Monday, April 30, 2007

I Don't Believe in Labels

A couple of weeks ago Mom Go Green had a cool post about what the numbers mean on produce labels. I especially liked the information on Dole Organics; Go to their website and enter the farm code to find out the fruit's region and country of origin, the crops the farm produces, how long the farm has been certified organic, and what type of organic certification their farm has received. There are also photographs of the owner and farm facilities. Kinda puts a face to that banana, doesn't it? It bugs me that Dole has a habit of using i-t-apostrophe-s on its website when they should be using just plain old i-t-s, but hey...I'm sure those copy writers have other important thing's on they're mind's.

But in general, what do all these labels actually mean? The Green Guide's Smart Green Shopper Food Label Choices guide will help you figure out what it means when your free-range chickens are fair-trade certified...or something like that. The bottom line is, some labels are "less reliable" (think "natural" and "antibiotic-free") than others (think USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified).

In other news, one of my reader's asked me to make suggestions as to how she can begin to go green. I am not a preacher. I will insist on hanging towels out to dry on the one hand and then go take a long hot shower in order to come up with additional brilliant energy-saving ideas on the other. But I will tell you that this month, I am trying to use my own coffee cup 75% of the time. See. I'm not overly ambitious. Baby steps.

By the way. Purchased a coffee today in a to-go cup. -2 points. From McDonald's. -5 points. It was some sort of styrofoam-esque cup. -247 points. I've got a lot of negative balance goin' on.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

TreeHugger's How to Go Green Guides

As a new kid on the greenway, I have just found TreeHugger's How to Go Green guides using The Google on the Internets. This site is exactly what I need to help me start making small but important changes. And look! I knew there had to be a way to green up ones marriage!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

As Dora Would Say...We Did It!!

Today and my family and I went to the Depot, The Home Depot, and picked up our very first package of compact fluorescent lightbulbs. Awwwwwww...they're sooooo cuuuuuuute!

We picked two packs of four bulbs by n:vision; 60 watt equivalents in soft white. They have the EnergyStar logo on the packaging and could it also says guaranteed to last for nine years?!

Also on the packaging is this statement: "Contains Mercury. Dispose according to Local, State or Federal Laws. See or call 1-800-378-6998."

I had heard about CFLs containing Mercury and was a bit baffled - hadn't we just gotten rid of all our mercury thermometers and phased it out as an additive from most of our vaccines? There was also this piece on NPR. Evidently, mercury is created whether you use CFLs or incandescent blubs and CFLs seem to be the lesser of two evils "because they use less electricity — and coal-fired power plants are the biggest source of mercury emissions in the air." This according to Wendy Reed manager of the Energy Star program at the EPA. I suppose like paint, car oil, and batteries, CFLs just need to be disposed of properly. Let's hope people will take the extra time and effort to do so.

For more information, take a look as these resources from the Energy Star program which recommends the websites and; a fact sheet on mercury in CFLs from the National Energy Manufactuers Assocation produced by the EPA; and answers to frequently asked questions on General Electric's website.

Using the Earth 911 website, I found a site 10 miles from my house that will accept used CFLs. Now what to do with all my incandescent bulbs...

Friday, April 27, 2007

People...People Who Need People

If I counted up all the trees that People Magazine uses to produce a single issue of its glossy gift of gab, I'd probably never be able to look another forest in the face. But flipping through the May 7, 2007 issue, I found an interesting article titled "Meet the Greens: How One California Family Decided to Take on Global Warming - One Lightbulb and Paper Towel at a Time" written by Ellen Shapiro. I don't want to take steal all the joy of you reading it on the supermarket checkout line, so here are a just a few highlights:

They use solar panels that provide enough energy for their needs and enough to send back to the power grid (did you know solar panels need to be dusted?).

They make their own fuel for their two vehicles from old vegetable oil (apparatus is in their garage and it appears one of their cars is a Mercedes) for les than $1 a gallon.

They grow pesticide-free produce in their garden.

Their meals are meat-free and most of their vegetables, fruit, cheese, and tofu are organic.

The compost all their table scraps.

Their lawn (meaning grass) is very small and is mowed with a hand mower.

They use native, drought-tolerant plants for their landscaping.

Only cloth diapers get hot water; the rest gets cold in their front loader washing machine (Maya draws the line at the clothes line; her husband wants to ditch the dryer).

And another thumbs-up for sheets made from bamboo fibers!

And you know what the best part is? Maya, 30, a stay-at-home mom used to be a lights on all over the house usin' paper plates for every meal kinda gal. There's hope for me!

Next up for the Sharps, they are taking rainwater from their roof to irrigate their vegetable patch. Wait a second! My husband already does that! Yahoo!

The article also recommends National Geographic's; the EPA's; and and provides some amazing energy statistics.

Now what exactly is People printed on?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Welcome to Gift of Green

As a mom, I spend a lot of time trying to come up with gift ideas. Birthdays, Christmas, being good at the doctor's office. It seems that I equate "gifts" with "things." The concept of "going green" has become the Next Big Thing and the more I think about it, the more I realize that the best "gift" I can ever give my children, and their children, is a healthy living environment where people and the environment actually work in harmony.

Please join me as I focus on my efforts to go green. My goal is to focus on the areas that get the most attention in my life:

Home - we are planning an addition to our modest Cape Cod and hope to incorporate as much green as we can. As for our current abode, I am guilty of the mindset that the harsher the chemicals the better the clean.

Cars - We use our one car and one truck daily. How can we minimize our impact on the environment, our wallet and on our vehicles?

Landscape - My husband is a landscaper and has begun a beautiful transformation of our yard. I have no idea what the concept of green means for our landscape but I hope we can plan wisely.

Work - I won't get into to much detail here, but I work for one of the largest employers in my region. Is green on their agenda?

Kids - Much to be learned here and much restraint on my part is needed.

Food - We eat a lot o' crap...and not just stuff that's crappy for us, but I suppose crappy to produce.

Marriage - Can "green" help us after the kids have gone to bed? : )

I am looking forward to reading your comments as you help me give my family the best gift of all: The Gift of Green