Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Day 343 of our Green Year: Organic Lip Balm

One of the biggest changes we have found moving from the Kootenays in British Columbia, to the interior of Central Alberta, is that the air is much, much drier. Drier air means that there is a lot more cracking skin. In addition, it also means a lot more cracking lips.

Cracking lips, especially in summer, can be painful and highly unpleasant, but many lip balms carry a variety of chemicals that we put on our lips and then allow to get into our bodies through our mouths and saliva. There has to be a better way, and there is.

The better way is through organic lip balm like Burt's Bee's Wax. Thankfully, the organic store that we go to here has many different kinds of organic lip balm that is good for you and good for the environment.

So, from now on, it is organic lip balm when our lips need moisture (if a damp cloth isn't helping or we are away from the house)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 342 of our Green Year: No Q-Tips

When we buy clothes, we do our best to buy clothes that do not use cotton and if it does, it is cotton that is grown organically. We also try and limit plastics that are disposable and cannot be recycled. We thought we were doing really well with this until we realized that each week, we waste cotton and plastic in our ears without even thinking about it.

Q-Tips each carry a bit of cotton and a plastic sleeve around the middle. These items are only used once and then they are thrown away. These are the epitome of disposable and we had banned all disposable items.

So, today we go further and we ban Q-tips.

It is important to keep your ears clean of course, so the alternative we will use is a wash cloth in the shower. That way, while we are washing up, we can clean our ears with something that can be reused again.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Day 341 of our Green Year: Seed Starters and Planning The Garden

Well spring is coming and that means it is time to start planning out the garden. Throughout the year, we have had plants in our home, and some vegetables that we have grown. This is especially nice during the winter because you can have fresh vegetables, even when there is snow outside.

Now, with spring beginning and the snow melting, it is time to get the garden planned and that begins with seed starters.

Seed starters are where you start growing some of the vegetables, like tomatoes, except you do it indoors. This is done so that you can get a head start on the growing season and don't have to resort to using chemicals to get the plants growing faster. As well, you can plant earlier because the plants will be strong enough to survive through insects and more right away.

In addition, it gives you a use for a variety of items in your home including yogurt containers, egg cartons and more.

So, today we begin with our seed starters and we begin the process of planning out the garden for this coming summer. The more we plan the garden, the better it will be and the more we will get out of it.....we hope.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Day 340 of our Green Year: Natural Medicines

Happy Earth Hour everyone! I am making sure I get this done before 8:30 pm so that we can observe Earth Hour here at the ranch.

So, this day, our 340th, we are going to talk about using natural medicines. Natural medicines are becoming more and more popular among people in the western world because people want to try curing themselves with what nature gives them. As well, when we take medication, some of that medication often comes out in our waste (urine and feces) and then flushed down the toilet. They have found that many animals are being affected by high estrogen levels because of the birth control pill. The same goes for other medications.

Now, before we go further, we are not doctors. We are not saying that these natural medicines are going to cure everything. These are just some alternatives we have found. if you truly worry about your health, contact a doctor!

If you are feeling down, instead of taking anti-depressants, you can put a couple of drops of lavender oil on your temples. This can temporarily relieve anxieties and help calm you. Having lavender smells in your home or office will also help.

If you want to heal your skin, instead of using department store facial creams or medicines, you can try 100 percent therapeutic grade massage oil or vitamin E cream.

Another tip for your mood is to buy 100 percent natural flower essences. What are those? Well they are flowers you grow outside with nothing but water and the sun. Flowers are a great way to add nice aromas and balance your mood.

If you are having troubles with high blood pressure, try some nice herbal teas or use some dandelion tea.

If you have trouble with diabetes, asthma or any number of conditions, you can contact a herbalist and see what options are available to you. Make sure you choose someone who has credentials and training with herbs and you should be able to get some very beneficial herbs.

Several years ago, I went for a physical and found out that I had cysts in a certain area. I consulted a homeopathic doctor, and they not only provide me with natural medication for the cysts, but also for my fatty liver (I used to have a weight problem). When I went to get a ultrasound on the cysts, they were gone and my fatty liver had improved. That is just one way that natural medicines can help.

So, unless it is a severe medical issue that only a doctor can help with, we will be using natural remedies for minor things like colds, flus, aches, pains, headaches and more.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Day 339 of our Green Year: Reusing Calendar Pages

For Christmas, my grandmother gave me a Simpsons Personal Calendar. This is the type of calendar where you rip the paper off for each day, eventually getting down through the stack of calendar pages (365 in all).

A nice gift from my grandmother, but not very green. As a result, there comes the need to turn this ungreen gift into something that is green. So, how do we do that?

Well, there are a variety of uses for the calendar pages:

  1. You can use the calendar pages for quick notes and messages from the phone.
  2. You can use the calendar pages for lists
  3. You can use the calendar pages as a liner for small boxes
Once you use those calendar pages, don't throw them away. At our place and in our home office, once we have used the calendar pages, we put them in our paper recycling box so that they are recycled and reused down the line.

Calendars may not be green, but by reusing and then recycling those pages, you can turn an ungreen gift into something green.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Day 338 of our Green Year: Planning Routes

There is no denying that driving creates greenhouse gases. Living at the ranch, we go into town once, and sometimes twice, a week for groceries and any errands that may have to be completed. While I know the area that we live, there are often times that the route is not always planned in advance, and that creates waste.

Waste creates carbon dioxide emissions that do not need to exist because we can avoid them. When we go into town, we have a list that shows exactly where we need to go during the day. By planning out that list, we try and make sure we go to the places we need to in the proper order so there is no waste. However, there is even a better way to do this. We can plan out the complete routes.

By looking at the streets to take, planning out the routes for the most efficiency, we can ensure that no fuel is wasted and no extra carbon dioxide emissions are created. This can be done a variety of ways, either with a map or with GPS (which we don't have).

Planning routes can save energy and time, so it is a win-win situation.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Day 337 of our Green Year: Buttons Made Sustainable

Throughout Our Green Year, we have tried to remove plastic from our lives. Plastic is the scorn of our planet's existence. It seems that every area of the planet has plastic in it and when archeologists look at our layer in history when they dig down, they will see a solid layer of plastic. While that is an exaggeration, the truth is that plastic is everywhere and in everything and it takes 1,000 years for it to degrade away.

One plastic item that most of us never think of, but may use every single day, is the buttons on our shirts. I enjoy wearing plaid shirts, but all my plaid shirts have plastic buttons on them. When one breaks off, I have to go and get another one, made out of plastic.

However, as it turns out, there is an alternative and it is TreeButtons. TreeButtons are a sustainable alternative to other types of buttons. These buttons are made from Cherry, Birch, Oak and Maple tree branches, and they do not warp or crack. They are finished with sandpaper and are preserved with natural nut oil. Plus, these buttons are made from sustainable trees so that the environment is not threatened.

Now when a button comes off a shirt, we will replace it with TreeButtons.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 336 of our Green Year: Recycled Jewel Cases

Through our company, we create videos for clients that help them train employees as well as serve to help with orientation and other company needs. Typically, we film it and then provide the videos to customers in the form of DVDs, and these DVDs are in cases. Recently, when we sent a video to a client, we thought that maybe we could make the cases greener.

Thankfully, it turns out there is a way to do this and it comes in the form of recycled jewel cases. Recycled jewel cases are made from a wide variety of materials, including other jewel cases. This makes them perfect when you are trying to go green with your business like ours.

We are pretty sure Staples sells recycled jewel cases but we are going to see what varieties exist out there for us to use. That way, we can send out the jewel cases to our clients and not worry about the effect it is going to have on the environment.

In addition, we will attach a note asking that when they are done with the DVD and jewel case, that they also recycle those materials through the methods that exist.

We will also ask our clients if we can send them the files through YouSendIt.com so that there are no DVDs needed and no shipping emissions created. Not all companies want this, and they may just download the videos onto their own DVD but at least the shipping emissions are saved.

We will offset the shipping of DVDs to clients as well.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Day 335 of our Green Year: Taking The Train

While Layla and I have committed to taking Staycations this year, in the future we will need to travel a long distance for a variety of reasons. For example, next year we are planning on visiting some close friends of ours in Ontario. That is about 3,000 kilometers away from us, and that begs the question, how should we go to visit these friends? Should we take a car? plane? train?

If Elizabeth May, the leader of the federal Green Party, has taught us anything, it is that taking the train is green. For the election year, she toured the country by train instead of plane and was the first politician to do so in the past 50 years. How much greener is it to take a train from Alberta to Ontario? Much Greener! According to several studies, taking a train creates one-tenth (10 percent) of the emissions that a plane does. While a plane creates 140 to 158 CO2 grams per kilometer, a train only creates 44.

Now, what about driving that distance? Surely a car uses less CO2 than a plane, but it is greener than a train? Turns out it is. While a train creates 44 grams of CO2 per kilometer, a car creates 118!

So, to be green when we visit our close friends in Ontario, or when we have to travel a long distance to see family, we will be going by train. We understand not everyone can do this because taking a train is more expensive, but we can and that is why we choose to.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Day 334 of our Green Year: All Natural Glue

Layla makes a lot of crafts from a variety of reused items. Whether it is using yogurt cups, Popsicle sticks or any other type of reused item, the one thing that is needed to make it all fit together is glue.

While there is a rumor that horses make glue, I have no way to really confirm this. Regardless, glue is full of chemicals and when we use it we are inhaling those chemicals. In addition, making glue then processes those chemicals, which pollutes the environment and not just our health.

Naturally, it makes sense to make green crafts by using a natural glue and that is why, just in time for spring and summer and the inevitable farmer's markets, we are going to make sure our glue is all-natural. There are plenty of all natural glues found in nature, including a natural adhesive composed of bacteria that is stronger than superglue.

We did some research and thanks to Treehugger.com, we found this one to be the best:

In the words of Treehugger, Coccoina Eco-Friendly Glue is"awesome. They’re just as portable as the glues you used in grade school…except they’re not bad for the environment. They’re non-toxic as well as acid and solvent free. They’ve got glue sticks that sell for around three dollars."

Now our crafts can be not only made from reused and recycled materials, but held together by a green glue.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 333 of our Green Year: Turning On A Trickle

One important part of Our Green Year has been saving water. We have saved water in a variety of methods, including limiting our showers, only turning the tap on when we need to and reusing all the water that we can, both inside and out in nature.

One thing we never thought of was how much water when we turn the tap on, even briefly, and do we need it on full blast. Green As A Thistle, which is a great site that has provided us with many ideas for going green, raises the point of why not only turn the water on a trickle when you are brushing your teeth. Instead of turning the tap on, full blast, you can turn it on a trickle and just rinse off your toothbrush with a bit of water. Instead of using a blast of water, you can use a trickle of water.

Sometimes going green means taking something we have already done to go green, and improving on it to go even more green.

Thanks again to Green As A Thistle for all the great suggestions that they list on their site.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Day 332 of our Green Year: Eco-Dent Floss

Having clean and healthy teeth is very important. Clean teeth can keep bacteria from developing, and when harmful bacteria develops, it can cause problems for the body as the mouth is essentially the gateway to the entire body. One place where a lot of bacteria can develop is in between the teeth. To get those bits of food in there, you need to get some dental floss. So, who is to say you can't be green with your dental floss?

Most dental floss is not biodegradable, and while you think that throwing that little piece of dental floss away is no big deal because it is so small, think about if you floss every night, and then multiple that little bit by 365 pieces, and that by the number of years that you floss and then multiply that by the millions of people who use dental floss each night. It amounts to a lot of dental floss that does not biodegrade. Dental floss is made from teflon usually, and usually has chemical waxes on it to help it go between your teeth. The flushing of dental floss is something you shouldn't do, but which many people do, because it can cause blockages in the sewer lines over time. Many municipalities have regulations against putting dental floss in the toilet (but how can you enforce it?)

So, Layla and I will be using Eco-Dent Vegan Floss. This great floss is made from, as you guessed it, non-animal or chemical products. Instead, nylon is used and the wax comes from rice. Silk is not used because silk production sometimes uses child labor and it can be very painful for insects to have silk taken from them. The best part is that the packaging is recyclable and the product is completely biodegradable so that you can put it in your compost bin.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Day 331 of our Green Year: Cloth Lint Rollers

Layla and I run a business out of our house, and there are times where we have to go and meet clients at their business, or perhaps at our favorite coffee shop. The problem is that we live in a house that has a lot of cats that have been rescued or dropped here by people who figure its okay to drop cats in the country.

Now, combine a lot of cats, shirts and pants, and business meetings and you have a combination for a lot of hair on a lot of clothes. Hence, that creates the need to get the lint off. While many people just use tape, or use those tape rollers, there is a more eco-friendly way. There are cloth lint rollers that catch the hair and can be reused many times over the years. Unlike tape rollers, you don't have to keep replacing the cloth ones with new ones because the tape has run out. This makes things better for the environment and cheaper in the long run.

The best part is that we don't have to worry about cat hair on our clothes anymore, and we aren't throwing out pieces of tape everytime we have to meet a client.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Day 330 of our Green Year: Banning Styrofoam

Over the course of 330 days, we have done many things. Some have been obvious, some have been obscure. I had thought we were through all the obvious items, months ago, but it turns out that we forgot something. It is banning Styrofoam.

In many ways, we have banned Styrofoam though a variety of methods, including not using take out containers and using take out containers from home instead. However, we have never come right out and banned Styrofoam.

Well, today is the day that we officially make Styrofoam something we do not have in our home. We don't get Styrofoam take-out containers and we limit our packaging so we don't have to deal with Styrofoam packing. If something does come in the Styrofoam, then we crush up the Styrofoam so that we can reuse it as packaging material. We don't use Styrofoam cups or plates either, and this banning will ensure no one else in this house does either.

Many items have Styrofoam in them, and that means we have to be very vigilant to ensure that we do not add to how much Styrofoam.

Styrofoam leaves a lot of harmful items in the air when burned, and it lasts for quite a long time. It is a main reason why we use reusable cups for our coffees, and now the rest of Styrofoam is banned in our hosue

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 329 of our Green Year: Biodegradable Garbage Bags

At the ranch, we have a bin for cans, a bin for bottles, a bin for milk jugs (the bottles we take back to the organic store for money back), a bin for small cardboard and a bin for large cardboard. In addition, we have a very large compost pile going. However, the one thing that we do not have that is green is the garbage bags, which hold the little amount of garbage that we create. We try to limit our packaging and try and recycle everything that we have, so only a small amount of garbage is created.

Well, today we found and are going to keep using biodegradable garbage bags. Before, we had purchased recycled garbage bags, which are great but we were really intrigued by the biodegradable garbage bags. Manufactured by GLAD, they will biodegrade in the sun. If everyone used these types of garbage bags, it would take a large amount of plastic out of our landfills. We can't use cloth garbage bags, but we can make sure the garbage bags we use will slowly disappear and not clog our landfills. Even recycled material garbage bags can't do that.

Today, Layla and I did our weekly grocery shop and decided to check out the Misella Delite Organic Cafe in our town. It was a great experience. They sell a variety of organic and vegan dishes, as well as environmentally-friendly items. On top of that, they provide take out containers that are 100 percent biodegradable and if you bring them back for more take out, they will take 50 cents off each meal. No, we were not asked to put up a review of this place and no we are not getting a discount or anything :). We just feel that restaurants like this are great for our bodies and the environment and should get as much business as possible.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Day 328 of our Green Year: Going Green....For St. Patrick's Day

Tomorrow is a big day. It is St. Patrick's Day, and with my Irish heritage I always look forward to celebrating being Irish. Since this year we are going green, how fitting is it to go green on the green holiday?

While Layla and I are not big beer drinkers, preferring wine, we are going to be celebrating this St. Patrick's Day with something simple and that is sending e-cards from Care2.com to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. For every e-card we send through Care2.com, we help to donate money to environmental programs around the world.

However, if you want to go green on St. Patrick's Day beyond just sending e-cards, then there are several ways to do it.

First, if you are going to sample some beer this St. Patrick's Day, try to go with organic beer if you can find it. It is more expensive but most people feel the taste is excellent and superior to that of other beers. However, if you want to go with a traditional Irish beer, but want to give it a green feeling, then you could get some organic food coloring for it.

Second, you can even put up some green LED lights. A string of these, maybe from Christmas, uses very little energy and can be the perfect decoration to your St. Patrick's Day party.

For treats at the St. Patrick's Day party, go for organic crackers and the like. Try and serve up some organic food to your guests to see how they like it. Some may like the taste of the food so much that they will choose to buy some of their own.

Next, if you are giving away party favors, then you can give out seeds for plants, vegetables and especially herbs like basil and cilantro. Then your guests can take those seeds home and plant some items of their own to grow.

St. Patrick's Day can be a lot of fun, and it can be more then just Irish green, when you go environmentally green with your St. Patrick's Day.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Day 327 of our Green Year: Commit21

This tip comes from one of our readers who told us about Commit21.com, which is a cool website that has been created for the purpose of inspiring people to create a positive green change in their lives. They do this through campaigns, with their first campaign being supporting Earth Hour, as we committed to doing a few days ago. They want to help WWF inspire 1,000,000,000 people to turn off their lights.

However, that is not all this website is about. While its first campaign is about Earth Hour, once that passes it will move onto another campaign to help raise awareness about it.

All the while, people create groups within Commit21.com that help to gain awareness about what the website is currently supporting. We even created our own group here to help raise awareness of Earth Hour beyond what we mentioned on our website: http://www.commit21.com/group/82/Raise-Awareness-on-Our-Gr.html

The people who have committed to making groups here have made the choice to go green and to support Earth Hour through whatever means that they have. One has committed to raising awareness for Earth Hour through his marketing techniques, while others are choosing to go green beyond that. Another person is going to encourage her neighbors to turn off their lights.

One great feature of this website is that while you may have thought that you will turn off the lights on Earth Hour, you may have not thought of explaining to your neighbor why they should, or that when you turn off your lights for Earth Hour, you will then replace all your lights with energy efficient light bulbs!

There are many methods to go green, and there are many ways to raise awareness about going green, which can be just as helpful. the more people who know about going green, the better off we would all be.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Day 326 of our Green Year: Avoid Hotel Toiletries

Sometimes we all need to travel, and when we travel we usually stay in hotels, motels, or inns. In hotels, we use towels and they are washed after one use (although not in all hotels), we sleep once in beds and the linens are cleaned, and generally the overall process is quite wasteful. That is not even considering those little shampoos, soaps and more that are individually wrapped. As well, glasses are wrapped individually in plastic.

This is a big waste.

As a result, when Layla and I have to travel and stay in a hotel, we will not only bring our own towels, but we will bring our own toiletries. This way, we do not use what the hotel provides, we do not waste plastic, and we use what we already have and which is environmentally friendly because we try and buy only green toiletries.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Day 325 of our Green Year: Protecting Tiger Habitats

Over the course of Our Green Year, we have signed several petitions. We have signed petitions to stop the seal hunt, save animals and today, to save tiger habitats.

Tigers are one of the most endangered species on the planet, but they are also one of the most recognizable. It is feasible that within the next few decades, we could see the complete loss of this amazing animal due to habitat destruction. This would be a huge loss for our planet.

In Sumatra, only 400 Sumatran tigers remain in the wild. Once they are gone, that is it. This is due to illegal logging that is destroying their habitat, and the practice of clearing forest for palm oil and pulpwood plantations. In the past 22 years alone, 50 percent of the forests in Sumatra have been lost.

So, to help stop the logging of tiger habitats, we are signing the petition to do something about it (we hope).

You can do the same at: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/275606122

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Day 324 of our Green Year: Seafood For The Future

Throughout Our Green Year, we have done various things to help the sea environment. We have done the Click To Donate on Care2.com to help the sea. We only buy fish that has been caught in a sustainable manner. We limit how much shrimp we buy and we only buy shrimp that is organic as well. In addition, we have talked about FishPhone.

However, there is another website out there that can help; SeafoodForTheFuture.com

In the Los Angeles area, seafood consumption is twice that of the rest of the nation and nearly all of the seafood (80 percent) is imported. This is why it is so important to have fish that comes from sustainable sources. By finding fish from sustainable sources, it reduces harmful fishing methods and reduces carbon footprints.
This is why the Aquarium of the Pacific has created Seafood for the Future. As they describe it:

"Seafood for the Future will provide for consumers, chefs, and restaurateurs a labeling system, supported by extensive transparent research, that will empower them to easily identify sustainable and healthy seafood choices. We will be working closely with your favorite restaurants and their seafood suppliers to ensure that approved products are safe- both for you and the environment."

According to their website:
  • "We actually want people to eat more seafood - not just because it’s delicious, but because eating seafood is the best way to get the Omega-3 fatty acids you need to keep your mind sharp and your heart healthy. If it’s not healthy for you, we won’t recommend it, even if it comes from an eco-friendly source.
  • We look at the source of the seafood, not just the species in question. Sometimes the sustainability of a fish depends on where, when, and how it was caught. We do the legwork to find the best sources for recommended species.
  • We are focused on building relationships between restaurants, fish suppliers, and consumers in Southern California. Having our logo next to a menu item means that we have built a network of trust that extends from the source all the way to your plate.
  • We support fish farming, both domestically and abroad, wherever sustainable aquaculture is practiced. We’ve seen that good aquaculture practices produce high-quality seafood with positive environmental impacts (see our Education page on the topic). We also know that capture fisheries won’t be able to keep up with the world’s demand for seafood. However, it’s important to support farms that embrace sustainable practices in this growing field"
This is why we are happy to raise awareness of SeafoodForTheFuture.com.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Day 323 of our Green Year: Coffee Body Scrub

Way way way way back near the beginning of Our Green Year, man it seems so long ago, we made a sugar scrub as a way of making our own type of body wash that can be used in the shower.
Today, we are going green with another body scrub, and this one is one I like. For me, nothing beats the smell of coffee in the morning, I love to drink it but I have never thought of using it in a body scrub. Turns out, you can and it is good for the environment because you are recycling the grounds.

Typically, we compost coffee grounds, but on occasion we are going to try making a coffee grounds body scrub. It is quite easy to do.

All you need is five teaspoons of ground coffee that has been used (recycling!), one teaspoon of sugar and two teaspoons of essential oil. Mix it all together and when you are in the shower, put it on with a circular motion. Leave it on for five minutes and then rinse it off. By putting a catch int he drain, you can then get the coffee grounds and compost them afterwards!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Day 322 of our Green Year: Dealing With Kitchen Sponges

In our home, we will clean throughout the week. We like a clean home and we like that we can clean our home with a variety of items including lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda. Usually we use use cloths, but sponges are great for cleaning because they can hold so much water. The problem is that kitchen sponges are not great for the environment, so we have to look for alternatives.

First, of all, sponges carry chemicals like Triclosan which is an anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent. It is even registered with the EPA as a pesticide, and we are coating our countertops with it every time that we clean.

Triclosan can cause health problems, and it can also cause damage in aquatic environments by killing needed elements like algae. Water treatment plants cannot remove triclosan and triclosan stays stable for a very long time, so it is accumulating in the streams and rivers of the country.

Instead, you can get a Cellulose sponge that is made from cellulose, which comes from plantation forests or from recycling.

We can also make our own sponges from Luffa. Luffa is a fruit which sponges are made from. It is an environmentally friendly product and you can even grow a Luffa plant in your garden to make the sponge.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Day 321 of our Green Year: Coconut Oil Uses

Do you use coconut oil in your home? Chances are you may not, but don't feel bad, before today we did not use coconut oil either. However, after learning about the uses of coconut oil, which is all-natural, in the home.

First, you can use coconut oil on your skin as a moisturizer. It works great on dry and aging skin and it leaves you refreshed after you put it on. It also helps to reduce wrinkles and other skin problems including psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema.

Second, if you are having a stressful day, you can apply coconut oil to your head in a circular massaging motion. The aroma of the oil will sooth you, as will the massaging.

Third, if you are having problems with your digestion, you can take coconut oil. Coconut oil has saturated fats in it that have anti-bacterial properties that will control parasites and fungus that can cause you problem with your digestion. Apparently, it can also help relieve irritable bowel syndrome as well.

Fourth, coconut oil can stimulate not only your metabolism, but your thyroid as well to help you decrease unwanted fat by upping your energy level.

There you have it, four great uses from coconut oil. Layla and I will be picking up some soon to help feel better and healthier.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Day 320 of our Green Year: Cooking Over An Open Fire

Well, here we are with 45 more days to go. Seems like we have been doing this forever but we are happy to do it. Over the course of the previous 320 days, our lives have changed quite a bit. We feel healthier with what we are eating, as well we feel good about all the things we are doing to help the planet. More than that, it is great to get e-mails from everyone telling us about what they are doing to go green as well.

However, enough of all that, let's get to the blog for today.

At the ranch, we have a fire pit in the front yard where we can sit and relax during the summer evenings. Well, this summer that fire pit is going to serve another purpose beyond just providing us heat. We will be cooking on it.

Layla and I love to go backpacking, and when you backpack, you have to cook your meals on a fire. There is nothing like it and we decided that this year, we will cook more food on the fire and less in the kitchen.

There are a lot of trees in the area, and some have fallen down. As a result, we will be using that wood (as long as it is not serving as a habitat for something) for our firewood. We are also getting our firewood from a sustainable source. Then we can cook our food over the fire, rather than in the kitchen on the stove.

It is not perfect, but it is just another solution that we can use to go green in our cooking, no different than how we use the fireplace inside to heat the house up so we don't use the furnace as much.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Day 319 of our Green Year: Steaming Instead of Boiling

Recently, I found out that boiling water is not always the most environmental thing you can do when you are cooking vegetables. In our kitchen, we already use the slow cooker more than the stove, as well we use a small personal fryer more than the stove. However, sometimes we still do boil our vegetables on the stove.

Apparently, if you are worried about energy and wasting it, then boiling water for vegetables is not the best choice. Instead, use should be steaming the vegetables. This struck us as odd, since to steam something you need to boil water to create the steam. However, as it turns out, you can cook food a lot faster using the steam and more importantly, you can keep most of the nutrients and important minerals from vegetables in the vegetables. When you boil the vegetables, it can cause you to lose a lot of those helpful minerals in the vegetables.

If you are cooking on a stove, as in using a pan with a bamboo steamer as we used to, you are only saving a little bit of energy. However, here we now have a steamer that connects to the outlet. This uses a lot less energy than the stove and it helps keep our organic vegetables healthy with everything they have in them, and nothing seeping out.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 318 of our Green Year: Helping Wild Horses

At the ranch, we have several horses and we love them all. In fact, all over the place around here you will find horses.
Horses are an amazing creature. They are gentle, beautiful and kind. Every morning I feed the horses and am always glad to see them. Go for a walk in the pasture, and they will follow you and stick around you.
They are amazing, and that is why it is important that we help the horses that are wild.

There are only a few wild horses left in North America, and yes these are an alien species because they were introduced by Europeans during the Age of Discovery. However, they are now part of our landscape and it is up to us to help them.

Hence, today Layla and I will be helping wild horses by signing a petition to help make them protected so that our future generations can see the majesty of a wild horse galloping over the landscape. It is a sight to see.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Day 317 of our Green Year: Using Shower Water To Wash Clothes

Today we have a surprising tip that came to us from one of the readers of our column in the local paper. It is surprising because we did not think of it, despite how much we use our shower water. Right now we collect shower water to use to water plants, the garden and provide for the pets. However, there is something else we can use the shower water for.

Layla and I wash our clothes by hand, so this helpful reader suggested we use that shower water to wash our clothes and we could not agree more!

So, from today on we will also be using our shower water to wash our clothes, since that will save even more water because we will not be wasting anything.

Also, I would like to give a shout out to Heather, one of our loyal readers who we are very appreciative to have as a reader and follower. Heather told us about Fever Resort + Cruise Wear, which is a company that is helping people travel in a green manner, not through how they travel, but in what they take. They sell clothing that is made of bamboo that can be washed in a hotel sink and hung out to dry. This clothing can easily be fit into a carry-on and the company also makes donations to We Conserve.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Day 316 of our Green Year: Fixing Faucets

Anyone reading this ever tried to fall asleep as a faucet dripped continuously. Well, not only is that a big annoyance for us when we are trying to sleep, it is also a big annoyance for the environment.

Going into the 21st century, water is poised to become one of the biggest commodities, with some countries possibly going to war as the need for water grows, while freshwater supplies dry up. This is good and bad news for Canada. We have a lot of fresh water, which gives us plenty, but it also puts a lot of hungry eyes on us going into a hot and dry 21st century.

Therefore, it is important to save water wherever we can. Hence, Layla and I will ensure there are no dripping faucets in our home, and if there are, they will be fixed immediately. If they cannot be fixed (say do to something a plumber needs to fix that we can't) then we will collect the water and then distribute it to plants and animals.

Every drop counts!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Day 315 of our Green Year: The Animal Rescue Site

Put your hand up if you love animals.
Most likely a bunch of you have now put your hands up. Not surprising, we all love animals and we generally all want to help them out.
Layla and I are big supporters for animals and have given to the WWF, Greenpeace, SPCA and more through Our Green Year.
Today, we bring up another site. This site helps to rescue animals who need our help, ironically because of how they have been treated by other humans.

It is the Animal Rescue Site

This site is where you can go to click a button so that sponsors can donate to a worthy cause. Your clicking makes sponsors pay to provide food to some of the 27,000,000 unwanted animals who are in shelters across the United States. This is important because 10,000,000 animals are put to death because they have been abandoned.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Day 314 of our Green Year: Keeping Our Breath Fresh

Everybody suffers from bad breath from time to time, and my breath often takes on the smell of coffee thanks to my love of it. So, rather than buy mouthwash that contains a lot of chemicals, we have decided to look for other ways that we can have fresh breath and be green. These ideas go beyond just brushing our teeth, which is probably the best way to get fresh breath.

First, drinking green or black tea is a great idea. These teas contain polyphenols which stop the growth of bacteria. As we learned several months ago, green tea also has many other uses in the house so it is win-win.

Second, a tongue scraper will remove dead cells, bits of food and bacteria off the tongue. The tongue is where a lot of bad breath comes from and scraping the tongue is something many people do to get rid of bad breath.

Third, drinking a lot of water can help because it keeps the mouth moist, which helps to eliminate bad breath.

Fourth, instead of eating unhealthy snacks, you can eat crunchy fruits and vegetables. These crunchy foods help remove food, bacteria and plaque from the teeth, which can get rid of bad breath.

Lastly, you can munch on some rosemary, parsley, spearmint or tarragon for a minute to help get fresh breath quickly and easily.

So there you have it, just some of the many ways that Layla and I will be having fresh breath that is green as well.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Day 313 of our Green Year: Greening Our Burial

Not everyone wants to think about their burial. Something about realizing that we will die at some point causes many people to get uneasy. However, planning your burial is very important, especially as there are now so many options available to everyone. Beyond simply burying the body or cremating it, there are green solutions as well.

It is amazing to think that the United States alone buries 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, 827,060 tons of toxic embalming fluid, 90,000 tons of steel and 30 million tons of hardwood each year for burials. With all that concrete and steel, you would think we were worried about the bodies coming back as zombies! Things need to change.

You can have your cremated remains put into an artificial coral reef. A plaque will serve as your tombstone and your remains will become part of a home for fishes in the future.

You can also choose to have a green burial that uses no chemicals and has your body in a casket that will bio-degrade so that your body and your casket all return to the soil over time, helping the soil gain nutrients to grow plants above you.

You can also have a burial that allows a tree to grow out of your casket and body, so that years down the road there is the memory of you encapsulated in a tree, a tree you helped to grow with your own nutrients.

You can also get an eco-friendly coffin. There are many companies out there now that offer 100 percent bio-degradable coffins, made from recycled cardboard and which release 72 percent less carbon monoxide during cremation than a traditional coffin.

So, for our 313th day of Our Green Year, Layla and I are making plans so that when we do pass on, our burial will be clean and environmentally-friendly