Green's blog

The Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen

The only way to insure that your food is safer – no pesticides, artificial colorants, preservatives, or GMO’s – is to eat organically. (Organic produce may contain more natural antioxidants and nutrients, and taste better too! ) The biggest obstacle to eating organically however, is the cost. And while I still maintain eating organically is cheaper than the doctor, I understand. That’s where the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen guidelines from the Environmental Working Group come in.

The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen are the 12 fruits and vegetables most heavily sprayed with pesticides – they contain 47 to 67 pesticides per serving – and the ones you should always buy organic. These foods are most susceptible because they have soft skin that tends to absorb more pesticides.  They are, starting with the worst first:

  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Snap Peas – Imported
  • Potatoes

     + 2 more

  • Hot Peppers
  • Kale/Collard Greens

 The Clean Fifteen

The Clean 15 are the fifteen fruits and vegetables lowest in pesticides and notnecessary to buy organic.  They are, starting with the best:

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn*
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas – frozen
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Papaya*
  • Kiwi
  • Eggplant
  • Grapefruit
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Sweet Potatoes

*A small amount of sweet corn, papaya and summer squash sold in the United States is produced from GE seedstock. Buy organic varieties of these crops if you want to avoid GE produce.

It’s easier than ever to buy organic produce, which are now found in conventional grocery store chains as well as natural food markets.  To be sure the produce you choose is organic, check the sticker on the fruit or vegetable. The code number should start with a 9.

Visit the Environmental Working Group to download the EWG Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce and to see their full list of all 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue data. Their website also contains shopper’s guides to safe cleaning products, safe cosmetics, safe sunscreen and a variety of other important topics.

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

Is Your Mani-Pedi Toxic?

Are you bothered by the sickening smell in the nail salon when you go for a relaxing manicure? Have you ever wondered why the manicurists wear facemasks? Those potent fumes are from chemicals in the nail polish and remover and are not good for us. According to a NY Times report on toxic nail products, “The prevalence of respiratory and skin ailments among nail salon workers is widely acknowledged. More uncertain, however, is their risk for direr medical issues.”

Nail products contain three chemicals of concern:

  • Toulene, (produces the smooth finish) is a chemical known to cause reproductive harm and dizziness. Also found in gasoline, the CDC warns that it can cause central nervous system problems.
  • Formaldehyde (hardener) is a known carcinogen found in many nail polishes and used for preserving dead animals. It has strict warnings to avoid inhalation or skin contact.
  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)(flexibility and moisturizing sheen) is banned in Europe and known to cause reproductive problems, especially in boys. The Environmental Working Group classifies this chemical as the highest danger level and warns that it can cause organ problems and endocrine disruption.

Research is limited in this largely unregulated industry, especially with salon workers, but a number of studies have found that cosmetologists have elevated rates of death from Hodgkin’s disease, of low birth-weight babies and of multiple myeloma, a type of cancer. Research is showing a link between the chemicals in nail products and serious health issues.

Succumbing to pressure from environmental groups and European lawmakers, several cosmetics makers are removing one of the chemicals in nail polish that is possibly linked to interference with the endocrine system. It has always shocked me why companies sell nail polish without these harmful chemicals in their European market and the same polish with chemicals in the American market! European laws are obviously stricter.

With sandal season coming, it’s nice to have polished nails, so what can you do? As with processed food or cleaning and personal care products, always read the labels – the fewer the ingredients the better, and beware of names that are hard to pronounce – and use a low toxicity or non-toxic polish, which are now more available. If you want to check the toxicity level of your nail products, visit safecosmetics.org or download the app Think Dirty, which rates the safety of specific products and provides cleaner solutions.

 

Information compiled from Sarah Maslin Nir, May 8, 2015 New York Times and safecosmetics.org

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mindful Eating

Though the word mindful is fast becoming overused, it does accurately describe the best approach to life, including eating. Mindful eating means eating with intention and attention.

My daughter and I recently went to a yoga retreat where one of the classes we attended was on mindful eating. We started the class by carefully examining an almond and then chewing it for 30 chews. While this is a bit extreme, there were several reasons for this exercise. One was to eat more slowly (Michael Pollan, noted author and food activist, says to spend as much time enjoying the food as it took to prepare it.) Another was awareness of what you are eating; chewing the food with intention to really notice the texture and the various tastes – bitter, sweet, savory, salty, spicy, sour.  And another, ask questions of your food – Does this food nourish my body? Will it satiate me? Will it properly fuel my lifestyle? Is it enjoyable? By doing this, you are practicing mindful eating and more likely to eat less, enjoy more and honor the cook!

 

Mindful eating also means awareness of when and why you eat, or knowing your body’s non-hunger triggers for eating. Are you eating out of boredom or habit even when you aren’t hungry? Before you eat something, ask yourself first if you are hungry. If so, eat, if not, don’t, and stop eating when your body tells you to stop. By being mindful of your body’s physical and emotional cues, you are more likely to control when, why and how much you eat.

The opposite of mindful eating is mindless eating, which in our busy and fast-paced society usually happens. Food is something we must have, so we often eat on the run, in our car, at our desk or in front of the television. For your next meal, turn off the TV, set the table, light a candle, place your fork down between bites, and savor the experience. Your body and your mind will thank you!

 

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

Some information compiled from amihungry.com/what-is-mindfuleating/

 

One Year in American Junk

This is a reprint from  , an online newspaper that encourages readers to take part and take action and is one of a series on “shrinking your waste”.

 

Written by Shaya Tayefe Mohajer,  TakePart’s News Editor.

It arrives in the mailbox and often goes straight to the garbage. Here’s why it’s worth stopping the endless cycle.

The mailbox ritual goes something like this—open the box, and out spills a slew of envelopes and catalogs. Bills get separated from coupon mailers. Holiday cards and invitations get dug out of a tangle of credit-card offers and other solicitations.

No one loves it, but everyone gets junk mail. It’s a relentless tide of paper that comes to your doorstep unbidden and often ends up in a garbage can moments after entering the house.

The production, distribution, and disposal of all that junk mail creates more than 51 million metric tons of greenhouses gases annually, the emissions equivalent of more than 9.3 million cars. That’s more than all the cars registered in Los Angeles and New York City combined.

MORE WAYS YOU CAN: Shrink Your Waste

There are ways to cut back on mailbox clutter. CatalogChoice.org allows users to search for the catalogs that come to an address and opt to stop getting them or reduce the frequency. For example, if you only want to see the Crate and Barrel catalog for holiday shopping, you can opt to get only the seasonal publications. You will need to enter the customer number or key source code from a copy of the mailer at the website page.   Doing a little paperwork there and on sites such asdmachoice.org and optoutprescreen.com can reduce a lot of future paper clutter.

Besides, the trees are more worth keeping around than the flood of marketing materials. Yale researchers estimate that since the dawn of humanity we have cut down half the trees on the planet, and there are about 3 trillion left—which leaves us with about 400 trees a person.

 


(Infographic: Lauren Wade)

For more information, visit http://www.takepart.com/

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Preserve!

Have you ever heard of Preserve recycled toothbrushes? I’ve been using them for years and wouldn’t use any other kind. Not only are they made from recycled yogurt cups (the bristles are new!), but they worked closely with dental professionals to develop a toothbrush with an ergonomic handle for hard-to-reach places and a three-level bristle arrangement for thorough cleaning. Unlike most toothbrushes, Preserve’s minimize your impact on the environment.

Preserve's high quality products are made from 100% recycled, BPA-free plastic, are dishwasher safe, and made in the US. Preserve is a company truly walking the walk, totally dedicated to doing the right thing by the earth, including conducting tests to ensure the safety of the recycled plastic. Preserve’s product line includes sleek new razors and a stylish, functional and durable line of reusable tableware and kitchenware like colanders, food containers, measuring cups, and cutting boards.  

Recycling is also a priority of Preserve. In addition to their toothbrush take back program, Preserve collaborates with Whole Foods, Stonyfield Farms, Plum Organics, Keurig and others in the “Gimme 5” recycling program. Gimme 5 bins are placed at 250 Whole Food locations across the county where anyone can drop of #5 plastics including caps from Plum Organics and other similar products, which so often don’t make it into the recycling stream.  Or you can take advantage of their mail back programs.

Preserve has recycled more than half a million pounds of plastic, thereby decreasing waste sent to landfills, reducing use of non-renewable resources like natural gas and oil, and decreasing energy use and carbon dioxide emissions.

What a difference it would make if more companies approached business like Preserve! Support companies doing the right thing without comprising quality. For more information, click here.

 

Special Offer

Take advantage of Preserve’s generous 6-month offer for a 10% discount off any order placed on line before July 15. Simply use the promo code “BWILD” at checkout.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

 

 

 

 

 

New Year's Intentions the Green Way

I like the idea of New Year’s intentions as opposed to resolutions. The dictionary definition of a resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something” and an intention is “a thing intended; an aim or plan”. An intention seems gentler and more doable. You aim to get there.

One of the best intentions you can adopt in 2016 is to follow a more plant-based diet. The obvious benefits of a plant-based diet are:

Chickpea and Cavatelli Soup

  • Lower cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Have better blood sugar
  • Lower your chance of getting cancer and other diseases
  • Lose weight
  • Be a healthier you

But there are just as important environmental reasons as well! With a plant-based diet you can:

  • Reduce greenhouse gases – According to Assya Barrette of mindbodygreen.com, “Animal agriculture is estimated to produce more greenhouse gases than the whole of the transportation industry combined.” Methane gas is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the US and cows and other grazing animals emit lots of methane.
  • Reduce animal cruelty – millions of cattle and poultry are raised in overcrowded factory farms where animals are often given antibiotics, growth hormones and treated inhumanely. (Watch the movie Food, Inc. and you’ll definitely cut back your meat consumption!)
  • Help save the Amazon, the Earth’s lungs – The Amazon is being deforested at an alarming rate, the majority of which is for animal agriculture.

 

Another benefit? Your grocery bill will definitely drop. Beef and chicken are expensive; beans and legumes are much cheaper! And there are lots of delicious and creative plant-based recipes on line, which even the most ardent meat eaters will enjoy!

Addiction to processed or refined foods and high fat animal products is real, but can be reversed like any habit after a period of time. An intention to eat less meat and more plant-based meals will have a huge impact on climate change and your health. Remember, what’s good for you is good for the earth, and what’s good for the earth is good for you.

What intentions have you set for 2016? Happy New Year!

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from: Why 2016 Is Your Year To Go Plant-Based”, Tracie Hines, “11 Great Reasons To Eat Less Meat (Even If You’re Not Ready To Go Vegan”Assya Barrette,http://animals.howstuffworks.com/www3.epa.gov.

 

 

 

What Have You Done?

'And so this is Christmas . . . what have you done?'
John Lennon, singer

 

 

As 2015 draws to a close, think about the new green habits you have incorporated into your daily life.  Did you recycle more? Start composting?  Think of clever ways to reuse an old soda bottle? Take public transportation, walk or bike more and drive less? Cut back on meat consumption? Support local farmers?  Start using organic household and personal care products? Find a non-toxic dry cleaner?

Whatever you do to make your lifestyle greener, doesn't it make you feel good to know you are doing a small part to protect this beautiful earth of ours? In 2016, consider doing just a little more. Remember, what's good for the earth is good for you and what's good for you is good for the earth.

I'd love to hear about your new green habits!  Email me so we can share them with other readers.....

Have a happy holiday and a healthy 2016!!!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com

Fire Cider to the Rescue!

If you haven’t already discovered Fire Cider, winter’s cold and flu season is the time. This potent and fiery tonic contains “powerful immune boosting, anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, decongestant and spicy circulatory movers….” and has been used as a daily supplement by New Englanders for generations. Herbalists recommend it to help prevent colds and flu symptoms or shorten their duration if you already have one. The basic ingredients are apple cider vinegar, garlic, onion, ginger, horseradish, and hot peppers, fresh herbs and spices, but folk remedy recipes vary depending on what’s growing in the garden and you can add whatever you like.

I’ve been using Fire Cider for a couple of years to ward off colds and other bugs and find it really works. I made a batch of Fire Cider and now I understand why this magical concoction is so potent! As I was cutting up 3 entire heads of garlic, hot peppers, onions, horseradish, oranges and lemons, and lots of herbs and spices, I thought there’s no way drinking a teaspoon of this a day wouldn’t kill bugs and germs! A swig of Fire Cider on a cold winter’s day works wonders to warm you up too!

Boost your immunity this cold season with Fire Cider! You can find it at some farmer’s markets or at online.

 

 

 

 

 

It’s also easy to make. Here is a recipe.

Fire Cider

Makes 1 pint or more

1/2 cup peeled and diced horseradish
1/2 cup peeled and diced garlic
1/2 cup peeled and diced onion
1/4 cup peeled and diced ginger
1/4 cup peeled and diced turmeric
1 habanero chile, split in half
1 orange, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 lemon, quartered and thinly sliced crosswise
1/2 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped thyme
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 to 3 cups raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar (at least 5% acidity)
1/4 cup raw honey, or more to taste

Place all of the vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices in a clean 1-quart jar. Fill the jar with vinegar, covering all the ingredients and making sure there are no air bubbles. Cap the jar. If using a metal lid, place a piece of parchment or wax paper between the jar and the lid to prevent corrosion from the vinegar. Shake well.

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Let the jar sit for 3 to 6 weeks, shaking daily (or as often as you remember).

Strain the vinegar into a clean jar. Add honey to taste. Refrigerate and use within a year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few serving suggestions:

  • Straight up: Rosemary Gladstar, a well-known herbalist, recommends taking 1 to 2 tablespoons at the first sign of a cold, and then repeating every 3 to 4 hours until symptoms subside. Some people also take fire cider as a preventative during cold and flu season.
  • Mix with lemonade or orange juice
  • Mix with hot water and extra honey to make a tea
  • Use in place of vinegar in salad dressings and condiments (fire cider honey mustard at Salt+Fat+Whiskey)
  • Drizzle on steamed vegetables or sautéed greens
  • Use in marinades for meat, tofu, and tempeh
  • Add to soups and chilis
  • Try a couple of dashes in a cocktail, such as a Bloody Mary

http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-fire-cider-recipes-from-the-kitchn-199972

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Information compiled from: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-fire-cider-recipes-from-the-kitchn-199972http://www.mommypotamus.com/fire-cider-recipe/, and firecider.com.

 

 

 

 

Have a Green Holiday This Year!

This year incorporate green habits into your usual holiday plans.  Here are some suggestions.

  • Christmas treeFor your holiday feast, support local farmers who grow organic meat and produce – an organic heritage turkey is unbelievably moist and delicious. Incorporate lots of plant-based options as well.
  • Buy a pesticide-free Christmas tree. Some growers use 40 different pesticides and colorants.  You can find no or low pesticide trees at some of the local tree farms and of course they always last longer when you cut them yourself.  There is controversy about which is more environmentally friendly, a fake or a real tree, and there are arguments for both, but you can't beat the smell of a freshly cut tree. Decorating a large houseplant like a Norfolk Island Pine is a good enviro-option too! After the holidays, recycle your tree. Many cities offer programs to turn trees into mulch or woodchips. (visit www.earth911.org for information)
  • Lots of fresh greenery and berries make beautiful, natural decorations!
  • Energy efficient “LED” lights use 90% less energy than conventional holiday lights and are also less expensive for you.  You can recycle your old incandescent ones at HolidayLEDs.com. You can find LED lights at Target, Costco and most major retailers.
  • Mass produced wrapping paper is beautiful and convenient, but ends up being thrown away. Make your own holiday wrapping paper instead, which is greener, more personal and doesn’t have to be time-consuming.  Holiday dish towels, colorful scarves or bandanas, newspaper sections, old maps, ball jars, clay pots, old calendars or even plain brown paper tied with a colorful bow and some greenery cut from your backyard make great wrapping paper. Ideas are endless!  If every family wrapped just three gifts this way, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
  • Gifts to your favorite charity are always needed and not only make you feel good, but obviously cut down on unnecessary stuff.
  • Green experiences like restaurant gift certificates, cooking classes, theater or concert tickets, or memberships to sports clubs are meaningful, waste-free presents.

For more info on holiday waste and how to minimize it, visit treehugger.com.

Feel good this holiday season knowing you are taking simple “green” steps that make a big difference!

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

Zen Decluttering!!

A good friend gave me the most wonderful book recently called The life-changing magic of tidying up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.  This easy-to-read book by Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning consultant, takes a whole new approach to decluttering the author calls the KonMari Method. Basically, it guides you in determining those items in your home that “spark joy” and discarding those that don’t, leading to a house without clutter and with lasting results.  She recommends a specific order to follow when decluttering, which enables you to make those hard discarding decisions, and the proper way to fold to solve your storage problems.  By surrounding yourself with only things that spark joy, you will naturally be happier, Marie says.

I like things orderly, but I am by no means a neat freak, and I  have to be really motivated to clean out drawers and closets.  After reading Marie’s book however, I could hardly wait to get started.  I’ve finished my clothes and am now ready to do books and papers. Even my husband is reorganizing his things!  Marie maintains, “a dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective….. and is life transforming.”   I’m beginning to understand why. Don’t wait for spring cleaning to start to declutter – do it now!  With this new approach, it’s actually fun.

 

For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.

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