Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hand In Hand

I have mentioned before that my journey into a green lifestyle started more out of concern for my family's health than a genuine concern for the Earth. Though I'm sure some would say that these things are independent of each other, I believe they go hand in hand.

Most of the things that I have changed in our home that are considered "green" have major health benefits for our family. Switching to organic foods when possible, cutting out/back on chemicals used in our home and being cautious about the amount and type of plastics we use are some examples.

Another thing I realized while talking to my husband the other day is that this is the way things used to be. The things I'm trying to change in my home and family are things that my Grandmothers did regularly. Things that are now trendy and celebrities get paid big bucks to talk about were commonplace in their lives. My husband grew up on a large farm. For reasons of frugality, his family practiced (and still does to some degree) growing their own food, composting, using cloth diapers, using natural methods of cleaning and rarely eating over processed foods.

Though my Grandmothers lived this way as well, I can look back and see when it all started to change in my Mom's generation. We gave up what was good for what was easy. I read so much about how so many diseases are more prevalent now than 20 years ago. It's not difficult to draw a connection here.

So, on this blog and on this journey, you'll find that I'm not always going to post about things that seem to be obviously linked to cleaning up the Earth and making it last for our children. Sometimes, I want to focus on things that lead to good health and even frugality. I really believe they all can go hand in hand. I also believe that all of these things combined will make our families (and our Earth) happier and healthier.

If you have suggestions about things to discuss here, please feel free to share them with me and I'll do what I can to share them with everyone!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Did You Know?

Something I've learned from Gorgeously Green recently is what good those little stickers on your fruits and veggies are. I've always thought the number was just what the cashiers used to key in the item. WRONG! They are way more important than that.

If your sticker has a four digit number, beginning with a 4, it is not organic.

If your sticker has a five digit number, beginning with a 9, it is organic.

If your sticker has a five digit number beginning with an 8, it is genetically modified.

Did you catch that last one? Genetically modified fruits and veggies? NO THANK YOU.

The way Sophie Uliano says to remember this is, "Four is a bore. I hate eight. Nine is just fine." Cheesy? Yes, I'd say so. Helpful? Sure! I can't tell you how much I've repeated that in my head as I cruise the produce section. I have yet to run into any with an eight but I'm on the lookout.

I hope to discuss more about eating organic foods soon but in the meantime, my beautiful friend Andrea has a great post about it up today! Go visit her and check it out!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Paper Towels and Me

It's time for a confession. I suspect that there will be a lot of those as we take this journey together. I have an abiding love of paper towels. It's one of those things that I struggle with on the green journey.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a "roll a week" girl or anything. We don't use them for drying our hands or for spills, usually. So, what in the world is it that makes me hold on so tightly to them?

Almost every job they do around the house can be replaced with something better for the environment and more economical yet I still have them sitting on my counter....just. in. case.

The one job that kept me stocking my supply of paper towels was cleaning mirrors and glass around the house. Nothing else worked to get the streaks off and I hate streaks with a Windex blue passion. While I was in Heaven Target last week, I picked up this product by Method. I was skeptical but I trust Method so I figured I'd at least give it a shot.

I cracked open my microfiber cloth on mirror/window cleaning day and it really didn't look like I thought it would. From the look of the box, I expected it to be more like a sponge. Instead, it's a rather unassuming little cloth that's shiny on one side. I was sure it wouldn't work after taking a look at it. I assumed it would just smear the liquid cleaner around on the glass like a pair of pantyhose.

I was wrong. This little thing is awesome! I used it for my mirrors and the french doors in our living room. The same doors that my kids insist on using as licking/looking/hand wiping glass. They were clean an streak free. I even used it to shine my faucets in the bathrooms after I cleaned the mirrors. These are things I'd have used paper towels for before that day. Also, I have to use less cleaner with the cloth. It's reusable and washable. In a word, it's awesome.

All that to say that I'm trying to kick the paper towel habit. I am. I don't think I'll ever be without paper towels in my house but I can tell you that our uses for them have diminished and we are finding other options for most jobs.

What about you? Paper towel addict or paper towel free? Have you tried other things to take the place of them?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Bag it Up!

One of the easiest things I've done in the process of going green is switching to reusable bags for my grocery shopping. Several months back, the commissary (grocery store for military folks) started offering the reusable bags for less than $1 each. I had been looking around at some cute ones online that were way more expensive but had been hesitant to pay close to $10 each for them since I'd likely need several to fit all of my groceries. When I saw the ones in the commissary, I snatched them up, deciding that price was more important than beauty. After all, they are holding things like raw chicken and string cheese, not competing in a beauty pageant.

I decided to keep the bags in my car to be sure to have them on each shopping trip. I had such good intentions. You know what they say about good intentions, right? Inevitably, I would get into the grocery store and halfway through my shopping I'd realize that my bags were still safely locked in the back of my car.

You don't actually think I'd leave my cart full of food there and go back for them do you?

Good, because I didn't. At least not for the first four trips or so. I'd chalk it up to a mistake and promise myself next time I'd remember.

Finally one day, I got serious. I have been taking my bags on every trip since. Recently, at Trader Joe's, I forgot to bring them in and I actually parked my cart near the front and ran out to get them. It's become more important to me as I realize just how many plastic bags our family used to go through in a week.

From the grocery store alone, I'd have an average of 10 plastic bags per trip. Sure, I'd save them to use for something around the house but even so, they'd get one more use at the most before sitting in a landfill somewhere.

Then, there's my trips to Target. Oh, Target. How do I love thee? Let me count the bags. I'm not yet as disciplined at Target but I have taken my reusable bags into Target a couple of times with me recently and the cashier hasn't batted an eye packing them with my purchases.

Sure, not loading landfills and oceans with the plastic bags is good enough reason to use reusable bags but I have a better (albeit more selfish) reason that can motivate me on the laziest of days. When I walk out of the grocery store with my cute kind of ugly green bags, I feel good about it. I feel like I'm actually helping and doing my part. As a matter of fact, I can't think of a good reason not to use them. Can you?

Another reason I love reusable bags? Convenience. They have a handle that fits easily on my shoulder. It's so nice to have free hands to open doors for myself and hold my kids' hands as we cross the parking lot. They also hold a lot more stuff so there's less bulk to carry into the house when I'm unloading the car.

My next step is to get a few mesh bags to put my fresh fruits and vegetables in so that I can stop using those annoying plastic bags that always rip right as my cucumbers nestle into the bottom.

Do you use reusable bags yet? Have you gotten the mesh produce bags? If so, share what kinds of bags you use and how you like them.

Here is an article with 10 good reasons to use reusable bags rather than plastic.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Contest Winners!

You are all winners in my book. Alas, I only have two books to share and according to the lovely random generator, the lovely winners of Gorgeously Green are:

Comment #3:

Christy said...
That book is on my Amazon list! I'll take the journey with you, it's something I'm working on too!
April 25, 2008 9:05 PM

Comment #7:

Amy said...
You Rock! Can't wait to hear all the things you've incorporated into your life! I've recently started using green cleaning products. We've been using the energy conserving bulbs for a while - why the heck not! This things are supposed to last years! It's been on my mind a lot lately. I think I'm gonna invest in the reusable grocery bags too.
April 28, 2008 5:32 AM

Congratulations, ladies! I will get those books out to you and I hope you will share your thoughts about it with me. I'm working my way through it now and honestly, some things I love and some things I'm like, "Um. Yeah, not so sure I can do that!"