Concentrated Juices Will Save Money and Resources

Does your family go through several cartons of juice each month or dozens of juice boxes? The problem is that both can create a lot of waste. Instead, Do Your Part and buy concentrated juice.  You’ll create less trash and you’ll even save some money.

Concentrated juices simply mean that the water has been taken out. Then, you rehydrate it at home by adding a few cans of water.
So, one can can produce the same amount of juice as a much larger jug of juice. The concentrated varieties also take less energy to store and ship because they arrive without all the extra water.  And, its packaging is easily recyclable.

It’s also more economical. You’ll save about a nickel on ounce.  And that adds up.  If someone in your home drinks 12 ounces of juice a day – you’ll save more than 200 dollars a year. You’ll save even more if you swap out juice boxes for concentrated juice you can put into a reusable container. If your child uses one of these a day, you’ll save more than a hundred dollars a year. Plus, juice boxes a tricky to recycle and will be tossed into the trash at most schools.

Do Your Part when shopping for juice. You can go easy on the planet and your wallet by making a few better choices.

Pocket Guide to Safer Produce

During the winter months, much of the produce we purchase at the grocery store is imported from thousands of miles away and usually is not organic. The Organic Center claims that certain pieces of imported produce actually contains up to three times the amount of pesticides as produce grown in America. Click here for the organization’s pocket guide that you can print out and keep handy for safer food shopping.

Keep Clean 15 In Mind When Shopping For Produce

There’s a whole lot of talk these days about what organic foods shoppers should buy. It can be confusing to figure out what’s the best bang for your buck and what’s also the healthiest options. Do Your Part and get to know the Clean 15.

The Clean 15 is a list of the specific fruits and vegetables that have been tested to have the lowest levels of pesticide residue after having been grown on a conventional farm. The ‘Clean 15’ includes onions, avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, mangoes, sweet peas, asparagus, kiwi fruit, cabbage, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, grapefruit, sweet potatoes, and sweet onions.

The reason these fruits and vegetables are free of many pesticides is because they naturally absorb less of the chemicals during the growing process.

The Environmental Working Group conducted the testing and has an online guide to get more information. They also have a free smart phone app that’s helpful on the go.

Pesticide-free produce is clearly better for you and your family. Now you can stretch those organic dollars wisely by knowing which organic options are better for you and your wallet.

Use All Of That Carved Pumpkin

With Halloween coming up, many of you will be carving a pumpkin or two but many times we simply throw out the pulp and seeds that we scoop out of the pumpkin. Of course you can roast the seeds to make a healthy snack or cook the pulp down to use in a recipe but here’s another use for this scooped out treasure. Use it on your face! Pumpkin is rich in anti-oxidants and beta-carotene plus it’s loaded with vitamins A, C and E. The same vitamins that are found in many expensive skin care lines. When you make a simple mask from pumpkin you’ll be creating less waste, you’ll save money and it’s good for your skin.

It’s super simple. Just put the scooped out pumpkin into a food processor. You can add a few seeds for extra exfoliating power. Rub the pumpkin on your face and neck and let it set for 10 to 15 minutes and then rinse. You will be amazed at how good your skin feels afterwards. You can store any remaining mask in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

So this Halloween, Do Your Part and treat yourself by putting the entire pumpkin to use.

A Greener Cup of Coffee

Are you someone who enjoys that morning cup of coffee? You’ll enjoy it even more if you Do Your Part to seek out fair trade and organic coffees.

Besides looking for your favorite flavor – look at the labels to find out how the coffee is cultivated and produced. Seeking out organic coffees is important. Look for the USDA organic seal and you’ll know that your coffee bean was grown without pesticides that pollute our land and water. This also means the farmers working that land and the people living in the surrounding communities won’t come into contact with those toxic chemicals either.

Another important label is one that says ‘fair trade’. This ensures that those working to produce your coffee are paid a fair price and are working in good conditions.

And here’s one last thing to look for; if you can, seek out shade-grown coffees. This means the valuable land used to grow the coffee wasn’t clear cut which means the natural habitat for birds and other animals remains intact.

Do Your Part as you enjoy your cup of joe knowing that you picked the perfect blend for you and the planet.

Make Ahead Meals

There’s no need to make homemade dinners from scratch every night or resort to ordering out. Instead, whip up some ‘make ahead meals.’ It’s one way to Do Your Part to eat better, conserve energy, and save some money all at the same time.

Here’s what I do:  when I’m making a dish that would freeze well…I simply make a double batch. Casseroles, soups, and pasta sauces and the like all work perfectly. So, when I make if I make a double batch of meat sauce, I can either make spaghetti one day next week or use it a lasagna another time.

Freezing dinners doesn’t just save you time – it can save you money. If chicken, beef, or organic produce is on sale at the grocery store, you can create two good meals for a whole lot less than you normally would spend. Making double batches also means you’ll use less overall energy. Plus, you’ll know exactly what ingredients are in them…and the things that are left out – like preservatives.

When freezing foods, make sure they are put in air tight containers to avoid freezer burn. Most meals can stay in your freezer for up to three months.  Mark them with the date so you use the oldest first.

With just a little planning, you can easily work some make ahead meals into your weekly routine. It’s another way to Do Your Part while enjoying a home cooked meal.

Top 5 Ways To Green Your Grilling Routine

1) Pick a Greener Grill
When it comes to the environment, there’s a clear winner between gas grills and charcoal ones. Natural gas or propane powered grills use less energy overall and are the better choice when it’s time to buy a new grill. They’re more energy efficient and produce fewer pollutants than burning charcoal. The gas options also heat up faster and don’t produce any soot — plus there aren’t any ashes to dispose of after grilling.

2) Choose Better Charcoal
If you already have a charcoal grill that’s working well — keep it! Why send it to the dump if you don’t have to? And, there are ways to make it greener. It all starts with shopping for the right kind of charcoal. Avoid self-starting ones and look for additive-free or all-natural lump charcoal. They won’t release the toxic additives that regular charcoal does.

3) Lose the Lighter Fluid
Lighter fluid also releases toxins. A better choice is using a chimney starter. You can find ones for less than $10 at most home improvement stores and they will get your coals hot in just a matter of minutes with no toxic fumes.

4) Focus on the Food
With all the focus on the type of grill you have, don’t forget about the food! When shopping for beef or chicken, your healthiest choices are organic options. You can spot them because of the USDA Organic label. This label verifies that the animals were given only organic feed and were not injected with with growth hormones or antibiotics. Another eco-friendly option is local meats which keeps money in your community and cuts down on the miles your food travels to get to your table. For seafood lovers, check out this Sustainable Seafood Guide by the National Resources Defense Council which tells shoppers which seafood to buy and which to avoid. And, if fresh vegetables are on the menu, visit farmer’s markets for local crops and avoid the so-called “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies by buying organic options.

5) Clean Without Toxic Chemicals
After you’re done cooking, keep chemicals out of your grill by cleaning it with a baking soda and water paste. It’s all all-natural alternative that works just as well as store-bought cleaners.

Buy Better Beef & Chicken

When you go food shopping, how much do you really know about the meat you’re buying? Do Your Part and be informed while you shop.

To find out how the beef or chicken you’re getting was raised and fed talk to your butcher or check out the label when shopping at a supermarket. If you’re looking for organic beef, seek out the USDA Organic label. These labels verify that the cattle were given only organic feed and were not injected with with growth hormones or antibiotics.

One from the American Grass-Fed Association shows that the beef was mainly given grass. Most cows are given diets high in grain and supplements for faster weight gain.

Another important question – are these meats local? Any good butcher will be able to tell you the farm they’re from. This shop gets their beef from a farm just a few miles away. That keeps money in our community and cuts down on the miles your food travels to get to your table.

Do Your Part the next time you’re serving up meat for dinner. It’s a healthier choice for you, your family, and our planet.

Resources:
What’s Your Beef Butcher

Shop In-Season and Save

An easy and tasty way to Do Your Part at the grocery store, is to shop for in-season produce.  Buying foods in-season means they aren’t shipped around the world to get to you and you’ll eat them at their freshest.

The Country of Origin Label will help you see exactly where your produce comes from.  All fresh and frozen fruits and veggies are legally required to have them.

It’s also important for you to know what’s in season throughout the year. For instance, blueberries, corn, and tomatoes are in season in the summer. In fall – look for broccoli, grapes, and pears. Winter’s harvest brings oranges, sweet potatoes, and grapefruit. And in spring, look for asparagus, limes, and even green beans.

The USDA also has a complete online guide to in-season produce. They also have a guide to find farmer’s markets and farm stands near you to get not just in-season foods but locally grown ones, too.

Buying in-season produce is also a good way to save money while you shop. It’s usually much less expensive than buying foods that have traveled the globe.  Plus, you’ll be cutting out all the resources it takes to package and ship that food from so far away.

Buying food at it’s freshest is just another way to Do Your Part and an enjoyable one, too!

Super Bowl Party Preps

It’s Super Bowl time and if you’re planning a Sunday night party, Do Your Part when you go to the grocery store to stock up on supplies.

There’s nowhere better to start than with the beer. If you’re having a big crowd, think about a keg which can be reused for decades. Or, try out some different varieties of organic or locally brewed beers. As for beverages of all kinds the better choice by far is always going to be aluminum cans. Aluminum is the most valuable and cost effective material that we recycle and can be turned into new cans over and over again.

If you have to go with plastic water bottles, find ones made of less plastic.

As for the paper products, look for ones that are chlorine-free and use a high amount of post consumer content — that’s the paper that you and I recycle. Paper towels and paper napkins are pretty easy to find. Paper plates are a bit more tricky but non-coated ones are your best bet.

Do Your Part to make your Super Bowl party a little easier on the environment.