Posts Tagged ‘green on a budget’

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.


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Eco-Easy Date Night Ideas

In an effort to create some memories that last forever with minimal waste or carbon output try these Friday night (or anytime) date ideas! Feel free to mix and match!

Although you should definitely use reusable table wear, I thought this ad was way too funny!

Some of these day time date ideas would be considered work for all but the most committed greenie, get out and give them a try!

  •  sign up for habitat for humanity
  •  apple picking in fall
  •  visit a farmers market
  • go for a bike ride picnic
  • clean up a park
  • if you can get your hands on one, go for a canoe or kayak ride (just don’t use a motor, ok?)

  My babysitters are usually  available during the evening  so here are some night-time date ideas that I’ve given some extra thought to

  • Scope out  a pretty well-lit park and settle in for a night-time picnic, if your date wants to volunteer to make up the basket even better!
  • Head to a restaurant that serves organic or local food. This is usually better suited for someone who lives in a city so public transport or even your feet can be taken advantage of. Luckily for me (who lives in the country) there are many little bed and breakfast spots/little restaurants nearby that have  great local organic selections. Another note, if you tend to leave lotsa food on your plate consider bringing  your own take out container in place of those waste full styrofoam thingies or foil.
  • Take a walk around and browse used book stores. Consider this little equation: great deal + exercise + loads to talk about + a new book = great date. If you don’t love to read,consider looking for  pretty books for decorating.
  • Go together to the liquor store and choose some organic wine or beer, stop in for some organic snacks on the way home and enjoy together
  • This idea is probably better suited to a couple that lives in the counrty or has a fireplace, but spiked hot chocolate and a campfire is another great option.
  • If you live in the city, go spontaneous and do a random  mass transit date. Choose a stop randomly and this is where your date will take place!
  • Do it up old school. Like real old school. Soda shop and stroll, or coffee and stroll, or beer and stroll, or milkshake and stroll. You get the idea.
  • I am a board game addict. Try a 2 player board game by candle light for a pretend it’s a black out kinda night.
  • For a stay at home movie date, to save money and be eco friendly borrow movies from  the library or sign up for Netflix.

No time for a date but still want to do something eco-friendly together? Conserve water and hop in a shower for two. If you have kids, turn the monitor on and remember to lock the door, as not to scar them for life… 

If you have a great eco date idea I would love to hear it!!

What is a Big Green Purse? I’ll give you one! (review and giveaway)

Win a copy of BIG GREEN PURSE by DIANE MACEACHERN, just leave a comment. ( Open October 14-28 2010)

So the basis for me starting this blog was to write about my One in a Million Challenge (recently I’ve fallen a little behind on this, updates are coming…)

The One in a Million Challenge is an idea that Diane MacEachern came up where she encourages women to shift $1000 of their existing budget to environmentally friendly products.  Since women control 0.85 cents of every dollar spent, this adds up to a lot, like  ONE BILLION DOLLARS we’re talking.  That is enough money to make any manufacturer take a second look at their product and ask “how can I make this a better environmental choice?”.

Skeptical about the importance of buying eco-friendly products?

In her book, Big Green Purse, Diane explains why it’s important to choose the greener options. Diane touches on many subjects in the book, in fact pretty much anything related to living, from beauty products to cars to food.

In her chapter “CLEAN AND GREEN: CLEANSERS SCRUBS, POLISHES AND FRESHENERS”  she points out the health hazards we are facing today . For example 6.1 million kids in the U.S. have asthma, making asthma the #3 reason kids are hospitalized. She points out pretty clear links between what you use in your house on a daily basis with these risks. She then goes on to explain how to make simple easy shifts to healthier options. She makes it pretty easy too, with a thumbs down list of things to avoid, go green cleaning tips and even a where to shop guide.

Diane also has some pretty smart thoughts like “When buying a new appliance, light or computer to remember:  it has 2 price tags- what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy it uses” This book is so handy because she then goes on to list the top 10 ways to save energy and money.

It’s pretty clear that I’m a fan of the book, and that it is totally required reading for every woman, no matter where she is at on the going green scale.

One thing I did miss from the book is more info on eco-travel, a follow-up book is in order perhaps?

 

GIVEAWAY!

Want your own copy of the book? Great, cause I’m giving one away! Leave a comment and your e-mail address. Also if you feel the need to tweet or facebook or like Big green purse on facebook about this contest let me know and you’ll get 2 extra entries!!  (Open to US and Canada residents, over 18 please)

Use your big green purse

Hey, if you don’t win you should still totally pick one up. I mentioned where in my Greenie Deals post.  I love having mine around for reference!  You should also check out her big green purse website which is packed with all kinds of great info! As is the big green purse facebook page.

Worth it? Why Tide is not cool

What’s so bad about laundry detergents anyway? Why bother buying a green detergent?

A few things that are  not cool about conventional detergents:

  • Companies are not legally required to disclose all ingredients, and most choose not to.
  • Synthetic Surfactants. These suds-makers biodegrade  slowly, and will stay in our water ways for a very long time. Did I mention they are made from petroleum? They  also have a very high biological toxicity, according to an English study they have been shown to increase growth of breast cancer cells and also make boy fish more like girl fish. So weird and wrong.
  • Artificial fragrances, these are bad always, again made from petroleum, toxic effects on animals are not clear yet…
  • Optical brightners,  maybe let’s work on getting our clothes brighter without being toxic to fish.

Good news:

  • Most detergents come in concentrated versions now, because really why would we want to pay money for a bottle that is 3/4 water anyway, try to buy the detergent with the least amount of packaging.
  • Plant based surfactants ( biodegradable and safe)  are being used by greener laundry options like Method.
  • Can’t beat local and cheap! Try Down East Liquid Laundry

To skip detergent every now and then try these tips

  • Soak whites in hot water with lemons for a few hours instead of bleach (discard lemons before putting them in the washing machine)
  • Use baking soda. While I use detergent with my cloth diapers, I always through in some baking soda for a little extra kick, my sister uses only baking soda.
  • Try a recipe to make home-made laundry detergent

Funny story, In the 1960s, when surfactants began to gain in popularity detergent manufacturers  battled over who had the longest lasting suds. This led to suds  appearing in streams, rivers, lakes, and 8 feet of  strangely  colored bubbles at the foot of Niagara Falls. Was this a hint that what we use in our homes goes directly back into the environment?

Check out the other Worth it? Apples to Apples and I can’t get these diapers out of my head

Oh and by the way Green Laundry detergents are WORTH IT! I like Method free and clear detergent, my favorite part is no measuring, you just squirt it in!!

Dollarstore Eco?

I was at the Dollarstore the other day and as always my eyes were scanning and searching for green items.  I have never hip checked a kid before, but  that tween stood between me and my eco-friendly future! She was blocking the  Envirosticks! I want it!Luckily she moved on before there was a confrontation….

Envirosticks, they must be green!! Ohhh, something I will use, is super cheap and it looks eco friendly!  This a perfectly guilt free purchase! Sigh, what every shopaholic/ecoholic dreams about. Why get so worked up about pencils? That’s just who I am.

Anyway upon closer inspection on their website I decided to grade them and see if they are really a good eco buy or not.

PRO

  • made from sustainably grown forests
  • uses non toxic ink to put print on pencils
  • when it gets down to the nubby bit, you can recycle the little metal piece and compost the eraser
  • They are also great to write with, and with my son in grade 1 now we use pencils ALOT
  • CON
  • While they use sustainable forests, why cut down any trees at all when you can make pencils out of recycled materials, like O’BON.
  • They are also pretty boring to look at, next time I’m looking to but some eco pencils, I think I’ll spice it up a little with these super cute designs, also from O’BON.
  • The package is mainly plastic,  why would you bother to make a recyclable pencil with a package that ends up in the trash?

So Envirosticks turned out to be a decent eco buy for the dollarstore, but if I was paying full price I would choose a recycled alternative.

While I was at the dollarstore, I also found some bamboo elastics. While I really did know better, that bamboo production for textile like things is not that eco friendly, I was on a roll and bought them anyway. I always need elastics for my little girls’ hair and at least the package was made from recycled material! I have not come across any other eco friendly hair elastics, so if you know of someone who sells them let me know!

Greenie Deals – 2nd edition

 

The only thing better than a great deal is a great green deal…

Here are a few deals, coupons and giveaways that I managed to scavenged up online.(check out lasts weeks Greenie deals here)

Coupons & Codes

  • Gaiam is offering  20% off any 1 item (they only ship within the US, which really sucks for me!) with promo code “EMM2” Click here.
  • Woops, not a green deal, but if you absolutely need shoes…the shopaholic in me could NOT resist this printable 20% off coupon for Payless shoes. Just make sure to buy something organic with the money you save. Click here.

Giveaways

  • Grab a free Sample of Green Mountain Coffee on facebook Click here.

Sweet Buys (Books)

Green Cook Book & The Gorgeously Green Diet

The Green Kitchen: Techniques & Recipes for saving energy & reducing waste by Richard Ehrlich, offers up some unique ideas for saving energy like using the microwave or cooking in large quantities.

The Georgeously Green Diet by Sophie Uliano, encorages us to eat healthy, be healthy and stay that way.  She also includes tips on how to save money and reduce your environmental impact.

Big Green Purse Blog recently posted a few more fantastic cook books. Click here to see the article.

Hey! Please leave a comment if you know of a great greenie deal.

Subscribe to RSS feed (top right) or e-mail and check in 2 weeks for the next edition of greenie deals.

Worth it? I can’t get these diapers out of my head…

As you may be aware I switched to cloth diapers a few months ago, click here to find out more about that switch. Be that as it may, my baby’s butt is often still covered in  disposable diapers by others when I can’t be around.  As an aspiring ecoholic I need to make sure  we use  the healthiest and greenest option available. The disposable diapers I had on hand were not that…

WORTH IT? – PC GREEN DIAPERS

Material & Manufacturing:

  • One thing that I like about these diapers is how open they are on their label.   These diapers are made from wood pulp that was acquired from sustainable forests.
  • They do not use chlorine bleach (good news for baby’s butt as well as the environment)
  • Although there is still a small amount of plastic in these diapers, they are working to source plant based polymers instead

Performance:

Wow! Totally surprised and impressed with these!! They are stretchy and super- absorbent. To put them to the test I changed my baby man before bed at 7pm and left it on until 9am the next morning. All was good, he was dry and so was his bed! He is also teething and having some ahh messy situations down there, these diapers are even holding their own against blow outs!

Disposal:

My waste collection service is investigating these diapers to see if they can be collected curbside as compost, for the time being they do still have to go into the waste can. I will update if anything changes.

Costs Comparison:

Cost per diaper for size 6,

  • Pampers  $0.38
  • Seventh Generation $0.45
  • PC green diaper (look for a comparable store brand) on sale for $0.21 regular $0.42

If you are looking for the cheapest option you can’t beat cloth. It pays for itself in the first few months. If your lifestyle is just not  ready for cloth I say Green diapers are WORTH IT!

Any switch we can make that helps us get off of non-renewable resources, holds up performance wise to the competition, is using less chemicals and is actively trying to improve is so WORTH IT.

Although  I can’t stop thinking about these diapers,  I do know that every baby is different so if you try a green diaper and don’t like it  keep trying until you find one that is a perfect fit for your baby. Check out Diapers.com for purchasing (they only ship to the U.S.)and to read  reviews as well.  Look out for sales when buying diapers, when the time comes stock up!

*PC Green is a local brand, if you can’t find it try Seventh Generation for a comparable product (higher price). In fact Seventh Generation is even more transparent about their diaper production.

If you use another green diaper and love it, please comment!

If you write a blog, check this out.

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