Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Truth About Animals and Global Warming

Go Green, Go Veg.

Interesting Information about the effects of animals on the planet.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Here's to more veggie meals

The less meat, we eat, the less greenhouse gasses are produced. My kids thought this was hilarious.

Global Warming School

Want to teach your kids about global warming-see kids it is your fault. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tips for Reducing Your Energy Consumption, Part II

These easy at-home energy savers will instantly improve your home's energy-efficiency, and save money on your utility bill. A quick trip to the home improvement or hardware store will set you on your way.

The gaps around the windows and doors in an average American house are the equivalent of a 3 foot by 3 foot hole in the wall! Caulk and weather-strip to seal off these air leaks.

Stop air from escaping under doors with "sweeps" or "shoes" attached to the bottom.
Use window putty to seal gaps around loose window panes.

Cover bare floors with padded rugs for added insulation.

Look for other air leaks you can seal, such as those around plumbing penetrations or ceiling-mounted lighting fixtures.

Better yet, call an energy rater who can test your house for hidden leaks with a "blower door."

Compact fluorescent bulbs
Lighting accounts for about 15 percent of household energy use. If you swap the five standard light bulbs you use most for energy-saving compact fluorescents, you can save roughly $60 each year on electricity. Make sure you use EnergyStar compact fluorescents, which are tested for quality and longevity.

Water Heater Blankets
Bundle up your water heater, especially if it's located in an unheated part of the house.

Fresh Filters
Keep your air-conditioning and heating systems properly maintained by changing air filters and keeping air conditioner coils clean.

Low-Flow Showerheads and Faucet Aerators
Replacing old models with new low-flow designs prevents the energy used to heat water from going down the drain.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

How to Get Fat Without Really Trying

The meat and dairy industries receive the most government financial backing. Corn and soy are subsidized, allowing cheap processed foods to be created and sold at high profits. This short video sums it all up nicely and should push us all to rethink what we eat and what we feed our families.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Where does your child's school lunch come from?

How to reduce your energy consumption, Part 1


Unplug seldom-used appliances, like an extra refrigerator in the basement or garage that contains just a few items. You may save around $10 every month on your utility bill.

Unplug your chargers when you're not charging. Every house is full of little plastic power supplies to charge cell phones, PDA's, digital cameras, cordless tools and other personal gadgets. Keep them unplugged until you need them.

Use power strips to switch off televisions, home theater equipment, and stereos when you're not using them. Even when you think these products are off, together, their "standby" consumption can be equivalent to that of a 75 or 100 watt light bulb running continuously.

Set Computers to Sleep and Hibernate

Enable the "sleep mode" feature on your computer, allowing it to use less power during periods of inactivity. In Windows, the power management settings are found on your control panel. Mac users, look for energy saving settings under system preferences in the apple menu.

Configure your computer to "hibernate" automatically after 30 minutes or so of inactivity. The "hibernate mode" turns the computer off in a way that doesn't require you to reload everything when you switch it back on. Allowing your computer to hibernate saves energy and is more time-efficient than shutting down and restarting your computer from scratch. When you're done for the day, shut down.

Take Control of Temperature

Set your thermostat in winter to 68 degrees or less during the daytime, and 55 degrees before going to sleep (or when you're away for the day). During the summer, set thermostats to 78 degrees or more.

Use sunlight wisely. During the heating season, leave shades and blinds open on sunny days, but close them at night to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows. Close shades and blinds during the summer or when the air conditioner is in use or will be in use later in the day.

Set the thermostat on your water heater between 120 and 130 degrees. Lower temperatures can save more energy, but you might run out of hot water or end up using extra electricity to boost the hot water temperature in your dishwasher.

Use Appliances Efficiently

Set your refrigerator temperature at 38 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit; your freezer should be set between 0 and 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the power-save switch if your fridge has one, and make sure the door seals tightly. You can check this by making sure that a dollar bill closed in between the door gaskets is difficult to pull out. If it slides easily between the gaskets, replace them.

Don't preheat or "peek" inside the oven more than necessary. Check the seal on the oven door, and use a microwave oven for cooking or reheating small items.

Wash only full loads in your dishwasher, using short cycles for all but the dirtiest dishes. This saves water and the energy used to pump and heat it. Air-drying, if you have the time, can also reduce energy use.

In your clothes washer, set the appropriate water level for the size of the load; wash in cold water when practical, and always rinse in cold.

Clean the lint filter in the dryer after each use. Dry heavy and light fabrics separately and don't add wet items to a load that's already partly dry. If available, use the moisture sensor setting. (A clothesline is the most energy-efficient clothes dryer of all!)

Turn Out the Lights

Don't forget to flick the switch when you leave a room.

Remember this at the office, too. Turn out or dim the lights in unused conference rooms, and when you step out for lunch. Work by daylight when possible. A typical commercial building uses more energy for lighting than anything else.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love on the cheap heats up romance in recession
Tips on how cash-conscious couples can keep the romance in their marriages amid the stress of the economic crisis.
By Melissa Rayworth
The Associated Press
With a recession raging, keeping the romance in a marriage isn't easy. Expenses that many couples considered basic a year ago — dropping $50 on a Friday night baby-sitter, buying each other impromptu gifts, planning weekends away sans-kids — are being eliminated.
Couples lying awake at night wondering whether they'll survive the next round of layoffs probably don't have romance on their minds. These days, "the very last thing on that list of priorities is physical connection," says author and marriage therapist Michele Weiner-Davis.
And yet, the same pressures that have Americans cutting back on expenses — rising costs, fear of losing a job, panic over dwindling savings — make it especially vital for couples to stay connected. Under siege, people need all the benefits that a strong relationship can bring.
So how can cash-conscious couples make sure their marriage isn't a casualty of the economic
Carve out time
As over-scheduled as most parents are, it really is possible to find pockets of time to focus on your spouse.
Step One is cutting down on distractions. Don't reflexively reach for your computer, iPod or the remote, says Doug Brown, author of "Just Do It: How One Couple Turned Off the TV and Turned on Their Sex Life for 101 Days (No Excuses!)."
Step Two is getting your kids to bed on time. "If you have one of these deals where the kids float around all night," says Brown, "give up on your sex life."
Call each other during the day just to say hi.
And if you work near each other and your schedules coincide, meet for lunch once a week, even briefly. It may be easier to dine at your desk, but the extra effort pays off.
Plan at least one night a week that will belong entirely to the two of you, and decide how you'll spend the time. "People think you lose all this stuff because you don't have the spontaneity," says Brown. "But planning it does give you this anticipation."
Time together doesn't have to be about wild romance, says sex columnist Yvonne K. Fulbright. "Have one evening where you're giving each other a sensual massage, and it's just about that and a good night's sleep."
Be a cheap date
A night out doesn't have to break your budget. Have dinner at home with the kids, then have a baby-sitter come for just two hours. Go out for dessert and coffee while the sitter does the work of putting the kids to bed. And have a movie chosen to watch when you get home (a monthly Netflix subscription can be cheaper than a single visit to a multiplex).
If there's no money for baby sitters, swap child care hours with friends — you watch their kids this Friday night, they watch yours next Friday. And don't feel guilty about it."
I see people with young children who, because they work so much, they're feeling guilty about spending an evening away or a weekend night away," says Weiner-Davis. "The best thing you can do for your kids is to put your marriage first. ... You may be feeling like you're sneaking away and stealing time, but you're really building the foundation of a family."
Small splurges
Two great steaks from the supermarket butcher will cost far less than you'd pay for dinner at a good steakhouse. Ditto for salmon steaks and jumbo shrimp. Put the little kids to bed early on a Saturday night and set the older kids up with a movie, then cook a late — and luscious — dinner just the two of you. Use your favorite dishes and glassware, and bring out the linen napkins.
If you both have work to do on a weeknight — whether it's folding laundry, returning e-mails or doing homework for a class — do it in the same room. Put on some music and have your favorite small treat on hand — cookies and cocoa, maybe, or beer and chips.
Bring home a single flower or a tiny box of chocolates, says Fulbright: "People shouldn't be afraid to make it old-fashioned, the way lovers used to woo each other."
Create a sanctuary
It doesn't have to cost anything, says Doug Brown, to make your bedroom a cozy, inviting place that's all about the two of you. "You've gotta have candles somewhere around the house," he says. "Just straightening up the place and getting rid of the Dora the Explorer dolls and taking the big portrait of granny off the walls ... makes it a really sexy, friendly kind of place."
Add some framed pictures of the two of you, and make sure you've got some good music on hand — maybe songs from your earliest years together.
The single most important element in all of this, Weiner-Davis says, is communication. Spend time really talking with each other about something other than the kids or the miscellany of running your lives."
Nothing makes you feel more connected to the person than talking about dreams and aspirations and what you can do together in the future," says Weiner-Davis. "There's something really exhilarating and inspiring about planning that together."
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tips to Prevent Impulse Buying

I found this article on green tips and it has some great information.....

Tips to help prevent impulse buying.

Times are tight and when consumers tighten their purse strings, bad things happen to the economy. We're told we need to spend to do our bit to avoid a recession/depression. For many of us, we buy stuff on impulse - things we don't really need or purchases we haven't really thought through.

Hyperconsumption forms the core of our environmental woes; issues that will make this financial crisis seem insignificant.

Here's some tips to help you avoid impulse buying so you can do your bit for the economy by spending cash on stuff you actually need and will last for a while.

- When you see something that really grabs your eye, think about want vs. need. Is it a case of really needing it, or just wanting it? By buying that item on impulse will you be preventing yourself from buying something that you've really been wanting or needing for a long time and will purchasing this item delay you from getting to your real acquisition goals?

- Don't trust brand names as much any more. Sometimes we'll justify a bargain by saying "oh, but it's a great brand". So many goods now are made in countries where quality control isn't so great. What's more, the same factories create the same goods for many leading brands - the only thing that may differ is the color and label. Many brands that previously represented quality now churn out crap and they are still riding on their old reputations.. for now.

- when you go out shopping, take a list with you and stick to what's on the list.- Set yourself a weekly budget and don't exceed it. - Plan out your major purchases. A stack of research will save you cash, even if you miss an item on sale. Better to be safe than sorry.

- Never, ever buy the latest or greatest in electronic or computer equipment. The reason being is that you'll pay more and it's likely to be buggy. Better to wait a few months - the price will usually drop dramatically and you'll wind up with a product that's more likely to work as it should. (Or try used at stores like Game Stop)

- Compare prices. An 80% off sale may sound really attractive, but not if the store was grossly overpriced for starters. Check other merchants and you might find the sale is a little misleading which will take the shine off your bargain hunters buzz. (Often stores overinflate prices before a sale or put lower quality items from another country on sale-DH worked retail for a while)

- Check the warranty; not just the length but what the warranty covers. The sooner stuff wears out, the sooner it becomes waste and the sooner it needs to be replaced. Often a warranty will be pegged to product serviceable life - it's a formed of planned obsolescence.

- Bear in mind that marketers are pseudo-psychologists. They spend their careers trying to figure out how to get people to buy on impulse and billions are invested into strategies to get you to part with money. Watch out for marketing that focuses on pain points such as "Everyone's buying this - don't be left out!" As much as we think we are resistant to marketing messages, our subconscious fears and need for acceptance tend to override rational thought.

- Resist fashion and trends; particularly in clothing; even "green" fashion and eco-chic products. This years fashion is next year's moth food. Find what you feel you look good in and feel comfortable wearing - and stick with it. I grew up in the 70's and 80's and often when my peers look back at their old photos they'll often say things like "Geez, I can't believe I wore those sort of clothes - they are gross!". Fashion is so transient.

- Check out the ingredients and components of the item you're about to buy. What effect on the environment will your impulse buy have? Can the item be recycled? This tip has saved me a lot of cash - and waste :).Out of all the things we can do to go green, one that is in the control of just about everyone is impulse buying.

While our economic system is unfortunately based on consumption and spending, we can take more responsibility on when and how we spend our money. When you think about it, the best purchases we make in our lives are usually not those that are made on impulse, but the ones we have given a lot of thought to. By resisting the little impulse purchases, we can indulge in some of our bigger green goals such as perhaps installing solar power or a more efficient washing machine; and much sooner!

Do you have some tips you've found useful in resisting impulse buying?

Michael Bloch
Green Living Green Living Tips is an online resource powered by renewable energy offering a wide variety of earth friendly tips, green guides, advice and environment related news to help consumers and business reduce costs, consumption and environmental impact .

Monday, February 9, 2009

Hippie in Me...

So, I'm really excited about our new "lifestyle". We always generally ate pretty healthy. I read ingredient lists to stay away from hydrogenated oils, artificial colors and flavors and too much sugar. Was even vegetarian for about 9 years (ate some fish occasionally). Tried to be pretty frugal, although I am sure there is always room for improvement-had to be with 6 kids. But, after finding some environmental and green blogs (such as Crunchy Chicken), I guess I didn't think too much about my carbon footprint as such. My DH has also gotten really interested in this as well. He has even changed his major to Environmental Science.

Most of the kids seem to be on board with all changes we are trying to make in our life, except, maybe the 22 yr old. Maybe when has to start paying all his own bills, he will realize some of the reasons for the change. He is interested in all of the documentaries we have been watching though, and maybe this will get him thinking about his own impact in the world. He does ride his bike to classes at BSU, even in the snow, because he doesn't want to pay the $300 per semester to park.

I asked my 17 yo son what he thought of his parents turning into "Tree Hugging, Hippies", and he said he thought it was cool. His girlfriend's mom is also kind of a free-spirit, health nut, so he gets it on both sides. We think he has a dairy allergy and since he has already changed his diet he has decided to try and go vegan. Will see how long this lasts.

I want to tell everyone what we are doing to reduce our impact on the world without sounding like I am being "preachy" or telling people what they should be doing and I definately don't want to be like "that" guy. (Watch Video)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Greening your garbage

Here's a video about a woman from Portland, Jean Roy, who has gotten her garbage down to ONE can per YEAR. I imagine it is a lot easier with a smaller family or ones without any children. We still have 7 people home and have managed to get ours down to half a can. Next goal is for one can a month.

Unfortunately, our garbage company doesn't have any incentives for keeping your garbage consumption down. In Boise you HAVE to pay for garbage service whether you want to or not and it does not matter if you have one can or ten cans it is the same price. They also make recycling difficult as well. They want everything separated in one bin in their own paper sack (more waste). If you want another recycle bin they charge your for it. We just went out and got some bins at Fred Meyer that are the same size and color to make it easier and less wasteful. They are going to change recycling to one large bin for everything mixed this summer. They really need to implement some sort of system to make people to want to reduce their garbage. Maybe I need to be an advocate for this somehow. Just not sure where to start.

The second part of this video is the enviromoms, Heather Hawkins and Renee Limon, doing a garbage intervention on a typical American family. On their website they have a once a month garbage challenge with great helpful hints on all areas of your household, from the kitchen to the bathroom to all areas in between. They say to start out slowly, baby steps, baby steps, and take it from there. Check out their website, some great information.

What are your goals for reucing your garbage and what have you accomplished so far?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Take Your Canvas Bags.........

Here's a little diddy by Tim Minchin to help you remember to take your canvas bags to the supermarket. Enjoy.....

Monday, February 2, 2009

Oceans of Plastic

Just a couple videos I found on the destructiveness of plastic in our oceans. It is hazardous to animals, humans, sealife and our ecosystem. We can't wait. We have to start today. Please, let's limit our consumption of plastic. Take re-usable shopping bags and produce bags to the grocery store. Re-usable coffee cups to the coffee shop. Use re-usable water bottles, such as a Sigg, instead of disposables. Look around your house and see how much plastic there is and find ways to reduce your consumption. Even if you recycle, it is not always recycled, it can only be broken down so many times and you have to blend it with new virgin plastic. What are you currently doing to reduce your consumption of plastic products?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Another Garbage Post

Here's a video of a woman in Portland, Jean Roy, who has reduced her garbage to only ONE can a YEAR. I imagine it is a little easier to do in a smaller family without children. I currently have 5 people still living at home. We have gotten our can down to 1/2 can for one month. But am striving for one can a month. Unfortunately, in Boise you HAVE to have garbage service every week and it doesn't matter how many cans you put out, they will take them for the same price, which I am sure discouages people from trying to eliminate their garbage. They also make it difficult to recycle, they want everything separated into paper bags in one bin. If you want another you have to pay extra. We just went to Fred Meyer and got 4 bins to make it easier and not have to rely on paper bags (more waste). They are going to change to one recycle bin for everything this summer, but still no incentive to reduce garbage consumption. Maybe I need to be an advocate for this, not sure where to start though.

On the second part of this video are the Enviromoms, Heather Hawkins and Renee Limon, who do a garbage intervention on a typical American family. On their website, , they have a once a month garbage challenge with many helpful tips for reducing waste in all areas of the household. They say to start off slow, baby steps, baby steps. Check it out. Some really great information.

Reducing Garbage Waste

In an effort to reduce our garbage waste, DH and I went searching for a compost bin, but all we saw were those plasticy bins priced around $80 or more. Our neighbor works at Lowe's and found us some culled lumber for about $35 bucks. We even have enough left over to make some more raised garden beds this year. DH blew out his elbow, so my son made this bin for us. The lid is some scrap wood we found in the shed and DH found a scrounged drawer handle for the lid.

Here is the little pot we keep all the scraps in on the counter (also scrounged) before they are taken out to the bin.

And this is the basket we have in the house for all of our recyclables before they make it into the garage where we have them all separated into their own separate bins. Still trying to work on keeping most of the plastic out of the house. What you see in here are purchases from pre-greener days.

Between composting, recycling and giving our dogs some good healthy dinner leftovers we got our garbage for this week down to half a can. Before we started this we were at about 5-7 cans every week. My goal is to get this down even farther. We are trying to be more carefull about packaging and what comes into the house.

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