August 2007 – Green


Being “green” has become a big “buzz” word lately.  I am no expert on this topic but have naturally lived this way long before it was a buzz word, and am continuing to learn more and live simpler.

What I keep hearing and reading makes being green sound political or complicated—but it is NOT!  There are very easy choices you can take that do not make your life any more difficult, each week this month I am going to list a few minor changes that you can adapt to your lifestyle easily.
Be aware, once manufacturers realize that something is attractive to people they bastardize it!  Just because something says it is green does not mean it is; for example, Wal-Mart says they are going green, in the mean time they are trying to get organic standards lowered so they can push off more of their food as organic when it is not.  Even in the yoga industry, the manufacturer of the yogi toes mat covers advertise their covers are environmentally friendly because they use silicone nubs . .  . while the mat covers themselves are made of polyester and nylon—both plastic products.  Remember in industry it is all about making money, advertisers will do their best to twist product details to make you want to buy it, so it is good to educate yourself so you can make your own decisions on what products to purchase based on your needs and values.

This week I would like to bring your awareness to waste, avoiding plastic products, and buying less stuff:
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, RETHINK

  • Plastic grocery bags are a big offender to our environment, not just in making them (plastics use oil) but also the finished products are floating around clogging up waterways and killing fish and other animals. Canvas bags are much nicer to carry and reuse. I have had 2 people say to me “but I don’t have enough of them for all my groceries”, Ok, will take the ones you have! That will still reduce how many plastic bags you use, and it is fun collecting canvas bags from different places you visit, I have one from Maui, one from Seattle, one from Rehoboth, one from Bermuda, one from Mexico . . . so your collection of bags will grow. Also another person told me they reuse the plastic bags . . . . well reuse the canvas bags in the same way!
  • Packaging – avoid buying products and foods that are over packaged. For example, Natures Promise organic foods from CA are all packaged in plastic and Styrofoam! I avoid buying their products for that reason.
  • Recycling can go beyond your recycle bin, most municipalities have cardboard recycling bins and will also compost yard, tree, and bush trimmings and in turn provide you with free mulch.
    – The UPS Store down the road from our studio will recycle your packaging peanuts
    – Both Karns and Giant will recycle your plastic grocery bags
  • Compost your own garbage (no meat or dairy products though as they will attract animals and cause unpleasant odors). Compost is great fertilizer for your house plants, flower beds and gardens too.
  • Avoid un-natural materials such as polyester, nylon, rayon and other oil based products. The best clothes are made from cotton and silk: I always read the tags on clothes I buy, I am making an effort to stick with natural materials—and they are more comfortable too!
  • Store your food and water in glass
  • Buy less stuff!

The biggest issue on this list is to reduce our use of plastics—remember plastics require oil to manufacture!  Plastics serve many purposes and when used moderately they are good, but we have gotten so used to plastic everything that it is taking its toll on our environment.

Tips for Trips
Less time in your car, wouldn’t that be nice?  Using less fuel and creating less pollution and road congestion is a little thing we can do that makes a BIG difference.  When planning home and car purchases consider these facts:

  • Living in a small town affords you the convenience of walking and biking for your errands, suburban sprawl inhibits this! Suburban sprawl in this area is also the downfall of public transportation; the spread out neighborhoods make bus trips time consuming and the common cul-de-sacs are not convenient for buses.
  • When purchasing a new car consider moving away from SUV styles to more fuel efficient cars. Hybrids are moving in the right direction and over the next few years I expect they will continue to improve.

Other suggestions:

Statistics show that 40% of our errands are less than two miles. Pay attention to which errands you run that are 2-3 miles or less. RIDE YOUR BIKE! 2-3 miles trips are a great little bike ride! I suited my bike with a trunk pack and 2 side bags (panniers) which can carry my groceries or other purchases, back packs work well on bikes too. Believe it or not, with our growing traffic problems I can actually get places quicker on my bike than in my car due to traffic! In Europe it is common to commute on your bike. Just try it sometime; it is so fun and much better than getting in a hot stuffy car. And there is a fringe benefit to this method, you will become fit 🙂

  • When using your car for errands, combine trips; try to run all your weekly errands in one trip.
  • Run errands with a friend, our busy life styles sometimes do not give us time to spend with friends and family, so plan a Saturday afternoon together running errands.
  • Keep walking shoes in your car for a chance to walk an errand while on your lunch break etc.
  • Work from home if at all possible!
  • Avoid travel during peak periods of congested traffic (ex. Friday afternoon), sitting in traffic burns up more fuel.

Using Less Power
There are many ways we can use less power around our homes.  Do you know lawn mower engines put off more pollution than car engines?

  • Gradually replace all your light bulbs with CFL (compact fluorescent lights) bulbs, and use LED lights where you can.
  • Put up a clothes line and hang your clothes out to dry. Fresh air in your sheets and clothes is much nicer than the smell of fake perfumed dryer sheets.
  • Get an old fashioned rotary mower. Scott still manufactures these hand push rotary mowers; I bought one a few years ago and love it! Aside from that an electric mower will be better than a gas powered mower. One main source of energy (such as an electric plant) is easier to control pollution from than many small un-monitored engines such as gas mowers.
  • RAKE instead of blowing your leaves
  • SHOVEL (with good form) instead of using a snow blower
  • When using your air conditioning or heating use the power saver settings, and just adjusting the temperature a few degrees makes a big difference in your energy consumption.
  • As you replace appliances or buy new ones, purchase energy saving appliances.
  • I use a toaster oven for most of my baking (I do not own a microwave), the smaller oven in the toaster uses less energy to get hot and bakes potatoes faster than heating up and cooking in your larger oven.
  • If you are not using it, turn it off!
  • Consider solar panels and wind mills for energy if you are building or remodeling your home.

Use more human power
Not motorized machines
you’ll save earth’s energies
and keep yourself lean 🙂

Green Cleaning
We are becoming more aware of all the toxins we use around our homes!  These toxins affect our air quality and our respiratory tracts—not only to us but our pets as well!  Get back to simpler methods!  You can also save many plastic bottles by making your own cleaning products and re-using the bottles.  Standard house hold items make great cleaners such as vinegar, baking soda, salt, lemon juice, peroxide, club soda, and vodka—and most times will work better than all the chemical items.

Baking Soda alone is a real power house when it comes to cleaning here are some ideas:

Use as a safe non-scratch scrub for metals and porcelain

To clean your oven, simply sprinkle a cup or more of baking soda over the bottom of the oven, then cover the baking soda with enough water to make a thick paste. Let the mixture set overnight. The next morning the grease will be easy to wipe up because the grime will have loosened. When you have cleaned up the worst of the mess, dab a bit of liquid detergent or soap on a sponge, and wash the remaining residue from the oven.

To unclog a drain, pour 1/2 – 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, then slowly pour 1/2 – 1 cup of vinegar in after it. Cover the drain and let it sit for 15 minutes. If it bubbles like a volcano, it means it’s working as planned. Flush with a gallon of boiling water.

Deodorize dry carpets by sprinkling liberally with baking soda. Wait at least 15 minutes, then vacuum.

To clean your silver, boil 2-3 inches of water in a shallow pan with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and a sheet of aluminum foil. Totally submerge silver and boil for 2-3 minutes more. Remove silver from the pan and wipe away the tarnish with a clean cotton cloth.

Other tips

Hydrogen Peroxide works great for disinfecting computer keyboards, touch pads, and phones. Just pour a little on a cotton ball and wipe clean.

Murphy’s oil soap is a safe cleaner, I use it on my floors and mix it with a little water for dusting.

Vodka is a great cleaner and germ killer; mix together water, club soda, and vodka, put in a spray bottle to make an all purpose spray. Or use vodka to clean battery contacts and other similar items (this is a better use than drinking it . . .)

Club soda poured over spills on your furniture or carpet work well-totally saturate the spill with club soda and then sop with a sponge or towel, this is a tip from my Dad that I have used all my life, it also works well for pet mishaps.

Theresa Espenshade who takes classes at BeFit Body & Mind Yoga also teaches workshops on green cleaning for more information or to host a workshop contact her at .

Let’s live in Ecotopia!

Good YouTube on green cleaning:

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