Paint your Valentine’s Day red, pink and GREEN!

Ahh… the holiday of romance!

Valentine’s Day is the day to share your feelings and express your love to the special ones in your life, but if you want to share some love with the environment and add a little bit of “green” to the occasion too, consider these wisest of choices:

  • Cards – did you know that the purchase of Valentine’s Day cards ranks #2 just behind Christmas?!?  One BILLION cards per year, in fact!  So consider buying only cards printed on recycled paper or paper alternatives (hint: the backs of cards reveal their content).
  • Chocolates – always a favorite, make sure those you purchase are organic and fair-trade so you’re assured that there hasn’t been destruction and risky/unfair practices used in order to give your beloved a sweet treat.
  • Flowers – buy locally-grown flowers and those you know haven’t been doused with harsh pesticides and chemicals that are harmful to the environment and growers, or have been flown in from some other region of the globe. When the recipient takes a whiff, you want to be sure the scent is pure sweetness and it isn’t covered in chemicals and preservatives from its long, long trip to your florist.  Also consider live, locally-grown plants as another option.
  • Body products – pick products that are made with organic & natural ingredients and minerals (like Kiss My Face), instead of those containing harsh additives, colorings and chemicals.
  • Jewelry – forget the mass-produced jewelry found in commercial jewelry stores and instead opt for something that is locally-made or a choice that helps others through your purchase (see Hands Up Not Hand Outs to see exactly what I mean!)
  • Soy and beeswax candles – avoid pollutants and toxins expelled by many candle products and choose only soy or beeswax options.
  • Create something – no one ever said you needed to buy a thing to express your love, so make a card, write a poem, create something special and it will often mean more than anything you could buy, and you often need look no further than your own home!
  • Wine – choose organic and/or locally-produced wines.  They do exist, and all you need to do it ask!
  • Organic dinner – dine in and make a completely organic dinner.  When you select the ingredients, you know that there is only “goodness” contained in your meal.

Ahh, yes… Valentine’s Day. The holiday of love… just make sure your expression of “red-hot love” has a little bit of “green” intertwined too… what you do after that, well… you’re all on your own!

 

Weeds & vinegar: a lethal (but safe!) combination

vinegarSo, it finally feels as if Spring has arrived! Your indoor spring cleaning is probably underway but, if your yard is like ours, it may look like the outdoors needs some attention too.

Along with the sprouting of our lovely spring bulbs, some not-so-lovely things are sprouting up too.  Yes, I’m talking about weeds!

Want to control them environmentally and safely without harsh chemicals? Then here are two simple items for your shopping list:  distilled white vinegar and a sprayer bottle.

If you’re like me, you may already have a sprayer bottle or have kept one around just waiting to be reused, so your list may contain one, simple item… vinegar, because (just like my kids) weeds hate the taste of vinegar!

All you need to do is fill the bottle with vinegar and spray the nasty culprits! It works best with young weeds and, for those tough hardy buggers, it may take more than one application but, I assure you, it works! I should also add that it works best on a sunny day and when rain is not in the forecast.  weedz

However, this also comes with a warning… vinegar is NOT selective. It will kill whatever you spray.  You need to be cautious not to let it come in contact with prized flowers or plants, so make sure your bottle has a very controlled sprayer and not a wide range mist.  For this reason also, vinegar is best for gardens, flower beds, sidewalks, driveways and around paver stones, but isn’t recommended for lawns since it will take your grass right along with the weeds!

Ahh… vinegar! Is there anything it doesn’t do?!?  Okay, well yea… there are “things”, but the list of what it DOES do just got longer… and you can now add “weed warrior” to that list!

Keep the sweet smell of Valentine’s Day chemical free!

flowr valValentine’s Day… the holiday of LOVE! There might be someone you would love to shower with romance and affection, but while you put together the lovey-est of treats, you want to be sure to make the best choices.

I’ve written about all of the ways to keep it eco-friendly – from chocolates and candles, to wining and dining (and you can read that entire post here).

But Valentine’s Day is a hugely popular holiday for flowers.  The problem?  About 70% of flowers sold in the U.S. are imported and grown using highly toxic chemicals, including pesticides, fertilizers and fungicides. It doesn’t sound so pleasant to take a big “whiff” now, does it?!  This is a danger to us as consumers, workers cultivating the flower crops and florists working with them daily.  It also pollutes the land and groundwater and creates an unhealthy environmental effect.

This Valentine’ Day consider organic flowers! These farms instead use environmental and sustainable practices (without toxins) to insure that everyone in the chain, including the environment, isn’t put at risk.  And it also simply supports local, domestic farming. Diamond Organics, California Organic Flowers and Organic Bouquet will help put you in the right direction to locate a florist that offers organic flowers or buy online if you want “green” blooms.veriflora

You can also look for the VeriFlora label or ask your florist if they are VeriFlora certified and you will know you are buying an organic and sustainable product.

Be assured you’re NOT bringing those toxins into your home or sending them to someone you actually love (or at least like a LOT!).

The scent of organic flowers is pure (non-toxic) sweetness!

Simple gardening tip: “plant native” for a truly green garden

Every spring my family and I spend a weekend cleaning the yard (an activity that can be made fun if you just try!) and planting flowers to make everything nice and cheery.

xeriscapeI’ve never given much thought to what I plant other than selecting what I think is “cute” and my “color choice” for the season, but I’ve also made some poor selections when they’ve required a lot of water to keep them bright, cheery… and alive!

Whether you’re planting flowers, trees, shrubbery or an entire lawn, make sure that your choices are native to your area. Despite having favorites that you’d like to see in your own yard, it’s wiser to choose something that will naturally thrive without watering and excess water use, and will eliminate your need for nasty fertilizers and pesticides.

This concept even has its own term, known as xeriscaping… (make sure you throw that one into a sentence today, to impress your family and friends! And oooh… I need to make an addition to my A to Z list, don’t I?).  Check out PlantNative.org for lists of native plantflowrs by state, local nurseries and organizations too!  All of them can help you make the smartest choices.  Eartheasy also has great tricks, tips and ideas that get as green as they come.

Remember that vinegar and water is a great natural weed killer too.  Just be sure to have good aim and a quality sprayer because vinegar is NOT selective and will destroy whatever it comes in contact with.

You may not think you have a green thumb, but with a little effort you CAN have the “greenest” garden on the block!

Fresh flowers and blooms that smell of doom!

Waaaay back in my previous life – about 2001 BC (Before Children!) – one of my favorite indulgences was having fresh cut flowers in our home, at all times.  It was a little OVERindulgent, but it sure brightened up the place, no matter the season.

flowers2Since having kids, this has taken a backseat to many other things that command our disposable income.  But one of my shortcomings was that I only looked for cheap flowers without any consideration of how they were grown, where they came from or how they got here… oops!

I’ve since learned that about 70% of flowers sold in the US are imported and grown using highly toxic chemicals, including pesticides, fertilizers and fungicides… doesn’t sound so pleasant to take a big “whiff” now, does it?!  This is a danger to us as consumers, workers cultivating the flower crops and florists working with them daily.  It also pollutes the land and groundwater and creates an unhealthy environmental effect.

Enter: organic flowers! These farms instead use environmental, sustainable practices (without toxins) to insure that everyone in the chain, including the environment, isn’t put at risk.  And it also simply supportverifloras local, domestic farming. Diamond Organics, California Organic Flowers and Organic Bouquet will help put you in the right direction to locate a florist that offers organic flowers or simply buy online if you want “green” blooms.  You can also look for the VeriFlora label or ask your florist if they are VeriFlora certified and you will know you are buying organic… and NOT bringing those toxins into your home or sending them to someone you actually like!

Along with this recent “enlightenment” I also discovered that I have quite a bounty of floral vases that are crowding that useless cupboard above my refrigerator (yeah, you know the one I’m talking about!).  Most of these vases are created with such a variety of glass, they can’t be recycled (hence trash!).  But before you let them hit the can, consider giving them back to a local florist!  Many will happily accept them, and honestly, I would not be one bit irritated if I knew that my flowers were arranged in a reused vase!

And if you’re lucky enough to live in Northeastern Ohio, like me (okay, so it’s not so lucky in the dead of winter!), a co-op between Green Lotus and Cleveland Blooms will actually pick them up from your doorstep(!) so they caflower-vasen be cleaned and sent back to a local florist who wants them, so you don’t even need to do the legwork!

Even though that “flower fund” has now been redirected to “Barbie” and “Planet Heroes” you can bet that, when I want to treat myself to a bouquet, I will be doing a search for organic flowers and calling Green Lotus when my blooms head for the compost pile!