Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

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.

An Eco-Correct Labor Day Cookout!

This Labor Day, think green and have an eco-correct cookout.  How?  It’s easy —  

For the meal –

Start with a visit to your local farmer’s market for fresh local fruits and vegetables so abundant this time of year. Make sure to include delicious and nutritious vine ripened tomatoes and watermelon to your meal – they contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, which may also help ward off sunburn!  If possible, serve organic meat, pork and poultry.

For the grill –

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.  Fill at least half your grill with produce.  Grilled vegetables are not only healthy and low calorie, but also don’t produce the carcinogens that can form on grilled meats.  When grilling meat, always cook over a low-to-medium flame and avoid over-charring.  Flare-ups and smoking oil create carcinogens.  Marinate or baste with oil, honey or a barbeque sauce to provide a barrier and help prevent charring.

For the tableware –

I prefer reusable dinner plates and utensils, but if you are having a crowd it is easier to use disposable.  Make sure they are biocompostable or made from recycled plastic.  Preserve Products makes plates, utensils and storage containers that are made in the US from 100% BPA-free recycled plastic and are dishwasher safe.  (They also make great toothbrushes and razors made from recycled yogurt cups.) Whole Foods carries the line, but you can also order them fromPreserveProducts.com.  Cloth napkins are a nice touch, but if you prefer disposable, you can easily find them made from recycled or tree-free paper at most supermarkets.

Repellants and Sunscreens –

Chemical free sunscreen and insect repellants are a much healthier alternative than conventional products.  Badger makes effective, non-toxic repellants and sunscreens.  Visit safecosmetics.org to check the toxicity of your brand.

Activities that get you moving –

Plan activities to get your guests moving and not eating and drinking so much.  If your cookout is near the water, take advantage of the end of summer for swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking. If not, set up a volleyball/badminton net and get the teens involved in a tournament.  Croquet appeals to all ages and corn hole is a fun new rage!  A nature walk or an outside scavenger hunt is a great way to get the kids interested in the outdoors.

And, of course don’t forget to compost food waste and recycle cans, bottles and other recyclable items!

Whatever you do to honor the end of summer, make sure you are good to the earth.  Remember, what is good for the earth is good for you and what is good for you is good for the earth.  Have fun and happy Labor Day!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Pause and Think…..

 

Today is World Environment Day, celebrated every year on June 5, and run by the United Nations “to raise global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth.”  World Environment Day is a day when the United Nations invites each of the seven billion people on the planet to make one change towards more responsible consumption of resources.  Whether you refuse a plastic bag, have a vegetarian dinner, take public transportation, or recycle your trash, each little step can make a big difference.

Make every day World Environment Day and take the time to read about climate change and its effects around the globe.  Think about your impact and what you can do help protect the earth.  Make it a goal to add new “green” habits to your lifestyle to lessen your carbon footprint.  Share your ideas with family and friends.

Appreciate the beauty of the earth and its many gifts………

 

For more ideas and green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Celebrate Earth Day Wednesday, April 22

 

 

Earth Day is a time when people from all over the world unite to celebrate the earth and appreciate its beauty. Founded in 1970, Earth Day was first organized in “to promote ecology and respect for life on the planet as well as to encourage awareness of the growing problems of air, water and soil pollution.”  Much progress has been made over these last 45 years, but there is lots more to do.

 

What will you do to celebrate? You can…..

 

– Plant a tree – it’s spring!

– Sow some seeds for your garden

– Visit a local farm

– Change a conventional light bulb to an energy-saving compact fluorescent or LED

– Pick up litter on the beach

– Take part in a trash pick-up

– Use a travel mug rather than a styrofoam cup for your coffee-to-go

– Drink from a reusable, BPA-free water bottle

– Recycle newspapers, bottles and cans

– Start a compost bin in your backyard for kitchen waste

– Make a commitment to drive less and carpool or walk more

– Take public transportation

– Shorten your shower by one minute

– Shut down your computer for one hour

– Pick up roadside trash

– Attend an Earth Day event in your area or volunteer

– Include your kids and grandkids and teach them about the importance of protecting our beautiful earth

– Serve an Earth dinner with local, organic ingredients; use candlelight

 

Coincidentally, I will be moving into our just built, energy-efficient, healthy green home, which after several years of designing, permitting, living in rentals and dealing with the headaches of building, is at last ready. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Earth Day!

More blogs to come about what makes our new home green. Stay tuned…..

 

Some information compiled from: http://www.timanddate.com/

 

For more green tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

Eco-Friendly Easter Eggs

 

 

 

Dyeing Easter eggs with children or grandchildren is a special tradition.  Rather than expose you and your children to the artificial colors and chemical dyes of the traditional Paas egg dyeing kits, however, this year try an eco-friendly approach.

Vegetables like beets, cabbage, red onion, carrot tops, or fruits like blueberries, and spices like turmeric are perfect for making homemade dyes. Even coffee works. Beets and turmeric are especially good. Think what they do to your hands and cutting boards when cooking with them.

Listed below are some simple recipes for making red, yellow and blue dye, which you can then combine to make other colors.

For red dye: Roughly chop 1 to 2 beets (about 3/4 pound). Combine with 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid for dyeing.

For yellow dye: Heat 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt in a saucepan. Add 6 tablespoons ground turmeric and stir well. Simmer for just a few minutes until the turmeric dissolves.

For blue dye: Shred 1 large red cabbage (about 1 pound). Combine in a saucepan with 1 quart water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 30 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid for dyeing.

Many countries use vegetables to dye their eggs. The Greeks for example, use red onionskins to make their traditional red Easter eggs. The Easter tradition in some countries involves wrapping the eggs in onionskins and sometimes adding bits of dill, rice, grass or leaves for a tie-dyed, mottled look. Experiment – the possibilities are endless.

If you find yourself short on time, Eco-eggs makes an egg dyeing kit using natural ingredients from 100% pure plant, fruit and vegetable extracts.

Have fun and Happy Easter!!!

 

Information compiled from: http://www.seriouseats.com/

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

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