Category Archives: Environmentally Friendly

Keeping It Green on Black Thursday/Friday

Some major retailers aren’t satisfied with Black Friday anymore. They’re extending sales so they start Thursday evening. I can’t say the idea pleases me too much, having worked enough retail to know what a pain it is to have time limits on your holiday. But however long the sales go on, one thing you should keep in mind is how you keep your shopping green. Here are some ideas.

1. Participate in Buy Nothing Day

Who says you have to buy anything? You can refuse to participate in the whole Black Thursday/Friday thing and just not go shopping. Easy and more or less stress free. There are even some ideas for those of you who want to get out in the crowds anyhow.

Now, for those who are going to shop…

2. Plan Ahead

You can certainly get some great deals from Black Friday sales. If you’re going to do it, figure out what it is you want to buy, rather than allow yourself to be sucked into buying nearly random stuff because it looked neat and was cheap.

Planning ahead allows you to research your purchases ahead of time. What’s most energy efficient? Are you satisfied with how the products are made and what they’re made of? Are there better alternatives out there?

3. Bring Your Reusable Shopping Bags

They’re such a simple thing, so easy to forget, but also such a good idea to take along. Reusable shopping bags are often more comfortable to carry than plastic, anyhow.

4. Don’t Stress About the Perfect Parking Space

Parking lots can be a nightmare on major shopping days like this. Don’t worry about getting a great parking space. You’ll spend less time idling your engine if you take a more readily available parking space rather than hunting for a close one.

5. Take Public Transportation

On the other hand, you don’t have to drive yourself if there’s good public transportation in your area. Perhaps it isn’t as convenient, but then there’s no struggle to get a good parking space.

6. Check Out the EPA’s Recommendations

The EPA has some good recommendations to keep your shopping more eco friendly, such as buying Energy Star electronics, rechargeable batteries and recycled products.

7. Look For Deals From Eco Friendly Retailers

You hear the most about deals from big box stores such as Walmart and Target, but don’t forget the eco friendly companies out there. Find out which of your favorites have great deals going on. They may not all have deals special to the day, but some will.

8. Consider Gift Certificates, Experiences and Memberships

You don’t have to give a big thing to make a great gift. Think about gift certificates, experiences you can give a person such as rock climbing, seeing a show, etc., and memberships to places they like to go regularly. My mother like to get my kids passes to different places, and while they may not be specifically eco friendly, the experiences are great, and the kids don’t end up with so much toy clutter.

9. Shop Online

Why go anywhere? Handle your shopping from the comfort of your own home. No crowds, less stress, and many deals are available online as well as at the stores in your area.

36 Eco Friendly Quotes

The supreme reality of our time is…the vulnerability of our planet. ~ John F. Kennedy

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

The issue of climate change is one that we ignore at our own peril. There may still be disputes about exactly how much we’re contributing to the warming of the earth’s atmosphere and how much is naturally occurring, but what we can be scientifically certain of is that our continued use of fossil fuels is pushing us to a point of no return. And unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe. ~ Barack Obama

The universe is not required to be in perfect harmony with human ambition. ~ Carl Sagan

I believe that the average guy in the street will give up a great deal, if he really understands the cost of not giving it up. In fact, we may find that, while we’re drastically cutting our energy consumption, we’re actually raising our standard of living. ~ David R. Brower

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. ~ Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children. ~ Native American Proverb

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead

There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed. ~ Mohandas K. Gandhi

Environmental degradation, overpopulation, refugees, narcotics, terrorism, world crime movements, and organized crime are worldwide problems that don’t stop at a nation’s borders. ~ Warren Christopher

I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend? ~ Robert Redford

And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which had no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: “Look at this Godawful mess.” ~ Art Buchwald

I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority. ~ Elwyn Brooks White

The activist is not the man who says the river is dirty. The activist is the man who cleans up the river. ~ Ross Perot

It is horrifying that we have to fight our own government to save the environment. ~ Ansel Adams

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect. ~ Chief Seattle

You go into a community and they will vote 80 percent to 20 percent in favor of a tougher Clean Air Act, but if you ask them to devote 20 minutes a year to having their car emissions inspected, they will vote 80 to 20 against it. We are a long way in this country from taking individual responsibility for the environmental problem. ~ William D. Ruckelshaus

He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature. ~ Socrates

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Khalil Gibran

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools. ~ John Muir

Conservation is a state of harmony between men and land. ~ Aldo Leopold

By polluting clear water with slime you will never find good drinking water. ~ Aeschylus

If we do not permit the earth to produce beauty and joy, it will in the end not produce food, either. ~ Joseph Wood Krutch

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Somebody told me it was frightening how much topsoil we are losing each year, but when I told that story around the campfire, nobody got scared. ~ Jack Handey

In a few decades, the relationship between the environment, resources and conflict may seem almost as obvious as the connection we see today between human rights, democracy and peace. ~ Wangari Maathai

Why are ecologists and environmentalists so feared and hated? This is because in part what they have to say is new to the general public, and the new is always alarming. ~ Garrett Hardin

People in Slow Food understand that food is an environmental issue. ~ Michael Pollan

We assume that everything’s becoming more efficient, and in an immediate sense that’s true; our lives are better in many ways. But that improvement has been gained through a massively inefficient use of natural resources. ~ Paul Hawken

When we realize we can make a buck cleaning up the environment, it will be done! ~ Dennis Weaver

We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect. ~ Aldo Leopold

We don’t have to sacrifice a strong economy for a healthy environment. ~ Dennis Weaver

In today’s world, it is no longer unimaginable to think that business can operate – and even thrive – in an environmentally-friendly manner. ~ Olympia Snowe

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell. ~ Edward Abbey

Those who wish to pet and baby wild animals “love” them. But those who respect their natures and wish to let them live normal lives, love them more. ~ Edwin Way Teale

Calculating how much carbon is absorbed by which forests and farms is a tricky task, especially when politicians do it. ~ Donella Meadows

12 Books to Help You Live a More Sustainable Lifestyle

It’s not easy making your lifestyle more sustainable. We don’t always know all the options or how to get started on the things we’ve heard about. Fortunately, information is fairly easy to come by, so you can take steps as you’re ready for them.

Here are some books that may help you to live more sustainably. You may be able to find some titles through your library, but if you’re going to refer to them regularly, buying your own copy either on Kindle or as a real book is worth it.

1. Mini Farming: Self-Sufficiency on 1/4 Acre

If you have a quarter acre available, you can grow an amazing amount of food for your family. This book says you may get up to 85% of your family’s needs off that space, and earn money while doing so. All in all, it sounds like a good deal, and a fair bit of work. It covers intensive gardening practices plus a bit about keeping backyard chickens.

Some reviewers on Amazon feel this book doesn’t go into enough depth on the various topics it covers, but others appreciate the simplicity of the descriptions and say it goes into plenty of detail.

2. Grow Great Grub: Organic Food from Small Spaces

So you don’t have a lot of space to grow a garden. That’s not as much of a problem as you might think. This book will help you grow a garden even if you don’t have much of a backyard or even none at all.

3. Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners

If you’re going to be serious about your garden, you need to learn how to save seeds from year to year. This book covers the seed saving techniques for 160 vegetables, as well as pollination techniques and starting vegetables from seed.

4. Back to Basics: A Complete Guide to Traditional Skills, Third Edition

If you want to live sustainably, you need to pick up a variety of traditional skills that most of us no longer know. This book has plenty of photos to illustrate the skills you may want to learn. Most of us won’t use all of the skills, but if you’re serious about your sustainable lifestyle you’ll probably find some skills you’ll be happy to pick up.

5. Vertical Gardening: Grow Up, Not Out, for More Vegetables and Flowers in Much Less Space

Whether your garden space is limited or you just want to make the most of it, vertical gardening can help you grow far more produce in less space by focusing on plants that climb, and low growing plants that are good companions for them. It also covers a lot of basic gardening techniques, which you may not need if you’ve been gardening already.

6. Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables

Canning isn’t the only way to preserve your harvest when you have a garden. A traditional root cellar can help you preserve many fruits and vegetables without putting them in the refrigerator, freezing them or canning them.

This book will help you choose the produce which will store best. It will also help you figure out how to make your root cellar or substitute another cool, dry space in your home if you don’t have the space for a traditional root cellar.

7. Encyclopedia of Country Living, 10th Edition

If you want a thorough reference for country living, this is the book. It covers topics such as alternative energy, candle making, primitive living, raising earthworms, food preservation, seed saving, beekeeping… the list goes on.

The problem some people have is with the sheer volume of information. It doesn’t always get into the details that everyone needs. It’s an encyclopedia, not a book to sit and read, and not everyone finds the format usable.

8. Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: What You Should and Shouldn’t Cook from Scratch — Over 120 Recipes for the Best Homemade Foods

So you aren’t quite sure which foods you should make versus buy. It’s a common problem, and this book addresses it quite nicely. It’s mostly recipes, but also covers raising livestock and whether particular foods are worth the trouble of making them. Worth it isn’t just cost either; it’s the nutritional values that may be even more important in the long run than the upfront cost and time spent.

9. Tiny Homes: Simple Shelter

Not everyone wants a McMansion these days. Many people are recognizing that smaller homes are a great way to live more sustainably, as they really limit how much stuff you can own. This book provides examples of many tiny homes and gives tips on how you can plan your own.

10. Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World

If you’re into things like making your own laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, canning and so forth, or if you want to get into those things, this book is for you. It will help you learn to make all kinds of products at home, even if you live in an apartment.

11. The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses

If you’re serious about growing your own food, greenhouses are one of those things you may get interested in. Being able to grow your own produce regardless of the weather outside is a wonderful thing, and this book will help you do so, and you don’t even have to buy a prebuilt greenhouse, as the book includes instructions to build your own. You’ll also learn which vegetables will do best in unheated greenhouses.

12. DIY Projects for the Self-Sufficient Homeowner: 25 Ways to Build a Self-Reliant Lifestyle

If you’re trying to go gradually more self sufficient, this book will help you with the steps required to get off the grid, including backup systems. Some of the ideas will require more advanced skills than others, but there will be something for most skill levels.

Which Brands of Chocolate Are the Most Ethical to Buy?

Like many others, I have a strong fondness for chocolate. It’s not quite a food group or anything like that, but a nice piece of a good quality chocolate helps to make up for a lot of stresses. The only problem is not not all brands of chocolate are anywhere near equal when it comes to the ethics of the company.

There is a large problem in the cocoa industry with child labor and slavery. This is a huge issue, and to me the most important reason to pay attention to the ethics of the companies you buy chocolate from.

Sustainability is also a concern. Not all cocoa farming methods have a focus on being sustainable or are organic.

It’s not always so simple to figure out which brands are the most ethical to buy as different sources have different guidelines to determine how ethical a chocolate company may be. Green & Black’s gets an A from Better World Shopper, but only 1.5/20 on Ethical Consumer’s default chart. You have to decide which factors matter to you.

It can be frustrating to lose a favored brand to the realization that they may not be entirely up to par with their business practices. I’ve long been fond of Ghirardelli, and they only got a C from Better World Shopper, as there’s no sign that they buy Fair Trade cocoa or anything like that, so it’s time to switch. I’m glad they aren’t the worst, but I wish they’d be better, because their chocolate tastes wonderful.

Why Are We Addicted to Cheap?

Price is a big factor when most of us go shopping, especially if the budget is tight. It makes a lot of financial sense to go for cheaper items when they’re available. If you want to consider ethics, however, cheap isn’t always the way to go. Despite this, many people are addicted to cheap products.

Cheap products can be ethically challenging due to the circumstances under which they’re made. It’s not just the environmental issues, although those are important. It’s the human rights issues, products being made under sweatshop conditions and/or with child labor. It’s the humane treatment of animals.

Paying just a bit more for clothing and other products could go toward significantly improving the living conditions of the people who create these products. Unfortunately, it’s not just price; it’s also the willingness of the business to pay their workers well. Clothing made for Ralph Lauren can be just as problematic as clothes made to be sold at Walmart.

How Can You Keep Your Shopping More Ethical?

Ethics aren’t an easy thing to manage when you’re just trying to keep your family going. You don’t have a lot of extra money to spend sometimes. Even so, there are ways you can buy more ethical products without breaking the bank. It’s one of your few chances to buy cheap while doing good for others.

When it comes to clothing and other reusable products, shopping in thrift stores is often your best choice in terms of ethics and budget. It’s much cheaper than shopping anywhere else, and the money goes to support what are usually good causes in your area.

You can also check out the social responsibility of different companies online. Better World Shopper and Green America offer resources to help you with this.

Supporting co-ops is another good way to go. This isn’t just about food. Many fair trade products are made by co-ops.

Watch Out for False Claims

If you don’t know much about the brand you’re buying, just that they claim to be green or eco in some way, watch out for false or misleading claims. Too many times these claims are poorly regulated at best. If you don’t have time to do the research before purchase or at that moment, keep it in mind for the future.

At the same time, remember that you can’t always make the perfect ethical choice. Better products may not be readily available to you in your area, and you can’t always wait for shipping. Do your best with what’s available to you.