December 2011 - Our Daily Green

Friday, December 30, 2011

A Clean Green New Year

A few weeks ago, Our Daily Green was invited to participate in a panel survey about favorite green cleaning products. Circle of Moms chose our answer in their year-end column. I was so excited to have my answer chosen that I contacted the company. As a result, they have offered to sponsor a giveaway on Our Daily Green. (details of the giveaway at the bottom of the post). 

You're all wondering what this miracle product is, I'm sure. One of my favorite cleaning products is the powdered cleanser, Bar Keepers Friend. The origin of this cleaner is quite interesting. In 1882, an Indianapolis chemist noticed how clean his pot was after cooking rhubarb and did several tests and experiments to determine that oxalic acid is the plant based ingredient responsible for the shiny pot. Oxalic acid is also found in spinach, chives, and parsley. Since that discovery, the American company, Bar Keepers Friend has been manufactured in Indianapolis for the past 127 years.

What I have always liked about this gentle cleaning product (as a loyal customer for many years) is the ease of rinsing it away without residue, the ability to clean my smooth cooktop without scratching, and the lack of fumes. So many cleansers contain harsh chemicals that I prefer not to clean with.

Bar Keepers Friend is endorsed by several major cookware and kitchen companies, but one of the most interesting endorsements we discovered was US Markerboard's, which as you can tell by the photos, restored our stained dry erase board.

barkeepers friend
a little powder on a damp rag
cleaning dry erase boards
a little elbow grease

natural cleaners
Some of their products
american companies
BKF keeps our cooktop shiny and Copper Glo works wonders on our tea kettle
Bar Keepers Friend has generously offered a basket of their products to one of Our Daily Green's readers. To enter the giveaway:

1. "Like" Bar Keepers Friend on Facebook
2. "Like" Our Daily Green on Facebook
3.  Leave a comment on this post. Please add your email or some other way to contact you in the event you win. THAT means leave a comment below this actual post, not on Facebook, because we use a random number generator to choose the winner from the number of comments. Then we verify that you've liked the pages on Facebook. But if your comment is not here, you do not have an entry.

This giveaway offer will end on midnight January 13th, Eastern Standard Time. Must have a US mailing address to win.  

*In accordance with FTC disclosure laws, we received a package of the products to test for our review*

Do you have a green product you want us to feature in a future post?

The Giveaway Gallery

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Year End Accounting of Green

For those of you who followed Our Daily Green the past few years, you may recall that we pledge half our advertising earnings to charitable organizations. It's our way of underwriting our blog as well as supporting organizations that are making a difference in this world. It's also our way of thanking our readers for indulging our advertisements.

Community Greenhouse PartnersThis past year, Our Daily Green cut back on some of our side ads, but accepted more sponsored posts. The difference is that the advertiser pays us to link to their site within a blog post, versus a permanent ad on the main blog page.

Our posts earned about $50 in sponsorship and we also received approximately $500 in free merchandise. We gave away approximately $400 in like merchandise, leaving us with a surplus of $150, which translates to $75 in donations. We've chosen one organization, Community Greenhouse Partners in Cleveland, Ohio and would like nominations for two more.

Community Greenhouse Partners mission includes:
Improving the quality of life of those around us by growing vegetables year round and selling them at low cost to urban families, employing local residents and teaching sustainability and earth science to young people. Community Greenhouse Partners is a sustainable urban farm that applies ecological design principles and engages community participation to grow wholesome food year-round that is provided at low-cost to the neighborhood, improving personal health while generating training, mentoring and employment opportunities.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

(Guest Post) Coupons and Organic Food: Eating Healthy on a Budget

Guest Post: This post was written by James Lander of Couponing. This website offers deals as well as tips for becoming a savvy couponer.

In recent years, buying and eating organic food has become a major priority for a growing number of American consumers. As more and more people consider where the food they put into their bodies actually comes from – and as access to local, organic, and sustainably-produced goods increases– the demand for these products has exploded across the country. The drawback to this fervor? Organic foods can often come with much higher price tags than their factory-produced counterparts. Many people feel excluded from the organic movement simply because the prices for organic fruits, vegetables, and other goods often seem so much higher than their existing grocery budget can allow.

However, there is relief for organic shoppers looking for a deal. As decades of savvy shoppers have done before them, organic consumers can take to the world of couponing where deep discounts and pricing deals can be found if one is willing to search for them. These days, couponers find most of their deals online rather than in the newspaper; many keep a list of sites to check regularly, and some even have deals and updates sent directly to their email each day.

Organic groceries are a growing niche of the online couponing community; retailers and food producers alike now regularly provide discounts, coupons, and special offers to website visitors and email subscribers. There are also entire third-party websites dedicated to compiling these deals and presenting them to consumers who visit their site. These third party sites are an excellent resource for couponers willing to do their research. On a blog like Frugal Dad, for example, you can access dozens of grocery and food coupon codes to use when shopping for organic products. Visitors can view a wide variety of retailers to see who is offering the deepest discounts on the organic products they want most. This method takes time, but dedicated deal-seekers can compare and contrast discounts and make educated decisions about how to spend their money.

Alternately, if you’ve got a favorite brand, many companies will offer special, usually limited-time deals on their websites or to customers who have signed up to receive email offers and updates. Coupon shoppers can apply these exclusive offers to get serious discounts on their favorite products, especially if they can be combined with discount codes from some of their other coupon sites. Again, sorting through the many emails and offers that inevitably come through your inbox can be a time-consuming job that many customers choose to skip. Some may find it simply too tedious to sort through the various offers and find the best deal; others may find the daily influx of deals too tempting and end up spending more than they would have otherwise – which defeats the whole purpose of couponing.

Remember: do not let the coupons completely dictate your shopping experience. If you have a “buy two, get one free” coupon for a food that no one in your home will eat, you’ve essentially paid double to let something sit in your cabinet and be thrown out uneaten. Although coupons can offer significant savings to savvy customers, their attractive discounts can also cause passive shoppers to waste money on items they don’t really want or need. Compile all of your coupons and discount information (offer expiration dates, etc.) into one place where you can look at it all objectively, determine the best value, and make your purchases.

If you are committed to feeding your family organic food whenever possible, you can absolutely work it into your existing budget by committing to couponing and discount shopping. Successful couponers are diligent about their work and realistic about their needs, and for that their payoff can be huge: feeding their families healthy, organic food without breaking the bank.

Fitness Green

One of the most chemical free ways to stay healthy and live better is to exercise on a regular basis. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular physical exercise relieves stress and anxiety. As one year ends, and the world gets ready for a new year, many folks make a resolution to exercise more. Our Daily Green began that resolution early. With so many headlines talking about the prevalence of prescription drug use rising to treat depression and anxiety, and concerns about chemically altering our body on a daily basis, we wholly endorse a regiment of more natural choices, including healthy diet and regular exercise.

Exercise need not involve a drive to a gym or an expensive membership to a health club. The irony of getting in a car and driving somewhere to move the body is not lost on us. But in the winter, when we become more sedentary, getting an extreme body workout can be as easy as getting off the couch and moving while watching an exercise video. To combat the winter blues, dreams of having a beach body can be realized from the comfort of your own home. Inclement weather doesn't need to thwart your plans to regularly exercise and stay fit.

In fact, 30 minutes of some sort of physical activity daily has benefits that include weight loss, better sleep, improved mood, and more energy. Some programs offer a 90 day review to measure results, although the ways we can improve our lives in three short months with a commitment to exercise are immeasurable. There's no need to wait until the new year to live better today. Make a promise to yourself to swap 30 minutes a day of sedate activity with a more physical activity. Stop looking for a solution in a bottle or pill and consider a more holistic approach. To a Happy and Healthier New Year!

(Our Daily Green has received compensation for this post but we would not share anything we didn't believe would benefit our readers).  

This is a guest post provided by Fitness Alliance

Friday, December 16, 2011

There's a Green App for That!

As the year wraps up and folks say out with the old, that "old" does not need to wind up in landfills. But it can be a daunting task to know the proper way to dispose of things. Can it be separated with the recycling bins? Does it need special handling? What does my municipality accept?

Many folks opt out of recycling simply because it is too confusing to know where to throw what out. But it need not be as complicated as that. Earlier this month, we had one simple recommendation for greeting cards, send them to St. Jude's Children's Ranch where they recycle them and sell them to support their mission. However, that only takes care of the greeting cards.
Behold thy Landfill
photo by: Justin Ritchie, courtesy of Creative Commons license

What about the gift packaging, the cardboard, the extra bottles, the burned out lightbulbs, the obsolete electronics? Finding a solution is as easy as downloading an app on a smart phone. (or if you don't have a smart phone, as Our Daily Green does not, it's as easy as going to the 1-800 Recycling website!)

There is no reason to fill up our landfills when the solution is a touchscreen away. Available for both Android and iPhones.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Recycled Card Program Green

'Tis the season for cards to come in... and they are a wonderful reminder of loved ones, but once the holiday is past, what then? What if you knew you could not only feel the love you get when you open a card, but also put that same love to charitable use? What if you knew you could recycle those cards and make a difference?

St. Jude's Ranch for Children was built to be a place for neglected children to find a safe home with the vision to break the vicious cycle of child abuse and provide help and hope to children and families. Read on to see one of the ways they fund themselves as well as provide opportunity to the children on their ranch. Save your cards and send them in!

Over thirty years ago, wishing to show our donors appreciation for making St. Jude’s Ranch for Children possible, the idea was conceived for turning the previous year’s Christmas cards into “new” cards for the coming season. The recipients were so delighted with their unique “thank you,” they requested the children sell them the special cards. And so, the St. Jude’s Ranch Recycled Card Program was born. Since then, the program expanded to include all occasion greeting cards…just about anything that starts with a used greeting card. People from all over the world have sent us their used cards!
Operated by Kids’ Corp., a program for the children at St. Jude’s Ranch to learn entrepreneurship skills, the children participate in making the new cards by removing the front and attaching a new back. The result is a beautiful new card made by the children and volunteers. The benefits are two-fold: customers receive “green” holiday cards for use and the children receive payment for their work and learn the benefits and importance of “going green”. The ongoing support for the Recycled Card Program has been overwhelming! The Program grew and soon we were receiving over one million cards. We have since redesigned the process to more efficiently manage the increased production from the increased volume and we welcome your submissions!
NOTE: We currently have an increased need for both Birthday and Thank You card submissions.
To Purchase Cards:
Cards are sold in packets of 10 for $17.00 and are available in the following categories:

  • General Christmas Cards
  • Religious Christmas Cards
  • Easter Cards
  • Birthday Cards
  • Thank You Cards
  • All Occasion General Greeting Cards

  • Orders may be placed by any of the methods below:

  • By Phone:
  • 1-877-977-SJRC (7572)
  • By US Mail:
  • Send your request and donation to:
  • St. Jude’s Ranch for Children
  • ATTN: Donor Office
  • P.O. Box 60100
  • Boulder City, NV 89006-0100

  • To Donate Cards: We welcome your donation and ask that you please review the below tips before sending your donation. Currently, we have found the least expensive way to mail large quantities of card donations is through the USPS in a Flat Rate Box which holds up to 70 pounds (available at the Post Office).
    Card Donating Tips:
    All types of greeting cards, including Christmas are used.
    Only the card front can be used (please check to be sure the back side is clear of any writing, etc.)
    We can not accept Hallmark, Disney or American Greeting cards for copyright reasons.
    5″ x 7″ size or smaller is preferred.
    send to:
    St. Jude’s Ranch for Children Recycled Card Program  100 St. Jude’s Street   Boulder City, NV 89005 Thank you!

    Thursday, December 8, 2011

    Smaller House Green

    Several years ago, Our Daily Green first saw the homes from Tumbleweed Tiny House Company and found ourselves absolutely fascinated. Company founder Jay Shafer's innovative design ideas captured our attention. His practical utilization of space maximizes every inch at the same time it proves that bigger is not always better.

    Over 5 million US homes have been foreclosed in the over three years since the bank bailout. Bank lending policies focused on a market for larger and larger homes, encouraging consumers to spend more and more on housing.

    In the year 2000, the Chicago Tribune ran a piece on how home ownership had changed over the past 100 years. In 1900, an average home was about 700-1200 square feet, while in the 1950s, ranch style homes such as those popularized in Levittown averaged 1000 square feet. By 2000, homes were about the same square footage as the year, 2000, with additional bedrooms and bathrooms, effectively doubling the living space.  In a statement filled with irony eleven years later, the article continues,
    But bigger homes haven't meant fewer homeowners. While only 46.5 percent of the U.S. population owned its own house in 1900 and 53 percent in 1950, it is estimated that at the end of this year more than 67 percent of American households will own. Why? Because we can afford it. 

    According to the National Association of Home Builders,
    ... approximately 246,000 U.S. households [are] priced out of the market for a median-priced new home when the price of the home is increased by [only] $1,000. (brackets and bold are author's). 
    Since the crisis, major builders such as KB Home in Los Angeles,  are shrinking the sizes of their homes in an effort to compete with the foreclosed homes on the market. Their average new home size is now half the 3200 square feet during the housing boom to 1600 square feet today.

    Small Home Jay Shafer from Tumbleweed Small Homes is going to highlight his concerns about large homes in a event at Occupy Wall Street on December 13th, 2011, where he will take one of his small homes to the venue. He believes OWS is the world's largest stage to bring awareness to the alternative and encourage smaller homes.