Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Green and Frugal -- Natural Remedies for Fall Allergies

Another fabulous post from our friends at The Greenest Dollar:

Fall Allergies? Try These Natural Remedies…


I spent all day on the couch yesterday, surrounded by a snowy, puffy pile of Kleenex and endless cups of tea. Why? Because I was big time sick with allergies.

I have them every fall (thank you, leaf mold), and they’re a nightmare. I usually take a quarter of a Clariton D, but anything stronger than that makes me feel worse than the allergies themselves. And half the time, the Clariton doesn’t work anyway.

So, I usually spend most of the fall in slightly varying stages of misery.

Yesterday, though, A had a EUREKA! moment. Why not see if we could find some natural remedies for my allergies? So, he put on his research cap and headed to Google.

And, he found some great stuff. In fact, I’m astounded that, all the years I’ve suffered through these allergies, I’ve never thought to look for a natural remedy.

Anyway, I decided that not only was I going to do more research for myself today, but that it might make a great blog post. After all, if I have allergies then I’m sure that plenty of other people do too. So, let’s dive in to see how we can get rid of the sniffling, sneezing, runny eyes, sore throats, and sinus congestion so we can get on with our life.

Important Side Note: I’m not a doctor, so please consult with a medical professional before starting any new herbs or supplements. Some of these herbs may react with medication you’re already taking, or be dangerous if you have a pre-existing condition, if you’re pregnant, or if you’re nursing.

Natural Remedies for Allergies

  • Butterbur- According to WebMD, the English herb butterbur has had some very impressive clinical trial results. According to the British Medical Journal, one tablet of butterbur, taken four times per day, is just as effective as over the counter antihistamines like Zyrtec or Allegra, but without any of the negative side effects.
  • Quercetin- Quercetin is a natural, plant derived compound that helps stabilize cells and prevent them from releasing histamine. Histamine is what your cells release to get rid of the allergens (think watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, etc.). According to Mother Earth News, most allergy sufferers will need to take quercetin supplements to build up enough in their body to help prevent attacks.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids- A German study which was published in the journal Allergy states that people who eat foods that are higher in Omega 3 fatty acids are better able to resist allergy symptoms. Omega 3 fatty acids can be found in walnuts, cold water fish, flax seed, tofu, and soybeans.
  • Spicy Food- This is a remedy I used yesterday, and I’m here to tell you it works. I fixed a big bowl of beans and rice and smothered it in Tabasco sauce. By my third bite, my sinus pressure (which had been so intense I was having difficulty swallowing) was completely gone. And, it’s not just me here. WebMD also says that spicy foods help thin mucas, which helps clear your nasal passages. And, the spicier the better.
  • Avoid Some Foods- According to New York University allergist Clifford Bassett, M.D., quoted on WebMD, what you don’t eat is just as important as what you do eat. Foods like chamomile, melon, banana, cucumber, sunflower seeds, and anything with echinacea should be avoided, as they can make allergy symptoms much worse. Fitness Magazine also suggests avoiding sugar, dairy and highly processed foods, which are known to produce extra mucas in our systems.
  • Stinging Nettle- WebMD states that stinging nettle is often used at the first sign of allergy symptoms. Stinging nettle contains carotene, vitamin K, and quercetin. But, WebMD cautions that you should buy the stinging nettle leaf, not the root, which is used to treat prostate trouble.
  • Vitamin C and E- Eating more vitamin C during allergy season will help boost your immune system, giving it strength to fight off allergens as well as the potential infections that sometimes result from too much drainage. Vitamin C and E are both anti-inflammatory, which helps your airways.
  • Drink Water- Think about it: every time you sneeze or blow your nose, that’s liquid leaving your body. It’s incredibly easy to get dehydrated when you’re sick with allergies, so make sure you’re constantly drinking water to replace what’s being lost. I must have drank two gallons of water yesterday when I was so sick, but in spite of all that I can still tell I’m dehydrated. So I’ll be drinking a lot more today as well.
  • Fresh Ginger Tea- Fresh ginger is known to be an anti-inflammatory. So, shave some off and put it into a tea ball, and soak it in hot water for at least five minutes. You’ll have a hot ginger tea that’s great for easing pressure in your sinus cavities. I used this yesterday as well, and I’m definitely making more today. This is also a great remedy for an upset stomach.

Last Word…

I’m definitely not as debilitated as I was yesterday with allergies, but I’m not out of the woods. I’m planning on picking up some butterbur supplements at my local health food store if I can find them, and eating another spicy lunch with plenty of Tabasco sauce.

Do you have any natural allergy remedies you could share with me and other readers? If so, I’d love to hear them, so please send them in!

Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 25, 2009

TGIF: Round-up of Top Blog Posts

Let's hear it for Friday!! Whew, it's been a long week. What better way to start the weekend than with some great green and frugal blog posts...
Free stuff, product reviews and great tips. It's all here! Let me know what you think.

Bookmark and Share

Green and Frugal -- Use Less Gas

Another great post by our friends at the Greenest Dollar...

I was doing research for a client last week and came across some stats from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) that made me want to cheer.

What’s the news?

Well, thanks to the recession and the growing awareness of global warming, we’re driving less this year. A lot less.

The EIA predicts that once 2009 is finished, we’ll have consumed 4% less oil than we did the year before. I know 4% doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is. 4% means we’re consuming 800,000 fewer barrels per day than we did last year.

And the EIA reports that in the first six months of 2009, our consumption dropped by a whopping 6.3%, which equals 1.25 million barrels per day less than last year.

That is a ton of oil we’re saving, just by making small changes in our routines and cutting back to save money.

And it’s not just oil we’ve cut back on. Coal consumption fell by 11% in the first half of 2009. That equals a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Yahoo!

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly…

So, that’s the good news. The bad news is that the EIA is projecting that 2010 is going to show an increase in our oil consumption by 1.4%. That’s 260,000 barrels per day. And our coal consumption? It’s projected to increase by at least 2%.

They don’t report a reason why our consumption is going to go up, but it’s pretty easy to figure out. After all, it’s human nature. The economic crisis is passing, and the world didn’t collapse. Many people are going to go back to their old ways of bumping up the heat and driving more.

Not. Good.

I know it’s hard to stay consistent about consuming less. And I’m right there in it too; I’m fortunate I don’t have to commute to go to work, but I do like to drive to other cities to do fun things. Lately, I’ve been going through quite a bit of gas, and I feel bad about it. I know that last year, I wasn’t doing near as much driving as I have been the past couple of months.

I need to be more aware of every mile I’m driving, and still work just as hard as I did last year to cut back on how much gas I’m using. I hadn’t been thinking much about it until this morning when I filled up my car. I’d only filled it up the week before, and here I was doing it again.


Gas Saving Tips

So, how can we all use less gas?

Here are some handy dandy tips I found online:

  • Drive Slow- Edmunds.com reports that slower driving uses an average of 14% less gas. So, go the speed limit. EcoDrivingUSA reports that for every 5 mph you go over 60 mph, you pay an equivalent of 20 cents extra per gallon.
  • Don’t Gun The Gas- Pressing down the gas pedal floods your engine with gas so your car can move. Elementary, dear Watson! But when you accelerate quickly then your engine needs more gas. CNN Money recommends not pressing the gas pedal down more than one inch unless you really have to. And, Edmunds reports that aggressive driving (accelerating quickly and rapid braking) uses up to 37% more gas than driving like a calm adult.
  • Call the Store- Are you driving out to Home Depot to pick up some chalkboard paint? Hitting Target for a new furnace air filter? If you’re going to a store to pick up a specific item, call ahead to make sure they have it in stock. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had to drive around looking for something when the first store I went to didn’t have it. You can save time, gas, and stress simply by using the phone first.
  • Use Cruise Control- CNN Money reports that using cruise control can save you up to 14% on your gas. Why? Because cruise control naturally helps you avoid going faster. And the faster you go, the less gas mileage you get.
  • Save Gas By Cleaning Out Your Trunk- If you’re hauling a bunch of junk around in your car, then keep in mind that you’re using extra gas to cart around the extra weight. EcoDrivingUSA estimates that for every 100 lbs. your car has to carry around extra, it uses 2% more fuel. It pays to have a clean car.

Save Up To 40% By Eco-Driving

According to the Wall Street Journal, Eco-Driving is a relatively new term for a driving technique that’s starting to gain steam.

What is it?

Well, WSJ says it’s a technique that “blends the skills of a racecar driver with the proverbial grandmother’s pace”. And, you can improve your car’s gas mileage by 20%-40%.

That’s pretty significant.

Here’s a summary of what Eco-Driving entails:

  • Maintain a steady momentum, like you would on a leisurely bike ride
  • Accelerate very gradually
  • Coast whenever possible
  • Constantly adjust the car’s speed to minimize the need to stop
  • Stay aware of traffic patterns in front of you so you don’t have to slam the brakes

Want to find out more specific information on how to start Eco-Driving? Then check out EcoDrivingUSA.com. They’ve got some great information posted on their site about how to get started.

Last Word…

What about you? Have you found yourself driving more now that things seem to be settling down with the economy, or have you stayed consistent with using less?

I’m definitely going to work harder at going out less and combining my trips, and I’m going to start practicing some of those Eco-Driving techniques. EcoDrivingUSA reports that the average person can use 20% less gas just by changing their habits, and that’s pretty huge!

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Use Coupons...Any Way Possible

My husband and I just recently finished having a stone patio installed, which happened to be completed a few days before our wedding anniversary. We thought a fitting anniversary gift would be to get a new accessory for our patio -- an outdoor fireplace. The search has begun -- Home Depot, Lowe's, you name it, we've shopped it. In our travels, we found a gorgeous faux stone fireplace at Lowe's for a pretty steep price -- $429. But if we could find a 10% coupon, that would be $40+ in savings. Not too shabby.

I told my husband to Google "Lowes coupon" to see what he could find. (That's how I usually locate a discount when I'm shopping online or before I hit a store.) He found that people were auctioning lots of coupons for Lowes as well as other stores on Ebay. Now I know Ebay has coupons (I've sold baby formula coupons for brands that I didn't use.) What I didn't realize was that you could get a lot of 5-10 Lowes 10% off coupons for $.99 with free shipping!!! Considering how much one of these coupons would save us since we're in the market for a big-ticket item, this is a great deal!

Not only is this a great way to save money, now I'm thinking that this is a great item to sell on Ebay! The beauty of auctioning paper coupons on Ebay is that your shipping is minimal and there's no risk of damaging the item during shipping.

Has anyone bought coupons online? What has your experience been? Were you able to get a considerable savings?

Bookmark and Share

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Get Ready for an EEK-O-friendly Halloween (Part 1)

Halloween should be fun, but every year it gets scarier--for parents and the planet. From the discovery of lead in fake teeth to chemicals in costumes and mercury in the high fructose corn syrup some conventional candy is made from to the garbage left in the holiday's wake, it's a wonder more of us haven't given up the festivities and spent October 31 watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

The good news is, there are loads of child- and earth-friendly alternatives to the usual Halloween fare.

The most important point when planning to green up any holiday or celebration, especially those involving children, is to get their "buy-in." And of course, your approach makes all the difference. Telling kids, "We're going green this Halloween--that means, no candy," isn't helpful. What can be is a discussion about the challenges that Halloween brings. Obviously, what you say (or don't), depends on the age of your children. But helping them to see the wider ramifications of their actions can help make transitioning to healthier choices more appealing or at least understandable.

Many kids are learning about eco-issues in school. They often want to do something about them, but need guidance on where to begin. Talking to them about the excess and waste associated with Halloween (and all holidays and celebrations) and discussing how they can make a difference, may spark their altruism and inspire them to act in positive ways.

A great way to start a discussion is to list each aspect of Halloween (costumes, treats, decor and activities), and brainstorm child- and earth-friendly choices to what you've done in the past. Then, encourage your kids to choose one or two of the ideas to implement this year. After Halloween, talk about what worked, what didn't and what you'll do next year.

In the "olden days," (the 80s?), many kids made their costumes, often with help from parents. Making the costume was actually an enjoyable, bonding activity. Today, millions of people spend millions of dollars on costumes that are made from non-sustainable materials (like petroleum), that are worn once, then discarded.

But there are earth-friendlier alternatives. If you usually buy costumes, consider:

  • Making them. Kids are incredibly gifted and creative when we encourage them. There are almost no costumes that cannot be handmade. If your children are stuck on turning a popular TV or movie character into a costume, brainstorm how you can make it happen with items you already own or can get at no cost by borrowing or making. Be sure to check online for ideas.
  • Purchasing costumes made from more eco-friendly materials or at least not from plastics. Choose cotton, organic cotton, silk or hemp, for instance. Unfortunately, these alternatives are not yet widely available, but if you're interested in them, ask local stores to consider carrying them next year. And check at the end of this post for some great online sources.
  • Trading them. Arrange a costume swap with neighbors, check online at swap sites like Green Halloween, or see if you can interest a local child-focused organization in sponsoring a swap.

When Halloween is over, don't throw costumes away. Save them, dismantle and hold on to the "parts," trade or take them to a thrift store.

Treats and treasures

Halloween may be all about the treats, but happily, there are great alternatives that kids, when given the option, will happily embrace. You can't do much about the sweets your children receive on their foray around the neighborhood (although you can have the "Halloween Fairy" replace the confections with a wonderful gift when the children are brushing their teeth...shhhh...), but when it comes to what your family hands out, planning ahead so that you are not making a last-minute dash to the grocery store, will help you avoid limiting choices to what's on the shelves at the moment.

If you have a local natural foods store, check out their offerings. Take your kids along and choose a few items to sample if you don't normally shop there. Honey sticks are a favorite and are very inexpensive (never give honey to children under age 2). Many natural food companies make small "bars" in flavors kids love like peanut butter and chocolate. Assuming you have the time to order online, check out www.GreenHalloween.org for dozens of alternatives.

One issue that often comes up when discussing organic or green choices is cost. While it is true that many healthier items cost more, there is a simple solution. Instead of handing out fistfuls (or allowing kids to take as much as they want, which has become the norm), try this: Fill a bowl with a variety of great choices, whether sweets or "treasures" like sparkly stones, feathers (yes, kids love these), hair decorations, temporary tatoos, stickers etc. Cover the bowl with a cloth. When children come to the door, get down to their level and whisper, "At our house, we have some very, very special treats and treasures. You may now choose your favorite." Then with a flourish, whip off the cloth and let them sift. Compliment them on their choice afterwards.

If you're not yet ready to totally embrace greener treats and treasures you can still help cut down on expense and waste by choosing one of these options:

  • Put out two bowls, one with conventional candy, the other with "treasures." Let kids choose one item from either bowl.
  • Hand children whatever you are giving them. Do not allow them to take as much as they want.
  • Let older children know that unwrapped candy can be composted.

Whatever you do this Halloween, taking time to plan and implement will make the holiday a lot less spooky!

Photos Copyright Holli Dunn, www.HolliDunn.com

Eco Tips for a Green Halloween

  • Plan, plan, plan. Sit down and talk about what you need to buy or make, then schedule time to do it prior to the night before Halloween.
  • Get your local school involved. For instance, see if they'd like to host a candy composting party. Children bring in leftover candy, unwrap it and place it in a compost bin. They can be rewarded with a healthy alternative treat or treasure (see above).
  • Talk to your neighbors and friends about offering healthier, more earth-friendlier alternatives.
  • Older kids might enjoy reverse trick or treating. Check it out here.
  • Plan a neighborhood Halloween party with likeminded parents. You can control all aspects of the event so it is as eco-friendly as you want.

Eco Picks for a Green Halloween

Costume ideas:

  • Organic cotton costumes for "wee ones" can be assembled by pairing themed onesies and caps. (Try Kee-Ka's pumpkin body suit with Under The Nile's veggie cap.)
  • Sarah's Silks, Nova Natural, A Toy Garden and Magic Cabin sell costumes made out of silk, rather than petroleum. While these are more expensive than others, they can be used for years for dress up and kids adore them.

Treats and Treasures

Brought to you by 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 www.CelebrateGreen.net

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Green and Frugal -- Don't Trash That Vac!

Would a modern landfill make a pretty picture? Most likely not. We are in an age where human waste has had unprecedented impact on our own environment, and "going green" is becoming the in-vogue, responsible thing to do. However, we cannot prevent all trash from being thrown away. Sometimes we mindlessly throw away a styrofoam cup and forget that such items take many years, if not centuries, to decompose back into the Earth.

Are Vacuums Recyclable?
The short answer is, "no". Simply put, vacuums are very complex appliances and take a bit of time to break apart. If you were to leave a vacuum cleaner to the elements of Earth, it'd take hundreds if not thousands of years to break down, but don't fear! Most vacuums have a plastic shell that can be indeed recyclable, but its internal motor is not. The filter material, as well, is often tossed away as something that cannot be recycled. Most filters are made from PET, or a polyester filter medium, and can be recycled. If given the right amount of care, vacuum motors can last many years and even be reused in new models.

Broken, Or Not Broken?
The old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." Is buying a new vacuum absolutely necessary, or can you simply get it repaired? Most consumers like the feel of a new item in their hands, but in most cases it is unnecessary to waste your money on items that do not do the environment good.

If your vacuum isn't broken, but you're looking to replace it with a newer or "better" model, consider donating it to charity or local thrift shop. You could also place an ad on your local newspaper. Remember, do not abandon it at the dumpster! You're bound to find someone who needs a vacuum cleaner. You may want to consider posting ads near college dorms or apartments, or even offer it for free if picked-up.

If your vacuum is broken, take a bit of time to research your nearest vacuum expert. Chances are, there is someone in town knowledgeable and handy enough to fix your vacuum for you. You can even bargain with your vacuum expert even if you don't intend to keep it. Offer to give them your vacuum cleaner's parts so that they can salvage and use it in other repairs.

If you don't have a vacuum expert in your area, consider simply surrendering it at a recycling center that could accept it. With simple research and inquiry, you can responsibly dispose of your vacuum without hurting the environment.

Keep It Working
The best way to keep your vacuum from breaking down is to simply maintain it. If you maintain your vacuum cleaner, it's most likely that your vacuum would not only operate at an optimal level but last longer than its neglected counterparts. Maintaining vacuum cleaner is your number one preventive measure to vacuum deterioration. Keeping the belts, filters, and motor in check every 6 months will allow your vacuum to run smoothly and strong.

This way, you can save yourself a trip to the vacuum expert for repairs, as well as simply donate your vacuum once you decide to replace it with another model.

Enjoy a Greener Clean
Keep our landfills free from the toxic effects of a broken vacuum cleaner, because our environment can be easily shaken out of its balance by the effects of a leaking vacuum motor! Properly dispose it at your nearest recycling center and keep toxins away from groundwater sources.

By abiding by these tips, you can help keep your environment green and clean. Vacuum cleaners were never meant to be disposed in a dumpster and would take many years to properly decompose, sometimes not even in the average human lifespan!

Judy Nguyen is a copy editor from Vacuum Home, an online site that specializes in vacuum cleaners and vacuuming systems. She is currently involved in environmental communities and hopes to make a better world with one eco-conscious thought at a time.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 18, 2009

TGIF: Round-up of Top Blog Posts

Welcome to the weekend! Happy Friday! Here are the best posts that I found throughout the week:

Did I miss any? Feel free to post your own.

Bookmark and Share

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Product Review: Tom's Toothpaste & Deodorant

Another fabulous post brought to you by our friends at The Greenest Dollar...


Longtime readers of this blog know that I love Tom’s products. They’re eco-friendly, they work, and they don’t test on animals.

And when the company sent along samples of their newest toothpaste and deodorant lines, I was overjoyed. Tom’s has come out with a new “Sensitive” toothpaste line, and a new 24-hr long lasting deodorant.

What’s the skinny on these two new products? Well, here we go!

Tom’s Maximum Strength Sensitive Toothpastetp_maxsensitive_pdp

If you have sensitive teeth (and I do), this toothpaste will make you very happy. Tom’s has done a great job taking away the little zings that go along with regular brushing.

I tested two flavors: true mint and soothing mint.

I loved them both, but the soothing mint was my favorite. The flavor was really mellow, and I used the entire tube without growing tired of it.

The toothpaste itself lived up to its name. I had zero zingers with the Sensitive line, and I was really impressed by that. I give this line a double thumbs up. It rocked.

Tom’s 24-Hr Long Lasting Deodorantdo_new-long-lasting_pdp

Now, let me start out by saying that I love Tom’s deodorant. I’ve went through several brands before Tom’s, and can honestly say that none of them kept me from being stinky like Tom’s did. A uses Tom’s too (his favorite is the Apricot flavor) and he loves it just as much as I do.

That being said, I was a little disappointed in the 24-Hr line. Did it work? Yes. It worked just as well as the regular Tom’s Lavender deodorant I was using.

But, I didn’t notice any difference between the two. The Lavender stick I used is, I’d imagine, good for 12 hrs. The 24-Hr line didn’t last a full day, at least on me. It worked as long as the Lavender stick does.

If you’re truly looking for 24-Hr non-stinkiness, you might be disappointed here. But if you’re looking for another new scent to try, you’ll be just as happy with this new line as you would be with their regular deodorants. I don’t really need 24-Hr protection (it’s not like writers work up a big sweat), so the fact it didn’t last until midnight was no big deal. But that’s just me. Again, if you need heavy protection, this probably won’t work for you.

I tested two scents: the mountain spring and beautiful earth.

Both smelled really, really great. They were fresh, and slightly floral (but definitely not overwhelmingly so). I think the mountain spring was my favorite.

Last Word…

Although the 24-Hr stick didn’t quite live up to its 24-Hr claim, I still liked it. It worked; it just didn’t work all day.

And the toothpaste was a big hit.

Tom’s definitely still has my loyalty. I’ve always been happy with their products, and their commitment to the environment and to volunteerism has always gotten my respect. Was I happy with these two? You bet.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Green and Frugal -- Using Eco-Friendly Products

One key component of green living is using eco-friendly products. Today almost anything you want or need, can be found in a "green" version. Green or eco-friendly simply means the product is made in an environmentally friendly way. It could mean it's made of sustainable materials, such as bamboo flooring, or it keeps an existing material from being dumped into the landfill and gives it a new use, such as recycled glass countertops.

Eco-friendly products aren't just for major home remodeling. You can get eco-friendly bamboo laptops, belts made from recycled bicycle inner tubes and there are even shoes made from recycled quilts.

Whenever you're in the market to buy a product, you should look at how it's made. Ask yourself: "Is it manufactured in an environmentally friendly manner?" There are a couple of levels of eco-friendly products. One being the product itself is made from renewable or sustainable materials. The other is the method of manufacture and its effects on the environment. The best of both worlds is a product made from renewable materials and manufactured in an earth friendly manner.

You can take the concept of using eco-friendly products to any level. One example is; your grocery shopping can be made more eco-friendly by buying locally grown, organic produce and using recyclable bags you bring with you.

When renovating your home there are lots of great options. Everyone's heard of bamboo flooring, which is both beautiful and made from a renewable resource, but there are other types of flooring you can use as well. Cork flooring is also renewable and can be very beautiful. It's also warm and soft to the touch. Marmoleum is a type of flooring that's actually been around for some time which uses earth friendly manufacturing methods and has a great industrial or retro feel that fits nicely with today's styles.

Even your clothing can be eco-friendly. Choose items made from organic cotton, hemp and even bamboo. Big name manufacturers are now getting on the green bandwagon. Levi Strauss uses recycled zippers and buttons as well as organic cotton. Today's eco-friendly clothing can also be trendy, so while shopping pay attention to labels and try to help the environment while you're selecting your new wardrobe.

Things like cosmetics and cleaning products are also available in an eco-friendly version. Choose items made from organic materials which don't use toxic chemicals. Using these eco-friendly products will help the environment as well as your health, so it's worth while to seek them out.

Some of the best eco-friendly products also help conserve resources like water and electricity. Water conserving shower heads and faucets are a great choice as well as compact fluorescent bulbs, which lower electric consumption and help reduce the worldwide energy strain.

There's a large demand for eco-friendly products today and more and more choices are available everyday. Read product labels carefully to be sure products you consider buying really are eco-friendly and you'll know you're doing your part to keep the planet healthy.

Resources Box: The Green Living System gives you a more detailed report to help you begin living a green lifestyle. Visit Green Living System today to begin doing your part to save the earth.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 11, 2009

TGIF: Round-up of the Week's Top Blog Posts

While it was a short week with the Labor Day holiday, there was no shortage of great green and frugal blog posts. Here are some of my top picks for the week:

I'm sure I missed many more. Let me know!

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Some Interesting Green and Frugal Statistics

Hopefully you had a relaxing holiday weekend. I was able to catch up on my reading over the past few days. I happened upon the latest Reader's Digest, which featured an article on where our garbage goes. I think you'll find these statistics interesting and shocking. It demonstrates how we can each take small steps to make a big difference when it comes to saving our environment.
  • The average American tosses 4.6 lbs. of garbage every day.

  • Where does the trash go? 54% to the landfill, 33.4% gets recycled and 12.6% gets incinerated

  • 80% of our trash is recyclable but we only recycle 33%

  • The U.S. ranks third for tossing out the most garbage (Ireland takes first place and Norway was second)

  • Per acre, it costs $304,479 to build a landfill

  • The United Nations estimates that every square kilometer of ocean has 13,000 pieces of plastic floating in it
Have any other interesting statistics that you'd like to share?

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Frugal Tip Tuesday -- Wash & Dry

The laundry is one place to easily save money and energy. When you wash your clothes, use cold water. The agitation and soap are enough to remove tough stains and dirt. Obviously, heavily soiled clothes may need hot water.

Hang dry your clothes instead of using the dryer. Not only do you save energy, but you can also extend the life of your clothes since dryers tend to fade, shrink and wear out clothes more quickly.

Bookmark and Share

Saturday, September 5, 2009

How to Clean & Be Green

I hope you enjoy this great guest post on Green Cleaning from our friends at Vacuum Home:

Take a peek at what's inside your own very cabinet. Chances are, many of your baking ingredients can serve as natural ways to clean your own very home! Not only would these ingredients serve two purposes, but also to help preserve the Earth and keep it at a much better state. Natural cleansers do not promote a chemical imbalance and can be easy on your hands and skin. Feel free to toss those rubber gloves away and green your clean!

Bad Toxic Cleaning
Landfills can easily contaminate groundwater, leaving populations with unsanitary, unsuitable water sources. Usually, man-made substances such as chemical cleansers are not properly disposed and seep into the Earth. Remember to properly dispose of your chemicals. Many recycling centers accept chemicals in bottles and will dispose of them for you, and even other centers will accept and sell your half-used bottles for a fraction of the price!

Household Ingredients for Cleaning
  • Baking powder
    The most popular ingredient for neutralizing odors also works as a cleanser for counter tops, sinks, bathtubs, ovens, and fiberglass. You can also sprinkle it over carpet as a carpet deodorizer.

  • Cornstarch
    Not only great with stews and baking, but also for cleaning! Corn starch can be mixed with water to clean windows, polish furniture, and shampoo carpets and rugs.
    Essential oils - These natural derivatives can be bought and used throughout your home in various situations as a natural fragrance. Lavender oil has calming properties and rosewater is both natural and sweet to the nose. Mix some in a cleanser and keep your home looking fresh and and smelling fresh, too!

  • Lemon juice
    This citrus favorite not only flavors baking goods and meats, but also works well as a silver polish. It also eats away at gummy build-up in your bathtub.

  • Liquid soap
    Biodegradable and versatile, you can never go wrong with good ol' soap. However, avoid soaps with petroleum distillates since petroleum is essentially a fossil fuel and not renewable.

  • Washing soda
    With no harmful fumes, you can use washing soda to wash out your walls, stovetops, and flat surfaces. But it's not intended for use on fiberglass or aluminum.

  • White vinegar
    Not just for your food, but also for cleaning! You can apply this on wood surfaces to remove dirt as well as neutralize grease on your stovetop.

Which Products?
If you do not have the exact supplies or the time to make your own home cleaning solutions, consider buying toxic-free, natural cleaning products. These products are usually derived from natural ingredients and do not have any chemicals that can harm or poison you if ingested. Remember to check the labels for any suspicious ingredients. Look for "phosphate-free", "chlorine-free", as well as certifications from Cradle to Cradle, Green Seal, or the EPA's Design for the Environment Program.

Tools of the Trade
When looking for the right tools to green your clean, remember two words: sustainable and biodegradable. These two words will ensure that your product will properly break down and return to the Earth when thrown away. Sustainable products can be replaced several times within a lifetime and biodegradable products will naturally decompose under the right conditions. There are many products like bamboo brushes and sponge loofahs that can act equally well than name brand, synthetic brushes.

If you are looking for a green cleaning appliance, consider investing in a steam vacuum or steam mop. Although some appliances require a specially formulated chemical solution, most steam vacuums only require good ol' water to do the trick. Steam both disinfects and cleans out areas that some chemicals simply cannot. You can also create your own solution to give a nice personal kick to your cleaning, just make sure that the manufacturer agrees! For example, instead of using pure water in your hand steamer, consider mixing a few drops of rosewater to give it a fresh rose scent.

Several reputable brands of steam vacuums include Hoover, Bissell, Reliable, Shark, and many others. Bissell vacuum cleaners, in particular, offer affordable yet efficient vacuum cleaners to help you with your cleaning green project.

No Fragrances
Although natural fragrances are great, beware of the ingredient label if "fragrance" is listed. Unfortunately, according to national standards like the FDA, the ingredient "fragrance" is highly ambiguous. You may have a soap with the ingredient "fragrance", but at most it is like adding "mystery meat" to your lunch menu. The fragrance industry is not regulated or required to list their ingredients, mainly to protect their products from knock-offs.

However, there is imminent danger through all this. With "fragrances", you may be wearing musk and further endangering an animal species, or endangering a plant species like sandalwood. You could also be wearing and using synthetic, chemical fragrances that may otherwise cause adverse reactions to the body.

To avoid this dilemma, try to actively purchase products that do not have the "perfume" or "fragrance" ingredient. This ensures that whatever is listed on the label is pure and simple, without any complications or mystery.

But what if your home is really smelly? There are several solutions you can consider. Baking powder is great on carpets and wiping vinegar on cutting boards and utensils usually neutralizes smells away. Try simmering a few spices like nutmeg and cinnamon in water to air out any unpleasant odors, or grind a lemon rind into your garbage.

Potpourri is also an excellent, crafty way to infuse your own personal scent and have it last for several weeks. However, be aware that most packaged potpourris are typically scented with fragrances and other chemicals. If collecting and drying up flowers doesn't interest you, you can create your own diffusers using essential oils and reeds.

You can add to the seasonal festivities with making or buying your own cinnamon or pumpkin-spice broom, which makes an excellent decorative piece for the chilly fall and winter months. During the springtime and summer, you can always arrange a bouquet of fragrant flowers like irises, violets, sweet peas, roses, lilacs, peonies, and lavender to name a few.

Laundry Fresh
Although your clothes may smell fresh, the fact that many laundry detergents list "fragrance" in their ingredients may be cause for concern. These chemicals may irritate your skin or cause adverse reactions, so remember to purchase a detergent with natural, sustainable, and biodegradable ingredients. Try to run your washer on cold to save energy.

You could also omit using dryer sheets by misting a damp washcloth with a bit of liquid fabric softener. This way, you are using less resources and keeping your landfills free from chemical dryer sheets.

But by hand-washing delicate items and hang-drying it in the sun, you will save a lot of energy. Practicing these old-fashioned methods also promotes a healthier lifestyle. The sun's rays kills bacteria and other micro-organisms that would otherwise survive within the intense heat of a dryer. Take the weekend morning to hand-wash and hang out your clothes and save a few bucks while doing it!

Judy Nguyen is a copy editor from Vacuum Home, an online site that specializes in vacuum cleaners and vacuuming systems. She is currently involved in environmental communities and hopes to make a better world with one eco-conscious thought at a time.

Bookmark and Share

Friday, September 4, 2009

TGIF: Best Blog Posts of the Week

The kids are back in school and it's September. I guess summer is officially over. Here's to a nice, long holiday weekend. I hope you have a fabulous weekend doing what you love.

With that, here's this week's best blog posts:

Let me know what you think and if I missed any that should've been included.

Bookmark and Share

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Reader’s Digest Frugal Household Hints

Another great post from our friends at The Greenest Dollar. Enjoy!

Don’t you love finding treasures? Well, just this Monday I found a really great one.

Here’s how it happened: my local library had their biggest book sale of the year this weekend. $1 per book. But if you come on Monday after the sale, you can buy a bag for $1 and fill it up.

I look forward to that sale every single year. And, I always hold out for Monday, even though they’re pretty picked over by then.

Well, I went in with my bag and you know the first book I scored? Reader's Digest Household Hints and Handy Tips.

I’d never even heard of it, but on a quick thumb through it looked promising, so in it went.

Well I’ve been looking at it all week and man, this thing is a treasure. It’s full of thrifty, money-saving tips on everything from storing food to getting organized.

Want to know some of the tips in this little tome? Here are some of my favorites:


  • Storing cottage cheese upside down in its container makes it last longer.
  • If your power goes out, then you’ll probably worry about losing the food in your freezer. Half-full freezers will keep food cold enough for 24 hours. Full freezers for 48. Many power companies will offer free dry ice to their customers to keep refrigerators and freezers cold.
  • Putting a piece of plastic wrap on top of ice cream (under the lid) will prevent ice crystals from forming.
  • Whole grain flours should be stored in the refrigerator to make them last longer.
  • If you have extra egg whites, freeze them into cubes using your ice tray, then pop them in a ziploc bag. You can use them later on for baking. They’ll freeze better if you add a bit of sugar or salt to prevent coagulation.
  • If you’re baking a cake and the toothpick (to test for doneness) is too short, use a piece of uncooked spaghetti instead.
  • Overripe bananas don’t have to be thrown away. Mash them up and add some lemon juice (to prevent browning) and pop them in the freezer. They’ll work great for baking.


  • Old, defunct umbrellas make great drying racks. Just take the fabric off and hang them upside down in the laundry room.
  • Empty coffee cans make great hat stands.
  • If you’re going on vacation, you can keep your plants healthy and moist for up to a month simply by watering them well, and then tying them up in a clear plastic garbage bag. This makes a greenhouse and will keep the moisture in.

And That’s Just the Tip of the Iceberg…

This book is also full of frugal “how-to” projects like making a storage shelving unit for under the stairs, replacing a plug on a power cord, how to patch a crack in your basement wall…you name it. There is some great information in this handy dandy book!

The book covers areas like Getting Organized, Home Life (cleaning, maintenance, ect.), Family Life, Food and Nutrition, and Decorating.

I love this little book, and I’m sure most libraries will have a copy. You can also buy Reader's Digest Household Hints and Handy Tips
through Amazon as well.

Bookmark and Share