A Greener Dry Cleaner
Dry cleaning can take a toll on not only your clothes but can reek havoc on your body and the environment. The dominant chemical used in dry cleaning, Perchloroethylene (“perc”), can contaminate our ground water and the air we breath. Not to mention, it can cause various health risks such as dizziness, nausea, and skin irritations in some people and, at high doses, liver and kidney problems, and may lead to cancer. For safer alternatives consider the following:
- CO2 cleaning, uses a liquid carbon dioxide instead of perc.
- Wet cleaning, which uses mostly water combined with non-toxic detergents and conditioners.
- Silicone based cleaning, known as “Green Earth” cleaning which uses a non-perc silicone based solvent.
- Do It Yourself , potentially your best option, learn how to clean your clothes so less dry cleaning of any kind is necessary. “Dry clean only” is not always required.
- If you have to use traditional cleaners, take the plastic bag off the garment asap and hang it outside, if possible, to allow the perc to evaporate before you bring it into your closet. And don’t forget to recycle those hangers.
But, I know the real question is whether the alternatives really get clothes clean? I’ve been taking my clothes to an organic dry cleaner nearby which uses a CO2 process and I have been happy with the results. Check out this article for a comparison of alternative methods along with the traditional perc laden process. (The CO2 process wins!)
It’s Not Pretty
There’s no fancy picture for this one, it’s not pretty and I’ll admit that it doesn’t even sound that good either. But it is really good and even better for you. I like to call it a Banana Fudgie Sludgie, a green smoothie with a twist, it’s a wonderful vehicle for getting a big serving of greens in before noon!
Banana Fudgie Sludgie
1 cup water
1 banana, peeled and broken into chunks
1 and 1/2 cups fresh spinach leaves
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
Put all ingredients in a blender in the order listed, blend on highest speed until smooth. Optional add-ins for a nutritional boost include: 1 tbsp flaxseed, 1 tbsp hemp seed, 1/2 cup fresh cranberries, or 1 tbsp of cacao nibs. I promise that you will not even taste the spinach.
An Organic Buzz
Like organic fruits and veggies, there are many benefits to drinking organic wine. According to The Green Book, a bottle of conventionally produced wine can contain up to 250 different types of chemicals. And my recent edition of the Sierra Club magazine states that nearly 30 pounds of pesticides are applied to fields of conventionally grown California wine grapes each year.
However, when choosing an organic wine, the different labels affixed to the bottle might cause your head to spin (before you even pour a glass.) For example, in America, wines with added sulfites cannot display the “USDA organic” label, even when the grapes are 100 percent organic. Labeling confusion doesn’t stop there. When looking for organic wines, you will find some bottles bearing the USDA organic seal, some that are labeled as “Made with Organic Grapes” and some labeled “Biodynamic”. (You can read about the different classifications at The Daily Green.)
Needless to say, the history of organic winemaking is one worth reading about. E/The Environmental Magazine did a cover story on the subject in their November/December 2006 issue. The article (which was most helpful when researching this post) covers the topic of sulfites, labeling, the history and challenges of organic winemaking.
So pour yourself a glass of your preferred organic wine (such as the La Marouette Merlot shown in the photo above) and enjoy all the healthy antioxidants wine has to offer — minus any toxic additives.
Moms, Sisters, Girlfriends
Shopping for friends is probably one of the easiest categories. Moms and sisters (especially in-laws) might get a little trickier, but we think one of the items below is sure to bring a smile to their face.
SAVE (Gifts under $25)
Family Ties Scarf – $24.95 – This fair-trade scarf would be perfect for a mother or sister.
Thank You Tote Bag – $20.00 – A cheeky rendition of the classic plastic bag. Encourage your sis or girlfriend to ditch her plastic ways and use this instead.
SPEND (Gifts from $25 to $100)
Conserve Tee by Your Conscience – $30.00 – A portion ($5) of your purchase is donated to an environmental organization, and according to the Your Conscience mission statement, they only partner with eco-friendly vendors.
Tear Drop Earrings – $39.00 – Add a little sparkle to someone’s gift with these fair-trade earrings, made by disabled artisans in Peru.
Women’s Makayla by Teva – $70.00 – Part of Teva’s Curbside collection, these shoes are made from post consumer recycled materials. Figuring out the recipients shoe size is the tricky part of this gift.
SPLURGE (Gifts over $100)
Tote by Josh Jakus – $115.00 – This simple but unique tote is made from 100% industrial wool felt — which means that the majority of it is from factory excess wool that would have otherwise been discarded.
Sara Sweatshirt by Rebe – $125.00 – In addition to being made from recycled fiber, 5% of all proceeds of this hoodie is donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure (Breast Cancer Research).
One Local Turkey
Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite holidays, so I am excited that this year will be my first turn to prepare the Thanksgiving Day feast. Luckily, we have a small, easy-going group of family and a few friends coming over so there is not too much pressure! I have been brainstorming this week about what I will serve; I would like to have the traditional Thanksgiving dishes but since this is our first time hosting, we can start our own Thanksgiving traditions and keep it as healthy and as local as possible.
Most Thanksgiving Day meals revolve around turkey, so I thought I would set the local theme by making a Maple Glazed Turkey using a free-range bird ordered from nearby Misty Knoll Farms in Vermont. The rest of the (preliminary) line-up consists of a Cranberry Chutney using local apples and a local honey as a natural sweetener, a Smoky Root Vegetable Gratin, maybe a squash something or other, (can I squeeze in a Chestnut Stuffing too?) and, of course, Pumpkin Pie using a real pumpkin, rather than the canned stuff, and this crust so I can take advantage of my whole wheat pastry flour from upstate NY.
Wow, that seems like a lot now that I have all laid out there. Which brings me to some tips and resources I’ve come across while planning for next week:
- Plan in advance! Come up with a menu, if you haven’t already, by the end of this week.
- Go local! Use this helpful article to help formulate a local menu. Or adapt some of your current Thanksgiving staples to use more local ingredients. Browse around the farmer’s market this weekend to see what is in season, (or find out using this state by state guide) and then go online to search for recipes here. No one says it has to be 100%, but every time you choose local, you are making a difference.
- Once you have determined your menu, formulate a shopping list, time-line, and think through all the recipes to confirm you have enough pots and pans, plus space in the oven, refrigerator, and on the counter top. Also, think about what can be made in advance to ease the stress and cut back on your time in the kitchen.
- Don’t forget to save all the leftovers for new dishes like this one.
So with one week to go, let the fun begin. We would love to hear about what you are serving this Thanksgiving, how you might be incorporating local foods into your Thanksgiving Day traditions and any green tips you may have to share.
(Local) Pizza Pizza
I’ve already mentioned that pizza is a weekly ritual for my husband and I, but we try to keep it as healthy as possible by making our own crust and using “good for you” toppings.
A few weeks ago I had the idea, thanks to a Rachel Ray magazine from last fall, to use one of my favorite fall staples, squash, of course, as a topping. Her recipe called for ricotta cheese in place of a traditional pizza sauce but I found that it left the pizza a little plain. So, last weekend, I came back for round two using a local smoked cheddar instead of the ricotta and added some fresh thyme to give it more flavor. This one was Yum-O!
Whole Wheat Squash Pizza
1 spaghetti squash
1-2 tbps. olive oil
salt & pepper
1 tbsp. nutmeg
1 whole wheat pizza dough (I love this one at 101cookbooks)
2 tsps. fresh thyme
1/2 cup smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup Parmesan, freshly shredded
Pre-heat oven to 400. Slice squash in half, rub the inside with olive oil, salt, pepper, and nutmeg and place flesh side down in a baking dish. Bake until tender, about 30-40 minutes. Let cool enough to touch, then use a fork to scrape spaghetti-like strings into a bowl.
Turn the oven temp up to 450 and place pizza stone in the oven. (I don’t have a pizza peel to gracefully slide my pizza onto the pre-heated stone, so I use a baking sheet covered with corn meal and/or flour to prep the pizza.) Roll out, or hand toss if you are so inclined, the dough to your desired thickness and drizzle with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of thyme. Top with the smoked cheddar and about 1/3 of the squash, then finish with the Parmesan and a sprinkling of nutmeg. Gently slide your pizza onto the pre-heated stone in the oven and bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes. This is about as local as pizza can get in the northeast this time of year and it tasted fabulous!
Holiday Gift Guide
‘Tis the season for parties, presents, decorations and lights. It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, but don’t turn a blind eye to the consumerism and wastefulness that this wonderful season can potentially bring. Here at Green-Lemonade.com, we will be making an effort to give more meaningful gifts and create less meaningless waste this year, and we’re here to help you do the same with our “I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas: Holiday Gift Guide”.
On Tuesdays and Fridays, from now until Christmas, we will be posting a list (categorized by recipient and price range) of suggested gifts that are helping (or at least, not hurting) the earth. Perhaps they will be made from recycled materials, or are fair-trade, or the proceeds go to a charity… ultimately it is about giving, and giving back at the same time.
The list will be posted in the Holiday Gift Guide category, which you can get to by clicking on the button at the top of the far right column. And, if you want a sneak peak at the categories that will be covered, we will be sending it out this week to anyone who has signed up for the The Squeeze.
Asian Inspired Local Meal
Upon the arrival of my Farm Fresh Delivery, I received some items that had never graced my kitchen before… namely cabbage and green onions (or scallions). I did some searching for a dinner that used some of these ingredients and came across Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes and Cabbage over at SmittenKitchen.com.
I wont re-post the recipe, because I pretty much followed it to a T (which is rare for me) — however, I did use red cabbage instead of napa. Despite the asian flair, I was able to use Farm Fresh Delivery’s local cabbage and local mushrooms, both of which play a large role in the recipe. I also used FFD’s green onions and a few carrots (not included in the recipe). I had most of the other ingredients (such as edamame) on hand, and only had to go buy some organic soba noodles.
This meal was a great example of how you can use local foods, to create a very non-local sounding meal!
Maple + Basil
Spending my first fall in upstate NY has been beautiful and it seems like everything this time of year around here is “maple” something or other. But I’m not complaining, I love that maple flavor and being able to get locally harvested pure maple suryp makes it even better. This recipe combines that wonderful maple syrup with another one of my favorites, basil, into one sweet, but tangy, dressing.
2/3 c olive oil
1/2 c red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar or a combination of the two
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp groun black pepper
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp mustard
1/2 cup fresh basil torn into small pieces
Mix everything in the blender except basil. When completely mixed, taste and adjust seasonings. Now add basil and blend until the leaves are broken down and incorporated. Serve over a green salad, tomatoes, rice or barley.
Farm Fresh: Here & There
It’s been an exciting week for me regarding local and organic foods. Not only did we visit the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco (while we were out in California visiting family), but we also received our first order from Farm Fresh Delivery.
For the first week, we went with the default delivery which included cabbage, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, apples, pears and more. Next time, I will customize my order a little more to fit both my personal taste and also my cooking abilities. The produce is all organic, and even is labeled if it is local or not. They also include some recipes in the bin, and encourage you to leave your paper bags in the bin (when it is picked up) so that they can be reused.
As for the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, you can see the photos I took at the market, posted at our Flickr account. Coming from a land (and season) of corn, squash and pumpkins, I was envious of the stands full of avocados, pomegranates and persimmons. We picked up a whole lot of food and had a great local meal that night.