Another (not so) funny story about my “tree obsession”…

CBR002294So, here we go… again.  If you’re a regular reader, you know that I don’t cut down trees, don’t like trees being cut down and detest when anyone needlessly DOES cut them down.  Unfortunately, we are squarely located between two families that looove to cut down trees.  And unfortunately, the other day was ANOTHER one of THOSE days.

Scenario: Me. My son.  Getting ready to take him to preschool.  Doorbell rings.  At my door, a man from a tree service.

Tree Killer: Hi, ma’am.  We need to cut down a large tree in your neighbor’s back yard and we wanted to ask if we can anchor to one of your trees for the removal.
Me: No.tree stmp
Tree Killer: No?
Me: No. I don’t want you to cut down the tree.
Tree Killer: Okay, well, the tree is coming down anyhow and your cooperation will really help us assure that it safely lands in the right place.
Me: No stopping it, huh?
Tree Killer: Umm, no.
Me: (few deep breaths, few moments of thought) Well, if you have to.  If it’s a safety issue, then I suppose.  But I swear, if you hurt my tree, my tree and I will sue you.
Tree Killer: (baffled look) I assure you, ma’am. Your trees will be fine.
Me: They better be.

Did that make me sound insane? Maybe. Did I care? No.  But really… can you imagine that court document:  Mom Goes Green & Mrs. Maple vs. Tree Killer.  Kind of funny to imagine? Well… yea!

But sincerely, I am that passionate about trees.  They serve so, so many purposes.  And I know some people may think I’m crazy, but too bad.  (Do you happen to know that trees can actually improve your life too?) Someone once sent me a comment (in response to an earlier “tree post”) that said maybe I should “worry about something important for a change”.  Well, buddy, trees are important.  Cut them all down and let’s just see what happens.  On second thought, that’s an experiment I don’t want to endorse.  It has disaster written all over it.

It’s “Buy Nothing Day”… so how ‘bout a FREE Giveaway!

(This giveaway is now closed for entries.  See “comments” for winner announcement.)

Black Friday… I NEVER shop Black Friday!  Instead, I celebrate “Buy Nothing Day”.  Every year.  Period.

I know, I know… the sales, the excitement, the tradition.  I simply choose to spend the day NOT spending. It’s a great reminder that we DON’T need to spend obscene amounts of money, rise in the wee hours of the morning and push and shove our way to luxury items that aren’t even needed, if we really think about it.

So, if you would like to get a step-up on a great green gift, I will help you… no purchase necessary… (starting today and in the coming weeks).  I’m starting with an EcoUsable stainless steel filtered water bottle that will make a fabulous gift for someone on your list… as fabulous as the last one I gave away, only blue!!!ech2o bottle

You want one, don’t you?  Well, if you must, you can even keep it for yourself and use it to stay hydrated while you prepare for the holidays!  It’s a great one too!:  stainless steel, BPA-free, reusable and stylin’, AND it filters everything from tap water, to water from a lake or stream, to pool water, if that’s your option! … what else could you ask for?!

So leave a comment here saying you’d like to win and tell me who you’d like to “gift” it to (there is no penalty for saying you want it for yourself!), or send a Twitter message that includes a reply to @momgoesgreen and a link to this blog. The winner will be selected one week from today’s post. (US entries only… sorry!)

Skip Black Friday!  Join me in celebrating “Buy Nothing Day”!… and take a chance to win something absolutely FREE!

Little green changes… big green difference.

go greenThis past weekend I actually recognized how far I’ve come in my pursuit of greening my daily life.  Without even realizing it, I made decisions that I recognized have become automatic rather than a conscious decision.  I’m not sure what made me take special notice of how far I’ve come in the past few years, but I realized “you’ve come a long way, baby!”…

  • I shopped organic, big time.  I avoided high fructose corn syrup, excess sugar and hydrogenated oils, and skipped the frozen food aisle entirely.  I used reusable shopping bags and reusable mesh produce bags too!fruit shopping
  • I had to buy cups for an event at our daughter’s school.  I bought paper cups.  I would have preferred something reusable, but I needed about 75 and couldn’t round up that much… but plastic or styrofoam were never a consideration!
  • I bought a new shower gel, skipped the regular soap aisle and went straight for organics.  Ended up with “Yes To Carrots”… good stuff!
  • After my husband accidentally sent a big bowl of uncooked (organic!) scrambled eggs plummeting into the cabinets and floor, I did a clean-up with a dishtowel and Skoy cloths.  I made everything sparkly clean with a spray of vinegar and water… not one paper towel used!
  • I did a leaf clean-up – no leaf-blower, no lawn mower… just a rake, a tarp (to drag the leaves down the ravine instead of bagging), ME and some great exercise… and the kids playing for hours outdoors!yes 2 crrts
  • I prepared a meal that included an organic roast, organic carrots (it was a carrot-kind-of-weekend, apparently!) and organic potatoes.  No steroids, hormones or pesticides for us!
  • I did some laundry with all of my beloved, eco-friendly Method products.
  • I had to grin… my son actually noticed that my husband left the light on in the shower and reminded him “don’t forget to turn off the lights, Dad!” (The “green” apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!)

I realize that I am truly practicing what I preach and it wasn’t because I knew I should; it was because that’s what I “do”.  It’s what I know, and I can “live” with that!

Toxic? When non-stick pans mean non-“healthy” too…

An essential part of maintaining good health is doing plenty of cooking at home, so we can control and select our own ingredients and food choices.  But what cook doesn’t love their collection of non-stick cookware?  Well, what if I told you those conveniences can be hazardous to our health?

non stck cookwr(This is the part where we all sigh and our shoulders droop a little, I know!)

I just learned that non-stick pans can actually omit toxic fumes when they get too hot.  Yes, throw another log on the “disappointment fire”!  It seems these aluminum pans, coated in Polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE (also known as Teflon), can emit fumes when subjected to high heat. Inhaling these fumes can actually cause flu-like symptoms. And although the long-term effects haven’t been extensively studied, we do know that exposure to PTFE can create problems like low birth-weight babies, thyroid and liver issues, elevated cholesterol levels, as well as weakened immune systems.

(A few years ago I remember one of my non-stick pans starting to flake away.  I tossed it out but, surprisingly, the flakes are actually inert.)

The better options for cookwares are actually stainless steel for stove-top cooking and glass bakeware for the oven. Cast iron is another safe choice. Unless you’re willing to replace all of your non-stick cookware, you can feel a little “stuck”, but there are guidelines (compliments of EWG) to lessen your exposure:cast irn pn

  • Cook at lower temperatures and don’t pre-heat your pans at high temps.  It may take a little extra time, but it’s worth it.
  • Never bake at over 500 degrees (some research even says not over 450 degrees).
  • Use your exhaust fan.
  • (A little side note too:  these fumes are highly toxic to birds, so keep your feathered friends far from the kitchen.)

If you’re like me, you’re probably not inclined or prepared to replace all of your non-stick cookware, but just use these tips to play it safe and the next time you’re in a position to buy replacements, make the wiser choices … and then invest in some good scrubbers!

10 ways your Thanksgiving can be “green-of-plenty”.

ThnksgvngTo me, Thanksgiving has always felt like the holiday with the greatest “green potential”.  There are no gifts, costumes, candy or extra, elaborate frills.  It’s simply about family gatherings, feasting on the bounty of the season and giving thanks for everything we have.  (Now didn’t that sounds like a Hallmark card!!!)

In all seriousness, everything from the decorations, to the food, to the clean-up can be exceptionally green.

Here are the things to keep in mind:

  1. Invitations – forgo the paper invitations and send Evites instead.  If you need to mail invitations, look for those made of recycled paper.
  2. Decorations – in many cases, you need only walk into your own backyard: leaves, acorns and twigs can be turned into amazing arrangements. Combine them with colorful gourds, indian corn, squash and apples and you’ve just captured the season!  Afterward, compost or add them back to nature.
  3. Food – visit your local farmer’s market for all of the most amazing produce.  Go organic.  Think acorn squash, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, apple and pumpkin (pie!). And seek out an organic, hormone-free, steroid-free turkey (if it will be a part of your feast).  Start now… call around… see who has what you need, reserve it and buy it.
  4. Drinks – serve organic wine or consider a local brew… or, if you’re lucky (like me!) and surrounded by local wineries, a local wine!crncopia
  5. Tableware and serveware – stop saving “the good dishes” and silverware!  Use them!  Glasses, cups and stemware?  Get them out! Forget the disposable “anything”.  You can even score inexpensive cloth napkins at any dollar store.
  6. Consider the temperature – ovens heat a house fairly quickly… and so do lots of people… so turn down the thermostat or, in warmer climates, keep ceiling fans circulating or windows open to keep the indoors comfortable.
  7. Recycle – that should go without saying, but just remember to make it happen.  Cans, jars, containers, bottles, anything and everything possible.
  8. Don’t waste leftovers – keep only what you know your family will eat.  Send the rest home with your guests.  Start thinking about containers now (no styrofoam plates or plastic-wrap, please!).  You can even ask guests to bring their own glass or ceramic dishware… why not?! And if you compost, toss in those food scraps.
  9. Clean-upuse your dishwasher, but make sure you fill it first.  For the big jobs, you’ll need to use some elbow-grease, but be sure not to leave the tap running endlessly.  And get out your green cleaners.  You can get back to “shiny & clean” without harsh chemicals.
  10. Although it has nothing to do with being green… give thanks. Ask everyone at your table to share a thought. It will certainly put happiness in the air, and that is absolutely free!

Now, if you need some of those ‘leaf, acorn and twig’ decorations I mentioned, email me… and then back up a truck… I have enough in my own backyard to supply your whole neighborhood!