Green's blog

One Year in American Junk

This is a reprint from  , an online newspaper that encourages readers to take part and take action and is one of a series on “shrinking your waste”.

 

Written by Shaya Tayefe Mohajer,  TakePart’s News Editor.

It arrives in the mailbox and often goes straight to the garbage. Here’s why it’s worth stopping the endless cycle.

The mailbox ritual goes something like this—open the box, and out spills a slew of envelopes and catalogs. Bills get separated from coupon mailers. Holiday cards and invitations get dug out of a tangle of credit-card offers and other solicitations.

No one loves it, but everyone gets junk mail. It’s a relentless tide of paper that comes to your doorstep unbidden and often ends up in a garbage can moments after entering the house.

The production, distribution, and disposal of all that junk mail creates more than 51 million metric tons of greenhouses gases annually, the emissions equivalent of more than 9.3 million cars. That’s more than all the cars registered in Los Angeles and New York City combined.

MORE WAYS YOU CAN: Shrink Your Waste

There are ways to cut back on mailbox clutter. CatalogChoice.org allows users to search for the catalogs that come to an address and opt to stop getting them or reduce the frequency. For example, if you only want to see the Crate and Barrel catalog for holiday shopping, you can opt to get only the seasonal publications. You will need to enter the customer number or key source code from a copy of the mailer at the website page.   Doing a little paperwork there and on sites such asdmachoice.org and optoutprescreen.com can reduce a lot of future paper clutter.

Besides, the trees are more worth keeping around than the flood of marketing materials. Yale researchers estimate that since the dawn of humanity we have cut down half the trees on the planet, and there are about 3 trillion left—which leaves us with about 400 trees a person.

 


(Infographic: Lauren Wade)

For more information, visit http://www.takepart.com/

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Preserve!

Have you ever heard of Preserve recycled toothbrushes? I’ve been using them for years and wouldn’t use any other kind. Not only are they made from recycled yogurt cups (the bristles are new!), but they worked closely with dental professionals to develop a toothbrush with an ergonomic handle for hard-to-reach places and a three-level bristle arrangement for thorough cleaning. Unlike most toothbrushes, Preserve’s minimize your impact on the environment.

Preserve's high quality products are made from 100% recycled, BPA-free plastic, are dishwasher safe, and made in the US. Preserve is a company truly walking the walk, totally dedicated to doing the right thing by the earth, including conducting tests to ensure the safety of the recycled plastic. Preserve’s product line includes sleek new razors and a stylish, functional and durable line of reusable tableware and kitchenware like colanders, food containers, measuring cups, and cutting boards.  

Recycling is also a priority of Preserve. In addition to their toothbrush take back program, Preserve collaborates with Whole Foods, Stonyfield Farms, Plum Organics, Keurig and others in the “Gimme 5” recycling program. Gimme 5 bins are placed at 250 Whole Food locations across the county where anyone can drop of #5 plastics including caps from Plum Organics and other similar products, which so often don’t make it into the recycling stream.  Or you can take advantage of their mail back programs.

Preserve has recycled more than half a million pounds of plastic, thereby decreasing waste sent to landfills, reducing use of non-renewable resources like natural gas and oil, and decreasing energy use and carbon dioxide emissions.

What a difference it would make if more companies approached business like Preserve! Support companies doing the right thing without comprising quality. For more information, click here.

 

Special Offer

Take advantage of Preserve’s generous 6-month offer for a 10% discount off any order placed on line before July 15. Simply use the promo code “BWILD” at checkout.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

New Year's Intentions the Green Way

I like the idea of New Year’s intentions as opposed to resolutions. The dictionary definition of a resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something” and an intention is “a thing intended; an aim or plan”. An intention seems gentler and more doable. You aim to get there.

One of the best intentions you can adopt in 2016 is to follow a more plant-based diet. The obvious benefits of a plant-based diet are:

Chickpea and Cavatelli Soup

  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Have better blood sugar
  • Lower your chance of getting cancer and other diseases
  • Lose weight
  • Be a healthier you

But there are just as important environmental reasons as well! With a plant-based diet you can:

  • Reduce greenhouse gases – According to Assya Barrette of mindbodygreen.com, “Animal agriculture is estimated to produce more greenhouse gases than the whole of the transportation industry combined.” Methane gas is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the US and cows and other grazing animals emit lots of methane.
  • Reduce animal cruelty – millions of cattle and poultry are raised in overcrowded factory farms where animals are often given antibiotics, growth hormones and treated inhumanely. (Watch the movie Food, Inc. and you’ll definitely cut back your meat consumption!)
  • Help save the Amazon, the Earth’s lungs – The Amazon is being deforested at an alarming rate, the majority of which is for animal agriculture.

 

Another benefit? Your grocery bill will definitely drop. Beef and chicken are expensive; beans and legumes are much cheaper! And there are lots of delicious and creative plant-based recipes on line, which even the most ardent meat eaters will enjoy!

Addiction to processed or refined foods and high fat animal products is real, but can be reversed like any habit after a period of time. An intention to eat less meat and more plant-based meals will have a huge impact on climate change and your health. Remember, what’s good for you is good for the earth, and what’s good for the earth is good for you.

What intentions have you set for 2016? Happy New Year!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from: Why 2016 Is Your Year To Go Plant-Based”, Tracie Hines, “11 Great Reasons To Eat Less Meat (Even If You’re Not Ready To Go Vegan”Assya Barrette,http://animals.howstuffworks.com/www3.epa.gov.

 

 

 

What Have You Done?

'And so this is Christmas . . . what have you done?'
John Lennon, singer

 

 

As 2015 draws to a close, think about the new green habits you have incorporated into your daily life.  Did you recycle more? Start composting?  Think of clever ways to reuse an old soda bottle? Take public transportation, walk or bike more and drive less? Cut back on meat consumption? Support local farmers?  Start using organic household and personal care products? Find a non-toxic dry cleaner?

Whatever you do to make your lifestyle greener, doesn't it make you feel good to know you are doing a small part to protect this beautiful earth of ours? In 2016, consider doing just a little more. Remember, what's good for the earth is good for you and what's good for you is good for the earth.

I'd love to hear about your new green habits!  Email me so we can share them with other readers.....

Have a happy holiday and a healthy 2016!!!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com

Fire Cider to the Rescue!

If you haven’t already discovered Fire Cider, winter’s cold and flu season is the time. This potent and fiery tonic contains “powerful immune boosting, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, decongestant and spicy circulatory movers….” and has been used as a daily supplement by New Englanders for generations. Herbalists recommend it to help prevent colds and flu symptoms or shorten their duration if you already have one. The basic ingredients are apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers, fresh herbs and spices, but folk remedy recipes vary depending on what’s growing in the garden and you can add whatever you like.

I’ve been using Fire Cider for a couple of years to ward off colds and other bugs and find it really works. I made a batch of Fire Cider and now I understand why this magical concoction is so potent! As I was cutting up 3 entire heads of garlic, hot peppers, onions, horseradish, oranges and lemons, and lots of herbs and spices, I thought there’s no way drinking a teaspoon of this a day wouldn’t kill bugs and germs! A swig of Fire Cider on a cold winter’s day works wonders to warm you up too!

Boost your immunity this cold season with Fire Cider! You can find it at some farmer’s markets or at online.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s also easy to make. Here is a recipe.

Fire Cider

Makes 1 pint or more

1/2 cup peeled and diced horseradish
1/2 cup peeled and diced garlic
1/2 cup peeled and diced onion
1/4 cup peeled and diced ginger
1/4 cup peeled and diced turmeric
1 habanero chile, split in half
1 orange, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 lemon, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 to 3 cups raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
1/4 cup raw honey, or more to taste

Place all of the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices in a clean 1-quart jar. Fill the jar with vinegar, covering all the ingredients and making sure there are no air bubbles. Cap the jar. If using a metal lid, place a piece of parchment or wax paper between the jar and the lid to prevent corrosion from the vinegar. Shake well.

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Let the jar sit for 3 to 6 weeks, shaking daily (or as often as you remember).

Strain the vinegar into a clean jar. Add honey to taste. Refrigerate and use within a year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few serving suggestions:

  • Straight up: Rosemary Gladstar, a well-known herbalist, recommends taking 1 to 2 tablespoons at the first sign of a cold, and then repeating every 3 to 4 hours until symptoms subside. Some people also take fire cider as a preventative during cold and flu season.
  • Mix with lemonade or orange juice
  • Mix with hot water and extra honey to make a tea
  • Use in place of vinegar in salad dressings and condiments (fire cider honey mustard at Salt+Fat+Whiskey)
  • Drizzle on steamed vegetables or sautéed greens
  • Use in marinades for meat, tofu, and tempeh
  • Add to soups and chilis
  • Try a couple of dashes in a cocktail, such as a Bloody Mary

http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-fire-cider-recipes-from-the-kitchn-199972

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-fire-cider-recipes-from-the-kitchn-199972http://www.mommypotamus.com/fire-cider-recipe/, and firecider.com.

 

 

 

 

Have a Green Holiday This Year!

This year incorporate green habits into your usual holiday plans.  Here are some suggestions.

  • Christmas treeFor your holiday feast, support local farmers who grow organic meat and produce – an organic heritage turkey is unbelievably moist and delicious. Incorporate lots of plant-based options as well.
  • Buy a pesticide-free Christmas tree. Some growers use 40 different pesticides and colorants.  You can find no or low pesticide trees at some of the local tree farms and of course they always last longer when you cut them yourself.  There is controversy about which is more environmentally friendly, a fake or a real tree, and there are arguments for both, but you can't beat the smell of a freshly cut tree. Decorating a large houseplant like a Norfolk Island Pine is a good enviro-option too! After the holidays, recycle your tree. Many cities offer programs to turn trees into mulch or woodchips. (visit www.earth911.org for information)
  • Lots of fresh greenery and berries make beautiful, natural decorations!
  • Energy efficient “LED” lights use 90% less energy than conventional holiday lights and are also less expensive for you.  You can recycle your old incandescent ones at HolidayLEDs.com. You can find LED lights at Target, Costco and most major retailers.
  • Mass produced wrapping paper is beautiful and convenient, but ends up being thrown away. Make your own holiday wrapping paper instead, which is greener, more personal and doesn’t have to be time-consuming.  Holiday dish towels, colorful scarves or bandanas, newspaper sections, old maps, ball jars, clay pots, old calendars or even plain brown paper tied with a colorful bow and some greenery cut from your backyard make great wrapping paper. Ideas are endless!  If every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
  • Gifts to your favorite charity are always needed and not only make you feel good, but obviously cut down on unnecessary stuff.
  • Green experiences like restaurant gift certificates, cooking classes, theater or concert tickets, or memberships to sports clubs are meaningful, waste-free presents.

For more info on holiday waste and how to minimize it, visit treehugger.com.

Feel good this holiday season knowing you are taking simple “green” steps that make a big difference!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Zen Decluttering!!

A good friend gave me the most wonderful book recently called The life-changing magic of tidying up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.  This easy-to-read book by Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning consultant, takes a whole new approach to decluttering the author calls the KonMari Method. Basically, it guides you in determining those items in your home that “spark joy” and discarding those that don’t, leading to a house without clutter and with lasting results.  She recommends a specific order to follow when decluttering, which enables you to make those hard discarding decisions, and the proper way to fold to solve your storage problems.  By surrounding yourself with only things that spark joy, you will naturally be happier, Marie says.

I like things orderly, but I am by no means a neat freak, and I  have to be really motivated to clean out drawers and closets.  After reading Marie’s book however, I could hardly wait to get started.  I’ve finished my clothes and am now ready to do books and papers. Even my husband is reorganizing his things!  Marie maintains, “a dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective….. and is life transforming.”   I’m beginning to understand why. Don’t wait for spring cleaning to start to declutter – do it now!  With this new approach, it’s actually fun.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Happy Greener Halloween!

From candy to face paint to candles, Halloween can be a “toxic” holiday.  There are simple ways however, to make Halloween greener without spoiling the fun!

Face paint, play make-up, lipstick and nail polish contain chemicals and lead that are harmful to kids and linked to hormone disruption and cancer.  Instead try natural cosmetics.  You can check the safety of your cosmetics at cosmeticsdatabase.com. Skip the colored hairspray, which contains harmful chemicals and fragrance that kids can easily breathe in.  Wigs, hats or funny hairdos work too.

Rather than buying a cheap, synthetic costume, why not get one from a resale shop or borrow one from a friend?  Return to simpler times and make one using items you already have. Those are the ones your child will remember.  I have a vivid memory of being a ghost made from an old white sheet!

Synthetic facemasks and fake teeth are made from plastics and unlabeled materials.  Putting plastic teeth in your mouth or breathing the chemicals from the plastic masks doesn’t seem like a good idea for young developing bodies and can be harmful.  Try making your own mask from a paper bag or use a half-face mask instead.

English: Child in Tiger face paint

Traditional paraffin-based candles (made from petroleum by products) give off toxic compounds.  Use fragrance-free ones made from soy or beeswax.  Avoid  plastic pumpkins and other cheap Halloween accessories.  Fall gourds, pumpkins, corn stalks, and even leaves make beautiful natural decorations.

Kids look forward all year to Halloween candy, but there is a steady stream of holiday candy from Halloween through Valentine’s Day.  Why not give out healthier granola bars, puffed rice squares, small dark chocolate bars, or bags of popcorn or pretzels? Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s sell less sugary candy.  With my kids I would “buy back” a portion of their Halloween candy and then let them buy a new toy with the money. (I always over paid them but it was worth it to limit the candy.) They actually loved spreading their candy out, sorting and counting the candy and deciding which to give back and which to keep.  It was a good math game too.

As with all holiday indulgences, moderation is the key.

Some information compiled from Environmental Working Group http://www.ewg.org.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

The Autumn Harvest

Autumn’s crisp blue sky and the brilliant reds, yellows and oranges of the trees make it a special time of year.  Fall is also harvest time when the growing season ends and mature crops are gathered.  The cranberry harvests on Cape Cod are a sight to behold. CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and Farmer’s Markets are winding down and farmers put their fields to bed and get some much-needed rest from the busy season.

This year, think about eating locally as much as possible throughout the fall and winter.  Stock up on fresh fruitsand vegetables at the Farmer’s Markets, mostly root vegetables, apples and cranberries in New England,  and store them in your basement or cold storage area.

Canning and freezing are great ways to extend the life of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you have a garden, you probably already know how to make and can fresh tomato sauce, applesauce, jellies and jams with the abundance of summer fruits. Herbs freeze well too, so gather some before the first frost. “Fresh” herbs are a welcome surprise to winter dishes.

Eating locally all yearlong is getting easier with winter CSAs and winter Farmer’s Markets.  Many communities now offer them.

Eating organic food grown locally is important for many reasons – its fresher, more nutritious, supports local farmers and requires less oil because it is not transported far and grown organically.  As Barbara Kingsolver says in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, (a wonderful book about her family’s experience eating only seasonal and local food for one year – I highly recommend it.),  “If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. …  Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast.”

Celebrate autumn and the harvest this year and enjoy great food all year-long.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.


Join The Blue Zones!

Have you ever wondered why some people live well into their 90’s and even 100's with their mind and body relatively intact? Well, Dan Buettner of the National Geographic did too and in 2004, he identified five areas of the world, which he calls Blue Zones, where people reached age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States.

  • Ikaria, Greece
  • Loma Linda, California
  • Sardinia, Italy
  • Okinawa, Japan
  • Nicoya, Costa Rica

Dan and his team of scientists studied the lifestyle that explained their longevity and well-being and found 9 shared characteristics. According to the Blue Zone project, the 9 Blue Zone lessons, or Power 9®, are:

  1.  “Move Naturally - The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron or run marathons. Instead, their environments    nudge them into moving without thinking about it.
  2.  Purpose - Why do you wake up in the morning? Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life         expectancy.
  3. Down Shift - Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. The world’s longest-lived people have routines to shed that stress.
  4. 80% Rule“Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawans say this mantra before meals as a reminder to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.
  5. Plant Slant - The cornerstone of most centenarian diets? Beans. They typically eat meat—mostly pork—only five times per month.
  6. Wine @ 5 - Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers, especially if they share those drinks with friends. Moderate drinking is one per day for women and two per day for men.
  7. Belong - Attending faith-based services four times per month – no matter the denomination – adds up to 14 years of life expectancy.
  8. Loved Ones First - Centenarians put their families first. They keep aging parents and grandparents nearby, commit to a life partner and invest in their children.
  9. Right Tribe - The world’s longest lived people chose or were born into social circles that support healthy behaviors.”

Simply put, they eat primarily a plant-based diet, get regular gentle exercise including walking, fishing, gardening, have the support of a close group of friends and/or family, and have a strong sense of faith and purpose in their lives.

I recently attended a Blue Zone cooking class.  Beans are the basis of each of the Blue Zones, so for dinner I made the typical Costa Rican diet most consumed by centenarians - black beans, brown basamati rice, squash and avocado, which I doctored up with spices, shallots and Ponzu sauce (recipe below). This easy, healthy and delicious meal offers all that you need - complete protein, high fiber, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates. Even my meat-eating husband enjoyed it!

Ponzu Sauce – 1/3 cup organic tamari, 1/3 cup lemon and 1/3 cup mirin (rice cooking wine) with a dollop of honey. Use to liven up anything!

Visit the Blue Zone website for more information and take the vitality quiz to calculate your healthy life expectancy!

The Blue Zone project has the right recipe for a long and healthy life!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

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