Archive for the ‘Everyday Tips’ Category

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!  

For more green cleaning tips, click here.

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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Break The Plastic Wrap Habit!

Plastic wrap is convenient, inexpensive and deeply ingrained as the way to cover and store food. According to, “we use enough plastic wrap every year to shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.”  Yikes! Plastic wrap is also non-biodegradable, rarely recycled, a derivative of petroleum, and can leach chemicals into the food especially when heated. With a little knowledge and some imagination, you can cover and store your food far more safely and just as conveniently without plastic. Here are some ideas:

  • Glass storage containers like Pyrex, which are stackable, sturdy and microwave safe are a good solution. You can buy them new at any kitchen or home goods store, or take a trip down memory lane and look for the colored pyrex dishes from the 1950’s found at flea markets or consignment shops.  
  • Reusable silicone lids that fit most bowls are another good solution.  They are 100% airtight and are dishwasher and microwave safe.  They come in a variety of sizes and are even sold in the shape of lily pads. You can find them at most kitchen shops.  
  • Bee’s Wrap is a clever new product made from organic cotton muslin infused with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin. The anti-bacterial properties of beeswax and jojoba oil keep the food fresh and allow the wraps to be used over and over. Bee’s Wrap comes in 5 sizes and can be found at most specialty kitchen stores or on line.  
  • If you need to cover food after preparing but before serving, why not simply place a dishcloth over it? No need to waste plastic wrap.
  • When transporting a salad or a dish to a friend’s house, cover the bowl with a lovely dinner plate. It makes a much more impressive presentation than plastic wrap!

The challenge is breaking the plastic wrap habit! It’s easy if you remember that food and plastic don’t go together. I’d love to know your ideas for alternatives to plastic wrap. Email me!

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 Some information compiled from,

Unusual Ways to Use Cucumbers

I harvested my first cucumber yesterday and several more are on the way! If you have an overabundance in your garden, be glad. Below are some clever, “green” uses for them.

My cucumber plant

  • Cucumbers are loaded with vitamins and minerals and make a great energy-boosting snack. They contain most of the vitamins you need every day – Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
  • Rubbing a cucumber slice on a fogged up mirror will eliminate the fog and provide aromatherapy at the same time.
  • Cucumber slices in an aluminum pie tin will repel grubs and slugs from your garden.  The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off an undetectable scent to humans but not to garden pests.
  • Cucumber is especially beneficial for the skin.  Rub a slice of cucumber on your cellulite and wrinkles to tighten the skin. Cucumber also reduces eye puffiness.Image by Betsy Wild
  • Eating a few cucumber slices after over imbibing and before going to bed helps to eliminate a hangover.  The sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes in the cucumber replenish essential nutrients.
  • Shine your shoes with cucumber – the chemicals provide a quick shine that also repels water.
  • A cucumber slice pressed on the roof of your mouth for 30 seconds kills bad breath germs. The phytochemicals kill the bacteria.
  • Next time you are out of WD 40, take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problem hinge and the squeak will be gone!
  • No time for a stress-reducing massage or facial?  Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water.  The chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown to reduce stress.
  • A slice of cucumber is a great, non-toxic way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel. Simply rub it on the surface and it will safely remove tarnish and bring back the shine!

Have fun trying some of these versatile tips with your extra cucumbers.  Email me and let me know which ones you especially like!

Information compiled from:

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Have You Heard of the Precautionary Principle?

Are you familiar with the Precautionary Principle? Many people aren’t, but it’s an important principle to know. “Be careful”, “Better safe than sorry”, “Look before you leap”, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, “First Do No Harm” are adages that sum up the meaning of the Precautionary Principle.  The official definition is “… the introduction of a new product or process whose ultimate effects are disputed or unknown should be resisted. “ Regarding the Precautionary Principle, Wikipedia states, “When the health of humans and the environment is at stake, it may not be necessary to wait for scientific certainty to take protective action.”

Smoking is a good example of the Precautionary Principle at work. It was strongly suspected that smoking caused lung cancer and emphysema, and as a result many people quit smoking before it was actually proven scientifically.

The Precautionary Principle is widely practiced in the European Union and in fact is a statutory requirement in some areas of law.   The European Union is forming a comprehensive policy, which would require all chemicals to be tested for their effects on health and the environment and puts the burden on chemical manufacturers to demonstrate their products are safe.  There are of course situations where precaution is applied here as well. The Food and Drug Administration requires testing of all drugs before they reach the market for example.   But there are also plenty of situations where precaution is not applied, as with many of the ingredients in personal care products or lawn chemicals.

Naturally there is opposition. Some see the Precautionary Principle as a barrier to technological development and economic growth. But as cancer, obesity, autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, asthma, infertility, diabetes, allergies and other diseases, which might be attributed to chemicals in food and in the environment, become so prevalent in our society, we have no choice but to adopt the Precautionary Principle. Perhaps it’s time to follow the European Union’s lead.

For more information, visit the Science and Environmental Health


Information compiled from:,, and

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