Archive for the ‘organic’ Category

3 second Coffee label guide

After my post yesterday on greener coffee, I decided I would put up the actual symbols as a visual reference guide. Here you go:

 

Fair Trade

look for either one of these


Organic (most common)



Rainforest Alliance (shade grown)


Bird Friendly (organically grown in the shade)


 

For more info check out what Big Green Purse has to say about coffee


 

3 steps to a Greener Coffee

photo by Petr Kratochvil

How do you suppose, when I am on such a tight grocery budget, that I am  okay with spending about 50% more on coffee than I did 2 months ago? These  changes that I have made in my coffee drinking it totally makes up for it.

This is my 3 step coffee make over:

Change #1: Bleached paper coffee filters to a stainless steel reusable filter

Here is the $7 reusable filter I found at Wal-Mart!

Why?

I could have been purchasing non-bleached re-usable  filters  but really did not know any better, so the eco-benefits of a stainless steel re-usable filter start for me with less use/ ingestion of toxins. It’s always nice to avoid bleach altogether if I can.

I found my reusable filter at Wal-Mart for $7. I make 2 pots of coffee a day,  so not having to purchase disposable filters is saving me about $30 a year. Helps to make up for the extra cost of organic fair trade coffee.


Change #2: Any coffee on sale to organic fair trade coffee (looking for shade

This is my current favorite coffee

grown, though if it’s organic most of the shade grown benefits are there)

Why organic?

I won’t go too much into specifically what pesticides are used on coffee. Here are a few reasons I choose organic. Some of the pesticides used  are very toxic to birds, fish, bees and mammals (hello, we are mammals..). Some are banned for use in the U.S. because they are so toxic. I’m not sure on how much of these toxins make it through to my morning cup, but for a few extra $$ I can support the companies that are keeping these toxins out of the environment. For more detailed info you can check out this article on Pesticide use on coffee farms. If you love birds and want to know about the connection between shade grown coffee and the well-being of song birds you can read about why it’s important to  buy shade-grown coffee here.

Why fair trade?

I don’t always know where everything I consume comes from, so when I have an easy chance to educate myself (movie) on something like fair trade coffee, I take it. I just found out about this movie and have it on request from my library.

Check out the trailer for the movie BLACK GOLD

Change #3: Disposable take out cups to reusable take out cup

Why reuse?

While there is some debate out there as to which is more eco-friendly 1 ceramic mug or hundreds of paper cups, I prefer my ceramic cup. I will usually use my ceramic cup to avoid buying take out coffee all together if I can.  It is pretty easy (and cheap) to make an extra cup in my pot in the

Looks like a paper cup but it's ceramic

morning to take with me. I have taken my cup to certain Canadian coffee shops in the past and they still insist on mixing the coffee in a paper cup first. Why would I bother taking in my own cup and still have a paper one wasted? I get that you want it mixed properly but it still seems pretty pointless to me.

Plus I think my ceramic cup is just so cute and I don’t feel like I’m drinking the waxy inside of a disposable cup.  Not to mention it doesn’t get too hot like paper cups sometimes do. I’m not a huge take out coffee drinker but by drinking my home-made take out coffee  3 times a week in place of take-out I am saving about $300 a year. This also makes up for the higher price I pay for organic fair trade coffee.


Easy, fast, yummy hot chocolate

Last night I had a little chocolate breakdown.

I had  made a  decision to buy only fair trade chocolate after my Bye Bye Kit Kat post so it really sucked when I broke down last night and in addition to my fair trade Dairy milk bar,  I had a (gasp!) Reece’s Peanut Butter cup….

In my defense my husband bought it.

So to get back on the fair trade wagon I thought I would post my organic/fair trade hot chocolate recipe!

 

Fair trade Hot Chocolate!

 

This recipe makes 4  mugs of hot chocolate (put some in the fridge and heat it up later, mmmm)

You will need:

  • Equal parts boiling water and cocoa (I use Cuisine Camino organic fair trade)About 1/3 cup each.
  • About 4 cups of milk ( I use organic whole milk because I figure more fat=better hot chocolate, but that’s me…)
  • 3/4 cups of white sugar (I haven’t switched to organic yet…)
  • A bit of fair trade chocolate for shaving or grating

Mix the boiling water, cocoa,  sugar and a tiny dash of salt well in a microwave safe container. Add 4 cups of milk and slap that into the microwave for a few minutes, stirring whenever you feel like it.

When it reaches the perfect temperature take it our and mix it even more!

I grate some chocolate on top (that would be the pencil shaving looking stuff) or you could add a cinnamon stick or a tiny splash of vanilla extract.

Enjoy!

*While you’re enjoying your hot chocolate, check out this article:World of Green urges consumers to buy fair trade in celebration of  National Fair Trade Month.

Greener Birthday Party (Take 1)

Paisley Handmade on Etsy!

Like I ‘ve explained before, going green for me is a trial and error process. I try something new, make mistakes and learn every day. This weekend my little princess B turned 3. This marked the first birthday party I would have to throw since making the switch to a greener life. Greener Birthday party, take 1:

I like to keep my kids parties pretty small if  I can, this cuts down on costs, waste and clean up!

I invited everyone via Facebook or phone so no trees were harmed. 🙂

Decorations:

I have a huge supply of balloons at my house, as you know I do have a tainted past as a shopaholic, so I  have a lot of  “random stuff ” as my husband calls it, around my house . Also I don’t care what anybody says, helium balloons are fun. Although I was quite discouraged about the non-eco friendly-ness of balloons, I came across a blog post that told me I can compost latex balloons! Fantastic! Mylar balloons however  are NOT compost able. Since I had pre-purchased these balloons months ago, it seemed crazy not to use them. I had my balloons  blown up at a dollarstore where the ribbon used was not eco-friendly.I suppose all I can do at this point is re-use what is already in my possession and try to prolong the life-cycle of the ribbon. For future reference, these eco friendly ribbons would have been a pretty cool choice! Throw in a few streamers that I already had, I suppose it’s eco-friendly if I’m not buying anything new…. Also for future reference (slap to head,WHY wasn’t I thinking!!) I should have invested a reusable banner, like this one that I found on Etsy . I like to try to keep most of the decorations in one area of the house for easier clean up at the end of the

Fairy tea paty corner

day… Other than that I pretty much just decorated with a few pillows and created a little tea party area. One eco friendly creation I made were fairy wings. I could have gone out and bought new wings for like $3 each, but I decided to recycle craft some instead. I followed the directions on this website and they turned out ok! (Keep in mind that my idea of a successful craft is one that doesn’t immediately fall apart or burst into flames…)

Food:

I could have done better here: Pizza, chips,  pop, cheesies. All a little questionable… Should have gone for organic chips or even Sun Chips with their compost-able bags. I did ok here: I did choose to make her birthday cake this year with an organic cake mix. The feedback on it was pretty good, although next time I’ll attempt to do an organic/ fair trade cake from scratch. .. Also I didn’t purchase any disposable plates or cups (I have a large supply of napkins, and since the cake was cupcakes no plates were really required). If you were interested in biodegradable party wear Go Green in Stages has all kinds of options.

Treat Bags:

For treat bags I bought a cheap purse and wallet as well as some fair trade chocolate, organic fruit snacks, bear paw cookies and a Tinkerbell comic book. I figured that these things have pretty good play value for little girls (gotta have our purses!) so at least it wasn’t a cheap toy that would just be disregarded or broken. I have given out toys like this in the past….I could have stepped it up by purchasing perhaps a bag made from organic cotton instead. I was thinking about giving out little potted flowers, but at the age of 3 this is maybe an idea for a later birthday. For a spring birthday seeds to plant might be a cool idea…

Gift:

This is one area that I think I did great at. I purchased an eco-friendly tea set, made from recycled plastic, dishwasher safe, and the only packaging left over was a recyclable box, no plastic. Instead of wrapping the gift I used a Dora gift box that I received years ago and keep reusing almost every birthday. A friend of mine hosted a birthday party last year where instead of gifts guests bought items to donate to the Humane Society. the birthday girl got to go deliver the items and see all the animals she was helping. I think that this is a fantastic idea!

This was not by any means a perfectly eco party, but it is a step in the right direction and that is my goal!

Worth it ? Apples to Apples

I’ve decided to do a little Q & A on Inspire Planning.  I ‘d love for readers to comment on this post! Please leave the name of an eco-friendly  choice in the marketplace and I’ll tell you if it’s WORTH IT or NOT, hopefully every Wednesday. Any thing from bamboo floor to toothpaste!

Ok, so I had a bit of a requests from my fantastic  BFF Kat, here is what she wrote,

Q) “Hey, so I have a question/ inquiry. I love the idea of going green, however, I find that most green products are almost double the price. What is the real reason for this? Are green products really more expensive to manufacture? Sometimes I feel like I’m being taken…….thought it might be a good blog topic.”

A)Good question Kat! I have recently purchased my first bag of organic apples. Apples to Apples it is.

Let’s get something out of the way, Organic simply means that it is grown without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or  genetically modified organisms.

When I refer to chemicals or pesticide  I am talking about the 2 most popular pesticides where I live (Atlantic Canada) which are Mineral oil and Carbaryl. I went pretty light on them too, there is a ton of scary (questionable sources though) info out there.  A host of other pesticides and fungicides are used, but we can get more into that another day.

Mineral oil is a petroleum based product made from crude oil. That’s one more point for the oil industry and how reliant we are on them.  Let us remember sustainability. Using, processing and transporting crude oil is on the negative scale. On a positive note it’s actually not too bad as  pesticides go, but I still wouldn’t want to eat it! CAUTION: One study showed there was an increase in skin cancer when mineral oil is applied as a moisturizer.Watch out for mineral oils in your cosmetics as well.

The other most popular is carbaryl. This chemical is definitely  toxic to humans. It  affects cell division and growth, as in like mutation. The EPA classifies it as a likely human carcinogenic. Not cool. It seems that bottom feeder fish, such as catfish accumulate the carbaryl in their bodies. Oh and it’s also toxic to bees, who are quite  beneficial to the environment. Being as things do need to be pollinated…

Hmm Organic Apples,

Pros:

  • Some studies have shown they are possibly  more nutritious
  • No harmful chemicals for your body
  • No harmful chemicals in the environment

Cons:

  • About $1 more expensive per 3lbs
  • Could be hard to find (although if you ask they’ll generally get it in)
  • The Organic apples that I buy are shipped from the US, more transport pollution

Hmmm Conventional Apples

Pros:

  • Cheaper
  • More convenient
  • Mostly grown close to home

Cons:

  • Contains a very tiny amounts of  chemicals that hurt our babies.  So a tiny bit from 1 apple, what about if I feed my kids other foods all with just a tiny bit of chemicals? Wouldn’t that add up to a whole bunch? Also it’s not just in the peels, traces of pesticides were found on peeled, cored apples.
  • Contains pesticides that harm the environment

So here is what I am thinking, in the end an extra $1 a week for apples is ok with me! Organic apples are WORTH IT. If there are no organic apples where you live, ask your store manager to get them in, but keep eating conventional apples, their health benefits are too good to pass up!

7 fruits that are WORTH IT, a little extra for organic is ok!

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Nectarines
  • Cherries
  • Grapes

7 fruits NOT to spend extra on for organic:

  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Honeydew Melon

A last thought, It seems the toxins are also still present in applesauce and apple juice, if you can, choose those in organic as well.

Info for this article was obtained at http://www.ewg.org/

Links to random Green blog, surprise blog!

Moo!

One of my biggest challenges in switching over to  greener choices is trying to keep all the picky eaters in my house happy. Sometimes I can’t accomplish this, for example Organic milk.

My husband prefers the milk he’s used to, I forced him to have a blind taste test and he had no problem choosing his usual milk. He claims that the organic milk was a little too sweet, my 2 year old on the other hand didn’t notice a change.

I  aim to try a few new products every week . One new item I purchased last week was organic milk.  I picked it up and made the decision to spend the $6.29 price tag for 2L.  I figured it was a good thing to switch over and worth the extra cost since organic milk contains higher beneficial fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamins than conventional milk.  Then there’s the growth hormone, rBGH. It’s use is banned here in Canada as well as in Europe, however unless it’s labeled rBGH free, or organic, dairy products from the U.S. still contain it. That rBGH seems to be an all around bad idea, what with the links to breast and colon cancer as well as the poor cows that have to produce so much milk that they can become malnourished. As a breastfeeding mom, I feel for them! For now I’ll keep buying the conventional milk for my husband, and my babies will get organic. I’m also going to make a habit of checking the label to see where my dairy products are coming from!

On another note,

Last week I had a great opportunity to make an easy shift in my spending to green. It is my Dad’s birthday this week (Happy Birthday Dad!!) and after digging around for info, I found out he needed some new t-shirts. I don’t have a big budget for birthday gifts, so I had to try and come up with a gift that was eco friendly, useful and inexpensive. My sister discovered that he was in need of some t-shirts. I was thrilled to find organic cotton shirts at wal-mart! I picked up 3 of them for $7 a piece!!

Last week’s  grocery totals for my One in a Million Challenge:

  • organic meats from Bluefield Natural Products Inc. $40
  • various organic, fair trade and eco friendly products at the grocery store $40
  • Birthday gift for Dad $21

Totals for O.I.M.C. last week: $101

Steam mop

With all my shifting of funds to more eco friendly products, I’m always thinking of ways to save money. I have been looking at steam mops for a while now, as my current product I use is a Swiffer. Swiffer creates so much  waste with it’s one time use mop heads.

Then there’s the actual cleaning sloution they put on the mop cloths. I reviewed the material safety data sheet and it actually looks to be  on the lower end of the hazard spectrum, but it’s still not biodegradable and does irritate the skin. Since my baby crawls on my floors and eats any scrap of food or non food that he comes across , maybe it’s time for a healthier option.

I pay $94.44 per year for Swiffer wet cloths refills.   Vinegar and water is one cheap option, but really I don’t want my house to smell like vinegar or take the time to get out a mop or sponge  and bucket. For around $100 I can get a steam mop with pads that are washable and resuable.
I know that steam mops have their own downfalls, such as power consumption. The power rating for Bissel Steam Mop is  1500 watts (to give an idea my small 4 cup coffee maker uses 710 watts). Plus this model only  weighs 9 lbs,  and I’ll be cleaning with cups of water instead of  gallons! I’ll give my swiffer to my kids with a facecloth on the bottom, and bonus for them they have a new toy!

Oh and P.S. You can buy this mop on Amazon for $99 with free shipping to Canada, or directly from the Bissell site if your in the U.S. for $79.

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