Category Archives: Going Green

The Lesson of the Dishwasher

The Lesson of the Dishwasher

The past two and a half weeks have been full of hand washing dishes around here. You see, the dishwasher died. Now, we rent, so it was the landlord’s problem to handle, but that didn’t make things all that much easier; it just meant it wasn’t my money going into the problem. Anyhow, it came up too expensive to fix, so a new dishwasher has been installed… to my children’s great relief. They learned quite a lesson from not having a dishwasher for a time.

I’ll admit that the mean mommy part of me enjoyed their discomfort. The kids swear they’ll never complain about having to load and unload the dishwasher again. I don’t believe that for a minute, but I do wonder if I can get them to behave about doing the dishes better if I take away their dishwasher privilege. I really don’t think they will want to go back to handwashing so many dishes in the future.

I wasn’t even been nice enough to let them switch to disposable dishes. Actually, I don’t think the thought even occurred to them, or if it did, they never suggested it to me. I use disposable dishes very rarely, usually only when there’s more company than my supply of dishes can handle. I’m very much against that kind of waste when I have a choice.

I hope the kids have also picked up on the notion that the fewer dishes they use, the fewer there are to clean up later. We’ve tried to get this lesson across before, but it has never taken, especially in regards to cups that only held water when they want more water. After hand washing so many cups… maybe? We’ll see.

I’m really glad to have a dishwasher again. This was a long time to go without, and hand washing uses more water, especially when it’s kids doing the dishes. Bit by bit they’ve learned to be more efficient, especially when rinsing, but they still aren’t all that efficient about it.

Of course, now I’m waiting for the garbage disposal to be replaced. It just had to start leaking rusty water the day before the dishwasher was installed. At least that meant it was easy to have the guy take a look and confirm that it can’t be repaired – now I just need to see how long it takes to get this job done!

4 Alternatives to Plastic Bags

Plastic bags are everywhere. They’re convenient. The problem is that they’re also hugely wasteful and are a common form of litter on land and in the ocean and other bodies of water. Thank goodness for the alternatives to plastic bags out there. Here are a few:

4 Alternatives to Plastic Bags1. Cheap Bags Sold By the Store

The cheap reusable bags, often only a dollar or so, sold by many stores, are a common alternative to disposable plastic bags. These aren’t great quality usually, but they do the job for a time. The designs may promote the store you bought them at, or they can be more fun. However, they may not last all that well, and there have been problems with lead in some of them.

2. Cloth Bags

Cloth bags are much better, in my opinion. You can make them yourself if you can sew, but they’re pretty affordable if you’d rather buy premade bags. Depending on the type of cloth, they can be very sturdy and machine washable – important if you’re at all concerned about the germs that can build up over time. You’re likely to use these bags for groceries, after all. You can get bags made of cotton, hemp and jute.

3. Knit Bags

If you want something a little lighter, a knit bag can be good. Small ones can be good for produce, rather than using the plastic bags the store keeps on rolls, and bigger ones can be used to carry your groceries or other purchases in general.

4. Synthetic Material Bags

Synthetic materials can be used to make some very nice reusable bags. They can be sturdy yet fit into a very small space when not in use.

The problem can be how they’re made. Assuming you’re going to use these for a long time, even if they’re from petroleum based materials, synthetic material bags can be better than disposable plastic bags. If you’ll use a bag more often because you can fold it into your purse rather than have to leave it in your trunk because it doesn’t fold small, get the one that folds small.

Where Do You Buy Reusable Bags?

It’s not at all difficult to buy reusable shopping bags. If you just want the cheap ones, your grocery store and other stores in your area probably carry them. If you want something better, you may need to look a little harder. Here are some places to try.

Thrift stores
Garage sales
Grocery stores
IKEA (huge bags!) (carries many brands)

You may find reusable shopping bags other places too – just keep your eyes open, especially if you don’t have enough for your needs yet. No need to overbuy when you’re trying to be good to the environment.

30 Activities For Earth Day

30 Earth Day Activities

Earth Day is a great day for slowing down and thinking about how you treat the environment. Not that you should be ignoring it the rest of the year, but it’s good to take an extra look sometimes and see what you can change, or if there are any little extra things you can do.

This is something the whole family can get into. Earth Day is a good time to share with the kids and anyone else who wants to participate ways to be a little kinder to our planet. So today, I decided to round up some Earth Day activities you can do, whether on your own, with your family or anyone else.


1. Take a hike.
2. Plant a tree – at your home or at a tree planting event.
3. Garden.
4. Make a pinecone bird feeder.
5. Plant seeds in empty egg crates or tin cans.
6. Walk around your neighborhood and pick up trash, or participate in a community Earth Day event.
7. Help the kids find ladybugs and other insects.
8. Go to the beach.
9. Start a compost pile.


9. Recycled paper towel and toilet paper tube tracks.
10. Make a leaf collage.
11. Make paper.
12. Make an egg carton butterfly.
13. Make litter bugs.


14. Let the kids dig in the dirt or mud.
15. Demonstrate water pollution.
16. Teach kids what can be recycled.
17. Find a way for the kids to safely walk to school. Consider a walking school bus.
18. Go to the farmer’s market.


19. Switch to a stainless steel water bottle rather than drink from single use bottles.
20. Consider which batteries you could replace with rechargeable batteries.
21. Rethink your personal care items such as shampoo, makeup and so forth.
22. Find ways to eat less meat.

Read (remember your library!)

23. The Lorax
24. Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf
25. The EARTH Book
26. The Watcher: Jane Goodall’s Life with the Chimps
27. Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed the World
28. Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle
29. Compost Stew
30. Where Do Recyclable Materials Go? Read, Think, Recycle (Garbology Kids)

Want more ideas? Check out my Earth Day Activities Board on Pinterest.

10 Popular Green Products

One of the most popular ways to go green is by shopping green. It’s perhaps not always done right, as people buy more than they need, but it’s usually better than ignoring the environmental impact of products altogether.

Some kinds of products are more popular than others, of course. Today I want to take a look at some of the more popular green product types, what I think of them, and share individual examples.

Eco Friendly Electronics

Eco Friendly Electronics

Electronics are a huge part of modern living for most people, so finding more environmentally friendly options is a big deal. Look for Energy Star ratings and EPEAT registration. Be aware that EPEAT registration doesn’t cover all kinds of electronics, but you can look at the information the manufacturer provides to decide what’s green enough for you. Familiar brands such as Dell, HP and Apple have EPEAT-registered products. EPEAT at this time appears to be mostly for computer products.

Apple MacBook Pro
I’m quite fond of my MacBook Pro, and it’s one of Apple’s products on EPEAT, with a Gold certification.  It’s a good laptop, and I love the mobility, as before I had only owned desktop computers. It has made working from my home much easier.

Samsung UN32EH4003 32-Inch LED HDTV
This is a popular example of an Energy Star television. Nice size, well reviewed by users. It sounds like a good replacement for when an older television needs replacing. Not something that happens much in my family, as there’s one TV in the living room and another, rarely used one in the master bedroom

Organic Food

Chia Seeds

Not everyone agrees about the benefits of organic food, but then it depends on the benefit you’re looking for. Many organizations that compare conventional and organic produce focus on nutrition, but may neglect pesticide and other residues. Organic fruits and vegetables may cost more than conventional produce, but you can get some good deals at farmers markets or through a CSA. It should end up being more local that was too. Just check to be sure you’re definitely getting organic produce.

Chia Seeds
Chia seeds have become very popular as a superfood. I find that soaked chia seeds go well in smoothies and yogurt, plus they can be added to other recipes. The antioxidants in chia seeds are said to be more stable than those in flax seeds, and they’re also high in omega-3 acids, protein and fiber.

Cacao Powder or Nibs
Perfect for chocolate lovers, cacao powder and nibs give you a healthier way to add a chocolate flavor to a variety of treats. It doesn’t taste like chocolate on its own, however; it’s rather bitter. The nibs have cocoa butter in them, but the powder doesn’t, so be aware that there is a difference between them. I like the nibs, but not by themselves. They add an amazing chocolate taste to smoothies. On their own, cacao nibs are very much an acquired taste, but a healthy one if you can manage it.

Baby Supplies

There’s no way around it – babies need a LOT of stuff. My favorite way to deal with a lot of it is handmedowns, and those can cover quite a bit of the clothing and toy needs for the first while. Sometimes even years of supplies, depending on how good a system you have going with family or friends. My youngest daughter, for example, very rarely gets new clothes because she has such an absurd amount of handmedowns, and she’s nearly 4 years old.

For babies, safety is absolutely a concern, which is a part of why people like eco friendly items. It’s one way to avoid potentially harmful chemicals.

Cloth Diapers
I got into cloth diapers with my youngest; couldn’t convince my husband that we could make it wish sooner, and ended up wishing we had done cloth diapers all along. Saved a lot of money with them. We used Bum Genius, but there are a lot of good brands out there. Don’t forget the cloth wipes.

Babies spend a lot of time sleeping (sometimes at the wrong times for new parents!), and so you may care quite a bit about what they’re sleeping on. From the mattress to the sheets, think about your eco friendly options, such as whether the materials used will tend to offgas. Look for Certi-PUR-US certification for mattresses.


Kids of all ages want toys. The trouble is how quickly the things pile up over time. Add in how often toys are plastic, and it’s not often you can call children’s toys green.

I’ll readily admit to being imperfect in most areas, but especially with toys. My kids do have some handmedown and used toys, including an old Capsela set they enjoy, and a whole lot of LEGOs, most of which were my husband’s from when he was growing up. One thing I will say for those is that once in a while you can take advantage of things lasting just about forever.

Bamboo Toys
Bamboo is very popular right now for toys. More environmentally friendly than wood according to many, it makes some pretty nice toys. There are some nice looking bamboo toy cars and bamboo games available.

Plan Toys
Plan Toys offers a wonderful range of toys that are meant to be more environmentally friendly. They’re also fun. They have a good range of toys, including some very nice dollhouses. There’s even a little vegetable garden for the dollhouse.

Reusable Replaces Disposable

I have a few reusable items that are very much favorites. It’s nice being able to keep one thing rather than throwing many out. The trick here is to pick good quality – I’ve had reusable items that just didn’t last well enough for the difference in cost.

Reusable Bottles
My absolute favorite. I have a reusable bottle that I use every day for my water. So does my husband. My kids take reusable bottles to school rather than juice boxes or water bottles. We have saved a lot of money this was.

My husband has a large Klean Kanteen he really likes. The one problem is that it doesn’t fit in the car’s cupholders, but it’s otherwise a great bottle.

I much prefer stainless steel reusable bottles to plastics or polycarbonates. I’ve had polycarbonate and plastic bottles break on me, but so far no one has managed to break one of the stainless steel ones. Dent, yes, but not severely enough to matter.

Rechargeable Batteries
Rechargeable batteries can be challenging for some uses, but for others they’re wonderful. We have a nice charger that can take pretty much any size, and a stash of batteries.

If the toy or other item is going to sit a lot without being used, rechargeable batteries may as well be taken out. In my experience, they don’t hold a charge for months on end for items that aren’t being used. It’s very frustrating for kids to try to play with a toy they haven’t noticed in some time, only to find out that they have to wait for the batteries to charge. Pulling the batteries on less-used toys doesn’t make them any more ready to go, but it does mean you can use the batteries for more than one thing, and you might be able to move them from toy to toy as interests demand.

Top Posts for 2012

Just going through my statistics here to find out what my most popular posts this year were. It’s interesting to see what people found interesting here.

Green Stay at Home Mom top posts 2012

36 Eco Friendly Quotes
I expected this one to be popular, people like quotes. It was fun locating relevant quotes and then designing the graphics.

13 Great Apps for Green Living
Another one that didn’t surprise me much. With the popularity of apps, sharing ones that help people be a little more eco friendly was a natural.

Is Citric Acid an Eco Friendly Cleaner?
Citric acid is a new favorite cleaner of mine. I don’t know that it’s perfect solution for eco friendly cleaning, but it’s really safe to use around the kids, and pretty effective.

6 Ways to Use Leftover Turkey
I’m actually pretty fond of leftover turkey. You can use it up so many ways, making it a very affordable meat.

Being a Green Soccer Mom
My son loves soccer. It’s great for getting kids out and exercising. The snacks for after games can be a little wasteful and unhealthy.

There’s HOW Much Arsenic in Rice??
Another interesting one to write. Rice can be fairly healthy, properly prepared (especially if you avoid white rice), but it has its problems too.

It’s Time For Back to School! Do You Have Green School Supplies?
Back to school shopping takes so much work. A little extra effort is required to make them a little more eco friendly while sticking to what the teacher says your child needs.

You Can Buy Happiness (and It’s Cheap!) Book Review
I was sent this book to review, and the post was fairly popular. I’d call that a good deal overall.