Archive for the ‘Everyday Tips’ Category

Eco-Entrepreneurs – A New Concept in Car Rentals

There are lots of young eco-entrepreneurs who are starting all sorts of creative services, companies, and apps designed to help build the new sharing economy and benefit the environment at the same time.  One of these companies is Turo (Formerly RelayRides), the nation’s largest peer-to-peer car rental marketplace, a new concept in car rental.  Basically, car sharing is a way to efficiently connect people who need a car with owners whose vehicle would otherwise go unused, backing each reservation with a $1M insurance policy.   Did you know that the average car sits unused for twenty-three hours a day, which raises the question: how many rental cars actually need to be on the road?   The infographic below highlights interesting facts behind the environmental impacts of car sharing.

According to Turo, “car owners can turn their idle cars into cash-generating rental car businesses and make extra money to offset their car expenses. On the other side, renters get to rent unique cars (Porsche, anybody?) that would otherwise sit idle and go unused. That means we’re not only maximizing the utilization of expensive resources, but also saving money on all the costs associated with owning a car.”

Eco-entrepreneurs are thinking outside the box.  Are you?

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Zen Decluttering!!!

A good friend gave me the most wonderful book recently called The life-changing magic of tidying up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.  This easy-to-read book by Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning consultant, takes a whole new approach to decluttering the author calls the KonMari Method. Basically, it guides you in determining those items in your home that “spark joy” and discarding those that don’t, leading to a house without clutter and with lasting results.  She recommends a specific order to follow when decluttering, which enables you to make those hard discarding decisions, and the proper way to fold to solve your storage problems.  By surrounding yourself with only things that spark joy, you will naturally be happier, Marie says.

I like things orderly, but I am by no means a neat freak, and I have to be really motivated to clean out drawers and closets. After reading Marie’s book however, I could hardly wait to get started.  I’ve finished my clothes and am now ready to do books and papers. Even my husband is reorganizing his things!  Marie maintains, “a dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective….. and is life transforming.”   I’m beginning to understand why. Don’t wait for spring cleaning to start to declutter – do it now!  With this new approach, it’s actually fun.

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Autumn and the Harvest

Cranberry Harvest – Image by Tony Libby

Autumn’s crisp blue sky and the brilliant reds, yellows and oranges of the trees make it a special time of year.  Fall is also harvest time when the growing season ends and mature crops are gathered.  The cranberry harvests on Cape Cod are a sight to behold. CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and Farmer’s Markets are winding down and farmers put their fields to bed and get some much-needed rest from the busy season.



This year, think about eating locally as much as possible throughout the fall and winter.  Stock up on fresh fruitsand vegetables at the Farmer’s Markets, mostly root vegetables, apples and cranberries in New England,  and store them in your basement or cold storage area.

Canning and freezing are great ways to extend the life of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you have a garden, you probably already know how to make and can fresh tomato sauce, applesauce, jellies and jams with the abundance of summer fruits. Herbs freeze well too, so gather some before the first frost. “Fresh” herbs are a welcome surprise to winter dishes.

Eating locally all yearlong is getting easier with winter CSAs and winter Farmer’s Markets.  Many communities now offer them.

Eating organic food grown locally is important for many reasons – its fresher, more nutritious, supports local farmers and requires less oil because it is not transported far and grown organically.  As Barbara Kingsolver says in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, (a wonderful book about her family’s experience eating only seasonal and local food for one year – I highly recommend it.),  “If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. …  Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast.”

Celebrate autumn and the harvest this year and enjoy great food all year-long.


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Join the Blue Zones!

Have you ever wondered why some people live well into their 90’s and even 100’s with their mind and body relatively intact? Well, Dan Buettner of the National Geographic did too and in 2004, he identified five areas of the world, which he calls Blue Zones, where people reached age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States.

  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica

Dan and his team of scientists studied the lifestyle that explained their longevity and well-being and found 9 shared characteristics. According to the Blue Zone project, the 9 Blue Zone lessons, or Power 9®, are:

  1.  “Move Naturally – The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron or run marathons. Instead, their environments    nudge them into moving without thinking about it.
  2.  Purpose– Why do you wake up in the morning? Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life         expectancy.
  3. Down Shift– Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. The world’s longest-lived people have routines to shed that stress.
  4. 80% Rule“Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawans say this mantra before meals as a reminder to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.
  5. Plant Slant– The cornerstone of most centenarian diets? Beans. They typically eat meat—mostly pork—only five times per month.
  6. Wine @ 5– Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers, especially if they share those drinks with friends. Moderate drinking is one per day for women and two per day for men.
  7. Belong– Attending faith-based services four times per month – no matter the denomination – adds up to 14 years of life expectancy.
  8. Loved Ones First – Centenarians put their families first. They keep aging parents and grandparents nearby, commit to a life partner and invest in their children.
  9. Right Tribe– The world’s longest lived people chose or were born into social circles that support healthy behaviors.”

Simply put, they eat primarily a plant-based diet, get regular gentle exercise including walking, fishing, gardening, have the support of a close group of friends and/or family, and have a strong sense of faith and purpose in their lives.

I recently attended a Blue Zone cooking class.  Beans are the basis of each of the Blue Zones, so for dinner I made the typical Costa Rican diet most consumed by centenarians – black beans, brown basamati rice, squash and avocado, which I doctored up with spices, shallots and Ponzu sauce (recipe below). This easy, healthy and delicious meal offers all that you need – complete protein, high fiber, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Even my meat-eating husband enjoyed it!

Ponzu Sauce – 1/3 cup organic tamari, 1/3 cup lemon and 1/3 cup mirin (rice cooking wine) with a dollop of honey. Use to liven up anything!

Visit the Blue Zone website for more information and take the vitality quiz to calculate your healthy life expectancy!

The Blue Zone project has the right recipe for a long and healthy life!


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A Non-Toxic Approach to Shower Mold

I noticed some mold spots growing on my brand new pebble shower floor and of course didn’t want to clean it up with a harsh, toxic commercial moldicide. Even the word is scary! So I consulted The Naturally Clean Home – 150 Super-easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning book and tried the following recipe. The mold wiped right off!

Here it is:

Mold Deterrent

1 1/4 cups white vinegar

3/4 cup water

4 drops cinnamon essential oil

6 drops patchouli essential oil

2 teaspoons tea tree essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a plastic bottle.  Spray surface well.  If you have mold buildup, allow the spray to rest on the surface for a few hours.  Wipe off with a soft cloth, then respray and let dry without rinsing.  You can use this recipe as the name suggests as a mold deterrent and spray surfaces without rinsing.

I used peppermint essential oil in place of the cinnamon and patchouli since I didn’t have the others.

A Little Information About Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil comes from the Australian paperbark tree and is an all-around remedy long valued for its anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.

Some Common Uses:

Around the house tea tree oil can be used as a toothbrush cleaner, mold treatment, natural pest control (the strong smell naturally repels ants and other insects), and laundry freshener.  For body care, tea tree oil helps control acne, fights fungal and bacterial infections, treats athlete’s foot, dandruff, lice, and gingivitis.  In aromatherapy, tea tree oil can be helpful in alleviating chest and head congestion, stuffy nose, and other symptoms of colds and flu, especially when used in steam inhalation.

unnamed-3A bottle of this little household wonder can be found at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or other natural food stores.


White vinegar (and apple cider vinegar) besides its obvious uses in cooking, is a completely safe all around cleaner, disinfectant, weed killer, pet cleaner, odor neutralizer, clothes whitener, glass cleaner and many more.  No pantry should be without a huge container of vinegar!  

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Some information compiled from:

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Mass Save at the Plymouth Waterfront Festival

If you are in the Boston/Cape Cod area, check out the Plymouth Waterfront Festival on Saturday, August 29th from 10:30am-7pm.  It’s sure to be a good time for the entire family.

While you are there, stop by the Mass Save booth and take advantage of their great offer on energy efficient products.   There will be fun for the kids too with multiple flavors of Stonyfield Farm squeezable yogurt tubes to sample and seeds to plant in recycled Stonyfield Farm yogurt containers.

While the kids are learning about growing and recycling, mom and dad can visit their trivia wheel for a chance to win fun Mass Save products. MassSave will be offering  Energy Efficient home kits, consisting of 3 LED’s, an advanced power strip and evolve shower adapter, for $10. This promotional price is only available for those who visit our booth during the festival.

It’s never too early to get your kids involved in energy saving awareness!  For more information about other vendors, parking and the events planned please visit:

A Greener Way to Start School

Summer’s end is fast approaching and school is about to start.  As you and your kids get ready, think greener this year. Here’s how.

For young kids:

I loved my trips to Staples with my kids to get new pencils and pens, fresh, clean notebooks, binders and folders for the first day of school, but buying everything new can be wasteful and expensive.  Instead….

  • Reuse last year’s unfinished notebooks. Just tear out (and recycle) the used papers and they are as good as new.   For new, buy notebooks with recycled paper or paper made from natural fibers like banana or coffee.
  • If last year’s binders aren’t in good shape, buy those made from postconsumer waste and water-based glue.  Fill them with recycled binder paper.
  • Reuse last year’s pencils and pens; if you need more, opt for pencils made from reforested wood or recycled newspapers. For young elementary age kids, get nontoxic, phthalate-free crayons.
  • Pack a healthy lunch in a reusable lunch bag;  buy bulk size wholesome snacks and put them in reusable containers rather than snack-size, throwaway plastic baggies. A piece of fruit is the most beneficial snack option.
  • Walk, carpool or take a bus to school to cut down on carbon emissions.
  • For after school sports, don’t forget your BPA-free, reusable water bottle.

For older students:

Follow the above tips and…..

  • Be ahead of the curve; try a solar-powered bamboo calculator.
  • Fun, eco-chic backpacks made from 100% recycled cotton canvas or other recycled materials and messenger bags made from recycled rice sacks with printed graphics are the new look.  They are a lot more environmentally friendly than the traditional polyester or nylon ones.

For college students:

Moving in and out of dorms creates a lot of waste.  The amount of cardboard and plastic packaging for the new bedding, bath and personal care products, school supplies, etc. is overwhelming and recycling bins are often not available.

  • Instead of always buying new, reuse some things from home and try not to bring so much stuff.  Dorm rooms are small and you can get away with less.  When you do buy new things, buy them at school and avoid shipping.  Target stores are everywhere and even sell organic towels and sheets! For futons and other furniture, graduating students often donate their old furniture or look on-line at or
  • Use low energy certified microfridges, computers and tv’s.
  • Share appliances with friends – not everyone needs every appliance.
  • Use power strips instead of extension cords to save energy and keep air conditioning to a minimum.
  • Install CFL or LED light bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave the room.  Make sure to unplug your phone charger when not in use to eliminate vampire energy.
  • Skip disposable water bottles and get a reusable BPA-free water bottle instead.
  • For the late night munchies, eat organic fruits and snacks and compost the waste.
  • Choose green cleaning supplies like Seventh Generation for washing your dishes or cleaning your dorm room.
  • Decorate your dorm room with air purifying houseplants like spider plants that are easy to grow. 
  • Get involved with on campus environmental groups, or start your own.  Several colleges now have local raised bed gardens – volunteer to work in them.  Working with the soil is a great stress reducer and you’ll learn a lot.
  • Solo cups are “the” party cups, but they take hundreds of years to decompose and some recycling centers don’t take them.  Solo has a new product line of products that are made using recycled, recyclable or compostable materials called Bare® by Solo.  Set an example and go for those!  
  • Always use recycled paper and don’t forget to recycle used paper, bottles and those ubiquitous beer cans!

You are never too young or too old to start making a difference by living greener!

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