

As a mom of two kids, I know how important it is to stretch your wardrobe throughout pregnancy. The one product that I swore by was the BellaBand. And now there's an organic version. Does it get any better?!

Considered "the green way to stretch your pregnancy wardrobe,"Ingrid & Isabel, designer of the BellaBand, have recently launched BellaBand Organic. Just in time for Earth Day, the BellaBand Organic is made with 95% certified organic cotton. BellaBand Organic offers mothers-to-be an environmentally conscious choice when shopping for maternity accessories.

Ingrid & Isabel’s BellaBand Organic uses a natural, breathable organic cotton fiber: cotton that is grown using no synthetic chemicals or genetically modified seeds. Moms can feel good about choosing the eco-friendly BellaBand Organic, knowing that its primary source is a sustainable plant.

How does BellaBand Organic work?
Just like the original version, BellaBand Organic allows pregnant moms to get more wear out of the clothes they already have, as well as the maternity staples they need throughout pregnancy. The band easily fits over waistbands to ensure a comfortable fit. This means less consumption during and after pregnancy...all in an eco-friendly way. Women can wear pre-pregnancy pants longer and cute maternity styles sooner, which gives them more choices among the clothes they already have and a few new ones to show off their pretty bellies.

BellaBand Organic is available in Black, White and Sand. It comes in three sizes, which correspond to pre-pregnancy women’s and plus sizes, and retails for $32. The product packaging is made from 100% recycled cardstock. BellaBand Organic will be sold in select stores in the US and abroad. Visit for more information.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday: 10 Easy Ways to Be More Sustainable When You're Being Frugal

Want to know what you can do right now for little to no cost? Here's the top 10, in no particular order:

1. Line-dry your clothes. Dryers use loads of energy, which is why most don’t come with an “Energy Star” rating. Using a line or a drying for your clothes saves an enormous amount of energy and money. Plus, it keeps CO2 from going into the environment. Cost: $20 or less.

2. Compost your food scraps. I purchased a small, indoor composters at a garage sale. You can find very inexpensive ones and save a ton of food waste from going to the landfill. If you pay for your garbage collection, it's more costs savings for you. Cost: $40 and up.

3. Replace your light bulbs with CFL’s or LED lights. A small upfront investment can save hundreds of dollars (and energy) over the lifespan of these bulbs. Cost: CFL’s cost about $5 each.

4. Install a programmable thermostat. These allow you to set the temperature in your house automatically, which means saving more money on your utility bills. Cost: Starting at $50.

5. Install sink water aerators. These cheap little gadgets slow down the flow of water out of your faucet, saving you money and water use. Cost: $2-$3

8. Insulate your hot water heater and your water pipes. Insulating helps keep the heat in your house down (in the summer) and reduces the energy your heater needs to generate to heat your water. Cost: $50 or so.

10. Run your dishwasher only when it is full. Make sure you make the best use of the water and energy needed to run a dishwasher! Cost: No more than your regular use.

I'll have another 15 tips on Thursday.

Did I miss anything? Let me know!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Your Money or Your Life Monday: What's Your Stuff Worth?

It's not as much as you'd think.

The next exercise the book advises is for you to take a physical inventory of everything you own. This includes everything from your dishes to your clothing. Let's not forget toys (especially if you have little ones), lawn equipment, appliances, electronics, get the picture.

I know my husband and I (with two kids under five) have a lot of stuff. But when I had to physically inventory everything that I own, it was pretty disappointing. Not including any cash, investments, house, etc., the total of just concrete stuff came out to approx. $30,000. That's over 10 years of accumulation! And all I have to show for it is $30,000?! For the record, the way you're supposed to calculate the value is to determine how much you would get for the item at a garage sale or thrift shop.

The moral of the story is that the more you buy and accumulate, the less you really have. It will definitely make me think twice when I run out to buy new clothes or buy the kids new toys. I'm just shocked! So what's next? The next exercise the book suggests is determining how much "life energy" your job takes as well as how much life energy your stuff costs. Stay tuned...

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Website Review:

According to the site, GoodGuide™ strives to provide the world's largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of products and companies. GoodGuide's mission is to help you find safe, healthy, and green products that are better for you and the planet. From our origins as a UC Berkeley research project, GoodGuide has developed into a totally independent "For-Benefit" company. We are committed to providing the information you need to make better decisions, and to ultimately shifting the balance of information and power in the marketplace.

At first I had time figuring out where to start. Then I saw the box entitled, "What Can I Do With GoodGuide?" That's what I needed! The options were "See GoodGuide Ratings," "Find the Best Products," or "Compare and Save."

I selected See GoodGuide Ratings and was hit by information overload! There is just so much going on! They've evaluated more than 70,000 products. While I like their rating system -- very simple and visual -- it's difficult to process so much information.

It's a great site for figuring out which products are potentially harmful and which are not. You can search by highest and lowest rated. Rated products include personal care, food, household chemicals and toys. Some of the highest rated brands included:
  • Burt's Bees (a personal favorite)
  • Gerber Graduates (toddler foods) (my kids love their products)
  • Tom's of Maine soap
  • Suave shampoo
Overall, I think is a much-needed site, considering all of the overwhelming choices on the market today. You can see if how your favorite brands rank, as well as discover new brands. I know that I look forward to trying out Tom's of Maine!

Check out the site and let me know what you think!

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Frugal Tip Thursday -- How to Go Green in Your Home When on a Budget

I realized on Wed. that I forgot to post my Frugal Tip Tuesday tips, so this week it's Frugal Tip Thursday!

Many people equate going green with spending green. That doesn't have to be the case. Read on to learn how some quick fixes can be green and frugal.
  • Fix what you can't replace.
    If you can't afford the newest eco-friendly appliances, minor do-it-yourself repairs can help you save a bundle and consume less. Just fixing your leaking faucets can save you 10% on your water bill, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Be fridge smart.
    Your refrigerator is one of the biggest energy users in your home. Replace fridges made before 1990. Other quick fridge efficiency tips include: Wait for leftovers to cool before you put them in the fridge, and keep your fridge full so it runs more efficiently.
  • Cooking.
    Use a microwave instead of an oven whenever possible and save up to 50% in energy costs for cooking.
  • Dishwasher.
    Run your dishwasher only when you have a full load. Let the dishes air-dry instead of using the heat cycle. An average dishwasher costs $60 to $100 per year to run.
  • Cleaning.
    Ditch the paper towels. Paper towels create 3,000 tons of waste per year in the U.S. Switch from conventional towels to reusable versions like microfiber rags. If you must purchase paper towels, buy the kind made from recycled paper. If every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100% recycled ones, we could save 544,000 trees.
  • Opt for natural gas.
    Try to use natural gas to power your home. It burns cleaner and is more efficient. For example, it takes twice as long to dry clothes with an electric dryer than with a gas dryer.
  • Computer.
    Turn off computers at night: It may occasionally take you a few more seconds to get to work, but you'll save energy and money. It will also reduce wear and tear on your hardware, extending its life.
  • Clean the air naturally.
    Plants are great (and cheap) all-natural air purifiers. Some even specialize in the removal of certain irritants. For example, azaleas are a great remover of formaldehyde and ammonia. Ask your local nursery what types of plants you should be looking for to help combat specific allergens.
Source: Carter Oosterhouse, HGTV

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Go Green: Some Bunny Will Love a Green Easter Basket

Easter brings thoughts of spring and rebirth, so there's no reason not to celebrate it with the Earth's best interest at heart. Since for many families, Easter wouldn't be the day without the basket, here's how to transform this traditional hit, into a gift that truly is worth celebrating.

Instead of buying a new plastic or woven basket made in a country far away, this year, how about using your imagination? Choose an item that can hold the goodies, decorate if you like and you've got a unique, no-cost container. How fun would it be for your kids to go on the hunt with one of these?

  • A purse
  • A backpack
  • A scarf tied to a hobo stick
  • A decorated paper bag or shoe box (add a handle if you like)
  • A fabric bag of any kind
  • A pot (decorate by drawing on a strip of paper the height of the pot, then fasten with tape)
  • A boot (Kids rain boots are especially cute. Tuck some fabric inside to keep goodies clean.)
  • A paint can (again, add fabric inside if you like)
  • Make our simple fabric basket. Instructions here.

If you're the traditional type and like the look of grass, instead of buying the plastic stuff, why not try:

  • strips of fabric
  • real grass, either wheat grass or grass from your yard
  • shredded recycled paper
  • green scarf
  • strips of organic nori (seaweed availbalbe in paperlike sheets)
  • green napkin, washcloth or dish towel

As for filling the basket, you're probably aware that Easter is the second biggest holiday for candy sales next to Halloween. Sweet treats are fine, but how about choosing high quality over quantity? And just one over handfuls? Fortunately, this year, there are many great Easter treats that are better for kids and the Earth. Here are just a few:

Once the candy is taken care of, you'll most likely want other items to fill the basket. Considering the economy, you might come up with activities you can do with your child that cost nothing, write them on slips of paper and add to the basket. We bet if you ask your children in advance, what special activities they might enjoy, you'll have enough for months of fun. Suggestions:

  • Stay up late with you one night.
  • Bake something special together.
  • Make up a game.
  • Make popcorn and enjoy a movie on TV.
  • Sleep outside under the stars.
  • Have a tea party
  • Create a mural
  • Create and enjoy an "art" day using only items you have on hand

If you do want to purchase some special items for the basket, instead of heading to the dollar store, consider whether spending $10 on plastic toys that will break quickly is better than spending the same amount on one quality item that your child might enjoy playing with long after the holiday has passed. If you're with us that the latter is worth investigating, here are a few ideas:

More ideas for Easter baskets and festivities are available at

This post was provided by Lynn Colwell and Corey Colwell-Lipson, who are mother and daughter and co-authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, available at

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Save Money: Monday Quiz -- How Tight-fisted Are You?

How Tight-fisted are You?
by Olivia Fox
Take this quiz and find out where you are in your frugal journey. You wouldn't be reading this if you weren't curious, but the
question begs an answer. Do your "Lincolns" scream for mercy? How far do you go? Take this quiz and find out where you are
in your frugal journey.

For dish detergent you...
A) Make your own.
B) Stock pile when it's a loss leader and use double coupons.
C) Buy the biggest bottle you can at a warehouse store.

As your kids outgrow their clothes you...
A) Pull out the larger hand me downs from the box in the attic.
B) Hit the thrift stores.
C) Shop online for sales.

If you have a small amount of leftover veggies from supper you...
A) Put them in a freezer container for your weekly pot of soup.
B) Eat them for lunch.
C) Dump them into the compost pile.

When going to the store you...
A) Use cloth bags made from old blue jeans.
B) Ask for paper bags, cut them open for drawing paper, recycle them as garden mulch.
C) Get plastic bags and reuse them as trash can liners.

Your home is decorated with...
A) Refurbished curb picked items.
B) Yard sale finds.
C) Stuff from going-out-of-business sales.

Meals consist of...
A) Largely home grown foods.
B) Bulk purchased farmer's market goods.
C) Loss leaders from your local grocers.

You drink...
A) Tap water set out for 24 hours to dissipate the chlorine.
B) Home filtered water.
C) Sun tea.

When your sweetie says you have to cut back for the next few weeks you...
A) Pull out an envelope of cash you've been squirreling away for a while.
B) Hit the change jar and start rolling quarters.
C) Eat nothing but beans and rice.

For food storage you...
A) Reuse washed zip lock bags
B) Use wide mouthed jars
C) Pull from your stash of yard sale purchased Tupperware

When your child says, "All my friends have..." you...
A) Wonder if they were switched at birth with someone else.
B) Encourage them to get a job.
C) Allow them to cash in their change jar.

A = 1, B = 2, C = 3

A score of 10 to 16 is magnificent, you should start giving lessons.
A score of 17 to 23 is excellent, an encouragement to us all.
A score of 24 to 30 is quite good, you are reaping the benefits of your wise behavior.

As you see there are no wrong answers. Many things factor intoour frugal choices. Hope you continue to explore the limits of
creative tightwaddery. Keep up the good work, and have fun.

Source: The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, 4/6/09
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Friday, April 3, 2009

Go Green, Save Money: Top Five Website Round-up

TGIF! What better way to wrap up the week than with a list of cool sites and blogs that offer great ways to save money and go green?
  1. New Jersey Monthly offers great green spring cleaning tips, including a natural cleaner recipe

  2. Spring into Action and Save Some Green

  3. 5 Ways to Save Big Money (video on from Today show)

  4. Save Money with Google's New Tip Jar

  5. How to Make Three Dinners with a $5 Chicken
I'd love to hear comments on what you think of these great sites and articles.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Book Review: Greenopia New York City

If you live in New York City or plan on visiting, this book is a must-have for the eco-friendly. From where to shop and eat, to how to travel and where to stay, Greenopia New York City has it all.

It lists more than 1,300 environmentally friendly businesses and resources. Best of all, there are no paid ads or listings, which means each and every business has been reviewed and rated based on Greenopia's unique Green-Leaf Award system.

The book also offers tips, statistics and advice on how to be more green. The book is divided by section, including:
  • Eating Out
  • Eating In
  • Beauty
  • Goods
  • Pets
  • House (building resources)
  • Home (items for inside the home)
  • Services
  • Transportation
  • Travel
  • Being Involved
  • References
Other great features:
  • Maps of the five New York boroughs
  • Recommended books
  • Greenopia glossary
While I thought Greenopia New York City would strictly be a guide to green businesses, the book offers that and so much more.

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