My Favorite PB
When I stumbled upon this brilliant line of peanut butters from the local Saratoga Peanut Butter Company last fall at our farmer’s market I was hooked before I even left their table! With exciting flavors like “Monkey Boy” (the standard PB mixed with plump raisins & banana) and “Blizzard Butter” (a creamy PB blended with white chocolate), what’s not to love?
My current favorite is a the “Adirondack Jack” which is a hearty mix of almond and peanut butters with cranberries, flaxseeds, clover honey, sunflower seeds and touch of cinnamon. I love the “Jack” in PB & J sandwiches and with carrots and celery for a little snack while the “Plain Jane” adds a great flavor to smoothies.
On top of all the exciting flavors, one of the best things about this PB line is that all of their nut butters are all natural with no added sugars or trans fats which makes it a great source of protein, folate and heart-healthy fats. If you live in New York, check out this list of places you can find it, otherwise you can order it here.
Keeping It Clean
You’ve cleared out your closets, cleaned the house, done all your laundry and even made some home improvements. Now what? If you are like me, then you are probably looking around thinking that you wish the house was this clean ALL the time. I realize that is easier said than done, but with the tips below, maybe you CAN keep your house looking like Spring all year round.
- Leave your shoes at the door. This simple act is a way to not only keep your floors looking clean, but also it keeps everything your shoes encounter outside (antifreeze, oil, fertilizer) from coming into your home. This rule is especially important if you have kids or pets, who spend lots of time on the floor.
- Keep your All Purpose Cleaner in reach. Cleaning becomes a bigger task when you have to reach for a different product every time you clean a different surface. An All Purpose Cleaner works especially great in kitchens and bathrooms. You can make your own, or buy one from the store (I like Trader Joe’s Multi-Purpose Cleaner — it works on counter tops, kitchen tables, mirrors, glass and even stainless steel). One bottle for every surface makes cleaning quicker every time (and don’t forget to use something other than those wasteful paper towels!)
- Hire someone to do your dirty work. Let’s face it. For some of us, the sight of a sponge sends shivers down our spine. If you can’t stand the thought of keeping your house clean, consider hiring a local cleaning service that uses environmentally friendly cleaning products. (For example, As You Wish is a company here in Indianapolis that uses Shaklee products.) If you can’t find a green cleaning service in your area, call around and see if you can find one that will use your specified products.
Brushing Up on Updates
Something about the warmer weather motivates me to start those home repairs and renovations that I have been putting off (or dreaming about) all winter. But updating rooms in your house doesn’t always mean out with the old and in with the new. Ask yourself if a fresh coat of paint could give a new life to old cabinets, or if reupholstering that old chair will save it from a trip to the curb.
Painting is a great way to change the look of a room without spending a lot of money or leaving a big footprint on the environment. But beware of wastefulness and toxins that sometimes accompany these types of projects.
Whether you are touching up, or painting a whole room, look for low (or no) VOC paints, and always make sure you are in a well ventilated area. Many zero-to-low VOC paints are available at your neighborhood home improvement stores, including Sherwin Williams.
And don’t forget that when it comes to painting, you can reuse the same brush for YEARS, if you just take some extra time to clean it thoroughly with soap and water (for latex paints) and dry it off well with a brush spinner when you are done. Likewise, you can even wash and dry paint rollers to reuse the next day for bigger projects.
If you plan on reupholstering (or using fabric in any of your projects), check out this mini-directory of green fabrics and brush up on your knowledge of organic cotton, wool and hemp.
Even though you do laundry year-round, now is a great time to wash those things that are getting stored away during the warmer months (such as scarves, sweaters and blankets) and those items around the house that never get washed (curtains, anyone?) Below are some things to remember as you do those loads of laundry, now and throughout the year.
- Resist the temptation to turn up the heat, and wash your clothes in cold water (or warm if you must).
- Don’t start the washer until you have a full load. Small or incomplete loads waste water and energy.
- Use eco-friendly detergents, such as those from Ecover or Method — or make your own.
- If your in the market for a new washer, look for one that is front-loading (they use less water and electricity) and bearing the Energy Star label.
- If you have a yard (or any outdoor space) consider line-drying your clothes. Not only will you save energy, but your clothes will have that fresh smell many laundry detergents and fabric softeners try to imitate.
- If you can’t use “solar power” to dry your clothes (or if the weather doesn’t permit), then use a wooden drying rack. Multiple sizes are available at Abundant Earth.
- If you must use your dryer, consider foregoing any dryer sheets or fabric softeners, and use Dryer Balls, Fluff Balls, or good old tennis balls instead.
Lastly, don’t forget for those pesky “Dry Clean Only” garments, find a green dry cleaner in your area.
The Green Clean
It can be overwhelming these days trying to find the right cleaning products to get the job done. But try to find products that actually clean without the toxins that pose a risk to your health or pollute our water supply, and most people are ready to throw in the towel and buy the first bright blue bottle of “antibacterial,” “extra-strength,” and who knows what else, that they come across. But getting rid of the dirt, grime and dust can be as simple as a few key ingredients that are easy to find, most of which you probably already have on hand like baking soda, borax, lemons, water, white vinegar, a plant based liquid soap and even newspaper.
Try some of these natural, do-it-yourself cleaning solutions which will leave your home sparkling without leaving behind a toxic residue and fumes:
- For a basic surface cleaner: Start with a plant-based soap, add water. Really, it’s that simple. But if you need a little more scrubbing action, Martha suggests mixing a little baking soda and plant-based liquid soap into a paste and applying by using the cut side of a halved lemon.
- On mirrors and windows: Try a 2:1 ratio of water to white vinegar in a spray bottle, use newspaper, a coffee filter or a washable cloth rag to apply and say goodbye to the ammonia and synthetic colors and fragrances found in most commercial cleaners.
- Wood Furniture: Use a 1/4 cup vinegar and a few drops of olive oil.
- Bathroom needs: Baking soda and white vinegar for the toilet bowl and 1/2 lemon dipped in borax to get the dirt left on the tub and tile.
- Kitchen specifics: Baking soda and white vinegar for the sink too! Clean the oven with a sprinkling of baking soda, a spray of water, a soak overnight and a good scrub in the morning. And use lemons to cut the grease on the stove-tops.
For more specific cleaning needs, check out a few green cleaning guides from The Daily Green and The Green Guide. But if you just insist on going for a commercial cleaner, you must first educate yourself and read this primer from The Naked Truth Project so you know what to look(out) for, as it’s easy to get confused once your standing in a store aisle like the one pictured above!
The First Step – Cleaning Out Responsibly
Look familiar? The essential first step to any cleaning project is clearing out the clutter, and spring is a great time to lighten up and let go of all that stuff just hanging around in your closets, cabinets, basement and sometimes even under your bed. It can seem daunting at first but it can be really simple if you have a plan.
Don’t try to do the entire place all at once, keep it simple and start with one space, like a closet, at a time. I like drag everything out, sorting it as I go into things I want to keep and things that I don’t. All the “keepers” get cleaned and mended, if necessary, and go back in organized. Then I start working on the “give/sell” pile. This is where many cleaning projects go awry, in a haste to clear out we often dump everything in the trash. But to keep more things out of the landfill, allow your toss-aways to be reused by taking advantage of some of the resources and ideas listed below next time you de-clutter.
If your unwanted items are in good condition, try Freecycle, a worldwide, online, gifting community that connects you to people in your area who are often looking for the very things you are willing to toss. Or if you want to get it out quick, donate your goods to people who are really in need by stopping by the local homeless shelter, the Goodwill, Salvation Army or the Vietnam Veterans of America. If you have a little more time and are looking for a few bucks, try Craigslist.org and ebay.
Here is a quick list of few ideas for specific items you may find lurking in your closets:
- Ladies, to donate nice women’s professional clothing, check out Dress for Success and for formal dresses suitable for a high school prom try The Glass Slipper Project. While your at it, take all those old magazines to the gym or swap with friends.
- Athletes, to donate old sneakers be sure to try Recycled Runners.
- For your “e-waste,” that is your tech trash, send it to Staples or check out this list put together by the EPA.
- Earth911 is has a wonderful search tool that allows you to find the nearest place to recycle specific goods.
- And, check out this great list of other ideas from Grist.org
Earth Hour 2008
Earth Hour 2008 is only one week away! Next Saturday, March 29th, people in the US and around the world are being asked to unite and turn off their lights for one hour at 8 p.m. local time.
Originating in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has now received global attention, and you can take part in the event as an individual, organization, school or business. See what’s happening in your city, and get involved. (Indy residents can contact Green Piece Indy for details about their organized event.)
Spring Cleaning Week
Yesterday was officially the first day of Spring, which means there is no better time than the present to do some cleaning. To motivate you (and ourselves) we will be declaring next week Spring Cleaning Week at Green-Lemonade.com.
In addition to giving tips, we’ll also be linking to resources and products that will help you get down and dirty in an way that will make your Mama Nature proud.
Turning Garbage Into Gold
When I was growing up, meal preparation always included a bowl on the counter that collected all of the non-edible food scraps such as potato peels, leafy carrot tops and apple cores. When the meal was finished and dishes were being washed, it was always someone’s job to empty that bowl into the compost in the corner of the yard. Even though my parents live in the city, the compost pile always had it’s place in the yard near the garden. Below is an article from my Dad on how to make the chore of composting an easy one.
Turning Garbage Into Gold
Is that a fuzzy tennis ball tucked into the back of the refrigerator where the oranges used to be? Do you ever think about how many banana peels you produce in a week?
Before you just toss this “garbage” in the waste can to be carted off to the landfill, consider recycling these natural materials yourself. Both you and the environment will benefit from your effort. And you may be surprised how little effort it takes and how much satisfaction you can get from composting.
It isn’t brain surgery. If it was once part of a plant, it is suitable food for your composting operation. Throw your vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, orange peels and grass clippings on a pile and let decomposition take its course. (For apartment dwellers or those with limited space, a 5 gal pail with holes punched into it will work.) Treat your compost pile like a living plant. Give it an occasional watering and fresh air and it will come to “life”. Within a couple weeks your compost will become home to a vast array of critters that spend their time busily breaking down plant material into simpler organic products. These act as fertilizer, mulch and soil conditioner for the plants to which they are applied.
The beauty of this process is that it feeds the natural cycles in nature while using waste material. You will be amazed at how your flower and vegetable garden will appreciate this “free” organic fertilizer. It sure seems like a better option than burying this same material in a landfill where it decomposes much slower by a process that releases harmful greenhouse gases.
Another great contributor to your compost can come from your at-home juicing! Readers of The Squeeze got some “juicy” tips and recipes delivered to their inbox today. Want to get in on the action? Sign up for The Squeeze today!
Preserve Your Teeth
So I know it’s a little item and your probably asking yourself “how much impact can a toothbrush really have?” but every little “green” choice you make adds up. And I don’t believe and going out and replacing everything you can with its “green” counterpart all at once, but I do think it’s important to make better eco choices when it is time to shop for something new. I’ve been doing this for the past year now and recently noticed when looking around, just my kitchen and bathroom alone, how far I’ve come.
I first made a switch to an eco-toothbrush which features replaceable heads, but it was a big disappointment. Soon, maybe within a week, the bristles started to wimp out and eventually spread out making it somewhat useless. But, the purple guy in the picture above is my new Preserve toothbrush by Recyline, which is performing wonderfully. These brushes are made from 100% recycled plastics (including recycled yogurt cups), and you can print out a postage-paid mailer to return your used up Preserve products to be recycled, again. But the neatest part about this toothbrush is that the packaging it comes in doubles as a travel toothbrush holder!
Pair a new Preserve toothbrush up with your favorite eco-toothpaste (I like Tom’s of Maine Peppermint) and brush away!