Author Archive | Jennie

4 Low Effort Ways to be More Eco-Friendly

NOTE FROM SWEET GREENS: This article wasn’t written by me. Thank you for supporting the companies that keep Sweet Greens in business.

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We all want to reduce our carbon footprint on the environment. We need to be resourceful in order to carefully steward this planet we call our home as science continually shows us that much of what we do on a daily basis has a direct and negative impact on the world.

Thankfully, we can all do seemingly small things consistently over time that will add up to do the most good. In this article, we will discuss four ways that you can easily be more eco-friendly:

Eat Meat Less Often
One does not need to become a vegan or live a stringently vegetarian lifestyle to make a difference, but making the choice to eat meat less often can have a significant global impact. It has been calculated that it takes more water to produce a pound of meat than it does to produce an equivalent amount of vegetables or grains. For example, producing a pound of Tofu requires 832 liters of water, while it takes between 6,800 and 9,400 liters to produce the same amount of meat. It also takes about 15 times the amount of fossil fuel to produce meat as it does vegetables or other foods.

All of this additional energy usage contributes to greenhouses gases that cause global warming and other deleterious effects on the planet. If everyone simply cut back on their meat consumption a little, it would have a tremendous impact overall.

Being Responsible with Your Waste
It’s understandably difficult for people to make the time to recycle the things that they no longer want or need. It takes a great deal of time and effort to collect and sort your items, as well as hauling them all the way to the recycling facility. It can be equally time consuming to load these items into your car for disposal in a landfill dumping area, not to mention the negative impact dumps can have on environment.

If you don’t have the time, do some research into alternative waste removal solutions. There are many companies out there who would be happy to pick up your recyclable waste, such as this London based rubbish removal company. They may cost a little more, but it would have a very positive impact on the environment.

Plant Some Trees
If you want to do something that will last for future generations, the best way is to plant a tree. Not only are they beautiful, but they provide our planet with necessary oxygen and are a habitat for the many creatures that depend on them for food and shelter.

In addition, you can save on your cooling bills by strategically planting trees to block against the wind while also using them to provide shade for your house. By doing so, you will require less planetary resources and fossil fuels to cool your home, making your carbon footprint that much smaller.

Change the Way You Travel
Changing your mode of transportation is one of those ways you can make a huge difference, as it is something that you do every day. The effects will be cumulative and will, hopefully, over time, become a habit.

If you drive a car, you can take the bus or subway if there is one in your area. If you do need to drive your car, try to figure out the most direct route you can take. Riding a bicycle is great for your health and for the planet, and when and if you are able, you can try walking to work!

If you want to reduce your impact on the environment, try implementing some of these methods and habits. We all have to do our part, and together, we can help preserve this planet and save our environment for all of our children.

Paying It Forward (to Local Wildlife) this Holiday Season!

Disclosure: I am an ambassador for Stonyfield Farm, all opinions included here are my own.

For many, the holiday season is a time to celebrate and come together with friends and family. However, for many others it can be a painful and difficult time depending on their circumstances. I like to try and do something for others and the planet each holiday season, to give back. I find it makes celebrating with my family all the more special, when we know we’ve done a good deed or donated to a good cause as part of our holiday time together!

As an ambassador for Stonyfield Farm, I’m partnering with them this holiday season for their giving back campaign. Stonyfield wants all of us to take some time with our families this month to spread good fortune in the form of a charitable act—in the hopes that our compassion will inspire others to do the same! I think it’s an admirable idea, and am excited to share with you what I chose to do this year.

Stonyfield gave me a $50 Visa Gift Card to donate towards a good deed or a charitable organization of my choice. I decided to match their donation and added my own $50 too, for a total $100 donation. The charity that I choose was our local wildlife sanctuary, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, who have done great work that we’ve been privileged to witness firsthand! Since most folks I know choose to make donations to help other humans at this time of year (which is of course a wonderful cause), I worried that the animals would get skipped over! It’s easy to forget that the other creatures we share the planet with need help, too.

Helping animals is a family activity
My family is all about animals, and I’ve put effort into saving them for my whole life. Just ask my husband about our bunny rabbit Peanut—While we were dating, I overheard at the pet store that they were going to feed a bunny to a snake because he had an injured leg! Nope – Peanut came home with him. Ha! You’ve probably seen me post about Olive the French Bulldog, who was a rescue, and Noodles the Pug, they are our sweet little snuggle bunnies. They’re important members of the family, too! So we thought it would be great to remind people to help our furry friends at this time of year.

My dad is super passionate about helping animals, too. When I was a kid, we had a Great Horned Owl and a Bat, both of whom my dad found injured, and brought home to nurse back to health. This was before there were places that would help with injured wildlife. He instilled in me a strong sense of care and responsibility for the other species on our planet. As a teenager, I was driving home from visiting my parents, and at the end of my hour-long car ride, I saw an injured duck in traffic. His wing was broken and he wasn’t looking too good. I scooped him into a box and called my dad, who told me to bring him right back to their house. My dad set his wing and built a pond for him in the backyard. He nursed him back to health, and then when spring come around, a flock of ducks flew by and my duck joined them. Hooray!

Our great experience with Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
Just recently, Eben and I found a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk, injured in the bike lane of a major road outside our neighborhood. He was so hurt he couldn’t move, but an injured animal can be dangerous when they’re scared. I called my favorite local wildlife rescue group, and they came out to pick up the hawk.  I wasn’t going near those talons! The great people from Busch Wildlife Sanctuary rushed out at 10:30 at night to rescue him. They rushed him into surgery, and he was later released to the wild.

I found that the experience with the hawk was a great chance to teach Eben about how to handle a situation involving an injured wild animal. It’s so important to teach our kids how to help injured wildlife, and what the best practices are when you find a hurt animal. If you want to talk to your kids about this, try using these points for discussion:

  • You really shouldn’t try to touch the animal. They can lash out when they feel threatened and are hurting. You could get an infection from them if you aren’t careful with how you handle them and wild animals have sharp teeth and claws.
  • It’s best to call for help. Always get an adult who can assist you with helping the animal and keep your distant.
  • Let the professional rescue organizations take over whenever possible. Look up your local wildlife sanctuary and contact them when you find an injured animal. They’ll know what to do and give you instructions.

Another thing I love about Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is that they offer a bunch of educational programs, weekly activities, and special events that are fun for the whole family! If you’re located in South Florida, definitely check out their programs and see if there’s one or two that would be good to take your kids to. They offer everything from wildlife encounters, large animal feeding shows, story time, snake and bird of prey introductions, exhibits, to nature tours and nighttime walks at the sanctuary. We have been visiting the sanctuary since Eben was little, it’s fun for the whole family!

I hope that your family gets the chance to do something charitable this holiday season. It’s a great bonding experience and I think it’s so great to impress upon our kids the importance of helping others and the planet. Plus, doing acts of generosity or good deeds really helps you get into the holiday spirit of giving! So whether you choose an organization to make a financial donation to, or one to volunteer some of your time with, try giving back this holiday season. I guarantee it’ll make you feel as jolly as Santa himself!

New: Stonyfield Organic Fruit Snacks!

Stonyfield Gummies 2

What kiddo doesn’t love fruit snacks? Now, you can feel happy about giving your kids this sweet treat. Stonyfield’s new organic fruit snacks are made using real fruit and vegetable juice and are free from artificial flavors, preservatives and GMOs. And they are shaped like cows too!

We excited to receive a delivery of the fruit snacks and we loved both the strawberry and mixed berry! They taste great and have a great consistency too!

Wouldn’t these treats be fun to add to your Halloween party goody bags? I think they would be a hit!

 

This post was written in partnership with Stonyfield – all opinions are my own.

7 Green Tips for Reducing Your Carbon Footprint this Autumn

fall

Today is the first day of fall! Hooray! Now that the days are getting shorter and cooler, it’s a great time to give your home and car an energy audit. Nothing is worse than finding out in at the beginning of winter that your home’s heating system is faulty, or the tread on your tires isn’t ready for snow. So spend the next few weekends taking a closer look at your home and vehicle to make sure that they both are ready for those cold, winter months ahead. Get started by reading on for 7 tips to prepare for colder weather while reducing your carbon footprint.

#1 Keep the Heat Low
As the temperature outside begins to drop, we tend to turn the thermostat up. Before you reach for that dial, try layering with sweaters, thick socks, and extra blankets on the bed. It’ll save energy and heating costs, and you can save the toasty heat for winter.

 #2 Give Your Heating System a Checkup
Before the cold sets in for the rest of the year, have your heating system inspected by a professional to see if any tune-ups are in order, filters need replacing, or if it’s time to exchange your older furnace for an energy efficient model. It’s best to do it now while the weather is still tolerable – having a heater go out in the middle of a freezing December night is no fun!

 #3 Turn Down Your Water Heater
Many water heaters are installed at a default setting of 140 degrees, which can pose a scalding risk and waste energy by heating water much hotter than you’ll need it. Turn your heater down to 120 degrees to save energy and bring the water down to a safer temperature. You can save additional energy by wrapping your water heater in a blanket to keep heat in.

#4 Save Baking for the Cold Days
Fall is a transitional season, so some days feel like summer while some foretell winter’s coming with a bite in the air. If you’re planning to use the oven for cooking your favorite pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, save the recipes that need to cook in it for colder days. Chances are the oven will heat your kitchen enough that the rest of the house will raise a few degrees in temperature, too, and avoiding baking on hot days will prevent you from having to crank the AC.

#5 Check Your Tire Pressure
When the temperature drops, tire pressure lowers and brings fuel efficiency down with it. Check your tires and inflate them to the proper setting. Fall is also the perfect time to have the tread on your tires checked – if you need new tires, get them put on now before you find yourself stuck in the driveway the morning of that first snow storm.

 #6 Check Windows and Doors
Check the weather stripping around your windows for leaks and caulk or replace where necessary. Check for drafts under doors and use a draft snake or replace the threshold if necessary.

#7 Arrange Furniture Warmly
Many older homes have at least one wall that lacks proper insulation, allowing the cold to seep in and taking too long to heat up in the day time to prevent the room from feeling freezing at night. Line up heavy furniture like sofas and armoires or use decorative quilts to help insulate the room.

How does your family reduce its carbon footprint when cold weather rolls around?

 

 

How to Reduce Waste this School Year

How to Reduce Waste this School Year

Back-to-school time is a lot like Christmas—there’s excitement, stress, and a lot of buying. Most parents with school-aged children have spent a small fortune on school supplies and snacks at the beginning of the year only to discover a mountain of barely-used pencils and notebooks at the end of the year—not to mention a car littered with fruit snack wrappers. As parents, we lead by example, and the practices we employ today will rub off on our kids. Here are 4 simple ways to reduce waste this school year and set a green example for your kids.

#1 Avoid Buying in Bulk
Those bulk packages of pens, notebooks, snacks, and juice boxes are tempting, but the truth is that many of these products are sold cheaply in bulk because they’re unhealthy, cheaply made, or don’t follow environmentally-friendly productions standards. Instead, compile a list of everything you need based on all your kids’ school supply sheets and look for supplies that are made from recycled materials or that can be recycled or refilled later. As far as snacks, shopping locally for healthy fruits and veggies and setting aside a couple hours a week to bake a batch of granola or whole grain muffins to send the school will ensure that your kids eat healthy without creating a ton of trash.

#2 Use Resusable Lunchware
The average American family creates 4,320 pieces of unnecessary lunch waste, mostly plastic packaging. That adds up to a lot of trash in the landfills and ocean with a lot of dollars down the toilet. Instead of buying pre-packaged snacks and milks and sending lunches to school in brown bags and plastic baggies, purchase non-toxic, reusable lunch boxes and snack cups for your kids to take lunch to school in and send water and milk in stainless steel bottles. Throw in a cloth napkin and reusable cutlery and you’ll eliminate ALL of the 4,320 pieces of lunch waste your family would normally produce!

#3 Choose Minimally Packaged Products
When possible, buy notebooks and supplies that don’t come in plastic wrappers or extra boxes, which are totally unnecessary. Every piece of non-degradable plastic trash that you throw away ends up in a landfill or adding to the island of trash in the ocean.

#4 Green Your School Commute
A great, easy way to reduce your carbon footprint is by having your kids walk, bike, or ride the bus to school. Walking or biking will give kids a little exercise to boost their energy and sharpness before class and let them enjoy the outdoors at the same time. If safety is a concern where you live, walk or bike your kids to school instead of driving them, or see if another student who already walks to school has a parent who can tag along.

What are some simple ways your family has reduced waste during the school year?

3 Delicious Organic Lunchbox Lunches

Organic Lunches

School just started, however your student may be getting sick of seeing the standard PB&J in her lunchbox (or you’re sick of making it!) I know this happens in our family – Eben will want the same thing for lunch for a few weeks and then all of a sudden as I am packing lunch – he chimes in that he wants something different! If you are struggling for new lunch ideas, it’s time for a box-lunch upgrade! Read on for three new lunchbox standards that your child will be asking for again and again.

#1 Wraps and Burritos
Wraps are a great way to get a few servings of healthy vegetables into your kid’s day. I like to make extra chicken breast at dinner the night before and combine it with cucumbers, avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, carrots—you name it!—into a hearty wrap the next day. Make sure to include a healthy fat like avocado and a protein like garbanzo beans or feta cheese so that your student gets a balanced meal. Burritos are one of my all time favorite lunch foods and I haven’t met a kid yet who didn’t like them, too! Create a healthy version by combining black beans and brown rice and a sprinkling of cheese. Send some avocado slices, lettuce, or tomatoes in a separate container and the meal is complete.

#2 Homemade Soup
Hearty, homemade soups and chillis are a great fall and winter lunch to send to school with your kid. The next time you make a big pot for the family, portion some out into jars or Pyrex containers and freeze or store the portions in the fridge. On lunch morning, simply heat up the soup and pack it in a thermos. Add a slice of seedy, whole grain bread and the meal is a winner!

#3 The Re-done Lunchable
Instead of serving your kids the highly-packaged, preservative-laden lunchables that come from the grocery store, create your own using healthy ingredients. Put together whole grain crackers and organic cheese with fruit and nuts or hummus with carrots, celery, pita bread, yogurt (right now – the Stonyfield Petite Creme’s are Eben’s fave!) and almonds for a more filling, much more nutritious alternative.

What are your favorite organic lunches to send to school with your little ones? What’s the new PB&J in your household?

7 Easy Steps to Start Living a Green Lifestyle Today

7 Ways to Start Living a Green Lifestyle Today
Starting to live a green lifestyle can be totally overwhelming – the first thing you think is you have to make a lot of changes all at once. Not true. You can start greening your lifestyle by taking small steps – one at a time. It is about changing your mindset and creating new routines. Once you start to incorporate these small steps into your daily, weekly and monthly routine, it will naturally just become a part of you life. Back to school time is the perfect time to get started, follow my 7 easy steps to living a green lifestyle and work your way through the list.1. Eliminate the Paper
Invest in a nice selection of cloth napkins, washcloths and towels. To keep things simple, we have washcloths that are only used to clean the bathrooms, ones to clean the kitchen and other areas of our home and ones to use in the shower. Each of these are different colors; white for the bathrooms, gray for the kitchen and yellow for the shower – I like to keep the shower washcloths separate from the cleaning ones.

2. Reusable Bag It
Buy a set of five reusable grocery bags and use them. My hands-down favorite reusable bags are Envirosax because they package five large reusable bags inside a pouch. We have a few of these – I keep one in my handbag, the mister keeps one in the front of his car, we have a set that we use in our RV and there is a set stowed in my car – in case the mister takes it to do marketing. This way we always have a set available and there is never a reason to have to choose paper or plastic?

3. Make it a Waste-Free Lunch
When you pack your lunch, your spouse’s lunch or your child’s lunchboxes, the idea is to get each lunchbox to be waste-free. When Eben was younger we loved the PlanetBox, it has everything needed to keep his lunch waste-free. Now, that he eats more – we are obsessed with our Wean Green Glass Cubes.

4. Green Clean It
The next time that you do your household-cleaning product shopping, pick up some green cleaners. These products work just as well as the conventional products without the toxic ingredients. Nothing is worse than gagging while cleaning – isn’t house cleaning bad enough by itself. 🙂 Green cleaners are not only great for the health of your family but the health of the environment too. Plus, if you wish you can make the green cleaners yourself.

5. Ditch the Bottled Water
This one is simple – DO NOT purchase bottled water. Instead, get each member of your household a great reusable water bottle – we prefer stainless steel. These are great for beverages on the go! And if you are worried about water quality, then purchase a filter for your kitchen faucet, a filtered water pitcher or a reusable water bottle with a built-in filter.

6. Green your Cup of Joe
Skip the Starbuck’s drive-thru window and brew your own organic coffee at home. It is much more affordable and when you pour yourself a cup or two into your reusable coffee mug, you help the environment too. Instead use that money to make a small environmental donation –  Charitable Donations Canada is a great place to start.

7. Recycling 101
If you aren’t already recycling, what are you waiting for? Most communities offer some type of recycling program, so start there. If you are too lazy to walk the recyclables to the recycling bin in your garage, set up a simple recycling center in your kitchen. Many kitchens have the space to neatly conceal all of your recyclables under a cabinet – I like this option, it would allow you to separate paper, cans, plastics and glass all in one space. Brilliant!

How about you, what easy steps have you taken to live a green lifestyle?
Do you have suggestions for readers who are just starting their green journey?

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