Thursday, February 27, 2014

Do you read the list of ingredients?

Do you read the list of ingredients before purchasing?
What's our criteria for purchases?
This month's survey asked the question, "What's your very first consideration when choosing a product to buy?" Most of us factor in many things when shopping, but I was interested in the first thing we look at, the thing which determines whether we give an item a second thought or simply leave it on the market shelf.

Let's look at the results:

What's your criteria for purchases?

What's your criteria for purchases?

What's your criteria for purchases?

It turns out that we read labels and the list of ingredients is our first "filter" when choosing products. That comes before price, packaging, or locality. We want to know what's in a product.

I personally find the results exciting. There was a time when people said that they'd love to buy greener products but they were too expensive. Words like "organic", "non-toxic", etc., were associated with higher prices and were, therefore, prohibitive. Now, people see the value of safe, Eco-friendly ingredients.

Understanding the list, however, is often difficult.

To help us navigate through the maze of information, here are some tips:

  • If the list is long and involved, chances are it contains less-than-desirable items.
  • Can you pronounce the items listed? If you need an advanced degree in chemistry to figure them out, leave the product on the shelf.
  • Words such as "natural" and "fragrance" are not regulated and can mean anything.
  • "Antibacterial" typically means the product contains triclosan, a dangerous chemical which is toxic to aquatic bacteria and inhibits photosynthesis in diatom algae. It has also been shown to alter hormone regulation in animals. Look for it in foods, clothing, kitchen tools, and body care products ... and avoid it!
  • Do you read the list of ingredients?
    Ingredients matter!
  • Does a cleaning solution contain the word "organic"? Only cleaning products bearing the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Certified Organic” logo are legally bound to comply with that claim.
  • Be aware of what's NOT on the label. It is not mandatory for manufacturers to disclose contaminants. Therefore, look for words like "BPA-free" and "pesticide-free" to ensure that a contaminate is not present.
  • Here's a marketing trick to be aware of. The ingredients are organized in descending order. In other words, the highest concentrations come first. So, if all the healthy stuff is listed at the end, it is present in very small amounts and is, most likely, included to make you think the product is wholesome when it's not.
  • Watch out for healthy-sounding phrases like "sodium nitrite" and "yeast extract". They are NOT good ingredients. Sodium nitrite is associated with brain tumors and yeast extract is another name for monosodium glutamate (MSG).
  • When in doubt, check it out. Use sites like the Environmental Working Group database to check on the safety of ingredients ... or search the Internet for information.

There are many factors to consider when making a purchase. Checking the list of ingredients is one way to ensure that the products we buy are safe ... for us and the planet.

Sneak Peek: What kind of shampoo do you use? On Monday I'll tell you about the hair products that I'm using.

Some images courtesy of Ambro /

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Aerators

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 with last week's challenge on litter? I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of trash that I found. After the snow melt, we found a few pieces, but overall there was very little. Hopefully it is an indication that people care for the earth. It was a good exercise and something which I'll continue.

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 accepted our previous "Just Do It" challenge and shares this: "For me, my achilles is clothing. Even though I shop maybe once a year, I know I should buy used, but I hate the store environments of Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill, etc. - the former being the loud music and the latter being the lighting. BUT I am working on it- my wedding dress will be from a local retailer that specializes in dresses made from repurposed vintage materials :) " By the way, if you haven't heard the news, our EcoGrrl has recently gotten engaged. Congratulations and best wishes, EcoGrrl!! Since she is a true "greenie", you won't be surprised to find out that her wedding will uphold her environmental ethics. Hop over to her blog to read about how she and her fiance' will start this new chapter of their lives without harming the earth.

Lois had to pass on our challenge this week. Why? Find out in Change the World Wednesday, What melting? At the end of the her article, she makes a great observation about preventing litter. Check it out and see if you agree with her.

Special Note: Our Lois has decided to step back from the blogging world and pursue some other, Eco-friendly pursuits. While I know that we'll all miss her and her brilliant posts, I hope you'll join me in wishing her the best of luck.

What does trimming bushes and the color orange have to do with this week's challenge? Find out in Change the World Wednesday – 19th Feb where Argentum Vulgaris reveals all and gives us an update on his guava tree, eating beef, and buying fresh milk.

Cody joined us. Welcome, Cody! She says, "I pick up litter everywhere we go! But this week I think I will organize a big clean up and document it via photos and blog!" Can't wait to read all about it, Cody!

The Shopping Charity gave CTWW a headline spot this week. WhooHoo! Some of your posts were also featured ... was yours one of them?

Our friend, Randy, joined in this week. So nice to see you!! In addition to helping the environment, picking up litter has other benefits. Read about it all in Collecting Cans While Walking .

Sunflowers & Edibles mentioned CTWW and has a lot of great content. I was particularly interested in a article entitled "8 Ways Eating Tomatoes Keeps You Young".

Welcome to Maria Smith. She shares, "As part of our green cleaning efforts my kids and I have been picking up trash as we go throughout our days. One of the kids got recognized for it at school."

Katie shares an interesting take on litter in Keeping the Trash in the Trashcan [#CTWW]. At the end of the piece she talks about how she'll use this exercise to teach her son about caring for the environment. Nice, Katie!

Mary dropped in and shares this: "I love this post! I'm so happy to see people getting involved. Like The Lorax (a Dr. Seuss character) said "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better, it's not!" So true! Thanks for sharing. :-) "

Alicia accepted the challenge and shared this: "Since we have had a lot of rain these past couple of months it has caused a lot of trash to surface from the streams and creeks that are around here. We have also had really gusty winds that have caused a lot of things to get blown into our yard and around the road. We have had some warmer temps the past few days so it has been a good time to get these things picked up and sorted to go to the recycling center. It is amazing how much trash that has surfaced all around our area. Great time to get it all picked up and be ready foe Spring!!"

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @VioletsBuds
- What green-living practice do you want to adopt? I want to try to go shampoo-free
- I'm not 100% sure. I am still in the research phase, but I have started using a cider vinegar rinse #ctww

From @HerbGir1972
- Once you have the #Realization that 'Everything is Connected' It should Inspire you to live #Greener

From @GiveTreeGifts
- We pick up litter while walking the dog. We live by the highway & travelers toss fast food containers, cans, bottles, diapers etc. #CTWW
- Litter Awareness. It's a matter of respect #CTWW
- What's worse is that people toss burning cigarettes out the car window leading to dangerous grass fires!

From @CounselorHolley
- nice challenge! At work, the woods, anywhere, I pick up trash to throw away for others. Both #kindness & helpful. #CTWW

From @Lu_and_Ed
- We just started turning our heat WAY down (68, to me that is freezing) to consume less electricity and gas

From @kirschan
- Love that you're focusing on #litter this week! That's what @litterati is all about! #onepieceatatime.

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:

@1millionwomen @2kidsandacoupon @a_kiasi
@allnaturalkatie @beatepdx @bg_garden
@bstoneblog @caitlyndawney @cleansediva
@collegegogreen @counselorholley @crazedkitchen
@dieselelephants @ecofriendlyfurn @ecopromotions
@ecothrifty @etsyrecyclersgt @evelynmccpeters
@floursackmama @frederickbrooke @georgehenry47
@givetreegifts @gregorspeaks @groovygreenlivi
@guayaba @healthfulmama @hedging_plants
@herbgir1972 @jnjgogreen @kanelstrand
@kirschan @krmbalclothing @laalicia
@lady_bren @ladyjcmuses @lorcadamon
@lschreurs @marikokoloco @marjoriemcatee
@mimibarbour @mindfulmomma @museumoflitter
@mzazeela @nikidanforth @ourfavadventure
@rantravewrite @rckweddings @realityarts
@robpolka @rulesofgreen @saybumpandtweet
@sfcouncil @shannongrissom @shoppingcharity
@soulfullab @spafloating @theworld4realz
@tiffanywashko @treesgroup @violetsbuds
@walruswinks @wellminded @wencdj
@wheeliesmom @whopaysthepiper @zenfarmz

My Final Thoughts:

The trash and litter of nature disappears into the ground with the passing of each year, but man’s litter has more permanence. -- John Steinbeck

In thinking about our challenge, I realized that litter isn't just about tossing a scrap of paper onto the ground. It's about the amount of trash we generate. Once it leaves our homes, we can't know whether it finds its way to a landfill, blows out of a garbage truck, or falls to the ground as the bin is being emptied. The items we toss out can very easily become litter. In addition to picking it up and disposing of it properly, we can reduce litter by reducing the amount of trash we generate. It's all related!

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:

Conserve water for Change The World Wednesday
Clean water is becoming scarce
If you've watched the news lately, then you know that California is suffering a severe drought. A recent government report stated that every square mile of the state is in drought conditions ... the agricultural area (over 14% of the state) is in exceptional drought conditions. Simply put, California residents are threatened. But the drought reaches further since much of the United States' food supply comes from California.

Other parts of the world are also experiencing drought. Malaysia is set to implement water rationing and Brazil's coffee crops are being threatened.

More, now than ever, it is important to conserve water. Here's your challenge ...

To begin, test your water conservation knowledge by taking this QUIZ.

THEN ...

Install at least one low-flow aerator on a faucet in your home. These are relatively inexpensive from hardware stores and are easily installed (just screw them on).

OR ...

If you've already installed aerators on your faucets, choose one other way to conserve water this week. Need some ideas? Eat no meat, pork or poultry (they all require a lot of water to produce). Reduce or eliminate spending (except for true essentials). Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. Review your water bill history to determine periods of high use and make plans to reduce during those times (it's also a good tool for determining leaks). Fix leaky faucets or toilets. Consider removing some of the lawn (or all of it) and planting native shrubs, plants, trees, etc. When refreshing your pet's water, or changing the water in a fish tank, use it to feed your plants. Get creative and find a way to reduce your water footprint.

Are you up for this challenge? I know that you are!

Sneak Peek: Tomorrow I'll reveal the results of February's survey ... they might just surprise you.

Until then ...


Friday, February 21, 2014

Review - Just Mayo

On the day that we went vegan, I went through every item in my pantry, reading labels, and giving away anything which included animal products. There was an unopened jar of mayonnaise and, with just the slightest regret, I placed it into the box headed for a friend's kitchen. That was the last time that I tasted mayonnaise ...

Until now!

Sure, I tried the vegan substitutes on the market (hated them) and even made some versions, using tofu, that came close to the original. Still, they just didn't have that taste.

I was invited to try Just Mayo.

Review of "Just Mayo"

It comes in a glass jar with a simple, brown label. The list of ingredients is relatively short and each item is recognizable:

Review of "Just Mayo"

Note that the ingredients are Non-GMO and Organic (yay). They are also vegan, gluten-free, and contain nothing artificial. It is distributed by Hampton Creek Foods, Inc., from San Francisco, CA.

Review of "Just Mayo"

The product looks like Mayo, with a nice creamy consistency. But how does it taste?

It is FABULOUS and tastes just like "real" mayonnaise. It is delicious!!

Review of "Just Mayo"

I tried it on a veggie sandwich, mixed it with chick peas to create a "mock" tuna salad, put some on steamed veggies, and used it in a potato salad. We enjoyed a bit on a baked potato and even tried it as a dip for chips. I wanted to know how it would perform in a variety of uses, and it did well. It held it's consistency at room temperature and when used in a hot dish, it slowly melted leaving a beautiful shine to the food.

Curious as to how the calories stacked up against the real thing, I browsed grocery store shelves and found that, at 90 calories per tablespoon, it is comparable to the original, egg version.

If you love(d) mayonnaise, you'll love Just Mayo.

Where can you buy it? Currently, it can be found at Whole Foods markets.

If you'd like to know more about how and why this product was developed, check out this 7-minute clip of the popular program, Bizarre Foods. After watching the video, I felt that this company is not only concerned about the environment and the plight of factory-farmed animals, but is ethical. Why? Because they bring viewers into the lab and actually show how the product is made. This "nothing to hide" attitude gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling.

COMING SOON: Hampton Creek Foods will be unveiling their egg-free cookie dough in March. I got a chance to sample some of it and it is delicious both raw and baked. This summer, they will be adding a new product to their line, "Just Scramble", which can be used used in omelets, quiches, scrambles, etc. I'm sure that it, too, will be a fabulous alternative to eggs.

Connect with Hampton Creek Foods on Twitter and Facebook.

Sneak Peek: Next week's posts include Change The World Wednesday and the results of February's survey. See you then!

I received samples of Hampton Creek Foods' "Just Mayo" and "Cookie Dough" 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 products reviewed.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Vegan Recipe - “Can’t tell the difference” Quiche

I would like to introduce you to Danny and his fabulous site, The Gourmet Vegan. While living in Spain and Tenerife, he began experimenting with food, creating vegetarian essentials which he was used to getting in the UK but could no longer find. At the same time, he tried out new cooking techniques and flavor combinations. The result is a site full of diverse dishes from cultures around the world.

There's more to The Gourmet Vegan than just delicious recipes, though. For those new to plant-based cooking, the Basic Recipes section will be of interest. It is like a course, teaching techniques to make every dish a success. The Forum includes helpful discussions ... I especially liked the section on nutrition.

Danny has very graciously given me permission to share one of his recipes with you. It is delicious ... I hope you'll give it a try!

“Can’t tell the difference” Quiche


“Can’t tell the difference” Quiche
  • 1 batch Shortcrust pastry, enough to line a quiche dish. Can be home made but I used Jus-Rol
  • 300 g ( 10 oz ) cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 2 teaspoons groundnut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 medium onion, finely sliced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, sliced

For the quiche mixture

  • 1 cup ( 105 g ) chickpea flour
  • 2.5 cups ( 600 ml ) water
  • 1 vegetable stock cube ( A cube that makes 500 ml stock ~ I used Kallo )
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons ( 10 g ) nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon black salt ( Kala Namak ), this is optional but it will give more of a taste of egg if used or 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt

Other Ingredients

  • 4-5 slices of tomato for garnishing
  • Melted vegan margarine for brushing.


Note : Please read through this recipe before making the quiche to be sure the directions are followed correctly.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius ( 400 F ) Gas Mark 6.

Begin by roasting the cauliflower. Place in a bowl with 1 teaspoon of the oil and the 1/4 teaspoon salt and coat well. Place on a foiled baking tray and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until softened and slightly charred. Remove and put to one side.

Whilst the cauliflower is roasting, add the other teaspoon of oil to a frying pan and fry the onions, with a pinch of salt, for 3-4 minutes until they start to caramelise. Add the peppers and continue to cook on a low heat for 7-8 minutes until the onions are very caramelised and the peppers have softened. Put to one side.

Line an oiled quiche dish with the pastry, prick the bottom with a fork and bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and put to one side as you prepare the filling.

Now prepare the quiche filling.

In a bowl add the chickpea flour and one of the cups of water. Whisk this together well and put this to one side.

In a wide bottomed saucepan, add the final 1.5 cups of water and the stock cube, nutritional yeast, turmeric, sage and black salt (or the sea salt). Bring to the boil.

When the water comes to the boil, slowly pour in the chickpea mixture and stir continuously. Once all the mixture has been combined, lower the heat and continue to stir continuously for 2-3 minutes until the mixture becomes quite thick and glossy.

Add in the cauliflower and the vegetables and combine everything well. This will be a very solid mixture.

Pour into the prepared pastry case, leveling with a spatula, and top with the sliced tomatoes.

Put into the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush the top with some melted vegan margarine and place back into the oven for a further 5 minutes.

Remove and allow to cool completely before serving. Can be served warm or cold. If you are serving warm, then allow to cool and reheat in the oven for 5 minutes.

Find the original recipe, along with step-by-step photos, HERE.

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.

Sneak Peek: Do you love mayonnaise on your sandwich but don't want the eggs? Join us tomorrow for something special.

Image and recipe courtesy of The Gourmet Vegan

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Litter

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 challenged ourselves to take on an activity which we've wanted to accomplish but just haven't done. I chose recycling as my task. My town used to have convenient, self-serve recycling stations. Living in an apartment, we weren't eligible for curb-side pick-up but it was easy enough to place boxes in our laundry room and, when full, take them to the nearest station which was conveniently located and on our way to just about anywhere. Then the city changed the rules, closing the self-serve stations and leaving us with a recycling drop-off facility. The facility has limited operating hours and asks that all recyclables be placed into blue plastic bags (yep, you heard that right). They are also inconveniently located, requiring a special trip. Let's just say that recycling became extremely inefficient and difficult ... and I stopped making the effort. So this week, I took steps to find a way to make it work. Unfortunately, I haven't come up with a good plan yet. But I'm not giving up. I will find a way to put recycling back into our lives.

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.

Lois wrote Change the World Wednesday, That One Thing and shared an impressive list of the activities she's currently accomplishing. She then, very bravely, asked her readers to help her come up with a challenge. Change the World, Part 2 discusses the task she decided on. Want a hint? It has to do with being a "night owl". That article also talks about how she completed another challenge ... eliminating paper (or nearly all paper) from her life. It is a terrific post full of great tips and ideas!

This edition of Sunflowers & Edibles included a CTWW mention. There are quite a few other interesting headlines such as "No Shoes in the House", "How to Translate Your Love of Animals to Action in Your Everyday Life", and "Grow More Vegetables with these Seven Gardening Secrets: Organic Gardening". This Edition picked up some of your articles. Was yours included?

When the words "I am Tired and Bitchy" appear in the first few lines of a post by Argentum Vulgaris (AV), one can assume that the morning hasn't gone well. As it turns out, AV had a frustrating 17 hours prior to finally regaining Internet access. So, I wasn't expecting much, especially since he was operating on low caffeine levels (not a good thing). It was a pleasant surprise to read that he has decided on a task and has made plans, at additional expense to himself, to get it done. Find out what he's doing in Change the World Wednesday – 12 Feb.

In a comment, Ann said "I protested the removal of a perfectly beautiful public garden to make way for another." Read When it isn't ruin, don't fix it where you'll learn what's happening and who, surprisingly, shares Ann's concerns.

Betsy left an interesting comment, "Can i confess my challenge without doing anything about it? Mine is composting. But I'm not in a position to take on any major projects at the moment. I'm on the brink of insanity trying to night-wean my "spirited" 2yo." Actually, Betsy, identifying an area for improvement is the first step. I'm sure, that when things calm down for you, you'll find a way to make it work!

Greening it Forward ‘Daily’ gave CTWW a nice mention. I found another interesting article about probiotics for the soil.

The Shopping Charity mentioned CTWW and included mentions, by other Tweeters, of your challenge posts. Check it out to see if your post was included.

Mrs. Green spent a lot of time considering this challenge. She's a dedicated "greenie" and pretty much is doing it all. There are a couple of areas which she's been considering. They are areas which would require her to spend quite a bit of money. In Mrs Green says no to the environment she discusses the dilemma of balancing a green life with finances. In the end, did she take on a new task? Hop over to find out!

In a previous challenge, we asked that everyone adjust their thermostat by 1-2 degrees. Katie dropped in to give us an update. She shares, "This challenge has been on my mind for the past two weeks and I have been trying to turn the temp down 1 degree when possible. We've had some very cold days, but on the warmer ones, I have been turning it down 1-2 degrees!" Yay ... Nicely done, Katie!

Alicia, another dedicated "greenie" is looking at a "big ticket" change in her life. She says, "One of the green living practices that we want to do better at is fuel economy. We live pretty far from town so I always try to make my trips into town really count. Also our business requires that we sometimes need to do quite a bit of driving. We use to use a pretty fuel efficient car for this but because we have been blessed with such dealer growth we have had to get a van. We would love to be able to use bio diesel and are looking into some other options." Let us know what you decide on, Alicia!

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @KrmbalClothing
- Here's my #CTWW ? - found some old soap w/ the tiny plastic microscrubbers - any tips on how to dispose of it in a good way?
      From @gipsonwands
      - you could soak it in water until its dissolved. strain out the plastic and use the soap as liquid soap.
         From @KrmbalClothing
         - straining may work, but also may not - micro plastics can get through water treatment plants

From @DarrenSproat
- Just create a memory you'd want to cherish for a lifetime! #CTWW

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:

@2kidsandacoupon @89linz @a_kiasi
@allnaturalkatie @beatepdx @bestofstorenvy
@bigall7 @bstoneblog @clothaddicts
@collegegogreen @counselorholley @daft_crafts
@darrensproat @dieselelephants @ecofriendlyfurn
@ecoholicnation @etsyrecyclersgt @frederickbrooke
@givetreegifts @gregorspeaks @groovygreenlivi
@guayaba @herbgir1972 @iamthelab
@kanelstrand @krmbalclothing @laalicia
@lady_bren @ladyjcmuses @ladyladuke
@lu_and_ed @marikokoloco @marjoriemcatee
@marykingwistv @mimibarbour @mizmeliz
@nebulousmooch @nikidanforth @ourfavadventure
@pinkladyapril @rckweddings @realityarts
@rulesofgreen @saybumpandtweet @sayhaytomeg
@scentfreeplanet @soulfullab @thefoxymango
@theworld4realz @tiffanywashko @treesgroup
@tweetpegasus @violetsbuds @wencdj
@whywelovegreen @zenfarmz

My Final Thoughts:

Sometimes, getting started on an activity is simply a matter of taking the first step. After that, it all falls into place and becomes part of our daily routine. At other times, getting started takes serious thought and planning because the task may affect our finances or, in some way, put a strain on our life. Living green requires balance and isn't always possible. The beauty of this challenge is that it gets us thinking. And that opens the window to solutions that work.

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:

Pick up litter for Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)
After the snow ... Litter appeared!
When the snow melted in my area, an interesting thing appeared ... litter. Discarded items are dangerous to wildlife. They can be mistaken as food and, when ingested, harm (or worse, kill) innocent animals. Sometimes, the smell of food, left behind in a container, lures an animal to investigate further and ends in tragedy when the animal's head is trapped inside. Litter eventually finds its way to our water systems, contaminating aquatic life and introducing toxins to rivers, streams and oceans. It affects our food supply and ultimately our health. Simply put, it is BAD for animals, us, and the environment.

Here's your challenge ...

This week, pick up litter and dispose of it properly. As you go through your day, pay attention to the area and clean as you go. You might see trash as you walk between your car and your office. Perhaps you'll see plastic bags, etc. in the parking lot of a market. If you enjoy nature walks, browse the side of the trail. Get your kids involved and take litter walks or organize a neighborhood cleanup of a local park. The idea, this week, is to rid the area of litter!

Are you up for this challenge? I know that you are!

Sneak Peek: Do real men eat quiche? Find out tomorrow!

Until then ...


Monday, February 17, 2014

Is A Vegan Diet Healthy?

Is A Vegan Diet Healthy?
Before giving up animal products, I imagined vegans to be lean, fit, and healthy people. I had visions of charging up the side of a mountain with endless energy and never, ever, having to count calories or watch what I ate. During my first month without meat, my vision was becoming a reality. I felt great, lost weight and ate as much as I wanted. Veganism was the panacea ... the ultimate diet for weight control and health.

And then, a strange thing began to happen. The weight I had lost began creeping back on. The energy I was enjoying ebbed a bit and that mountain that I wanted to climb looked a little too daunting.

Here's an important vegan truth:

A vegan diet does not, necessarily, equal a healthy diet.

Even more shocking:

Vegans can be overweight.

Like any diet, not all vegan foods are nutritionally dense. In fact, some can be filled with empty calories. Consider these snack foods:

Surprisingly, each of those snacks are vegan. However, we can all agree that they aren't packed full of healthy ingredients.

Is A Vegan Diet Healthy?
Some vegan foods are filled with calories
The same is true of many plant-based recipes.

The use of oils, starchy ingredients and rich sauces adds calories.

Processed meat substitutes and non-dairy products are typically high in fat and sodium, and low in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Sweet cakes, candies and cookies are an indulgence whether they are vegan or not.

At this point you might be saying, "I don't need to watch my weight so what's the problem?" Unfortunately, empty calories cannot give us sustained energy. Our bodies burn them quickly and, within a short amount of time, we're left feeling lethargic.

We can't climb a mountain on corn chips, orange slices or vanilla wafers (all vegan).

Here are some tips for keeping a plant-based diet healthy:

5 Ways to Keep a Vegan Diet Healthy

    5 Ways to Keep a Vegan Diet Healthy
  1. Eat plenty of raw vegetables. Raw vegetables contain vitamins and minerals. They are typically low in calories and, because of their fiber content, offer us sustained energy. They also give us a sense of feeling full.
  2. Avoid processed foods. These items are typically full of empty calories (fat and sugar). While the list of ingredients might include wholesome ingredients, the fact is that the health benefits are lost during the processing phase.
  3. Cook at home. Restaurants tend to use a lot of high-fat, high-sodium, and sweet ingredients. When we cook at home, we can control what goes into a dish.
  4. Apply portion control. A plant-based diet is not a license to overindulge. Since all foods have calories, it's wise to pay attention to serving sizes and cook accordingly.
  5. 5 Ways to Keep a Vegan Diet Healthy
  6. Eat good fats in moderation. Things like nuts and nut butters, avocados, and coconut oil are all considered healthy choices. They are "good" fats which are essential to normal body function. However, they tend to be higher in calories than other foods. According to WebMD, a healthy diet should include 20%-35% of calories from fats.

Choosing plant-based foods is a healthy choice, for us and for the environment. Like any choice, it can become unhealthy if we don't pay attention to nutrition.

How do you incorporate healthy plant-based foods into your diet?

Sneak Peek: Join us on Wednesday for an exciting Change The World Wednesday challenge.

Image courtesy of duron123 /

Friday, February 14, 2014

What's your criteria for purchases?

What's your criteria for purchases?
Today's shopper has many options
When we've decided that we need to buy something, there are many considerations. We think about the ingredients and whether they are safe, the packaging, and how far a product has traveled. Perhaps we think about the laborers who helped in the production phase and look for fair-trade items. We might search for words like organic and non-GMO.

What's your criteria for purchases?
How do you choose?
This month's survey takes a look at the very first thing we consider when making a purchase.

Is it a product's "greeness", price, effectiveness, etc.?

How do you decide on a product?

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

Sneak Peek: Does a vegan diet equal a healthy diet? Stay tuned on Monday for the next "My Vegan Life" article.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Guest Post - Is Green the New Red this Valentine’s Day?

The history attached to the Day of Love isn’t all romantic, not in the traditional sense at least. This sweet day wouldn’t have happened without a Roman Priest, St. Valentine, who existed at the time of an unkind emperor, rightly called ‘Claudius, the Cruel’ who maltreated the church and its preaching.

Claudius illegalized marriages on the argument that unmarried soldiers fought better than those who were married, but our hero, St. Valentine, was against it. He secretly encouraged them to get married because of the ruler’s edict. Valentine was ultimately caught and executed. But his martyrdom didn’t go waste and February 14th, the day this Saint was honoured, came to be known as Valentine’s Day.

The day of love has transformed immensely since the time of Rome’s ‘Claudius, the Cruel’. When, in 1850, Esther A Howland pioneered the tradition of a Valentine's card in USA, she was deemed as the “Mother of American Valentine”. Later, in the second half of the twentieth century, this trend extended to flowers, chocolates, jewellery and more.

The current century has given way to a brand new Valentine’s Day makeover. This Valentine’s Day, green is the new red! The latest V-Day trend is to give back to Mother Earth. Lovers around the world are displaying affection to their loved ones using Eco-friendly ways in a bid to reduce their carbon footprint. Green cars, organic flowers, recycled gifts-scroll down to find out what’s the current favourite this Valentine’s Day.

Is Green the New Red this Valentine’s Day?

Written by

Sneak Peek: What's the first thing you consider when making a purchase? That's the question we'll ask tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW) - Just do it!

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:

Before we get started, I'd like to share something special with you. I was recently invited to contribute to a terrific site, eCycle Best. The article that I wrote is entitled How Eco-Friendly Are Your Gadgets?. If you have a minute, swing by and check it out!

How did you do with our last challenge? We asked that, in an effort to reduce food waste, everyone pay attention to proper portion sizes and cook accordingly. This is something which I do on a regular basis because, quite frankly, I find it easy to cook too much. We enjoy leftovers to a degree but I will admit to a certain boredom if I have to eat the same foods too often. While I'm not fond of measuring, it does remind me what a portion looks like and seems far easier than trying to recreate leftover food into interesting meals.

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.

Lois wastes very little food and what she can't eat gets tossed into the compost. Still, she's uncomfortable with any food not eaten. In Change the World Wednesday, Oh Boy she shares a few of her strategies for portion control. One of her methods involves growing her own salad.

Marc Zazeela joined us and shares this, "We must always remember that no gesture is too small. If everyone cut their portion sizes by 1%, they would not notice. The worldwide difference would be immense!"

Argentum Vulgaris has a pretty good idea about serving sizes. Living alone, however, does pose a unique problem. Find out about it in Change the World Wednesday – 5th Feb.

Tessa is switching to a vegan diet. In the process, she found that trying different dishes was creating waste because she and her family didn't always love the new recipes. She devised a great way to solve the problem. Read about it in Vegan Challenge Update 1.

This edition of The @raintees Roundup includes my retweet of one of your articles. Was it yours?

Alicia wrote Are You Wasting Food? and shares her strategies for eliminating food waste. One of her tips involves organizing the refrigerator.

Mary joined us and says, "I love this site. You are always giving great tips and advice on things each individual can do to help the cause. I also love the products you write about. Thanks for sharing." By the way (and this is a little off topic), Mary's site, Green Global Travel, is fabulous ... you'll find all kinds of helpful information and the photos will make you yearn to visit every corner of our beautiful earth. Stop over and say hi!

Katie is a mom who tries her best never to waste food and feels guilty when it does happen. In Reduce Food Waste With Portion Control [#CTWW] she takes on the challenge employing two great strategies. One of them includes a tip about the size of lunch containers.

Our Twitter friends joined the conversation and shared the following:

From @pinkladyapril
- this is something I do way too much! Always over- estimate & serve too much. Will try to freeze portions in future. #CTWW

From @GiveTreeGifts
- 8 Tips for Controlling Portion Sizes #CTWW

From @HerbGir1972
- MT #CTWW 8 easy tips to avoid wasting #food #betterbuying #foodwaste #portioncontrol via @greenlivingblog

From @VioletsBuds
- This week's #CTWW challenge really hits home! I've been trying to work on portion control for awhile
- the one good thing is if we do over-cook we use 99% of the leftovers. I'm working on portion control on my plate too #ctww

From @FairyTaleKnits
- I usually cook extra but we eat the leftovers later that week for lunch or dinner or I freeze them.

From @rulesofgreen
- We plan our weekly grocery shopping to save food

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:

Due to technical difficulties (I think I deleted something), I don't have the list of Gang members for you today. I apologize! Hopefully the "glitch" (my brain) will be fixed by next week and we'll be back in business. I do appreciate the Gang's support on Twitter.

My Final Thoughts:

The other day, I saw a pickup truck carrying a full load of donuts. Yep, donuts! I'm guessing that they were no longer appropriate for sale and were headed for a farm to be given to animals. As I watched the truck drive off, I thought about food waste and its far-reaching implications. We go to the market and purchase food. To accommodate our needs, markets keep their shelves stocked. In fact, they keep them over-stocked to ensure that we can get whatever we want, at any time. Since all food items have a shelf life, a great deal of it is pulled when the expiration date is reached. It seems that markets consider it preferable to waste food rather than risk customers not getting what they want. We contribute to this process through our purchases ... the more we want, the more they keep on hand. So, if we ignore portion sizes and cook too much, we not only waste at home but encourage waste in food markets as well. We can begin to turn that around by paying attention to serving sizes and cooking accordingly. It's a small act with a huge impact.

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:

Some green living activities seem like an uphill climb!
Sometimes it's an uphill climb

Some green-living practices seem more difficult than others.

Is there one which you've wanted to take on, or even felt guilty about not doing, but haven't been able to accomplish?

Here's your challenge ...

This week, consider that one, green-living practice which you haven't quite gotten to and ... just do it! Take that first step, and give it a try!

OR ...

If you've accomplished it all, please tell us about your most difficult, green task and how you overcame the obstacles.

Ready to take action? I know that you are!

Sneak Peek (updated): Join us tomorrow for a special Valentine's Day post. On Friday we'll ask the question, What's the first thing you consider when making a purchase?

Until then ...


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Does your food do more than fill you up?

Elderly couple enjoying vitality because of healthy eating.
Spices improved their health
I was standing in the spice isle, admiring all the varieties and colors, when, out of nowhere, an elderly woman began speaking to me about her husband's past health issues. Evidently, he suffered for years with arthritis, circulation problems, and heart disease. She recalled someone telling her, when she was a young woman, that spices were very healing. So, she began to add them to every meal. She claimed that, after years of spicing up their meals, her husband's health issues went away and they both enjoyed excellent health and vitality.

That wasn't the first time that I was introduced to the idea that food was more than just how it tasted.

Orange peels contain many health benefits.
Orange peels have health benefits
As a child, my paternal grandmother suggested, as she watched me peel an orange, that I eat a bite of the peel. What?? Take a bite of that bitter peel? When I asked her why, she merely said that it was healthy ... so I followed her advice and still do to this day. In later years, I learned that the skin of an orange has properties which have been shown to lower cholesterol, control blood sugar levels, and inhibit the growth of several forms of cancer cells.

We all know that whole, non-processed foods are Eco-friendly and have nutritional value (vitamins, minerals, etc.). Many of them can also help us prevent illness, heal, and even keep us warm/cool. Let's take a look at some of them:

Foods that help prevent illness

Tomatoes stimulate immune function
Tomatoes may slow degenerative diseases

  • Tomatoes contain lycopene, a potent antioxidant which stimulates immune function.
  • Spinach contains vitamins A and C, folic acid, and magnesium.  In addition to reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, it blocks free radicals and may help prevent osteoporosis.
  • Oatmeal contains both soluble and insoluble fiber which may reduce the risk of colon cancer.

Foods that heal

Rosemary is a healing herb
Rosemary might stop tumors

  • Rosemary contains carnosol and rosemarinic acid, powerful antioxidants which destroy HCAs (heterocyclic amines). HCAs are potent carcinogens which are associated with several cancers and, when they bind with DNA, are the first step in tumor formation.
  • Apricots have fiber, sodium, and potassium which help prevent minerals from accumulating in urine and forming calcium oxalate stones (Kidney stones).
  • Ginger cures nausea by blocking the effects of serotonin (a chemical produced by the brain and stomach when you are nauseated) and by stopping the production of free radicals, a common cause of stomach upset. Because ginger regulates blood flow, it might also decrease blood pressure, arthritis pain, and cancer risk.

Foods that warm us up

Cinnamon warms the body
Cinnamon increases metabolism

  • Cinnamon increases blood, oxygen, and nutrient circulation, thereby increasing metabolism. Increased metabolism makes us feel warmer.
  • Root vegetables (carrots, turnips, potatoes, etc.) require more energy to digest than other vegetables. As the body works to break down these foods, the energy generated keeps us warm.
  • Turmeric increases metabolism in two ways: 1) by cleansing the body of waste which can damage cells, and 2) by producing bile, which stimulates the gallbladder and improves digestion. Increased metabolism generates warming energy.

Foods that cool us down

Cucumbers reduce body heat
Cucumbers reduce body heat

  • Cucumbers contain a lot of water and help to keep our cells hydrated. This, in turn, helps the body keep cool.
  • Green leafy vegetables are packed with calcium which acts as a thermoregulator in the body. Basically, signals are sent, between your body and brain, which help regulate your temperature.
  • Lentils, which contain tannins, are an astringent food. They cause the tissues of your body to shrink and increase water absorption. As the tissues absorb water, your body feels cooler.

We choose foods because they taste good and nourish our bodies. Holistic living looks for products which do more than simply fill our stomachs. It looks for high nutritional density and properties which assist our bodies to realize maximum health and comfort.

It's a fascinating thought that food can do so much!

What are the health benefits of the foods you enjoy?

Tomorrow we present another challenging Eco-friendly activity. Will you join us and change the world?

The information presented in our holistic living series is not, and should not be used as, a substitute for medical advice.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Meet & Greet (#MtaGt)

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

A link-up for Eco-friendly 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 will remain open for a month.
4. determines the featured site each month.

As this is the first link-up of the year, we don't have a featured blog. Stay tuned because next month we'll introduce you to one of this month's participants.

For previous features & blogs, check out the Meet & Greet Page:

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

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

Sneak Peek: Your breakfast filled you up, but did it do more? Tomorrow we talk about some other properties of food.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What's In Your Deodorant? #Review and #Giveaway

What's in your deodorant?
Try this: get your deodorant and look at the back label. What do you see?

I looked at a well-known brand and the first thing I noticed, at the top of the label, was the caption "Drug Facts". Drugs? In my deodorant? As my eye wandered down the label, I noticed a whole section of warnings. There were words like "rash", "irritation", and a sentence which suggested that users with kidney disease call their doctors before using the product. I also found a warning that if the product was ingested, get medical help or call poison control right away.

I wasn't feeling particularly "warm and fuzzy" about the idea of applying the product to my armpits. Why? Because approximately 60% of products used topically are absorbed directly into our bloodstream. The skin under our arms absorbs faster than most areas of our body. So, if this product has toxic chemicals in it, then using it means that my body is quickly absorbing a large amount of the potentially harmful ingredients directly into my blood, which feeds my organs. I began to understand why our kidneys might be affected.

Eco-friendly deodorant Eco-friendly deodorant
I was invited to try Purelygreat's Cream Deodorant. They sent me two jars, both the Women's and Men's Citrus Cream Deodorant.

The label had three ingredients:
  1. Sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
  2. Corn starch
  3. Glycerin Essential Oils (grapefruit, sweet orange, geranium, lime, cypress, and coriander)
There were no warnings per se, simply the following statement: "Should not be used immediately after shaving. If you experience any irritation discontinue use." From the Purelygreat website I learned that, because of allergies and skin sensitivities, any topical product can cause irritation. So their statement is a matter of common sense rather than a warning.

Each product is packaged in a small glass jar. A wooden stirrer is included for mixing the deodorant since the vegetable glycerin may separate from the baking soda and corn starch.

So what did we think?

We both liked the product. The scent is light and very pleasing. Only a small amount of product is required, about the size of a dime applied with our finger tips. Right after applying, the deodorant felt silky. After it completely dried, it felt powdery. It didn't stain or mark our clothing in any way.

Did it work?

Absolutely! We applied the product in the morning and it kept us smelling clean and fresh for the entire day. Neither of us experienced any irritation or discomfort.

I should mention that this is a deodorant and not an antiperspirant. Deodorants kill bacteria which cause odor. Antiperspirants prevent our bodies from sweating. The body is meant to sweat. It is a natural function which keeps the body cool and is necessary for good health.

Would I recommend this product?

Yes! It is easy to use, effective, and doesn't contain toxic chemicals. It is safe for us and the environment. Since only a small amount of the product is required per use, the jar should last a long time, making it a great value.

Purelygreat products can be purchased from their website.


The generous folks at Purelygreat have offered to give one Reduce Footprints' reader a fantastic prize: A pack of 4 deodorants. WhooHoo! This giveaway is open world wide and all entries are optional (the more you complete, the better your chances of winning).

Use the Rafflecopter form, below, to enter! Good Luck, Everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sneak Peek: Want to meet some fabulous green-living advocates? Our first Meet & Greet of the year is coming up on Monday.

I received Purelygreat products 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.

Images courtesy of artur84 / and Purelygreat