Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Water to Global Warming?

For the first time in 16 years our basement flooded; our recreation room and multi-use room had over an inch of water, and that was with the 6 of us working for hours to keep it from rising.  We've already ripped out the carpet and felt padding, moved furniture and tried to save what we could.  I worry about what we can't see behind the walls...

There must be a reason for the phenomenal amounts of rain, other natural disasters, and changes in weather patterns being experienced worldwide...and I'd put money on it being Global Warming.  

I hope with pressure from insurance companies, homeowners, scientists, and environmentalist that  the government will finally listen and work to reduce greenhouse gases and global warming.  Considering the US is the largest contributor to the problem, we should also be the front runners in helping to FIX the problem, our Earth and future generations are depending on us!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Black Mush

Today I inadvertently found something neat while shopping for new shoes for the 4 kids.  Darn it their feet keep growing!  Well, as it turns out when shopping for shoes, I ended up looking too, and got a new pair that I think may become a favorite :)  They are Teva Mush sandals.  The black mush is so soft and cushy, it made me wonder if the rubber is recycled like the rubber on some tracks and courts.  

What I did find out was that the Teva parent company has some green roots!  I figured it out when I noticed an insert in the box (which would be used to hold the shoes up on a rack).  At first I thought uggh, how wasteful, but then I read it, and lo and behold, "this hanger is biodegradable"!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I though, NO WAY!!!!  So then I checked out the shoe box that states that the box is "printed on recycled materials, 100% recyclable, please recycle all packaging"   The box also states that the company is also a supporter of Waterkeepers alliance that protects the Earth's waterways ( 

So, I went to the Teva website to learn more, and found that their parent company, Deckers  has done quite a nice job of  limiting their footprint!  AhhhHAHA, they should market themselves about their reduced carbon "footprint".  Get it?  :) You can check them out at  Wouldn't it be great if all companies walked in their footsteps?

Earth Hour was a blast!

Surprisingly there was no grumbling about participating in Earth Hour at my house.  The kids embraced it and totally benefited!  It was more like "Earth a Few Hours" it got darker, I did not turn on any lights, there was the glow of the TV for a bit, but other than that we eased into it.  

We began the official Earth Hour with the warm glow of candles, and we roasted marshmallows to make s'mores over a Sterno burner.  The kids LOVED that.  Then we began Game Night by candle light.  The night was full of laughter, there was a great aura of cooperation, and honestly it was the most fun and laughter we've had in awhile!  We were having so much fun the lights didn't go back on at 9:30, but we made it until 10pm.  

I hope you got a chance to try it too!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Census and the Paperwork Reduction Act...conflicting interests?

If you read the entry below this you can see what I'm so aggravated about....this is the FIRST time I've posted twice in one day, so you know I've got a "bee in my bonnet"!  Since I'm so aggravated about the Census Waste, I dug a little bit more because it just makes NO sense to me. Does this seem like a conflict of interest to you? Look what I found:

Paperwork Reduction Act

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The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980, Pub. L. No. 96-511, 94 Stat. 2812 (Dec. 11, 1980), codified in part at Subchapter I of Chapter 35 of Title 44 of the United States Code, 44 U.S.C. § 3501 through 44 U.S.C. § 3521, is a United States federal law enacted in 1980 that gave authority over the collection of certain information to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Within the OMB, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) was established with specific authority to regulate matters regarding federal information and to establish information policies. These information policies were intended to reduce the total amount of paperwork handled by the United States government and the general public.

The PRA mandates that all federal government agencies must obtain a Control Number from OMB before promulgating a form that will impose an information collection burden on the general public. Once obtained, approval must be renewed every three years. In order to obtain or renew such approval, an agency must fill out OMB Form 83-I, attach the proposed form, and file it with OIRA. On Form 83-I, the agency must explain the reason why the form is needed and estimate the burden in terms of time and money that the form will impose upon the persons required to fill it out.

The process created by the PRA makes OIRA into a centralized clearinghouse for all government forms. Thus, it is able to assess the overall impact of the government bureaucracy on American citizens and businesses. This is done in an annual document called the Information Collection Budget of the United States Government.

Hmmm there has certainly NOT been a reduction in paperwork but a propegation of paperwork!  Shame on the government for the WASTE.


Ok one word comes to mind regarding the Census...SENSELESS. It is BEYOND ridiculous to be wasting the time and money of the American people, not to mention precious resources! Again, I'm not against the census, what I'm incensed about AGAIN is yet ANOTHER mailing! The first mailing told me to expect my formal census in about a week. Then my census came in the mail about a week later. Of course I dutifully filled it out. Now a THIRD mailing came to tell me I should have gotten the census in the mail.

OMG, let's list of the senseless waste that has occurred that I can think of (I'm sure there is way more, but this is just off the top of my head: postage and paper wasted have been wasted; green house gases have polluted the Earth in order to deliver the mail 3x (2 unnecessary mailings); human resources that could have done some positive work was wasted and paid to do multiple mailings; tons of paper that probably ended up in a landfill instead of being recycled x3 was wasted; and of course the MONEY wasted on senseless,unnecessary multiple mailings.

BOTTOM LINE: the government needs to establish better policies regarding resources, waste, recycling, global warming, and be the BEST example to the American Public instead of the WORST offender! The multiple mailings regarding the Census is WASTEFUL, contributes to pollution, and global warming, and I doubt it will make any difference in the outcome. If the government wants to have an impact, they could have a positive green impact by not wasting trees, money, resources, and preventing green house gases.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Earth Hour - Saturday, March 27th, 8:30-9:30pm

Mark your calendar for this Saturday, March 27th, 2010, from 8:30-9:30 pm, it's Earth Hour!

Earth Hour began in 2007 in Sydney, Australia, when 2.2 million homes and businesses turning off their lights for one hour as a “vote” FOR the earth, and a “vote” AGAINST global warming. By 2009, even more people, hundreds of millions joined in to "vote". The Sydney Opera House, Rome’s Colosseum, The Eiffel Tower in Paris, The Parthenon in Greece, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, the Las Vegas Strip and New York City’s Times Square participated.

Earth Hour is organized by WWF; their mission is to "stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and build a future where people live in harmony with nature."

Let's hope that even more people from all around the world will switch off their lights, and other items that use electricity. No matter where you live, no matter your political views, regardless of what religion you are, we all depend on our planet for life.

It's a perfect time to turn off the lights, discuss global warming and the importance of “being green” as a family, and consider taking actions to assure that we aren’t polluting our earth and overusing resources in our everyday lives. Unplug, celebrate together time, play a game, and reconnect by the light of candles. Enjoy!

Check out to

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Elementree recycled printer paper

Even though we recycle paper to use in the printer (we print on the backside of school papers, printouts, or other previously used paper for drafts, or copies of bills, etc.) which cuts down on buying new printer paper, on occasion we do need to buy paper for school reports, letters, etc. Well hubby, being the Green Knight that he is, brought home Recycled Multipurpose Paper from Printworks. It contains 30% post consumer fiber, and is elemental chlorine free. The remaining 70% is from sustainable wood fiber, and the product is sustainable forestry initiative certified. He made my day when he brought home this ream of paper. Hopefully it will last us awhile since we do reuse paper, and I even recycle some used paper from work and print on the opposite side before recycling it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Ides of March....Water Water Everywhere - Day 26

Here in New England it has been raining cats and dogs, and the wind has been howling. As they say about March, "In like a lion, out like a lamb". I'm still waiting for the gentle "lamb" days of spring :)

All this rain has made me think about the precious resource of water....such an important resource yet it is wasted on a daily basis...once it goes down the drain you don't get it back (unless of course you have a grey water system like Ed Begley Jr.).

Recently we replaced both of our older shower heads with a flow rate of 5.5 gallons per minute (gpm) to newer low flow shower heads. We picked Moen Nurture which is only 1.75 gpm. With 6 of us showering, and several divas in the house who enjoy the sauna/shower (to the chagrin of their parents), this was a much needed change! The Moen Nuture has 3 different settings, great shower pressure, and at about $55 we are very happy with the change, and can't wait to see the positive impact on our water bill (our town recently raised the water bill rates too). We will also lower our water heating costs since we are using and wasting less hot water.

Stay tuned to see if we end up cutting off the divas with shower timers!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Day 23, 24, 25

Well I've been EXHAUSTED adjusting to new changes in our lives, work, and hectic, hectic schedules for the kids. So although I didn't get to pop on and blog the last few days, the family and I have still been busy being green :)

Friday - As a result of spring cleaning, a bunch of items have been listed on Craigslist instead of heading for the landfill, and they sold!

Saturday - Instead of buying new furniture, the girls helped visualize rearranging some furniture, which of course resulted in 5 different rooms getting changed around. Their ability to think outside the box surprises me sometimes. But, it is that ability that I hope will lead them to great careers, maybe even green careers where they can help save the planet :)

Sunday - Donated a bunch of fabric and clothes to Big Brother Big Sister, keeping it out of the landfill. Gathered more books to donate to the library and put them in the car for the next trip. I wonder how many pounds of stuff we've prevented from "Mount Trashmore"? At any rate it feels good no matter how many pounds it is.

I think that growing a Green Family is about kinda like planting small seeds and watching them grow!!! Pretty soon I can get outside and sprout some seeds too.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Cats - Day 22

So, we have 3 indoor cats and cat litter duty is everyone's FAVORITE chore. I'm being facetious, of course, everyone HATES cat litter duty. We've cut back on so much of our trash by recycling and composting, but cat litter continues to be one area of waste that we are not able to "eliminate". Feeling guilty about the cat litter waste, I decided to try some more environmentally friendly alternatives: Feline Pine (made from recycled lumber-mill sawdust); Yesterday's News (made from recycled newspaper); Swheat Scoop, an all-natural scoopable litter that's made from naturally processed (non-food grade) wheat; World's Best Cat Litter - Extra Strength Formula, a natural, clumpable, scoopable and flushable cat litter made from whole-kernel corn. I really liked the World's Best made from whole-kernel corn, the smell was light, the bag was lighter than regular clumping litter, and it is environmentally friendly.

Unfortunately the cats didn't like ANY of the enviro-litters. To show their disdain for my attempts to be a good eco-steward, they (most likely the she cat) decided to eliminate in inappropriate areas. This resulted in me having to use multiple treatments of the expensive but effective Nature's Miracle to remove the horrid cat pee smell. So my attempts to be eco-friendly, reducing the cat litter impact with biodegradable litters backfired, resulting in hours of extra cleaning, having to purchase expensive cleaners (bad for the pocketbook), throwing out some things (bad for landfills), and frustration (bad for my blood pressure!) The cats win this eco-battle and we stay with their preferred clumping litter. Perhaps if we'd had these alternative litters when they were kittens they would have been "raised" on eco-litter and not know any different.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Eggs shells, coffee grounds, cucumber skins, banana peels - Day 21

Eggs shells, coffee grounds, cucumber skins, banana peels, apple cores, nut shells, grass and plant clippings...what do they have in common? Well they make great organic "green" additions to the compost pile. Eliminating organic items from our trash and the landfill and turning them into "black gold" or gorgeous rich soil is awesome. The other important component of the compost is the "brown" component or dry leaves, some wood ash, paper, dryer lint, dry grass, shredded newspaper, corn husks, and sawdust. Brown components slow the composting process down and feed good bacteria.

We've been composting for years, even during the winter. We purchased two compost bins that are available through a grant to our town. You can also construct your own compost bin easily with plans you can find on the internet. The soil that has resulted over the years is wonderful rich, organic soil that we use in our gardens.

Give composting a try and eliminate a huge amount of organics from your trash!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Reusable snack/sandwich bags - Day 20

Since lunchtime waste is a large part of the school waste stream, what kinds of things are being thrown out? Besides wasted food, juice boxes, brown paper bags, and packaging from single serve foods, about "380 billion plastic bags (that's about 1,200 plastic bags a person)" (50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth, 2009) are being thrown away.

Those numbers are staggering! And when I thought about wrapping my foods in petroleum-based plastic that ends up in the landfill, it turned my stomach even more. So, slowly but surely we are changing our ways at our house. We haven't bought ziplock baggies for some time now. Instead we are using Tupperware-type reusable containers, reusable fabric sandwich and snack bags, and aluminum foil. I've purchased several that I really like from,, and Even though they cost between $5-$7 over the long haul they are well worth it, and I know we are not contributing to landfill waste. They are easy to clean, and come in cool patterns too. Although 4 of us use the bags without complaint, I'm still trying to convince Tiger-Lily and Rosebud that these are a great idea; in the meantime, much of their lunch is packed in the reusable plastic-ware, or recycled aluminum foil (that they return to our recycle bin).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Incensed about the Census - Day 19

Ok, I'm INCENSED about the Census mail we received today...let me just say that I am not against the Census. I understand that it is important to collect data to help decide the allocation of federal funding, etc. But, what I don't understand is WHY we received a letter today telling us to watch for the census in about a week!!!! WHAT?!!!!! The government wasted one sheet of paper, one envelope, postage for about 307,000,000 Americans, and let's not forget the impact of delivering all the mail. The greenhouse gases contributed by the planes and mail trucks to deliver the "pre-census letter" is a horrible shame.

The "pre-census letter" has already been recycled at my house, but what percentage of the pounds and pounds of paper will be recycled? Unfortunately, much of that paper will end up in the landfills. How much money did that mailing to tell us they would be mailing the census cost the taxpayers? There are already commercials to let everyone know that they should fill out the census and why (and don't forget those commercials cost the taxpayers money too!)

Bottom line, the letter from the Census today is WASTEFUL, contributes to pollution, and global warming, and I doubt it will make any difference in the outcome. If the government wants to have an impact, they could have a positive green impact by not wasting trees, money, resources, and preventing green house gases.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lunchtime!!! - Day 18

"Lunchtime trash is second only to office paper as the leading source of school waste." (Green Teacher magazine, Fall 2004)

Bringing your own lunch is usually more cost effective (and healthier), and with the exception of the occasional purchased lunch when there is nothing left in the house to send, my kids, hubby, and I bring their own lunches to school and work. We use reusable lunch bags and eliminate the waste of paper lunch bags.

Rosebud noticed that her friend brought paper bag lunches and asked her why she didn't use a reusable bag. She pointed out that trees were killed to make the paper bags that were used only once and not recycled, and that the trees are good for the environment. Her friend said that it was easier, and that way she didn't have to go back to her locker to put away the reusable lunch bag. Hmmm, she does return to her locker every day, so that reasoning didn't make sense to Rosebud. Rosebud, once again you are making me proud just for questioning your friend and pointing out the obvious facts. Who knows, maybe your friend will have a change of heart and choose a reusable lunch bag to use instead :)

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Spring Cleaning - Day 17

So it was a beautiful spring day, and the house needed airing after having 2 sick kids last week (thus the biodegradable wipes of yesterday), so I turned off the heat, and flung open the windows!!! Which then made me feel like doing some cleaning out of my own closet as well as some of the kids' stuff. The Rose Bud and Sweet Pea came up with a big pile of stuff they no longer wanted, needed, or used, and we sorted into paper recycling, clothes to be donated, other stuff to be donated, and trash. Surprisingly the trash didn't even fill a small plastic garbage bag (this bag is getting recycled to hold the small amount of trash because I don't buy trash bags!) Well there were two things in the pile that I am unsure of how to dispose of them. The first is a broken pair of flip flops. Since they are made of rubber, I'm pretty sure they can be recycled, so I "blackled" "how to recycle flip flops" I found this link:

The second pair of boots have rubber soles and are in fair condition. One option is: You can plug in your zip code and see where the nearest donation location is.

I may also be able to recycle them via Nike. Nike definitely recycles old sneakers, so DON'T throw them in the landfill!! Take a look at their really cool link that explains how each part of the shoe is made into athletic surfaces such as basketball and tennis courts, and track and field surfacing, or even into playground surfacing.

If you are going to be doing some spring cleaning, I hope you will do the sorting process too; recycle what you can either via your recycle bins, or to sources that can use the items; repurpose things (find a new use for the item); or donate to charities in your area. Challenge yourself to have a tiny bit of trash as you spring clean!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Biodegradable cleaning wipes - Day 16

So I ran out of my favorite cleaning wipes (I know, I know a disposable product), and found that Green Works makes "natural biodegradable" cleaning wipes with natural ingredients such as coconut-based cleaners and essential oils, so I figured I'd give them a try. They work well, and it makes me feel better knowing that even though I'm using something disposable, at least I can compost them, and then recycle the container they come in. Surprisingly, they were comparable in price to other wipes, so it was a total no-brainer to give them a try, and I'm glad I did.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

CFLs - Day 15

So slowly as incandescent light bulbs burn out, we've been replacing them with CFLs. I know people worry about the mercury in them, but since I am returning them to the hardware store, they should be properly disposed of. I wonder how much energy and money we have saved so far as we are changing over to CFLs?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Rhody's Observation - Day 14

Rhody was home sick today, and so we curled up to watch some TV, and we happened up the Travel Network. The host was talked about how much she travels for her job, and how bad she was feeling about her carbon footprint, she went on to say that she has traveled so much that she has made the hole in the ozone bigger....

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, even though Rhody was home sick, her comment didn't sit well with him and he turned to me and said, "she didn't make a hole in the ozone, she made it thicker." WOW, so my 3rd grader caught a big oopps, that the producers should have caught. Apparently watching the Inconvenient Truth sunk in at some levels, I'm so PROUD of him!!!!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

squeaky clean windows and mirrors - Day 13

It's true! You can make your own window cleaner, and you can have streak free windows and mirrors :) Combine the following in a spray bottle:

2 cups of water
1/4 cup of white distilled vinegar
a squirt (about 1/2 teaspoon of liquid soap)
(Label and keep it out of the reach of children)

My favorite thing to clean with is newspaper from the recycle bin. It does a great job at cleaning, I don't buy or use paper towels, the windows are not streaky, and I re-recycle the newspaper when I'm done. (When the vinegar/water/soap solution dries on the newspaper, it is not going to hurt the paper recycling process.)

When doing windows, I wash the outside in one direction (horizontal), and the inside vertically. This way if I do end up with any streaks it is easy to figure out which side needs a touch-up. To help prevent streaks in the first place, weather conditions are a factor. The best time to wash windows is on a overcast day. If it is too sunny the solution will dry before you can clean, leaving streaks. The same process works wonders on mirrors too.

I know it's silly, but streak-free sparkly windows and mirrors make me smile. It's the little things!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Schools need to learn/teach more about recycling - Day 12

Ok, so it makes NO sense that in the kids' lunchrooms they do NOT have recycle bins! What kind of example is that? Why wouldn't they have bins? No one wants to empty them? I mean it would cut down on the amount of garbage, and that would save the schools money. They do recycle paper from the classrooms, so why not plastic bottles, yogurt containers, fruit cup containers, plastic spoons etc? I mean most families recycle in our town, so the kids already know the system, and if they DON'T recycle at home, they should....those that didn't already know about recycling could LEARN it at school and teach their families. Hmm I wonder how hard it would be to convince the schools to recycle?