Friday, August 26, 2011

Baring it All

I think Vanessa Farquharson, author of the eco-chic book, Sleeping Naked Is Green: How an Eco-Cynic Unplugged Her Fridge, Sold Her Car, and Found Love in 366 Days would agree that "Bare" by Solo is a great line of products. Farquharson's book, which is organized so that I could read it in short snippets (which is key when you have the distractions of 4 kids, a household to run, and work), is definitely one of my favorites.  We were already implementing many of her ideas on our own, but I learned lots of green tips, and have implemented the ones that make sense for my family...A la Carte Green style  of course :)  I wonder if Vanessa knows about the Bare products?  Anyway, I digress...

Back to the Baring it All...Solo's "Bare" is being used by the eco-conscious, eco-forward Bentley University to promote sustainability throughout the campus in their dining areas and throughout their catering department.  To accomplish this, Bentley uses paperboard Bare cups for coffee.  The coffee cups are compostable, and made with renewable resources. 

I decided to investigate Bare a bit more, and upon review of the Bare Solo website, I discovered that they have a whole line of products; the "Bare is Strong" 10" renewable plates made with plant-based renewable materials; the stylish "Bare is Elegant" 10"compostable plates, 8.25" lunch compostable plates, 6.7" compostable desert plates, 20oz compostable bowls - are  all made from renewable sugar cane, and are compostable; the "Bare is Natural" 14oz compostable cups are made from bio-based plastic (made from plants like corn); and the "Bare is Clear" line of 18oz recyclable cups, which are made from 20% post-consumer recycled plastic.

IMHO, Solo's Bare line of products has shown that being eco-conscious, and having eco-forward thinking, and eco-forward convenience can be sexy and sustainable at the same time ;) 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Popeye and Olive Oyl would be proud

In the old cartoon, Popeye the Sailor, the hero Popeye downs cans of spinach to have super human strength, while his girlfriend Olive Oyl swoons over him. 

Today we know that Popeye was a pretty smart sailor because spinach is an excellent source of fiber which lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease, Vitamin A which contributes to good vision, and Vitamin C and Folate which contribute to the reduction of fatigue.  It is also a good source of Vitamin K and Manganese, which contribute to healthy bones, and Potassium which helps maintain normal blood pressure. 

The trick is to sneak these health benefits into meals.  We add fresh spinach into salads, and wilt spinach with olive oil (Popeye's girlfriend Olive Oyl would be so proud), and we also get the kids to eat spinach disguised in a yummy spinach dip, that we dip veggies into.   For me, fresh, dark green, spinach is preferable to the canned kind that Popeye loved, but however you can get the kids and yourself to eat it, spinach is the ultimate green, so give it a try. 

We've purchased fresh spinach in various packaging, sometimes plastic clam-shells that can be recycled, and sometimes pre-packaged plastic bags.  The other night, I offhandedly checked the spinach bag, and was delighted to learn that Fresh Express (pre-packaged spinach and salads) uses "an eco-friendly wash that cleans salads better than traditional chlorine wash" and comes in a #7 recyclable pre-package bag!  I couldn't believe that the bag actually had a recycle symbol since so many bags that can be recycled do not.  Fresh Express scored points with me because not only is the spinach healthy for us, they are using a healthier rinse, and the bag can be recycled to boot.   I think Popeye and Olive Oyl would be proud too ;) 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Green Project of the Day - deux

As I mentioned, I'm in de-clutter mode!  And that means yet another green project is getting done.  The ideas are always flowing, but the energy to accomplish things isn't always equal to the brain activity that comes up with things...

So back in June, I made a gorgeous (imho) quilt for my god-daughter, which was quite green (I'll explain in a minute).  There were a bunch of  leftover squares from that project, so I decided to get one more green project out of the material, and make a second quilt for a new 2nd cousin.  Fast forward...I finally took the time to lay out the pieces to see if I had enough, and lo and behold there are enough pieces so I can just get started sewing!

Enough pieces left from prior project to make green project deux

The front of the quilt is completed
Why do I consider these quilts green?  All of the material (except the batting), is recycled from previous projects.  11 years ago my talented mother made a reversible bed spread, curtains, and dust ruffle for Tiger Lily when she shared a room with Rhody (we are talking baby Rhody).  At the time we bought enough material for the someday possibility of needed 2 matching reversible bedspreads (when Rhody was out of the crib).  As it turns out, we were lucky enough to be able to do an addition on the house, and thankfully Tiger Lily moved out into her own room a LONG time ago.  So my Mom returned the unused material, I've been storing it all this time, and have finally put it to good use in the two quilt projects.  The coordinating fabric, is also "green" because I got it from Recycling for Rhode Island Education (RRIE)    (see also )

Now if only recycled thread were readily available...

Saturday, August 13, 2011


I'm just getting around to writing about a green school fundraiser from Mixed Bag Designs.  I bought the pretty, functional, green "Foodies" which are a great alternative to plastic sandwich bags, and they were reasonable, two sizes for only $9.00.  And based on how they are washing up, these pretty 'lil things will last from elementary school through high school.

The reason I care about plastic bag alternatives is the staggering number of plastic sandwich bags that end up in American landfills each year.  Would you believe that approximately 380 billion plastic bags, or 1,200 per person get dumped each year?  (Earthworks Group, 2009).  And how long do those plastic bags linger in landfills?  20-1000 years!

Mixed Bag Designs are unique in that they are made from woven polypropylene, one the most popular plastics for making food containers like yogurt cups. Their website claims that 10-40% of the polypropylene in their Foodies and bags come from recycled post consumer use.  Foodies are not only food safe and FDA approved, they are also dishwasher safe, which is awesome for cleaning.

For additional waste-free lunch alternatives, and ways to eliminate plastic baggies from your lunch and the landfills, check out  "L is for Lunch" .  
The new 50 Simple Things Kids Can do to save the Earth, Earthworks Group, Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, Kansas City, 2009

Friday, August 12, 2011

Green Project of the Day

Beautiful Anniversary card from my parents
I was doing some decluttering, and it was time to take down our anniversary cards (thank you for the cards, I'm sorry to say I do not save every card, I just can't justify the paper clutter that six of us would have), and I instinctively put them in the recycle bin.  Yeah good job! 

And then I was thinking how pretty the cards are, and that with a little bit of trimming that would make excellent gift tags :)  So I pulled out my trimmer and got to work!   
Trimming the card.  You can use scissors if you don't have a trimmer.
You can trim the gift tags/cards to any size you want.
And the end result, are cute little cards/gift tags that can be attached to a gift either with a bit of tape, or hole punching and adding a little bit of scrap ribbon.  Viola!    Of course it goes without saying, that I recycled all the scraps left after I was done trimming :)    

Thursday, August 4, 2011

July was a blur...

...a glorious blur, full of wonderful memories.  This summer has been different from most summers because we planned a big trip, a once in a lifetime vacation to the Grand Canyon.  Spending our vacation immersed in nature was absolutely invigorating, and we will never forget the gorgeous scenery and weather we enjoyed, and spending time together enjoying one of the natural wonders of the world.

Our trip was not the typical, popular destination of Grand Canyon National Park.  We opted to avoid the summertime crowds that visit the National Parks, but instead we visited two of the Native American Indian Reservations, the Hualapai Tribe at Grand Canyon West (famous for their Skywalk) and the Havasupai Tribe, home to the gorgeous turquoise waterfalls that seem strangely out of place in the middle of the dessert.  Each locations was breathtaking, and worth every second, and we didn't seem to mind sweating in the midst of such beauty.

Panoramic views of the Canyon and Colorado River at Guano Point
Guano Point - the layers of the canyon are amazing
At Grand Canyon West, we hopped on and off of the shuttle to visit 3 different locations; Eagle Point, Guano Point, and Hualapai Ranch.  Eagle Point features a Native American Village with a walking tour of Native American dwellings, an handmade jewelry and crafts that the girls enjoyed perusing, and the glass Skywalk.  We skipped the expensive Skywalk in favor of other activities and hiking at Guano Point, where we saw gorgeous panoramic canyon views and the Colorado River that looked like chocolate milk. We took tons of pictures at Guano, and it is impossible to pick a favorite, but I've included a few :)
Sunset at Guano Point

Sunrise at Hualapai Ranch, view from outside of our cabin.
The third location, the Hualapai Ranch, which looks like an old western town, was a hit with everyone; the kids loved petting the horses, and we all tried our hand at tomahawk throwing (I couldn't do this to save my life!), and quick-draw (I was pretty darn quick).  Rhody loved hanging out with the cowboys and also tried out roping, and bow and arrow.  Our hosts also treated us to a van ride out to Guano Point to see the sunset, that was AMAZING.  After a hearty dinner at the Ranch, we enjoyed a campfire and s'mores under the stars, and listening to stories and songs.  We had a good night's sleep in our basic (no TV, but there was AC) but comfortable cabins.  The next day, in true cowboy style, there was an early morning wakeup for the sunrise, but as you can see it was worth the 5am wakeup!  After a nap and breakfast, we capped off the trip with a horseback ride to the rim, yeeeha!!    We bid farewell to the cowboys, Norman the cow (from the movie City Slickers), and the Hualapai, and continued eastward on our trip, eager for the next chapter :)

...Stay tuned for more Grand Canyon adventures and pictures :) be continued.... Mooney Falls2012.html