31 Simple Eco-Friendly Ways to Celebrate October

31 Simple Eco-Friendly Ways to Celebrate October

Can you believe that October begins tomorrow? October is one of my favorite months – not only does it mark the beginning of fall, but Halloween is right around the corner. I have been making a list of all of the fun, eco-friendly activities that I want to do with Eben and the mister this month. Tonight, we will start the month off right by reading our spooky stories by candlelight. I can’t wait! Read on for 30 more eco-friendly ways that we will be spending October – and share your favorite fall family traditions and links in the comments – I would love to hear what you have planned.

8 Eco-Friendly Living Tips – Questions to Ask Yourself

8-eco-friendly-living-tips-questions-to-ask-yourselfIn all of my years writing a green lifestyle blog, I still get the same question over and over again, “where do I begin?”

I remember in the beginning I was completely overwhelmed with going green. It felt like I would have to get rid of everything in my pantry and medicine cabinet immediately. Instead of throwing everything in the trash, slow down and take one step at a time. When you step back and look at the big picture, you can start to take small steps that will equal a huge impact in the long run. If you are feeling overwhelmed or as if feel you aren’t making a big enough impact  – relax. Start by asking yourself questions throughout the day to see where you can add more small green steps. Once you get started, you will find that those small steps really can add up to a bigger impact.

To get you started, here are some small green steps that you may not be already taking that you can easily add to your routine:

1. Wear it Again:
Many clothing items can be worn again before being thrown in the wash. My thought, if I can’t see or smell (ew!) it, then it should be worn again, except for undergarments, soiled clothing, and washcloths of course!

2. Use it Again:
You can reuse the same cup all day long, just fill it up again. There is no need to use a new glass every single time you need a drink of water or a cup of coffee. Every morning, I fill up my favorite cat mug with tea, and I fill it up over and over again until I put it in the dishwasher at dinner time.

3. Bundle it Up:
Plan all of your errands and shopping for the same day. If you need to get groceries, fill up the gas tank, do your banking, drop off the library books, and pick up the dry cleaning – do it all together. It is much more eco-friendly to run all of the errands at once and it frees up a lot of time in your schedule for the rest of the week. Plus, won’t you feel better when your to-do list is done early in the week!

4. Re-Think About It:
Before you throw something away or recycle it, think about it for a moment – can it be reused or used for something else? Remember, recycling takes energy too, so if it can be reused or given to someone else, this is still a better option.

5. Turn It Off | Unplug It:
If it isn’t being used, turn it off or unplug it. A good rule of thumb – if it has a clock, it is sucking energy even if it turned off, so unplug it. This goes for coffee makers, microwaves, DVD players, televisions etc;. You get the point.

6. Borrow It:
When it comes to items that you need for a specific project that you will only be doing once, (such as a ladder to hang that chandelier) consider borrowing or renting it. And if you plan on only going camping, skiing or to the lake once a year, it may be more eco-friendly just to rent the equipment that you need.

7. Share It:
Wouldn’t it be something if communities shared items such as lawnmowers, wheelbarrows, shovels, bicycles, sports equipment, and rakes? It is amazing how most households have a lawnmower that they probably only use during certain times of the year and usually only once a week. I would love to see communities that share equipment, think: a library for things that we rarely use.

8. Thrift It:
When we need something I think it is fun to try to find it at the thrift store first. You will be amazed at how many fantastic things you can find that are in like new condition. We were in need of pots for planting our veggies, an umbrella and a stock pot – the thrift store had them all. Most likely they will have many of the items that you need too.

What simple ways have you found to take small green steps in your daily living?

How to Make Your Own Organic Hot Apple Cider

Make Your Own Organic Hot Apple Cider

Have you checked out the price of organic apple cider at your local grocer? Wow! $7.99 a gallon. Instead, of breaking the bank, make your own! It’s perfect for filling up reusable mugs and snuggling up with your family this fall!

Ingredients:
  • 2 quarts organic apple juice
  • 1/2 cup organic brown sugar
  • Place all whole spices in a tea infuser, these will be removed before serving
  • 1 tsp organic whole allspice
  • 1 tsp organic whole cloves
  • 3 organic cinnamon sticks (broken up)
  • 1/8 tsp organic ground nutmeg

Preparation:

Stir everything together in a saucepan over medium heat until it simmers. Let it steep for 20 minutes. Remove the tea infuser and serve in mugs.

Serves: 8

Enjoy a hot cup of apple cider by the fire with a good book or your family. You could also enjoy a yummy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie to go with it.

7 Sustainable Ways to Welcome Fall with Your Family

7 Sustainable Ways to Welcome Fall with Your Family Jennie Lyon

Fall is my favorite time of year, it seems like we start to slow-down as family and spend more time reconnecting with each other. Since the days get shorter and it gets dark outside so much earlier, we really focus that time on family time. This is the time of year that our bowl on the dinner table gets filled with card games and brain teasers, and our nightly dinners get dragged out by long conversations and hot steamy beverages for dessert!

It is also the perfect opportunity to go green together as a family. To get you in the autumn mood, while getting your excited about sustainability, check out my 7 favorite eco-friendly ways to welcome fall.

 1. Make it Family Dinner Night
One of my favorite fall family traditions is to have make-your-own organic pizza night a few times a month. There is something fun about kneading the dough, cutting up vegetables and pulling hot vegetarian pizza’s from the oven. We like to make ours look like sweet, smiling faces and it always ends in a night of laughter and fun!

2. Green Your Overall Health
Fall is the perfect time to amp up your healthy lifestyle before winter hits – because with winter comes sniffles, colds and the flu. You can start by boosting your immunity, packing healthy, organic school lunches, adding some super-foods to your marketing list and by doing a whole-body cleanse. You want to stay healthy through all of the fun fall and winter holidays, right?

3. With Fall comes Leaves, Lots of Them
When it comes to the leaves that fall in your yard, the way that you dispose of them can have a huge impact on the environment. The best options would be to mulch them and use them as ground cover for your garden. The worse option would be to blow them around with a noisy, emission polluting leaf blower. If you want to have fun with leaves, consider making leaf prints for your family room or you can always jump in piles of them.

4. Enjoy Your Natural Environment
One of my favorite ways to enjoy a lovely fall day with my family is by taking a bike ride. In fact, I think we should take our bicycles on our fall family trip to this year. Another fun thing to do this time of year is to visit your local botanical garden – you could try one of these surprising ways to make it a day of full of fall fun.

5. Prepare for Winter
Before you know it, winter will be here – and fall is the perfect time to prepare. When we lived in Colorado, I liked to stock up on non-perishable organic goods so we didn’t have to go marketing as often. It is also a great time to weather-proof your doors, windows and prepare your garden for the cold, winter ahead. I also like to think of fun ways to cozy up our home – this usually means bringing out stacks of books, blankets and pillows and sipping hot organic tea and cocoa.

6. Green Your Halloween
Whether you are making plans to make your own Halloween costumes, decorations or you want to turn your home into the ultimate eco-friendly haunted house– now is the time to get started. We like to scour our local thrift stores and tag sales for fantastic Halloween decor well before the holiday. It always gets us in the mood for Halloween and when the holiday actual gets here, we are completely ready!

7. Go Local 
In Florida, our farmer’s market season starts at the beginning of October – which is the perfect time to stock up on those yummy fall vegetables. I love when the mister whips up a batch of one of his fantastic soups during the fall months using local vegetables from the farmer’s market. And pumpkins from the farmer’s market, oh my, they are my favorite. If you live in a cooler climate that doesn’t offer a farmer’s market during fall, consider joining your local food co-op.

How do you welcome fall with your family?

Get Thermos Happy: New School Hot Lunch Ideas!

vegetable-soup-445160_1280

If you have one or more kiddos in school that depend on you for their lunch everyday, step up your game and introduce new hot and healthy meals into your child’s lunch routine. The perfect way to do this is by investing in a good thermos that will fit in your child’s lunchbox. Of course, the options for thermos designs and colors are endless so be sure to include your little one in the shopping fun – and make sure it is eco-friendly too!

Don’t be skeptical that what you put in the thermos before school will remain hot until your child’s lunch period – it will stay plenty warm! A hot lunch can be a nice change from a cold sandwich – especially with the cooler months approaching. This change may also give you the opportunity to be resourceful by eating more leftovers. If you have the ability to send part of last nights meal in a thermos with your kids the next day perhaps you won’t waste as much food – which is good for the environment and your pocketbook.

You know better than anyone what foods your kids will eat but here are a few thermos meal suggestions to try! What kid doesn’t love spaghetti and meatballs? Add your favorite spaghetti recipe to your thermos and enjoy! Another favorite is to make veggie mac-n-cheese by mixing frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrots with mac-n-cheese to make a hearty lunch for any season. Is your kid a chicken nugget fan? Send a few warm ones along with your child’s favorite dipping sauce for a special lunch treat!

Make your little one feel warm and toasty on cool days by sending your special homemade soup! Or sometimes there’s nothing better than eating breakfast for lunch. Send cold or hot breakfast thermos options such as yogurt and berries, or hot oatmeal with fruit. Power up!

Organic Recipe: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Eben and I are a little obsessed with pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. It’s only September 9th and we have already baked a huge batch. They are delicious. We have been baking these together since he was a toddler and now that he is a teenager, we have the recipe memorized. They make our house spell like pumpkin heaven. You should definitely make a batch – here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups organic flour
  • 1 tsp organic baking powder
  • 1 tsp organic baking soda
  • 1 tsp organic cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp organic nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup organic butter
  • 1 1/2 cups organic sugar
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla
  • 1 egg or egg replacer
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin
  • 2 cups organic chocolate chips or vegan chocolate chips

Preparation:

1. Combine organic whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a bowl and mix together.
2. Add butter and sugar in a stand mixer, mix well. Add vanilla, egg and pumpkin and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture and mix well on medium speed. Add organic chocolate chips and stir together.
3. Bake in traditional oven at 350 degrees for 18 minutes.
4. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes and enjoy.

What is your favorite fall cookie?

 

Eco-Friendly Ways to Decorate Your Dining Room for the Holidays

Eco-Friendly Ways to Decorate Your Dining Room for the Holidays

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: Thank you supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.

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The holidays are right around the corner! I have already been teasing Mr. Sweet Greens that I am ready to get out the Halloween decorations. He just rolls his eyes at me. Ha! I can’t help it, as soon as September hits all I can think about is Halloween and pumpkin spiced everything! I can’t wait to get out those giant reusable bins full of decorations. And don’t even get me started on Christmas and Hanukkah. Bring it on!

We have quite a few Halloween decorations for all areas of our home, but one of my favorite spaces to decorate is our dining room. We have a large dining table, chandelier and windows that I always deck out! For Halloween, the chandelier it is covered in cobwebs, Spanish moss, a black crow or two and a bunch of little spiders. For the winter holidays, I hang large round ornaments and candy canes from ribbon in the windows. Am, I putting you in the holiday mood? Here are some of my favorite ways to decorate my dining room table, chandelier, and windows for the holidays.

The Dining Table
During the “regular” months of the year, our dining table centerpiece consists of a large silver bowl that is overflowing with card games. It makes it really easy to start up an impromptu game of Old Maid or UNO right after dinner. And any extra time that I can sneak with Eben is okay with me! During Halloween that bowl gets filled up with our small Halloween themed games (one of my favorites is Spot It Halloween) and books. It’s a fun reminder to take some time after school to heat up a mug of spiced apple cider to play a game or read together. When Eben was younger, Mr. Sweet Greens would read us spooky stories in the dark. Now, we read our own spooky books together by candlelight. So fun!

During the winter holiday months, I fill the bowl up with Christmas and Hanukkah themed books and our huge collection of dreidels. In case you didn’t know, Dreidel is a favorite for anyone who celebrates Hanuakkah. It’s basically a game of chance played by spinning a top. It is a wonderful game night activity for the entire family and one that you should definitely add to your activity calendar for December.

The Chandelier
Decorating our chandelier is one of my favorite things to do during the holidays. By decorating it, you can completely change the feel of the room itself, which is a plus for holidays!

For Halloween, you can decorate it with cobwebs, paper bats, hanging ghosts, or any other combinations of fun pieces to spookify your dining room!

For the winter holidays, by hanging some pine branches and cones off it, your guests will instantly feel the room is Christmassy and you get that amazing pine scent too.

You really can’t go wrong decorating your chandelier for the holidays, it is fun for everyone!  And it looks really amazing when you invite friends and family over for Hanukkah dinner or Christmas brunch!

The Windows
Decorating the windows in our living is one of my favorite traditions. It is something that my family can enjoy from inside our home and it’s a fun treat for our neighbors outside too! I try to mix it up every year so that we have something fun and new to enjoy. It’s fun to get creative and try a lot of different ideas.

For Halloween, I have decorated with everything from homemade spooky silhouettes to pumpkin, bat and ghost cut-outs. When Eben was younger this was a particularly fun activity to do with him. Most younger kids love to draw and cut out pictures – having them hung on the dining room windows is just the icing on the cake.

For the winter holidays, I love to hang small wreaths tied with ribbon from the middle of each curtain rod. Other options that are super fun are large ornaments, pine cones or even stars or snowflakes. Anything that can be strung with ribbon is perfect for this project!

You can decorate your dining room table, chandelier, and windows for any holiday and it can be a tremendous amount of fun to plan with the kids. Just gather up some supplies, and spend a fantastic afternoon crafting decorations together. Seriously, Eben and I decorate ours together for every holiday, it’s a super fun tradition!

The bottom line is, when it comes to decorating for the holidays, you don’t have to spend any money, just gather up a few supplies that you already have on hand and just have a good time! Because, after all, that is the whole point! Have fun!

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