Friday, November 22, 2013

Eco-Friendly Shopping

Holiday shopping is a lot of work, especially when we focus on Eco-friendly gifts. We have to research companies to make sure that their products are actually "green", browse their sites & catalogs for items which will please the receiver, and then be willing to pay a bit more because high-quality, environmentally-safe products typically cost more.

Let me make it a bit easier for you!

The newly redesigned Reduce Footprints' Special Offers page, which has been relocated from Facebook to this blog, has some great gift ideas. Each one is earth-friendly and (the best part) each one includes a discount just for you.

How about baby clothing, soap & hair accessories, or a solar water kettle:


Maybe someone on your list prefers essential oils, wooden teething toys, or containers for do-it-yourself cleansers:


Perhaps you'd like a wreath, a pretty "Poinsettia" for your hair, or an organic T-shirt:


What about some lip balm for stuffing stockings, totes instead of wrapping paper, and cards to share your holiday messages:


Discounts on all of these items, and more, are available by clicking the Special Offers tab at the top of this blog or by clicking HERE.

Be sure to bookmark the page and visit often ... we'll be adding new items regularly.

Happy Stress-Free Shopping, Everyone!


I received no compensation for this post ... I simply wanted to introduce you to companies doing their best to offer Eco-friendly products.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Planning Ahead

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:


Last week, we took the "Good News" baton from Cello Mom and searched for positive environmental stories. We celebrated the people, companies, and even governments who are making a difference through their actions. The idea behind this challenge is that success breeds more success. After all, who doesn't want to be a part of the solution rather than the problem? When we read about public gardens sprouting up in low-income areas, or a corporation's commitment to reducing CO2 levels, we become inspired and look for areas where we can contribute. Sharing the positive makes heroes of us all.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

CelloMom inspired this challenge with her post entitled We Need Good News on Climate Change. She also shared this: "THANK YOU for featuring Good News on the environment! I pledge to pin any stories (please include URL) on my "Reasons for Hope" pinterest board (http://www.pinterest.com/cellomomoncars/reasons-for-hope/), and to tweet them under the #ItsHappening hashtag. No victory too small! I'll start: Try this uplifting book by David Suzuki and Holly Dressel: "Good News for a Change: How Everyday People are Helping the Planet"." Thank you, CelloMom, for kicking off such a great week!

Lisa wrote An Environmental Good News Moment. In her typical generous fashion, she introduces her readers to other bloggers who are trying to make a difference. It's a lovely post! I recognized most of the bloggers mentioned ... do you know them?

In Change the World Wednesday, November 13, Lois shared some good news about the FDA and their decision to step in and help honey bees. She also gives readers an update on the results of the previous week's challenge where we invited loved-ones to join us in a green activity. As always, Lois, you inspire us with your green creativity.

Alicia, who always has a positive attitude, shares this: "Most people don't realize that each of us can make a real difference. It doesn't have to be big just make an effort to start. For example If all of the households in the U.S. would switch from hot to warm-cold when they do their laundry we could save the energy comparable to 100,000 barrels of oil a day! During an average year an American uses approximately 2,200 napkins. If each person used just one less napkin per day more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year. Nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are NOT recycled each year. Look what a difference it would make if each of us used a reusable water bottle! Consider buying items from second hand stores, turn your computers off at night, take shorter showers, adjust your thermostat and try to buy local when you can. Really the list goes on and on. There are so many ways that we can really make a difference. I have had people tell me that that they thought it would be hard to help the environment and to " go green " Then they realize how easy it is to make a difference. They just needed educated on how to start."

When I clicked on Change the World Wednesday – 15 Nov by Argentum Vulgaris, the first thing I saw was a huge FAIL in bright red letters. Oh no! But that was deceiving because when I read the post I discovered several pieces of good news, like recycling in Brazil, and an effort to eliminate litter. So what was the fail all about? Click over to find out. Just between you and me ... I'd cross out the word "Fail" and replace it with "Success"!

This edition of Sunflowers & Edibles included CTWW mentions by tweeters Beckster and Andi-Roo.

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @VioletsBuds
- I love to upcycle items, using reclaimed and re-purposed materials in my hair accessories. #eco
- I like to be green by swapping supplies with other crafters that can use them #CTWW We're swapping this weekend!

From @HerbGir1972
- Teach a kid to care, Help them grow a #Garden. Connects them to Earth & Food...Creates a better being.... fb.me/2PwUu58eq

From @anujasaw
- Eleanor Roosevelt on ow.ly/qMefQ reminded me of Kahlil Gibran On Children bit.ly/1bumAa4 :)
- When a #solar plant in India generated more than expected,when people said it won't work, it was good news! bit.ly/17pblv7

From @KrmbalClothing
- love this, I was just thinking about how all my eco-news is depressing & blame-y, no wonder no one wants to pay attention!
- Hey look at this - Kashi has made a commitment to make their food more non-GMO #CTWW pic.twitter.com/U4cnW1mioY
- Hey #CTWW gang - check out this closed-loop recycling shower article sent by a Krmbal fan! extremetech.com/extreme/170784…
- I <3 this new recycling campaign launched for America Recycles Day #CTWW iwanttoberecycled.org

From @EcoPassport
- And we're a crazy dangerous #CTWW gang ! ow.ly/qMbRj

From @OfficialCWerner
- My #CTWW This Cilantro is ready for harvesting and sharing! pic.twitter.com/ssGFVbplAx

From @laalicia
- eco chic for your ears ow.ly/qE6vP

From @GiveTreeGifts
- Kids for Climate Action aims to engage youth on the environment ow.ly/qMUHf
- 43 festivals grab Greener Festival awards ow.ly/qMWo6

From @VivEgan41
- A #BINORACLE post for #CTWW binoracle.com/1/post/2013/11…


The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@89linz @a_kiasi @allnaturalkatie
@anitaadamsnc @anujasaw @beatepdx
@biculturalmama @bike2power @bstoneblog
@cellomomoncars @cheryl_schwerd @cleansediva
@conservationm @coronatools @counselorholley
@crazedmom @dehelen @dusdifissette
@eco_novice @ecoexpert1 @ecopassport
@ecothrifty @esssc7 @frederickbrooke
@ginavalley @givetreegifts @groovygreenlivi
@herbgir1972 @hismerecry @ionpowergroup
@jaemacjustsayin @jenkehl @jenniharris4
@kriswetherbee @krmbalclothing @laalicia
@lady_bren @ladyjcmuses @leadsafeamerica
@lisaclemgreen @mamapoolecooks @mamasmoney
@marjoriemcatee @mizmeliz @mom2tle
@momgamerwriter @nathi_myeni @nebulousmooch
@nestfullofnew @officialcwerner @ourfavadventure
@pedalgadgets @plus2point4 @proamusa
@rckweddings @realityarts @robbornstein
@rtrecipe @rulesofgreen @sayitrahshay
@shannongrissom @smallbits @soulfullab
@spafloating @squishablebaby @stilettofiles
@theworld4realz @treesgroup @tsmp_blogguide
@useventphotos @violetsbuds @vivegan41
@wencdj @whopaysthepiper

My Final Thoughts:

I've never understood the idea behind spreading bad news. In most cases, it makes us feel hopeless which, in turn, immobilizes our efforts. Sharing the positive, however, inspires us to try ... to make an effort to succeed and make a difference. Just imagine what would happen if we turned on the nightly television news and saw report after report on wonderful, green successes achieved by people like us. Good inspires good! I encourage you to continue sharing good environmental news ... it has the power to change the world.

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

This is our FINAL CHALLENGE OF 2013. WhooHoo! I will be taking a break from blogging beginning November 25th, returning on January 20, 2014. I would like to thank each and every one of you for your CTWW participation this year. You have truly made a difference in our world.

Ready for your last challenge? Here you go ...

Using the comments below, please answer this question:

What would you like to see on Reduce Footprints in 2014?


I'd like to know if there's anything you'd like us to add, delete, or improve upon. How can we make CTWW better? Does Meet & Greet work for you? Do you find guest posts valuable and, if so, what topics would you like to see? Can we improve upon the Recipes, Reviews, and Special Offers pages? All suggestions are welcome so ... the sky is the limit ... consider this your "wish list" for a new Reduce Footprints blog!

Let's meet back here in January, shall we?

Until then ...

WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!



Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Guest Post - Tips On Choosing A Solar Panel Installer

The recent 9% increase in tariffs by the Big 6 has sent shivers down the spines of many UK home owners. With winter around the corner, the shivers will only get worse. Switching between energy suppliers used to be a good way to ensure that you were on the best tariff, but that has all changed. The energy situation can be remedied by use of alternate energy supplies, such as wind power and Solar energy.

Solar Panels have slowly become prevalent across England. Large retail stores, farms, country estates, banks all use solar arrays to keep their business running. Homeowners can also benefit greatly from this technology. They can enjoy less energy bills and can even earn money back using the Feed-In-Tariff System.

The public interest in the use of solar energy has also led to an increase in the amount of firms that supply and install solar panels. With advances in technology and better supply chain management, solar companies can provide tailored solutions to your energy needs. On the flip side, this also allows inexperienced companies to come into the trade. There have been reports in the news about pushy salespeople targeting home owners in a bid to sell them solar panels. 8 times out of 10, they are simply middle men who then sell off your details to the highest bidder.

If you have made the smart move to install SPV (Solar PhotoVoltaic) in your home, follow these when choosing your solar panel provider :-
  1. First confirm that they are a registered member of the Renewable Energy Association (REA). In the US, check with the National American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

  2. When you contact them, the company shouldn’t give you an estimate or quote over the phone. Unscrupulous sales people try to push for the sale, even before assessing your home.

  3. A home visit should be arranged for proper assessment and to see if you are eligible for fitting a PV system. Ask if you will be visited by a sales person or a surveyor. Ideally, on the visit, a surveyor and an electrical expert should be part of the visiting team.

On the appointed day, your home will be assessed for key factors including :-
  • The orientation of your roof, (you generally need a south-facing roof).
  • The tilt angle of the roof is also examined as this determines the kind of frame that will be created to hold the panels.
  • Your fuse box and meter
  • Details of your current electricity consumption patterns

With this data, a professional solar PV installer can customize a plan for your home.

After the visit, the company usually contacts you within 5 working days, with a plan for installing a solar panel system. When they get back to you, they should give you a quote with a detailed breakdown of what they will be doing for you. This should include :-
  • Panel information
  • Warranty details of the parts to be used
  • Details of the solar inverter
  • Breakdown of Cost and savings
  • Maintenance requirements and details

Professional PV companies will ensure that you get adequate returns on your investment. Be wary of firms that try to get a commitment out of you without carrying out these steps.

Choosing to use solar energy isn’t an immediate return on investment, but a steady and guaranteed one. A decade from now, you will be glad you did.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Meet & Greet Monday (#MtaGt) - Briogeo

Welcome to Meet & Greet Monday, a regular series designed to grow our green community.

A link-up for green blogs on Reduce Footprints Blog

Grab our banner for your site:

The rules:

1. Use the link-up tool below to share your green-living blog or collection of environmental posts.
2. Visit at least one other blog and/or the featured site and leave a pertinent comment.
3. The link-up closes on Thursday at 6:00 pm (EDT).
4. Random.org determines the featured site each week.

Our featured blog, Briogeo, is associated with Briogeo Hair Products. Before telling you a bit about the blog, let me share what I've learned about the company. Their products are made in the USA. According to the FAQ page, their products "contain a high content of natural and naturally-derived ingredients". I've randomly clicked on various products and the ingredients are listed for each one, allowing customers to conduct their own research on the safety of the item. Products are never tested on animals. All of their packaging contains at least 25% post consumer recycled (PCR) plastic. The blog is interesting. I found an article entitled A Look at Deep Conditioning: Why it’s necessary for all hair types. Most people know that things like the sun, chlorine, and coloring can stress out our tresses, but did you know that taking certain medications can also affect your hair? The article goes on to talk about natural ingredients and how to perform a deep conditioning. Another post, Long Days of Summer discusses keeping long hair healthy during hot weather. While I would like to see a bit more information on products and treatments which are both Eco-friendly and safe to use, I feel that Briogeo introduces topics which make me think about the connection between personal care products, fashion, and the environment. Hop over and tell me what you think. (Please note: This is a feature only. I do not recommend or discourage use of Briogeo products. I do encourage you to check out the site and make your own determination.)

For previous features & blogs, check out the Meet & Greet Page: http://reducefootprints.blogspot.com/p/meet-greet.html.

This is our LAST MEET & GREET of 2013. Beginning next week, Reduce Footprints will be on hiatus, returning on January 20, 2014. So let's make this a real party. You may link as many sites as you wish and they may be any type of site (blog, social network, product page, etc.), PROVIDED that they are ECO-FRIENDLY.

Our link-up is live. Please list your site, visit and have fun!





Friday, November 15, 2013

Making Your Own Powdered Vegetable Bouillon

Have you ever considered making your own bouillon powder (aka dehydrated bouillon)? It's not only easy to do, but it's a healthy alternative to commercial versions which often include things like hydrogenated oils, Monosodium Glutamate, Salt, Palm Oil, and preservatives with unpronounceable names. It's also economical and a great way to use up extra veggies in your bin.

Here's my easy guide to making your own powdered vegetable bouillon:

Gather a variety of vegetables.


Make your own powdered vegetable bouillon.

Choose an assortment of vegetables. The goal is to create a nice balance of flavors, similar to making a good broth. I typically use tomatoes, onions, garlic, mushrooms, carrots, peppers (both bell and hot), and fresh herbs (parsley, basil, and oregano are my favorites). Any vegetable will work; however, use caution with strong-flavored items like cabbage or Brussel sprouts ... they can overwhelm your mix. Similarly, be careful if you're adding beets ... their vibrant color, while beautiful, may not be appropriate in all recipes ... a little goes a long ways. If you like your bouillon to have a slight thickening affect, add in a potato and/or peas. As a general rule, use the vegetables and flavors that you like.

Wash and slice


Make your own powdered vegetable bouillon

Wash the vegetables thoroughly, peel if necessary, and slice thinly. A Mandoline works great for uniform, thin slices. One can also use a food processor or a knife. The thinner the slices, the faster the pieces will dehydrate. Depending on how you'll dehydrate the vegetables, shape may matter. For example, the shelves in my dehydrator have openings to allow the air to circulate. Smaller items, like garlic, will fall through the openings. To alleviate the problem, one can often slice a vegetable into strips rather than rounds. When this isn't possible, line the shelf with a parchment paper.

Dehydrate


Make your own powdered vegetable bouillon.

Choose a method (the oven, a dehydrator, or the sun). For a good discussion on various techniques, read How To Dehydrate Food. I use a dehydrator. While it does use electricity, it supplies consistent heat and dries food quickly. I have also used the solar method ... it works, uses no electricity, but is less heat consistent ... food is much more likely to mold if there isn't constant heat.

When you've chosen your method, lay the vegetables out in a single layer and begin drying. Continue dehydrating until vegetables are completely dry. They should be a bit crispy to ensure that there is no moisture left in them. Moisture will make your finished product lumpy and increase the possibility of mold.

Grind


Make your own powdered vegetable bouillon

Grind the dehydrated vegetables into a powder. One can use a food processor, mortar & pestle, or (my favorite) a coffee grinder. At this point you can add in a bit of salt and pepper, if you wish.

Note: I recommend not adding salt or pepper to your bouillon mix. Doing so limits the amount you can use in your recipes. Instead, add the bouillon to your recipe and then add salt/pepper to taste. In this way, you'll have much more control of your meal's sodium content.

Storage


Make your own powdered vegetable bouillon

Store the finished product in an airtight container, preferably glass. Similar to spices, a cool dark location is best for maintaining the quality of your bouillon.

Uses


Make your own powdered vegetable bouillon.

Use your bouillon powder, mixed with water, as a soup base. Add it to stews, sauces, and gravies for additional flavor. Try a spoonful in your mashed potatoes or sprinkle it on a green salad. You are only limited by your imagination.

Homemade bouillon powder is easy to make, healthy, economical and delicious. I hope you'll give it a try!


Images courtesy of Michelle Meiklejohn, stockimages, John Kasawa, patpitchaya, artur84, and rakratchada torsap / FreeDigitalPhotos.net




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Good News

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:


Have you ever participated in an activity with a friend or loved one and it opened your eyes to new possibilities? Maybe their enthusiasm "rubbed off" on you or you had so much fun that you embraced the activity and continued it in your own life? That was the idea behind last week's challenge. We grabbed a friend and did something "green" ... and hopefully, we passed along our passion for protecting the earth.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

Several of your articles were picked up in this edition of McBride’s Organic Farm Daily. Was your post one of them?

James Paulson joined us and shares this, "I recently brought along my friend on our nature walk through the forest preserve. We normally ride bikes along the path, but I decided that it was about time already to walk slowly and enjoy the surroundings for a change!" Sounds wonderful, James!

Argentum Vulgaris wrote about his green passion in Change the World Wednesday – 6th Nov. Can you guess what it is? Need a hint? His "passion" loved the side of his neighbor's house. Click over to find out what it is!

Tweets for Good included CTWW and several of your posts. Click over to find out if your article was included.

This edition of Sunflowers & Edibles gave CTWW a nice mention. There are a bunch of other interesting articles and photos, including a brilliant shot, by our very own Lady JC, of a person dancing on the ceiling of a NYC subway train. Now that's entertainment!

Alicia accepted the challenge and said, "I love sharing green ideas and vegan recipes with other people, it is so much fun! Our son and daughter-in-law still eat meat and cheese so we really enjoy making Vegan meals when they come over. They always like the food and our daughter-in law almost always wants the recipes for what I made. She has even shared some of them on her Facebook page! Our four year old grandson loves everything we cook and tells his mom and dad when he is home that he wants "good food" like I make. I have shared how to make wool dryer balls with hundreds of people and love all of the e-mails telling me how it has made such a difference for them. I also share how you can make your own cleaners, laundry detergent, and furniture polish as well. I love how the excitement and passion of green living can be so contagious!" It's true, Alicia ... and your green living "bug" bites a lot of people!

CelloMom had this to say, "Okay, I have just sent Email to the PTA of CelloPlayer''s school, offering to give a talk on how to reduce our carbon footprint and how to talk to our children about climate change. Our school is actually quite far in the sustainability league, and the families already very "green", but as CTWW reminds us, there is always the next step to take." Wow, CelloMom ... you are a superstar! Way to go! I hope you'll write a post about your talk ... I'd love to know how it turns out!

In How To Green Your Husband [#CTWW], Katie shares some wonderful insights and talks about a recent conversation she had with her husband about green living. It's a wonderful post and shows that sometimes we simply have to ask. Nicely done, Katie!

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @HerbGir1972
- Teach Children the 3 #Green r's #Reduce, #Reuse, #Recycle for a better world - #Reusable is the #OnTrend #Green action, so many things are reusable from Clothing, to glass, even plastics. #KeepItOutTheLandfills
- #CTWW take your children on a #FallWalk with a camera for each child. It's beautiful to see the same adventure thru their eyes. #TakeTime
- #CTWW Lemon/Citrus Oil + White Vinegar + Water Great Cleaning solution for loads of spaces in your home. #GreenCleaning
- #CTWW Go No Poo your hair will thank you for it :) #NoPoo #NoShampoo #HealthyHair #Green #SaveMoney
- #CTWW Grow Chard it's amazing #Healthy #delicious #beautiful

From @VioletsBuds
- didn't get to blog this week about #CTWW but we're always picking up trash on our walks & recycling it http://t.co/IOTzUctUjG
- there's been less lately. plus we take any of the cans & bottles we find to the recycling center!

From @OfficialCWerner
- I am down to printing one piece of paper per file! This is almost unheard of in my industry. I am now 99.9% paperless!!

From @VivEgan41
- For #CTWW, I've tackled the problem of what to do if you come into a lot of apples. Pivotal stuff on #BINORACLE. bit.ly/HJQL1z

From @laalicia
- RT @EcoFashionTalk: Lovely article from @ecosalon - importance of upcycling - great examples... ReFashioned ecofashiontalk.com/2013/11/eco-sa…
- <3 RT @Earth911: 8 things you'd never know were made from used skateboard decks. @iRideiRecycle #upcycle ht.ly/qtROr

From @NicManuel
- how to grow a sustainable economy http://t.co/m53e2gNufn
- Time for the #sharingeconomy to become the sharing society for a more sustainable future http://t.co/LBEXpcoMvq
- #TIMEMagazine 10 Ideas That Will Change the World http://t.co/VJ3HG7dBD3


The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@_topstories_ @a_kiasi @adventuresof8
@allnaturalkatie @altcon @anitaadamsnc
@avlcomedy @beatepdx @biculturalmama
@biggreenpen @blogadinserts @bstoneblog
@cheryl_schwerd @cleansediva @collegegogreen
@conservationm @counselorholley @crazedkitchen
@crazedmom @dehelen @delaneyclare
@dusdifissette @ecoexpert1 @ecopassport
@ecothrifty @evelynmccpeters @ginavalley
@givetreegifts @gogreenbeans @grailville
@groovygreenlivi @guayaba @herbgir1972
@hismerecry @jadekerrion @jaemacjustsayin
@jbjourneys @julialittlebit @kayelleallen
@kriswetherbee @krmbalclothing @laalicia
@ladyjcmuses @mamapoolecooks @margaretmarywhi
@marjoriemcatee @mcbridesorganic @mike_printeco
@momfindsout @motherhoodlooms @natashalarry
@nebulousmooch @nestfullofnew @nicmanuel
@officialcwerner @ourfavadventure @pinkladyapril
@plus2point4 @populatione @rantravewrite
@rckweddings @realityarts @robbornstein
@rtrecipe @rulesofgreen @scatteredmusing
@shannongrissom @smallbits @soulfullab
@spafloating @squishablebaby @treesgroup
@turningclockbac @useventphotos @violetsbuds
@vivegan41 @wencdj @whopaysthepiper
@whywelovegreen @withinyourhands @yfnjman
@zenfarmz

My Final Thoughts:

Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, "You can never really live anyone else's life, not even your child's. The influence you exert is through your own life, and what you've become yourself." As we travel our green journey and invite others to experience our passion, we often influence their decision to adopt an Eco-friendly lifestyle. It happens naturally, without effort, and may very well be the best way to elicit change.

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

CelloMom wrote a brilliant post entitled We Need Good News on Climate Change. In it, she talks about the power of sharing green efforts, success stories, and environmental solutions. It's the basis of this week's challenge:

This week find and share environmental good news. This can be successful efforts by other people ... government or corporate solutions ... school projects ... or even small efforts which you've witnessed. The idea, here, is to share the positive, to focus on successful actions which give us hope and let us know that our efforts can make a difference.

Want more? Here you go ...

Let's help create some good news. Sign this PETITION to abolish climate changing subsidies.

Are you ready to share the good news? I know that you are!

Until next time ...

WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!



Monday, November 11, 2013

Meet & Greet Monday (#MtaGt) - Dalara Soap Co

Welcome to Meet & Greet Monday, a regular series designed to grow our green community.

A link-up for green blogs on Reduce Footprints Blog

Grab our banner for your site:

The rules:

1. Use the link-up tool below to share your green-living blog or collection of environmental posts.
2. Visit at least one other blog and/or the featured site and leave a pertinent comment.
3. The link-up closes on Thursday at 6:00 pm (EDT).
4. Random.org determines the featured site each week.

This week's featured blog, Dalara Soap Co, comes to us all the way from Budapest, Hungary. Agnes, the blog's author and owner of the company by the same name, is passionate about removing toxins from our lives. She holds a Master's Degree in sustainable tourism and has completed a course in making natural cosmetics. The blog, written in English, Hungarian, and Portuguese, is relatively new. It's the companion site to the Dalara Soap Facebook Page. Agnes and I have had quite a few conversations where I've learned that she hopes to not only share information on safe body-care products and food (two areas which can harm us and which we can control), but encourage others to share what they have learned, as well. In one of her first blog posts, she talks about sodium laureth sulfate (SLS), offering facts about this harmful chemical and why companies use it, and suggesting a much healthier alternative. I think that Dalara Soap Co, and the associated Facebook page, will become a wonderful resource. Agnes's passion and dedication to the environment are evident in every word. I hope you'll drop by give her some "bloggy love".

For previous features & blogs, check out the Meet & Greet Page: http://reducefootprints.blogspot.com/p/meet-greet.html.

Our link-up is live. Please list your blog, visit and have fun!

PLEASE NOTE ... we're accepting links from blogs this week ... stay tuned as this will change from time to time.





Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Green With A Friend

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)!

Wondering how to live greener? You've come to the right place. Each week we challenge ourselves to try a new task ... or "amp up" something we're already doing. We raise our awareness, learn from each other and develop Eco-friendly skills which will improve our lives and protect our planet. Doing so together gives us power ... the power to Change The World!

If this is your first visit, please click HERE for information and a complete list of all the challenges we've taken on so far.

This post contains great information and I encourage you to read through it at your leisure ... however, if you are short on time, you might find the following quick links helpful:


I loved last week's Random Acts Of Green challenge. So many of you combined green living with a caring spirit which resulted in generous and kind actions. For example, some people shared local food with a neighbor, one person talked to maintenance staff and turned a wasteful situation into a job, and still another person's generous act saved a neighbor money while helping the planet. It felt good to look for opportunities to help both the planet and other people. It was a happy week.

The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments.

The Shopping Charity gave one of your CTWW posts a headline spot ... was it yours?

Alicia accepted the challenge and shares this: "Great challenge! I have been teaching our 4 year old grandson about recycling and for the past several months I have been making lots of Vegan treats and sharing them. I love how everyone thinks they are so delicious and asks for the recipes. They always are so surprised that the things I make are Vegan." She also wrote Are You Up For This Challenge? in support of a previous CTWW ... check it out ... she includes some photos of awesome meatless meals. I can't imagine that anyone could resist one of those dishes!

LaAlicia responded to Alicia's comment with this: "Isn't it funny how many people think that if it's healthy it will taste like cardboard!? :) *giggle* Thankfully, that's not usually the case." She also said, "This time of year with the bounty of shared gardens, I do some freezer cooking -- putting together meals to pop in the freezer that can be pulled out when it's cold and I'm tired to put in the oven to come out a short time later as a delightful dinner with minimal effort. I put together a couple extras to share with a couple friends who had shared their garden bounty. Needless to say -- they were happy! :) Made me happy too know that I could help them with dinner on the evening of their choice."

A great opportunity fell into EcoGrrl's lap. Here's what happened: "Timing is good for this! Sunday I was walking home and a neighbor down the street was raking up massive amounts of leaves and each extra bag on the curb is a couple bucks added to the bill so I volunteered my empty yard waste bin to help clean up. But I don't want to use that as the only good-green-deed, so I've also opened up my side yard garden with tons of chard and kale and carrots in them to my neighbors to take what they need while I'm on holiday. What fun is gardening if you can't share the harvest?"

The Nurtured Beauty Daily gave CTWW a headline spot. There are a ton of other great articles including one entitled New Uses for Things You Have in Your Dorm Room.

Katie dropped in and left this comment: "Great challenge! I will be on the lookout this weekend." So how did she do? Find out in Random Acts of Green Kindness [#CTWW]. Here's a hint: it involves the neighbor's yard.

Argentum Vulgaris proves that random acts of green can be small actions which add up. In Change the World Wednesday – 30th Oct he talks about his area's new recycled-trash collection service and a simple practice which he's done for years.

This edition of McBride’s Organic Farm Daily includes an article about how the UK is considering an action to prevent supermarkets from displaying junk food beside checkouts. Wow! It also gave CTWW a headline spot!

Mrs. Green left a brilliant comment: "Oh I love this challenge; I so wanted to write a proper blog post but won't have time this week, so here are three opportunities that landed in my lap: I made DH a cup of coffee - how green, how RAOK you ask? Well usually I get up and boil the kettle for him; that's as far as it goes. He gets up later then has to reboil the kettle. I figured by making the coffee and taking it to him I'd put a smile on his face AND reduce the need to reboil the kettle. Second, we have a tree full of apples. Our friend Pete has just come out of hospital and has missed the harvest time. He's a man in his eighties who lives off the land. I knew I'd end up with windfalls, so I sent my avid eco princess to climb the tree and pick the apples. I then stewed them and took them round for Pete to freeze. He was delighted and I saved myself from wasting that fruit. Third, your post made me do something I'd been putting off for ages. I went out and bought a super sized, top of the range bird feeder. The hedge sparrows are becoming extinct in the UK, but we have lots of them in our hedge. So I figured I'd support them some more throughout the winter but I've usually bought cheap feeders that break in a while, so are bad economy. I've bough one that holds 4 times the amount of the previous one AND comes with a 10 year guarantee, so it's better made and will last longer. Happy me, happy mother nature, happy birds.... I loved this challenge so much SF - thanks for the inspiration! Oh and look; I just wrote a blog post in your comments section LOL!" Great job, Mrs. Green!!

The Sustainable Education Initiative mentioned CTWW in addition to posts about roses, food stamps, and fall bee keeping.

Lois is very creative, taking tossed items and turning them into treasures. When she noticed perfectly good furniture being destroyed, she took action ... with surprising results. Read Change the World Wednesday, Random Acts of Green to find out what happened ... and how it might just change her life.

Lady JC stopped in and shared this, "I'm not sure if this qualifies but we, as a household, collected about 5 large bags of fallen pine needles and offered them to friends who needed more dry material for their compost bins, which is comprised mostly of chicken poop and wet greens. We're hoping to share more so that it's a win win all around. None of it will end up in a dumpster. We collected the three inch carpet of needles in our backyard and they get a more balanced compost with higher level of acidity. The pines really let us have it this year because we had several stretches of very dry weather in late Summer and early Fall so although it was beautiful, smelled wonderful and created a whimsical natural carpeting. Some of it had to go otherwise we'd be buried. :) " Absolutely that qualifies, JC!

Tweets for Good includes CTWW. It also includes a post about polio in Syria and one about GMO labelling.

Sunflowers & Edibles gave CTWW a nice mention. There's also a petition asking Home Depot and Lowe’s to stop selling bee-killing garden plants.

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @NicManuel
- Change the World Wednesday #CTWW Check out how to change yourself to change the world: How to love unconditionally ow.ly/qjW4I

From @VivEgan41
- It's Change the World Wednesday - #CTWW check out my blog, binoracle.com for thoughts on living a greener lifestyle.

From @CounselorHolley
- Random acts of Green - love this! Couldn't get better than doing kind things to help everyone be greener.

From @ConservationM
- Woohoo! Always excited to be a part of this group, and hopefully will change the world this Wednesday for the better. #CTWW

From @GiveTreeGifts
- Random Acts of Green | Facebook ow.ly/qkKmC
- Random Acts of Green ΓΆ?? October Edition | Humber Students' Federation ow.ly/qkKub
- Unsung environmental heroes ΓΆ?? random acts of green ow.ly/qkKCn

From @HerbGir1972
- #CTWW #Recycle it really does #MakeADifference fb.me/2yy1YnZly

The #CTWW Gang are those folks who tweet our challenges using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I recommend following them ... they share great things. Let's meet them:

@89linz @a_kiasi @allnaturalkatie
@avlcomedy @beatepdx @biculturalmama
@biggreenpen @cheryl_schwerd @cleansediva
@clubcontent @conservationm @counselorholley
@crazedmom @dusdifissette @ecoexpert1
@ecopassport @ecothrifty @evelynmccpeters
@frederickbrooke @geekgirlusa @getme2mosselbay
@ginavalley @givetreegifts @gogreenbeans
@greeningwestfor @groovygreenlivi @guayaba
@healthyhomemag @herbgir1972 @hismerecry
@imprintpdx @janmoran @jenniharris4
@kayelleallen @kriswetherbee @krmbalclothing
@laalicia @ladyjcmuses @leslieveg
@mamapoolecooks @marjoriemcatee @mcbridesorganic
@mcmillendc @mizmeliz @mom2tle
@mommacuisine @nancylmeehan @natashalarry
@nathansvoice @nebulousmooch @nicmanuel
@nolafusion @nurturedbeauty @officialcwerner
@ourfavadventure @plus2point4 @rckweddings
@realityarts @rtrecipe @rulesofgreen
@sayitrahshay @shannongrissom @simplehedonist
@smallbits @soulfullab @squishablebaby
@tammycurry @tasteofwilts @theworld4realz
@tla_bc @treesgroup @turningclockbac
@useventphotos @vivegan41 @wencdj
@whopaysthepiper @withinyourhands @zenfarmz

My Final Thoughts:

As I read everyone's comments and posts this week, I felt a sense of joy in the words. Generosity seems to ignite something special in our hearts ... a desire to do good. When our giving involves the earth, we not only extend kindness to others, we pass the green torch in an amazing way. I congratulate each of you for your kind acts of green. I hope that the spark lit this week, will forever burn strong.

Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share features located below this post.

This Week's Challenge:

I recently read an article which suggested that when someone close to us cares about something, we tend to care as well. The idea is fascinating! Here's your challenge:

This week invite someone to join you in a green activity. Need some ideas? Invite a friend to go for a walk ... and perhaps pick up litter as you go. Ask a family member to help you plan and cook a meatless meal. Swap clothes, tools, books, etc., with a neighbor. Start a "green club" with your friends and meet occasionally to share green tips and ideas. Host an Eco-friendly cleaning party at a friend's home. Do laundry together ... or join forces to rake up leaves. Be creative and have fun. The idea, here, is to share an experience so that a green activity which you care about will become important to someone else as well.

OR ...

If sharing an activity isn't really your thing, then please share your passion by writing a post about a favorite green activity.

Let's make this a social week. Are you up for the challenge? I know that you are!


Want an easy way to keep up with our challenges?
Just add the banner below to your blog by
copying the code & pasting it into your site!

Change The World Wednesday on Reduce Footprints

Until next time ...

WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Review - Uncommon Goods

Are you prepared for holiday gift giving? While I don't like to hurry the season, the fact is that Christmas is less than two months away. Finding earth-friendly products which are made locally (or at the very least in the same country), and are sold by a responsible company, takes time and effort. Luckily, Uncommon Goods make it a bit easier for us by offering a wide range of unique gifts.

Before I tell you about the product I tested, let me tell you a bit about the company. Most of the products they carry are made in the United States. Approximately one third are made using recycled and/or upcycled materials. About half of their products are handmade.

It is, however, their commitment to the earth and their dedication to humanity which I find most impressive.

As with any corporation, they are interested in profit. But unlike other corporations, Uncommon Goods also consider society and the environment in their decision making process. For example, employees are paid a living wage and all full-time workers are offered health insurance (most part-time workers receive it as well). Each business practice is tempered by the goal to create harmony with the environment. They do nothing which causes harm to either people or animals and refuse, therefore, to sell products containing leather, feathers or fur. In addition to meeting the comprehensive requirements of a B Corporation, they have created "Better to Give", a program which donates $1 from every sale to the purchaser's non-profit of choice.

A company's ethics are definitely important but so are their products. As I browsed the Uncommon Goods website, I found interesting gifts ... items which I've never seen anywhere else. For example, from their recycled products, I was sent a set of Man Coasters:

Man Coasters from Uncommon Goods

These sturdy coasters are made from salvaged granite slab counter-tops and recycled rubber. Each one is distinct in pattern and color. Handmade by artists Arra David and Anne Johnson in New Hampshire, the coasters are guaranteed for life.

How do they perform? BRILLIANTLY! I keep a glass of water or iced tea next to my computer as I work throughout the day. Typical coasters stick to the bottom of the glass or fail to deal with condensation (don't you hate it when you lift a glass and it's drips on everything). Man Coasters, measuring 4" squared x 1.25" thick, are designed not to stick to the glass and they magically wick away condensation. They truly are the best coasters I've ever used.

How do they look? When I saw them on the website, I was worried that they would be a little too "manly". But I have to say that I love how they look on my coffee table. The granite is beautiful and the rubber case enhances the intricacies of the stone. The coaster size is also a benefit ... no one will misunderstand its use or have to look very hard to find one.

I recommend Uncommon Goods. You'll find bed and bath products, jewelry and accessories, and gifts for the person who has everything ... like this unusual item. You'll also shop with the knowledge that you are supporting an ethical company, one which respects the earth and all who call it home.

So, relax ... Christmas may be less than two months away but this company has you covered.



I received a set of Man Coasters in order to write this review. I received no other compensation. All opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and reflect my honest opinion of the material reviewed.



Monday, November 4, 2013

Meet & Greet Monday (#MtaGt) - All Natural Katie

Welcome to Meet & Greet Monday, a regular series designed to grow our green community.

A link-up for green blogs on Reduce Footprints Blog

Grab our banner for your site:

The rules:

1. Use the link-up tool below to share your green-living blog or collection of environmental posts.
2. Visit at least one other blog and/or the featured site and leave a pertinent comment.
3. The link-up closes on Thursday at 6:00 pm (EDT).
4. Random.org determines the featured site each week.

In 2010, a bad reaction to a well-known, commercial shampoo (which claimed to be "natural") contributed to Katie's decision to give up shampoo permanently. A year later, All Natural Katie was launched. One of the early articles shared information about how she improved the health of her hair and scalp by adopting a "no poo" hair cleansing routine. Since that time, she has gone on to speak about everything from fasting to preserving food to recycling. Readers are offered reviews of green products and often given a chance to win some for themselves. Many posts are prompted by "Change The World Wednesday" activities. When she accepts a challenge, she jumps right in and gives it her full attention. For example, when we tackled BPA, Katie did some research and came up with a concrete plan to phase out questionable products. That post included a great table which listed "offenders" and appropriate alternatives. The "Eating Out of the Freezer" challenge resulted in daily menu plans and an audit of Katie's pantry and freezer. All Natural Katie may have begun with an unfortunate event, but it is proof that misfortune can be the impetus of a green journey and the opportunity to improve our lives. It has become a reputable blog where readers are invited to walk a more natural, green path.

For previous features & blogs, check out the Meet & Greet Page: http://reducefootprints.blogspot.com/p/meet-greet.html.

Our link-up is live. Please list your blog, visit and have fun!

PLEASE NOTE ... we're accepting links from blogs this week ... stay tuned as this will change from time to time.






Friday, November 1, 2013

7 Easy Ways To Add Meatless Meals To Your Table

Welcome to the first Friday of the month. Usually I share a delicious recipe with you, but this month I decided to do something a bit different. We've talked about the many reasons to eat meatless meals and we've explored some wonderful dishes from people all over the world. But once we've made the decision to incorporate more vegan foods into our lives, how do we get started? I'm glad you asked!

Here are some proven ways to easily add meatless meals to your table:

  1. Simply remove the meat.
  2. Many dishes work well without the addition of beef, pork, etc. For example, spaghetti marinara, fajitas, stew and lasagna can all be made vegan. Just remember that animal fat contains a lot of flavor; when we remove it, we need to add in other bold flavors to compensate. Here are some suggestions:
    • Herbs and spices add interest to a dish and can mimic the taste of animal products. Thyme makes our brain think "poultry". Chili powder, paprika, cumin, and (here's a surprise) cocoa give a recipe a "beefy" taste.
    • Experiment with aromatics such as onion, garlic, pepper and ginger.
    • Try Amino Liquids or soy sauce for a robust flavor enhancement.

  3. Build a meal around a vegetable.
  4. Most people design a meal around a animal-based protein. To go meatless, try using a vegetable as the focus of your plate.
    • Start with a baked potato and top with chili and salsa.
    • Grill a Portobello mushroom and serve as a "steak".
    • Stuff an eggplant or squash with rice pilaf or a quinoa & lentil mixture.
    • Build a hearty salad with a variety of raw vegetables, beans and pasta.

    Delicious Vegan Salad
  5. Try something new.
  6. Broaden your culinary expertise by trying new recipes and cooking techniques.
    • Consider dishes from other cultures. Exciting meatless dishes are featured in Indian, Asian and Mexican cuisine (among others).
    • Prepare a vegetable in a new way. If you always steam greens, for example, try sauteing them with garlic in some olive oil. Experiment with roasting vegetables to bring out their sweetness. Consider raw veggies and play around with cutting them (grate, dice or slice them for variety).
    • Prepare beans and lentils in unique ways ... try mashing them with herbs to make dips or use them as the base of a "meat" ball. Try them in place of meat in stews, pot pies, stuffed cabbage or casseroles. And while you're at it, try different varieties ... there are beans of every color and flavor on the market.

    Versatile Chick Peas.
  7. Use what you have.
  8. Vegan cooking doesn't require a pantry full of "weird" ingredients. Check out your shelves and use what you find.
    • Take stock of the foods on your shelves and get creative.
    • Remember that spice or sauce you bought a long time ago? Now might be a great time to test it out.
    • Combine pasta or rice with vegetables and beans to create unique, nutritious meals.

    Pasta with Spinach Sauce
  9. Think "nourish".
  10. As with any dietary plan, care must be taken to ensure that a meal nourishes, as well as, satisfies us.
    • Get protein from mushrooms, legumes, lentils, nuts, grains, miso, tempeh and non-dairy "milk".
    • To ensure that you're getting enough iron, include a bit of citrus with dark leafy greens, like spinach (even a squeeze of lemon in a glass of water will do the trick).
    • Use Nutritional Yeast, which has a cheesy flavor, to add vitamin B12 to your diet ... or take a daily vegan B12 supplement.
    • Eat plenty of fruits to satisfy your "sweet tooth" (and keep those candy cravings away).
    • Get potassium from potatoes and bananas.
    • Drink plenty of water!
    • Since most canned products contain BPA, consider cooking whole foods. Don't have the time? Try a crock pot or, my personal favorite (especially for beans), a pressure cooker.
    • Eat a variety of foods ... each item comes with it's own health benefits so eating a good variety of food ensures that you get the complete range of essential vitamins and minerals.
    • Avoid processed foods and empty calories (foods high in calories but low in nutrition). Don't be fooled by vegan and vegetarian offerings ... processed foods are less than desirable in any dietary plan.
    • Get nutrition advice from your medical care provider, vegan nutrition web pages, and ... other vegans.

  11. Use the Internet.
  12. You have a brilliant resource at the tip of your fingers.
    • If you are a Google+ member, check out this COMMUNITY for a wide range of information on all things vegan (including some insanely good recipes).
    • On Facebook, visit VEGAN COACH, VEGAN RECIPE CLUB, PLANET VEGAN, and VEGAN RECIPES for inspiration and information.
    • Are you WOWED by the photos on Pinterest? Check out my BOARD for some of the pins that make my mouth water.
    • Use the search term "Vegan Recipes" for a list of great ideas.
    • Add an ethnicity to your search term (such as "Italian Vegan Recipes") for even more great ideas.

    Italian Bruschetta
  13. Just DO IT.
  14. In the end, our attitude will make or break any dietary choice. Jump in, with both feet, and give meatless meals a fair try.
If you've made the decision to add more plant-based meals to your life, congratulations!! You are doing something great for your health and the planet ... and animals, everywhere, are singing your praises! With a little planning and consideration, you can easily add delicious and exciting meatless meals to your table. I hope you'll give it a try!


If you have a vegan recipe which you'd like to share, please contact me HERE. And for all the recipes we've shared so far, be sure to visit our recipe page using the tabs at the top of this blog ... or by clicking HERE.



Images courtesy of Apolonia, Simon Howden, nuchylee, and KEKO64 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net