The A to Z Guide for a Green 2011!

hppy nw yr 2010Well, Hello 2011! For some of us, you couldn’t have come soon enough!

It’s a new year with a new chance to make a new beginning… our chance to make a real difference!

If you’ve been “putting off your greening”, I’m going to give you the A to Z list to get the ball rolling. (I think I’ve put together quite the extraordinary list, if I do say so myself!  Be sure to click on the orange links to learn more!)

Hold onto your “green” party hats, and let’s go!…

AAppliances, Animals – Buy energy efficient appliances when you need to make a replacement.  If you’re looking for a ‘cause’ that needs your assistance, donate to help save an endangered species.
BBamboo, Biodegradable, Baking Soda – Buy sustainable bamboo products (everything from towels to furniture).  Think biodegradable for all product choices (detergents, bath products, cleaners, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.).  Use eco-friendly baking soda for everything from health & beauty to cleaning your home.spry bttl
CCFLs, Cleaners, Compost, CSAs – Replace your lights with compact fluorescents.  Skip the chemicals in traditional, commercial cleaners and opt for eco-friendly choices. Start composing food scraps and other biodegradable materials.  Consider buying into a CSA for the freshest, organic produce.
DDonate, Disposable, Dry cleaningDonate your usable but no longer needed clothing, books, toys, household items and furniture to organizations that support the less fortunate, so they can be reused.  Eliminate anything intentionally disposable from your purchases. Look for an eco-friendly dry cleaner to avoid toxic chemicals.
EEnergy, EnvironmentTurn off electronics, computers, lights and all household appliances that aren’t in use.  Consider the effect on the environment in everything you do.
FFood – Make healthy choices of organic and natural foods instead of those filled with preservatives, artificial ingredients and chemicals.  Help your kids learn to make great choices too!
GGlobal warming, Glass, Greywater – Accept that global warming is real and we’re the only creature on the planet that can do something about it.  Recycle all glass (it can be recycled indefinitely!). Learn all the ways to put your greywater to work.
HHeating, HomeTurn down the thermostat.  Excess energy equals an excess of pollution. Make your home safe and clean, and simultaneously non-toxic, by cutting out all chemicals.
IIdeas Share what you know and learn with others.  It can have a fabulous snowball effect!  The ideas from our grandparents are excellent principals to follow as produce
JJourney – Give yourself credit for the things you are doing and accept that going green is truly a journey!
KKidsGet your kids involved.  When they learn to respect the environment early in life, that lesson will stay with them forever.
LLandfills, Local – Remember that everything you toss in the trash winds up in a landfill, polluting the soil and water.  Buy local at every opportunity and, especially for produce, get the most out of your food.
MMattresses, Meat, Milk – When you replace a mattress, consider organic.  Traditional mattresses are filled with harsh and harmful chemicals.  Choose organic meat and milk to avoid antibiotics, steroids and growth hormones.
NNewspapers – When you need to keeps something hot or cold in transport, newspaper is an amazing insulator.  When you’re done, recycle them, always!
OOrganics, Outdoors, Oceans – Buy as many organics as you can… simple as that.  Getting outdoors will remind you of this beautiful world we are trying to preserve, and even if you can’t see an ocean from where you live, never forget how crucial they are.  Remember that allowing them to be polluted (the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, and the Gulf Disaster) must be prevented.
PPlastic, Paper, Palm oil – Avoid the excessive use of plastics or at least make sure the plastics are truly recyclable.  Same goes for paper.  Be conscious not to be wasteful and recycle every unneeded piece of paper that comes your way.  Learn about palm oil and purchase only products that use the sustainable variety.nature kid
QQuit procrastinating and take the next step!
RRecycle, Reusable Bags, Rain barrels – NOT recycling is inexcusable.  Recyclables should never be thrown in the trash.  Invest in reusable shopping bags and stop contributing to the ‘one trillion plastic bags used annually, worldwide’ statistic.  Set-up at rain barrel to capture water for use around your yard.
SSchools, Shopping, “Shoes off – Get  involved at your children’s schools and put together programs to help them embrace recycling and the environment. Realize that every purchase you make has a greener option… it’s up to you to know the difference and choose wisely.  Adopt the “shoes off” rule and avoid tracking toxins and chemicals through your home.
TTrash, Trees, Travel – Make a conscious effort to reduce your weekly trash by not buying over-packaged products or buy only products in recyclable packaging.  Don’t cut down healthy trees… they are more valuable than just their visual beauty (think air quality, soil preservation, wildlife habitat… the list goes on and on). Don’t leave your green principals at home when you travel, take them with you!
UUn-green, Upcycle – When you see a “wrong”, you can make it “right”.  Speak up, help others and make a change that can make a difference.  Before you throw anything away, consider if it has a secondary use and upcycle.
VVinegar, Volunteer – The uses for distilled white vinegar are endless.  Buy some for cleaning, cosmetic uses, deodorizing, and pest and weed control.  Volunteer your time for an environmental cause.preserve wildlands
WWater, Water Bottles, WildlifeConserve water… contrary to belief, the supply is not endless.  Buy a stainless steel, reusable water bottle to avoid BPA and stop contributing plastic bottles to landfills. Contribute to causes that protect the habitats of wildlife and consider what you are doing to their “home” in your every action.
XXenagogue, Xeriscape – The definition of xenogogue is “guide”, so simply guide others and become a steward of both your home and the earth, and make informed choices.  Xeriscape in your yard by planting only native trees, shrubbery and flowers to prevent the need for excessive watering.
YYou – (YOU knew that one was coming too, right?) but sincerely, the changes you make in your daily life are all up to you.  Take what you know and put it to good use.
ZZoos, Zero-Waste – Support zoos that dedicate themselves to conservation and education.  Buy kits and containers that can be reused for lunchtime (or anytime) so that you don’t contribute to the approximate ‘67 pounds of annual trash created by a child’s lunch’.

globe_treeThere it is: A to Z (and I feel like I only scratched the surface!) But the main mission is to simply get started.  Don’t wait for tomorrow, and don’t expect you have to do it all at once, but do admit that we can all make little changes that amount to one enormous difference!

HaPPy NeW YeaR and cheers to making it (and keeping it) green!

Global warming: why “one degree” matters…

Global WarmingThere are so many naysayers when it comes to global warming.  I happen NOT to be one of them, obviously (although I did get quite a laugh when my local news weather forecaster made this little snafu!).

In all reality though, it’s sometimes hard to imagine how one simple degree matters.  Can it really change our world?  Can it really change the composition of something and create a calculable alteration? Can it really make a difference?

The next time you wonder, consider this:

At 32° F a popsicle stays solid enough to take a bite; at 33° degrees it melts and falls off the stick.grn pops

This is the perfect example to share with our children.  It certainly put it into perspective for me and the example left me wide-eyed and wondering.

Besides all of the most familiar effects of global warming (melting polar ice caps, weather extremes, changes in species and geography, and even our health) someone also compiled a rather extraordinary list of 600 ways global warming is changing our planet.

But the next time someone you know questions global warming, invite them over for a popsicle… serve it at 33 degrees and tell them you didn’t think it would matter.

Mom Goes Green goes “Money Minded Moms”!

I’m thrilled and incredibly honored to announce that I have been asked to be a featured writer and contributor for Suze Orman’s latest and greatest online community, Money Minded Moms! I was blown away by the invitation but now, as the site launches… well, I’m even more blown away!

So, what IS Money Minded Moms, you ask?  (I knew you’d ask!)  Money Minded Moms is a place where you can interact with other moms and tackle all of our money issues, from smart saving, to investing, to tips for stretching your every dollar… and that’s where Mom Goes Green comes in!

MMM contributor

You can read my first article, “Go green” AND “save green”: Dispelling the myth, but in a nutshell my contributions will be focused around actually showing readers all of the ways we can live green, keep our families healthy, and benefit the environment without sacrificing anything, including our money. Living green, environmental consciousness and a healthy well-being do NOT need to be a costly commitment. The only investment is taking the time to do the right thing!

The site is going to be truly spectacular.  Suze is amazing and inspiring, and to be a part of one of her projects… wow.   And she’s assembled quite a team.  You can check out all of our profiles here and see that I’m in wonderful company too!

headshotAs Mom Goes Green, this blog will continue and I will forge ahead with my mission, but Money Minded Moms will get the “money perspective” of all my greatest tips and tricks.

I hope you join me! We can have great discussions there too! And once again… that “honored” thing… oh yes… INCREDIBLY honored!

Are you “going green” just to be a “show off”?

t-shrtOkay, first of all, this is not my implication but this comes from an article I just read from author Steve Martin (no, not THAT Steve Martin!)… but it’s very interesting in that it refers to research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology as tested by Vladas Griskevicius from the University of Minnesota along with Joshua Taylor and Bram Van den Bergh from the University of New Mexico and the Rotterdam School of Management.

It seems their research suggests that  “making environmentally conscientious purchase decisions can be seen as altruistic and as a result publicly enhance people’s status”… hmmm?… kind of interesting…

It made me stand back for a second and evaluate myself. And this is what I discovered:

  • Recycling – everyone has a blue recycling can in my neighborhood.  Every “trash night” EVERYONE has the can at the curb.  No one knows if it’s full or contains just a dozen items… or one.
  • Water & energy – no one knows except me… although the Cleveland Division of Water seems to want to tell me I’m a “super consumer” and I have yet to be compared to the “Joneses”… but only I know I’m conservative.
  • Appliances – all of our appliances are energy and water efficient, but I have never introduced anyone to my appliances with a “look at these ‘green’ things!” announcement.
  • Car – admittedly, I drive an SUV.  No, it’s not the greenest thing on the planet, but it’s what others “see”. I do my maintenance to keep it as efficient as possible and “it is what it is”.  I’m not in a position or a mind set to replace it and it doesn’t have bumper stickers announcing my stance on bg
  • Products – I buy lots of eco-friendly stuff, from body products to detergents, but they don’t really seem to attract any attention!
  • Food – again, no one knows except me, the clerk at the grocery store or the guy who fulfills our CSA order, but I know that I neither stand in line at the store, waving my purchase, yelling “this is organic!” nor do I mill around the CSA pick-up hoping someone will notice me.
  • Clothing – I try to buy organic cotton as much as I can, but I do admittedly have a number of tee’s that announce my “greenness” too… hmmm… show-offy?
  • Shopping in general – well, I never accept plastic bags and always (ALWAYS!) tote my own reusable bags (but not THIS one!), so I guess that’s a little indicator of my “greenness”.

Self-evaluation?  I think I’m doing okay – green for all the right reasons, I’d say.  Nothing “too flauty”, nothing “look-at-me”… okay, except the tees… and my bags… oops…. and this blog! 🙂

So… how about you?

“Green lessons” from our grandparents…

1930s cplThis past weekend I had a conversation about how truly excessive we’ve all gotten in our lives… not necessarily you and me, but people as a whole.  I’m not sure where to place the blame.  Perhaps it’s because we have too many choices.  Maybe it’s because everything is so disposable, and convenience leads us to excess.  Possibly it’s fabulous product marketing and advertising… or maybe just a good… ummm, BAD dose of vanity and wanting to have the ‘latest & greatest’…

But there is one thing I know for sure… our grandparents (and especially our great-grandparents!) would be appalled! Think about the fantastic green lessons that can be learned from them:

  • Minimal products – I guarantee they didn’t have an individual product for every task and need on their list.  Today, many people could fill multiple cabinets with everything we’re enticed to buy & try when, truly, the minimal would do!
  • Grow your own food – my grandparents ALWAYS had gardens for growing their own food.  They were organic, chemical-free and fabulously plentiful.  Only soil, water and sun needed! And the food they had never, ever, went to waste.veg grdn
  • Tap water is okay – can you imagine their reaction to the amount of money we spend on bottled water?  Then tell them that the water is also likely contaminated with a chemical called BPA!
  • Reusing at its finest – everything had a secondary use and nothing of value was thrown away.  I still remember my grandfather’s garage filled with cans, jars and boxes that became the most organized of storage containers.
  • Hand me downs are okay too – everything from clothing to furniture, books to pans… it was passed around from family member to family member.  NOTHING was thrown away before its time.
  • Mass transit & foot power – while some of them certainly had their own cars, they also made great use of mass transit or (just imagine!) they walked!
  • If it’s not broken, don’t replace it! – can you also imagine their reaction to the suggestion that we replace something that still worked just because we wanted to “upgrade”…
  • The world was their playground – being indoors meant you were grounded or sick.  The outdoors was everyone’s playground from dawn ‘til dusk!

elder peepsI bow to our elders for being green when they didn’t even know what “being green” would eventually represent… we can learn a lot from them.

Now, what do you do that would make YOUR grandparents shudder?…