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!

 

Do you remember your PLUs?

About a year ago I ran a post about PLUs.  These are the numbers listed on the little stickers of the produce we purchase.  Did you remember that PLUs (“Product {or Price} Look-Up” labels) actually mean something?… they aren’t just random numbers.

I have them in long-term memory but I was reminded about them during my recent grocery store trip when I realized (while standing in line, of course!) that I had forgotten to purchase tomatoes.  I asked my 10-year old to run back to the produce section and bring back three tomatoes.  I did, however, forget to be specific… ugh-oh.  Well, lo and behold, she returned with three lovely tomatoes and said “Don’t worry… they’re 9 Mom!”  Yes, she remembered!

So, it’s a good time for a reminder:  the important number is actually the first digit and they can tell you a whole lot about the produce you purchase.  It tells you exactly how it was grown.

Here are the digits you need to remember (with an update from my past post) :

  • 3 or 4 – indicates conventionally grown produce (grown with pesticides, herbicides & fertilizers)
  • 8 – originally I had indicated that this identifies genetically-modified (GMO) or genetically-engineered (GE) produce but more evidence is showing that this may not be so and there is no true designation for GMO.
  • 9 – indicates that the produce is ORGANIC

The next time you pick up a piece of produce: (1) look at the first digit of the PLU label, (2) remember these numbers, (3) know what you’re buying and then (4) rest assured that they’ll tell you more about the food you’re buying for (and serving to) your family.  And, even when you don’t expect it, your kids may catch on too!

Consider the extraordinary gift of “Kiva”!

Oh, the ticking clock to the holidays… it’s getting louder and louder!

I have already given you the list of Mom Goes Green holiday recommendations, from gifts to party planning, so I hope you’ve already discovered some great ideas and tips.

I also realized that there is one VERY important organization that I didn’t mention loudly enough: Kiva!

Kiva is really quite extraordinary… through their gift certificate program you can “loan” your gifted money to a “working poor” recipient of your choosing.  Once they are able to repay the loan, you are given back your donated money to grant to another needy recipient… and this wonderful cycle starts all over again!

We’ve personally supported many families. They’ve including a man in Tajikistan who desperately needed money to buy seeds for farming, to a gentleman in Palestine that needed funds to improve his organic chicken farm! It’s rewarding (and admittedly fun!) to go through the list of people, see who you would like to help and check on their progress as time goes on, and until their loan is repaid.

Consider giving a Kiva gift certificate to someone (or make a donation yourself) and just a small amount will allow them (or you!) to give again and again and again…

Isn’t that really much better than that lousy sweater you were considering?…

MGGs last minute guide to keeping your holidays “green”!

The holidays seem to be moving toward us at warp speed! We’re nearing deadlines and, if you’re anything like me, you still have things to do.  (Okay, so maybe I am one of the few dragging dreadfully behind but, humor me for a moment, and let me feel like I’m not alone!)

There are plenty of ways to avoid the excess and waste of the season, as well as making gifts selections that are fabulously green and giving.  So that we (okay, so that I) don’t waste any more time getting to it, let’s just throw it on the table and get it all out of the way!

Here are my four must-read posts that will help you through (click below and read on!):

  • My favorite gifts guide – a list of all the tangible gifts that I enjoy giving, because they happen to be great gifts and they are also fabulously green ideas too.
  • My favorite gifts that “give back”: – a list of gifts that give to a worthwhile cause:  wildlife, nature or the environment.  Sometimes we don’t need to give those tangible gifts that clutter the recipient’s home… giving to a cause in the recipient’s honor may be the biggest present of all!
  • Green party planning – a list of all the ways you can keep your holiday soiree goin’ green.  From decorations, to your menu choices, to your clean-up… there are simple ways to keep from abandoning all of your green principals!
  • Wrap it up in a big “green” bow – a list of all the ways those tangible gifts can be given without creating mountains of trash.

Hopefully, this guide will help you along the way, and gifts that you give will be useful, practical and, sometimes, just simply serve a cause.

The clock may be ticking, but there is always time to make great choices.

Happy green holidays, my friends!

Bacteria and your reusable bags…

Did I just sense some of you cringing?  Yes, I’ll admit… the latest news reports had me a little squeamish too, but let’s keep it in perspective and DO NOT let ourselves be led to think that reusable bags aren’t the right choice (it still IS absolutely the right choice!).

If you haven’t heard the buzz:  “A study from the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University in California found that most people who bring their own bags to the grocery store don’t wash or clean them regularly – and the researchers also discovered a large number of bacteria present in the reusable bags.”  Take a look at the study but you can also read more about the topic at Earth 911.

Admittedly, I’m not a frequent-reusable-bag-washer either. But I do have a fairly simple plan for combatting these cooties!  First of all, I have a set of bags dedicated to grocery shopping.  I tied a red ribbon on the handle of the bag meant for only meat products.  On the handle of the produce-dedicated bag, you guested it… a green ribbon.  It’s easy to just let the cashier know where you need your items placed (sure, sometimes they aren’t thrilled, but oh well!).

I have a whole second set of bags especially for all of my non-grocery purchases.  That absolutely eliminates the concern since there isn’t anything that goes inside to cause the contamination.

If this still leaves you a bit unsettled, well, there’s another simple way to ease your mind… (hold onto your hats!)… wash… your… bags. :)  

And in all reality, even the EPA admits that most of the bacteria doesn’t even pose a health threat.  Afterall, there’s more bacteria on the handle of the gas pump you just used to fill-up your car!

So, my green friends, do NOT be deterred.  Reusable bags are, and always will be, the way to go. (The harm plastic bags create is much greater!)  Just periodically let them go for a little swim in your washing machine and, I promise you, all will be well.