Monthly Archives: August 2011

5 Easy Mistakes to Make in the Name of Eco Friendliness

It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re trying to be eco friendly. There are a lot of confusing options, and many terms aren’t regulated, so claims of one sort of eco friendliness or another may not mean what you think they mean.

Even the terms “green” or “eco friendly” don’t have significant meanings, although the FTC is looking at how those are used, since so many false and vague claims have been made in those areas. Sometimes the steps you hear to help you be more eco friendly can result in more pollution than what you’re doing right now.

Mistake #1: Buy things you don’t need.

Too often people are prouder of buying something because it said it was eco friendly in one way or another than in actually considering how the product will be eco friendly for them. It’s nice when you buy something produced in an environmentally friendly way, and you’ve done the research to be sure of that, but is the purchase really necessary? Think it over first. The most eco friendly purchase may be the one you don’t make at all.

Mistake #2: Fail to recycle old appliances and electronics.

So you’ve decided it’s time to replace one of your household appliances or electronics. Did your research, found what looks to be an environmentally responsible choice. Now what did you do with the old one?

If you didn’t say send it for recycling, you’ve made a mistake. Many retailers have a take-back program, making recycling pretty easy on your part. The EPA has a Responsible Appliance Disposal program that retailers, local governments and others can participate in.

Computers and other electronics can be more difficult to recycle properly, but it’s not impossible and doesn’t have to be terribly difficult. Many Target locations now have bins to accept old cell phones, MP3 players and so forth. The EPA has a Plug-In to eCycling Campaign, or you can check for electronic waste recycling days set up in your local community.

Mistake #3: Buy what looks eco friendly, without making sure you’ve made the right choice.

Many terms used on product packaging aren’t regulated. They sound good, but unless they have a legal meaning, they may not mean what you think they mean. They may be essentially the same as any other product, just with better eco marketing.

Mistake #4: Prefer recyclable or recycled products to reusable ones.

It’s good to use recycled or recyclable products. Recycling is a big part of being more environmentally friendly, as it keeps waste out of landfills and cuts down on the use of limited resources. But it’s not the biggest part of being environmentally friendly.

Reduce is, but once you’re making the purchase anyhow, reusable trumps recycled or recyclable. Buy reusable water bottles. Reusable shopping bags. Use washrags for cleaning around the house rather than paper towels, even if you’ve bought paper towels made from recycled paper. The same goes for napkins.

Mistake #5: Use pesticides and conventional fertilizers in your garden.

Gardening can be a wonderful, eco friendly activity. It’s also a nice physical activity for you, can make your yard more attractive, and if you plant vegetables or fruits, makes a nice addition to your food supply.

They aren’t so good for the environment if you use conventional pesticides and fertilizers. These can be harmful to the environment, and may leave residues you need to wash off your foods.

You’re better off using natural fertilizers such as compost from the food scraps and yard waste you produce anyhow. Done right, there should be minimal stink from the compost, and you get great soil to use in your garden.

You can also look at safer ways to control pests, such as using ladybugs to control certain other insects, learning about which plants discourage problem insects, and so forth.

Don’t forget the simple things, such as pulling weeds by hand rather than spraying for them. No chemicals needed.

You can buy more environmentally friendly pesticides and fertilizers, but you have to be careful about researching the products you choose.

Cucumber Pita Sandwich – Cheap Packed School Lunch Idea

Pita bread is fun to use for school lunches. Kids love the pocket. These can also be made on regular bread.

1 piece pita bread, sliced in half and opened
2 tablespoons hummus
6 slices cucumber
2 tablespoons alfalfa sprouts
1 tomato, sliced
handful spinach leaves
1 ounce pepperoncini, sliced (optional, will your kid eat them? Pickles may be an alternative.)
1/2 avocado, sliced

Spread hummus on each side of the pita. Arrange vegetables in the sandwich. If serving immediately, oil and vinegar or a vinaigrette salad dressing may go well, but can make the sandwich too wet to package as a school lunch.

Recipe Books You May Enjoy

Healthy Eating for Kids
Lunch Boxes and Snacks
The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go

Couscous, Cranberry, and Feta Salad – Cheap Packed School Lunch Idea

Two of my three kids aren’t that much into couscous, but the one who likes it, really, really likes it. Couscous tastes fine when eaten cold in most recipes, in my opinion.

1 package couscous
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 teaspoons balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing, or to taste
1/2 cucumber, diced
1/2 cup toasted pecans
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
salt to taste

Prepare couscous according to package directions. Add cranberries. Fluff couscous with a fork and add balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing. Add cucumber, pecans, feta cheese and salt.

Recipe Books You May Enjoy

Healthy Eating for Kids
Lunch Boxes and Snacks
The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go

Grilled Chicken Salad – Cheap Packed School Lunch Idea

Salads are great to send for school lunches. You can switch the vegetables around easily to whatever your child is likely to eat. If you want to add salad dressing, it’s best to have that off to the side if you have a small container your child can manage to open without spilling everywhere.

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, grilled and sliced
8 cups lettuce, torn (Spinach or romaine are good, not all kids will eat them. Iceberg lettuce may be safer.)
2 peeled, segmented and chopped oranges
1 sliced cucumber
1 sliced red bell pepper
1 sliced carrot

Combine all ingredients in salad bowl. Separate into lunch servings for each child or day.

Recipe Books You May Enjoy

Healthy Eating for Kids
Lunch Boxes and Snacks
The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go

Mess Around With the Basic Sandwich – Cheap Packed School Lunch Idea

Your basic sandwich can be a very affordable school lunch idea, but they get boring quickly. It’s important to switch things around so your kids don’t get too tired of eating the same thing over and over again.

This doesn’t have to be difficult. Something as simple as switching from your usual bread to pita bread, a bagel, or wrapping the ingredients in a tortilla changes things a lot.

You can also change the cheese. Don’t just stick to cheddar or American cheese. Mozzarella or provolone can work well, some kids love Swiss cheese, even a sprinkling of feta if the other ingredients will hold it in well enough will work.

You can go outside the usual ingredients too. It doesn’t have to all be lunch meat, cheese, lettuce and tomato, or peanut butter and jelly. Think about all the options you get at sandwich shops such as Subway and have a little more fun making sandwiches while keeping the price reasonable.

If your kids are old enough and the ingredients aren’t too hard to manage, you can even keep the bread and other ingredients separate to ensure that the bread doesn’t get soggy before lunch. This can make a big difference in how the sandwich tastes.

The most important thing is to not get stuck completely in a rut with your child’s lunches. Little switches make a big difference.

Recipe Books You May Enjoy

Healthy Eating for Kids
Lunch Boxes and Snacks
The Just Bento Cookbook: Everyday Lunches to Go