Friday, May 29, 2009

Comments of Note

This month's comments were wonderful ... readers offered pertinent thoughts and ideas. In fact, the comments were so good that it was a challenge to keep the list down to ten for publication here. I'd like to say "thank you" to everyone who took the time to write!

Okay ... here we go:

From Let's get started ...
MRoth said...

Hooray! It's such a great idea to shut everything down off a power strip when it's not needed - especially kitchen appliances. Phantom loads can really take a toll on energy consumption...

I try to keep everything in the apartment hooked to a power strip. This makes it especially easy to flip it off during hours of non-use.

Alternatively, in a place like the bathroom where there is only one tiny plug, sometimes it's better NOT to have a power strip...this keeps me from plugging in anything that isn't immediately needed.

Thanks for the amazing blog! You're making green living so accessible!


From I can see the light (a recycled article) ...

Dafthermit said...

Hi Sf

just a wee visit to say good morning

as for lights as you know i live on a bus and we use the solar lights most people use to light the garden up with and apart from the odd candle our lighting is free music to an old dafthermit

all the best from the highlands and thanks for popping over to my blogs

Andy & Mel x

From Splish Splash I was taking a bath (a recycled article) ...

Hans said...

Saving water is one of the things I really learned when living in Australia. Taking short showers and having water in the fridge are my favourites. And then of course never pour water down the zink. It can always be used for something - watering a plant for example.

Great blog!

From Mmm ... Mmm ... Good (a recycled article) ...

Yanic said...

Wonderful post! I try to make as much as possible from scratch all the time. It's my slight OCD : The lack of control in what goes into my food gets the better of me.

The great thing about freezing in small quantities is that there is no waste.

One of my favorite ways to use home made stock is when cooking rice. Instead of buying all those artificially flavored rices, you can create your own!

Another great way to make tons of it without breaking the bank is to go to your local farmer's market and buy (for a fraction of the price) veggies that have gotten bruised or wilted. They will gladly sell them for pennies and you have all the stock making materials you need!

Chourou said...

Hi,SF. Your posting this time reminds me of the way of taking broth(bouillon in French) which has been traditional and popular in Japan. It is very simple. All you have to do is that you pick up Konbu, or kelp, a sort of seaweeds, and put it into a pan filled with water and leave it. After a day, you put aside the water of the pan and keep in a bottle or whatever. When you cook miso soup, you can use this liquid as a very good basis. We call this liquid “dashi”.

Anyway, your suggestion this time is wonderful. Thank you for sharing your eco-friendly tips again!

GreenWorks said...

Great post and homemade stock is much better than the bought stuff.

On a similar note vegetables left over from a meal added to stock and blitzed to puree makes a tasty and easy meal for the next evening.

From It's a Balancing Act (a recycled article with new comments) ...

Yanic said...

I completely agree. One of the main reasons why I started my own blog was to inspire to take steps towards a greener life and that every little one of those steps count for something. If everyone would take a few steps, then the world would be a much better place. I think the problem is right now that we are at a cross-roads and the ones that are putting forth the effort feel like they have to make up for the ones that don't. Hopefully, that will soon not be such a reality.

Ways I reduce, reuse and recycle...

Recycle : Everything I possibly can! So that point is mute. Although we did build our first compost bin this year so all our compostables will soon be recycled into yummy fertilizer!

Reduce : Between the recycling and the compost bin, we have recently realized that a box of 36 biodegrable trash bags (21 in. X 26 in.) lasts us over 9 months! That is about 1 bag a week and we could not be more pleased!

Reuse : LOL! They call me the garbage lady at work! I bring all my lunch in reused yogourt containers and Mason jars.

Great tip : Reuse all your glas jars for storage! I keep all my discarded pasta sauce, condiment jars, glass bottles to store my grains, pastas, dried goods, spices, maple si=yrup, honey... They are wonderful because they fit very thightly on a shelf, are transparent and stackable!

Nana Net said...

Guilt comes in some many ways, shape, and so on. Still though I agree we all must do our part to help save this world of ours!
As for me I try to do as much as I can. Mostly by trying to becoming more aware of what I am doing wrong! Some examples that I have tried to help in saving our planet is by recycling.
That I reuse the butter containers that the butter comes in. As well as all other plastic containers that I am able to. Especially after a good washing of them first!
Another way is that I try to do large loads of laundry instead of small loads. That way I only have to do less instead of more. If that makes sense to you all. To me it saves on the amount of laundry detergent I have to use! Plus I hang my clothes out on the clothes line instead of using the clothes dryer. Nothing like fresh air to dry your clothes!
I also wash my dishes by hand and let them air dry too. I really do not like having a dishwasher.
Oh well, another thing that comes to mind is that I love watching HGTV. Now that is where I do get alot of neat ides from on "Going Green" too. Still though your blog helps me by far the most!!!!
Have a blessed day.

From A Quick Tip (a recycled article) ...

Mysticle said...

What a great idea, that I had never thought of before. Stumbled!

In our home, we reuse water bottles and plastic bags. Take our green bags shopping. Always Always Recycle.

I like to reuse the cardboard sleeves from my local coffee shop ... just carry in my purse, no need for a new one every day.

TY, Mysticle

From Vacations ... The Eco Friendly Way ...

Mukund said...

Hey one more thing, carry a disposable bag of some sort in the back of your car to throw what you eat or drink (cans, chips wrappers etc.), just in case there are no dustbins around...
I don't about the world outside but lack of dustbins is a major problem in India...
Great to have you back small... :)

May I offer a suggestion? If you have a bit of time and would like to investigate some new sites, click on one of the people listed above ... not only have they left meaningful comments here, they write brilliant blogs.

As always ... I'd love to hear from you!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Starry, Starry Nights ...

Awhile back, my friend Argentum Vulgaris, of Tomus Arcanum, published a post on Light Pollution (you can see it HERE). I first heard of light pollution some years ago while camping in the Florida Keys. We were lucky enough to join a group of astronomers who shared their telescopes ... and a great view of the skies ... with us. After a wonderful evening of sharing the sky's treasures, the leader of the group talked about light pollution. He pointed out the glow in the sky and told us how it was created by the lights of Miami ... some 132 miles away. He also pointed out that without that glow, we'd be able to see so much more.

Light pollution is a big deal to amateur astronomers, who wish to explore the constellations, as well as to large observatories where our universe is studied. It also represents, as Argentum pointed out, huge amounts of energy usage and waste. But did you know that light pollution also affects nature and our health?

In the human body, excessive light exposure can result in adverse health effects such as headaches, fatigue, stress and anxiety. It has been shown to elevate blood pressure and is considered a factor in some forms of cancer due to the suppression of the normal nocturnal production of melatonin. Simply put ... we need darkness. It helps set our circadian rhythms which determine our sleeping patterns. Our core body temperature, brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration, as well as many other biological activities are all linked to sleep ... and darkness.

Light pollution is also affecting nature. All life exists with natural patterns of light and dark. Interfere with those patterns and many aspects of animal behavior change. For example, light pollution confuses animal navigation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services estimate that 4-5 million migrating birds per year are killed when they become disoriented by the lights on tall structures. Moths and other nocturnal insects, being drawn to artificial lights, affect night blooming flowers that depend on these nighttime creatures for pollination. Lights around lakes prevent zooplankton from eating surface algae, causing algal blooms which kill off aquatic plants and destroy water quality.

One of the most well-known casualties of light pollution are the sea turtles. Hatchlings emerge from their nests and find the ocean by moving away from the darkness of the dunes. When the dunes are artificially lit by street lights or residential outdoor lighting, the hatchlings become disoriented and fatally head inland instead of toward the ocean.

Light pollution ... as with all forms of pollution ... has a negative impact on the environment and our lives. How can be help? Here are a few ideas:

  • Whenever a light is not in use, turn it off. This applies inside and out. For outdoor lighting, use a timer or motion sensor. No need to light up a yard if no one is out there, right?
  • For lighting, especially outdoor lighting, make sure that the lamp only illuminates the area necessary (use full cutoff light fixtures or lamp shades). For example, if you need to light a deck or patio, make sure that the sky, or a neighbor's yard, isn't also lit.
  • Choose low wattage illumination. For example, deck lighting doesn't necessarily have to be as bright as a kitchen. Low wattage can actually create a very pleasant atmosphere for outside, evening activities. And don't forget to use efficient bulbs (CFLs or LEDs).
  • Try not to use a light at all. Whenever possible, allow your eyes to adjust to the dark ... and leave the lights off.
  • At work, suggest that lights be turned off ... point out the energy & monetary savings that will be realized. If you own a company ... implement policies to turn out lights when not in use.

Light Pollution ... just one more area where we can make a difference.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Vacations ... The Eco Friendly Way

We recently returned from a wonderful vacation in the Pacific Northwest ... camping and visiting with family. Typically when I leave my home in the North Carolina mountains, I am struck by how wasteful and non-environmentally friendly our society is. But this trip was different.

On this trip, I noticed positive changes ... people carrying reusable water bottles in the airport rather than plastic ones, recycle containers set up in restaurants, signs in public restrooms asking patrons to turn out the lights when leaving and more people refusing plastic bags in stores. I saw less Styrofoam and more recyclable containers at take-out stands. In one public restroom there was a toilet that flushed one way for liquids and another way for solids ... reducing the amount of water used. In more than just a few shops I was asked if I wanted my receipt printed (which, of course, I said "no" to and saved some paper). In my relative's homes, I noticed cloth napkins being used instead of paper and everyone seemed to have a garden and a compost bin. A cousin told me about an Eco-Camp for children. Her daughter attended this camp where the focus was on teaching kids about waste ... specifically the waste on their plate when they take too much food and end up tossing what they can't eat.

Yes, there are still improvements to be made but it is encouraging to see so many people making an effort. It gives me hope!

With the trip and everything I saw still fresh in my mind, I decided to write a few tips on having a "green" vacation. Here are some ideas:
  • Plan ahead. For a very good list of green travel resources (tour companies, rental car agencies, transportation, activities, etc.), check out's Green Travel Resources.
  • Never take a vacation from your "green" ideals. The same rules that apply at home, apply everywhere. For example, don't use more water or electricity just because someone else is paying the bill ... continue to conserve.
  • Have a "Staycation" and play tourist in your own city. Yes ... I know ... I just returned from a vacation on the other side of the country. But I've also spent years taking vacations in my own back yard ... and they have been some of the best times we've had. Not only does it save money, gas and other resources ... there are usually activities to enjoy which typically, in our busy lives, we don't take the time to experience. So play tourist at home ... go to a special restaurant, enjoy a museum, take in a play or concert. For more ideas, contact the Chamber of Commerce in your city.
  • Make a few adjustment at home before leaving. Turn off the water heater (or turn down the temperature). Turn off A/C or heating units (or, again, adjust them to the least amount of use). Turn off the ice maker. Unplug as many electrical devices as possible.
  • Carefully consider the mode of transportation used to reach your destination. Trains, cars, planes, buses ... they all have their environmental pros and cons. Add in time and money and the choice becomes more difficult. For a short trip, consider public transportation. When driving, make sure that the car is properly serviced (tires filled to proper levels, oil leaks fixed, etc.) and follow speed limits to minimize gas use and emissions. Don't charge cell phones, iPods, etc. off the car battery ... it'll lower your gas mileage. If your car is a gas guzzling vehicle, consider renting an economy or hybrid car. If flying is the option, choose electronic tickets, pack lightly and consider carbon offsetting (for an excellent article on the subject, click HERE). Also consider bringing your own snacks and drinks (fill a reusable water bottle after going through security) ... you'll save money and waste.
  • Location, location, location! When choosing accommodations, think about location. Ask yourself these questions: Is it near public transportation (bus lines, subways, etc.)? Are tourist activities within walking distance or a short bus ride away? Are there dining and shopping opportunities close by?
  • Choose a "green" hotel (find one HERE).
  • Care for a hotel room in the same way as you care for your home. Turn out lights and TVs when not in use. When leaving, turn off the cooling/heating units. Leave a "Do Not Disturb" or "No Service" sign on the door and reuse towels and bedding. If a sign is not provided, leave a note for housekeeping requesting that they not service your room. When possible, use your own toiletries rather than those provided by the establishment. If you find it necessary to use their toiletries, take them with you, use until gone and recycle the container. Bring your own cup and let the hotel's plastic ones remain in their bags. Take short showers.
  • At your destination, consider environmentally friendly activities. Take a walking or cycling tour. Take digital photos instead of using disposable cameras. Only take maps and brochures that are necessary and, if possible, return them to the rack after use. Choose restaurants that use local, organic produce. Make sure that purchases (snacks, souvenirs, etc.) are Eco-friendly.
  • Let them know. When returning home, be sure to write emails to hotels, restaurants, car rental agencies ... even airlines and pilots ... to compliment them on their "green" efforts or encourage them to adopt them if they aren't currently doing so. I've said this before (perhaps a gazillion times) but I believe that if we ask, providers will accommodate us. So tell them that you want "green" travel options.
Vacations are wonderful ... they recharge our emotional batteries and add excitement to life. And, with a little care and concern, they can be kind to the earth as well.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Napkins ... (a recycled article)

For years I used paper napkins … they were convenient and inexpensive. But one day I noticed that, even though we barely dirtied them, they got tossed into the trash can after every meal. What a waste.

We decided to make the switch to cloth napkins. I didn’t want to get brand new ones … they are expensive and I just felt that there must be a better, earth friendly way to stock my linen drawer. Great news … there is.

First, look around the house. Old t-shirts, table clothes and even towels make great napkins. Just cut them to size and … there you go.

Next, check out the thrift stores in your area. I’ve found countless sets of brand new napkins for amazingly low prices (like 8-12 napkins for a dollar).

Whether you make them yourself or buy them, you’ll want to get a bunch so that you have plenty on hand between washings. I have between 20-30 napkins in various colors and fabrics. Look them over before tossing them in the laundry basket … we’ve found that they don’t get dirty after just one … or even two uses. We use them for a few days before tossing them in the washer.

Dazzle your family at your next meal with beautiful, colorful napkins. What’s the old saying? “Treat your family like honored guests”.

As always, I would love to hear your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling. Just click on the comments link, located at the bottom of each post, and let me know what you think and how you conserve.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Quick Tip ... (a recycled article)

The less you use (of everything) equals less that needs to be produced … and that reduces our footprint on the earth.

With that in mind, here’s a great tip, compliments of Chef Paul Prudhomme. Instead of pouring cooking oil into the pan before adding the other food (vegetables, meat, etc.), drizzle a little oil on the food itself, mix it up, then toss it into a dry pan. You’ll still get the benefits and flavor of the oil but you’ll use a lot less. And hey … not only will you be saving the earth; you’ll get fewer calories in your food. Thanks, Chef Paul.

As always, I would love to hear your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling. Just click on the comments link, located at the bottom of each post, and let me know what you think and how you conserve. Maybe you'll see your ideas in an upcoming post.

Monday, May 18, 2009

It's a Balancing Act ... (a recycled article with new comments)

Since beginning this blog, I have received many emails saying "I've been bad" ... the author then goes on to talk about his/her guilt at not living up to an Eco-friendly lifestyle. I cringe when I get these emails because I really don't want anyone to feel guilty ... it isn't a productive emotion. Rather, I'd like to encourage awareness and offer so many ideas for living green that everyone will find something which they can do. My belief is that every effort, big or small, counts ... and a small effort today may lead to bigger efforts tomorrow. Looking back through my archive of posts ... I thought this one spoke to that concept:

In my opinion, conservation has to be balanced with our lives. In other words, I’m not going to live in total darkness or never use an electrical appliance just to ensure that I don’t use any electricity … but I am going to pay attention, cut down where I can and make what I use count.

Exhaust fans, especially in the bathroom, are a perfect example. In the winter, where I live, the air gets dry … the “hurt your nose when you breathe” kind of dry. So, I don’t use the exhaust fan when I take a shower and I leave the door open so that our living space benefits from the added moisture. In the summer, however, we get warm, moist air from the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. We get enough humidity, in fact, that if we don’t use exhaust fans and ceiling fans, mold and mildew move right in. And that's not healthy.

When considering the various conservation options, remember to choose the ones that work in your life. Perhaps modify energy saving techniques so that they work for you. In that way, you'll make lasting changes to the world we live in. It's all about balance.

As always, I would love to hear your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling. Just click on the comments link, located at the bottom of each post, and let me know what you think and how you conserve. Maybe you'll see your ideas in an upcoming post.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mmm ... Mmm ... Good! (a recycled article)

No, I’m not talking about Campbell’s Chicken Soup … I’m talking about delicious vegetable stock … not from a can or box … not from a cube … not from powder … I’m talking about wonderful, nutritious stock made from scratch … and it just happens to be earth friendly.

You know all those bits and pieces of veggies that you trim away and usually toss out? Well, they deserve a closer look. The skin of vegetables and the area closest to the root are just powerhouses of vitamins and minerals. One word of caution: if you’re not using organic vegetables, they can also be loaded with chemicals and pesticides so be sure you know where your veggies came from before using them in this way (we’ll talk more about organic produce in a future post). The trouble with the bits and pieces is that they aren’t usually pretty enough to be included on our plates. You could toss them into the compost bin but … why not reap the nutritional benefits instead.

It’s easy … when you trim veggies, make sure that you’re trimming a clean vegetable. Then, save all those clean bits and pieces in your freezer. When you have enough, toss them into a pot with enough water to cover them. You can add a bay leaf, herbs or any other flavorings that you like. Don’t add salt and pepper … you can add them when you decide how to use your stock. Now cook the broth, covered, until the veggies are pretty well used up … which means that all their nutritional content is now in the water. Strain out the veggies, put the pot back on the stove and reduce it until the flavor is intense … for me, that’s usually when the stock has been reduced by half.

Now that you have this wonderful stock, freeze it in one cup portions. Whenever you make a recipe which calls for stock, whip out a “block” and … you’re set. This is the time to season with salt and pepper (isn’t it nice to control the sodium in your stock and forego the preservatives.) By the way, did you know that kosher salt has less sodium than regular table salt? Yes indeedy!

So … how is this earth friendly? Well … anything which you buy in a store, especially items which are processed, use up a lot of energy to transform them from raw materials into the products you take off the shelf. Huge factories run day and night so that we never run out of these convenience items. And once the item is packaged and ready to go, it normally travels across country to our local supermarket. Most products also have way more packaging than is needed. For example, there is one brand of bouillon that comes in cubes … each cube is individually wrapped, the cubes are then placed in a plastic bag and the bag is placed in a box. Whew!

Sure … this takes a little effort … a little time … but … it’s so worth it!

As always, I would love to hear your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling. Just click on the comments link, located at the bottom of each post, and let me know what you think and how you conserve. Maybe you'll see your ideas in an upcoming post.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

One of my favorite things ... (a recycled article plus an update)

Today’s tip is one of my favorites because it is simple, it reuses an item that we typically toss out and it really works.

I use sponges to wash my dishes. I’m not sure whether using a sponge is environmentally correct or not. The verdict is still out on that one. However, I prefer sponges over dish rags.

Now here’s the cool part … you know those mesh bags that onions come in? Well, the next time you get a bag of onions, carefully clip off one of the metal ends and then, slide your sponge inside (after removing all the onions and their skins, that is). Then, use one of those little twisty things that seem to come in, and on, everything to secure the other end. You might have to trim some of the excess mesh bag away. And make sure that the metal end and your twisty end are truly at the ends of your sponge so that when you use it, it won’t scratch anything.

Now you have a super sponge with terrific scrubbing abilities. And, you’ve accomplished a few things:

  • Those mesh bags get a second life before finding their way to a landfill.

  • Your sponge will last longer and work better.

  • Those little twisty things won’t junk up your drawers.

  • And it meets one of my “saving the planet” rules: reuse before tossing whenever possible.

Here's a picture of how it turns out:

Update ... Since first writing this post, I've refined the tip a bit. The little twisty things at the ends work but ... I have to admit that one must be very careful not to scratch non-stick pans or other "fragile" surfaces with them. The same thing is true for the metal clips at the ends of the mesh bags. So now, I clip off any metal pieces. And instead of using those twisty things, I use rubber bands. I seem to have a lot of those little rubber bands around ... I don't buy them and I'm not real sure how they end up in my home (I don't get a newspaper or anything like that) ... but they are here. So instead of using the twisty things, I now use rubber bands, tightly wound around the ends ... it works great and doesn't scratch a thing.

As always, I would love to hear your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling. Just click on the comments link, located at the bottom of each post, and let me know what you think and how you conserve. Maybe you'll see your ideas in an upcoming post.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Splish Splash I Was Taking A Bath ... (a recycled article)

These days, soaking in a full tub of water is a thing of the past. With most of us living in an area which is suffering from drought, water has become a precious, and expensive, commodity. Recently, the management in our apartment complex notified us that we will soon be paying for the water we use. A friend of mine wrote that her water comes from a well ... and it's been going dry. So water is a hot topic, with everyone looking for ways to reduce usage. Here are a few ideas:

Install aerators with flow restrictors on all your faucets. Make sure that any leaky faucets and/or toilets are fixed.

In the kitchen: run the dishwasher only when there is a full load. In my house, I would run out of dishes before I had a full load so we hand wash them. I’m careful to use minimal water … just enough to wet my sponge and scrub everything down and then, just enough water (at a slow drizzle) to rinse them. We don’t use the garbage disposal … it uses a ton of water. A better option is to compost, if you can, reuse, recycle and then … toss it out.

In the laundry room: do laundry only when there is a full load. Forget about doing small loads. Even if you can adjust the water level … try not to do it. It may not waste a lot of water but it does waste energy. So fill that tub up!

In the bathroom: turn off the water when brushing your teeth and turn it on for rinsing only. Better yet, use a glass of water … it works when we’re camping. When showering, turn the water off between soaping up and rinsing off. I put the plug in the tub before my shower … the accumulated water helps in soaping and scrubbing. I’ve also recently heard that putting a bucket in the shower captures some of the water and then can be used for watering plants. This next one works but … I’ll warn you … it’s a delicate subject and some might find it “gross”. If the only thing in the toilet is urine, don’t flush it every time. Enough said!

Outside: Use a hose with a nozzle to water plants and the lawn … it uses far less than a sprinkler and it’s good for you (reduces stress, gives you a little exercise and you'll commute with nature). If you have an automatic sprinkler system, set it to run at night or early morning and only for a few minutes. Instead of using a hose to wash off your deck, patio or driveway, use a broom … you’ll get some exercise while you save the planet. Try one of the new waterless car wash soaps. If you need to wash it with water, park your car on the lawn so the runoff helps the grass (use eco-friendly soap, of course). If those ideas don’t work and you absolutely have to wash your car with water on the driveway, make sure the hose has a nozzle and turn off the water between washing and rinsing.

Houseplants: use a moisture sensor and only water plants when they really need it.

And here’s one that, if I had a house, I would use: there are inexpensive systems out there that capture rain water. They are basically a garbage can which hooks into your home’s gutter system. It rains, the water runs into the can instead of the ground, and you have water for watering gardens, washing cars, etc. Brilliant, don’t you think? For a "how to" site, click here.

I believe that conserving water is, to a great extent, simply paying attention and thinking before letting the water run down the drain. For more great ideas on conserving water, here are a couple of good web sites:

50 easy ways to save water

25 ways to save water at home

As always, I would love to hear your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling. Just click on the comments link, located at the bottom of each post, and let me know what you think and how you conserve. Maybe you'll see your ideas in an upcoming post.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I can see the light (a recycled article)

Whenever a light bulb in my house burns out, I (of course) switch to energy efficient bulbs. But even then ... do I really need 10 light bulbs over the mirror in the bathroom? My answer ... No! So, this conservation tip is easy ... just twist off as many light bulbs as you can. For us, two bulbs over the mirror in the big bathroom, and one bulb in the small bathroom, is plenty.

And, of course, turn off lights whenever possible. Have you ever tried watching a movie in the dark? Grab some popcorn, cuddle up with someone special and relax ...

As always, I would love to hear your ideas for reducing, reusing and recycling.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Let's get started ... (a recycled article)

Since we have so many new readers at Reduce Footprints, I thought I'd recycle some of my original posts. Even if you've been following this blog for some time, you may have missed the earliest articles ... after all, as with many blogs, it takes awhile to reach the viewing public. So ... that being said ... here's Reduce Footprints' very first post:

If you're like me, you want to do your part in saving the planet but ... it all seems so overwhelming. Not all of us can rush out and buy an energy efficient car or have an energy efficient house built.

So, I decided to create a blog where we can share "easy to do" ideas on reusing, recycling ... and basically, all things associated with reducing our footprint on the earth. Hopefully, something you see in this blog will inspire you to look around and discover new ways to help Mother Earth, in an easy-to-do, inexpensive way. And for those of you already making the effort, perhaps this blog will give you ideas that you hadn't thought of. I should add that I don't take credit for any of these ideas ... they are things I've read, things that friends and family have shared and yes, once in awhile, I actually come up with something myself. With that in mind, let's get started ...

We recently went through the house and noted how many electronics contained a clock. There's a clock on the VCR, the TV, the Microwave ... well, you get the point. All those "clocks" require electricity to keep the time. So we looked at each device and determined which ones actually need to keep time ... it turns out, in our opinion, that the VCR was the only one (need those daily recorded programs). Everything else got plugged into a power strip so that we can turn it off when it's not in use. This includes the TV, all of our computers and associated external "stuff", any chargers (cell phone, batteries, etc.) and timers.

Sure, there's minor inconvenience ... when we go to turn on the TV, we have to bend over and turn on the power strip. But hey ... we get a little exercise and ... "unplugging" cut our electricity bill in half.

That's it for this first posting ... I hope you will visit often and share your ideas.

Monday, May 4, 2009

The Lost Generation

PROGRAMMING NOTE (oh that sounds so official): I'm going to be on vacation for awhile so won't be "live" ... but please continue to stop by because I've got all kinds of articles planned for your reading pleasure. The "comment moderation" feature will be turned off so ... until I get back ... talk amongst yourselves ... and continue to be "green".

I'll "see" you later in the month.

Now, here's today's post ...

As always ... I would love to hear from you!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Vegan Recipe - Carrot Cake

Here, in North Carolina, the weather is beautiful. Flowers are in bloom and new life is everywhere. Soon, farmer's markets will open and colorful produce will be available. They'll have organic, locally grown fruits and vegetables ... including carrots.

This recipe is wonderful at any time of year ... but seems especially so right now. It's full of spring color and tastes wonderful. Whether you're serving it to guests or treating your family ... it's sure to be a hit. I hope you enjoy it!

By the way ... I'd like to invite you to share a recipe with Reduce Footprints readers. It can be something you've created or something you found in a book or magazine. The only requirements are that it be
Vegan (no animal products) and that it be something you have tried and enjoy. Send it to us at, include a picture if you have one and a link to your site. If it's a recipe you've found from a book, magazine or Blog ... be sure to include that, as well, and we'll give them credit.

OK ... on to this month's recipe:

Vegan Carrot Cake
(from the February, 2009, copy of Vegetarian Times)


1 medium ripe banana, frozen, then thawed
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups grated carrots (2 medium carrots)
1-1/4 cups flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts


1-1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1 Tbs. vegan margarine
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. To make Cake: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat 9-inch cake pan with cooking spray. Mash thawed banana in large bowl. Whisk in sugar, oil and carrots. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in separate bowl. Stir flour mixture into banana mixture, until no lumps remain. Fold in raisins and walnuts.

2. Pour batter into prepared baking pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Transfer to wire rack and cool completely.

3. To make Icing: Whisk together confectioners' sugar, margarine, vanilla, and 2 Tbs. water in bowl, adding more water, if necessary, to achieve drizzling consistency. Drizzle Icing over Cake when cooled.

  • I use organic carrots and include the peels which are highly nutritious.
  • For a variation, try dried cranberries instead of raisins and pecans or pine nuts instead of walnuts.
  • This cake is wonderful with or without the icing.

As always ... I would love to hear from you!