Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Widening The Circle

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 disconnected from the Internet. It was an interesting challenge. I spent 24 hours doing other things and enjoyed the time. I also realized just how much I depend on my computer and being online. While going paperless benefits the planet, being connected comes with it's own environmental cost ... a cost which rises daily as more households log in. For my part, I'll disconnect more often.

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.

Mystie not only participated this week, she challenged her readers to join the fun. In Eco-Friendly Friday 5/24 she talks about how she'll spend her time away from the Internet. I think her "down time" sounds great ... what do you think?

Before Lois knew what CTWW held in store for her, she accomplished the activity. Find out how she spent her time in this POST.

Alicia joined us. She says, " This one will be harder for us since we have a website business and have to be on the computer everyday.My husband uses his laptop in the shop and I use the computer at home.What I can do is start turning my computer off several hours earlier than I normally do. Wow this challenge sure lets you realize how much we depend on the internet!!"

EcoGrrl shares this: "I'll have to bow out of this week's challenge as I work for myself as a recruiter in the software startup field and blog every day, so eliminating internet use would not be realistic. The fun of being self employed is how your work/life distinctions blend into each other :). One rule I am trying to get better at sticking to is logging off 1 hour before bedtime which has been said to help aid in more restful sleep. That being said I'm doing this comment at midnight after a long workday, so it's a work in progress :)"

Ann had the opportunity to disconnect for three weeks. Wow! Here are her interesting comments: "This is not a real situation, I was totally without the internet for 3 weeks, but I was on holiday with family, so it doesn't really count. On the first week, I was craving for the computer. on the 2nd and 3rd, I didn't feel deprived." Ann posted our banner in ABC letter S: sportsman, Snakes and snake catcher which includes some incredible pictures of a snake.

Any guesses on how Argentum Vulgaris did this week? Here's a hint ... he says "This one is terrible." Read Change the World Wednesday – 22nd May where he talks about politicians, coffee, a new coffee table, Eco-friendly light bulbs and ... oh yeah ... this week's challenge.

Charlie accepted and shares this: " Sounds like some of us, including my bunch, will have troubles with this one. We work or take online classes from home BUT we will still accept the challenge because it will give us an incentive to shut down a LOT sooner than we normally would. That's one of the problems of working from home. It's always there. Because my husband has to be on call 24/7 he definitely has to be connected to his hand-held but he can at least shut down computer. If I had it my way I'd much rather take on the warrior challenge but I think this family would then need to go on vacation. HONEY!!! ;)"

Clare shared this: "Well, most of my businesses are online, so I can't disconnect. However, this challenge has made me more conscious of my usage. I'm fairly good about only checking my mail occasionally (instead of continuously) (because it's a time-waster), and now I'm even more aware. Social media stuff is once per day max and it's nearly all business. I do do quite a bit of research on various topics, about 20% personal, and I'd be lost without Google - well, less informed anyway! My blogs are hosted on the cloud, as is my email, but all my other storage is local. I'm probably not as "connected" as many others, but I can definitely improve -as with everything!"

CelloMom made a valiant effort but, in her final analysis, says: "Epic fail. I live on the internet a lot. My recipes. My doctors' phone numbers. Planning a holiday. Skyping with my brother. And so on. Not to mention the blog. We usually have an internet-free day on Sundays, and so far have done well with that. But this Sunday of all Sundays, I was on a bit for a trivial thing, and noticed that one of my posts had been picked up by a facebook page - and that was the end of that, I got sucked in. Fail for the week. Plan to do better next Sunday: we do enjoy the internet-free house."

From last week's challenge on Plastic, we have these comments:

From Lady JC: "Thank you both so much for the tips! I will definitely try these out, especially bringing my own container to shop in bulk. CelloMom, hopefully there will be more markets like yours in my area soon. As of now my store offers grains, cereals, flours, produce and nuts in bulk. I'd like to see even more items so I'll make the suggestion. :) "

From Clare: "Warrior is difficult! Grasshopper easy. Although I don't buy convenience food, there's plenty of fresh food that comes in plastic. We don't have the bulk options that many of you in the US and Europe have. But, I've been enjoying this challenge, it's made me even more conscious than normal of my plastic use. I've written several articles in the past on plastic:
Why fossil fuel demand won't end
Tips on reducing plastic use on a day-to-day basis, as well as an interesting point about British supermarkets
and read about Death by Plastic
Oh, and as a PS if you're considering swapping from plastic bags to paper bags, consider this:
And if you need a break from the worry of plastic, watch this fun short video
OK, I'm finished now! Thanks for another great challenge - this one will be ongoing! "

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @givetreegifts
- For computer use, I guess I'm a level 2 (advanced Greenie) but not level 3 because I have an online business so I can't disconnect
- My computer & monitor are only on when in use. I turn off my monitor & use sleep mode regularly.
- Believe it or not, I have also done a cyber-free vacation. I believe it was 5 days without computer use.

From @anitaadamsnc
- It's a good challenge & one anyone can do :)...more to be said...

From @sewbeastly
- TY! I'm taking the Level 1 challenge,@smallftprints. Also, check out my #DIY over here tshirts into rug:

From @lavishandlime
- #WastelessWednesay tip: Reuse 2L plastic pop bottles to make these handy ribbon dispensersâ?¦

From @gwened02
- you may not see this if you are offline. I'm on hols this week I think it's the perfect time for my phone to be just a phone!
- small disclaimer: need to check emails once a day for business! X

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 @anktangle @beatepdx
@bestrawesome @biggreenpen @bstoneblog
@changes4charlie @clean_bytes @clubcontent
@counselorholley @dusdifissette @earthyurban
@eco_novice @ecoexpert1 @ecopro_co
@events4bloggers @frederickbrooke @ginavalley
@givetreegifts @greeneral @groovygreenlivi
@gwened02 @imagebrite @ithoughtiknewma
@jadekerrion @jaemacjustsayin @julialittlebit
@laalicia @ladyjcmuses @lavishandlime
@lorcadamon @marjoriemcatee @mcmillendc
@momgamerwriter @mommacuisine @nolafusion
@oneadayart @pleatedpiper @rckweddings
@realityarts @rulesofgreen @sewbeastly
@soulfullab @spilldmilkshake @squishablebaby
@startanewleaf @tammycurry @thefadderly
@theworld4realz @tiffanywashko @timsimms
@treesgroup @turningclockbac @twicecreations
@whopaysthepiper @whywelovegreen @zenfarmz

My Final Thoughts:

Everything has an environmental cost. While we try to choose the least harmful path, we must always remember that even the best choice can be improved upon. If we each make that commitment and effort, the earth will smile.

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:

How about widening the CTWW reach this week? Here you go ...

This week challenge others to reduce water. You might write a post, asking your readers to take shorter showers or to wash full loads of laundry. Perhaps you ask your Facebook or Twitter followers to let their lawns go dry for a week. This will be your challenge ... you may make it as broad or specific as you wish and on any platform that suits you. The goal is to expand our circle and get more people reducing water use.

OR ...

If you'd rather not challenge others, then please find additional ways to conserve water in your household.

What do you think? Are you up for this one?

Our banner has been updated! If you have it on your blog, please update the code with the following. If you don't have it on your blog and want an easy way to keep up with our challenges, just copy the code and paste it into your site.

Change The World Wednesday on Reduce Footprints

As always ...


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Growing Food - A Different Take

Our last survey asked "Which green-living practice has been the toughest for you?" The results show that growing food ranks as the hardest activity:

Toughest Green Living Activity Survey Results

The "other" category, which tied for first place, included these comments:
  • Buying eco friendly furniture!
  • I don't have the space to grow my own food but I do support my farmers market each weekend! :)
  • Purchasing goods that are local and affordable (clothing for example)- I compromise by purchasing a lot from goodwill, but the new's hard to stomach purchasing a $150.00 dress (that is yes, beautiful and locally made) when you are on a tight budget.
  • Finding useful means of reusing "throwaway" materials That package items I buy, so that less is wasted, and less "needs" to be purchased.
  • While I only shop once or twice a year, I admit when I do it's usually just for basics at Old Navy or the Gap Outlet. So mine would be, shopping for gently used clothes instead.

There are many benefits to having a garden and growing one's own food. Even a small garden can supplement our diets. Fresh, organic vegetables are healthy, flavorful and reduce the strain on our planet.

Here's an idea which might surprise you ... growing food helps us reduce food waste. Why? Because while most people think nothing about tossing out molded fruits & veggies which were purchased at the market, we wouldn't consider tossing out a vegetable which we nurtured and watched grow.

Benefits aside, the obstacles to gardening make it impossible for some to take advantage of home-grown fruits and veggies.

Would you consider it a privilege to have a garden?

I read an interesting article about food insecurity which suggested that having a garden isn't simple for everyone, especially poor people. The author pointed out that people living beneath the poverty line barely have enough money to feed themselves let alone buy seeds. And what about space ... lower income families often live in multifamily housing without amenities like patios, yards or green spaces. If a landlord places little value on growing food then any request for garden space is denied. Community gardens often charge for a plot ... water costs extra ... and dealing with pests, even in a natural way, can cost money.

Other obstacles include time, storage (for the harvest and for gardening equipment), a person's physical limitations and knowledge.

I feel privileged to have a garden. I am aware that some cannot and that I am lucky to have the means to pay for seeds, plants, water, etc.

Perhaps the true green living activity isn't about growing food but rather finding ways to ensure that everyone has access to fresh, local produce. Maybe we share our harvest with others or volunteer to help start a garden or simply teach someone how to grow tomatoes. Maybe we donate our time at a community garden or purchase space for those who can't afford it. We can support edible gardens in our area ... places where everyone can harvest food for their table. We can share seeds, knowledge and even land.

Is there someone in your neighborhood who would like to grow food? How will you help remove their obstacles?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Changes to Reduce Footprints

As some of you know, Google is soon to unveil a new system for rating the value of a blog. It has come to my attention that some of the ways that I use to promote others is actually going to hurt them in the new ranking protocol. We all work so hard on our blogs ... it's a shame to be penalized for something like having your link shared on other sites.

So, I'm discontinuing the Meet & Greet Monday feature. I haven't been able to determine if having your blog's address in that "linky" lowers your rank per Google but I don't want to take chances. If you have a link to Meet & Greet on your site, please remove it.

I've also removed my blog roll for the same reasons.

Newer Change The World Wednesday (CTWW) posts have a "no follow" clause in each link. Older posts have been deleted. If you have a CTWW banner on your page, please add a "no follow" clause to the link or remove it (to change the code simply copy the updated code from the CTWW page).

Hopefully these actions will protect your rating ... and mine.

If you have any concerns or suggestions please contact me.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Review - Celadon Road Sunscreen

I like being outdoors. I like fresh air, hiking, walking and exploring nature. Sunburn ... not so much! Discomfort aside, sunburns are dangerous and can cause cancer.

My skin is sensitive! When outdoors, I burn within minutes. Covering up and sticking to shaded areas helps but it doesn't always fit in with my activities. So, I use sunscreen ... always.

Choosing an effective sunscreen (without harmful ingredients) which moisturizes, stays on when swimming or sweating, and doesn't harm the earth is tricky business.

Amanda Arkans, from Celadon Road, invited me to try 20 SPF Sunscreen. It contains 25% Zinc Oxide which provides broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection. It is important to always choose a sunscreen which addresses both kinds of rays. UVA causes deep skin damage (sun spots, leathery skin and wrinkles). UVB rays are linked to cancer.

In addition to Zinc Oxide, Celadon Road Sunscreen contains spring water, organic extra virgin olive oil, vegetable glycerin, organic shea butter, vegetable emulsifying wax NF and vegetable vitamin E.

Let's talk about how it works and feels.

I "test drove" the lotion by applying it to my face. To ensure a good test, I left my neck bare. We spent about 2 hours in the mid-day sun. The lotion feels great, more like a moisturizer than a sunscreen. It protects well ... my face remained burn-free ... not even a hint of pink. What about my "control" test subject (i.e. my neck)? It turned red.

The drawback to this product is that Zinc Oxide is white ... very white ... which isn't, in my opinion, desirable on one's face. The good news is that Celadon Road offers a tinted version, which I will choose next time.

Vanity aside, this product works and works well. It protects the skin without toxic chemicals and is Eco-friendly.

If you'd like to try it, you can purchase it through Amanda's site:

safe sunscreen

Looking for a business opportunity? If you join Amanda's team as a qualified consultant before June 30th and mention that you heard about Celadon Road from Reduce Footprints, you will receive a FREE sunscreen as a thank you.

I received Celadon Road 20 SPF Sunscreen 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 product reviewed.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shutting Down

In support of this week's Change The World Wednesday challenge, I'm disconnecting from all Internet activity today. 

I'll be back on Friday, May 24th.

How about joining me?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Computer Use

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:

How did you do on last week's challenge? Achieving "Green Grasshopper" status seemed easy enough ... when we remembered to bring reusable bags to the market. Rising to the "Green Warrior" level proved tougher ... people wondered how to deal with trash bins. And "Green Ninja" ... well ... it remains an elusive goal for most (myself included). Plastic shows up everywhere, from small strips used to attach tags on clothing to "windows" on otherwise acceptable food packaging to major components in TVs, computers and even cars. So this challenge was, in part, about awareness ... which is always the first step to making a change.

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.

EcoGrrl's excellent comment pointed out the difficulties in eliminating plastic: "Fortunately they banned plastic bags at grocers in Portland last year - I just wish they'd ban them in regular retailers! Readers might not realize that deli/meat paper and all frozen food packaging are lined with plastic, then there's all the lids, even on many of the glass bottles. Yesterday the mailman left plastic bags in every single person's mailbox to collect canned foods - oy! As for me, I've never bought garbage can liners/bags - I only create about 1 1/2 bags a month of garbage so there's usually a paper bag (or like above, a plastic bag) around. I honestly don't think #3 is possible in today's society and impossible for this because we are all on computers which have plastic components, keys, etc. :) The main thing is to keep continually reducing your consumption, both of plastics and packaging. Since Asia is no longer accepting our non-curbside rigid plastic, we all have to focus hugely on decreasing this initial consumption even more!"

Ann says that she made a purchase from Target in Australia and that they use biodegradable bags. She plans to share more on the subject in a future post. You can find our CTWW banner in Our world, outdoor wed, save the world: Ibises, a nice article about a beautiful bird.

Lisa wrote The Danger of Plastic where she speaks about how she dealt with forgetting to bring her reusable bags to the store. Yay for helping hands! That post also includes great information on how to reuse the bags which sneak into a home ... hair treatment? Oh yeah! Lisa also wrote Happiness is________Leaving those Shoes at the Door ... check it out!

Argentum Vulgaris created a new level ... The Green Worm (oh no). In Change the World Wednesday – 15th May read about why markets double bag groceries and why he can't avoid them.

A Grasshopper aiming for Green Warrior status, Lady JC says "Avoiding plastic altogether is a biggie, considering grocery stores and even the more natural markets are still not fully setup to offer products in bulk. Years ago there was a little organic shop in my neighborhood that had big pumps of personal care products and you would just bring in your current containers and refill them. I'd love to see more of that. Even stores that have food bulk bins like my coop are finding difficulties offering easy alternatives to plastic bags for 'refills'. Ideally it would be nice for shops to have designated containers that are already weighed and deducted on their scales so then you wouldn't pay for the weight of the container when you refill. Does anyone have a shop like that in their area? Would love to hear ideas on that. As for my grasshopperishness, I always carry my own fabric totes and I've been using handy washable mesh bags when I purchase veggies and fruits. For food storage at home I only use glass containers and jars." CelloMom replied with this COMMENT and my thoughts can be found HERE. Any other thoughts or ideas?

What do you freeze food in ... zippered bags? Jen offers a post entitled Stop Freezing Your Food in Plastic which debunks some common myths and offers great tips. Did you know you can put glass containers in the freezer?

Alicia accepted the challenge. I found her comment interesting because it hints at the idea that making products at home, like liquid cleaners, eliminates the need for commercial packaging. Check it out: "Great challenge! I use reusable bags for groceries that I made from recycled materials. They work great and fold up for easy storage. We use our personal care products that we make and that are packaged in recycled plastic jars. It is very easy to make thin produce bags out of lightweight cotton muslin fabric. They fold easily and can be tucked inside your reusable bags. We don't buy processed food so that eliminates the plastic that usually comes along with them. We recycle almost all of our garbage and compost all of the " wet food garbage". I am embarrassed to say though that we still use trash bags on occasion but am happy to say that since we do so much recycling we don't have to use many of them. I have got to find a good alternative to them though. Really good challenge since there is so much that is packaged in plastic! I just did a post on making your own enzyme cleaner and by the way it works amazingly well!! It is a great way to use your scrap citrus peels and have an awesome chemical toxin free cleaner that has so many uses. You can even use it as a fruit and veggie wash."

Nicole joined us and says "I'm still hovering at grasshopper level with this challenge. I love my reusable grocery bags and have finally quit using plastic produce bags too...realized there is no reason whatsoever to put my veggies and fruits in a bag just to ride around the grocery store. I know they make reusable produce bags, but keeping them clean and bacteria free would be a hassle. Call me lazy! :) What are some alternatives to plastic trash can liners? If we used paper to line our garbage can, it would be a mess because people would put wet/liquids in it." Anyone have ideas for trash bin liners? Click HERE for my suggestions.

Let's imagine for a moment that we've mastered the bag issue. But then, guests enter our home and bring with them ... yep ... plastic bags! In Change the world Wednesday, plastic bags Lois discusses this problem and how she reuses the left-behind plastic.

Phuong Thao Ðoàn joined us ... so nice to see you, Jainie! She shares this: "I have been in level 1 for 3 years :). But it's not easy to find another way to carry some food. :P "

Tammy Curry included CTWW and one of your articles in this edition of Sustainable Education Initiative. Did you write the post?

Welcome to Miki Hope who says "For some strange unknown reason they have stopped using paper bags at grocery stores near me!! Guess I'll just have to buy 5 or 6 of the reusable ones!!"

Welcome to Phillip Stringer, owner of a brand new blog entitled College Go Green. His mission: "to share great ideas with eco-conscious college students looking to save money and save the planet". Brilliant! Phillip wrote Have a Plastic Bottle? Build a Green Project You Can Be Proud Of. Take a peek!

In 2011 Cat posted Fantastic without Plastic (bags) ... a terrific song with an important message.

CelloMom aspires to warrior level, but says "It's tough. I love Trader Joe's for its affordable "clean" foods, but they do love their plastic packaging.... I do find that getting less plastic in the house automatically reduces our overall garbage level. Beware of bioplastic: they are derived from plant oils, but are just as long-lived as petroleum plastics. And we found that "biodegradable" plastic doesn't always live up to its promise. My go-to resource for plastic-free living: by Beth Terry. Tips, resources, and inspiration!"

Welcome to Sara who says "Grasshopper level in Portland is easy when plastic bags are outlawed in grocery stores. Not using them for trash bins is tough though! Warrior level is my ambition!" By the way, check out Sara's blog which discusses flow meters ... interesting stuff!

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @givetreegifts
- Yikes! We're not at level 3 which means zero plastics in the home. I would say we're level 2 & recycle
- Yes. Things like our air purifier, has a plastic casing and we wouldn't be without it.

From @counselorholley
- #1 - I always do. Reusable grocery bags in car! The rest I'll work on.

From @dusdifissette
- #CTWW 2 Go Putting cloth napkins & hankys in purse!
- Using a super cute reusable bag -it compacts in my purse. What's a good way 2 dispose of trash besides reusing plastic bags?

From @gwened02
- no Plastic at all that is a challenge. No bags is quite easy so I'll try for level 2!

From @rulesofgreen
- The Beauty of Picking up Plastic :: My Plastic-free Life… via @PlasticfreeBeth

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
@ambervalleyinfo @anitaadamsnc @anktangle
@beatepdx @bestrawesome @biggreenpen
@blogomomma @bstoneblog @cereusart
@changes4charlie @clean_bytes @cleansediva
@clubcontent @cluelessbutdumb @commplacegr
@counselorholley @craigruark @crazedkitchen
@cupidzclozet @dominiquegoh @dusdifissette
@earthyurban @ecoexpert1 @events4bloggers
@ginavalley @givetreegifts @groovygreenlivi
@gwened02 @intricateknot1 @ithoughtiknewma
@jadekerrion @laalicia @lady_bren
@ladyjcmuses @lavishandlime @lorcadamon
@margaretteramse @marjoriemcatee @mcmillendc
@mehmkecharlotte @mom2tle @momgamerwriter
@mommyladyclub @mrsgreensworld @nolafusion
@oneadayart @phebeohyes @rckweddings
@realityarts @rulesofgreen @sewbeastly
@skipbang @sky_islands @squishablebaby
@startanewleaf @tammycurry @theworld4realz
@tiffanywashko @treehugga @treesgroup
@tristinandtyler @twicecreations @wencdj
@whopaysthepiper @whywelovegreen @zenfarmz

My Final Thoughts:

Do you ever feel as though plastic overwhelmed the world when we were looking the other way? It spread across the earth and seems to touch everything. While eliminating it appears impossible, at least for the present time, we can still make a difference by refusing it whenever we can. Consider this ... mass production of plastic began in the 1940s & 50s. That means that people lived without the stuff before then. That also means that we can live without it now. By using our power to choose, we can send a message that we don't want plastic or it's toxic properties polluting the earth. Say NO to plastic.

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 learned, today, that a popular photo-hosting site offers users one terabyte of storage space ... each. In another article, I read that Apple's new $1 billion dollar data center in North Carolina can't support it’s cloud division so they have their eye on 160-acres of Oregon land to build a facility. Amazon has data centers ... so does every web-hosting company. When we use our computers, we add to the already high energy drain generated by those facilities. Seems like a challenge to me! Here you go ...

Level 1 (The Green Novice) - This week, for at least one full day, disconnect from the Internet except as needed for work (this includes hand-held devices).

OR ...
Level 2 (The Advanced Greenie) - Disconnect from the Internet, except for work, for the entire week.

OR ...
Level 3 (The Green Expert) - Disconnect from the Internet for the entire week.

OR ...
Go Retro - Disconnect from the Internet and turn off computers and hand-held gadgets for the entire week.

Can you do this? I know that you can!

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

As always ...


Friday, May 17, 2013

Review - Chi Bar

Do you ever crave something sweet but avoid sugary, unhealthy candy bars? Like me, you might browse the granola or energy bar selections thinking that they contain nutritious ingredients ... and then feel disappointed seeing things like hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup on the label. The few wholesome bars on the shelves often lack flavor or a pleasant texture ... I tried a sample which made me think of sawdust.

organic chi bar
The kind folks at Chi Foods invited me to try Chi Bars.

Before agreeing, I visited their site to learn about the product. Words like USDA Organic, Non-GMO, and Gluten Free peaked my interest. A good product offers clients full disclosure ... a complete ingredient list ... it shows that they stand behind their product and hide nothing. Chi Bar descriptions include all nutritional information. They contain Omega 3, potassium, amino acids, complex carbs and antioxidants. Each bar includes organic super-foods like Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, Fig Paste, Agave Nectar, Banana chips, Goji Berries, and more. Wow!

But do they taste like good?

non-gmo vegan energy bar

Chi Bars come in four delicious flavors ... Berry Berry, Cacao Cherry, Mango Ginger and Papaya Pineapple. Imagine taking the soft center of a fig bar and combining it with mixed raw nuts ... yummy, right? That was my first impression. They are a delightful combination of chewy fruits and crunchy nuts.

Did they satisfy?

Absolutely! With 4g of dietary fiber and 6g of protein, they fill one up and provide lasting energy.

The bars come packaged in recyclable printed foil. The downside is that they are single-serving packages. But green living requires balance. In my opinion, they work well as a treat or for those times when we want to carry something small (when hiking, in one's purse for a healthy snack on the go, at the beach, etc.).

Got a craving? Try out Chi Bars, a healthy treat!


I received a sample box of Chi Bars 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 product reviewed.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Plastic

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)! 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 left our shoes at the door ... a simple practice but one which reduces toxins in homes. As we wander through the day, we walk across many surfaces which may contain pollutants. Things like pesticides and lead transfer to shoes and then we track them inside. As we move from room to room, they rise up into the air we breathe. Leaving shoes at the door ensures safer homes.

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.

Cat found this challenge easy and says, "In Finland and Sweden it is tradition to always take off shoes when going indoors (perhaps as so much of our months are wet and muddy and snowy so this way it is easier to keep things clean). We have had the first summer days now though and I am going not only shoeless but barefoot :) "

EcoGrrl brought us up-to-date on the last two challenges: "I think something that's important to remember is that fifty years ago, we spent half our income on food, and these days it's less than 15% because we are choosing processed foods and putting other things like cable tv and internet and gasoline above what we put in our bodies...for me I know my expenditure is less because I grow a lot of my own food and buy in bulk so I wouldn't be able to track the costs, but either way it doesn't bother me to spend money on food or health because without either i have nothing... :) ... about this week! for the most part i already do this...mostly because i hate wearing shoes around the house (i adore being barefoot!). last year i bought a woven basket to put by the front door where i keep my flipflop type shoes, the ones you just want to put on to go out to the garage or recycle bin, and it's been a great and easy help to do this! next challenge? insist others do the same :)"

CelloMom completed this task: "We've been shoe-free even before our mudbunnies, I mean our children, where born. It fit right in with our laziness: it's so much easier to keep the house clean if you leave your shoes at the door."

In Change the World Wednesday – 8th May Argentum Vulgaris (AV) goes barefoot and offers another way to eliminate indoor toxins. Want a hint? It decorates a room, benefits psychological and physical health, and can be found throughout the world. Can you guess its name? Visit AV for the answer.

I admire Lisa who set aside her personal preference for the planet. She shares, "Ummm, I don't like my toes. So, I would rather not let my toes go free. I guess they have to see the light of day sometime - so - I'm ready to take my shoes off at the door!" From last week's activity, she wrote Poverty in the US – A Follow Fundraiser ... check it out!

Lois gives us an update on several challenges in a post entitled Change the world Wednesday, update time. Does she wear shoes indoors? Which grain will she eliminate to reduce her water footprint? What happened when she posted a "call to action" on her community bulletin board? And finally, what does a mosquito have to do with green living? Bet that peaks your interest, right?

Sometimes, for health reasons, people must wear shoes. Charlie offers a solution and another reason to accept this challenge: "This is something that we have always done and it's easy too. I have back and feet issues so I keep a pair of shoes never to be worn outside in my entry way to change into while the others prefer to go without. It's so important and so easy! Need another reason why? My husband had a friend that worked in lawn care. Each day he came home and left his clothes and shoes in the laundry room to be washed. After years of his wife doing his laundry she got cancer and was told she got it from the chemcals on his clothing. Sure, he removed his shoes, even removed his clothes but never did anyone think about the laundry." Speaking of toxins, Charlie wrote about a campaign asking Glade to disclose the actual components included in the ingredient labelled "Fragrance", an unregulated word which can mean just about anything. Find out more and how you can help HERE.

Alicia shared this: "I did a post on this very topic this past year. As I was doing my research I was amazed to find out that we bring so many pollutants into to our homes on the bottoms of our shoes! Such an easy but very important challenge." Would love to read that post, Alicia, if it's still available.

Clare accepted the challenge and shares, "I was brought up with shoes in the house, but since moving to this little tropical island I've changed (it's the norm here). I'm the first to admit though that it's much easier to do in a hot climate when you only wear flip-flops or sandals! The challenge got me thinking about how to "convert" your family (if necessary) and also visitors - you want to keep your friends after all! So here's my post: No Shoes in the House. (P.S. Great relief - this is a much easier challenge for me this week! Update on last week's $1.50 challenge: I went into a shop which sells frozen food - they had frozen lasagne for example (convenience food) and I looked at the price and was horrified at how low it was - imported and transported all the way from France and cheaper then proper fresh food here. There's something radically wrong with that! I'm sure you all knew that, but I've never looked before!"

In Sustainable Education Initiative Tammy Curry includes CTWW. She also includes an interesting article on whales and the peril they are facing due to the U.S. Navy's plans for testing and training exercises with sonar and explosives. Head over and take a look!

Petunia GreenBeans mentions CTWW in Tweets for Good. Other headlines include You're an Urban Planner Too: Design a More Walkable City with this Tool, Make Sure You're Using Safe Lip Gloss, Shaving Cream, and Other Personal Care Products and Peru bans GMOs: Will America take the hint and follow suit before it's too late?.

Mrs. Green says, "I love this challenge - short, sweet but oh so important! I've shared some recipes for homemade carpet cleaning products for those who want to freshen up without the chemicals :) ". You can find that information by reading Take off your shoes!

Lady JC accepted the challenge. She says, " Ahh yes... the shoeless entry. We've been practicing that for about 8 years now. It makes a huge difference in terms of keeping the house clean, and living in a big city is even more of an incentive to do it. After my last move I even took things up a notch and found a trunk to put all the shoes in the entryway, so it keeps things neat and our footwear lives in the hall now so it never comes in. We just use our house shoes or flip-flops indoors and those never go outside. It works quite well. My next step is to have some simple slilppers for guests. I think that will be a nice touch. Most people are pretty used to it in the city now and they actually ask if they should take their shoes off when they arrive. :) "

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @pinkladyapril
- I've taken off my shoes as soon as I get in for as long as I can remember. DD is so used to it she does it everywhere

From @givetreegifts
- Leave Your Shoes at the Door for Cleaner Home Leave dirt, bacteria & toxic residue via @the_daily_green
- This week's challenge is easy peasy for us. We always leave our shoes in the porch. We even clean the dog's feet before she comes in

From @coeconutlipbalm
- #CTWW (Change the world Wednesday) We're trying to change the world by donating to multiple green charities!

From @bylittlenea
- That's how we roll in Sweden :)
- No shoes indoors in our homes here in Sweden. Might have something to do with the swedish weather ;)

From @laalicia
- Earth Day Event Fun in Fort Worth

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:

@a_kiasi @beatepdx @beckymcneer
@bylittlenea @changes4charlie @cluelessbutdumb
@coeconutlipbalm @counselorholley @crazykids6
@dominiquegoh @dusdifissette @earthyurban
@ecoexpert1 @events4bloggers @familyfocusblog
@flexnib @frederickbrooke @gatherwell
@ginavalley @givetreegifts @greenchildmag
@groovygreenlivi @intricateknot1 @ithoughtiknewma
@jadekerrion @jnjgogreen @laalicia
@ladyjcmuses @lavishandlime @lifelovemusic1
@littlegreenblog @lorcadamon @lyssaann42
@margaretteramse @marjoriemcatee @markcoruk
@mcmillendc @mom2tle @momgamerwriter
@motherhoodlooms @pinkladyapril @plus2point4
@rckweddings @rulesofgreen @ruralmoms
@skipbang @squishablebaby @startanewleaf
@theworld4realz @thisisourearth @timsimms
@treesgroup @tristinandtyler @turningclockbac
@twicecreations @wencdj @whopaysthepiper
@whywelovegreen @zenfarmz

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:

Let's jump right back into a tough one! Here you go ...

Level 1 (The Green Grasshopper) - Eliminate plastic bags. Refuse them at the store and opt for reusable bags instead.

OR ...
Level 2 (The Green Warrior) - Refuse plastic bags at the market, find alternates for lining trash bins and refuse any food packaged in plastic.

OR ...
Level 3 (The Green Ninja, Amazing Eco-Superstar and Environmental Hero) - Refuse to bring ANY plastic into your home ... no bags, no packaging, no plastic personal care items, no plastic furnishings, tools, etc. The exception will be items purchased for health (e.g. medicines).

“For all things difficult to acquire, the intelligent man works with perseverance.” ... Lao Tzu, taoist philosopher

May perseverance be with you!

Until next time ...


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Guest Post - Rewarding Teachers That Deserve it

As parents and their communities consider the available educational options for American children, questions arise. Many different alternative modes of education are presented by various individuals and groups who often promote a specific philosophy or agenda. One thing that all sides agree upon is that the individual who presents the educational material, be it a parent, a formal educator or another person, will have a great impact on the students' learning career.

Guiding children and preparing them to take their place in society, whether that involves pursuing further studies after high school or joining the work force, is probably the most important element of the educational system. Many observers however, both professional educators and community members, are frustrated by the high attrition rate among highly effective teachers.

There are a number of reasons that teachers choose to leave the teaching profession. Low wages, lack of administrative support, disputes with parents and a challenging student population are all reasons that may push a teacher to pursue a different career. Yet retaining qualified and successful educators is the core of the school system and plays a major role in ensuring that America's students will be ready to move on to thrive in their personal, educational and work lives after they graduate from high school.

Recognizing this reality, the Milken Family Foundation (MFF) presents yearly awards to superior teachers, the "unsung heroes" of America's educational system who, through their work, vision and creativity are able to inspire their students and prepare them for their future integration into American society, whether that involves further studies or joining the workforce. Lowell Milken who created these awards believes that America must recognize its outstanding educators if it hopes to enthuse these teachers, and others like them, to remain in the classroom.

MFF created the Milken Educator Award (MEA) with the goal of inspiring excellence in the field of education. The Award is granted to multiple K-12 educators annually. Recipients are generally mid-career-level educators who have demonstrated creative teaching techniques that produce concrete results in the form of high achievement testing results.

The MEA is more than a pat on the back -- many of the award recipients receive a cash prize of $25,000 which they can then use at their discretion to promote their educational goals.

The award sends a message to students, families and society that good educators are valued.

Friday, May 10, 2013

What's tough about green living?

green living

Some green-living practices are easy ... and some are difficult.

I thought it might be fun to do a poll about what we consider challenging.

As always, feel free to elaborate on your answer in the comments section below.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)

Welcome to Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)! 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 a lot of 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 tried to live on $1.50 per person per day for food. What an "eye-opener". I somehow thought that processed options were cheaper ... time and time again I've heard people comment on high-priced whole foods, saying that a box of "helper" fed more people for less than a meal of lean meats and fresh vegetables. That bothered me because I believed manufacturers were sabotaging consumer health by making "junk" more affordable than nutrition. It turns out that if we look at just one meal, then convenience foods may cost less. But whole foods tend to stretch further and, when factored over several meals, become the better choice. As expected, eating away from home derailed the budget ... as did waste. I learned a lot and finished the week feeling confident that whole foods, even organic varieties, fit into a frugal lifestyle.

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.

In Change the World Wednesday – 1st May Argentum Vulgaris talks about areas where hunger and poverty are the "norm". He also shares how traveling could raise our awareness to living conditions faced by many people of the world.

Alicia accepted the challenge and shared this, "There are three of us so that would add up to $4.50 per day. I had made our own pasta sauce from tomatoes and herbs from our garden and I bought a bag of organic penne pasta from Trader Joes for $1.50. I can get a bag of mixed salad greens for $2.00 and I have everything I need to make a loaf of homemade bread. That is a total of $3.50 Yea!! We always make such an effort to use our leftovers as well.We are blessed to be able to fill our freezer each year with veggies from our garden. Many days it is like getting to go shopping right out of our freezer. I buy a lot of fruit, seeds and nuts which are kind of pricy though. So it seems I would actually be going over the $4.50 a day most days. This is really a good thought provoking challenge. Thanks!

Scarlet says, "Wow. What a challenge! I really don't think so. At least not till my garden kicks in!"

Elisa (EC) dropped by ... nice to see you, EC!

I sensed hesitation from Lisa. :-) In her words, "Whoa! How do you do that? Eat Beefaroni everyday? Sheesh. HUM? Hard. Hum?"

Welcome to Marjorie who joined us this week. She shares, "I'm reading this book on the Great Famine in Ireland, my take away so far is that you could live on basically nothing but potatoes and be pretty healthy."

Clare struggled this week ... "Aaargh, I'm really battling with this challenge! I plan my menu at the weekend for the week ahead, make a list and get everything in, so cooking a home-made meal each night is organised and there's no waste. My meal choices are made with carbon footprint in mind - but not money. I'll plan this weekend to minimise cost - lentil meals for example, which will be good in all sorts of ways. I've got a fair bit of organic fruit fresh in my garden or already frozen, so that will help, and a small amount of veggies. But on this little island a lot of stuff has to be imported because there's not much space to grow things, so some things are surprisingly expensive. Eeek, I spend way more than $1.50 just on additional fresh fruit and veggies for me, let alone main meals! Oh this is going to be a very interesting week! Thanks for a most challenging challenge!"

Later in the week Clare dropped by with an update: "... even my famous lentil curry, which is SO cheap to make and so yummy, comes in at more than $1.50 pp for one meal - perhaps food is relatively expensive here where I live, judging by what I see in other comments. I am astonished at the prices I see - Alicia with a bag of pasta at $1.50 (and organic too) while I pay double that for a much smaller bag! Even supplementing from my own garden I can't make this work, but I've certainly made an interesting menu plan for this week! And I'm a lot more mindful of costs now - so even though theoretically it's a "fail" it's a 'win' for awareness. Thanks for a great challenge!"

CelloMom opted out this week. She says, "Alas! much as I like to participate, I can't for this week. We're nearly vegetarian, so that would make it easier to get closer to The Line, but our gluten-free deal makes it much harder. And what actually does it, is that we've been on an in-house campaign to reduce sugar intake for our children. They have a slight addiction (our eldest still denies the addiction, a sure sign) and we've been leaning pretty hard to achieve a re-set. It may be months (oh sigh). If I switched to lentils, kale and cabbage exclusively now I may have an insurrection on my hands. Perhaps being mindful is what this challenge is about. In that way, it has certainly worked for me. I'm ready to try Small Footprint's potato soup recipe today!"

CelloMom also shared a fascinating article where families, from around the world, were photographed with a week's worth of groceries, ranging from £3.20 to £320. She found the article via Leigh at Green4u Blog. You can read it here: The great global food gap. I think you'll find it surprising!

By the way, CelloMom has been nominated as one of the Top 25 Eco-Friendly Moms at Circle of Moms. WhooHoo and Congratulations! Let's show her a little voting "love" ... cast your ballet HERE. You can also vote for other moms on the list.

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @givetreegifts
- Ahem... A properly balanced diet that includes fiber will help to reduce the amount of toilet paper you need. Awkward subject but true
- Which is greener: Toilet paper or a bidet? | MNN - Mother Nature Network
- Life After Money: Use less toilet paper
- [HD] How to fold and use toilet paper correctly - YouTube

From @commplacegr
- What are you doing to build your community?

From @startanewleaf
- wow what a challenge! Really makes you think. It's going to be hard but I'm going to try!

From @earthyurban
- Developing a sense of universal responsibility helps us to become sensitive to all others, not just those closest to us.

From @ecoexpert1
- the #CTWW chalenge #LiveBelowThePovertyLine is indeed difficult - I'm battling to stick to it. But I'm trying!
- Really tough challenge on #CTWW this week - eat for $1,50 per person per day. Yikes! Re-think of week's menu in progress!

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

@89linz @a_kiasi @anitaadamsnc
@beatepdx @beckymcneer @biculturalmama
@biggreenpen @changes4charlie @commplacegr
@counselorholley @crazedkitchen @crazykids6
@currenttimeww @dusdifissette @earthyurban
@ecoexpert1 @eddiegear @flexnib
@frederickbrooke @gatherwell @ginavalley
@givetreegifts @greenchildmag @greeneral
@groovygreenlivi @healthyhomemag @intricateknot1
@ithoughtiknewma @jnaquins @kathleenotmm
@laalicia @ladyjcmuses @lavishandlime
@lifelovemusic1 @lorcadamon @mamasmoney
@marjoriemcatee @markcoruk @mcmillendc
@mom2tle @motherhoodlooms @msmoreau_guid
@nolafusion @plus2point4 @rckweddings
@realityarts @rulesofgreen @squishablebaby
@startanewleaf @tammycurry @thefadderly
@theworld4realz @treesgroup @twicecreations
@wencdj @whopaysthepiper @zenfarmz

My Final Thoughts:

I find it difficult to summarize this challenge. On one hand, I live above the line ... and I'm grateful. On the other hand, I feel equipped to manage if my circumstances change. I believe that earth-friendly, plant-based whole foods can help alleviate world hunger. It requires cooperation, compassion and education. I also believe that global political engines can eliminate poverty ... but again, it requires cooperation, compassion and education. It begins with us ... becoming aware ... becoming educated ... and making choices which benefit ourselves, each other and the planet.

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 think we deserve an easy challenge this week. Did you know that your shoes are responsible for bringing pollutants into your home? Further, that those pollutants (E.g. pesticides and lead) can contaminate your indoor air? So let's resolve that. Here you go ...

This week, remove your shoes at the door. Simple!

Will you join me in letting our toes run free?

As always ...


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Guest Post - How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint When You Travel

Flying, driving and cruises are known for being bad for the environment but are also the most common and popular ways of travelling. Most of us want to travel at some point in our lives - whether it’s an annual two-week summer holiday, a teenage gap year, or a round-the-world trip when we retire; and it’s easy to see why - meeting new people, seeing world-famous sites, understanding and experiencing different cultures - there are numerous benefits to travelling.

But as the impacts of climate change are starting to be felt, many of us are looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint; so much so that environmental businesses are a rapidly growing industry. So is there a way of travelling that enables you to reap the benefits, but without harming the environment? Luckily, the answer is yes. If you are planning to dust off your suitcase soon and take to the open road, use these five tips to help you reduce your carbon footprint.

Sometimes there is no alternative but to travel by plane. If this is the case try and book your flight through a company that offsets your flight, or alternatively you can look into offsetting it yourself. Also there are many eco-friendly tour operators now available, so if you prefer to travel in organised groups rather than independently consider booking with one of these companies.

Once you have booked your trip make sure you research your destination thoroughly. This doesn’t just mean finding the best places to eat or the must see-sites, but instead look at finding out how to make your trip as eco-friendly as possible. For example if you are planning to drive across the USA, looking into using a car rental company that specialises in renting hybrid cars - with a bit of research you will often be amazed about the options available to you.

Once you’ve got to your destination you will want to get out and explore. Instead of relying on expensive taxis find out about the local transport there. Many cities have established subway systems and bus services that are safe, reliable and cost-effective. While some places it is better to hire a bike or to explore on foot.

If you are going to multiple destinations, you often don’t need to depend on flights as many places have ferry services and good rail links. If, for example, you are travelling across Europe the InterRail network covers most of the continent.

Be active
Hiking, cycling, sailing and kayaking are great ways to travel that also leave virtually no carbon footprints. Most destinations provide some chance to be active - cycling across the Alps or hiking in South America are just two popular options. Normally, these types of trips will provide you with the chance to improve your health, meet like-minded people, and gives you the chance to escape the stresses of modern living.

There are many eco-friendly accommodation options available for travellers. Camping is great for keeping your emissions to a minimum, just remember to take all your litter home with you. However, if camping isn’t suitable try to find an eco-friendly hotel or guest house. There has been a boom in eco-friendly accommodations over the last decade so you may be surprised about the level of choice available.

When you are travelling try and eat as much locally produced food as possible, not only is it normally cheaper, fresher and supports local farmers, but the fact that the food hasn’t travelled far reduces its carbon footprint. To do this, if you are in self-catering accommodation or camping, try and find farmers markets and shops. If you are planning to eat out, research which restaurants use locally produced ingredients. Alternatively, eat at cafes and restaurants where the locals eat, as they will often have meals that use seasonal and locally grown foods.

Written by Derin Clark, a writer, editor and blogger.