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Green Tip: Pick an Organic Pumpkin

Green Tip Pick an Organic Pumpkin

Did you plant your pumpkins and gourds last spring? If so, you should have a bounty of them to use for decorating and baking this fall. If not or if you live in Florida like me, that’s alright, you can find lovely organic pumpkins and gourds at your local organic farm, farmer’s market or organic grocer. Do you need help locating great organic pumpkins in your area? Check out Local Harvest to locate a farm in your area, and enjoy autumn!

Where do you get your pumpkins?
Do you purchase local organic ones?

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?

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?

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!

How to Make Mealtime Less Stressful in the Busy Fall Season

How to Make Mealtime Less Stressful in the Busy Fall SeasonNOTE 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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With the kids heading back to school and the seasonal work picking up, preparing supper can suddenly become a great source of stress in some people’s lives. Depending on the number of people who need to be fed, your work schedule, taking care of the kids, and any other responsibilities, you may feel like cooking is a chore that is best left to a restaurant. That is, if you can afford one. Here are some tips to make mealtime at home a little less frantic and stressful.

Make a Weekly Menu
Believe it or not, trying to figure out what you are going to cook on any given night can be quite time-consuming. If you are not really sure of what to whip up, you may be stressing yourself out thinking about all your options. Everything that is associated with food and eating should be enjoyable, so try planning out a menu to follow for the whole week and see if this cuts down on your stress. Don’t use do it for yourself, keep in mind the kids too. If you plan out school lunches in advance, you can save yourself precious minutes first thing in the morning.

Prep on Sundays
Arrange your schedule so you can do all of your meal prep on Sundays. Or, if you happen to work on Sunday, put another day aside that you can devote entirely to meal prep. Don’t use that time to just prepare dinner for the week, prep breakfasts and lunches as well. If you send your kids off to school with their lunches, this kind of prep can be a life saver first thing in the morning. Just grab their lunch out of the fridge, toss it in their bags, and away they go! If you want a few days where you don’t have to cook, prepare double of what you normally do so there will periodically be leftovers to enjoy. Chop up any vegetables you need and, if necessary, separate them. Precooking and freezing meals, so you can just pop them into the oven when you are ready to eat, can be a huge time saver. Also, consider investing into a crockpot or slow cooker so, in the future, you only need to pull a prepped bag of food out of the freezer to toss into the crockpot to cook while you are at work.

Assign Roles
Get your family to help out. The kids should be home from school by the time you start on supper, so their hands should be free! On days when you are making spaghetti, delegate boiling the pasta to someone else and have another person cook the meatballs and sauce. By getting your family involved and helping out more in the kitchen, mealtime can become easier, more enjoyable, and far more efficient.

Buy Easy to Cook Foods
There is nothing wrong with enjoying making all of your meals from scratch. However, doing so does add more work to mealtime. Every now and then, go grocery shopping for easy to prepare foods. These are the kind of foods that you can simply pop into the microwave, or that you can eat straight out the package, like yogurt from Hampton Creek. Either way, easy to prepare foods or premade meals can be a lifesaver on those days where you are just too tired to put on your apron and cook.

Stay Positive
Your mood can dramatically impact your attitude about cooking. There may be many reasons why you may not be in the mood to cook, or even reasons why you dislike cooking. The back to school season can be an exhausting time. However, you should not let those moods overpower your need to stay positive. Maintaining a positive mindset about things you don’t like to do can help to make them more bearable.
Look for ways to keep yourself positive. Listen to some music while you are in the kitchen cooking, or watch one of your favorite shows. Talk with one of your friends or family while you are cooking, as long as you remember to stay attentive to what you are doing! No matter what you decide to do, remember to stay safe and never leave cooking food unattended.

With the right changes to your routine, preplanning your meals, and a little help from your family, mealtime doesn’t have to be so overwhelming and stressful. It can be fun and engaging! Advanced meal prep can also help keep your grocery budget under control as you no longer making daily trips to the store. The best part about all of this is that you’ll feel better, be less stressed, and have more energy to spend with the people that you love!

Bootler is Revolutionizing Healthy Meal Delivery

Bootler is Revolutionizing Healthy Meal Delivery

Back to school is right around the corner! If you are like most parents, you’ve probably felt the pull of delivery pizza or Chinese food on those busy back-to-school nights where you just don’t have time to cook. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to just pick up the phone and have someone bring hot food straight to your door? Of course, if you’re like me, you probably don’t feel so hot the day after eating too much processed, unhealthy food. If only it were that simple to get a healthy, organic, vegetarian (or vegan!) meal delivered, freshly prepared and ready to eat. With the explosion of internet-based food delivery services, it is actually possible to have this option, though it can be frustrating to figure out which service to use in order to get your favorite organic restaurants to deliver, as they’re all associated with different ones. Enter Bootler, the aggregation service that changes everything.

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Bootler is essentially a search engine for delivery food. Basically, they work with multiple different delivery services, allowing users to pick a restaurant and then compare prices, availability and delivery time. This saves you both time and money when trying to get good, healthy delivery options. Although there is still more typical fare available, Bootler lets you find the largest selection of healthy and organic restaurant options. Interestingly enough, you can also order alcohol from them if you feel like having a bottle of wine or a craft beer with your meal. Alcohol comes from a delivery service called ‘Saucey’ which they are partnered with.

Bootler is not the delivery company; they only bring together other delivery companies and then redirect you to the appropriate website when you’ve decided on your order. You may have used a similar service before to book flights. Similar to Kayak.com, you book the flight through Kayak, but you fly with American Airlines, Delta, or whichever other company is offering the best flight deal. This way you can get healthy, organic, and vegan or vegetarian food options delivered at competitive prices and with the shortest wait time.

I know if I were located in Chicago (which is currently the only city they’re available in) I would be using this service to eat healthy, organic take-out food at home instead of just ordering a pizza on Friday night. Luckily once they’re out of beta, they plan on expanding to NYC by the end of the year and more major cities soon after. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for their expansion into Florida, that’s for sure!

If you are lucky enough to live in the Chicago area, I’ve got two coupon codes that you can use with Bootler‘s delivery partners:

  • Use “Saucey” to receive $10 off your alcohol order.
  • Use “Bootler” to receive $10 off your food order from Postmates.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve used Bootler (or a similar service in your city) in the past, and what your favorite healthy delivery meal options are. I’d love to know how you found your experience with the service!

 

This post is sponsored by Bootler – all opinions expressed are my own.

Cameron’s Specialty Coffee: BetterBrew Eco Coffee Pod Review

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Love the convenience of single-use coffee pods but not their environmental impact? Me too! Today I am excited to share a more eco-friendly alternative to a traditional “k-cup”, which I think will be of interest to any of you readers who regularly spend time in locations which only offer Keurig-style coffee machines. I, myself have enjoyed using this alternative when traveling, it really is the only option other than going out to a coffee shop and getting an overpriced latte in a disposable cup. No thank you!

Cameron’s Specialty Coffee had the earth in mind when they designed a compostable alternative to the plastic pods which are so regularly used by most brands who offer these single-serve coffee pod options. It was the next logical step in Cameron’s commitment to being one of the greenest coffee roasters in the world. I took three of their BetterBrew Eco Coffee Pod flavors: Kona Blend, Organic French Roast, and Vanilla Hazelnut with me on a recent trip to Montana. I was excited to see a company thinking about how to make these disposable products a little less damaging.

Traditional plastic k-cups are starting to fill up landfills around the world, despite being a relatively recent innovation. They’re one of the fastest growing types of disposable plastic waste products; current levels of production make enough K-Cups in one year to circle the planet over 10 times! Cameron’s Specialty Coffee has introduced these single serve pods that work in your Keurig-type machine and use compostable materials—from the lid made from paper to rings made from corn, beets, and wood rather than plastics. These materials will return to the earth within 90 days, which is an incredible improvement from the decades or centuries it can take some types of plastic pods to break down!

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Instead of plastics which can also leech chemicals into your coffee when hot water is forced through them, the BetterBrew Eco Coffee Pod uses a filter, just like the way a standard percolator coffee is brewed. Beyond coming up with a more eco-friendly single serve pod, Cameron’s also roasts their beans in the most energy efficient ways. They’re dedicated to eliminating as much water waste in production as possible, which is definitely more ecologically responsible than the average coffee company.

One of the things which most interested me in the BetterBrew Eco Coffee Pods was the fact that they’re organic. Cameron’s also invests in sustainable sourcing by buying Organic, Rainforest Alliance, and Shade Grown coffees sourced from farms in some of the most remote areas of the world. Most places that I stay when traveling only have Keurig-type coffee makers, and I like to be able to still have organic coffee when I’m on the go. The fact that these are also compostable really won me over for my travel coffee needs.

What do you think? Would a greener alternative to plastic coffee pods be useful in your life? Would you visit Cameron’s Coffee and make the #BetterTasteLessWaste pledge to reduce plastic waste?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

This post is sponsored by Cameron’s Specialty Coffee – all opinions expressed are my own.

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