Green's blog

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.


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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 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

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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.


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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!


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A Non-Toxic Approach to Shower Mold

I noticed some mold spots growing on my brand new pebble shower floor and of course didn’t want to clean it up with a harsh, toxic commercial moldicide. Even the word sounds scary! So I consulted The Naturally Clean Home – 150 Super-easy Herbal Formulas for Green Cleaning book and tried the following recipe. The mold wiped right off!

Here it is:

Mold Deterrent

1 1/4 cups white vinegar

3/4 cup water

4 drops cinnamon essential oil

6 drops patchouli essential oil

2 teaspoons tea tree essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a plastic bottle.  Spray surface well.  If you have mold buildup, allow the spray to rest on the surface for a few hours.  Wipe off with a soft cloth, then respray and let dry without rinsing.  You can use this recipe as the name suggests as a mold deterrent and spray surfaces without rinsing.

I used peppermint essential oil in place of the cinnamon and patchouli since I didn’t have the others.

A Little Information About Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil comes from the Australian paperbark tree and is an all-around remedy long valued for its anti-fungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties.

Some Common Uses:

Around the house tea tree oil can be used as a toothbrush cleaner, mold treatment, natural pest control (the strong smell naturally repels ants and other insects), and laundry freshener.  For body care, tea tree oil helps control acne, fights fungal and bacterial infections, treats athlete’s foot, dandruff, lice, and gingivitis.  In aromatherapy, tea tree oil can be helpful in alleviating chest and head congestion, stuffy nose, and other symptoms of colds and flu, especially when used in steam inhalation.

unnamed-3A bottle of this little household wonder can be found at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods or other natural food stores.


White vinegar (and apple cider vinegar) besides its obvious uses in cooking, is a completely safe all around cleaner, disinfectant, weed killer, pet cleaner, odor neutralizer, clothes whitener, glass cleaner and many more.  No pantry should be without a huge container of vinegar!  

For more green cleaning tips, click here.

Some information compiled from:

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An Eco-Correct Labor Day Cookout

This Labor Day, think green and have an eco-correct cookout.  How?  It’s easy —  

For the meal –

Start with a visit to your local farmer’s market for fresh local fruits and vegetables so abundant this time of year. Make sure to include delicious and nutritious vine ripened tomatoes and watermelon to your meal – they contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, which may also help ward off sunburn!  If possible, serve organic meat, pork and poultry.

For the grill –

A charcoal chimney is an easy way to start your grill and much safer than lighter fluid if you don’t have a gas grill.  Make sure you use natural, hardwood charcoal instead of the conventional briquettes.  Fill at least half your grill with produce.  Grilled vegetables are not only a healthy and low calorie, but also don’t produce the carcinogens that can form on grilled meats.  When grilling meat, always cook over a low-to-medium flame and avoid over-charring.  Flare-ups and smoking oil create carcinogens.  Marinate or baste with oil, honey or a barbeque sauce to provide a barrier and help prevent charring.

For the tableware –

I prefer reusable dinner plates and utensils, but if you are having a crowd it is easier to use disposable.  Make sure they are biocompostable or made from recycled plastic.  Preserve Products makes plates, utensils and storage containers that are made in the US from 100% BPA-free recycled plastic and are dishwasher safe.  (They also make great toothbrushes and razors made from recycled yogurt cups.) Whole Foods carries the line, but you can also order them  Cloth napkins are a nice touch, but if you prefer disposable, you can easily find them made from recycled or tree-free paper at most supermarkets.

Repellants and Sunscreens –

Chemical free sunscreen and insect repellants are a much healthier alternative than conventional products.  Badger makes effective, non-toxic repellants and sunscreens.  Visit to check the toxicity of your brand.

Activities that get you moving –

Plan activities to get your guests moving and not eating and drinking so much.  If your cookout is near the water, take advantage of the end of summer for swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking. If not, set up a volleyball/badminton net and get the teens involved in a tournament.  Croquet appeals to all ages and corn hole is a fun new rage!  A nature walk or an outside scavenger hunt is a great way to get the kids interested in the outdoors.

And, of course don’t forget to compost food waste and recycle cans, bottles and other recyclable items!

Whatever you do to honor the end of summer, make sure you are good to the earth.  Remember, what is good for the earth is good for you and what is good for you is good for the earth.  Have fun and happy Labor Day!

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Mass Save at the Plymouth Waterfront Festival

If you are in the Boston/Cape Cod area, check out the Plymouth Waterfront Festival on Saturday, August 29th from 10:30am-7pm.  It’s sure to be a good time for the entire family.

While you are there, stop by the Mass Save booth and take advantage of their great offer on energy efficient products.   There will be fun for the kids too with multiple flavors of Stonyfield Farm squeezable yogurt tubes to sample and seeds to plant in recycled Stonyfield Farm yogurt containers.

While the kids are learning about growing and recycling, mom and dad can visit their trivia wheel for a chance to win fun Mass Save products. MassSave will be offering  Energy Efficient home kits, consisting of 3 LED’s, an advanced power strip and evolve shower adapter, for $10. This promotional price is only available for those who visit our booth during the festival.

It’s never too early to get your kids involved in energy saving awareness!  For more information about other vendors, parking and the events planned please visit:

A Greener Way To Start School

Summer’s end is fast approaching and school is about to start.  As you and your kids get ready, think greener this year. Here’s how.

For young kids:

I loved my trips to Staples with my kids to get new pencils and pens, fresh, clean notebooks, binders and folders for the first day of school, but buying everything new can be wasteful and expensive.  Instead….

  • Reuse last year’s unfinished notebooks. Just tear out (and recycle) the used papers and they are as good as new.   For new, buy notebooks with recycled paper or paper made from natural fibers like banana or coffee.
  • If last year’s binders aren’t in good shape, buy those made from postconsumer waste and water-based glue.  Fill them with recycled binder paper.
  • Reuse last year’s pencils and pens; if you need more, opt for pencils made from reforested wood or recycled newspapers. For young elementary age kids, get nontoxic, phthalate-free crayons.
  • Pack a healthy lunch in a reusable lunch bag;  buy bulk size wholesome snacks and put them in reusable containers rather than snack-size, throwaway plastic baggies. A piece of fruit is the most beneficial snack option.
  • Walk, carpool or take a bus to school to cut down on carbon emissions.
  • For after school sports, don’t forget your BPA-free, reusable water bottle.




For older students:

Follow the above tips and…..

  • Be ahead of the curve; try a solar-powered bamboo calculator.
  • Fun, eco-chic backpacks made from 100% recycled cotton canvas oother recycled materials and messenger bags made from recycled rice sacks with printed graphics are the new look.  They are a lot more environmentally friendly than the traditional polyester or nylon ones.

For college students:

Moving in and out of dorms creates a lot of waste.  The amount of cardboard and plastic packaging for the new bedding, bath and personal care products, school supplies, etc. is overwhelming and recycling bins are often not available.

  • Instead of always buying new, reuse some things from home and try not to bring so much stuff.  Dorm rooms are small and you can get away with less.  When you do buy new things, buy them at school and avoid shipping.  Target stores are everywhere and even sell organic towels and sheets! For futons and other furniture, graduating students often donate their old furniture or look on-line at or
  • Use low energy certified microfridges, computers and tv’s.
  • Share appliances with friends – not everyone needs every appliance.
  • Use power strips instead of extension cords to save energy and keep air conditioning to a minimum.
  • Install CFL or LED light bulbs and turn off the lights when you leave the room.  Make sure to unplug your phone charger when not in use to eliminate vampire energy.
  • Skip disposable water bottles and get a reusable BPA-free water bottle instead.
  • For the late night munchies, eat organic fruits and snacks and compost the waste.
  • Choose green cleaning supplies like Seventh Generation for washing your dishes or cleaning your dorm room.
  • Decorate your dorm room with air purifying houseplants like spider plants that are easy to grow. 
  • Get involved with on campus environmental groups, or start your own.  Several colleges now have local raised bed gardens – volunteer to work in them.  Working with the soil is a great stress reducer and you’ll learn a lot.
  • Solo cups are “the” party cups, but they take hundreds of years to decompose and some recycling centers don’t take them.  Solo has a new product line of products that are made using recycled, recyclable or compostable materials called Bare® by Solo.  Set an example and go for those!  
  • Always use recycled paper and don’t forget to recycle used paper, bottles and those ubiquitous beer cans!

You are never too young or too old to start making a difference by living greener!

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Break The Plastic Wrap Habit!

Plastic wrap is convenient, inexpensive and deeply ingrained as the way to cover and store food. According to, “we use enough plastic wrap every year to shrink-wrap the entire state of Texas.”  Yikes! Plastic wrap is also non-biodegradable, rarely recycled, a derivative of petroleum, and can leach chemicals into the food especially when heated. With a little knowledge and some imagination, you can cover and store your food far more safely and just as conveniently without plastic. Here are some ideas:

  • Glass storage containers like Pyrex, which are stackable, sturdy and microwave safe are a good solution. You can buy them new at any kitchen or home goods store, or take a trip down memory lane and look for the colored pyrex dishes from the 1950’s found at flea markets or consignment shops.  
  • Reusable silicone lids that fit most bowls are another good solution.  They are 100% airtight and are dishwasher and microwave safe.  They come in a variety of sizes and are even sold in the shape of lily pads. You can find them at most kitchen shops.  
  • Bee’s Wrap is a clever new product made from organic cotton muslin infused with beeswax, jojoba oil and tree resin. The anti-bacterial properties of beeswax and jojoba oil keep the food fresh and allow the wraps to be used over and over. Bee’s Wrap comes in 5 sizes and can be found at most specialty kitchen stores or on line.  
  • If you need to cover food after preparing but before serving, why not simply place a dishcloth over it? No need to waste plastic wrap.
  • When transporting a salad or a dish to a friend’s house, cover the bowl with a lovely dinner plate. It makes a much more impressive presentation than plastic wrap!

The challenge is breaking the plastic wrap habit! It’s easy if you remember that food and plastic don’t go together. I’d love to know your ideas for alternatives to plastic wrap. Email me!


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 Some information compiled from,



Unusual Ways to Use Cucumbers

I harvested my first cucumber yesterday and several more are on the way! If you have an overabundance in your garden, be glad. Below are some clever, “green” uses for them.

My cucumber plant

  • Cucumbers are loaded with vitamins and minerals and make a great energy-boosting snack. They contain most of the vitamins you need every day – Vitamin B1, Vitamin B2, Vitamin B3, Vitamin B5, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium and Zinc.
  • Rubbing a cucumber slice on a fogged up mirror will eliminate the fog and provide aromatherapy at the same time.
  • Cucumber slices in an aluminum pie tin will repel grubs and slugs from your garden.  The chemicals in the cucumber react with the aluminum to give off an undetectable scent to humans but not to garden pests.
  • Cucumber is especially beneficial for the skin.  Rub a slice of cucumber on your cellulite and wrinkles to tighten the skin. Cucumber also reduces eye puffiness.Image by Betsy Wild
  • Eating a few cucumber slices after over imbibing and before going to bed helps to eliminate a hangover.  The sugar, B vitamins and electrolytes in the cucumber replenish essential nutrients.
  • Shine your shoes with cucumber – the chemicals provide a quick shine that also repels water.
  • A cucumber slice pressed on the roof of your mouth for 30 seconds kills bad breath germs. The phytochemicals kill the bacteria.
  • Next time you are out of WD 40, take a cucumber slice and rub it along the problem hinge and the squeak will be gone!
  • No time for a stress-reducing massage or facial?  Cut up an entire cucumber and place it in a boiling pot of water.  The chemicals and nutrients from the cucumber with react with the boiling water and be released in the steam, creating a soothing, relaxing aroma that has been shown to reduce stress.
  • A slice of cucumber is a great, non-toxic way to clean your faucets, sinks or stainless steel. Simply rub it on the surface and it will safely remove tarnish and bring back the shine!

Have fun trying some of these versatile tips with your extra cucumbers.  Email me and let me know which ones you especially like!

Information compiled from:

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