Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Trashless Tuesday!

We are starting a new tradition at A Happy Green Life – Trashless Tuesday! We want to help bring awareness to the amount of garbage that the average person and family throw away EVERY day! We are hoping that we can encourage people to make conscious decisions to reduce their garbage footprint!
So…what does this mean for you? Well, take the pledge with us to have a garbage FREE day every Tuesday! Of course you can have as many garbage free days as you want – and we hope that it will open our eyes to the type of products we are using and their impact – reducing our garbage footprint everyday!
Start by thinking about the types of products you use on an average day – do you specifically buy products that can be reused or recycled? Can you up-cycle that jar into something magical for your little one? Can you use that milk jug again?
We are excited to learn about the things you learn by trying this! Please share your experiences with us!

Trashless Tuesday #1 – EPIC FAIL!

We tried, and we have to admit this is going to be harder than we thought. Today was a ‘work’ day for us. We took the kiddos and went to a local supplier to pick up some supplies. While out, lunchtime quickly approached – and we made a conscious decision to eat somewhere that we could sit down and eat – so no to-go containers. Everything was going smooth until the kiddo’s waters came in paper cups – which at least we can recycle. And then…they needed straws (they are just too little for a big kid cup) so we can reuse those right? BUT – we had leftovers and they only had Styrofoam containers – uggh…GARBAGE!
After lunch we headed to a friend’s house for a play date. On our way, we stopped for a Starbuck’s coffee. We got ourselves the reusable ‘iced’ cups so that we can reuse them every time we NEED a coffee! SCORE for trashless Tuesday! Now we only have to remember to bring them with us so we don’t have to buy one every time!
After our playdate, it was time to head back to A Happy Green Life headquarters to do some work. Kiddo’s playing outside, all is well, no garbage! But then it is dinner time – and since we had been busy all day – no motivation to cook – and of course, it is kid’s eat free night at Round Table Pizza. So we go out to eat – napkins, straws, and GARBAGE oh no…a pile of disgusting kiddo-face-wipes all over – FAIL!
What we learned: we need to create a Trashless Tuesday/ EVERY DAY to-go kit! We need to be sure to bring a bunch of our cloth wipes at all times – they are perfect for wiping faces, messes and hineys. We also need to bring containers with us to store our leftovers – genius! And reusable cups, with straws would also prevent some unnecessary garbage!
Here’s to next Tuesday and a more successful Trashless Tuesday – who’s up to join us on this adventure?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Meatless Monday

Its Meatless Monday, we got todays delicious dinner from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. I love it, the food is meat free, low cal, and yummy for me and the kids! Today we are having:
Savory Bean Burgers with Yogurt-Mustard Dressing
Makes 12
76 Calories
1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
One 16-ounce can beans, drained and rinsed, or 2 cups well cooked beans
½ bell pepper, minced
2 scallions, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
½ cup wheat germ
1 to 2 teaspoons salt free all-purpose seasoning (Mrs. Dash or McCormick’s is great)
Light olive oil

3/4 cup low fat yogurt or soy yogurt
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill
1 tablespoon tahini, optional

1. Combine the oatmeal and 2/3 cup boiling water in a cup. Let stand for 5 minutes

2. Mash the beans well in a mincing bowl. Add the oatmeal and the remaining    burger ingredients except the oil, and still until thoroughly mixed

3. Heat just enough oil to coat he bottom of a large nonstick skillet. When sizzling hot, drop the burger mixture onto the skillet in 1/3 cup full and flatten lightly to 3-4inch rounds. Cook on both sides over medium heat until nicely browned.

4.  Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and stir until completely blended.
We ate this with veggies from garden (onion, lettuce, and our confused tomatoes that are red even though its winter) and pitta bread. For a side we had some yummy vegetarian baked beans and coleslaw.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Follow us on Twitter

We are branching out and finding new ways to spread A Happy Green Life! If you have a twitter account we would love for you to follow us. Just search for @AHappyGreenLife We have some amazing green groups that we are following, join us and help spread the word that we all need to live a more eco friendly life!

Its almost Valentines Day!

We are a pro Valentine’s Day family. We have heard everyone talk about how it is a consumer driven day created by the card companies to make some moolah but we don’t mind. At our house we take any excuse to decorate the house and spread some love around. That said there are a lot of cards (over a billion sent for this holiday alone), boxes of chocolate (the coco industry is one of the number one pesticide users), and other not so green things being purchased and then tossed. We think that this year we should all try to have a ecofriendly Valentine’s day.
Lets start with the cards. Send your loved ones e-cards or look for cards made from recycled paper. We are going to be making our valentines cards out of vintage ones we found in our grandmas storage (we are practicing recycling and reusing!).
When it comes to flowers look for organic locally grown ones. My hubby has made a habit of buying me seeds or potted plants so that I can keep them longer. If you do get a beautiful bouquet remember to add them to your compost when they are ready to be thrown out.
Chocolate. Oh how I love it! This holiday make sure you purchase fair trade chocolate. You will not only be enjoying the world’s most delicious ingredients but you will be helping developing nations establish economic viability and grow individuals out of poverty.
If you are lucky enough to be kid free and are planning on a romantic night of dining look for a restaurant that practices sustainability. There are tons of restaurants that purchase local meat and fish and practice farm to table with their vegetables. Your meal will be prepared ethically and environmentally and your food is going to taste awesome!
If you aren’t into the holiday, or you just don’t know what to do that will be green, try those three simple words. I LOVE YOU! Those three simple words don’t produce any waste and they are better than any gift you can buy.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meatless Monday

I have mentioned before how many environmentalist consider vegetarianism the ultimate eco diet. I am all for going vegetarian; my Mother was vegetarian so I grew up eating this way, unfortunately my husband and the rest of the Happy Green Life crew look at me like I am crazy whenever I mention that we should all stop eating meat. In an effort to appease me and to get me to shut up about totally abandoning our carnivorous habits, we have all decided to give up one meat meal a week.
 Starting today we here at A Happy Green Life will start our Meatless Monday! One of our two families will pick a delicious meatless meal to make and share it with all of you. We might not be going totally meatless, but every little bit helps. Remember we learned a few weeks back that if every American cut down their meat consumption by half we would save 645 million global acres of land (that is 484 million football fields). So here we go!! *If anyone has any great meatless meals send them our way we would love to try them!!
Winter Squash Risotto With Sage and Parmesan
Serves 4
 2 ½ pounds winter squash, halved, seeds and strings removed and reserved
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1 tablespoon melted
1 quart veggie broth
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
¾ cup dry white wine
¾ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon minced sage leaves
1.      Move an oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450. Place squash flesh side up on baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with salt to taste. Bake until tender (about 45 min) Remove from oven. When cool, use spoon to scrape flesh from skins. Discard skins and mash flesh.
2.      Meanwhile, place squash scrapings (seeds and stings) in a medium saucepan. Add veggie broth and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer about 20 min. Strain mixture through mesh strainer into large measuring cup, pressing squash scrapings to extract as much liquid as possible. Return the squash broth to saucepan along with enough water to make 6 cups (you will probably add 2 cups of water). Bring to a simmer, turn off heat and cover to keep broth warm.
3.      Heat 1 tablespoon of remaining butter and the oil in heavy bottom medium saucepan over medium heat. When the foaming subsides add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 min. Add garlic, cook about 1 minute.
4.      Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, add the rice and cook for 1 min. Add wine and cook, stiring often about 2 min. Add 1 cup of the hot broth and cook stirring frequently until the rice absorbs the liquid. Continue adding the broth in ¾ cup increments and stirring often until the rice is creamy (not soupy) and soft but still a bit al dente, about 25 min.
5.      Remove the saucepan from the heat and vigorously stir in the roasted squash, cheese, sage, and remaining butter. Keep stirring until the butter melts. Adjust seasonings, adding salt to taste. Serve immediately.
Enjoy!!- Amanda

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Lighten Up!

Did you know that the average American household has 45 light bulbs? If each of these were replaced by CFL Energy Star bulbs each household would save $180 a year!
Did you know if every home in America replaced one light bulb with a an Energy Star bulb, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year, save about $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent 9 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to those from about 800,000 cars?
 Energy Star is a label that he US Environmental Protection Agency awards products that meet their strict energy efficient guidelines. Each bulb saves approximately $6 a year and $40 over its lifetime in electricity costs. This is done by using 75% less energy and by lasting 6 times longer than an old fashion incandescent light bulb. They also produce 75% less heat which can help cut down on your home cooling bill. Incandescent bulbs contain mercury which make them too toxic to throw in the trash, CFL Energy Star bulbs are required to be toxin free.
So why wait, replace some today! Take your house holds five most frequently used light fixtures and replace them or the bulbs and you can save more than $65 each year! You can use your old bulbs in places that aren’t used a lot like a closet (CLF bulbs will provide you with the most savings I places where the lights are on at least two hours a day). If you aren’t ready to make the switch try changing your bulbs to a lower wattage, you wont reap the financial benefits but you will save energy.
 When you decide to make the switch, check out Energystar.com to find stores that carry energy efficient light bulbs. If you are planning on getting rid of your old light bulbs visit EARTH911.org and type in “CFL” to find a local recycling center that will take your bulbs or head over to your local Ikea, the retailer will take your old bulbs (you can also find 3 packs of energy efficient bulbs for just $3.99).  Replacing your light bulbs is a great start in making your household green. It helps the planet and will help save you money!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The hazards of non-natural laundry detergent

Have you ever wondered what ingredients are used in your laundry detergents? If you haven’t you should, just think at least 95% of your day your body and the bodies of your family members are in contact with clothing and linens that have been soaked in detergent. So what is in laundry detergents? If you are using non-natural laundry detergents the ingredients contain carcinogenic, hormone disruptors, and other hazardous air pollutants.  
In a recent study by the University of Washington, researchers found that 25 organic compounds including seven hazardous air pollutants were released from laundry that was washed in non-natural detergent. Two of the chemicals are listed on the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of cancer causing chemicals. If you are like me who runs at least 7 loads of laundry a week you are freaking out! How does this happen? Well, laundry companies are not required by law to list their ingredients. They also aren’t regulated like other products because they are not applied directly to human skin-even though we all know they are directly touching human skin constantly.
“Optical Brighteners” are used in non-natural laundry detergents. These are synthetic chemicals that are used to make your clothes “glow” under ultraviolet light. Your clothes look bright, but they are really deteriorating. These brighteners are built to stay on your clothes; they build up and prevent your cloth diapers from absorbing and your military uniforms glow like the sun when looked at with night vision.  They also rub off onto your skin causing a rash that looks like a sun burn, and seep into waterways and build up inside fish.
Phosphates are often found in non-natural detergents.  These phosphates work as a super-charged fertilizer for algae in your washing machine-ever have stinky towels? Chances are it is due to algae growing in your washer. If you use these products they can build up in your washer in your tubes, in the pump, in the door seal! Just about everywhere! If it isn’t cleaned up your stinking clothing will have to be tossed and so will your washer.
All of these chemicals find their way into the environment and end up in the water that we drink, the soil where our veggies are growing and into the animals that we eat. They are also constantly being released into the air from your dryer vents and finding their way into our atmosphere.
So now that we know how bad laundry products can be what do we do? First, check your detergents ingredients. If it contains benzene and acetaldehyde dispose of it with your other hazardous materials, these two chemicals are cancer causing.  If it contains optical brighteners or phosphates give it the old heave-ho! If you can’t find a list of ingredients for your laundry detergent that should be a red flag, they have a reason for not showing you what it is made of. The easiest solution is to find yourself a natural laundry detergent, specifically one that isn’t afraid to tell you what it is made of. The University of Washington recommends that you don’t use more detergent than you need. Most of the time you are just washing sweat and fragrance out of your clothes, this shouldn’t require a ton of detergent. They also say to, “Wash only full loads of laundry and with cold water. Making the switch to the cold cycle will save about $60 a year on your power bill because you'll be giving the hot water heater a break."

If you are interested in making the change to natural laundry detergent (and I think you should) check out http://www.ahappygreenlife.com/ and our new laundry wash line that is safe for your clothes and skin!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

WAIT!! Before you throw it away...read this!

Before you throw it away...make sure that you are properly disposing of these potentially hazardous items -

1. Batteries – batteries contain many heavy metals including mercury, lead and nickel which will leach into our environment if not properly disposed of. Most people throw batteries out with the rest of their garbage – but this needs to stop today! It is easier than you think to recycle batteries – simply take them to a battery recycling center (many hardware and electronic stores can collect them for you). California is the first state to make it illegal to dispose of batteries – they are considered hazardous waste. More states should follow suit and all of us should take it upon ourselves to recycle batteries!

2. Light Bulbs – especially CFL and other mercury containing light bulbs must be recycled or disposed of properly. Many of the materials can be reused in a light bulb, so some manufacturers offer a mail back program where you can simply mail used bulbs back to them. Because light bulbs are so fragile, they break in the garbage and the mercury and other harmful chemical will end up in our environment.

3. Electronics – what do you do with your old tv, computer, stereo, cell phone and all of the other ‘must haves’ of the past? E-cycling is a way to make sure that these items are disposed of properly. Many of these electronic devices contain copper, gold, silver and even lead which can be removed and reused. You can look up locations to drop off electronic waste, and some states even offer a mail in program.

4. Household Hazardous Waste – this includes cleaners, paint, chemical, medicine, syringes, lancets and more – all which need to be properly disposed of. Hazardous waste should never be disposed of down the drain as it will contaminate ground water. Again, you can sometime coordinate a pickup of these materials at your home, and often you can do a mail in disposal of these products.

Great resources for recycling and proper disposal information


Link to order a residential florescent bulb and battery recycling pack


Find out what can and cannot be recycled


Find a facility near you to recycle these items properly


Happy Green disposal and recycling

- Kristin