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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Please Make Informed Choices When Consuming Animal Products

This video is absolutely heartbreaking and devastating. I couldn't watch the whole thing and after I stopped, I tried to call this inhumane farm but couldn't get through.
It shows how badly cows and their calves are treated. It's brutal and inhumane and only lets us assume what's going on on lots of farms (not only dairy) all over the world. Don't watch this with your children!

Please think twice before purchasing animal products. Buy from farmers you know and trust and where you have the option to see the animals.
Organic is a good start, but not the ultimate answer.
Cutting down on animal products in another way to go, and trying to incorporate a lot of vegan meals into your diet would help all those poor animals the most - and the planet as well!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Did you know...

... that one third of all cereal crops, and well over 90% of soya, goes into animal feed, not food for humans?

Eating less meat will free up a lot of agricultural land which can revert to growing trees and other vegetation, which, in turn, will absorb more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

(Source: Meat Free Monday)

And it will help feed more people around the world!

Help our planet by reducing your meat consumption. Meat-free your Mondays (or any other day of the week) - it's a fun way to introduce vegetarian (or, um, even vegan???) recipes to your family. Share your own ideas and experiences here, I'd love to see how you're doing!

Thursday, May 20, 2010


In this 4-minute clip from The Today Show, MSNBC's chief medical editor, Dr. Nancy Snyderman, explains a recent study in the journal Pediatrics linking children's pesticide exposures to behavioral problems:

Organo-what? Organophosphates! Who would have thought something that sounds so... healthy and natural is something... so bad and dangerous for us, especially for young children.
Organophosphates are, easily said, man-made pesticides that interfere directly with the chemical systems that brain cells use to communicate with each other. So for children with their still developing brains it's especially devastating to be exposed to them.
Most of us know that organic produce is the better choice, for our heath and for the environment, yet only about 2% of U.S. food sales are organic.
Eating fruits and veggies with residues of pesticides is one way we're all exposed to, so it makes good sense to eat organic whenever possible. Yes, there's still pesticides on organic produce, but in considerably smaller quantities.
This is a list of the fruit and vegetables that really should be only consumed if organically grown:

1) Celery
2) Peaches
3) Strawberries
4) Apples
5) Blueberries
6) Nectarines
7) Bell Peppers
8) Spinach
9) Kale
10) Cherries
11) Potatoes
12) Grapes

(Source: Environmental Working Group - Dirty Dozen list)
Make sure you buy certified organic produce, and if you can, buy from local farmers that you know. Hard? Doesn't have to be - try your local farmer's market and start a dialogue. Find out what they spray and whether they eat their products themselves or not.
Even better: if you have a garden, plant your own. Don't forget - we are what we eat!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Say NO To Bottled Water

From an environmental point of view, drinking bottled water is one of the biggest contributors to pollution.
Did you know that about 30 billion bottles are produced per year, which means 17,000,000 barrels of oil are being used (which is enough to fuel 100,000 cars for the year!) plus 2,500,000 tons of carbon dioxide. 86% of these bottles end up in our landfills – in fact 1,500 plastic bottles per second land in the garbage... and there it takes about 1,000 years to biodegrade!
Did you also know that bottled water costs about 1,900 times more than tap water?
The average American spends about $400 per year on bottled water which totals to 100 Billion Dollars per year that is spent on this beverage!
An independent test performed ty the Environmental Working Group revealed 38 low-level contaminants in bottled water. 10 major brands were tested and each of them contained an average of eight chemicals including disinfection byproducts (DBPs), caffeine, Tylenol, nitrate, industrial chemicals, arsenic, and bacteria.
Plus, think about the leaking of the plastic that the bottles are made of. Especially when you reuse those bottles or when they’re exposed to extreme temperatures (like in your car – but who knows what they were exposed to before they land in our hands?)
Seems like we're better off just drinking tap water, which, according to the research done for Tapped! The Movie! is used in about 40% of bottled water anyway.
If you want to be on the safe side though, better get your in-house water filter and a BPA-free reusable water bottle for every family member. I personally have gone back to good old glass bottles. Until further research is done, glass makes me feel most comfortable.
By saying no to bottled water you save your money, our planet and you do something good for your health.

Recipe: Morning Flaxseed Chocolate Pudding

If you're looking for a healthy option for breakfast that will keep you full and satisfied for a long time and is easy to make, try this one.
My friend Marija told me about the morning flaxseeds, and we love it!

For 2 portions you'll need:

* 1 cup organic flaxseeds
* 1 banana
* 1 apple
* 2 tbsp cocoa powder
* honey or other sweetener if you like

Put the flaxseeds in a container, cover them with water and soak overnight.

In the morning put soaked flaxseeds (water will be completely gone) with everything else in a blender and voila - there's your breakfast!
How easy is that???

As always you can add other fruits as you like, or leave out the cocoa and just have it with fruit.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Did you know...

... if every household in the U.S. replaced just one roll of 1,000 sheet virgin fiber bathroom tissue with 100% recycled ones, we could save:

  • 469,000 trees
  • 1.2 million cubic feet of landfill space, equal to 1,700 full garbage trucks
  • 169 million gallons of water, a year's supply for 1,300 families of four

(Source: Seventh Generation)

Now imagine what it'd do if every household replaces paper towels with recycled ones, or, even better, avoid them altogether and use fabric clothes, which are washable and reusable!

Happy recycling - oh, and the new recycled products are just as good as the conventional ones. I have to say they really, really improved a lot! Try them next time you go shopping.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I Heart Earth Day at the Montclair Community Pre-K

Me and Lexi at the "green stand"

What a fun event that was!
The kids had lots of fun helping in the garden, doing sports with Mr. Marlon from the family Y, eating the delicious baked goods, doing yoga and dancing to live music (my husband Erik played with Los Primos).
I had worked on a display for the event for the past few days, and as always used only recycled materials.
It was so nice chatting with visitors and interested parents about ways to live a greener life. One great start doing so is packing waste-free lunch boxes for school and work. The Pre-K has set up an account with, a company that specializes in reusable items and beautiful jewelry. 45% of the profit through May 31st will benefit the school.
I met and talked to so many nice people who were providing great information. Among them were Nancy Simonic and her partners from eNRG. They showed how to save energy by KEC (KVAR energy controller), solar energy and LED lamps. Dina Aronson from Welltech Bistro had great tips for food allergies and nutrition.
Meenu Mahajan, another mom of a preschooler at the Pre-K, just started her own business (yellow margosa). Her portfolio includes stainless steel dishes and beautiful and reusable fabric gift wraps. This will be another option to get great sustainable stuff locally. I’ll let you know as soon as her website is up and running.
Meenu with some of her beautiful products
Alma Schneider from Take Back the Kitchen was also there. It’s always great to chat with Alma. I can’t believe how much energy and great spirit this woman has! Four kids plus an amazing blog plus Parents Who Rock plus who know what! Makes me kind of jealous J
This is Alma - check out her blog!
Anyway, Alma had brought delicious stuff (green smoothies and tasty salsas) that made me feel like run and try every single vegetarian recipe from her blog!
The baked goods were delicious and it was so much fun chatting with like-minded people. Feels good to live in an environment where everybody cares!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Reduce Your Waste

One first step in the direction of live a greener life is reducing our personal amount of garbage.
By reducing the amount of waste we produce, and by reusing as much as we can instead of just throwing it out, we not only reduce the volume of material sent to landfill but also minimize the amount of energy used to manufacture new products from raw materials. r

Our family does a pretty good job at keeping the trash at a minimum, filling one normal size garbage bag every 3-4 days. However, I noticed that we could even top that by composting. I found that about one third of our family's garbage is organic, compostable stuff! We collect our compost in either a box or a bag and bring it to neighbors who compost every other day since we can't do it at our place. It's a family affair and I'm exited that our boys learn the cycle of nature at their young age.

Me and the boys in Trina's garden

Source: Ecoweek

Other ways to reduce your waste are
* recycling
* reusing (think paper, glass jars, boxes, packing material)
* reconsider when you're shopping: do you really need that piece of clothing or that pair of shoes?
* avoid disposables (water bottles, napkins, ziploc bags, plastic containers,...)
* instead, use reusables, also for school and work (locally you can find great lunch stuff at go lightly, or online, for example at greenraising)

I'm proud to say that our son never has any garbage at school (other than fruit peels which they compost at the Montclair Community Pre-K!). He brings his own wrap for crackers or sandwiches, which doubles as a placemat (that must have been the greatest party favor he has ever gotten, thanks Sarah!), reusable food containers and water bottle and silverware. ZERO GARBAGE.

This is the wrap-n-mat I've been using for Liam, but there's many options out there. Take a look at them, they're fun and look good, AND they're good for the environment!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Recipe: Organic Savory Crackers

I finally am able to bake healthy crackers myself. Even my 4-year old loves them, and that does mean something!

For a 12"x18" baking pan you'll need (if possible organic):

* 1 1/2 cups flour (I use whole spelt)
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
* 3/4 cup shredded flaxseeds
* 1/2 cup sesame seeds
* 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
* 1 tbsp dried rosemary
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* 1 tbsp maple syrup
* 1 cup water

You can add or change the ingredients as you like. Experiment with other spices and seeds if you like.

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Add flour or water as needed, you want a pretty firm but flexible dough that you'll be able to roll.

Liam and James preparing the dough

Oil the baking pan and spread the dough, using a rolling pin, until the whole pan is covered.
Then cut it with a knife in as many pieces as you like.

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.
Don't forget to check! Depending on the oven, it might take shorter or longer. You want your crackers to be crispy but not burned.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Green Cleaning in Schools

In a prior post, I wrote about cleaning homes with eco-friendly cleaners that don’t harm our health or the environment.
But what about other places where we or our families spend a lot of time? What about our children, whose immune system is not yet fully developed and who are most vulnerable to toxins in their environment?

Very often, the products that are used to keep schools and daycare centers clean contribute to poor indoor air quality, seriously affecting those with asthma or other respiratory problems. What those toxins in conventional cleaners do to the systems of healthy children we can only assume.
Most schools and day care centers use traditional cleaning products which are often loaded with harsh and harmful chemicals. As a result, children and staff are unnecessarily exposed to chemicals that have been linked to asthma and other respiratory problems, cancer, reproductive and neurological harm, and hormone disruption. Additionally, these products are known to have negative impacts on the environment, including contributing to water pollution, smog, and damage to the ozone layer.
It is essential that we become aware of the issue and get involved in the cleaning process outside our homes as well. Think about your workplace, too!
Why do cleaning supplies matter? Because good indoor air quality is essential for us and especially our children - for their well-being, health and proper development.
Switching to green cleaning supplies will
  • reduce air pollution in their classroom dramatically
  • eliminate exposure to ingredients that are linked to asthma or cancer
  • reduce the use of non-necessary antibacterial agents such as Triclosan (may disrupt thyroid and estrogen hormones and forms toxic byproducts in tap water and the environment)
  • be safe for workers and children and the cleaning will be just as good as with conventional cleaners
  • NOT cost more money!
  • eliminate exposures to hazardous chemicals found in conventional cleaners, like
* heavy metals (such as lead and cadmium that can cause cancer as well as neurodevelopmental damage in children.
* 2-butoxyethanol a solvent that damages red blood cells, causing anemia.
* phthalates (frequently found in fragrances in cleaning products. Dibutyl phthalate is also used in floor finishes and window cleaners. Children exposed to phthalates in indoor settings face increased risk of asthma and allergies)
* alkylphenol ethoxylates (The E.U. and Canada have banned these chemicals in cleaners)
* carcinogens, mutagens, formaldehyde and reproductive toxins

If you start to get concerned and would like to get involved, you can send this sample letter from the Environmental Working Group to your school or day care center:

Parents: Please customize this letter to raise your specific concerns about cleaners with local schools.
Dear ---,
As a concerned parent with a child attending [name of your school], I am writing to learn more about the cleaning supplies used to maintain school facilities. Because many cleaning supplies contain toxic chemicals that can be hazardous to children's health, and can pollute the air with harmful contaminants, I would like to become involved in efforts to assure the use of the safest possible products and cleaning methods in my child's school.
As you may know, asthma is a serious issue nationwide. At present, nearly 1 in 10 children in the U.S. suffer from this terrible health condition. Asthma is the leading cause of hospitalization for children under 15, and the primary cause of missed school days due to chronic illness. As you know, it is difficult for students to learn if they are not in school. As more research accumulates, there is growing concern that chemicals in cleaners can contribute to asthma. Cleaning ingredients have also been linked to cancer and other serious health concerns, and there are ecological problems as well.
Fortunately, growing awareness of the health and environmental impacts of cleaning products has led to the development of many effective, cost-competitive, third-party certified green cleaning products. These green cleaners meet strict criteria concerning ingredient safety, resulting in safer products with reduced toxicity to children, teachers, custodians, and other school staff. School districts all over the country have made the switch to green cleaners, for the benefit of both students and staff. Many districts have even saved money in the process. Eight states have now passed laws requiring or encouraging use of green cleaners in schools.
Recent research compares the air pollution released by cleaning a model classroom with conventional versus green cleaners. The results are clear -- total levels of air pollution are six times higher in the classroom cleaned with conventional products. Green cleaning products create markedly safe and cleaner indoor air in the classroom -- while achieving the same level of cleanliness. (Learn more at
I would like to learn what cleaners are used in our school, how often they are used, and for what purpose. If these products include certified green cleaners, then I commend you for safeguarding the health of the children under your care. If not, then I urge you to make the switch to certified green cleaning products. Use of certified green cleaning products and practices results in cleaning performance equal to or better than that of conventional products and practices, and should not increase overall spending on school maintenance.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to working with you to ensure that our schools are clean, safe, and healthy for students and staff alike.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Greener Cleaning

Did you know that you pollute your environment by using conventional cleaning supplies? As a result, you and your family are unnecessarily exposed to chemicals commonly found in traditional cleaning products that have been linked to asthma and cancer.

Here’s a list of some of the toxic ingredients of conventional cleaning products:
• Carcinogens, mutagens, and reproductive toxins
• Heavy metals like lead, chromium, and selenium
• 2-Butoxyethanol is a widely-used ingredient that damages red blood cells
• Phthalates are frequently found in fragrances in cleaning products.
• Alkylphenol ethoxylates break down into alkylphenols, potent hormone-disrupting chemicals. A Centers for Disease Control study found that the bodies of at least 51% of Americans are contaminated by alkylphenols.
Green cleaning products do not contain chemicals of concern and are better for the environment - they must meet stringent criteria to ensure they are environmentally preferable.
Green cleaners are often highly concentrated, so you might get a smaller bottle for your money, but in the end you save because this bottle will last a long time.
How do you know it’s green and environmentally friendly?
  • Learn how to read the labels, almost like with your packaged food (The shorter the list of ingredients, the better the product for you and the environment)
  • If you can’t pronounce the name of an ingredient, it’s probably something you don’t want to inhale
  • Most cleaning jobs can easily be done with the old water-vinegar solution, essential oils (thieves oil is proven to kill over 99% of bacteria!), lemon and castile soap, baking soda,…
  • Keep the real dirt out of the house by placing a doormat by the door and/or taking shoes off inside
  • If you have a cleaning person or agency, insist on providing green cleaning products instead of letting them use conventional cleaners
We use green cleaners for many years and it works just as well, if not better, than anything we have used in the past.
My next project is to get my son’s school on board with the green cleaning. I’ll keep you posted.

Please feel free to share your own stories and opinions!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Oil Disaster

Earth Day was invented after a blowout of an oil platform off Santa Barbara, California. Another serious spill from the Exxon Valdez tanker near Alaska followed 20 years later.
Now tons and tons of oil per day are spilling from the wrecked Deepwater Horizon rig off New Orleans with horrendous impacts on the land as well as fish and birds.
Lisa Margonelli writes in the New York Times:
“The Deepwater Horizon spill illustrates that every gallon of gas is a gallon of risks — risks of spills in production and transport, of worker deaths, of asthma-inducing air pollution and of climate change, to name a few. We should print these risks on every gasoline receipt. And we should throw our newfound political will behind a sweeping commitment to use less gas — build cars that use less oil (or none at all) and figure out better ways to transport Americans.”
Oil is the real problem here. Outsourcing the drilling doesn’t resolve anything, really. We all share this one and only Earth. So spills somewhere else might not effect us immediately, but in the long run we all pay.
What we have to realize is that we have to use less gas. Americans use more gasoline than South America, Europe, Africa and Asia combined!
Why is that? Low fuel taxes, low fuel efficiency requirements and a poor transportation system contribute to the fact that the typical American has developed kind of an, um, addiction to the liquid that is used in pretty much everything from cosmetics and plastic products to motor oil and medications.
So what can we do?
  • Be aware
  • Walk and bike as much as you can
  • Use public transportation whenever possible
  • Carpool with co-workers, co-students etc.
  • Minimize consumption (how much stuff do we really need?)
  • Reuse and recycle
  • Use natural products as much as you can (wood, glas, steel instead of manmade stuff)