Archive for the ‘shop local’ Category

Green Your Home This Spring

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Green: A Great Color for the Home

It’s hard to believe, but spring is just around the corner. For many of us this means it’s time to begin knocking tasks off of spring cleaning to-do lists and gearing up for those home improvement projects you began realizing were long overdue while cooped up inside all winter. Whether you’re looking to remodel your bathroom, upgrade your kitchen tile, or turn your backyard into an oasis, The Cincinnati Home and Garden Show, held at the Duke Energy Convention Center, is the place to be. The show is open to the public today, March 5th through Sunday, March 9th.

This year will also feature a Go Green Cincinnati Show, presenting dozens of retailers offering sustainable products and services, helping residents of the Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky lead greener lives. While not everyone can afford to install solar panels on their roofs or invest in new, energy efficient appliances, there are plenty of ways to go green for little to no cost. Here are 10 easy tricks to add a little green to your life and your home.

Create your own low-cost compost bin  
Composting is a great way to make use of things that would normally end up in a landfill. You can throw all kinds of things into your compost bin which will, in turn, create natural and nutrient rich soil for flower beds, gardens, or even the grass in your yard.

Wash laundry in cold, rather than hot, water
Although using cold water can take a little longer to properly clean clothes, it will clean them just as well as hot water. According to Energy Star, almost 90% of the energy used by washing machines goes towards heating water.
Bonus Green Points: Line-dry clothes. Again, you’ll be saving money and energy, but the UV rays of the sun can help kill germs and bacteria too!

Shop at local Farmers Markets
One of the best and easiest ways to go green (in addition to helping your local economy) is to shop at local Farmers Markets. Your food is almost certainly guaranteed to be fresher, more nutritious, and more flavorful than items bought at a grocery store.

Unplug unused and rarely used appliances
Although it may not seem like it, many appliances that aren’t in use but are still plugged in continue sucking up energy. All kinds of appliances from toasters to televisions use “standby” power when they aren’t in use. If unplugging all those unused appliances seems like too much of an inconvenience, another option is to invest in a Smart Power Strip, which monitors electricity use and stops sending power to appliances that have been idle for a certain amount of time.

D.I.Y. cleaning supplies
Not only do most name brand cleaning supplies contain toxic chemicals, but they are expensive. With a handful of inexpensive and basic ingredients you can make a whole host of cleaners for the entire house.

Invest in energy efficient light bulbs.
Energy Efficient bulbs may have more of an upfront cost, but you’ll be saving in the long run and helping the environment. Even changing a few bulbs throughout your house can save you hundreds of dollars annually.

Donate old newspapers to animal shelters, old plastic bags to participating grocery stores, or buy/make your own reusable bags.
Animal shelters are a great place to drop off plastic bags and old newspapers. Lots of grocery stores take bag plastic bags to reuse or recycle; talk to your local grocery store to see if they accept donations. Or better yet, you can buy or make your own reusable bags and avoid the plastic ones altogether! Most patterns are simple enough for beginners to use and only take a few minutes to make!

Lighten the load
How many of us avoid the cluttered, black hole that is our car’s trunk? If you’re like me, the trunk of your car has slowly accumulated knick-knacks over time. Cleaning out your trunk (or the entire car, for some of us) will lighten the overall weight of your car, helping improve fuel efficiency. Improved fuel efficiency decreases the amount of gas you’ll need, so lighten the load in your car and you can lighten your weekly gas bill, too.

Caulk windows
This is a project that sounds much more daunting than it actually is, and will greatly improve the energy efficiency in your home. Something as simple as re-caulking your windows will only take a couple of hours and will help keep the warm air in during the winter and the cool air in during the summer. It’s a quick an easy project that will prove beneficial for any season.

Repurpose!
A little creativity will go a long way with this one. With a little craftiness and a good google search the options are limitless. Sites like Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, and DIY Network are all great places for inspiration. From old t-shirts to baby food jars, just because it’s served its original purpose doesn’t mean those objects can’t be repurposed for another use. Repurpose! Reuse! Recycle! It’s fun, easy, and all these small acts can make a huge difference for the environment!

The contributor for this article was Katie Butts, an intern for Keen Communications.

Green Gifts for the Holidays

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

It’s that time of year again. With Thanksgiving officially over, the search for The Perfect Christmas Gift has begun. Big name retailers are restocking their shelves for the Christmas rush with items everyone wants. But what about giving something uncommon this year? It’s time to think outside the box and get the special people in your life something unique. At Uncommon Goods, there are tons of unique products that aren’t only cool but are eco-consciously made!

The majority of products at Uncommon Goods are recycled or environmentally friendly. Thinking outside the box is something done well with the products at Uncommon Goods. Fire extinguishers are turned into color vases, recycled wine bottles turned into unique platters, and even kits on how to grow your own marinara sauce, and more.

The gift ideas are brilliant for any occasion and perfect for that special someone this holiday season. If you don’t believe it, check out the site for yourself.

Screen shot 2013-12-04 at 11.32.25 AM Screen shot 2013-12-04 at 11.33.13 AM

Grow Your Yoga in the Month of May

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

GrowYourYoga Slider

For any yogis out there, Moksha Yoga is running the Grow Your Yoga campaign during the month of May. You can sign up with a $10 minimum donation, with all the money made this year being donated to the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. Each week the program presents a new challenge for both on and off your mat.

If you’re looking for a jump start on the program, the first week’s off-mat challenge is to Be Healthy. It is suggested that you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet, but if you can’t do that, at least purchase your meats conscientiously from a local, organic butcher. I say this is a great practice to carry on far after the challenge is up!

To keep up with the rest of the program’s challenges, and to learn more about the prizes you can win by completing each challenge, please visit GrowYourYoga.ca and sign up!

If you want a very funny explanation of the program in video form, starring Woody Harrelson (played by Edward Norton), check it out on YouTube!
ednorton

Craft Green

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Are you a crafty person, but sick of wasting extra supplies? Go Green! There are so many green alternatives to put your skilled hands to work. Here’s a favorite!

Instead of buying costly fabric in order to make that perfect throw-over-the-couch-blanket, use old shirts, sweaters, socks, and/or shorts to feel the warmth of an old memento. In fact, it can make the perfect gift. A newlywed, high school graduate, college graduate, and the parents of a newborn would love this to hold onto.

Material Checklist:

1.)  Old clothing

2.)  Old sheet or fleece; Hint: use an old baby blanket!

3.)  Sewing machine or needle and thread

4.)  Scissors

5.)  Chalk

The best part about this craft is that it = $0

 

quilt

Here’s an example of the end result to a perfect memory blanket using old baby clothes.

Check out maidenjane.com for more examples and tutorials on how to craft green!

Meals that are easy on your wallet and your environment

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

With today’s economy, many American’s are finding they are pinching pennies. So what could you do to help the environment and save a few bucks? Cut meat out of a few days of your diet! I know it doesn’t sound too appealing for any meat-lovers out there, but meat is one of the more expensive food items in a carnivore’s diet. Since fall is almost upon us, I thought I’d share some links to some fall-like recipes that are flavorful and won’t break the bank.

First, we have a wheat-berry and black bean chili. This hearty, healthy soup costs about $3 per serving to make and will leave you feeling full and satisfied.

I love Mexican food, so this next recipe is a great meatless meal for me! This cheese enchilada with red chile sauce is a spicy yet inexpensive alternative to a more pricey chicken or beef enchilada.

Want pizza but can’t afford to go out for some? Try this spinach and sun dried tomato stuffed pizza instead. It’s sure to satisfy the pizza-lover within!

A FABULOUS website I recently discovered is BUDGET BYTES. Beth provides some actually good food recipes that cost very little money. She also has a really helpful list of items you should keep on hand at all times. Great for a beginner!

Recycling & composting in the modern age

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

I have been recycling for what seems like my whole life and stressing the importance of recycling to others along the way. It was only recently that I considered composting, and in my research to begin that process, I came across many very interesting and helpful articles and organizations. I want to be the best recycler and composter that I can be, and I want you to do the same!

The Mother Nature Network has offered some great advice on things you should definitely not compost or recycle. You’d be surprised at what should NOT go into your bins. Some things are common sense while others answer those long asked questions: I can just throw this in there and they’ll take care of it, right? Everything from motor oil and batteries to printed papers and pizza boxes is covered, with suggestions for what to do with those non-traditional recyclable materials. I know I’ll be printing this list off and taping it to the top of my recycling bin at home!

In addition, I have often found myself wondering how to properly dispose of cooking oil/grease from my kitchen. I knew that flushing it down the sink was most likely not the proper way (imagine how fatty foods clog our arteries–just imagine what repeated flushing down the drains does to the pipes in your home and through the city!), so I did a little digging. Am I able to just throw the grease in the trash in a sealed container? That didn’t seem right to me, but, it appears to be one solution. Another solution is to take your grease to a local restaurant (one that offers collection) for a larger-scale removal. However, the most sustainable solution to getting rid of your cooking oil/grease is to partner up with a local restaurant where you can take your grease and have them donate their grease to the Alternative Fuel Foundation. The AFF ‘recycles’ cooking oil and grease from restaurants and turns it into clean-burning bio-fuel! You can read more about the benefits of bio-fuel at their website. Very cool, and very green!

There are tons of organizations and companies that are recycling in creative ways, collecting hazardous materials, other recyclable materials such as light bulbs, batteries, motor oil, etc. throughout our communities. An example of just that is GLOBAL RECYCLE, a small company based out of New Orleans that is working to better the community with their local recycling program. The best thing you can do for yourself is to get in contact with someone knowledgeable on the subject: I plan to see if our local green grocer, Park + Vine, collects cooking grease. I’m sure that they can teach me all kinds of things about this, composting, and much more!

 

Serenbe, a sustainable community

Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

If you’re not obsessed with HGTV like I am, well, let me give you a chance to reconsider. Aside from their fantastic programming on TV, they hold some pretty stellar giveaways such as the Dream Home Giveaway and the Green Home Giveaway, which is going on now through June 1, 2012 (you can enter twice daily).

This year, the green home is really above and beyond. Located less than 30 miles outside of Atlanta, Georgia, HGTV’s 2012 Green Home is located within Serenbe, a hamlet of sorts that sits on 1,000 acres of land. On that land is everything you need in a community from organic farms to a blacksmith to a school and retirement center. And the whole community has been structured upon green and sustainable living practices. HOW COOL IS THAT? I urge you to at least read more about Serenbe. Maybe even enter to win, because you never know what might happen.

Thompson Farms: Producing All-Natural Pork by Stellar Standards

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Check out this awesome video of an amazing piggy farm: Thompson Farms in southern Brooks County, Georgia, is the very first 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating System Step 5+ producer! Their meats are available at Whole Foods, so I know where I’ll be buying my pork from now on.

Happy pigs at Thompson Farms - click picture for video

There are starving children in Ireland

Thursday, March 15th, 2012

Growing up, my mother, as many other mothers out there, would coax me into finishing the food on my plate with a simple phrase: there are starving children in Ireland. OK, so most people use Africa as an example, but the truth is, there are starving children in every country. And not only children, but adults and animals as well. We take so much for granted living in the United States (as you can read about in my previous post) and we waste so many resources in the process of taking things for granted. We need to make bigger strides in cutting down on our waste–let’s begin with food waste.

As it turns out, experts are saying that “30-50% of the food produced in the world goes uneaten.” HALF! Can you imagine throwing half of the food on your plate away each time you have a meal? That is not only a huge waste of money but a disgusting waste of labor and resources. I have been struggling for the past year to reduce my portion sizes at meals to not only make my body healthier but to reduce the amount of food waste at the end of each day. A human stomach really is the size of your fist, and most portions at restaurants go far beyond that. It is the curse of the American dream–having everything you’d want and more. We don’t need more in this case.

We can work on our problem of food waste by downsizing our portions, saving and eating leftovers, buying produce and dairy products in smaller quantities (to avoid spoiling), and joining a food co-op. Use what you have in your pantry. Buy only what you need at the store. Grow what you can in your own garden. These simple steps are stepping stones to solving the problem at large. We can’t feed all those starving mouths in Africa, Ireland, or right here in the good ol’ US of A, but we can start a change at home that can leave open resources for others who need them the most. But remember, “no matter how sustainable the farming is, if the food’s not getting eaten, it’s not sustainable and it’s not a good use of our resources.” So don’t let your eyes be hungrier than your stomach, and remember that somewhere out there, someone hasn’t eaten a full meal in weeks.

The Yin and Yang of World Hunger

Green is the New Red for Valentine’s Day

Friday, February 3rd, 2012

That fluffy holiday is just over a week away–the one we all make such a big deal out of whether we’re in or out of love–President’s Day!  No no, I kid, it’s Valentine’s Day.  February 14 still strikes fear in my soul as it has every year, due mostly to the fact that my high romantic expectations have yet to be satisfied.

With more than 180 million greeting cards exchanged on this day of Love, it makes me tingle to think of how many people will not recycle their cards after they are done displaying them like trophies in their cubicles.  Yes, red and pink are the traditional colors of Love and the team colors for Valentine’s Day, but this year I am suggesting we all go GREEN.  The Sierra Club has put together a wonderful list of ways to be green with your lover this Valentine’s Day–including everything from eco-friendly undies to giving experiences in place of things to condoms that help sustain the Earth’s forests.

Let the Sierra Club help you make this Valentine’s Day fun, sexy, and totally green!