Sunday, May 31, 2009

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

Another week under our belts. Can you believe it's going to be June on Monday? Where did May go? One thing's for sure, there's not shortage of great green and frugal posts. Enjoy and let me know if there were any that I missed.

Did I miss any great posts? I feel like the list is a bit short, but nothing was grabbing me this week.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Follow-up Product Review: Green Goose Reusable Bags

I know that I already wrote a review on Green Goose reusable bags. But when I received a sample, I just had to write another review.

The bags are extremely well made and the packaging is a simple ribbon with care instructions.

Care instructions
Wipe clean with soap and water or machine wash cold, air-dry recommended. May also be placed in a dryer on low heat for 15 minutes.

While it's a small bag, there's plenty of room for a sandwich, chips or anything you'd normally used a disposable sandwich bag to store.

And who wouldn't love the cute little logo that's embroidered on each bag?

Visit to get your bag today. There are lots of cute patterns to choose from!

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Go Green: Carbon Footprint Sneakers

As part of Citizen Schools programming, students and volunteers explore a wide variety of careers and topics from financial literacy to solar energy to law through apprenticeships run after school. The group of students in this climate change apprenticeship have explored how their behavior impacts the world’s climate and have expressed what they’ve learned about their carbon footprints in a series of individually stylized sneakers.

Working with Ed Morris, founder of The Canary Project and Green Patriot Posters, and renowned street artist Roger Cummings of Juxtaposition Arts, students have designed sneakers that emphasize ways that people can reduce their carbon footprint. These sneakers will be featured on a billboard, along with a message reflecting the student’s awareness about their carbon footprint and a call to the rest of the community to join in the fight to reduce CO2 output.

The billboard will read “The Kids at McCormack School know their CARBON FOOTPRINT. What about YOU?” and will be produced by The Canary Project working with students from the Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard. It will serve as an example of how everyone, especially kids, can have a strong, positive voice in creating a sustainable future.

Working with the students has been extremely inspiring,” said Morris. “Through the billboard, we are not only engaging students in learning about climate change and their carbon footprint, but helping to give them a loud and powerful voice in the fight against climate change. This is about empowerment and education as much as climate change.”

The class and billboard was made possible by generous contributions from anonymous donors, Zapatos Shoe Store and the Program in Education, Afterschool and Resiliency, a collaboration between Medical School/McLean Hospital and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

About Citizen Schools
Citizen Schools is a national nonprofit organization that partners with middle schools to extend the learning day for low-income children. Founded in Boston in 1995, the organization mobilizes thousands of adult volunteers to help improve student achievement by teaching skill-building apprenticeships after school. Programs blend these real-world learning projects with rigorous academic and leadership development activities, preparing students in the middle grades for success in high school, college, the workforce, and civic life. Citizen Schools currently operates at 44 middle schools in seven states, serving 3,800 students and engaging 3,200 volunteers nationwide. Learn more about Citizen Schools’ programs, results, and plan to advance the after-school field at

About Canary Project and Green Patriot Posters
The Canary Project produces visual media and artworks that deepen public understanding of climate change and energize commitment to solutions. Canary Project works have shown at both art and science museums as well as on the sides of buses, in school presentations, on the Internet, in magazines, and in a City Hall.

Green Patriot Posters is a communications campaign, launched by The Canary Project and its partners, centered on posters that encourage all U.S. citizens to take part in building a sustainable economy. Organizers have commissioned posters from design leaders, and developed an on-line community for sharing and voting on original designs. The favorites will be dis­tributed through multiple channels (print, web, bus ads, licensing, etc.) to reach the widest possible audience. The project launched in Cleveland, Ohio last summer with a series of bus ads designed by world-renowned designer Michael Bierut of Pentagram. For more information, visit

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Green and Frugal Review: The Goode Family

As I'm sitting here, I'm watching the first episode of "The Goode Family" on ABC. According to Fox News, "The politically correct couple lead a carbon-footprint-free family in the new animated comedy 'The Goode Family,' premiering Wednesday night on ABC, which pokes fun at all things holier-than-thou. 'The Goode Family' is obsessed with doing the "right" thing, whether it's environmentally, politically or socially. Unfortunately their efforts often have unintended comic consequences."

While the show's animation is very similar to "King of the Hill" (it's by Mike Judge who's also the creator of "King of the Hill"), the script and storyline are actually pretty funny (while also being controversial). I know I can relate. The main character is guilt-ridden as she's asked whether she'd like paper or plastic when she realizes she forgot her reusable shopping bags. Over the loudspeaker in the store, you hear, "The driver of the SUV is in aisle four. He's wearing the baseball cap." It shows the vast, multiple organic options that can be found when you go food shopping, coupled with ever-increasing prices. The show does a good job of showing how difficult is can be to be green.

While the show pokes fun at families trying to be more environmentally conscious, the perspective is really interesting.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wacky Wednesday

A happy belated Memorial Day! The long weekend threw me off, which is why I've been slacking on the posts. I promise to have some good stuff later on this week. Stay tuned...

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

How to Go Green & Save Money On Air Conditioning


Ah, summertime. Lemonade, lightening bugs, and barefeet. We’ve all been looking forward to this, especially after a long cold winter.

With the advent of summer comes, you guessed it, air conditioning. And, the astronomical energy bills that come with it.

We Love Our Air Conditioning…
According to, Americans spend a whopping $22 billion on air conditioning every year, which averages out to 183 billion kilowatt-hours. The environmental impact of all this energy use is high: our addiction to A/C puts about 129 metric tons of Co2 into the atmosphere every year.

It’s safe to say that as a nation, we like things cool. And we’re not afraid to pay for it.

Air conditioning is expensive, both financially and environmentally. And if you live in the South or Southwest, it almost ranks up there with air and water in terms of survival requirements. But, are there any ways to save money on air conditioning? Is it possible to lesson your carbon footprint and actually go green with your A/C?

You bet.

So, let’s find some easy ways to go green, and save green, on our air conditioning costs this year.

Reduce Your Need For Air Conditioning
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) suggests that one big way to lower your air conditioning costs is to reduce your need for air conditioning in the first place.

Sure, you think, say that when it’s 90 degrees out with 100% humidity.

Wait, stay on board with me here. What they mean is that there are ways to prep your house so that you use less energy to keep it cool.

  • Seal doors and windows just like you would in the wintertime. Leaks allow hot air inside, which forces your air conditioner to work harder to keep things cool. So, use caulk and weatherstripping to make spaces air tight.
  • If you’re painting or re-siding your home this summer, choose a light color like white to reflect the sun away from your home. According to ACEEE, this can reduce your cooling costs by 10-15%.
  • Same goes for your roof. If you’re putting on a new roof this summer, choose a lighter shade shingle to reflect light instead of soaking it in.

Now, I have to throw in a disclaimer with these tips. If you live in Southern Louisiana or a place like Phoenix, then these tips are fine. Here in Michigan, however, it’s colder far longer than it is hot. People living in a cold climate might want to do the opposite in order to get more heat out of the sun during the winter months.

It’s important to consider your specific climate before making major changes like these.

Save Energy With Ceiling Fans
One of the best ways to save money and energy on your cooling costs is to use a ceiling fan. How?

Well, ceiling fans don’t actually lower the temperature of a room. They just make people feel cooler, usually 5 degrees cooler. So, you can save money with ceiling fans by raising your thermostat and turning on the fan.

Progress Energy estimates that for every degree you raise your thermostat above 78 degrees, you save 3% to 5% on energy costs. Thanks to ceiling fans, though, it won’t feel like 78 degrees.

Make sure you turn off your fans when you leave the room, however. Fans cool people, not spaces. So you waste energy by keeping it running in an empty room.

Save Energy By Planting Trees
Yeah, we’ve all heard this one a million times, right?

Well, there’s a good reason. It works! And, I’ll prove it to you.

My own home was built in the early 1900s. It has no air conditioning (I can hear your collective gasp from here…).

Do I want air conditioning? Not a bit. I don’t need it! My house is almost completely shaded by trees. During the summertime I throw open all the windows, and use a fan. And, I’m rarely hot. My energy bill in July and August is usually no more than $20.

According to MSN, planting trees on the west and east sides of your home can reduce your air conditioning costs by up to 20%. Fabulous.

Save Money and Energy By Going Without
Lots of people don’t have air conditioning at all. If it’s a mild day, why not just open the windows and go without your A/C? You could save big, and air out your home in the bargain.

Choose Your Air Conditioner Wisely
Consumer Reports says that Energy Star rated air conditioners use 25% less energy than those made before the year 2000. So if it’s time to upgrade, it pays to buy an Energy Star model.

Where you put your A/C unit is also important. CR says that choosing a shady spot will increase your unit’s efficiency by up to 10%.

Save Money With Your Programmable Thermostat
Raising the thermostat during the day while the house is vacant is a great way to save money. Most people do this in the wintertime, but it’s surprising how many people forget to do it in the summer.

You could also save energy by raising the thermostat at night. Once the sun goes down the atmosphere is cooler anyway. You could even shut it off and sleep with the windows open.

If you have a window unit, you can still regulate your A/C while you’re away. Simply use a plug-in timer, which you can get at any hardware store.

And, you can save a lot of money by completely turning off your A/C during the day. Many people think that this actually wastes energy, since your unit has to work harder to cool things off once you get home.

But, listen to what Mr. Electricity has to say on the subject…

It’s a myth that leaving the AC on while you’re away at work uses less energy than turning it on when you get home. Here’s why:

Heat goes to where it’s not. That’s why heat from outside goes into your cooler home. With the AC off, at some point your house will be so hot it can’t absorb any more heat. When you come home and turn the AC on, the AC removes all that heat.

But if the AC is on when you’re gone, then you’ve turned your house into a heat magnet. By keeping it artificially cool, there’s no limit to the amount of heat it can absorb. It can always absorb more heat. And your AC has to remove that heat constantly. Your AC kicks in and removes some of that heat, then the house is cooler so it sucks in more heat from outside, so your AC kicks in again and removes that heat, and so on.

This means that throughout the day, your house has absorbed way more than one houseful of heat. And your AC had to remove it all. By contrast, with the AC off all day, then it has to remove just one houseful of heat when you come home and turn it on.

If you’ve never heard of Michael Bluejay, aka Mr. Electricity, then you should go check out his site. It’s full of great tips to save energy in your home. You can follow this link to get there.

Watch Where You Put Your Lamps
MSN suggests keeping an eye on where your lamps and TVs are placed. If they’re too near your A/C’s thermostat, this can affect its efficiency.

You can also save by changing your lightbulbs to CFLs, which emit 25% less heat than a regular bulb.

Save Energy With Drapes
Close your drapes during the day to block out the sun. Especially if you work out of the house, this is an easy, cheap way to keep things cool.

Block Summer Sun With Plants
You could also consider growing plants on trellises in front of windows. Plants like jasmine, honeysuckle, and ivy can all help keep the sun out, and beautify your home at the same time.

Save Energy By Procrastinating On Chores
We can all cheer for this one! Appliances like your washer, dryer and dishwasher emit heat when they’re in use. Why not line dry your clothes, and run the dishwasher at night? You’ll keep your house cooler, and save money.

Go outside and have a glass of lemonade instead.

Last Word…
I love summer. To me, it’s not summer unless I’m hot. So, I don’t mind not having A/C at all. If you’ve never tried it, why not turn off your A/C and see how you like it? Throw open the windows, hear the birds, and get some fresh air. To me, that’s the best part of summer. You’re bringing the outdoors in, and saving money and energy at the same time.

Brought to you by one of my favorite blogs, The Greenest Dollar.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Green and Frugal Cleaning

In an effort to discover greener cleaning products, I have found that they don’t always work well on tough dirt and grime. Not to mention, many times green cleaning products often have a steep price tag compared to their caustic counterparts. So the mission is to discover green cleaning methods that are effective and inexpensive.

Here is what I have found to be effective and low-cost:

Lemons can clean --

  • Countertops -- Dip cut side of a lemon in baking soda and scrub away. (Don't use on delicate stone or stainless steel since it may discolor it.)

  • Faucet -- Combat lime scale by rubbing lemon juice on the faucet. Let it sit overnight and then wipe away.

  • Plastic food-storage containers -- Rub lemon juice on stains, let dry in a sunny place and then wash as usual
Essential oils are good for cleaning:
  • Combs & brushes -- Fill a container wiht 1.5 cups water, .5 cup distilled vinegar and 20 drops essential. Soak combs and brushes for 20 minutes. Rinse and air dry.

  • Shower doors -- Wipe scum-covered glass doors with a few drops of lemon oil twice a month to prevent grime build-up.

  • Windows -- Mix 2 oz. water with 10 drops essential oil (lavender or lemongrass works well) and wipe grime off windows. Plus, the oil may repel flies.
Liquid Castile soap is great for:
  • Floors -- Mop nearly any type of floor with .25 cup liquid Castile soap and 2 gallons warm water.

  • Sinks, showers, tubs, ceramic tile -- Combine 1tbsp. liquid Castile soap with .3 cup baking soda.

  • Stovetop and vent hood -- Add one tbsp liquid Castile soap to 2 cups hot water. Apply to the stovetop, the burners, and the vent hood to cut through accumulated grease.
Vinegar (my personal favorite) is a wonder for cleaning:
  • Coffeemaker -- Pour equal parts water and vinegar into the machine's water chamber and turn on brew cycle. Halfway through, turn the coffeemaker off and let the mixture sit for an hour. Turn it back on to finish the cycle. Then run several cycles with water only.

  • Glassware -- For spotless hand-washed glasses, add 1 cup vinegar to rinse cycle.

  • Windows -- Mix .25 cup vinegar with 2 cups water and a squirt of liquid Castile soap in a spray bottle. Spritz windows and wipe with sheets of newspaper.
I'll keep posting more cleaning tips, but I'd love to hear yours.

Friday, May 22, 2009

TGIF: Round-up of Top Blog Posts

Ah, made it through another week. What better way to start a long, holiday weekend than with a list of cool blogs. Check out these green and frugal posts:

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!! I'm going to the NJ shore, so I may be a little light on the posting.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

5 Cheap Vacation Ideas

It’s finally arrived: the long days, the warm nights, and the distant tolling of that last school bell. Yep, it’s almost summer vacation! With a recession on, however, many people are curtailing their week-long summer vacation trip to Disney for something a bit more, well, frugal.

If you’re starting to sweat for some cheap vacation ideas, then never fear. There are some really fun things to do out there that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

The start of our campfire this weekend...

The start of our campfire this weekend...

Cheap Vacation Idea #1: Camping

When it comes to frugal vacations, it’s hard to beat camping. And when it comes to fun, camping also makes the top of the list.

Think campfires. Think sleeping under the stars. Think S’Mores, and ghost tales, and day hikes to the lake.

A and I love to camp. We went out this weekend, in fact, and had a blast. How much did we spend? Well, it wasn’t a lot. And it was far less than we would have spent if we had rented a hotel.

Camping costs can run the gamut. Everything depends on where you want to stay, how much gear you already have, and how much you need to buy before you go out.

Your Campsite

Campground costs vary pretty widely. Here in Michigan, all state parks cost $27 per night. And, that’s just for tent camping. In my opinion, that’s pretty steep. Especially since that price is the same across the board: tent campers and RV campers pay the same price. But, I’ll save that rant for the letter I’m planning on writing to the DNR to complain…

The good news is that not all state parks are so high. Other states only charge $10 per night for tent campers. And if you stay in a smaller park, or on someone’s land (with permission!) then it can even be free.

If tent camping isn’t your thing, then keep in mind that most state parks rent out rustic cabins or yurts. These will be more expensive than reserving a tent site, but still cheaper than a hotel. Especially if you bring your own food and cook over a fire.

You can check out if you’d like to find a great camping spot near your home.

Camping Gear

When it comes to camping costs, your gear is the “x-factor”. This is an area that can really be expensive if you’re not careful.

Our REI Basecamp 4 tent

Our REI Basecamp 4 tent

If you already have camping gear, then you’re golden. Read on to the next section.

If you have never been camping then you might want to start looking at garage sales, and on Craigslist and Freecycle for gear. You’ll at least need the basics before you go out: tent, pack, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, cook stove. And as you can probably imagine, costs vary widely.

A and I just invested in an REI Basecamp 4 tent. We plan on doing a lot of car camping this summer to save money, and we wanted a bigger tent. We got it on sale for $250 (it’s normally $350). So, this weekend was our first test run.

The results? I was completely impressed with this tent. In fact, impressed is an understatement. The Basecamp is super easy to set up, and it’s like the Taj Mahal inside. This tent will easily fit 2 adults and 2 kids, or 3 adults and 2 dogs, or even 4 adults.

It’s important to keep this in mind: you get what you pay for with tents. You can find tents for $100 at places like Wal-Mart or Target. And, for going out a few times these tents might work great. But I worked for REI for years during college, and can tell you with certainty that these cheaper tents rarely last. My opinion is that you can easily scrimp on other gear, but it pays to spend more on your tent.

Cheap Vacation Idea #2: Visit Friends or Family

If you happen to have friends or family that live in a cool place, then why not see if you could come out for a visit? You’d get to visit them, see a new place, and have a free place to stay.

If you do go visit family for your summer vacation, then make sure you let them know how much you appreciate them opening their home to you. Help out with chores, and pitch in for food costs.

Also, make it clear that they’re not expected to be tour guides. Perhaps you and your family can go out exploring during the day (while your host family is at work and/or school) and then have dinner and relax together in the evenings.

Cheap Vacation Idea #3: Go Couchsurfing

final-logoIf you have a real sense of adventure, then you might want to check out is a non-profit organization that connects travelers with people who have “open couches”, all over the world. This allows you to travel to a completely new place, and always have a free place to stay. Members of open their home to strangers, and give them an inside look at what life is really like where they live by offering to be a tour guide.

Now, I know at first this might seem a little, well, scary. After all, how do you know the person you’re going to be staying with isn’t some psycho?

Well, the good news is that verifies all its members. And, you can’t become a member until someone from the site recommends you. Every member has a complete profile page (and picture), so you can pick and choose who you want to stay with.

One of the readers here at The Greenest Dollar was the first to tell me about Her name is Heidi, and she backpacked all over Europe, staying with people from CouchSurfing.

This seems like an amazing resource. After all, how much can you really get to know a city from a chain hotel? Staying with locals is a great way not only to meet new people and save money, but they can show you a part of their city that you might never get to see.

Now, I didn’t see anything on the site that expressly said “No Kids”, but it did seem as if most of the people using this resource were young singles or couples. If you’re a parent, then you probably want to skip this one.

You can find out more on how works by visiting this link.

Cheap Vacation Idea #4: Rent A Friend’s Vacation Home

Do you have any family, friends, or co-workers that own a vacation home or cabin? If so, why not ask if you can rent it out for a week? They’d probably give you a great deal, which would save you big compared to renting a home from an agency.

You can also save money here by cooking all your meals at the home instead of going out to dinner.

Howell's Vintage Baseball Game

Howell's Vintage Baseball Game

Cheap Vacation Idea #5: Go On A “StayCation”

I don’t know if this word is in the slang dictionary yet or not, but “Staycation” seems to be the watchword for this recession. Many people can’t afford any vacation at all. So, they’re staying home.

But, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing! After all, most of us don’t really know everything our local city and state has to offer. Being a tourist in your own town for a week can actually be incredibly relaxing, not to mention frugal.

For instance, just this weekend my hometown hosted a “History Days” weekend. A and I got to watch an 1864 baseball game; the players were in vintage uniforms, and played without gloves. It was a free event, and we had a blast!

Many towns host fun, free events like this during the summer months. Think about it: staying at home allows you to skip the plane fare (or the gas and wear and tear on your car), all those dinners out, and all the stress of traveling. You can lounge around in the backyard, cook on the grill, and play with the kids.

I actually really love staying at home for vacations. A and I go for long walks, catch up on books, soak up the sun in the backyard, and play with the dogs. And, we spend time in our local hometown. If we spend money, it’s kept local.

Staying at home is a simple, cheap, and stress-free way to relax for your week off. I’ll definitely be having a staycation this summer, and I’m sure I’m not the only one!

You Might Also Enjoy…

This fabulous post is brought to you by The Greenest Dollar. If you like Green and Frugal Living, then you'll love The Greenest Dollar.

And by all means, I'd love to hear your frugal vacation ideas.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Garden Update: Hubby is Going Green and Frugal

It was another weekend of yard work, gardening and spreading mulch. There never seems to be a shortage of chores when you have over an acre of land. The garden has quickly become a labor of love.

My husband put lots of potting soil in the garden. As an aside, he is an avid Craigslist shopper. He scored 40 pounds of bagged potting soil for $20. That's 50 cents a bag for what normally costs $2-3 per bag.

As he finished breaking open the bags, he walked over to me, where I was spreading mulch. I had been laying down newspaper to keep the weeds under the mulch at bay. We also put down a large, black plastic weed barrier. So my husband asks, "If we have a sheet of plastic down, why couldn't you use the potting soil bags that are also plastic? Isn't that green and frugal?" Yes!! Here all this time I thought he wasn't paying attention to anything I was doing. No, he totally got it!! So not only did we get a great bargain on the potting soil that we used in our garden, we also recycled the bags, keeping them out of the landfill, by using them to prevent weeds. It's a win-win-win!!

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

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

Ah, what better way to end the week than with a bunch of very cool green and frugal posts? Whew, what a week! Here are of the best blog posts that I came across this week. Kick back and enjoy...
Any great posts that I may have missed? I'd love to hear your recommendations, or maybe you're a blogger that would like to have a recent post included. Let me know.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Go Green: Recycle & Donate Bottle Caps

Since it's March of Dimes month at my children's school, there are a number of fundraisers that are taking place. One of these include a plastic bottle cap drive. This seems simple enough. I really liked this idea since it's both green and helps an important charity. I figured I'd do some research to see how I could continue to collect bottle caps. Interestingly enough, a number of scams came up during my search. What?!

Here's what I found:
So now I'm curious to know where all of those plastic bottle caps are going? Does anybody know? I'd love to hear your comments and thoughts.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ever Been "Green Washed?"

Every trend seems to bring out the scam artists, and the green movement is no different. Eco-friendly consumers try to buy organic products, use pure cleaning products and make changes in order to protect the environment. But you have to watch out for the "eco-fakes."

What is "Greenwashing?"
It's when companies promote the benefits of a product as being eco-friendly when, in fact, it's not. Many times, companies will use the color green, the term "green," or pictures of nature that elude to the fact that there is an environmentally friendly component to their product.

Protect Yourself
Be sure to carefully read your product labels. Most importantly, look for third party certification that verifies a company's claim.

Regarding organic food, look for the the USDA Organic seal. This seal verifies that only companies that have been evaluated and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and meets their guidelines.

For cleaning products and other chemicals, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a Design for the Environment indicating that the least poisonous materials were used during the manufacturing process.

Where to Get Help
A number of online activist organizations and government agencies offer more information and provide third-party verification regarding whether a product is truly green. Here they are:
  • Global Ecolabelling Network --
  • Office of the Federal Environment Executive (OFEE) --
  • U.S. Dept. of Agriculture -- (search for "National Organic Program")
  • EPA's Design for the Environment --
  • Green Seal --
  • EcoLogo Program --
So be on the lookout for greenwashing and make sure your products are truly green.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Garden Update: Let the Planting Begin!

As I mentioned in my post Get a Green Thumb and Save Money, growing your own food is a great way to save money and be eco-friendly. We had a gorgeous weekend in Northern New Jersey, the perfect weather to start planting.

In the post Let's Get This Garden Started Right, I reviewed our game plan regarding how we planned to lay out our garden, what we were going to plant and where we relocated the garden in the yard (a place that gets loads of sunlight).

We bought marigolds to keep rabbits and other rodents at bay; a variety of spices, including basil, rosemary, peppermint and spearmint (they look and smell delicious); as well as green bell peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Here's what it looks like so far. I love that the flowers look nice and keep creatures away.

My hubby is working on building a gate, spreading the potting soil and putting down some permeable weed blocker fabric. You can see the composter in the back corner. We're still working on getting our first batch. Not sure if there's a way to speed things up. Anyone have any luck with composting? This is our first season trying it.

Stay tuned for more garden updates...

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Product Review: Green Goose Reusable Bags

If you're following the "go green" trend, you know that there is a massive push to eliminate plastic shopping bags. But what about all of the other disposable, plastic bags that we use -- sandwich bags, freezer bags, etc?

That's where Green Goose Bags comes in. Not only are these bags reusable, they're downright adorable!
"I began making these bags several years ago after realizing how much unnecessary waste I was creating packing my kids lunches in plastic disposable bags. Green Goose Bags come in several different sizes and can be used for sandwiches, snacks, wet bags, storage, travel, kids crayons, diapers, you name it!"
Did you know that a single reusable bag could potentially save over 1,000 plastic bags from going into landfills, oceans and waterways (plastic bags can be very harmful to sea life.)? But now there's Green Goose Bags which offers an economical, stylish, sturdy, safe way to protect the environment. They're made with cotton canvas and lined with waterproof, stain-resistant nylon. Best of all, no PVC's!! After each use, just wipe the inside of the bag with a sponge or you can even wash them in the washing machine. Air-drying is recommended, but you can use the dryer if you're in a rush!) All Green Goose Bags are made-to-order by Melissa Wright, and she offers a 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

There are so many great uses. Just think of all the times you've used a plastic bag for a sandwich or a freezer bag. Neither one gets much wear or tear -- they're barely even dirty! Now there's an eco-friendly option!

*No PVC's
*Stylish, yet classic prints
*100% cotton exterior
*Signature "Green Goose" embroidered on each bag (how cute is that?)
*Stain-resistant, washable nylon interior
*Handmade to order with highest quality standards

So what are you waiting for? Order your Green Goose Bags today! Mother Earth will be glad you did! If you do place an order, I'd love to hear what you think.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

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

Happy Mother's Day! What better way to end the week than with a list of the best blog posts of the week? Enjoy, and let me know if I missed any good green and frugal posts.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Last Minute Mother's Day Eco-tips

Top Eco-tips for Mother's Day

1. Don't assume you know what mom wants to do or as a gift. She may prefer a picnic over brunch in a fancy restaurant.

2. When buying gifts, think locally made.

3. Avoid using wrapping paper. Substitute fabric wraps you make yourself from scarves or other fabric you have on hand, or purchase from a mom-owned company like Bobowrap. These can be used over and over again.

4. Give the gift of yourself. Whatever you can do for mom most certainly will be appreciated whether it's washing her car, cleaning her gutters, or sorting and organizing old photos. Find something you can do that costs nothing but your time. Repeat once a month for a year!

Brought to you courtesty of 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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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Website Review:

If you're looking for a way to track your expenses and stick to a budget, look no further than

I've been using the site for nearly a year and it just continues to get better. The premise is that you provide the login info for your bank accounts, mortgages, loans, credit cards, investment accounts and any other finances you'd like to track. While this may sound scary, it's extremely secure. prides itself on its safety and the security of information is essentially the basis of their entire site.

Each time you log into, it accesses your accounts to ensure you have the most accurate view of your finances. You can see where your money goes each month by tagging expenses, such as groceries, rent, cell phone, home improvements, etc. Best of all, you can customize your own expense categories. can provide you with trends -- what you spend where each month. You can also create a budget for each category, and will alert you if you go over that budget. recently upgraded its site so you can now include the estimated value of your home and vehicles, providing an even more comprehensive view of your finances.

I highly recommend if you're looking for a way to monitor your saving and spending. I almost forgot the most important part -- is free! How does it offer all of these great features for free? Based upon your spending and saving habits, will recommend credit card companies, banks and other companies that can offer you a better rate than you're currently getting. It's a win-win !

Check out today and let me know what you think.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Go Green for Mother's Day

Simple, earth-friendly, meaningful crafts for Mother's Day

Money is tight right now. But money doesn't have to stand in the way of honoring your mom (and Mother Earth). You can make a beautiful and more importantly, meaningful, gift for Mother's Day. And what mom would not be thrilled to receive an item infused with meaning made by hand from someone she loves?

Here are a few ideas. Most cost little to nothing in money or environmental terms because you're rescuing items that often are tossed or left sitting in a closet or drawer.

Picture frame jewelry holder

  1. Choose an old picture frame and remove any backing. You can decorate the frame with paint, fabric or other appropriate decoration to match mom's bedroom or bathroom decor or leave it plain.
  2. Cut a piece of window screen that overlaps the back of the frame 1/2 inch. (Remember when the dog charged through the screen and ripped it to shreds? If it's still lying around, here's the perfect use for it.)
  3. Staple or nail the window screen to the back of the frame.
  4. Screw in some cuphooks along the bottom of the frame to hold rings and/or in the top corners to hold necklaces and bracelets. Earring backs fit through the screen.
  5. If you want the holder to hang, add a picture hangar to the back. Otherwise, it can sit on a small easel or rest against the wall.

Picture ball

No doubt you've got bunches of photos lying around from B.D. (Before Digital). One picture ball uses up 20 of them. This is a fun project that takes about a half hour and while a little tricky, once you get the basic idea, they're easy to make. Craft several with different themes--you as a baby, you as a teenager, you and your siblings. Watch how one is made here or see the directions here.

Meaningful charms

Most moms have a several necklaces from which they can suspend charms. How about adding to mom's collection with a little creative crafting?

Any object in which you can punch a hole can be turned into a charm. Think about your mom's talents, work or leisure activities. For a teacher, make a pencil charm. For an artist, one from a tiny paint brush. If she's sentimental, a delicate baby spoon that belonged to you.

Artists are using this technique to create amazing and wonderful jewelry from objects that would normally be tossed. One of our favorites is Susan Lenert Kazmer.

Here's how to make the watch charm pictured here.

  1. If your mom has an old watch that sits in her drawer, ask her if you can remake it, or pick one up at a yard sale (although it will be more meaningful if you use one one she already has).
  2. Remove the face.
  3. Glue it into a bottle cap.
  4. Punch a hole in the cap near the top.
  5. Fashion a loop from a piece of wire.
  6. Add to a necklace or present on its own.

And here's a "charming" container for any small gift

cangiftRemove the label from an empty soup can. Wash it. Paint mom's favorite color. Let dry. Glue paper or ribbon all the way around the top edge. Punch a hole on each side near the top and insert a piece of wire through the two holes forming a handle. (You can string on some buttons and charms after feeding one side through as done in the example.)

Once this is done, mash down on the top of the can so that the opening is no longer round, but more oval (although you don't have to do this either if you prefer a perfectly round can).

Glue on decorative accents and /or words cut from newspapers or magazines. A quote about mom or simply the words, "I love you, Mom," will work well.

If you have a shredder, fill the can with shredded paper (from a magazine to add color if you like). Fill the can leaving just enough room to rest the gift on top.

The can later can be filled with flowers and hung outside.

Brought to you courtesty of 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, May 3, 2009

Green Up Your BBQ or Picnic

I realize it's only May, but the weather is warming up for those BBQs and picnics. Here are some ideas for greening up barbecues and picnics:
  • Substitute pitchers of ice water for bottled water. Use our fun label to dress up the pitcher.

  • If you're going to buy drinks in plastic, buy the largest size you can instead of individual bottles.

  • Make recycling easy. Have separate bins for various recyclables according to your community.

  • Choose fresh, local and organic foods when available.

  • Avoid using paper plates and cups or plastic utensils even for picnics and barbecues. Have everyone bring their own (as they used to before paper plates were born), buy up a bunch at a resale store and donate them back after the event, rent, borrow.

  • Good alternatives to traditional charcoal include: Cowboy Charcoal, Wicked Good CharcoalKanado Coconut Lump Charcoal. All burn more cleanly or

  • Grab the kids and make a solar oven. Costs almost nothing and adds a fun element to your event.
Courtesy of 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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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Green and Frugal: Weekend Round-up of Blog Posts

I hope you had a fantastic week! As we kick off May, here's the weekend round-up of some great blog posts for you to enjoy:

Let me know what you think of these posts. Love'em or hate'em -- I want to hear from you!

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Get a Green Thumb and Save Money

Growing up, my family always had a fairly large garden that produced a variety of fruits and vegetables. I’ve recently moved to a new home with a yard big enough to house my own garden. It’s been quite the learning experience to grow my own food. From groundhogs and deer, to birds and squirrels, it’s been a battle of wills to ensure we can harvest what we’ve planted. Needless to say, gardens are a good amount of work! But it’s extremely rewarding to grow (and eat) homegrown food.

This brings me to how a garden can really make you “green” and save you money. For starters, you don’t have to run out to the store to get tomatoes, strawberries or a variety of other produce. So you save transportation costs and energy – in both getting the food to the stores and then going to the store to bring the food home. In terms of being “green,” there are no pesticides when you have your own garden. You can control what you put – or don’t put – on your food. And trust me when I say you can taste the difference!

Now I realize many people may not have the time or resources for a garden. So here is an alternative, buy a share in a local farmer’s harvest. After reading an article this past spring about local food and its impact to the environment, we decided to sign up. Each week, we pick up a quantity of fruits, vegetables and herbs and the program runs from the first week in June through mid-October. We’ve been thrilled with our share! The food is so fresh and has forced us to try new foods and recipes. I highly recommend checking, where you can learn more.

I'd love to hear your gardening tips!