Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

A Greener Thanksgiving

As we give thanks for family, friends and delicious and abundant food this Thanksgiving, take a moment to appreciate this beautiful earth we live on too.  Why not make your Thanksgiving a “green” one and try the ideas below.

Image by Ilrena Flickr.com
  • For your holiday dinner, support local farmers and organic produce. The average food travels 1500 miles from farm to plate, consuming large quantities of fossil fuels and generating major CO2 emissions. Local food by contrast is usually transported 100 – 200 miles, has fewer pesticides and can be picked when ripe.  It is obviously fresher and better.  Farm stands and supermarkets have an abundance of local winter squash, carrots, potatoes, greens, herbs, apples, and pumpkin. Don’t forget to bring your reusable shopping bags.
  • Try a locally grown, free range organic turkey available at local farms and Whole Foods.  Fresh turkeys are not treated with antibiotics and growth hormones and are moist and delicious.  You won’t believe the difference.  For the vegetarians at your table, try a Tofurkey (available from Trader Joe’s).  It come with its own vegetarian gravy and is really good!  If you can find them, use organic cranberries for your cranberry sauce –  cranberries (and other thin-skinned fruits) are grown with a lot of pesticides.
  • Consider serving organic wine along with your meal. Organic wine is made from certified organically grown grapes, meaning grown without pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers. Conventionally grown grapes are another heavily sprayed crop, and the chemical residues can end up in the wine.  Organically grown grapes are better for the soil, the plant and the wine drinker.
  • China, silver and cloth napkins are obviously better for the environment than throwaway paper plates and plastic utensils.  They look better too!  If you are expecting a big crowd and need to opt for disposable, get the biodegradable and compostable plates and utensils.
  • We eat way too many sweets from Halloween through Christmas.  Try using less sugar in your pies and cakes or substituting with honey or maple syrup.
  • Thanksgiving dinner generates a lot of leftovers and food waste.   According to earth911.com, “at least 28 billion pounds of edible food is wasted each year – more than 100 pounds per person.” Careful planning and portion control is a good way to avoid waste. With what leftovers you do have, donate them to a local food pantry or homeless shelter.                                         Use Less Stuff created the handy guide below of approximate food portions per person for Thanksgiving dinner:
    • Turkey- 1 pound
    • Stuffing- ¼ pound
    • Sweet potato casserole- ¼ pound
    • Green beans- ¼ pound
    • Cranberry relish- 3 tablespoons
    • Pumpkin pie- 1/8 of a 9 inch pie
  • After the big feast, don’t forget to recycle cans, cartons, plastics and bottles and compost kitchen scraps.

With your healthy and “green” holiday feast, you won’t feel so badly about overindulging!  Happy Thanksgiving!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Don’t Let Mosquitos Bother You This 4th of July!

Fourth of July is around the corner – fireworks, barbeques, games, swimming, camping and all those other wonderful outside summertime activities, and mosquitos. For those of us who are mosquito magnets and looking for a safer alternative to DEET, there are personal insect repellents containing botanicals like citronella, basil, lavender, geranium, lemongrass, peppermint, rosemary, cedarwood, and tea tree. While these are mildly effective, the longest lasting and most effective botanical is Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, according to the Environmental Working Group. (The Environmental Working Group is a consumer watchdog organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.) In fact, the CDC recently confirmed that Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus can be as effective as DEET in repelling mosquitoes.

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus is a plant-based repellent oil made from the leaves of the Eucalyptus Citriodora tree from tropical northeastern Australia. A 30% concentration of Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (with 19% PMD, a naturally occurring substance) provides up to 6 hours of protection against mosquitoes and ticks.

Repel makes a Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent Pump Spray and is available on-line. I prefer to support local cottage businesses selling insect repellents at my local Farmers’ Market. Check yours to buy some too.  When buying a mosquito repellent, always read the ingredients to make sure they include Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (not to be confused with eucalyptus).

Insect repellent sold at my Farmers' Market

Insect repellent sold at my Farmers’ Market

 

For more ideas for mosquito control, click here.

Summer goes by quickly – don’t let mosquitos and ticks keep you inside!

 

Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus is not for use on children 3 and younger, can possibly irritate lungs and has possible allergens.

Information compiled from ewg.org. and treehugger.com

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Happy Green Memorial Day!

English: Barbecue Bosanski: Roštilj Deutsch: Grill

English: Barbecue Bosanski: Roštilj Deutsch: Grill (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Memorial Day weekend, make your cookout eco-correct.  How?  It’s easy….

Think outside the burgers/hot dogs/potato chips box and focus on healthier options instead – turkey tips, wild fish, grilled tofu, grilled veggies, grass-fed beef, free range chicken, sweet potato chips and lots of different salads made with organic fruits and vegetables.  Farmers’ markets are just getting going, but you can still buy fresh, seasonal, and somewhat local fruits and vegetables. Perhaps you have lettuce ready for harvesting from your own garden.  Add delicious and nutritious vine ripened tomatoes and watermelon to your meal – they contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, which also wards off sunburn!

When it comes to grilling, a charcoal chimney is an easy way to start your grill and much safer than lighter fluid if you don’t have a gas grill.  Make sure you use natural, hardwood charcoal instead of the conventional briquettes.  Try filling at least half your grill with produce.  Produce is not only healthy and low-calorie, but also doesn’t produce the carcinogens that can form on grilled meats.  Always cook over a low-to-medium flame and avoid over-charring; flare-ups and smoking oil create carcinogens.  Marinating or basting with oil, honey or a barbeque sauce will provide a barrier and help prevent charring.

I prefer reusable dinner plates and utensils, but if you are having a crowd disposable is easier; just make sure they are compostable or made from recycled, BPA-free plastic.  Whole Foods carries a good selection of biodegradable disposable plates, cups and utensils.  Cloth tablecloths and napkins are a nice touch, but you can easily find recycled paper napkins and cloths at most supermarkets.

Organic, chemical free sunscreen and insect repellents are a much healthier and safer alternative to conventional products.  Consider spraying your yard in advance with a garlic spray to ward off mosquitoes. Start your cookout after peak sun time, between 10 and 2, and provide shade for your guests.

Compost leftover fruits and vegetables, and, don’t forget to recycle cans, bottles and other recyclable items!

Whatever you do to honor the start of summer, make sure you are good to the earth.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Celebrate Earth Day

Tomorrow is Earth Day – This year’s theme is planting trees, the first of five major initiatives earthday.org is undertaking to make a significant impact towards a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable planet.  As Earth Day approaches its 50th anniversary, help earthday.org reach its ambitious goal of planting 7.8 billion trees!

In addition to planting a tree (see recent blog posts about the importance of planting a tree and the proper way to do so), also consider the following.

In the morning,

  • Take an extra short shower
  • Turn off the water as you brush your teeth or shave
  • Make a green smoothie for breakfast

In the afternoon,

  • Walk, ride a bike or take public transportation to do your errands; if you drive, go the speed limit to conserve energy
  • Take a reusable water bottle or mug with you
  • Pick up any litter you see and recycle what can be recycled
  • Sow some seeds

In the evening,

  • Have a meatless “Earth Dinner” by candlelight with local, organic produce; use real cutlery and cloth napkins
  • Turn off your computer for one hour
  • Unplug your appliances when you go to bed

While everyday is really earth day, make a special effort tomorrow to honor our beautiful planet.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Image and some information compiled from earthday.org.

What Have You Done?

‘And so this is Christmas . . . what have you done?’
John Lennon, singer

As 2015 draws to a close, think about the new green habits you have incorporated into your daily life.  Did you recycle more? Start composting?  Think of clever ways to reuse an old soda bottle? Take public transportation, walk or bike more and drive less? Cut back on meat consumption? Support local farmers?  Start using organic household and personal care products? Find a non-toxic dry cleaner?

Whatever you do to make your lifestyle greener, doesn’t it make you feel good to know you are doing a small part to protect this beautiful earth of ours? In 2016, consider doing just a little more. Remember, what’s good for the earth is good for you and what’s good for you is good for the earth.

I’d love to hear about your new green habits!  Email me so we can share them with other readers…..

Have a happy holiday and a healthy 2016!!!

Have a Green Holiday This Year!

 

This year incorporate green habits into your usual holiday plans.  Here are some suggestions.

  • Christmas treeFor your holiday feast, support local farmers who grow organic meat and produce – an organic heritage turkey is unbelievably moist and delicious. Incorporate lots of plant-based options as well.
  • Buy a pesticide-free Christmas tree. Some growers use 40 different pesticides and colorants.  You can find no or low pesticide trees at some of the local tree farms and of course they always last longer when you cut them yourself.  There is controversy about which is more environmentally friendly, a fake or a real tree, and there are arguments for both, but you can’t beat the smell of a freshly cut tree. Decorating a large houseplant like a Norfolk Island Pine is a good enviro-option too! After the holidays, recycle your tree. Many cities offer programs to turn trees into mulch or woodchips. (visit www.earth911.org for information)
  • Lots of fresh greenery and berries make beautiful, natural decorations!
  • Energy efficient “LED” lights use 90% less energy than conventional holiday lights and are also less expensive for you.  You can recycle your old incandescent ones at HolidayLEDs.com. You can find LED lights at Target, Costco and most major retailers.
  • Store bought wrapping paper is beautiful and convenient, but ends up being thrown away. Make your own holiday wrapping paper instead, which is greener, more personal and doesn’t have to be time-consuming.  Holiday dish towels, colorful scarves or bandanas, newspaper sections, old maps, ball jars, clay pots, old calendars or even plain brown paper tied with a colorful bow and some greenery cut from your backyard make great wrapping paper. Ideas are endless!  If every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
  • Gifts to your favorite charity are always needed and not only make you feel good, but obviously cut down on unnecessary stuff.
  • Green experiences like restaurant gift certificates, cooking classes, theater or concert tickets, or memberships to sports clubs are meaningful, waste-free presents.

For more info on holiday waste and how to minimize it, visit treehugger.com.

Feel good this holiday season knowing you are taking simple “green” steps that make a big difference!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Happy Greener Halloween!

From candy to face paint to candles, Halloween can be a “toxic” holiday.  There are simple ways however, to make Halloween greener without spoiling the fun!

Face paint, play make-up, lipstick and nail polish contain chemicals and lead that are harmful to kids and linked to hormone disruption and cancer.  Instead try natural cosmetics.  You can check the safety of your cosmetics at cosmeticsdatabase.com. Skip the colored hairspray, which contains harmful chemicals and fragrance that kids can easily breathe in.  Wigs, hats or funny hairdos work too.

Rather than buying a cheap, synthetic costume, why not get one from a resale shop or borrow one from a friend?  Return to simpler times and make one using items you already have. Those are the ones your child will remember.  I have a vivid memory of being a ghost made from an old white sheet!

Synthetic facemasks and fake teeth are made from plastics and unlabeled materials.  Putting plastic teeth in your mouth or breathing the chemicals from the plastic masks doesn’t seem like a good idea for young developing bodies and can be harmful.  Try making your own mask from a paper bag or use a half-face mask instead.

English: Child in Tiger face paint

Traditional paraffin-based candles (made from petroleum by products) give off toxic compounds.  Use fragrance-free ones made from soy or beeswax.  Avoid  plastic pumpkins and other cheap Halloween accessories.  Fall gourds, pumpkins, corn stalks, and even leaves make beautiful natural decorations.

Kids look forward all year to Halloween candy, but there is a steady stream of holiday candy from Halloween through Valentine’s Day.  Why not give out healthier granola bars, puffed rice squares, small dark chocolate bars, or bags of popcorn or pretzels? Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s sell less sugary candy.  With my kids I would “buy back” a portion of their Halloween candy and then let them buy a new toy with the money. (I always over paid them but it was worth it to limit the candy.) They actually loved spreading their candy out, sorting and counting the candy and deciding which to give back and which to keep.  It was a good math game too.

As with all holiday indulgences, moderation is the key.

Some information compiled from Environmental Working Group http://www.ewg.org.