Saturday, October 15, 2011

64 small ways to be Greener

Like nearly every Saturday since June, I went to the farmer's market this morning.

Walking back, I couldn't help but think how funny I must have looked. A girl. A dog. 3 bags- 2 saddle bags, hanging from one shoulder and resting on my right hip, one after the other, and a Whole Foods reusable grocery bag, overflowing with vegetables.

I felt good though. I had done 4 good, green things: I walked to the farmer's market instead of drove; I used a reusable grocery bag and rejected all the plastic bags the farmers tried to put my produce in; I bought local produce as opposed to the supermarket produce; I bought a bag (which is why I had three of them walking bag) from a garage sale I stopped at, doing an easy-green action that put an old, unwanted (and really cool) bag to good use (it carried the jicama I bought).

On top of all that, my dog and I both went on a nice walk. The whole thing took almost an hour and a half- a good way to get in exercise.

It also made me think about what small things we all can do to lessen our impact on the Earth. Walking to the farmer's market hardly seemed like anything. In fact, it was rather pleasant, with the crisp October air blowing the turning leaves.
Buying local produce is always great, since it tastes so good and is cheaper than store-bought organic produce, and using a reusable bag is so much more convenient than using plastic bags.
As far as buying the bag from the garage sale goes, it's just like purchasing something nice from a store, only much cheaper, and the money paid goes to a person rather than a business that runs on very non-environmental practices. It puts an old item to good use, rather than having it thrown out to rot in a landfill.

So I compiled a list. 64 green ideas so far. All are easy and fun to follow, and all make our footprints just a little less. Doing all would be incredible, but we're all human, and it's not always possible to do so. But the more the merrier!

1. Buy Organic (most important produce: peaches, apples, grapes, peppers, potatoes, pears, winter squash, green beans, strawberries, spinach)
2. Use reusable grocery bags, preferably cloth ones made from natural fibers.
3. Eat seasonal, local food as much as possible.
4. Eat whole foods, and buy foods as raw and unrefined as possible.
5. Avoid GMOs.
6. Avoid food colorings in foods.
7. Buy in bulk.
8. Eat a variety.
9. Eat lower on the food chain.
10. Can your own food! Such as tomato sauce, apple sauce, apple butter, etc. Buy tons of the produce when it’s in season, and can for the Winter!
11. Avoid products containing palm oils.
12. If consuming animal products, source from a local, ethical ranch.
13. Support local bakers: store-bought bread, with its packaging, shipment, and long list of ingredients is much less eco-friendly than bread (or any baked good) made locally.
14. Avoid processed foods.
15. Compost.
16. Use reusable napkins, silverware, glasses, and ceramic plates instead of paper, plastic, or polystyrene products.
17. Install an aerator and save water.
18. Use biodegradable garbage bags.
19. Use reusable bottles instead of plastic.
20. Avoid plastic whenever possible.
21. Store things in glass instead of plastic.
22. Recycle.
23. Reuse.
24. Use simpler cooking appliances, like a slow-cooker or toaster oven instead of oven.
25. Unplug appliances when not in use.
26. Use power strips and unplug when not needed.
27. Use rechargeable batteries.
28. Avoid toxic cleaning products.
29. Don’t use disinfectant chlorine bleach (use straight vinegar).
30. Hand wash what you can (never twist or ring animal fibers, use cold water).
31. Hang dry as much as possible.
32. Use cold water only to wash clothes.
33. Move to natural fibers, cotton, linen, organic wool, for clothing, curtains, bedding and other fabrics.
34. Buy well-made, long-lasting products, even if more expensive.
35. Buy secondhand- thrift stores, yard sales, etc.
36. Get rid of old items by garage sale, online, donations, etc.
37. Live simply and without clutter.
38. Grow many house plants!
39. Use paperless invites, or recycled paper.
40. Use eco-gift wrapping.
41. Buy building products as natural as you can buy (No VOC- volatile organic chemicals, or formaldehyde).
42. Up the heat And down the AC (Just 2 degrees closer to air temp year round can save 2000 lbs CO2/yr).
43. Switch to a laptop.
44. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs and use 60% less energy(300 lbs CO2 per bulb a year!)
45. Keep tires inflated well to maximize gas mileage.
46. Rake, don’t leaf blow.
47. Collect rain water to water plants.
48. Shovel snow instead of snow blowers.
49. Avoid plastic deck furniture. Try to get bamboo.
50. Avoid paraffin- based candles. Opt for non-GMO soy or beeswax.
51. Use matches instead of lighters.
52. Repel garden pests naturally.
53. Use natural moth balls.
54. Repel ticks naturally with rose germanium.
55. If it’s yellow, let it mellow… if it’s brown, flush it down…
56. Buy unbleached toilet paper. (Or, for the daring, switch to reusable rags...)
57. Use bikes, legs, or public transportation whenever possible
58. Use herbal remedies, aromatherapy, or other alternative healing remedies before conventional medicine.
59. Embrace natural beauty: Forgo the wasteful make-ups and go natural!
60. Take quicker showers.
61. Take cooler showers- not necessarily cold... just not as hot! ☺
62. Be crafty- turning old clothing unsuitable for donations or other items into new clothing, artwork, etc. is a great way to enjoy crafting and prevent landfill trash!
63. Embrace body hair. It may seem 'gross', but it’s natural. If women were to stop shaving, it would reduce incredible amounts of water and oil for the production, packaging, and shipment of razors, and reduce a great volume of waste in landfills.♀
64. Bring Tupperware containers or reusable coffee mugs when going out to eat or to a cafe instead of using Styrofoam or other disposable containers or cups.


What small things do you do to be just a pinch greener? ☻

Monday, October 10, 2011

Banana Almond Maca Mush

Fruit is great for breakfast. Especially on those hot Summer mornings when it seems all I want is watermelon. But on a chilly morning before a long day of school? I tend to want something more substantial...

This is a tasty bowl of banana-ness, raw, and a wonderful breakfast to wake up to!

☺ 2 ripe bananas
☺ 1 Tbsp raw almond butter
☺ 1/4 C almond milk
☺ 1/2 Tbsp maple syrup (or to preference)
☺ 1 tsp maca powder
☺ cinnamon and ginger, to taste

☻ In a bowl, thoroughly mix the almond milk, almond butter, maple syrup, maca, and spices. Mash in the bananas so that it has a lumpy texture, and voila! Easy, delicious raw breakfast.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

For your Sacral Chakra...

I love Autumn.... It's such a nostalgic time of the year. All the memories jumping in piles of leaves, wearing hats and gloves for the first time in months, apple picking, the holidays coming up quickly...
When I was younger, Autumn, for food, basically meant apple pie and having ice cream that was a little harder to scoop in the cold weather.
Now it means so much more... I'm so thankful I have become such a locavore; how could I live without butternut squash soup, roasted pumpkin, apples upon apples, and all the other foods that mean Autumn?

This is a tasty soup I made when we were shocked with a rather cold day after a string of humid, hot ones. Simple and easy, it makes a delicious, bright-orange soup that will open up your Sacral Chakra along with your nasal cavity!

It is a little spicy, so if you want it to be more toned down, start with small amounts of the spices and work your way up.

Swirl olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 C pumpkin, cubed
2 C vegetable broth
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cinnamon
dash cayenne
pinch ginger
salt and pepper to taste
Water, to thin, to preference

On medium heat, add the olive oil to a pot and let heat. Add the garlic. Add the onions and peppers and allow to cook for a minute or two before adding the carrots and pumpkin. Pour in the broth and spices and turn up heat to bring it to a boil.
Once rolling, reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the vegetables are nice and tender.

Remove from heat and let cool for a minute or so, so it's not too hot. Pour into blender or food processor and puree. Add in salt and pepper to taste, and blend again until it's a smooth consistency.

Double the recipe if you're making it for a family, as it doesn't make bowl fulls. Serve it with salad or over rice, or anyway you like!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Oh sugar, how we love you so...

And maybe a little too much. The USDA estimates that every year, each American eats roughly 156 pounds of added sugar. That's quite a bit... It's no surprise there is such an obesity and diabetic epidemic in this country. What can we expect?
The sugar often comes in the form of junk food, sodas, and candies- not surprising. It also hides in places one wouldn't expect it, like crackers, yogurts, peanut butter, and more.

But sugar doesn't have to be unhealthy. We like it so much because in ancient times, sugar was such a rare treasure to come by. Our desire for it now is a leftover trait from our ancestors who would be driven by their taste buds to work extra hard just to enjoy a sugary natural treat, like honey or sweet fruits. But unlike refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup; fruit and honey are good for us. Being vegan, I choose not to eat honey or any bee products, but there are still plenty of better sweeteners that can be enjoyed.

Dates are the most natural. And then there is agave syrup, rice syrup, barley malt, molasses, stevia, and, my personal favorite, maple syrup (which may or may not be vegan, it's important to contact the company to ensure no animal ingredients are used!). And which of them all is the healthiest?

I have an aunt who is rather adamant about blackstrap molasses. She will eat a spoonful of it, and loves adding it to her breakfasts.
Blackstrap molasses are just one type of molasses, and are by far the healthiest. Out of all the liquid sweeteners, this is probably the least sweet. 'Acquired taste' would be a proper term for it, as it is a bitter, bitter syrup.

The molasses is a byproduct of the cane sugar industry. When sugar is boiled for a third time and the sucrose crystallizes, the nutrients removed from the now-refined sugar concentrate into a thick, dark syrup.

It's rich in manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, and selenium. In fact, it provides more iron than red meat per calorie, and with no fat or cruelty. For just one tablespoon, it provides roughly 20% RDA of iron. Along with 17% calcium for only 50 calories.

It delivers a robust flavor reminiscent of baking cookies during the holidays (or at least for me it does!)

I struggle to eat it straight, for it is not that same delicious, sweet goo that maple syrup is. Yet taste buds grow to accept and love it, as I am doing it. I love adding it to fruit purees for breakfast and to raw pie crusts to give them that extra kick. It may not be raw, and is it in no way a cup of kale, but it's a great way to sneak in extra minerals in places you would least expect it!

How do you enjoy eating your molasses?