Energy Monitor Review of Belkin and Kill A Watt

Belkin Conserve Insight Review

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While I have good intentions, I am still guilty of leaving gadgets plugged in when they don’t need to be.

I charge my phone all night and my computer all day and leave the TV plugged in all of the time.

I thought about trying an energy monitor to see how high my household energy consumption was.

Read on for an energy monitor review of Belkin and Kill A Watt products, and how they’ve already made an impact on our energy consumption.

I’m always looking for ways to decrease my environmental impact at home.

I recycle and compost, use the A/C sparingly, and turn the lights off when I leave a room.

I’ve replaced every bulb in my house with an LED one when possible.

Even more, I try to run my dishwasher and washing machine at night during the extreme seasons in the Midwest, in July-August and January-February.

I do it in other months as well if I can.

Still, I knew there were more easy ways to save money on my electric bills.

Energy monitor review

Here are the latest and most practical electricity-saving gadgets I tested.

Belkin Conserve Insight review

The Belkin Conserve Insight is an energy monitor that’s incredibly easy to use.

You plug it into the wall, then plug your appliance of choice into the Insight, and you’ll have an energy reading in a matter of minutes.

The display is easy to read.

The Insight can help you prioritize appliance purchases.

How bad is that 30 year old refrigerator, really?

It will even show you the energy usage difference between, say, a lamp with a CFL bulb and the same lamp with an incandescent one.

You can see the results measured in dollars, watts, and CO2 emissions.

You can also use the Cost Tracking Feature to track energy usage of a certain appliance over time to give you a better idea of how much energy you’re using on a longer-term basis.

Conserve Insight is a smart investment for any environmentally conscious household and those who want to save money on their electric bills.

energy monitor review
Belkin Conserve Insight

Kill A Watt review

The P3 P4400 Kill A Watt is available at an unbelievably low price for all it does.

It’s easy to use and like the Belkin, I found it incredibly fun to use as well.

It is interesting to see how efficient — or not — you and your electrical appliances really are.

I like this because it gives you a way to cut down on what are usually considered “fixed costs.”

You can actually make a difference in your energy bill!

We all know it is a pain to go around plugging and unplugging appliances.

What’s great now is that you can easily find out which appliances are okay and “worth” being plugged in and which are energy guzzlers that you should unplug if you can.

I would loved to have received this as a gift.

It’s easy to figure out your electrical expenses for the year, month, week, or by the day.

It is wonderful for high-energy users like refrigerators and air conditioners too.

Find out how efficient they are and whether it makes sense to invest in a new one.

Belkin Conserve Socket review

This isn’t really an energy monitor, but it’s in the same category of products.

Work to save money on your energy costs.

I might love the Belkin Conserve Socket.

While the energy monitor tells me how much an electrical item is using, this product helps me to do something about it.

It’s so simple to use, yet it has the potential to conserve so much energy.

To use the socket, you simply plug it into an outlet, plug your appliance of choice into the Socket, and set the timer for 30 minutes, 3 hours, or 6 hours.

After the designated time, the Socket turns off and your appliance automatically stops drawing electricity from the outlet.

I use the Socket all of the time when I’m charging my phone or computer, but it would also be great for people who rush out the door in the morning and forget to turn off the toaster oven or curling iron.

If you plug your appliance in and set it for 30 minutes, it will turn off even if you forget to unplug it.

For under $20, you can make your home more sustainable and safer.

energy monitor review
Belkin Conserve Socket

Why get a power monitor

There really aren’t many ways you can deliberately save money on major ongoing household bills, and utility bills can really be high, especially at certain times of the year if you don’t live in a temperate climate.

Here’s a real chance to do something about them.

You don’t have to be at the mercy of your appliances and the electric company!

After reading this energy monitor review you can see how gadgets like these are long overdue in the US.

Now they’re widely available, easy to use, and inexpensive.

And they’re fun.

I would recommend them to everyone looking for easy ways to reduce their environmental impact.

They are affordable, and they can end up saving you money on your energy bills.

They make great gifts too.

Now I just need to get some solar panels, and I’ll be all set!

SNCF Train: Guide to Traveling France by Rail

SNCF Train: Guide to Traveling France by Rail

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SNCF Train – Using unfamiliar forms of transportation can be incredibly stressful, especially in a foreign country where you don’t know the rules or, worse, the language.

As many Americans don’t have experience with train travel, I found myself giving extremely detailed advice to friends who planned to visit France.

Armed with this guide and vocabulary, you will be worry-free when you take the rails.

Beginner’s Guide to Swiss Glacier Express Train

About France’s SNCF Train (The French Railway System)

The French railway system, SNCF, is a government-owned network of trains throughout the country.

Even small towns have their own railway stations, and the really tiny villages are usually linked to the rail network via SNCF bus.

The high-speed TGV links France’s largest cities and will get you to your destination in no time flat—for a price, while the TER provides regional trains linking cities within regions.

The French rail system is usually quite punctual.

Be aware that national strikes and inclement weather can cause major delays, however.
SNCF Train: Guide to Traveling France by Rail
photo credit: Matt Seppings

How to Buy Your Ticket

If you plan on doing a substantial amount of traveling within the country, you may want to consider getting a France Rail Pass.

These are only available to non-European residents before your departure abroad, so be sure to plan ahead.

You can get a ticket for 3-9 days of travel within a month.

If you are only going to be taking the regional trains, all you need is your rail pass to board.

Any TGV train, however, will require you to buy a seat reservation in addition to your pass.

Tip: if you can, buy these reservations within France rather than through the Rail Europe website.

When I had my pass in fall 2010 it cost 3€ to get a seat reservation at a French train station versus $11 to buy it through the website.

If you only plan on taking one or two day trips, you can buy your ticket through many online websites.

The TER ticket prices remain stable, but the TGV ticket prices increase the longer you wait.

If you book your ticket about a month in advance you’ll be privy to “PREM” prices—a significant discount.

Travelers aged 12-25 who plan to be in France for a few months should strongly consider buying the Carte 12-25, which gives discounts of 25-50% on all train travel.

The card is good for a year after you buy it, even if you buy it on the eve of your 26th birthday.

What to Do at the Train Station

Plan on getting there 20-30 minutes before your train is due to depart.

Unless you’re taking the Eurostar or another international train, you won’t need to go through any security measures.

In the main lobby of any train station there will be a big board that has all the trains by number, hour of departure, the name of the stop at the end of the line, and the platform number.

You’ll see a lot of people congregated around it, looking up.

Oftentimes, the platform number won’t appear until a half hour or so before the train is due to depart.

So don’t fret if you don’t see one listed right away.

Just watch for it to appear as your departure nears.

If you’ve chosen an e-ticket option, you’ll need to print that out at one of the yellow kiosks using your six-letter e-ticket number and your last name.

You can choose to use the kiosks in English.

How to Validate Your Ticket

Before you board the train, you’ll need to stamp your ticket you just printed, or “composter le billet” (/com-pos-tay luh bee-yay/).

There are yellow machines outside the entrances to the platforms where you must insert your ticket to stamp the date and time on the edge.

This is to ensure you don’t try to use the same ticket on multiple journeys.SNCF Train Ticket Machine, France

Here is a picture of the machine for stamping the ticket:

How to Board the Train

After you’ve arrived on your platform you can feel free to board the train.

On the right side of your ticket it will say what voiture (car) you’re in.

This is written next to each door of the train.

Your seat number will be under that.

The train cars usually either have a big “1” or “2” on them– this is to demarcate whether it’s a first or second class car.

There are luggage racks at either end of a car, and sometimes in the middle as well.

If you’re able to put your bag on the ledge above your seat, do that.

There have been some instances of theft on the trains.

If you can’t fit it above you, just saunter by nonchalantly every now and then to check on it.

Don’t be too conspicuous about it or you’ll make your bag a target.

What to Expect on the Train

While you’re on the train, an employee will come around to check tickets.

Present him/her with your composted ticket, along with any other pass or discount card.

If everything is up to snuff the employee will punch your ticket and move on.

TGV trains will usually have a food and beverage cart where you can get a snack.

Be sure to pay attention for your stop, as not all conductors will announce the name of the town when you arrive.

Train Vocabulary

Gare (/gar/): train station

Voie (/vwah/): platform

Arrete (/a-RET/): stop

Composter (/com-pos-TAY/): to stamp

Billet (/bee-YAY/): ticket

TGV (/tay-zhay-vay/): train à grand vitesse– high speed train

TER (/tay-euh-air/): regional train

Guichet (/GEE-shay/): ticket counter

Voiture (/vwah-TYUR/): train car

Place assise (/plahce a-SEEZ/): seat

Je cherche (/juh sherche/): I’m looking for…

Parlez-vous anglais? (/par-LAY voo an-GLAY/): Do you speak English?

This post is part of a series about France and teaching abroad, written by our dear friend Nina Petersen-Perlman.

Nina Petersen-Perlman has visited Paris on 13 different occasions, eight of which were during the last year when she was an English teaching assistant in a small town in Burgundy.

Paris In a Day ~ How to See Paris in 25 Hours

It’s not hard to see why Paris is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Europe.

You get slapped in the face with charm and whimsy just taking a stroll practically anywhere in the city, what with all the boulevards and the quaint boulangeries and the riverboats and the amour in the air.

Navigating the city, especially on a tight time-frame, can be a bit of a nightmare, however.

There are simply so many incredible and worthy things to see that you may feel discouraged before you even begin your weekend jaunt.

The following itinerary is one I made for my friends visiting France for the first time who were going to be in Paris for a mere 25 hours during a quick stopover from England.

It was whirlwind and hectic, to be sure, but I think I gave them a good taste of what the city had to offer.

Paris In a Day

Saturday, 11:00:

I picked my friends up at the Gare du Nord when the Eurostar train came in.

They had a large suitcase and carry-on apiece, which we heaved up and down multiple sets of stairs on the métro.

I must reiterate: Paris was not built to accommodate the weak-kneed.

We found and checked into our hotel in the St. Germain des Près neighborhood.

12:30-13:00:

We took a stroll down the Boulevard St. Germain des Près, stopping for some savory crêpes on the way, and then poked around in the quarter’s eponymous church for a look-see.

Crêpes are a ubiquitous—and cheap—street food in Paris. You can get them savory or sweet (or one of both).

13:00-13:30:

Even though my friends would only be there for a short time, I needed to give them a taste of my favorite French pastry: macarons.

In my humble opinion, there is no better place to get them than Ladurée, also known as my happy place.

Please get the salted caramel and then get ready to swoon with ecstasy.

We took our loot from the St. Germain shop on Rue Bonaparte and then headed down to the banks of the Seine while we waited for a riverboat cruise to dock.

Tea and pastries at Ladurée

13:30-14:30:

We paddled in our Batobus toward the Ile de la Cité and the Ile Saint Louis, made a loop around them, and continued west until we stopped at the Eiffel Tower, passing the Louvre and Musée D’Orsay on the way.

These bateaux mouches are a great way to get your bearings when you first arrive in the city.

14:30-16:00:

Thankfully my guests heeded my pleas not to waste their precious time climbing the tower, but were content to snap some photos in front of it and take a peek beneath it.

Be extremely aware of your personal belongings when you’re around big tourist traps like this, or you’re bound to leave lighter in the wallet than when you came.

After they’d had their Ei-fill of wandering about, we got back in line to take the Batobus to the Musée D’Orsay.

16:00-17:30:

This was apparently the perfect time to go to the Musée D’Orsay, home to works by Van Gogh, Dégas, Seurat, Manet, Monet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Rodin, Renoir, and others.

Unlike every other time I’ve gone, there was absolutely no line to wait in.

We gazed upon masterpiece after masterpiece until the museum shut its doors for the night.

17:30-19:00:

To reward my friends for agreeing not to mount the Eiffel Tower, I took them up to Montmartre for an aerial view of the city.

We got off at the Abesses métro stop (tip: take the elevator to avoid the billion stairs to the top) and headed up the hill to the Sacré Coeur basilica. The church features beautiful mosaics.

19:00-20:30:

By this time we were exhausted from all the wandering and the stairs and the crowds, so we just plopped down at the first good-looking restaurant we happened upon.

We feasted upon escargots as a starter, duck with honey sauce and boeuf bourguignon as a main course, and crème brûlée and mousse au chocolat for dessert.

We shared a bottle of Bordeaux.

Most restaurants will have a menu, a fixed-price, multi-course meal.

If this is going to be your only real meal in Paris, go all out!

Try something a little scary but delightfully French.

20:30-21:00:

I hatched a plan to take mes amies on a forced march through nighttime Paris so they could see some of the important things we wouldn’t have time for on Sunday.

Our first stop was the Moulin Rouge, which is on a very lewd streets with sex shops as far as the eye can see.

We then took the métro to Opéra, so they could see the magnificent rococo opera house in real life after seeing the model of it in the Musée D’Orsay.

21:00-22:00:

We walked down the Avenue de l’Opéra to the Louvre, the gigantic palace that is now one of the world’s most important art museums.

We arrived just as lights on the Eiffel Tower began to sparkle.

Which it does every night starting at 10:00 for five minutes on the hour.

22:00-23:30:

We strolled along the Seine until we reached Notre Dame, and paused to watch a group of buff French rollerblading make magic with their limbs along a course of overturned cups.

We got a bit lost on our last leg of the trip, but we made it back to the hotel safe and sound, and promptly passed out.

Notre Dame at night

Sunday, 9:00-10:30:

After breakfast at the hotel, we set out for Notre Dame.

My friends toured the cathedral while I waited in line to go up the towers.

This was a perfect plan, because by the time they were done exploring the line had stretched down the block.

We climbed the tight spiral staircases to the top, and were rewarded with magnificent views of the city.

View of Montmartre (and Sacré Coeur) from the top of Notre Dame

10:30-11:00:

We trucked over to Saint Chapelle cathedral, which is a hop, skip and a jump away from Notre Dame on the Ile de la Cité.

It’s home to beautiful stained glass windows.

We were properly awestruck, and glad we went.

Stained glass windows at Sainte Chapelle

11:00-12:00:

I took a slight detour so I should show the bibliophiles Shakespeare & Co., a Left-Bank, English-language bookstore where Hemmingway used to hang out.

We got some panini sandwiches at a nearby street stand for lunch, and then hightailed it back to the hotel so we could catch the métro in time for our respective trains.

25 hours in Paris: c’est possible!

Travel in Paris: Top 6 Tips

Paris is an enormous city with delicious food and wine, museums for every taste, and thousands of years of history.

If you don’t have much time to spend there, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

These tips should help you get where you need to go with the maximum amount of time for soaking up the magic of Paris.

Wear comfortable walking shoes

Yes, the underground métro network is extensive, but you are still going to need to hoof it up and down more flights of stairs than you ever dreamed possible to get to and from the stations.

Buy Your Tickets in Bulk

Buy your métro tickets in carnets (CAR-nay), packs of 1

Split it with your travel companion if you don’t think you’ll use them all yourself to save a few Euros.

Go in the Off-Season

The best time to travel is October through March if you want to avoid the gigantic hordes of tourists.

December, around Christmas time, also gets busy.

Paris Tips Patisserie

photo credit: HerryLawford

Get a Good Guidebook

Invest in a good Paris city guide with a pull-out street and métro map.

Skip the Eiffel Tower

The lines are insane at any time of year and the tickets are pricey.

If you want an aerial view of the city, try climbing the Arc de Triomphe.

The tight spiral staircase will make your thighs burn, but you’ll have a great view of Parisian landmarks, and you’ll actually get to have the Eiffel Tower itself in your photos.

Skip the Louvre

If you’re only going to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa, skip that too.

There is always a horde of people surrounding the painting, which is behind glass.

You can’t get a very good look at it.

Nina Petersen-Perlman has visited Paris on 13 different occasions, eight of which were during the last year when she was an English teaching assistant in a small town in Burgundy.

8 Tips for Going Green This Summer

Going Green This Summer

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Going Green This Summer is officially here and it’s the perfect time to think about ways to reduce your environmental impact.

From food and shopping to traveling and entertainment, we’ve got you covered with tips for going green this summer.

What is going green exactly?

Read on to find all about the benefits of going green and going green facts.

The buzz word of late seems to be going green.

Everyone from automobile makers to mobile phone makers seem to be flaunting their green credentials.

But what does going green mean for you and me?

What are some of the smaller things that we can all incorporate in our lives and encourage others around us to make those choices?

What is ‘Going Green’ to the average person?

It basically means maximizing your finite resources by utilizing only as much as necessary.

Here are some of the things that all of us can do and proudly join the going green wagon.

Get active

This is the simplest thing that all of us can aim for in our lives.

Get of that couch!

Walk that small distance or ride a bike.

It will help cut down on the automobile emissions and get you in shape.

Win-win.

Go Paperless

Chances are that all your bills are available online so there really is no sense in having all those bills delivered to you every month.

Contact your utility companies, your phone companies and the rest and tell them that an e bill will be sufficient for you.

Save Water

Water conservation is going to be one of the big struggles ahead of us down the line.

Using low intensity showers, switching off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving are all small but extremely useful things that all of us can incorporate in our daily lives.

Reuse

Reuse what you ask?

Reuse everything that you can.

Use reusable coffee mugs, reuse the packages and shopping bags, glass water bottles…. You get the idea.

Buy green

It is now mandatory in large parts of the country and the world to have a green rating on all your appliances.

Look for the ones that have a good energy rating and try and buy that one please.

It may cost a little more but it will pay for itself over its lifetime of use in energy savings.

A lot of appliances are available that help you save energy.

The Nest thermostat is one that has attracted attention over the last year or so that is ‘intelligent’ enough to understand your energy needs to adjust itself accordingly and save energy.

This is just one example of the most popular one, however there is no dearth of other companies offering similar advantages.

Eat local

You may ask what is going green in that?

Well, it’s the transportation cost to the environment of shipping food across the world that needs to be cut down rather than ‘organic’ food.

Take an interest in where your produce is coming from and try and buy local.

Shopping at your local farmer’s market is a useful way to go green: Traveling Locavore

Recycle

It is old school and not as glamorous as filling your car with vegetable oil but it works.

And everyone can do it.

Make sure you distinguish between what can be recycled and separate your trash accordingly. Does your recycling make a difference?

All of these things do not require any investment on your part other than an interest in saving the environment.

Or, at the very least, not worsening it.
benefits of going green

All about the benefits of going green

The benefits of going green lie in the well-being of our planet earth.

“Going green” is the new catch phrase that we find in everywhere; be it a TV commercial, or a poster or a book or in our favorite TV shows.

Its existence everywhere has somewhere reduced the very importance of its purpose in our minds.

Let’s have quick refresher on the benefits of going green.

Commercial Benefits of going green:

Reduce in expense:

Any green activity causes reduction in use of energy, money and other resources which in turn helps organizations to reduce on their expenses

Brand Value:

Any organization following green measures are looked up as a reliable and responsible brand to go with.

Hence it enhances the brand value of the organization.

Energetic Employees:

It is observed that workforce in an eco-friendly work place produce better output and reduces absenteeism.

5 Simple Ways to Recycle Your Electronics

Appreciation of building:

The value of green workplace has minimum depreciation and in fact it appreciates with time and tenants are also more attracted to get such places for happier and productive workforces

Natural Benefits going green:

Cleaner environment:

Benefits of going green activities results into betterment of air and water quality that we consume every second.

That is a pollution free environment for a healthy society

Reduced Garbage:

It helps to reduce the huge waste a society accumulates over time.

And promotes recycling of the same to be reused.

Conserved Energy:

By using alternative energy sources like solar electricity, hydro electricity, wind tunnel etc and reduce the waste of electricity consumption green initiative helps us conserve precious energy resources.

Conserved resources:

Reducing, reusing and recycling; the three pillars of green initiative prompts to reduces the use of all the resources.

Conservation of water & forest eco-system:

By cutting less trees to make papers, stopping animal hunting and recycling water we can establish the ecosystem of forests which is currently under threat.

Go-green measures to increase the benefits of going green

Reducing means cutting down on waste by using less in the first place.

For example, we could use less packaging. Some food are wrapped in plastic, but instead we could buy them without packaging.

Also, while going for shopping if we carry a shopping bag with us, we would reduce the use of a plastic carry bag for or shopped items.

Or for instance, we can reduce a huge load of papers available online by not printing them.

We can always read and share those papers online by email etc which will in turn save a lot of tree to remain alive.

Reduce the use of water for bath by just turning the tap off in the right time.

Reuse:

We can use things again instead of throwing them away.

We can promote reusing as a practice starting from our homes.

There are god examples to get inspired.

You can donate your unwanted clothes, books, toys to orphanages or other social centers for under privileged people.

You can start having an exchange program within your friends.

If you are done reading a book, you can exchange it for a book that you have not read from your friends.

Instead of buying containers for kitchen ingredients, you can reuse the bottles of empty ingredients to store the new ones.

Recycle:

After the consumption or use of the material it can be reformed to be used again.

And the Importance of recycling is huge when it comes to the well being of our planet.

There are several ways we can do recycling at home.

For example, we can keep our kitchen organic wastes in a pot to reform it to become organic compost for our garden plants.

Another way of recycling could be to use hard boxes and colored wrapping sheets to be used as handicraft items.

Benefits of going green is holistic and makes things better and healthier all around us and for generations to come.

It surely worth that one extra step to go ahead and do our bit to give it back to the nature.
Going green facts

Going green facts

There is a lot of misinformation that is floating around everywhere when it comes to facts about the changing environment.

Everyone seems to have an agenda and a propaganda that they want to further.

So in a situation like this what are the facts that you and me can rely on?

Keeping this in mind we have compiled some essential irrefutable going green facts.

Climate Change

Climate Change is the gravest threat to humanity.

You know all the movies which show some space rock coming in and destroying the world.

Yes it seems scary and it is.

But is also highly unlikely that such an even will ever occur.

There is a mathematical chance of course but there is not really much we can do about it.

On the other hand there is environment change which is slowly progressing to irretrievable levels every single day.

It is the slow and insidious nature of this threat that has kept it from capturing public imagination till now.

All scientists agree on this fact now.

Climate change is a reality that we will all have to face, quite possibly within our lifetime.

Every little counts

There is a feeling that what little we can do is probably insufficient to cause any change whatsoever and so probably not worth doing it at all.

No, that is definitely not the case.

Small changes that all of us incorporated in our lifestyles will add up to real and significant lessening of strain on our resources.

Take that small walk to the convenience store, carpool, take shorter showers and reuse as much as possible.

You are making a difference, and don’t let anyone tell you any different.

Environment change

Environment change affects all of us.

This is not something that anyone of us can run from.

Not the richest or the strongest or the most politically well-connected.

Environment change will affect all facets of industry and all levels of society.

It is up to the educated ones among us to make the others aware of the danger.

Changing weather patterns have already emerged.

Everyday you read something about bizarre weather patterns in some part of the world.

This is not just coincidence and is not something that will go away.

Change in temperature, rainfall and other such local weather conditions affect the crops, vegetation and animals of that area.

All of these changes directly affect us.

These are signs of more significant things to come.

The sad part however is that we fail to learn even after repeated warnings.

Our ecosystem is unstable right now, and there is no way that it can sustain this level of imbalance over a long period of time.

These are some of the going green facts that no one in the world can argue against.

The difficult part is to impress upon people the danger that lies ahead of all of us and our generations to come if drastic and immediate changes are not made.

Future generations will look at us as the ones that failed them if we do not act now.

Now that you know what is going green, all about the benefits of going green, and some going green facts, you surely can do your part to help the world.
Benefits of Going Green

All About the Benefits of Going Green This Summer

Go to the Farmer’s Market

Eat local this summer by getting your produce, meat, eggs, and baked good at your local farmer’s market.

That squash from the farm 20 miles away will have a much lower environmental impact than a grocery store

Bought squash that was shipped across the country.

Plus, fresh, local food tastes better.

Shop at Garage Sales

Tis the season for scavenging for used goods.

Garage, rummage, and yard sales abound.

Take advantage of them and buy what you need there.

Not only will it save you serious money, you’ll be able to re-use perfectly good items.

Plus, your find will be free of the excessive, wasteful packaging that accompanies new items.

Get Outside and Save Electricity

Spend time away from the TV and computer and wile away the summer gardening, reading outside, and walking around the neighborhood.

You’ll save electricity by turning off the TV, turning up the A/C, and shutting off the lights.

Plus, you’ll get to experience summer outdoors.
Going Green This Summer
image credit: Ecstatic Mark

Opt for a Staycation Over a Vacation

Avoid airports, congested roads, and crowded resorts.

Instead, have a family “staycation”.

A vacation without leaving your home.

Set some ground rules (no work for the entire weekend, no friends/just family time), plan your itinerary, and get started!

Grow Your Own Food

There’s no need to trek to the grocery store when you have lettuce growing in your backyard.

Your meals can be made with fresh, organic, local produce — grown by you.

It’s easier than you might think to start a home garden.

It will save you trips to the store and time.

How to Start a Greenhouse

Stay in the Neighborhood

Instead of driving to the fancy park across town, spend time in your neighborhood park.

Opt for restaurants and grocery stores that are close to home.

You’ll reduce your environmental impact and save time because you won’t have to travel as far.

Bike and Walk More

Now that the weather is lovely and sunny, opt to bike or walk to your destination instead of hopping in the car.

It might take a little longer, but you’ll get exercise, spend time outside, and better experience summer.

Search Out Local Entertainment

You don’t need to travel far to find good summertime entertainment.

In the warmer months, music festivals, neighborhood art shows, and movies in the park abound.

Take advantage of your neighborhood’s offerings.

You’ll meet new people and have experiences you would otherwise miss out on.

Best of all, most of these offerings are free and nearby.

What is Going Green – Significance of Conserving Energy

So what is Going Green? Going Green is a popular term used by environmentalists today.

You may also have heard the term in the news or must have read it in your newspaper.

You must have also seen a group of people protesting against industries and the pollution they create, in the streets holding slogans that say “Go Green or Go Home!” or “Protect Our Environment”, etc.

But have you ever really thought about what is going green?

What is Going Green

Well for starters what is going green?

Going green refers to actions which result in the promotion and protection of the environment and the climate.

Do not forget about the protection of endangered species and other animals.

For example, due to global warming, the arctic ice is melting and the climate is getting warmer by a few degrees each year.

This directly affects the habitat of that region.

Many polar bears die each year due to lack of food and warmth.

Another instance can be the endangerment of honey bees due to increased use of pesticides.

Pesticides kill honey bees and that can be increasingly dangerous for the planet’s biodiversity.

Without honey bees pollinating the plants, almost 80% of the planet’s plant life will disappear which will directly affect the global populace as agriculture will suffer.

Without honey bees there will be no honey and without honey many medications and treatment will cease to exist.

Going green is an important thing but what is going green without knowing anything about it?

People often say that they want to participate wholeheartedly in cleaning up the environment but do not know where to start.

Well, you can start going green right from your home.

Going green involves developing systems and processes which work in harmony with the environment and to reduce the use of chemicals and toxic substances which pollute the climate all around you.

The ozone layer is slowly depleting due to increased industrial activity in the world.

China, for example, is known for its mass industrial power and the pollution that is destroying people’s lives.

Majority of the Chinese population have to work wearing breathing masks to avoid inhaling smog and smoke. 

What is going green if you do not implement necessary measures?

Everybody can start giving something back to the environment.

After all, there is hardly any person who can say that he/she does not pollute.

This planet is your only home.

Unlike in sci-fi movies where when earth is destroyed by man, colonies of men are shifted to another planet; that is not going to happen with you.

If the planet ceases to be the way it is and the environment deteriorates further, the future generations would suffer.

Moreover, the Earth will become uninhabitable to a large extent.

Going green means discovering and implementing alternative energy sources and preserving fossil fuels so that fewer pollutants harm the air around you.

What is Going Green: Global Awareness

Governments all over the globe, along with nongovernmental organizations, propagate and circulate public awareness regarding what is going green and what each individual should do to protect the environment.

Note that the pollution which was a direct result of the industrial revolution was the first cause for concern regarding the environment’s survival.

Today, due to urbanization, globalization and industrialization, the environments is suffering a painful blow resulting in extreme weather conditions and global warming.

Governments all around the world are trying to find ways to promote the health of the environment by cutting down industrial pollution but so far nothing positive has come out of the efforts.

There are still trees being cut down in numbers reaching thousands each year for the production of various industrial and common use products.

With fewer trees around, there will be deforestation and with deforestation, millions of species of animals will go extinct.

It is their natural habitat which is being destroyed.

Without trees there will be no circulation of clean air, trees have the ability to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen.

Once a tree is cut down, a source of clean air is killed which could have served its purpose for many years to come.

How is the Planet Being Affected?

The planet’s eco-system is affected in a number of ways as a result of man-made pollutants.

Previously, when there were no major regulations or laws against chemical waste disposal, various companies used to dump their chemical waste into rivers to dispose them off.

This resulted in the marine life of many water bodies going extinct.

People who used the water from these sources also suffered as a result of the contamination.

But nowadays, industries are regularized and are legally bound to set up water treatment systems to convert and treat the waste water from factories and households into more pure and usable water.

In many cases, the water that is treated can be recycled and used for other applications, or the waste can even be recycled to be used as applications for industrial purposes.

For example, you can recycle glass, paper, plastic, etc. Recycling is a major part of what is going green.

In what is going green, the major source of pollution is the heavy usage of oil, gas and other fossil fuels mostly used to power industries.

These fossil fuels will someday run out (adding to the damage).

The use of these fuels directly results in the emission of dangerous fumes and gases such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone and nitrousoxide.

These are known as greenhouse gases which pollute the air and the environment.

If you want to know what is going green, then it is imperative that you understand that burning fossil fuels in order to harness energy from it also produces a lot of carbon dioxide.

According to research done recently, it is indicated that the total percentage of carbon dioxide which is produced by burning fossil fuels, the environment can only process half of it.

This percentage is expected to decrease with each passing day due to deforestation.

The other half of the carbon dioxide produced is left unprocessed and that is what damages the environment and increase health risks.

This is in turn damages the planet’s ecosystem and thus results in global warming which pertains to drastic changes in the climate of the planet.

But there are steps that are being taken to prevent this damage and other forms of renewable and alternative energy are being implemented.

What is Going Green and How can You Help Save the Planet

Replenishing the Damaged Environment

Just knowing about what is going green won’t do any good.

You have to practice and implement ways to lessen the burden on the environment.

If you live in one of the hotter areas of the country you can learn more about heat tolerant plants in Gilmour’s article.

You can go green starting with your house.

Tell your kids and spouse to switch off the lights when they are not in use.

Try and avoid switching lights on during the daytime to conserve energy.

Walk to work or school if it isn’t far away.

Otherwise, take the bus instead of driving there.

When you go to get groceries, ride a bike.

Taking a car means burning fuel which means more emissions on your part.

Following these simple steps can help reduce your carbon footprint.

Secondly, you can actively participate by planting trees and other forms of flora and fauna in your backyard or your lawn.

Reforestation is important if you want to help combat the harmful effects and damages caused by logging.

Try to do some reforestation in both urban and rural areas.

Did you know that the major causes of floods and landslide is heavy logging and deforestation?

Widespread flooding and huge landslides which wipes off entire cities and towns off the map, killing and displacing thousands of people in the process, is the result of logging and heavy deforestation.

Trees also act as nature’s shield against landslides and flooding due to heavy rain.

Taking down the shield will no doubt result in destruction.

And because of this, some species have already gone extinct and many are on the verge of extinction.

In what is going green, the trash you throw on beaches and in the water affects marine life.

Each year thousands of birds who come to get fish from the waters are killed due to major oil spills and other contaminants in the ocean.

The fish that they eat also suffer because of the rampant pollution.

To combat this, conservationists have developed a routine to clean up beaches all around the world on a daily basis.

Oil spills, on the other hand, cannot be controlled.

It is surprising to discover what is going green and the different ways in which you can give back to the planet.

All you need to do is play your part in any way you can, big or small it doesn’t matter.

But it is your duty to do your bit to preserve the environment and prevent further damage.

Many people are aware of what is going green and they know that some things are good for the planet and yet they do not do anything about it and instead turn a blind eye to it.

Going green is healthy and it can be a really noble cause.

Knowing more about what is going green can save you money and lead you to a better and healthier life.

A cleaner environment today will lead to a cleaner future tomorrow.

Going green is all about restoring nature and conserving resources.

It is imperative that you save resources so that the future generations can use them to go about their lives.

At the rate the world is going, it is not impossible to state there will be a scarcity of natural resources in the years to come.

Conserve Water

When in need of a shower, try not to waste a lot of water by taking long showers.

When washing your face with soap or brushing your teeth or even shaving, it is a good idea to turn off the water.

Get all the leaky faucets fixed so that there is no dripping water, which only ends up being wasted.

You see, going green is all about replacing your old habits and adopting new ones that not only result in your satisfaction but also help save the environment.

Each time you decide to do something about saving natural resources, you take a step towards helping make the world a better place.

Recycle

Recycling is an important and fundamental way to promote environmental protection.

Recycling involves the process of turning waste into reusable products.

For example, empty glass bottles or plastic plates or rubber can be recycled.

Glass can be recycled into a new glass bottles, ready for reuse, and so on.

The process of recycling ensures the conservation of scarce resources and also reduces harmful emissions.

Reuse

You can reuse some of the things that you intend to throw away.

For example, you can reuse old clothing as cleaning rags.

You can turn containers into pots and plant some flowers.

You can even donate old clothes to a church or charity so that they can be used to clothe the needy.

Change Your Lighting

You can switch to using fluorescent bulbs which use less power and are long-lasting.

Bring Your Own Grocery Bags

When going out for grocery shopping, you can Sachi Insulated Market Totes, Set of 6 with you so that you don’t have to take plastic bags.

If everybody starts bringing their own bags, there won’t even be a need to manufacture more bags.

Homesteading

Try to grow your own food through homesteading.

Considerable greenhouse gas emissions can be avoided this way as there will be lower demand of processed foods.

Ride a Bus or Carpool

You can also reduce your carbon footprint by carpooling or riding a bus or a bicycle.

Pick your co-workers if they live nearby so that fewer cars are used.

Vehicles are a major source of pollution.

Best Nature Inspired Vacation Activities
Travel Green On Your Next Vacation

Knowing what is going green can be a wonderful thing, it is important that you also spread some awareness among your community so that they can go green too.

Easy Ways to Go Green at Home and Save Money Too

Sometimes it’s the small things that make the most difference.

They are often the easiest to implement and to stick with long term.

Here are some very easy ways to go green at home and even save some money in the process.

Guide to Going Green for Busy Mothers

Use smaller plates, pots and bowls

The smaller the pan, plate, glass or whatever, the less water you will use when it’s time to wash it.

You will also need to use less plastic wrap if you are covering food to save for later.

It will take up less room in the dishwasher.

And whenever possible, opt to buy, use, wash and keep your drinking glasses.

Even when you buy recyclable cups, it is still a drain on the environment.

Bundle your Amazon purchases

I know, we strive to shop local but Amazon has practically everything we could ever want, and it’s so darn convenient.

If you have Amazon Prime, shipping is free for so many products which makes it tempting to order items as we think of them.

Strive to break the habit of ordering one or two things at a time.

Yes, you have Amazon Prime so it’s easy to click, click, click and in less than 30 seconds you can order whatever you want with free shipping.

But it’s better for the environment to put them in your virtual shopping cart until you have a few items.

So many times smaller items can be boxed together. It also saves on the shipping and handling in order to transport the items to your home.

Think of the planes, trains, and trucks it takes to get your item to your doorstep.

While it may be “free” with Amazon Prime, it’s still taking a toll on our earth and taxing our resources.

Delay shipping for your Amazon purchases

Another Amazon earth-friendlier practice is to not automatically opt for the free 2-day delivery.

You can opt to wait 4 – 5 days or a week or more to not rush your items.

At times, Amazon offers a digital credit to your account as an incentive.

A few weeks ago I added something else to my Amazon cart and decided to pay/checkout.

By delaying my shipment to the next week, I earned several dollars in credit toward an Amazon Pantry purchase.

Use the quick cycle on your washing machine

I’ve had my washer and dryer for five years.

While I despise doing laundry, they are beautiful front loading machines, highly rated from Consumer Reports.

How did I not notice the Quick Cycle until recently, I do not know.

Now, in addition to getting laundry done faster, the washing machine is only running for 36 minutes instead of 62 minutes.

It’s using less water too.

I also try to use it later in the evening during high-energy use times during the hot and cold months.

Consider your dishwasher

I appreciate my husband cleaning up the kitchen but sometimes see he will take up valuable dishwasher space with a big bowl that maybe just had fruit in it and could easily be rinsed.

Dishwashers use lots of water and energy too.

Use it, but use it smart.

Run it in the evenings instead of peak periods, especially during seasons of high-energy usage, like 100 degree or 15 degree days.

This goes for your washer and dryer too.

Use what you have

So many times I’ll be in Target and just start filling up my cart with things I don’t really need.

Do I need to buy another nail polish, or could I use what I already have at home?

When I’m at Costco, this happens a lot too.

I don’t want to make another trip, so I fill my cart without giving it much thought.

This happens with lots of purchases we make.

Before you put something in your cart, consider: Do you really need it at this time?

Have you ever tried to eat everything in your freezer before buying more things to freeze?

Have you eaten all the boxed, bagged and canned foods in your pantry or cabinets?

It’s a goal and can be an accomplishment to even eat through a shelf of food.

Use a shower timer

My son brought home a shower timer from school after a presentation on water conservation.

What a great idea!

My kids love it and are sticking to it most days.

Even if we can’t keep to the strict 5-minute shower limit, it is great to be mindful of how long we are running the water.

Reusable straws

We love eco-friendly bamboo straws and stainless steel straws.

These one-time purchases keep waste out of the landfills.

Freeze produce

Maybe this seems obvious to you, but I rarely think to do this.

I’ll go to Costco when I’m low on produce and buy their organic spinach and kale mix, a large container of strawberries, a bag with 8 colorful peppers, and 5 – 10 pounds of carrots.

So many times, for whatever reason, I just know we won’t be able to finish what I bought.

I’ve made it my new year’s resolution to never waste produce again.

I’m taking half of what I come home with and wash it, chop it (if necessary) and put it in freezer bags.

Yes, freezer bags are plastic and considered wasteful but I save them for future use.

If the bag is empty before I have more vegetables to refill it with, I keep the empty freezer bag in the freezer for the next time.

Since buying a NutriBullet, our family has been consuming a lot more produce, and we are needing to freeze less and less.

Reuse gift bags and tissue paper for immediate family

I’m a big believer in wrapping paper from the dollar stores.

The problem with it is that because it’s so cheap, I tend to be wasteful with it.

I still buy and use it but in an effort to save paper, I have started a small stash of gift bags and tissue paper, especially for gifts in my immediate family.

We use the same 4-5 gift bags and the same tissue paper gift after gift, and it lasts a good year at least.

Sometimes when I have a little surprise for one of my kids, I’ll even “wrap” it in a cloth napkin or tea towel.

Save the coffee

You can freeze& your leftover coffee from your coffee pot for iced coffee.

My husband sticks to the tried and true coffee pot and hasn’t been interested in the Keurig and other fast-brewing coffee makers.

He likes saving money by using the big container of Folgers and thinks it tastes better.

He usually drinks the entire pot.

But for the times he doesn’t, I’ve been encouraging him to pour it into our ice cube trays, and I use the cubes when I have iced coffee.

Or put it in your compost.

Don’t have a compost?

Sprinkle the grounds outside in your garden.

Spend on others

Do you exchange gifts with someone just because you always have, even if you both don’t need anything?

Is it a challenge to keep coming up with something?

This past year, instead of my family of four buying gifts for my out-of-town brother’s family of four, we spent that money on those less fortunate in our area.

You can seek out a family through a school or a church or donate to a cause.

We went to our church and picked four names off the tree in November.

It was a great lesson for our kids.

It was wonderful how they were carefully considering what to buy as what we were giving them were most likely the recipients’ only gifts.

We Face-timed with my brother’s family and showed each other what their “gifts” were.

It was great.

Next year we are going to have the kids use some of their money too.

We have too much and don’t need to buy more things just to buy them while so many people could use help.

Share magazine subscriptions

This sounds basic but when I realized how many duplicate magazines we had coming into the house, I was shocked.

My two boys EACH get the free Lego Club Magazine, the ever-fun Highlights Magazine, and a Boys’ Life magazine from Cub Scouts.

They get the Exact Same Magazine!

I seriously couldn’t believe it.

The Lego one was free so I never really thought much about the exact same two Lego Club magazines coming into our house every other month.

But after my boys joined Cub Scouts they both started to receive the same magazine also.

A few months later it was the gift-giving holiday season, and a thoughtful somewhat distant relative asked for our address so she could send my kids a subscription to Highlights Magazine.

When I realize she paid for two subscriptions, I felt terrible.

It seemed to be a waste of money and also paper, not to mention the impact, albeit minimal for just one magazine, of getting that magazine to our home.

So we had six magazines coming in our the home — duplicates of the same three magazines — and now we have three without missing them at all.

I’m not a big magazine reader, mostly because I prefer books.

However, when I do want one, assuming it’s not an impulse buy at the checkout counter, I get them from the library.

Sure they are a few months old, but the types I’m interested in mostly aren’t timely like a Time Magazine.

They are more like Real Simple, Oprah’s magazine, etc., so reading them a few months later doesn’t matter.

You could even have a magazine exchange at your next book club meeting; bring your kids’ magazines too.

Make a rain garden

It’s simple to start a rain garden.

Learn how and harvest your rain for when you need it.

Buy at thrift stores and secondhand

Your attitude on thrift stores and Goodwill shopping probably depends on what kind of experience you have about the thrift stores near where you live: If they are good, you probably like them.

If they aren’t – if they are too expensive or not organized or smell or just a bunch of junk – you won’t like them.

Working full time, I never had time to go to garage sales.

Once I stayed at home and had kids, I sought them out and bought lots of toys and clothes at them.

When we moved out of state, I mourned the good deals I found at garage sales but found my new town offered good consignment shops.

They weren’t too high-end but they only took decent things.

I bought lots of my clothes there and also shopped at the children’s consignment shops in town.

It was a great place to bring our outgrown items as well.

Secondhand shopping is earth friendly

When we left that state and moved again, I mourned the loss and convenience of consignment shops.

It was like an always-open garage sale.

But I found something even better!

There was a Facebook group that was for our town that people used to sell things.

You would leave whatever you were selling in a bin outside your door or garage, and the person would pick the item up and leave the money.

It was all done through Facebook, and you didn’t have to meet face-to-face.

It was convenient shopping from your computer or mobile device.

I could search “boy’s winter coat” or “soccer ball” or anything.

Everything was cheaper, was convenient, and was able to be reused… so earth-friendly!

Another great thing in that town was the Goodwill stores.

My children’s entire wardrobe of dri-fit shirts and sweatshirts, including Nike and Under Armour, are all from consignment shops, that Facebook group, and Goodwill.

My husband finds camping and sports equipment, tools, electronics… pretty much anything at Goodwill.

And the best part?

It’s a lot easier to part with stuff you no longer use when you paid just a fourth or less of the retail price.

We can just donate it back and eliminate clutter in our home.

It is a hit or miss and when time is of the essence, you usually have to buy it new, but we LOVE buying secondhand and not creating more demand.

Don’t buy sugared drinks

One of the best habits you can do is to drink water.

Help your family become healthier and eliminate juice boxes, soda and sports drinks.

Using fruit infused water bottles is a healthy habit and easy to implement.

Carry a reusable insulated water bottle.

Unique and easy ways to go green at home

There are so many positive things that come from going green.

These easy ways to go green at home sound simple and they are.

They also don’t seem like they will add up to much difference, but if you do them all the time, for a year and longer, imagine the significance they will have, on our earth and on your wallet.

Guide to Going Green for Busy Mothers

It’s 6:30am.

Your children have to be off to school by seven.

Your youngest daughter is refusing to brush her hair, the baby needs a diaper change and everything seems to be falling apart.

You are likely packing whatever you can find into their lunch bags at this point and calling it done.

There’s probably not a thought in your mind about going green, or supporting the environment.

Even if you want to live in a more green manner, it may seem patently impossible on your time constraints.

However, as I have learned through raising my three children, green living doesn’t have to be a time-consuming endeavor.

Today, I will give you some tips that will allow you to live a green lifestyle while still having time to do what you need to do as a mother.

Don’t focus on the entire world

The first thing you need to do to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed while figuring out your green lifestyle is to narrow your focus a bit.

Even though we wish the whole world would live in a more environmentally friendly manner, that isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

For this reason, it’s necessary to narrow your focus down a little and think of your own children first.
Providing organic
Start by giving them the best possible environment to grow in.

You can control what goes in their mouths, at least when they are home.

You can control what goes on their skin, and the air they breathe, to a degree.

There are easy ways to go green at home and save money too.

You are what you eat

Your children eat what you put before them.

This means that if you put junk in front of them, they won’t be as healthy as they can be.

Providing organic, natural meals may seem very overwhelming. It may be tempting to snatch something convenient — prepackaged and processed — from the supermarket and feed it to your kids.

Start at the supermarket

When buying food, it is important to try to buy as many organic options as you possibly can.

Think about what your kids consume most often, and start there.

It is difficult to afford a 100% organic lifestyle, so try to get the most value for your dollar.

Taking a quick glance at the label will help.

Try to avoid frozen or prepackaged meals as much as possible.

Opt for whole-grain breads, organic meats from ethical farms, and fresh vegetables and fruit as much as you possibly can.

Another great thing you can do is bring some reusable bags with you.

Even bringing one or two bags will save on plastic and add up throughout the year.

Preparing the meals

Cooking can be time-consuming.

For that reason, set aside a bit of time once or twice a week so it doesn’t feel like you are always making meals.

Cook a few versatile, large meals.

These should be foods that will last for a week and that are versatile enough to make good leftovers.

For example, the hamburger meat left over from the organic patties you have on Monday can be used the next day to make spaghetti, and after that you could put it on an organic, homemade pizza.

When you have leftovers, bag them up and freeze them.

That way, you can always have a healthy, organic meal whenever your family needs one.

Furthermore, it only took a little time to make enough food to last a week.

Preparing school lunches

Buy reusable lunch containers and skip using those small plastic bags each day.

You will save dozens of plastic bags each month, which will help our environment.

Making homemade baby food

If you have a baby, you can even make your own homemade baby food.

Figure out which foods puree best in a blender and which need a food processor and then grind up what your family is eating.

Spoon the puree into BPA-free ice cube trays and freeze it.

One cube is one ounce of food.

When it’s time to feed your baby, you only have to warm up the puree.

In this way, your child can have a healthy, nutritious meal… even better and often more affordable than from a jar.

Make your own juice

A juicer is something is a very practical item to have.

It allows you to make healthy juices for your children from any fruits and vegetables you have.

It also allows you to control the amount of sugar, if any, that your children are consuming.

If a juicer seems overwhelming with all the parts to it, you may opt for a NutriBullet.

This wouldn’t be for juicing necessarily; however, it’s great for smoothies and for getting your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables.

It’s small and simple to use and clean.
Eco friendly natural cleaners Vinegar baking soda salt lemon

Use safe cleaners

Though cleaners don’t go directly into your child’s mouth, they can indirectly go there.

That is why having an organic cleaner is important.

When selecting a safe cleaner, look for one which lists all its ingredients on the label.

Make sure they ingredients are nontoxic.

If you’d rather make your own, that is also an option.

Vinegar, lemon juice and Borax are all good choices.

They will easily kill bacteria, viruses, mold and mildew, and you don’t have to worry if someone gets into it.

Make sure to mix up a batch when you start to get low and keep it in spray bottles.

That way, you can easily and quickly clean up any mess, saving yourself some precious time.

You won’t have to worry about breathing in toxic chemicals.

This is especially important as your kids get older, and you give them more responsibility.

You don’t want them ingesting toxic fumes and coming into contact with unnatural chemicals while they are completing chores.

What goes on their skin

Another area you as a parent can control is what goes on your children’s skin.

For example, you can find organic soaps at most natural health stores and many specialty stores.

Look for soaps, lotions and other skin care products made from as many organic ingredients as possible.

Avoid those with perfumes or additives as much as possible.

Your child’s skin is delicate, and perfumes, dyes and other additives can irritate it.

As a rule, try to avoid products with sulfates.

Diapering

You know babies go through a lot of diapers.

However, the mass-produced disposable diapers aren’t the only option.

There are actually environmentally-friendly diapering options.

The first option is eco-friendly diapering.

These are actually the best for busy moms.

They work just like the normal disposable diaper.

However, they are made from recycled materials, without the use of dyes or perfumes.

Cloth diapers are also an option.

Today’s cloth diapers are washable.

Simply rinse them out and put them in the wash.

This does involve more effort.

The air they breathe

It may seem like there are no ways to control the air your children breathe.

However, there are actually several fast, easy, inexpensive things you can do.
Gardeners hands planting flowers

Plant flowers

Flowers like gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums can actually clean the air by removing harmful chemicals.

For example, these houseplants can reduce the amount of formaldehyde in the air by 90%.

As an extra bonus, plants release oxygen by a process called photosynthesis.

With little care, they will continue to purify the air for your family.

Living a Green Lifestyle

Even though living a green lifestyle while being a busy mom may seem like an impossible task, it doesn’t have to be.

There are many things you can do to incorporate good environmental practices into even the most hectic day.

You can feel good about taking care of your family and for modeling a healthy, environmentally-conscious lifestyle that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives.

New Year’s Resolutions for Green Moms

If you’re making New Year’s resolutions for 2013, why not make them green?

Below, we offer ten easy green tips to get you started.

Don’t worry: we’re not suggesting you try to tackle all of them (although if you do, let us know and we’ll send you a shiny gold star!).

Take an ‘Eat Local Challenge’

For one month, attempt to eat all local foods, including all groceries and prepared food.

Or do as my sister did in Northampton, MA: try it for a year, eating 70 percent local.

Make your home as efficient as possible

Even if you can’t afford to complete remodel your home to include geothermal heating or solar panels, you can have a home performance for energy efficiency conducted by a heating and air professional, saving you money as well as help the earth.

Make 2013 the year you buy used

Can you do it? Buy only used and recycled items for a year?

If you take on this huge challenge, remember there are a few items families should never buy used, such as bicycle helmets, car seats, cribs, and computers, unless refurbished.

Make your local farmers’ market a routine weekly stop

If you divide your regular grocery shopping between a number of stores, add the farmers’ market to the list, and consistently shop there.

It takes time to get to know what foods are regularly offered and to get to know local farmers and artisans.

Leave your car parked at least one day per week

Pick a day of the week that works for your schedule, and vow to not drive.

Maybe a weekend day is best, during which you’ll ride a bike, walk, or just stay home.

Maybe a weekday works, on a day your kids don’t have obligations or are picked up by others in a car pool, or you carpool to work.

Recycle more than you throw away

In the past year, my recycling bin has consistently been fuller than my trash bin, and I couldn’t be happier.

Check your local garbage service details to make sure you’re taking advantage of all you can recycle.

I didn’t realize so many items were eligible for recycling until I asked for a full list.

Start composting

This is on my personal New Year’s list!

Composting is inexpensive and easy once you get the hang of it, and even if you don’t have space or time for a garden, many local nurseries and farms will buy your compost to take it off your hands.

Many cities, such as Seattle, now have composting service.

Hang clothes to dry

I’ll admit it: this is one that seems like way too much work.

However, with three school-aged boys, we go through a lot of laundry each week, and it seems like the dryer is always turning.

We’ll switch to a low-energy dryer such as those sold at Laundry Alternative or hang clothes on a line in the spring and summer.

Volunteer with a local outdoor effort

You don’t have to wait until Earth Day to plant a tree or build a trail. Parks and Rec departments and local forest services also run programs in many areas.

Ban processed foods from your house

Once you’re trying to avoid them, you’ll be shocked to see how many of the foods we buy are heavily processed.

Not only are processed foods terrible for us, but they almost always involve extensive packaging that is harmful to the environment.

Replace snack food purchases such as granola bars, fruit leathers, chips, and store-bought frozen waffles with their homemade counterparts for healthier options.

What are your eco-friendly New Year’s resolutions?

We’d love for you to add to this list in the comments!

What Makes a Home Eco Friendly

So you wanna reduce your global footprint and learn more about eco friendly home?

Excellent!

Not only is your decision great for the environment, it can reduce your monthly expenses and be great for your wallet.

Taking the steps to live more eco friendly is easy if you know where to start.

Let’s begin with some background on this catchy “eco” term.

What the Heck is Eco?

Is eco short for environment or economics?

Nope. In fact, eco is short for ecology which is the science of studying the earth and environment.

Since ecologists have been pushing for a “greener” environment, the term eco caught on and now is used for the whole green movement.

Not to mention the Green Party was once named the Ecology Party.

What Makes a Home Eco Friendly Photo credit: PhoTones_TAKUMA

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s move on.

What Makes an Eco Home?

I’ve got two words for you: energy and waste.

Reduce these and you’ve got yourself an eco home.

It’s that simple… well, sort of…While the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) has developed the Green Building Rating System™, in general eco homeowners use the following:

  • Solar energy
  • Recycled materials (like Environmentally Friendly Green Furniture)
  • Natural light and/or high-efficiency lighting
  • Rooftop gardens (helps with insulation and water runoff)
  • Rain water tanks
  • Non-deforested woods or other materials all together
  • The sun for natural heating
  • Double paned windows and glass doors
  • Fully insulating roofs and walls
  • Dimmer switches for lights
  • Ceiling fans
  • Water heaters wrapped in insulated blankets or tankless water heaters
  • Vegetable gardens
  • Compost
  • Recycling programs
  • And anything that doesn’t create waste or use more energy

Eco FriendlyPhoto credit: lmpicard

Best Places for Green Consumer to Buy Vacation Homes

Can I Convert My Home to an Eco Friendly Home?

Absolutely!

And applaud yourself for taking the next step to a more sustainable future. 

Most people think that eco friendly homes are built from scratch.

However, that breaks the whole concept of eco-friendly, reducing waste and energy.

You can recycle your home into an eco home.

Start Small

Making the eco change doesn’t have to be a major construction project.

You can start making these small changes today.

  • Unplug appliances when not in use
  • Air dry sheets on outdoor clothes lines
  • Air dry dishes
  • Change your light bulbs to high-efficiency lighting (CFLs and LEDs are the most popular, but ask a local hardware rep what’s best for you)
  • Buy an insulated blanket for your water heater
  • Visit a weekend garage sale instead of going to Bed Bath and Beyond
  • Start a vegetable garden
  • Start using a compost system (you can buy compost systems out-of-the-box or use recycled wood materials to build your own)
  • Recycle (if your neighborhood doesn’t have a program, contact your local waste management company to get more information)

Think Big When going Eco Friendly

Once you’ve made all the small adjustments around your home, you can start to plan some of the bigger projects.

  • Have solar energy panels installed (you get a huge tax break and will save bundles on your monthly electric bill)
  • Build a rooftop garden (if you have a flat roof, start a rooftop garden to insulate your home, reduce rain runoff, and provide fruits and vegetables)
  • Install rain water tanks to use for the garden or in-home
  • Install roof windows for added natural light
  • Replace old window and glass doors with double paned options to help with insulation
  • Fully insulate roofs and walls
  • Install light dimmer switches and ceiling fans

Going eco doesn’t have to be an overwhelming project.

It’s really your day-to-day choices that make the biggest impact.

Remember being eco is simply a matter of reducing your energy and waste.

With every decision you make, consider if you’ll be consuming or reducing.

Have you made any eco friendly home improvements?

If so, share a comment below.

Photo credit: Alice Henneman and Emily Laurel.

Best Green Laundry Detergents ~ Here’s What to Know

dropps green laundry detergent

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Laundry detergent is easy to overlook when you’re taking steps to be greener; it’s in its own category.

It’s not quite a personal care product like toothpaste and deodorant, but it’s also not a cleaning product like a floor or toilet bowl cleaner.

We are always looking to eliminate toxins and pollutants from our homes.

What is something to consider when looking for the best green laundry detergents?

Know that laundry detergents and soaps can contain ingredients that are harmful to your health.

It is important to consider that you’re exposed to them every day through the clothes you wear.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to know exactly what’s in organic laundry detergent because, as with cleaning products, companies aren’t required to tell consumers what’s in them.

When there are products that you use often, it is worth considering paying a bit more to be sure they are as safe as they can be.

Learn more here by reading Green Laundry Tips to Save Energy and Money and Top Green Cleaning Products

Tips for finding organic laundry detergent

  1. Avoid detergents with chemical fragrances and perfumes (avoid dryer sheets, too).
  2. Seek out a detergent brand that lists its chemicals, or stick with a green brand you trust.
  3. Skip detergents that might contain phosphates (harmful to waterways after use), parabens (hormone disruptors), and nonylphenol ethoxylate (endocrine disruptor).
  4. Make sure the bottle or box you buy is recyclable and, preferably, recycled.
  5. Check the amount you need to use per wash. Using less is always better.

Review of best green laundry detergents

We always prefer unscented detergents, whenever possible.

Unfortunately, most companies include scents which mean more chemicals.

Rain Laundry Detergent & Organic Fabric Softener:

For those with skin disorders or with children, this may be your best bet.

Rain’s Laundry Detergent is actually 100% detergent free.

Your children’s glands won’t absorb the enzymes from their towels after showering — when pores are open — and from their clothing — when sweating — found in traditional detergents.

Everything in this product is sourced from USA too!

best green laundry detergents

Dropps:

Dropps sent us samples of the scent / dye free and the fresh scent detergents.

Dropps are phosphate free, NPE-free, and chlorine free.

It is made of “biodegradable plant-based surfactants (anionic and nonionic)” according to the ingredient list.

Because they come in “toss-and-go” packs there is no jug to recycle; though the plastic packaging does need to be thrown in the garbage.

Lastly, they were recognized for safer chemistry by the EPA.

Overall, we found Dropps worked quite well for cleaning our laundry.

We definitely preferred the scent-free over their “fresh scent” line as it was a little overpowering.

But know we are biased in that we don’t like scents!

BUY DROPPS HERE

Trader Joe’s Laundry Detergent:

We have used the Trader Joe’s Liquid Laundry Detergent for several years.

It has a lavender scent that has just enough fragrance without being overpowering.

The detergent works well for day-to-day use, but for tougher stains non-green detergents do a better job.

Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Premium Laundry Detergent:

Costco’s laundry detergent is phosphate-free, dye-free, and perfume-free.

What’s more, the container is made from 25% or more recycled materials.

Vaska Laundry Detergent:

This brand of detergent contains plant-based surfactants and conditioners, lavender extract and filtered water.

It does not contain: “NPE’s carcinogenic ingredients, chlorine, phosphates, petroleum products, alcohol, optical brighteners, synthetic scents, animal ingredients, EPA priority pollutants, or materials listed by ACGIH as hazardous.”

Makes you wonder what’s in your detergent – doesn’t it?

How to make your own laundry soap

There is always the option of making your own laundry detergent.

It is like baking a cake or bread from scratch: You will know exactly what is in it.

With some simple washing soda, Borax (which is made from naturally-occurring ingredients) and an unscented and natural bar of soap, you can be on your way to a more environmentally-friendly and green laundry detergent.

Living more green

For more information on environmentally friendly and eco living:

Green Spring Cleaning Checklist: 8 Tips for Your Home
What Makes a Home Eco

The best green laundry detergents don’t necessarily cost more and you will have less irritants and toxins in your home and on your skin.

It’s a good idea to research on the Good Guide to learn more about the laundry detergent in your home.

Green Laundry Tips to Save Energy and Money

Since the new year, I’ve been doing my best to live green according to my top resolutions for green moms.

I’ve cut several energy-wasting activities from my daily routine, but laundry remains my nemesis.

With a family of five (including three growing boys who all play sports daily!), large quantities of laundry will be a reality for me for the foreseeable future.

Laundry is probably a reality in yours as well.

While household laundry can’t be avoided, there are ways to reduce energy, water-consumption, and reduce your environmental impact with the following five green laundry tips.

Best Green and Organic Laundry Detergent and Top Green Cleaning Products

Green Laundry Tips: Use Green Detergent.

Yes, it’s more expensive, but eco-friendly laundry detergent helps more than just the environment.

The chemical-free stuff is gentler on kids’ skin, too.

The best, including my top three below, are free of dyes and scents (who needs it?) and utilize smaller packaging than most.

When selecting eco-friendly laundry detergent, search for the best ones by looking at what they don’t contain instead of what they do contain.

Laundry detergent manufacturers are not required by law to disclose their ingredients, so you’re likely to see vague ingredient lists instead of a run-down of harmful chemicals.

Look on the label for companies disclosing good things instead: what eco-claims they make.

Curious how your laundry detergent ranks?

Invest in spin dryer.

During research for this article, I tested out an eco-friendly spin dryer from Laundry Alternative.

Approximately half the size of a traditional dryer, the spin dryer works in only 2-3 minutes, using far less energy for an average load.

It’s compact and gentler on clothes than your regular dryer, and has a pretty decent capacity given its size (13.8 pounds of wet laundry).

Here’s how the spin dryer works (and helps the environment):

You fill it with wet clothes, either straight from your washer or after a short cycle in your regular dryer.

You plug it in (uses a conventional 110V outlet).

You close the lid and watch the water drain out of the bottom.

You’ll want to place a small bowl or other item to catch the water on the floor.

In 2-3 minutes, you retrieve your clothes, which will be mostly dry.

They’ll still need to dry a bit more hanging in the closet or dry them in the regular dryer for a short time.

During a normal laundry cycle in my house, it takes me approximately 9 minutes to dry the clothes from my washer using the spin dryer (about three spin dryer loads from one washer load).

Then they all get tossed into the regular dryer for a shorter 20 minute cycle.

At that point, they’re completely dry.

The upside: I’m taking it easier on my clothes, and I’m saving energy.

The downside: I now have an extra step to take during my laundry chore.

Note: Laundry Alternative also has a travel-sized spin dryer, which works much like swim suit dryers do in upscale locker rooms.

It’s perfect for taking on the road in an RV or while camping, though would be too cumbersome to bring during air travel or short trips.

Skip the dryer altogether.

If you have outdoor space and sunshine, you can use a spin dryer solo (without the traditional) or skip the dryer altogether.

Yes, you can hang your clothes outside like your grandma did, on a line.

I’ve seen this done more and more often in my Oregon neighborhood, and will consider it when the rain stops.

You can buy a clothesline for under $50.

Do less laundry!

Is it really dirty?

I ask my kids this all the time, after they’ve tossed a shirt into the laundry bin after wearing it for 15 minutes.

Now, most of the time, my boys’ clothes are as muddy and sweaty as you’d expect, but I’ve been teaching them to conserve on the laundry front when possible.

This means that items that don’t get very dirty, like pajamas, get two wears (or more) before going into the drum, and jackets and gloves are set out to dry instead of being tossed in the dryer.

Use energy-efficient appliances.

You don’t have to use an eco-friendly dryer alternative to conserve energy.

Everyone knows to look for the Energy Star logo, but when shopping for a new washer or dryer, it also helps to know the following:

Top loading washers are less energy-efficient and use more water.

Stainless steel tubs can withstand faster spinning, which means shorter washing and drying times.

It’s better to buy a moderately-priced front loader than the highest end top-loader.

For more information on Environmentally Friendly and Eco living:

Environmentally Friendly Green Furniture
Green Spring Cleaning Checklist: 8 Tips for Your Home
What Makes a Home Eco

What do you do to keep your laundry practices eco-friendly?

Share your green laundry tips!

Photo credit: slgc and seanfreese.

Lightweight Luggage Reviews – Lightest Luggage To Save Your Back

Eagle Creek Flip Switch - lightweight luggage reviews

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Lightweight Luggage Reviews – Looking for the lightest luggage on the planet?

Look no further, we’ve rounded up all the best lightweight luggage reviews.

With airlines charging steeper fees for luggage, every pound counts.

Remember, heavier luggage takes a toll on your body too.

Oftentimes, many pieces of empty luggage are extremely heavy.

Many styles, especially with wheels, can weigh up to 12- 15 pounds empty! Luggage for kids

Lightweight Luggage Reviews

Lightest Carry On Luggage

Generally, the smaller your piece of luggage the lighter it’s going to be.

Therefore, to keep the LightWeight Luggage Reviews standardized we are only looking at the larger size rolling suitcases that are carry-on size.

These are usually 22” luggage pieces.

Eagle Creek Flip Switch - lightweight luggage reviews
Eagle Creek Flip Switch

Here are the lightest carry on luggage bags currently on the market:

Atlantic Ultra Lite 22” Carry-On

This is recommended as the lightest luggage.

Having carried the Atlantic for years, their Ultra Lite bags are stellar.

If you want a fully functional lightweight piece of luggage, this is the bag you should buy (check price here).

The Atlantic Ultra Lite 22” carry-on weighs a little more at 6.5 pounds.

But it’s a little less skimpy than the other bags.

It has great pockets (both inside and out), and it wheels around the airport well, and it doesn’t feel cheap.

Having handles on all sides is a huge plus for lifting into overhead bins.

I took this bag with me on a 10 day trip to Australia as my only bag.

It fit everything and traveled well, even through pouring rain.

GoLite TraveLite Wheeled Carry-On

The GoLite Travelite Wheeled Carry-on weighs 5.1 pounds and it is a 21” carry-on.

Travelpro Luggage Maxlite 2 22″ Expandable Rollaboard

The Travelpro Luggage Maxlite rollaboard is a great option for a lightweight carry-on.

It measures 22″ x 14″ x 9″ and weighs 6.4 lbs.

It’s a bit pricier at just over $100, but is high quality and will last a long time.
travelpro maxlite lightweight luggage

Lightest Luggage Sets

If instead of a single bag you’re looking for a light weight luggage set, here are some of the lightest luggage sets currently on the market.

Samsonite Lightweight Mobility Set

Samsonite Lightweight Mobility 3 PC Set has 3 pieces weighing a combined total of 28 pounds.

Samsonite Winfield vs Samsonite Omni Carry On Luggage – Which Should You Choose?

Calpak Club 3 Piece Lightest Luggage Set

The CalPak KLUB 3 Piece Hardside Spinner Set Black – Hardside Luggage set has a hard protective case and weighs 25 pounds for $165.

That’s pretty light and a great price.

International Traveler IT 2

The International Traveller IT–2 Worlds Lightest Side Bound Luggage Set Red – Luggage Sets weighs a combined total of just 23 pounds for 4 pieces of luggage which is pretty amazing.

Which Light Weight

Here are the factors you should consider in determining which lightest luggage is best:

Lightweight luggage reviews

Which ones are best?

(check prices here) I personally reviewed the Atlantic bag (above) and found it perfect for my use. nice looking, frequent traveler, also good for business.

But all of the links above also link to other reviews – so confirm that others like it before you by.

Luggage Weight

Obviously the luggage weight matters.

But is an extra pound lighter going to be worth the lack of warranty or stability that might come with it?

Look for the lightest luggage that has the features you want.

Lightest Suitcase Color

Don’t buy a black back.

Seriously, you will never be able to find it in the luggage carousel at the airport.

Instead opt for a color that you like. You will be so glad you did.

Lightest Suitcase Size

Size of carry-on bags matter.

You don’t want to get a bag too small because then it won’t fit enough stuff.

You also don’t want a bag that won’t fit in the overhead.

Any of the bags listed above as being carry-on size will fit in a overhead bin.

I like to go larger because then I can fit enough in for a multiple week trip.

There’s also the option of carrying on a backpack.

Lightweight luggage reviews

What is the lightest luggage you’ve ever owned?

It’s less taxing on your body and on your transportation and on our planet when you think light and pack light.

Using lightweight luggage reviews will help you find the best lightweight luggage. Kids carry-on luggage

And remember, packing less stuff means toting less around.

It’s also less to unpack, manage, repack and keep tabs on.

Pack light! How to Pack Lighter and Smarter For Traveling

Tips for buying green luggage

Recyclable Flip Flops ~ Okabashi Sandals Review

Okabashi Sandals

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Recyclable Flip Flops – We’re always on the lookout for on trend, eco-friendly shoes.

When they are made in the USA and from recyclable materials, that’s even better.

More than 98% of shoes sold in the US are not made in America.

Okabashi is in that exclusive and elusive 2%.

They make shoes that are fashionable and comfortable.

Recyclable flip flops?

Who knew that was possible?

Okabashi sandals review

I own three pairs of Okabashi shoes.

They have arch support and are designed to properly align your feet.

They are made from a recyclable blend of plastics which make the shoes sturdy yet soft.

After wearing all of these sandals multiple times for hours each time, I was happily surprised to find they were all comfortable, flexible and had a lot of “give.”

At the same time, they were very supportive.

Also, given their material, they won’t stretch out.

Each shoe has raised bumps on the foot bed.

I didn’t know what these were for until I read about it online.

They are there as massaging beads to promote better circulation based on Reflexology principles.

Okabashi Sandals
Okabashi Sandals

Okabashi recyclable flip flops and sandals review

You can buy Okabashi through their Amazon store.

Recyclable flip flops

For most of my life, I didn’t wear flip flops because normally flip flops have inadequate arch support.

My arches are high, so they hurt my feet.

These Okabashi sandals have some of the best arch support I’ve found in a flip flop.

They’re incredibly comfortable.

They’re also much more durable than your average flip flop so you don’t have to worry about them falling apart in the middle of your vacation.

They match most of my clothes, so they are great for when I’m packing light.

They are surprisingly inexpensive for the quality as well.

Okabashi Sandals Made in the USA

Okabashis are made in Buford, Georgia.

For most shoes you see in the store, one of the biggest environmental impacts comes from shipping them from a factory overseas into the country where you buy them.

However, “the average Okabashi shoe travels only 7% as far as the average imported shoe,” which means a much smaller environmental impact.

You can shop for these shoes with a clean conscience.

You are supporting the USA and its people when you shop for made in America products.

Even more, these shoes are vegan.

Okabashi recyclables shoes

One of the coolest things about Okabashi is their shoe recycling program.

When your shoes get old, you can send them back to the company where they’ll be ground up and blended into the mixture for a new pair of shoes.

According to the Okabashi website, last year they re-ground and re-introduced 100,000 lbs of scrap material that would have otherwise gone to the landfill.

Their products contain about 25% of their own recycled material.

This program is all about reusing and repurposing, and we love it!

Best travel sandals

We love these because they are lightweight and easy to pack.

They were comfortable even after hours of walking.

They are so easy to clean and are even dishwasher safe.

Have you ever been able to wash your shoes in the dishwasher?

I sure haven’t but I love it!

Also very high on my list is that these shoes are made with recycled shoes and scraps from Okabashi’s very lean manufacturing process.

I love that these are made from recycled products and can be recycled.

Best Water Shoes
Best Water Shoes

Okabashi’s 2 year guarantee

So many brands of flip flops fall apart just months after you buy them and go straight to the landfill.

Okabashi shoes are made to last.

They are guaranteed to last two years.

I have never known any brand of shoe that offers its customers a two year guarantee.

Mostly, it is just 30 days, if even that.

Okabashi doesn’t just sell flip flops, they also sell several other styles of sandals and clogs for both men and women.

Benefits of Okabashi shoes

  • Made in USA
  • Made from recycled water bottles
  • Arch support
  • Comfortable
  • Stylish
  • Many colors to choose from
  • Easy to clean, dishwasher safe
  • Odor-resistant
  • Shoes for women and men
  • Family-owned company

If you like to wear sandals in the summer, I would highly recommend Okabashis for recyclable flip flops and other sandals.

I had never heard of recyclable flip flops and was excited when the folks at Okabashi were kind enough to send me a pair of their Okabashi Womens Ocean Thong Flip Flop Sandals (Black & Silver, Medium).

They’re attractive, comfortable, durable, and low-impact.

I’m a fan.

Okabashi has been around for over 30 years.

They have always made their shoes in the USA.

Best Green Dish Soap: Whole Foods 365 Review

Best Green Dish Soap

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Green dish soap – When Whole Foods announced their new 365 household products, including for laundry, household cleaning, and kitchen, we were thrilled.

Whenever possible, we seek out green options.

They provided us with some samples to review for their eco-friendly and green dish soap.

Until recently, when it mysteriously disappeared, I was loyal to my Method Dish Soap in Pink Grapefruit.

Sure – the bottle was a little awkward – but a bottle would last a really long time and was relatively inexpensive.

I would have preferred dye-free dish soap, but I loved the pink grapefruit smell.

But it’s gone, and we were in search of another green dish soap when Whole Foods told us about their new line: 365 Dish Soap.

365 Dish Soap Review of green dish soap Whole Foods

Green Dish Soap Price

The 365 Brand Dish Soap comes in three options: unscented, Mandarin Ginger, and Citrus.

Strangely the Mandarin Ginger was priced higher than the other two for the same quantity so we opted for the Citrus.

Whole Foods picked up the tab for the bottle, but since I wouldn’t likely spend more of my own money on a different scent I wasn’t going to spend theirs either.

It was priced competitively with the Seventh Generation dish soaps.
green dish soap Whole Foods

Dish Soap Scent and Texture

The citrus smell has a slight citrus smell to it and is not overpowering in anyway.

It’s much closer to being un-fragrance than to being over-fragrances.

It is dye free and doesn’t leave the hands too dry.

Crucial for those of us living in cold and dry winter wonderlands.

I do not want to have to slather my hands with lotion — more chemicals oftentimes — every time I do dishes or scrub a pan.

How Well Does the Dish Soap Work?

The 365 Dish Soap is extremely effective.

It removes both the grease and eggs from our stainless steel cookware as effectively as any other green dish soaps we’ve used.

My only complaint is that the soap is either extra runny or the hole is too big.

Resulting in more dish soap coming out of the bottle in one squirt than is actually needed.

When you turn the bottle over the soap comes pouring out without even having to squirt.

This reminds me of when I buy certain salad dressings and some of the brands and lids have a small hole from which to dispense the dressing and it comes out slowly and others do not have any plastic covering over the lid/hole and out pours more than you could ever eat.

I like that the bottle is not overly large because I don’t like, nor do I have room to store, large quantities of anything in my modest-sized home.

I am never someone who is going to mix together my own “recipes” for chemical-free cleaning products or buy a large quantity of the solution and have to dilute with water.

So when I can find some eco-friendly cleaning products that work, I’m happy.

I’m doing whatever I can to eliminate chemicals and toxins from my home so it is important to consider products you use most often, and then get the best and “healthiest” of those products whenever possible.

Update since reviewing this green dish soap Whole Foods:

One way to find healthy products is to look for the Environmental Protection Agencies’ new “Safer Choice” logo on the product.

After a lengthy and thorough process by EPA scientists, over 1,000 products have been deemed safe from potential health and environmental risks.

Another great place to check is the GoodGuide.

Overall, if you are a Whole Foods shopper, it is definitely worth checking out the 365 Brand of green products, including household cleaning supplies and their green dish soap.

The brand is competitively priced and work as well as their brand name counterparts.

Spring cleaning in easy steps

The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, and the house is covered in a dull film of winter.

It’s spring, and it’s time to spruce up the home front with a good purge and scrub.

Clean faster and better with these tips for spring cleaning in 8 easy steps.

Guide to Going Green for Busy Mothers

As you dive into spring cleaning, be sure to follow these simple steps to make your cleaning low-impact and more environmentally friendly.

Declutter

The first step of any spring cleaning is to get rid of the junk you accumulated in the last 9 months.

And the stuff you haven’t missed all winter and therefore, can probably live without.

When you’re purging, you might be tempted to trash everything, but resist the urge.

There’s are greener ways to deal with your unwanted items.

Re-Use or Repurpose Unwanted Items

Don’t get rid of anything you know you’ll use again.

This may seem obvious, but sometimes it’s tempting to throw everything away and start over again.

This is your chance to be creative.

Think about ways you can repurpose unwanted items.

Recycle the Recyclables

For belongings and boxes that are beyond reusing, make a recycling pile and a trash pile.

Double check your city’s list of recyclables, then get to work sorting through your trash.

Some progressive cities have drop-off bins for cardboard and other easy-to-recycle materials.

Have a Yard Sale

A garage sale is one of the easiest ways to purge your house of unnecessary items, and it has the bonus of bringing in some cash.

Immediately take whatever doesn’t sell to your nearest Salvation Army or Goodwill or other secondhand store.

Whatever you do, don’t bring the items that didn’t sell back into your home and garage.

If a yard sale is too much work for you, post your belongings on Craigslist or freecycle.

These things all take time. Sometimes you want stuff gone immediately.

In these cases, take it to an organization for their upcoming rummage sale, or drop your things off at Goodwill, which makes it very convenient.

Take your books to the library.

Bring school and office supplies to your local school.

Basically, anything decent deserves a home.

Clean Inside

Now that you’ve decluttered your life, it’s time for the real hard work — cleaning.

Before you rush to the store to stock up on cleaning supplies and paper towels, read these tips to save money and the environment.

Use or Make Green Cleaning Products

If you’re into store-bought cleaning products, check out greener brands like Method and Seventh Generation.

But if you’re up for making your own products, you can save a lot or money.

My favorite natural cleaning products are baking soda and vinegar, but there are tons of ways to use other non-toxic cleaners.

Check out Non-Toxic Home Cleaning for ideas.

Forgo Paper Towels for Old Rags

Paper towels are terrible for the environment.

According to Care2, their production kills 1.4 million trees every year.

So pass on the paper towels and opt for reusable rags made of old towels, t-shirts, socks, and any other cloth you find lying around.

Give New Life to Walls with Low-VOC Paint

If painting your walls — or anything else — is on your spring cleaning list, go for low-VOC paint.

It’s less smelly, better for your health, and better for the environment.

Plus, the quality of low-VOC paint has gotten better over the years and now it’s just as good and the non-eco alternative.

Prepare the Yard for Spring

If you’re feeling ambitious enough to take your spring cleaning outside, follow these simple, eco-friendly tips to get your yard ready for spring.

Compost Your Leaves

The best way to get rid of those leaves left over from last fall is to throw them in the compost bin.

If you don’t currently compost, you can build your own compost bin.

At the very least, be sure to use paper leaf bags instead of plastic garbage bags; many cities require them now and they’re better for the environment.

Skip Weed Killers

Yes, dandelions can be pests.

I spent a good 5 hours last year with a manual weeder uprooting the pesky weeds, but it was worth it.

The chemicals in spray weed killers are bad for your health, your children’s and pets’ health, and the environment.

If you really want to use a weed killer, opt for a natural alternative.

Bonus tip!

Install a Rain Barrel

Prepare your yard for spring by adding a rain barrel or two.

That way you won’t waste water when you water your plants.

Instead, you can reuse rain water.

Consider setting up a rain garden as well.

What are your green spring cleaning tips?

By using these spring cleaning in 8 easy steps ideas, you will be on the way to a more organized and less cluttered home.

Green Spring Cleaning Checklist

In most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, spring has arrived!

Time to throw open the windows and let some fresh air into your home.

It’s also a great time to organize, recycle unused items, and yes, clean.

We created this green spring cleaning checklist to help you get started.

We’ll start with my least favorite of the three: spring cleaning.

There’s no reason to use harsh chemicals that have the potential to hurt your pets, children, and the environment.

We’ll show you how to get your spring cleaning done in a green spring cleaning manner for eco-friendly homes.

Here are The Top Green Cleaning Products, Click here for Pro Tips on How to Clean Your Home

Guide to Going Green for Busy Mothers

Heavy dusting:

Vinegar and water are your friend!

And if that’s the only thing you remember from this post, you’ll be in good shape.

Vinegar is a primary green cleaning solution for multiple uses.

To dust all household surfaces, mix a few tablespoons of vinegar with a bowl of water, soak a dishrag, wring it out, and dust.

The water will clean the dust off, and the vinegar will help the furniture surfaces repel dust in future.

Don’t forget to take books out of bookshelves to dust those surfaces as well!

Walls and ceilings:

Use your vacuum extension to clean corners, walls, and around the corners of ceilings, then use a damp cloth (water is fine, or your vinegar solution) to wipe down walls.

Baseboards are an often-forgotten part of the wall that gets the dirtiest!

Draperies and curtains:

Most drapes and window treatments are machine washable, which makes the hardest part about cleaning them climbing up on a step ladder to get them down.

Don’t do what I do, and teeter precariously on a chair.

Run them in a delicate cycle with eco-friendly laundry detergent.

Carpets and rugs:

This is the time to deep clean your carpets with a steam cleaner.

They are available to rent, borrow, or buy, but instead of filling the cleaning compartment with the chemical stuff, use — you guessed it — water and vinegar.

This time, however, you’ll want equal parts of both ingredients.

Use the steam cleaner as directed, washing and rinsing (with plain water).

When the carpet dries, the vinegar smell will disappear.

Bathrooms:

Aren’t bathrooms the worst?!

Clean them with a solution of borax (which can be found in your supermarket for a fraction of the cost of heavy-duty commercial cleaners) and water with lemon juice.

Be patient: it will take juice longer to cut through grease and grime than you’re used to with chemicals, but it will get the job done.

Organizing Green Spring Cleaning

Now is the time to go through your kitchen cupboards and organize pots and pans, your closets to sort clothing (especially if you have kids who rapidly grow out of sizes), and your garage.

Perhaps to finally make room for the car?

With all of the great organizers out there these days it can make this whole process go pretty smoothly.

Additionally, spring cleaning is a great time to check or organize the following:

Defrost your freezer, and clean your refrigerator:

It’s not a fun task, I know, but you just might find a pint of Ben & Jerry’s you’d hidden from your spouse and kids in the process.

Plan ahead for freezer defrosting, eating your way through frozen items in the weeks beforehand, or making room for them in a smaller freezer.

Clean your fridge with the same water and vinegar solution you applied to your dusting efforts.

Check smoke detector batteries and replace incandescent light bulbs with energy saving bulbs.

You may also consider purchasing a carbon monoxide detector while you’re at it: they’re affordable, plug in to a wall outlet, and save lives.

Recycling

Spring marks the start of yard sale or tag sale season, and now’s the time to get ready by identifying and reserving those household items you wish to recycle.

Maybe it’s time to go through the old DVD collection now that your stream your movies, or perhaps your kids have outgrown toys that now add clutter to their rooms.

Sort outgrown clothing and household items, and box them for a future yard sale, or consider donating them to a children’s shelter or Goodwill (you can even get a tax deduction for donating).

Another option that allows items to be reused: list them as free on Craigslist.

We’ve met a number of nice families in our communities by paying it forward with items we no longer need.

According to Martha Stewart (we might as well ask the expert!), you’ll need to tackle the following on your spring cleaning to-do list.

Using a green spring cleaning checklist will make you feel good about cleaning.

What’s on your spring cleaning to-do list?

Share your green cleaning solution tips!

Natural Moisturizer: Best Eco-Friendly Natural Lotion for Home and Travel

I’ve spent many hours researching non-toxic alternatives to traditional lotions and facial moisturizers.

I’ve tried quite a few options in the way of natural moisturizers.

My two criteria in my search for great lotion are:

It’s safe – something I can feel good about using every day

Not ridiculously expensive.

Here are the best natural, organic lotions around.

Bring your eco-friendly lotion with you wherever you go — even on vacations.

It’s a great way to helping you to green your hotel stay by not using the toiletries there, and you can continue to use products you know are safe.

Best Natural Lotion – Hand and Body

Burt’s Bees Naturally Nourishing Honey & Orange Body Lotion

Burt’s Bees has long been known for its commitment to creating healthy products and keeping its environmental impact low.

All products are paraben, phthalate, petrochemical, and sulfate-free.

This lotion has a refreshing, natural scent and is a great hand and body lotion.

Kiss My Face Olive Oil & Aloe Ultra Moisturizer

Kiss My Face is another company that’s committed to creating non-toxic personal care products.

This lotion is fragrance- and paraben-free.

It’s also fairly light and thin, and it’s not greasy at all.

Their Olive Oil & Aloe Moisturizer is great for the summer.

If you’re looking for a heavier, winter-ready lotion, try Kiss My Face Peaches and Cream Moisturizer.

California Baby Super Sensitive Everyday Lotion, No Fragrance

California Baby was making natural lotions before it was trendy to make natural lotions.

Their products focus on children, but they’re safe for babies, they’re safe for adults.

This lotion is free of fragrance, as well as nut oils, gluten, soy, oat and dairy.

It does contain 0.15% parabens as preservative.

Alba Botanica Very Emollient Body Lotion, Unscented

Like other Alba products, this lotion is full of natural, organic ingredients and paraben-free.

Plus, it’s unscented. It’s a lighter lotion, so if you’re looking for something to battle dry winters, you might want something thicker.

But at under $14 for 32 ounces of lotion, the price is right.

Hugo Naturals Red Tea & Ylang Ylang Body Lotion

Although the manufacturer (Hugo Boss) is a bit of a surprise, this lotion is free of artificial fragrances and colors, parabens, and petroleum by-products.

It also claims to be cruelty-free.

Natural Moisturizers – Facial

Natural Moisturizer – Facial Alba Sea Moss Moisturizer with SPF 15

Alba’s moisturizer isn’t tested on animals, contains certified organic ingredients, and is free of parabens and synthetic colors.

A plus for me is that the scent is very mild and it’s less expensive than similar facial moisturizers.

Nature’s Baby Organics Organic Face and Body Moisturizer

This fragrance-free lotion is made with 70% certified organic ingredients and is paraben and propylene glycol-free.

It’s also 100% vegan.

Plus, you can use it for the whole family, and the price is right.

Amazing Basic, Natural Face Moisturizer with Organic Honey and Vitamin E

If you’re willing to spend a little more on your natural facial lotion, this is the lotion for you.

It contains certified organic ingredients, is paraben-free and biodegradable, and is free of artificial fragrances, colors, and petroleum derivatives.

But its $36 price might be a turn-off.

100% Pure Caffeine Eye Cream, Organic Coffee Bean

This unique eye cream is free of parabens, petrochemicals, and artificial fragrances.

It uses caffeine-rich coffee and tea to reduce swelling and puffiness around the eyes.

It’s also made in the USA and not tested on animals.

Have you tried a great lotion that’s not on the list?

Do you bring your lotion and toiletries with you when you travel?

Share it in the comments below!

Hidden Toxins in Homes and How to Get Rid of Them

Hidden toxins in homes?

We’ve already eliminated the lead paint and asbestos… are there still more toxins?

Sadly, yes!

Over the last several decades there has been an increasing awareness of them.

These toxins in homes reside in our everyday products, in everything from our food containers, pillows, toys, cleaning products, furniture, and more.

With so many of our everyday products being manufactured overseas, there is often less quality control.

However, with information now so readily available, it is important to seek out the research done by the experts.

There can be safer and healthier alternatives to some of our beloved products.

We’ve done the work for you… read on!

Top toxins in our homes and safer replacements

Bottled Water & Water Bottles

We can find disposable water bottles everywhere because they are so convenient and affordable.

We often select bottled water thinking it is the healthiest choice.

Some consumers buy caseloads of single-serve bottles, and use them exclusively.

Others use them as an easy to-go source when they are out and about.

Still others may buy them for guests, parties, and kids’ lunches.

Then of course, water bottles, the second type, may be used by the more environmentally-friendly consumer.

He or she is trying to do well by the earth and uses a plastic refillable bottle.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is found in some plastic water bottles and can leach into your water.

This includes bottled water you purchase as well as reusable plastic water bottles that you refill.

BPA is an endocrine disruptor linked to early puberty and cancer.

Drink water from the tap (see below) and drink it from a glass, not a plastic cup.

Buy a reusable glass water bottle or stainless steel water bottle.

Both are always free of BPA.

Food Storage Containers

The situation: So many people are happily and proudly forgoing plastic bags, especially in their children’s and their own lunches; however, they are replacing them with plastic food containers.

Yes, that saves on thousands of plastic bags filling our landfills, but the reusable plastic can harbor toxic chemicals.

There are also plastic storage containers used for leftovers, etc. in the home.

In addition, remember the plastic food containers that prepared food often comes in, as in frozen meals.

As with plastic water bottles, plastic food storage containers often contain the endocrine disruptor BPA.

For lunches, opt for stainless steel containers, like the LunchBots Quad Stainless.

They are dishwasher safe so you can safely clean them without toxins leaching out.

For left-overs at home, choose glass storage containers, like those made by Pyrex, instead of plastic.

If you do use plastic, never microwave it or use it to store hot food.

BUY LunchBots stainless steel bento box HERE

More info: Food and Drug Administration’s BPA: Use in Food Contact

Click the following to learn about stainless steel lunch containers,

Nonstick Pans

Nonstick pans are wonderful in that you don’t need to add extra oil or use chemically-derived, non-stick sprays when cooking.

Nonstick cookware contains perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a chemical linked to cancer and liver disease.

Opt for stainless steel or cast iron cookware instead.

More info: Best Stainless Steel Cookware Set Showdown

Vacuum Cleaners

We know vacuums are wonderful at removing dirt, lint, pet hair, and dust.

Their job is to make your home cleaner.

It is so important though, to be using the right kind of vacuum cleaner.

Rather than removing dust and toxins from your home, your vacuum cleaner may be stirring them up so you breathe them in.

Buy a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which will trap small particles and remove more toxins from the air.

Bonus: HEPA filters traps more allergens, too.

Personal Care Products

Most of us use personal care products everyday.

Most of the time, the products we use are ones we have bought for years, routinely — never questioning, much less thinking about — the hidden toxins and ingredients in them.

We go to the store, and we put them in our cart without ever thinking about their chemical makeup.

Personal care products like deodorant, toothpaste, makeup, and shampoo are very loosely regulated in the US, which means they often contain harmful chemicals.

The fix: Do your research with Good Guide and Skin Deep and buy products with fewer (or even better, no) harmful ingredients.

Or, if you have the time or interest, make your own personal care products.

Two surprises for me were two of my favorite products:

Dove bar soap and Off! insect repellent.

I love the white, unscented Dove bar soap.

I like that it doesn’t contain perfumes and dyes, and it always seemed hypo-allergenic as I never experienced any symptoms after using it.

I fully expected it to score at least an 8 or a 9 out of a possible 10 points for health/safety on Good Guide and was surprised to discover it scored a meager 4 points for the health concern of the ingredients.

It contains butylated hydroxytoluene, which they consider to be a “medium health concern.”

I usually buy Off!

insect repellent and was surprised to learn that within the same product line there so many differences when it comes to the “Health” of the ingredients.

Surprisingly, this was true of most brands of products I use.

For example, Off! Deep Woods Insect Repellent Towelettes scored an 8/10 in Health.

However, the Off!

Family Care Insect Repellent Towelettes with Aloe Vera, Light & Fresh scored a frightening 0/10 in the Health category for the following reason: “This product contains problematic, banned, or contaminated ingredients.”

I would have assumed the “family” version was safest choice.

Going forward, I plan to check Good Guide for all of the healthcare products my family uses. I want to find out which ones score “10.”

If they don’t, I will look for alternative products.

More about looking up products on Good Guide

What is also very helpful in the Good Guide site is that they rank the health and safety of the products’ ingredients.

They also take it steps further by giving each company an overall grade to include the company’s environment and society rankings.

As stated above, it is remarkable how many differences there are in ingredients within the same brand and same type of product.

Do your research!

Water

Have you ever considered what you may be drinking and cooking with every single day?

Another everyday toxin in homes may be your water.

Your tap water might be contaminated with dangerous pollutants.

Note that bottled water is not the answer; it’s often just tap water put into a wasteful plastic bottle containing BPA.

Bottled water makers don’t fully disclose the source or purity of their water.

Filter your water, either with a simple filter like a Brita pitcher, or with a reverse osmosis system.

How to Choose Healthy Water Bottle – 34 Resources
Klean Kanteen Stainless Steel Water Bottle Review BPA-free Bottles
Glass Water Bottles: BPA Free Water Bottles
Best Water Bottle with Filter
Filtered Water Bottle Review
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy Plastics Cheat Sheet:

Baby Toys, Bottles & Personal Care

Chances are when it comes to baby, most of the things you are buying you have purchased new.

Many, if not most of them, are probably made from plastic.

Even more alarming, most of these newly purchased, plastic items are made in China and other countries with less-strict regulations.

When it comes to babies and children, it is so important to eliminate toxins in homes.

Teething toys and bottle nipples can contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates.

Bottles are often made with BPA.

Baby shampoos, diaper rash ointment and lotion can be chock full of harmful chemicals.

Formula cans can be lined with BPA.

Do your research.

Buy products made in the United States.

Buy natural baby toys made of wood, silicone, and rubber.

Use glass, stainless steel, or BPA-free baby bottles with silicone nipples.

Seek out options other than the standards sippy cups and plastic straws.

Look up your baby’s lotion, shampoo, and other personal care products on Skin Deep or Good Guide.

Another side note that cannot be overlooked: It is important to realize there can be BIG differences in the products you choose.

When I looked up Vaseline Pure Petroleum Jelly Jar for Baby, Creamy Formula, Enriched with Vitamin E, it scored a 10/10 in the “Health” category.

Yet Vaseline Baby Pure Petroleum Jelly Jar, Fresh Scent, scored a 6/10 for Health because of “insufficient ingredient information.”

More info: Best Natural and Green Baby Products

Pillows and Mattresses and Carpeting

The situation: When considering this category, I would have thought the hidden toxins in home pillows and mattresses would be the fact that I’ve kept them for too long, and that they would be filled with dust and dust mites.

Little did I know….Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and other toxic chemicals are widely used to prevent the spread of fire and are likely to be found in dozens of products in the home.

They have been used in products since the 1970’s in plastics; fabrics; foam in cushions, couches, beds and pillows, padding under the carpet, etc.; and electronics, including TV screens.

Since 2005, the PBDEs in foam furniture is no longer legal in the US; however, if you have products from before then — and most everyone does — you could be at risk.

Again, these would include everyday items that aren’t generally replaced, including mattresses, mattress pads, couches, easy chairs, pillows, car seats, carpet padding, and more. PBDEs were also used in vehicle seating, car seats, and office furniture.

The threat: Not many of us have replaced our mattresses and couches since 2005.

These, and our pillows too, all can contain PBDEs, which are chemical flame retardants linked to thyroid problems.

Exposure can be especially bad for babies and kids. PBDE can be passed to a baby through breast milk.

The fix: Buy and use pillows made from natural foam, wool, natural latex, buckwheat, organic cotton, or another natural material.

Buy an organic mattress.

Buy a new crib mattress.

Research the materials used before purchasing new couches and upholstered furniture.

Look for carpet pads that are certified for low VOC emissions and made with 100% new materials.

Ask about PBDEs and other hazardous materials.

Many carpet pads are made with waste and scrap materials so it is important to get information from a reputable source.

Natural fibers such as jute, horsehair, and felt and 100% sheep wool are generally safe.

Use caution when removing old carpet, and clean afterwards with a mop and quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

More info: Shopping Tips for Green Products

Household Cleaning Products

We use them to make our home and living environment cleaner and healthier.

How can it be that this is another area that we have to wonder about and even worry about?

Have you ever thought about what you are spraying?

What are you and your family breathing in when you clean?

Cleaning products from dishwasher and laundry detergents to all-purpose cleaners are virtually unregulated.

And companies that make those products aren’t required to disclose their ingredients.

Which means that many contain harmful chemicals.

Buy natural cleaning products from eco-minded brands you trust.

Use the Guide to Healthy Cleaning and Good Guide to check your products.

Or learn to make your own green cleaning products.

It is fairly easy to do.

Easy to remove most hidden toxins in homes

The remedy for most of these toxins is education.

Research your favorite products, buy glass storage containers, buy a water filter and a stainless steel water bottle, make your own cleaning products.

When you are armed with information, it will become easier to almost permanently remove the harmful toxins.

Overhaul your home with simple changes

Make a list of what you can change and start to remove hidden toxins in homes.

Others you may not be able to change as easily, like the carpet padding.

However, perhaps you can purchase a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Overall, the goal is to live healthier.

Make simple changes like using a stainless steel or glass water bottle instead of buying plastic throwaway bottles; buying safer and more environmentally-friendly health care products, like toothpaste, deodorant, and shampoo; and using glass storage containers instead of plastic for leftovers.

Remember that many hidden toxins in homes can be easily replaced with safer alternatives.

Travel Alarm Clock Reviews of the Best Digital and Atomic Clocks

Travel Alarm Clock

Updated:

Travel Alarm Clock Reviews – When traveling, I like to have a real travel alarm clock nearby – not an iPhone or a digital watch.

I usually bring a travel alarm clock with me on my trips. Why?

I like the reliability of my own clock.

I would rather not worry about not setting the hotel’s travel alarm clock correctly and missing my flight or meeting.

Do you remember the days of calling the hotel’s front desk and asking for a wake up call at a certain time?

For better or for worse, those days are long gone!

Depending on what type of travel alarm clock you’re looking for, there many choices.

What makes a clock the best travel clock?

  • Easy to pack
  • Simple to set the time and alarm
  • Easy to see the time

Simply, it’s one that you will want to use as much as home as you do on the road.

It will become part of your morning routine.

Best Digital Travel Alarm Clock

This clock is often unavailable on Amazon but it’s our favorite.

For our family, it’s the best alarm clock, hands down.

It’s the Westclox NYL47538 LCD Digital Bedside Alarm Clock.

Through the years, we have purchased four of these because we love them so much.

My kids also use them, and even bring them on vacations and sleepovers.

It’s technically a “bedside” and not a “travel” clock, but it packs easily and is light.

This is a simple clock.

What we love best is the big button to light the screen.

It’s great to check the time in the middle of the night.

The numbers are large.

It’s very easy to set the time and the alarm.

We like sleeping in total darkness and like that this clock doesn’t illuminate in any way unless you press the Light button.

Some many not like that it doesn’t fold; however, when we’ve had folding alarm clocks in the past, they’ve often broke.

We’ve dropped the Westclox by mistake a few times, and it was fine.

The Westclox measures 3″W x 3″D x 2.5″H.

It has a sturdy base and takes two AAA batteries.

It’s a great clock.

Other digital alarm clocks we like

This Elgin Travel Alarm clock is the best in the category of most basic travel alarm clock.

It has a four minute snooze with an indigo backlight.

It measures 4” by 5” and requires 1 AA battery for operation.
Elgin Folding Travel Alarm Clock
The Casio Travel Alarm clock comes with a thermometer.

It also has a 5 minute snooze and requires 2 AAA batteries.

It has a blue backlit face and features the day and date, great for when you’re on the road.

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with the date like the Casio, this Sharp travel alarm clock might be just want you want.

It has a huge snooze button, backlit.

It’s ultra-thin and folds up to be the size of a cell phone.

You can get this Seiko “get up and glow” alarm clock.

It’s digital.

It’s easy to set and easy to operate.

The snooze/light button is large.

It uses a AAA battery and has the date on the face.

Best Atomic Travel Alarm Clock

The Oregon Scientific atomic travel alarm clock is a little unusual looking.

Perhaps more modern than most alarm clocks.

It has a crescendo alarm that gradually gets louder (in case you’re a sound sleeper).

We like the 8-minute snooze.

My kids like that you can use the projection setting to continuously project or momentarily project the time onto the ceiling.

It’s an atomic clock that automatically updates the time.

This Sony alarm clock automatically updates the time.

It has a dual alarm.

You can adjust the brightness of the display.

It has a radio and measures about 7” by 3.5”.

Seiko, known for superior atomic clocks, comes with a three year warranty and is backed by the Seiko brand.

Besides automatically updating the time, the display is clear and the date/day functions are helpful.
Analog travel alarm clock

Analog Travel Alarm Clocks

Sick of digital products?

Just want a good old fashioned analog travel alarm clock?

This 3×3” folds-into-a-box analog alarm clock is your best bet.

Travel clock

It’s worth getting a travel clock.

You will use it for quick overnight trips.

My one son even brings his Westclok into the living room each day to manage our time before school.

You will probably use it much more often than you expect.

It isn’t expensive to invest in a decent travel alarm clock, and the peace of mind you will have knowing you will be able to wake up on time is worth it.

You will probably sleep better too!

Water-Powered Alarm Clock

Personally, I cannot go to sleep in a hotel room without being in sight of a clock, but I also can’t always plug my smart phone in close by.

This little water-powered clock doesn’t need an outlet, and is so lightweight, you’ll barely know you’ve packed it.

The device tells time by harvesting energy from the salted water you fill it with to fuel the simple LCD screen.

No batteries needed!

Buy it on Amazon.

Why Modern Travelers Still Need Travel Alarm Clocks

When a friend of mine told me they were looking for a small travel alarm clock to take with them on a backpacking trip my first thought was Why?

When I go away I rely on my phone to get me up in the morning, so could not understand why they wanted a physical travel clock.

It turns out they had several good reasons why they needed a physical clock rather than relying on a phone app to get them up with the larks.

The easiest way to cover these reasons is to take a look at the different types of travel clocks that are available and how they benefit certain groups of travelers.

This is an update to our Best Travel Alarm Clock Reviews

Solar Powered Travel Alarm Clocks for Remote Travelers

For those travelling in remote spots power can be a huge issue.

But not with a Solar Powered Travel Alarm Clock!

There just is not anywhere to charge a phone, so relying on an alarm phone app to keep track of time and get you up is just not an option.

In this situation, a compact solar or dual powered clock with a built in alarm is an ideal option.

The best ones have a range of light settings to help you to conserve power.

If your clocks charge levels are low you can opt for the screen to be black and to see the time you hit a button.

On the other hand, if the day has been sunny and the clock is fully charged you can opt to have the time show all of the time.

Extra Loud Travel Alarm Clocks for Heavy Sleepers

For some people the volume on their phone’s alarm app just is not high enough to get them up.

My dad was a night worker, and a heavy sleeper.

To get up he had to rig a doorbell with the button taped down to a timer downstairs to make sure he heard it.

The fact he had to get up and go downstairs to turn it off ensured he actually got up.

I can tell you that alarm was loud, but if he did not get up because he simply did not hear an ordinary alarm clock.

Judging by the number of extra loud travel alarm clocks there are out there it seems my dad is not alone.

My personal favorite is aptly named the Sonic Boom Alarm Clock.

It is not a travel clock as such, but is a practical option for those who are travelling and need an extra loud alarm to ensure they do not miss their flight.

Folding Travel Alarm Clocks

My favorite kind of alarm clock is the folding type.

I know, I know having a favorite type of alarm clock is a bit sad, but I can remember my granny coming to stay and bringing hers with her, so they bring back good memories.

As a kid it fascinated me that it was so small when folded, and the fact that the hands and numbers glowed in the dark really helped.

It was like something an alien should own.

Braun Black Reflex Controlled Travel Alarm Clock

Compact Travel Alarm Clocks for Backpackers

While we are on the subject of travel clocks that do not take up a lot of space, how about miniature alarm clocks.

There are plenty of really small alarm clocks out there, but they are a bit bland.

I have found some nice miniature clocks that have a simple alarm feature built in, which would be a good alternative to a plastic clock.

Just be careful not to buy one that gets lost in your suitcase.

Projection Travel Alarm Clocks

If like me you are used to sleeping with a projection clock& it can be weird waking up in the night looking at the ceiling to check the time only to find it is not there.

Unfortunately, my home projection clock is too big to travel with.

However, I have found a viable alternative in the XREXS projector clock.

It is quite compact and has an easy way to adjust the angle of the projector and thus adapt it to any room configuration.

Importantly, it runs on batteries, so there is no bulky lead and plug to find suitcase space for, and no need to pack an additional travel plug when taking it abroad.

Non-ticking Travel Alarm Clocks

Most travel alarm clocks are analog rather than digital.

They are great because they take up less space and use less battery power, but there is a big issue with analog clocks and it is that they tick.

If you are not used to the sound of a ticking clock I guarantee that it will drive you nuts and may even keep you awake.

This is clearly something that the manufacturers of alarm clocks have realized, which is why they now sell non-ticking travel clocks.

One of the best is the Timelink 88659, which also has built in brightness control.

No more fumbling Travel Alarm Clocks

So, if you are tired of waking up in the night, disorientated, in a strange hotel room, not knowing what the time is, fumbling around and knocking your mobile phone onto a hard tile floor .

Go old school and buy yourself a snazzy new travel alarm clock.

As you can see there are all kinds of travel clocks available, so there is bound to be one out there that is right for you.

Sustainable Restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Sustainable Restaurants

Updated:

Sustainable Restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul – When we moved away from Washington DC, I knew I’d miss two things above all others: excellent public transportation and amazing restaurants.

I began my quest to find the best sustainable restaurants in Minneapolis – St. Paul.

What did I learn?

Although the public transit in the Twin Cities is comparatively lacking, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the restaurant scene and especially by the top-notch eateries dedicated to sustainable seafood.

What makes a restaurant sustainable?

It is important to make going green a lifestyle. But what makes a restaurant sustainable?

Due to the higher costs involved in going fully organic, it is difficult for most restaurants to compete.

But there are a lot of factors to consider, and it’s important to support restaurants that do even a few things to support our earth, animals, and the overall health of their consumers.

Before you dine, find out where they source their ingredients.

What do they offer that is organic?

Do they buy their produce, dairy and meat from nearby sources?

Depending on where the restaurant is located, it may or may not be possible.

Do they offer vegetarian options?

Find out if the meat they source uses best practices regarding Animal Welfare Standards, including no cages/crates and no crowding; outdoor access; and being pasture centered.

Learn if the restaurant sources their eggs from cage-free systems.

With these restaurants and others that are organic, buy local, support their community, work toward conserving energy and water, recycle and compost, and strive for sustainability, it is easy to make an earth-friendly choice. Food Quotes

What are the best sustainable restaurants in Minneapolis and St. Paul?

These are our top five sustainable restaurants to try in the Twin Cities.

Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market

289 East Fifth Street, St. Paul, MN 55101

My favorite Twin Cities dining experience happened at the chef’s table in Heartland’s St. Paul location.

Locally sourced meats and vegetables, freshly baked on-site breads, and delectable desserts — all paired with delicious wines.

Their nightly changing menu supports artisanal producers and small family farmers and sources organic and sustainable local ingredients.

From their grass-fed roast beef to their many salads, Heartland Restaurant is a place you will want to return to again and again.

Sustainable Restaurants in Minneapolis - St. Paul

Birchwood Cafe

3311 East 25th Street, Minneapolis MN 55406

We absolutely love that this restaurant sources from over 40 local producers.

Not only that, Birchwood Cafe actually lists all of these places on their website, with links to those farms, etc. when available.

They list where they get each of their categories of food, including meat and fish; dairy; growers; beverages; and their distributors.

They support local organic farms in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa.

Birchwood Cafe is where I go when I want a spicy black bean burger accented by fresh veggies and served with a cold Surly beer.

They have excellent soups and desserts, too, and a dedication to sustainability.

Red Stag Supperclub

509 1st Avenue NE, Minneapolis, MN 55413

Specializing in organic and local foods, Reg Stag was the first LEED-CI certified restaurant in Minnesota and the first facility in the United States to use only LED lighting, which use 90% less electricity than their incandescent bulb competitors.

They also compost and recycle.

I love the vibe at Red Stag.

It is warm and traditional with a contemporary edge.

Everything I’ve had there is fantastic.

It’s one of my favorite places to meet for a business lunch.

We love their support of non-profit and community organizations that support hunger, education, social justice, arts, the environment, sustainability and more.

When you are in the area, check out the Red Stag Supperclub.

The Craftsman

4300 E. Lake Street, Minneapolis, MN 55406

I had the best rabbit of my life at The Craftsman on my birthday two years ago.

Then a few weeks back, I tried their locally-sourced charcuterie plate and loved it, and I’m not a big meat eater.

The Craftsman just feels classy, a throwback to another era.

I’d recommend it for a full dinner or just wine and appetizers.

We love that their menu changes with what is in season, offering The Craftsman the opportunity to choose the best in organic produce, artisanal cheese from local co-ops and farms, and humanely raised poultry, seafood, and meat.

Brasa Premium Rotisserie

600 E. Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55414 and 777 Grand Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105

Brasa is the perfect place to go with friends who like to eat.

Their sandwiches are fantastic, but I would recommend opting for a few sides and one or two meats.

The slow roasted pork and braised beef are my favorites, but everything is fantastic and local.

Locally produced, natural and organic….

If you have a taste for flavors from southern US, Caribbean and Mexico, Brasa Premium Rotisserie is the place.

Many of their ingredients are locally sourced.

They offer 100% natural eggs, meat, and dairy products, and they offer many organic ingredients as well as offering fair trade coffee and tea.

We love that they offer vegetarian and gluten free choices as well.

Why eat organic?

It is important to learn more about where your food comes from.

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) organic standards explain what it means for farms and ranches to qualify.

It is a long list of very strict guidelines.

Sustainable dining is so important for so many reasons.

As far as sustainable restaurants in Minneapolis – St. Paul, these are all excellent.

Whether you live in the Minneapolis – St. Paul area, work there or are just visiting, it is worth your while to try one of these sustainable eateries.

When you are looking for an amazing, sustainable food experience in the Twin Cities, you don’t have to look far.

Remember when you eat out to try to patronize farm-to-table restaurants.

Parka in Minneapolis Review: Delectable Dining in Longfellow

Ever since I heard about the impending arrival of Parka in Minneapolis, a new restaurant near my home, I have been impatiently awaiting its opening.

Wednesday night the wait was over, and I was thrilled to experience the fantastic atmosphere, delicious food, and tasty beer on Parka’s opening day — all of which I’ll cover in this Parka Minneapolis ;review.

When you arrive, be sure to take in the laid-back, hip atmosphere of the restaurant, which gets much of its decor (chairs and cups, for example) from Forage Modern Workshop, a cool shop with unique furniture and a modern vibe and atmosphere.

Start your culinary journey with one of three beer choices from the Minneapolis-based Indeed Brewing Company.

We imbibed a Day Tripper pale ale and a Stir Crazy winter ale, and both were delicious.

We absolutely love that this restaurant serves local beverages.

Appetizers at Parka

If you’re tempted to skip the appetizers, don’t.

The succulent rabbit meatball hoagie was the best dish of the night.

The moist, flavorful meatballs are served on brioche-like bun from Rustica Bakery — another local source — and topped with a divine apricot mostarda and pistachio aioli.

The salt and vinegar beet chips that accompany the hoagie are a winner.

This food was unique as I’ve never, ever eaten rabbit much less in a meatball; nor have I ever tasted beet chips.

I love trying new things, and this is the place to do it.

Main course at Parka restaurant

For my main course, I ordered the beer can chicken.

The chicken was moist and tender and served on a bed of popcorn grits.

Being from Texas, I’m picky about my grits, and these were really good.

The salad with roasted red peppers was a nice touch and well put together.

The one thing I didn’t love about this dish was the bitter flavor of one of the sauces.

Another minor point was that the chicken could have been more flavorful; it was a bit plain.

But overall, it was still a tasty dish.

I think I just expected a little bit more given how impressed I was with the appetizer.

My partner in crime loves ribs so she ordered them.

Parka’s glazed spare ribs did not disappoint.

The kale was sparse but tasty, and the vermicelli pudding was basically a fancy mac and cheese — in a good way.

It was put together nicely.

Dessert at Parka in Minneapolis

For dessert, we ordered the apple cobbler with cheddar ice cream.

Check out that presentation.

The cobbler had good flavor and wasn’t too sweet, which I appreciated.

The cheddar ice cream had a good texture, but I think it would have been even better if it were cheesier.

Overall, a tasty dessert.

I never even heard of cheese ice cream before.

It was so interesting, and we would both definitely order it again.

Have you tried Parka Minneapolis yet?

What was your favorite dish?

Parka in Minneapolis address

4021 E. Lake St., Minneapolis, MN 55406
http://parkampls.com/
Hours: Weekdays 7AM – 1oPM and weekends 8AM-10PM

We enjoyed visiting Parka in Minneapolis.

It was decently priced, the service was excellent, and the wait time minimal.

Since writing this piece and having been to Parka two more times, it has closed, and is now Dogwood Coffee Bar.

Travel Socks and Travel Underwear: Men and Women

Travel Socks and Travel Underwear

Updated:

Travel Socks and Travel Underwear – Unlike most of our posts where we’ve given multiple options for our favorite dresses, skirts, hats, and jackets.

Choosing a favorite pair of travel socks or pair of travel underwear is easy.

Best Travel Skirts for Women
Best Travel Dresses
Women’s Travel Shoe
Best Travel Pants for Women
Best Travel Jackets for Women
Best Travel Shorts for Women

Best Travel Underwear

Hands down the answer is Ex Officio underwear.

The Ex Officio underwear is perfect for travelers because it dries quickly.

Seriously, it is the fastest drying underwear I’ve ever owned so it’s perfect for longer travel where you’re forced to do loads of laundry.

With Ex Officio you can just wash it out in the sink and it will be dry by morning.

Men’s and women’s Ex Officio underwear can be bought with free shipping at Zappos.

And if you don’t like them, you can send them back to Zappos and they’ll refund your money and pay for shipping.

Best Travel Socks (Generally)

The best travel socks I’ve come across are Thorlos.

Yes, they are insanely expensive for socks.

But for hiking, walking, and running they have the best support and cushion so that you’re not left with sore feet at the end of the day.

Plus unlike other socks I’ve packed on previous travels they don’t wear out.

We had to buy extremely uncomfortable.

Where that funny toe seam hit just the wrong part of your toes.

Fake Adidas socks in Argentina because so many of our Target brand socks had worn through from all of the hiking.

If you’re mainly going to be hiking, checkout this more from this article.

Best Travel Socks (for Winter)

If you’re heading somewhere extremely cold and want to pack socks that are warmer than Thorlos, buy Smartwools.

For both men and women Smartwools are the best travel socks for winter that you can find.

They are insanely warm, cute, durable, and comfortable.
Travel Socks and Travel Underwear

Disposable Underwear

Disposable Underwear: this may be the most un-green traveler thing I have come across in a long time.

And it’s just a little too ridiculous not to post about.

I wish I had found them in time for April Fool’s Day (and the joke would have been that they are real.)

That’s right – they make disposable underwear for travel.

Perhaps the commentator /reviewer with the most helpful disposable underwear review said this:

These are a life-saver for people going on extended trips. They can be washed and dried several times if you choose to be economical and environmentally conscious. They dry much faster than conventional underwear. Since they are lighter than conventional panties, they save a small but useful amount of energy by making your suitcase lighter. I also find them comfortable. I often find conventional panties chafing; these are very kind to my body.
If you are going somewhere just overnight, you might be able to save the inconvenience of carrying a suitcase simply by tucking a pair in your purse — not a discreet option with conventional underwear. They look like a little cotton roll and are wrapped in plastic.

Other reviewers also noted how light they are and that they are better because there are no dyes in them.

Besides for travel, it seems people also buy disposable underwear for maternity and hospital stays.

And men have the option of disposable briefs or disposable boxers.

They are relatively inexpensive – $20 for 30 pairs of panties or briefs or $7 for 10 pairs.

The cost of the men’s boxers are $20 for 18 pairs.

Given that they are washable, it makes them perhaps an understandable choice for for extended travel.

But note that they are made from polypropylene.

What will they think of next?