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Archive for the ‘Making a Difference’ Category

Peanut butter & jelly – it’s more important than you might think! It’s the premise to a campaign that I’ve read a lot about and begun to incorporate into my family’s mealtime rituals. And it’s not just about the old- fashioned & long-loved PB&J sammy. It’s about taking the time to make a small difference in your meal planning, yet have a monumental impact on the world around you.

You can read more in-depth here at the PB&J Campaign’s website. Personally, I’m glad that I was directed to this site by a friend. I realized that, while I recycle, eat many organics, cloth diaper… I could go on here forever with my list of super-crunchy habits, yet I realized that I can still do more. Even the simple task of packing a lunch for my son to take to school & being sure to replace a traditional cold-cut sandwich with a PB&J can put us on our way to helping in the conservation of water, reduction of water pollution, and the elimination of some would-be expelled greenhouse gases. If you find yourself wondering how a homely looking PB&J became such a superpower in the modern lunch box, be sure to read this page to become more informed. Personally, I was in shock at the difference that could be made by making the choice to change the star of my son’s cafeteria meal, but I worried that he’d become easily bored & then I found additional options on the same website. So it’s not all about PB&J and even those families with nut allergies can easily participate.

But why end your efforts there? Make that meal have the biggest impact that it can. Forgo the extra garbage created by individual serving size snacks that are often unhealthy to boot. Replace them with mama nature’s juicy apples, oranges or bananas. Get rid of the notion that a juice box is the only way to hydrate on the go. Instead, make a small investment in reusable container such as the Klean Kanteen or similar. And definitely get rid of plastic baggies for packaging that now famous PB&J. Use a Wrap-N-Mat instead. It’s reusable & easily cleaned with the simple wipe of a wet washcloth.

Do you have a recipe to share that abandons the cold cut? Share it with us & we will test it out & choose our favorite one & reward the winner with a fabulous t-shirt from Cotton Mamma! We will pick the winner on June 20th, so that we have plenty of time to test them out.

Want a chance to win another shirt?  Place a link to this blog on your blogroll.  Contact me via e-mail with your information & website so that I may see your link.  Bing-bang-boom!  You’re entered into a random drawing to win a shirt!  So you have TWO chances to win this eye-pleasing shirt!

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It’s that time of year! Time to till the soil and plant away! This year, why not try a more natural approach? The benefits of organic gardening are extensive – and easier than you might think!

The first thing to do is get your beds ready and have some plants that are popping up – either grown inside by you, or purchased from a local greenhouse (buying local cuts down on toxic emissions from trucks to bring them to you as well as supports your local economy). Once you’re all set to plant, be sure to mix in some of that compost that you’ve been brewing up with kitchen and yard scraps! Mixing it into your planting soil adds wonderful nutrients to the soil that plants can feast on! Once this is done, you can begin planting away! Be sure to consider things like companion planting and intensive planting. This can allow your plants to “use” each other for their benefits together and keep wasted space to a minimum! This also makes your job easier, reducing garden space and providing you with more fruits for less labor.

When you get all of your plants in their appropriate places, be sure to find preventative methods of keeping weeds at bay. Things like layered newspapers on the entire floor of the garden, covered with grass trimmings will not only keep weeds from invading before they get a chance, but it will also promise to keep moisture in the soil, where the plants need it. In addition, using this method recycles otherwise discarded reading material and yard waste, but it keeps you from having to water, in most places, or at least as much as you would. You may have to dig out a few weeds & lay down more newspaper as some of it tears or breaks down, but I can assure you that little effort will far outweigh not using it at all!

Bugs… you can keep them away without pesticide intervention. With a little research and some non-toxic efforts, your food will be grown without poisons and your environment will be thankful. Did you know that some pests are good? Learn which ones are beneficial and which ones are not. Allow nature to work for you and discourage only the pests that truly cause damage. To rid yourself of deer feasting on your garden, try alternative things like leaving slinkies stretched across the outside of your garden – the metal look and sound will scare them away. Human hair sprinkled about will also deter them (a great way to help recycle an otherwise discarded item from your local barber shop). Slugs or snails a problem? Instead of spraying with chemicals, try leaving sandpaper rings around your plants – cut out circles with holes in the middle (think an “O” shape) and place them around the base of your plants. The rough surface will deter them from nibbling your greens and they will turn away. Try sprinkling salt lines around your garden to kill them before they have a chance to enter.

When it comes to harvesting, the more you remove, the more will grow. Take advantage of this. Invest in some freezer bags or canning jars and every time you bring in some veggies for eating, bring in a few for canning or freezing. By the end of the warm season, you will have a freezer or cabinet full of nourishment, and picking ripe will provide the most nutritional benefits! This will save you money as well a allowing your garden to work for you.

What do you get out of these efforts other than some yummy food? You get safer consumables, a deeper pocket and some good old satisfaction from your efforts. Less gas is wasted too because you are supporting your own efforts and not the efforts of a farmer in another country, or at best, the other side of ours. And you’ll have plenty to share with your family and friends!
Have a great gardening related tip? We’d love for you to share!

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I’m sitting here, and I am at a loss in my effort to figure out when we got to the point that we are at – the point at which we don’t care about our one Earth around us. The point where all is taken for granted and we all just assume that our resources will never be depleted and that new is the best thing to have. Since I’ll never be able to really figure out why we (we as in the general population of the world) ever got to this point, I’ll have to focus on how to fix it. How can I fix this? Add awareness? Make a difference?

There are countless things that I can do – that we all can do – to add to the effort to preserve this amazing planet for the next generations – the generations probably running at your feet right now or climbing on you as you read this. Your children and theirs. I’ll start with the simplest things…

For goodness sakes, recycle. It’s really not that hard & takes minimal effort. And this isn’t just for empty beer cans or plastic pop bottles. This is for all the “trash” you think you have. Honestly, what truly is trash? It’s the name for something that no longer has any use. Not just something you don’t want anymore, but it is no longer valuable or useful to anyone for anything. Using that simple definition, we should all think – really think – before discarding something carelessly. Is this trash? Perhaps it’s not trash, but something different. Perhaps it’s just unwanted, unloved or useless to you. If that’s the case, decide where it would be useful or who would love and want it. I truly believe that, in doing this, you will find a lot less trash around you, as well as make this world a bit tidier.

Let’s start with a few simple things that we can all do to use to live by the three “R’s” (reduce, reuse, recycle (in list format for ease):

1. Start by eliminating the trash that you purchase. If you don’t buy it, you don’t have to throw it away. This means, look for products with minimal to zero packaging. We are consumers of waste! Perhaps if we do this one, simple thing, a message may be sent to companies – stop selling us trash! Use less packaging! And, at the very least, there will be less for us to toss in the garbage each day.

I do understand that some items must be bought with packaging. Try your best to purchase items made with post consumer recycled materials. Also, check the labels to see if the packaging may be recycled. Better still, know what items your area recycles and purchase that packaging. Many items have the recyclable symbols, but facilities in your area may not recycle them. That just means they go to the landfill (an example are the different kinds of plastics).

2. Repair items that can be repaired instead of casting them aside as useless forever. Just because something is broken doesn’t mean that it should be doomed to the trash heap! If you can fix it, do so & continue to use it. And if you simply must still have new, fix the item still & give it away or donate it so that someone else may love it.

3. Donate donate donate. Not only does this give others a chance to use your item again, should you not desire to do so, it gives you something nice to deduct on your taxes. Who doesn’t love a little extra money back every year? Even items such as stained or ripped clothing can be donated – they are turned into rags & sold off by the pound by many thrift stores. Items like old towels and un-loved or worn out stuffed animals can be given to animal shelters! Use a little brain power to consider where else your items may be needed. Remember – something does not fall into the category of trash until it is no longer usefull to anyone – not just you.

4. Recycle! This doesn’t just mean aluminum cans or glass bottles – this means everything around you. Yes, please recycle food & beverage containers, but more than just those can be “played again.” Fabric scraps can be used to stuff pillows or homemade stuffed animals. Newspapers can be used to clean windows (and can still be tossed in the recycle bin after that!). Old sheets can be used to cover plants during a frost or sewn into an apron. Coffee cans are great piggy banks! Old t-shirts make great rags for cleaning or washing the car. The list goes on endlessly – be creative! Think “outside the box!”

5. Compost! Many areas are now offering community composting. But, at our house, we compost & reuse the nutrients for our gardens in the spring! Again, trash is something that has no use at all – so think before tossing your food scraps in the trash. Can it be composted? An incredible amount of trash is eliminated from our family alone, simply by composting. We have a container in the kitchen (an old coffee can works wonderfully!) that we put all our compost goodies in, emptying it into a compost pile when full. Wonderful, nutrient rich foods for the soil. Things like egg shells, coffee grounds, vegetable peelings and more. This may sound or even look gross to the average person, but to me I see a gold mine for our spring time garden.

6. Purchase or craft your own reusable items. Stop buying things like paper towels when cloth works just fine (even better in my opinion). Consider other washable items like family cloth, cloth diapers & wipes, nursing pads, dinner napkins. When packing lunches don’t use paper or plastic bags. Instead, reach for a reusable tote or lunch box. Ban things like plastic baggies and opt for products like the Wrap N Mat. Reusable drink containers like the Klean Kanteen are also a better, eco-friendly choice. Cloth pads & Sea Pearls are environmentally friendly as well. If there is a disposable product and a reusable one – opt for the one that will go the distance and live a long life.

7. Use packaging multiple times. Get an item in the mail? Save the box or mailing envelope to later package up something you intend to mail. More often than not a box or polymailer can be used again. Slit the opening carefully & store it for later use! Just imagine the waste we could banish if 5 people used a box again before it got the “boot” (and hopefully the “boot” is getting made into something new since polymailers and cardboard are recyclable!).

… and the list could continue on and on and…

Hopefully this will get our brains working more & people will take the few seconds that it takes to think about an item & whether it’s really trash before casting it aside. And please, don’t keep this information to yourself! Pass it on via word of mouth, educating your young ones or pass on the link.

I dare you to find passion in this subject as I have. I dare you to make a difference.

Peace.

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