Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cutting clutter the green way

Clutter can really cloud a persons mind after a while. If I walk into my house and there is clutter and junk everywhere, I simply cannot even think straight. Then I start to look around and notice all the things I asked my children to pick up but they didn't. I walk through my house and start to notice everything from finger prints on walls, toothpaste spit in the sink, dirty clothes on the floor, and so on. I literally scream in my head "Ahhhhh!". Breath.. just breath! 
Most of the clutter is easily avoidable. Its usually things that I want to fix, donate, or are awaiting a final place in my home. I have a problem with putting things by my front door thinking that this will help me remember to take care of them. Not so much. I really do have the worst memory and my poor husband gets so bent out of shape about it. Sorry honey!  By thinking about things and avoiding things, you can get a hold on your clutter problem. If your not using it and your not enjoying it, get rid of its the most ecological way possible.  So this means you need to sell it, give it to friends or family, or repair it. Don't forget about recycling it so the  raw materials can be used again. The worst thing you can do is throw it away. 


*Avoid processed food or individual serving size packaging. Its always more expensive and it creates more waste than a single larger package.  Things like processed food, medications are now individual doses for traveling, to go food, etc. Just avoid it all together.

*Buy products that are in recyclable packaging or even better is to buy stuff in no packaging.  

*Buy in bulk whenever possible. Everything from food to shampoo or conditioner can be bought in bulk. Reuse your container when you go to buy more. Some stores have policies so you might want to call the store ahead of time. Places like Whole Foods, New Seasons or any all natural store usually want you to bring your own. Just make sure to wash the container out really well.

*Just because you buy a big box of something doesn't mean its less packaging. Read the label really closely and make sure it truly is a larger amount. Some crackers or snack foods are in single serving sizes in really large box's. 

* Want to recycle hazardous or poisonous materials? Keep all contents into the original containers and never remove labels. Workers at the recycling center use this information to put each item in its place. While were on the subject never ever put toxic anything into different containers like soda pop bottles etc. Many children die each year because they thought they were drinking or eating something when really it was toxic stuff their family members put in it. 

*Buy only as much as you can use in a reasonable amount of time. Lets say you need cement powder. You see a killer deal on it and want to buy a ton of it. Think about it before you buy. If you do not use it up quickly or store it smart, it will turn hard from moisture in the air. How about instead of storing it, let your friends/family use up the rest. Better of getting used then having to throw it away later. Same goes for food. Buy what you need. If its not able to be frozen or dried then give it away.

*Buy high quality durable goods. Buying a expensive tool once may be less expensive than buying a cheaply made cheaper one and having to replace it several times. You will be also buying fewer items in return making your home less cluttered. Also look for items that can be repaired. Most items now days are meant to be used and when broken you have to discard them. Buy something with good quality and can be fixed. 

*Owning more than you can take care of it also a way to be too cluttered. For example clothing. I get so much free clothing from friends and family that it would take over. Finally I realized I cannot store THAT MUCH clothing and had to purge. Now I keep what I want and give the rest away to friends or family. Problem solved!  The same idea can be used in other ways. Garage items like lumber, paints, etc. Things can deteriorate after time and really should be used sooner than later. Wood warps and things like putty dry out. These things would be not usable and would need to be thrown out. If you only bought what you needed, you will be saving yourself money. Its better than throwing your money away.

*Take care of your possessions. Clean them, fix them and store them correctly. Its always a good rule to do this to anything before you put it away. Next time you go to use that item your going to have to take extra time to fix or clean it. Just do it at that time and save yourself time later.


*Do your editing or doodling on the computer not on paper. Your wasting paper.

*Make double sided copies. Use up each side and you will be using less paper. Then you will have less clutter later.

*Use blank side of paper that comes into your home for drafts or note paper. I use my blank side papers to print up color pages for my kids. We reuse any paper with a blank side and then we recycle it when done. 

*Store reams of paper up off the ground in a dry spot. Once paper gets wet it will mildew and you cannot use it. This means it needs to be recycled and it waste your money. Also properly stored paper is less likely to jam your printer.


Living sustainable required more than simple loading empty containers into a recycling bin and waiting for some company to take them away. Processing raw materials into reusable form requires a ton of energy;reusing materials conserves all the original processing energy.  Before the Industrial Revolution, people were painfully aware of how much effort went into the objects that made up their material world.  Back then most of the work was done by hand and people tried to reuse everything they could. When your shirt was unrepairable it was used for fabric to make quilts or made into rug's.  Sweaters and coats with holy arms were turned into vest.  Pants were turned into shorts or skirts. All lumber, bricks and building stones were reused for future projects.  Many even turned their collecting of these things into a living. Now days everything is so cheaply made that nothing is worth anything and usually gets discarded. "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." A famous quote our foremother's used to say. Now more than ever this quote means so much.


Now days everything is disposable and it really makes me sick. You can easily avoid having clutter is you avoid certain things.  And these few changes can make a HUGE difference in our solid waste.

*STOP buying paper towels and use cloth napkins. Just wash them with your normal wash after each use. 

*Stop buying plastic wrap and aluminum foil.  Instead use unbleached wax paper because it can be composted.  

*Pack lunches in sturdy, reusable and insulated lunch bags rather than paper bags. You can buy reusable fabric bags instead of the zip lock style ones. Just wash them once a week.  

*Instead of buying individual size portions of food, pack your own in reusable containers. 

Party Waste Reduction

This was a hard thing for me to do but i'm now 100% free of party waste. Yippee!  I no longer have to worry about buying paper plates or plastic utensils and feel guilty about it.

*Use your own plates, cups and utensils. Just wash them when your done. I have 2 sets of dishes.  One set for everyday use and the other I only pull out when we have company. Again you can use your fabric napkins we talked about a minute ago. 

*Reuse posters to make party signs. You can make a Happy Birthday sign and reuse it many times.

*If you really do not want to go through the hassle of washing all these items, there are many products out there that are eco friendly. You can now find preserved plastic cutlery (recycled plastic turned into new items) and compostable cutlery that is environmentally friendly and a great alternative.  Nat0Ur, Inc is a company where you can find many great eco friendly products. They sell everything from potato based biodegradable compost bags, leaf and yard bags, cups, bowls, plates, drinking straws, cup lids, boxes, food containers, and cutlery.


*Stop buying wrapping paper.  It is the worst when it comes to gift waste. Its bought and used once before it's thrown away. 

*Use homemade fabric bags made from fabric scraps. It can be used so many times before it falls apart. 

*Use new pillowcases in a pretty pattern.  

*A new silk scarf can be used as gift wrapping.

*Canvas tote bag, a colander, garden basket, or a fancy potting plant can be used for putting a gift in.  


*Most plastic can be recycled but recyclers will not pick them up at your curb. Call your local recycling program and ask which plastic's they take. All plastic in my home is saved and taken in. Everything from bread plastic bags, plastic ties off the bread bags, plastic strip you take off frozen juice containers, and even plastic you find in a envelope. It all can be reused.

*Glass is the first thing people think of that can be easily recycled. If you do not take off lids or caps, they will not take them.  Only clean and unbroken glass will be recycled. So be careful when you store these items. Our recycle program only takes glass that the opening is smaller than the rest of the glass container. Might call to make sure.

*Making aluminum cans from old cans uses 95% less energy than making new ones from raw bauxite ore. This is why aluminum cans are a valuable commodity. So recycle those cans!

*All aluminum should be clean and free of food residues before its recycled. They will not take it if its not clean. Everything from yogurt tops, aluminum wrapper from chocolate bars, to aluminum you use in the kitchen. It's all recyclable.

*Any type of paper can be recycled as long as its not coated with any wax. Cereal boxes, wrapping paper, and even egg cartons. Throw it all in.

*Plastics can be a tricky one. Call your local recycling program to ask which #'s of plastic they take.  Remember that if they do not take it at the curb, it doesn't mean they do not accept them. They might want these taken in separately so they can be recycled easier. Some machines that separate items may not be able to recognize all plastics. 

*Plastic grocery bags can be avoided by bringing in your own reusable fabric bags. Most stores now have a recycling program for their plastic bags. Look for large bins in the front of the stores. I avoid them all together. If I do not have a bag, I carry all items in my hand or put them back in my cart and load them in my car. When I get home my kids like to help me bring things in the house. This way even my small 5 yr olds can help!

*Foam packaging peanuts can be avoided really easy. Do not buy unless its local. This way you can ask not to be packaged. If you do not bring them into your home, you will not need to store them or figure out what to do with them. Now days you can find eco friendly corn based packaging peanuts that can be put into your compost. . Ask for this alternative if your needing to package and ship anything. Also ask for paper tape to tape the package shut. 

*Computers, phones, and other electronics can be taken care of a few ways. If it's working donate it. If its broken, take it apart and recycle it.  

*Old carpet can be recycled. If you cannot recycle it at your local recycle program, try calling local carpet shops. Ask if they participate in a carpet recycling program.  

*Appliances that no longer work or are fixable also can be easily removed from your home. One good way is to look in your local paper in the want ad's. 99% of the time you will find a want ad for unwanted appliances. They will even come for free and haul it away. They will take it, break it down and recycle it completely. We had a neighbor who did this. He would drive around the city and pick up appliances people would leave on their yard or driveway hoping someone would take it. Just throw a "FREE" sign on it and guarantee it will be gone.

To find more ways to green up your home, check out this great book. Green Housekeeping by Ellen Sandbeck. This is my new favorite author and i'm already on her 2nd book. Find it at your local bookstore but if you cannot find it, its available at Amazon.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Homemade Goodness "Quinoa Garden Burger"

Ive been trying to find ways to incorporate protein into our diets as much as possible but when you have picky little girls its hard. My oldest daughter usually sticks her nose up at everything it seems. I have made quinoa a few different times but nothing seemed to be tasty enough for the girls so I moved onto other things. Quinoa is a strong tasting grain that packs a lot of protein for its size.  It can be found in just about any store now which is great. Ive found it in the bulk section and its usual home is in the grain isle. On average its $3.99 per lb. 
Last night I decided to try one last recipe in a last ditch effort to use up my quinoa. I made it, served it in whole wheat hamburger buns and brought it out to my girls. I about fell over when my oldest daughter said it was really yummy. I literally  jumped up and down because I finally made something she likes! 
This recipe can be altered a few ways which I will note in the recipe. 

Quinoa Garden Burgers-serves 8

1 tbsp Olive Oil
8 oz Fresh small chopped Mushrooms (you cannot taste them so dont worry even mushroom haters will not taste them) smaller the better.
Salt and Pepper to taste
15 oz can (or 1 1/2 cups) garbanzo beans. I used homemade black beans instead (way better).
3/4 cup rolled oats(you do not taste this and most never know its there) 
2 cups fully cooked quinoa (1 cup dried 2 cups water cook till tender in rice cooker)
1 cup of green peas
1/2 cup fresh parsley or 2 tbsp dried
1 cup of small chopped onion ( I would use 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 350 degree's.  Lightly grease an 8" loaf pan with oil; set aside.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown, 6-8 minutes.  Meanwhile, put beans, oats and 1/2 cup of water into a food processor(or blender)  and pulse until smooth. In a large bowl, combine mushrooms, bean mixture, quinoa, peas, parsley, onion, salt and pepper;transfer to prepared loaf pan, gently pressing down and mounding it in the middle.  Bake until firm and golden brown, 1-1/2 hours. Set aside and let rest for 10 minute; slice and serve. 

Another way you can cook it, which is how I did, is use a cookie sheet instead of a loaf pan. I realized after I started that this takes so long so in order to cook it faster I used a cookie sheet. You need to spray some olive oil on the pan and spread the quinoa mixture and make it completely level. Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour until golden brown and firm.  Cool for 5 minutes. Take a pizza cutter and cut into patty sizes. We put a slice of cheese on each patty.  

Per serving 170 calories, 4 grams of fat, 200 mg sodium(or none if you add no salt), 28 grams of carbohydrate, 6 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein.

I will continue to test this recipe in different ways. Might try to cook them when shaped like patties and try different beans.  Also want to note that my burgers looked like actual burgers because I used black beans. Might want to consider this if you have children. I also think that you could use this mixture in many other recipe's. Its actually crumbly, looks and taste just like burger. I think you could use it in any recipe that calls for hamburger meat.  Also this can be stored really easy to. I simply put natural wax paper squares in between each burger and put into a freezer safe container so it would freeze well and not stick to each other. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

They got your back but do you have theirs?

I'm talking about pets of course. A 1991 study conducted by the National Research Council determined that illness in pets can be a sign that there is something wrong with their home environment, and their owners are at risk. People knew this about birds so why didn't they think this about their other companions? Duh!

In 2008, the Environmental Working Group tested blood and urine samples from 35 dogs and 37 cats. The results were shocking. Dogs were contaminated by 35 different chemicals, including eleven carcinogens, 31 reproductive toxins, and 24 neurotoxins. Have you heard of perfluorochemicals? These are the toxic chemicals used to make stain and rease repellent finishes and nonstick cookware. Yummy huh? Canine levels of perfluorochemicals were 2.4 higher than those of humans. The mercury levels in cats and dogs were five times higher that us humans.

Not only that but dogs have higher rates of cancer than we do too. Including 35 times more skin cancer, four times more breast tumors, eight times more bone cancer and twice the incidence of leukemia. 20-25 percent of dogs die of cancer. Thats just astonishing.

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in 1991 reported that dogs two or more times likely to develop lymphoma of their owners sprayed or sprinkled herbicide 2,2-4 on their lawns four or more times per year. I knew these things were not healthy but I didn't even think about what they would do to our pet. I feel awful about the few times we did put things on our lawn years ago.

Malignant Lymphoma is the canine equivalent of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in humans. Just imagine what all these chemicals are doing to not only your pets but your children. Yeah those children of yours who play all day in the grass, play with bugs, pick their noses, suck their thumbs, and who knows what else. Just think of all the chemicals they are in contact with. Apparently word is not getting around because people each year stock up on these chemicals to keep their lawns pretty, weed free and bug free. Lets stop thinking about how our yard will look and think about our children's health.

Pet owners seem to be more attentive when it comes to these things. More and more pet owners are stopping the use of any chemicals because they know the risk. More and more pet owners pets are getting cancer in their pads of their paws.

Lets not forget the felines here. Feline hypothyroidism is now the leading cause of cat death. But where do they get exposed to chemicals if they are indoor cats? The suspected endorcrine toxins are flame retardants .   Products like mattresses, furniture cushions, carpet padding and electronics. Just about every household has these in their homes. Pervasive PBDE's (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers) mimic thyroid hormones so experts suspect that high exposure to PBDEs can overstimulate cat's thyroids. Luckily they have been banned in the United States as of 2004 but other brominated flame retardants are still in widespread use.

Another thing thats harmful to our pets is polyurethane foam. Its in all our furniture, stuffings, etc. It begins to break down and turn into dust. Petroleum-based foam products become more dangerous as they age.  If you inhale these things its not good at all for you or your pet. You wont even know your inhaling it. Just sit down to watch TV and thats enough to release the dust into the air.

How do we avoid all this? Stop using lawn chemicals of any sort. Choose your furniture wisely.  There are plenty of non-toxic alternatives.  Cotton stuffed futons are the safest inexpensive choice for sleeping on a budget.  Do not use any air freshener sprays because pets are more sensitive to these due to all the synthetic chemicals in them. No plug in's, automatic spray and no gel type either. Again synthetic chemicals are in these and even the plug in's. And don't forget that animals do not know whats good to eat or not. Those gel fragrance's smell yummy to them to just do not buy them to be safe. To freshen up your home open the windows and let fresh air in. Try buying soy candles and burn them up where they pets cannot reach them. One way I keep my pets safe is burning soy candles in a wall mounted candle holder. They cannot reach this making it safer. Another thing to avoid is linen sprays. These are packed with synthetic chemicals as well. Your animals love snuggling up in your bed(even when you do not want them to) or in your blankets.

So back to the point of this post. Your animals got your back, do you have theirs? As Ellen Sandbeck says "If you can't decide whether a lush, green lawn or a healthy pet is more important to you, you need a stuffed animal, not a live pet." I guess the same goes with children too. Buy a doll if you cannot make the right decision.

I found great information for this post in Green barbarians by Ellen Sandbeck. If you want to find more information pick up her book and get to reading.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

What do tree's and soap have in common?

Soap Nus is the answer. Soap Nuts (Sapindus species) are a native to tropical regions, and peole have been using the saponin-rich dried fruits of these tree's for cleaning purposes for centuries.  Saponins are sugar derivatives that produce a soapy lather when mixed with water.  Most nut plantations are found in India and Napal.  Do not try to go buy yourself a tree because these tree's take nine years to bear any fruit.  Good thing is that they continue to bear fruit for 100 years. Good investment if you ask me! 

How do I use soap nuts?  There are 3 methods of using soap nuts. The first way is to put three to four soap nuts into a cloth bag or tied of sock. Throw into your washer and the agitation of the wash cycle will release saponins from the soap nuts. Hot water is recommended because the saponins extract more efficiently than warm or cold water. 

Second way of using soap nuts is to buy soap nut powder. This is the easiest way to use it but the powder may clog filters of a washing machine. I think this method I will pass on.  

Third option is to make soap nut tea out of powdered soap nuts.  Boil four tablespoons of soap nut powder in about one cup of water. Turn off the heat and allow the tea to cool. Once cooled you may strain out the solids and store the soap  nut tea in plastic (or glass) squeeze bottle.  Front loaders use one teaspoon and standard washers use one tablespoon full.  The great thing about making soap nut tea is you can use hot, warm or cold water to wash your clothing. Many people have sworn by soap nut tea because they have extremely sensitive skin and have never had any trouble with the soap nut tea.
You can find soap nuts and soap nut powder online. Amazon has a wide selection of them and you can easily get free shipping if you buy $25 worth. Other great places to find the soap nuts/powder is from Neemresource , Nature with Love or Maggie's Pure Land.  

I myself have not used soap nuts before but will in the future. Currently I make my own laundry soap but when I do this it requires me to keep a 5 gallon bucket in my laundry room sink.  Which is kinda annoying when I am trying to scrub out a stain in a shirt but have no room to do so. When I decide to try out the soap nuts I will also be looking into how budget friendly this option is along with time consuming considering I have to make soap nut tea. 

What are your thoughts on this? Have you used soap nuts before? Have a great place to buy it thats cheap? Share your thoughts!

Friday, March 26, 2010


Off to Goodwill Outlet today with my girls. If you have never been to a outlet, you might wanna track down your closest one! Everything is sold by the pound except furniture which is marked own super cheap. Nothing is hung so you get a work out digging through bins.  Today i'm on the hunt for shirts. For some reason I keep getting pin holes in my shirts. I think its a conspiracy thing! Companies make their shirts get holes in them somehow so I have to go buy more. Kinda a kawinka-dink that they only get holes in the front don't ya think? Urrr! (as I raise my fist to the sky). I'm sure I will find lots of things besides shirts and of course I will share them with you!
Speaking of saving money, are you looking for a good read? My best all time go to books are The Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn.  Start with one and you will soon wanna buy I, II, and III. This book is a how to live your life on a frugal budget. From amazing recipe's, how to build things, how to stretch your food budget, and so many quirky tips that I cannot write them all down. This is a must have set of books! I own all 3 and pull them out to read all the time. Go get them!

UPDATE:I spent $20 and was able to get one very large bag full of stuff. Only 3 shirts for myself bummer! But some is better than none. Was able to find a almost brand new pair of Lands End winter boots for my daughter. Those alone are expensive.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Clothesline Talk

Some of my favorite memories of my childhood are of going to my grandmothers. My mother and grandmother would hang their clothes on the line and I loved watching the clothes sway back in forth in the wind. Years went by and one day I decided to put up my own line to hang our clothing on. Problem was it was a rental and had no back yard. But we had a back porch covering with post and to me it was a challenge. I installed a line with screw eye holes and wire I found in my husband's garage. Little did I know it was speaker wire that was super expensive...oops! Sorry honey! My line was about 4 ft wide only but I put it to good use. I was able to dry lots of clothing outside. It really did not save us much money but I was so happy. I have been improving my lines ever since.
Now that I own my own home, I take advantage of all the outside space I can. I simply bought some clothing line from my local Dollar Store and scrounged up some nails from our garage. Luckily there were some screw eye's already attached to the side of my home (were holding tree's up with string I think) so I simply attached the clothesline to it. I hammered a nail on my fence and then bent it so I could hook the clothesline on it. Then I measured how much I needed and cut the string. I then tied a knot at the end of my string and made a loop. This made it easy for me to hang up my line and hide it when it was not in use. I did this in 3 area's of my back yard.  I found 3 area's where the wind was strongest or the sun was all day.
I also own 2 drying racks that I keep inside my home. My girls are in soccer and most of their clothes are made of polyester(uurrr) so they can be laid flat to dry.  Shin guards cannot be put in the dryer so they are put on as well. My laundry room is very small and I cannot put the racks in there due to the back door also being located in there. My husband really doesn't like the look of them so I only use them at night when we sleep.  One rack I purchased at Target years ago when they were selling items for dorm rooms. Its  a combination of wood and paper rolls wrapped with plastic. I think I paid maybe $5 for it. The other I just purchased at Costco for $21 and its my favorite. It's metal, folds up super slim which makes it easy for me to put in between my washer and dryer, and folds out to hold everything from shoe's to sweaters. They still have them so go look for them!

Now anytime its not raining, my clothes are outside on the line. Not only am I saving money on our energy bill but also cutting back on wear and tear on our clothing. The dryer is so hard on our clothing and that is why you see so much lint in the lint catcher. Also my whites are so much whiter when I line dry them.

Up for this challenge? Get crafty and find a way to line dry your clothing. While your at it, stop using dryer sheets or liquid softeners.  They are basically just chemicals and actually cause your static electricity. Plus the chemicals build up on your clothing causing dirt to stick to your clothing more making your garments dingy.  I found dryer balls at my local Rite Aid dollar section for $3. They work amazing and my clothes dry super fast and have no static electricity anymore. Here are some alternatives for you.
Amazon has them for as low as $4.99
Baby's R Us has them for $14.99 if you want to skip shipping cost.
Target  has them for $12.99 online. Call to see if your local store has them in their store.

Dont want to buy them? Want to try your hand at making them? Try these out!
Make your own wool dryer balls and Goodmama shows you how.
I hear you can use tennis balls but have yet to test it. I think that the rubber would make my clothes smell, dont you? Something worth trying.

Have in convinced you to try this out?   Here are a few online vendors that sell drying racks, clotheslines and accessories:
Vermont Country Store
Breeze Dryer
Urban Clotheslines

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Potty Talk

Our water usage as a whole is just plain depressing. We have tripled our water usage in the last 50 years. A major concern is inland water shrinkage caused by rivers being diverted for irrigation. Ever year the fire season in many places get longer and longer and some there are no fire season anymore. Its just fire's all year long. Guess what they use to put these fires out? You guessed it, water.
Drought, fire or flood and global warming are causing havoc on our world's water supply. Fresh water is used in our toilets. Yep, the water we use to drink is used in our toilets. Why waste fresh water on our toilets? No idea.  One thing we can do is limit our water usage when it comes to our toilets. This is a really easy thing to do and requires no gadgets or even cost one penny.
"If it's yellow, it's mellow.  If it's brown, flush it down." Really do not know who said this but its sticked for over 30 years now. This is a great option for those who have standard toilets but do not have the money to replace them. You will see a significant reduction on your water bill just by doing this one thing. Especially those with children (4 munchkins for me).

Did you know the average adult produces .6 to 2.5 liters of urine each day? How about this, the average person flushes a toilet between seven and nine times a day. Holy cow! Today I decided to count how many times I visited the bathroom and it was 6 times. If you own a standard high flow toilet then your using up to 6 gallons per flush. Low flow toilets use about 1.6 gallons per flush which is a huge improvement. Thankfully now in 2010 we have several options for toilets now. Lets get familiar with them.

Dual-flush toilets have a half-flush button that initiates a .8 gallon flush just for urine and a full-flush button that initiates a 1.6 gallon flush just for solids. Standard toilets cost around $100 depending on brand. The dual flush toilet cost on average $300-$400. Thats a huge price difference and is probably the reason why people usually go with the standard toilet.

The no-mix toilet has a divided bowl that separates human waste. Liquids go in front and solids are deposited in back.  Water flushes the solids into your sewer system and urine is sent to a storage tank.  Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology demonstrated that separate collection and treatment of urine could greatly reduce water pollution, reduce the cost of sewage treatment, and last but not least, allow the urine to be easily recycled into fertilizer.  Yes you read it right, fertilizer.

Waterless toilets
Waterless toilets require no water or a flushing system.  They are made of specially glazed, perfectly smooth ceramic or of synthetic materials with a liquid-repelling gel coating.  Liquids cannot stick to these surfaces, and neither can odor causing bacteria.  The urine flows off the surfaces of these urinals and is funneled through a trap that contains a biodegradable liquid sealant that is lighter than water.  The urine flows right through the sealant and the sealant closes up after it, preventing odors from wafting up from the urinal. They also require half as much maintenance and cleaning as did the conventional flushing models. These also require less plumbing and are less expensive to install.
Places to find waterless toilets
Kohler Online Catalog
Waterless Ecotrap
Fun Fact:Waterless urinals have been installed at the Taj Mahal, The Rose Bowl Stadium, The Statue of Liberty, and McMurdo Station in Antarctica.  If these places are using them, why can't the average family do it?

While your at cutting back on your water usage, try cutting back your toilet paper usage too! Were still going strong on our clothe wipe challenge. Once in a while I have to fish out a pee pee clothe(what my kids call them) but thats okay. So far I have only bought toilet paper once a month. I buy one dozen rolls of toilet paper and it last our family of 6 a month. Average savings for us is over $20. Wouldn't you like to keep an extra $20 in your pocket? Try this challenge!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Green Review Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value shampoo/conditioner and lotion

These last few years I have switched from horrible toxic cleaners to all natural or homemade ones. Ive switched from nasty sponges to handmade knit ones, paper towels to fabric ones, and just about everything else you can think of. I really want to make our life as green as possible in any way I can. Its a slow process but so worth it.

This week I decided to switch my regular shampoo/conditioner for a all natural option. I really wanted to find something in a metal container ( I dislike plastic!) but only found one option and it was crazy expensive. Once again I asked my trusty Whole Foods gal which shampoo/conditioner was the best seller and affordable. Prices on these range from $3.99-$20+ and besides different smells I really didn't know which one to try. On the top of her best seller list was their 365 Everyday Value line. I ended up choosing their Lavender because its for oily/to normal hair. My hair tends to get oily after 2 days so this one would be perfect. At $3.99 for 16 fl oz each, this is the best value for your money when it comes to all natural hair care. I have 4 daughters and we go through a lot of hair products so this price I can handle.
The 365 everyday value line has
No Parabens
No sodium lauryl sulfate
No sodium laureth sulfate
No artificial fragrance
No animal ingredients or testing
Each bottle is made from 50% post consumer recycled content
Label reads:These ingredients are minimally processed, are easy on the environment and are less likely to cause skin irritation or allergies.

Results:I have used it 2 times so far and love it! At first I thought my hair would smell like a big lavender bush but I was wrong. Its just a nice smell of "clean hair". When I put the shampoo on I was thrown off. It didn't get all sudsy like I was used to and really wasn't sure if I had completely washed my hair or not. My trusty Whole Foods lady says the chemical's is what makes shampoo's sudsy. I rinsed my hair (it was very squeaky clean) then added the conditioner. I left mine on for five minutes because it needed a good deep conditioning treatment.  I rinsed my hair and it felt really soft and completely washed.  Once dry it felt amazing! No crazy dry hair, no oily over conditioned hair, and no build up. Just amazing clean hair. I am hooked. Next I will try out their mint line.
On a side note, I read on their website some reviews on the hair care and there were a lot of not so good comments. Apparently they changed their formula and regular customers say that the new line smells of chemicals.  I have not smelled the old formula and didn't really know there was a new formula so I cannot vouch for any of that information. But I do know that I do not smell any chemicals in my hair care products that I just bought. My shampoo/conditioner says it "Moisturizes and restores" and it delivered.

At the same time I purchased my new shampoo/conditioner I also bought new lotion. Their 356 lotion was also a best seller and budget friendly. This retails $5.99 for 32 fl oz.  They had mint, citrus, lavender and fragrance free. My trusty Whole Foods lady told me that she usually buys the fragrance free and just ad's her own essential oils that she is in the mood for. What a great idea!  I have so many essential oils in my home for making my own cleaning products, candles, soaps, etc. I ended up getting the fragrance free because I really did not like the other scents all that much. I did like the mint but knew one day I might not want the mint. This lotion is also free of parabens, sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, has no artificial fragrance and are not tested on animals or made of any animal ingredients.

Results:That night I took a bath and used this lotion. One thing the trusty lady didn't tell me was that a little goes a long way. Holy cow! This bottle will last me a long time for sure and making my money stretch even further! Its nice, light and doesn't make my skin oily feeling. It absorbs nicely and keeps me feeling protected. I absolutely love this stuff!  I love it so much that I decided to get rid of my old lotions that I felt horrible about using them. You know...the VS $10 a bottle with matching body sprays? I donated them all to my daughters friends. They were happy and so was I. I did keep all my sprays because I use them like perfume and they do not touch my skin.  Once they are gone, its all natural perfume as well.

If you would like to find out more about Whole Foods 365 line CLICK HERE . Its not just whole body products but everything you can think of. Just about each item your looking for will have a 365 everyday value product. You save big money by buying their line of products. 

Whats next? Perfume, hair spray, and anything else you can think of. I am taking my time but eventually all toxic and unhealthy items will be out of my home for good!

What about you? You have a favorite shampoo/conditioner you use? Speak up and share with everyone!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Easter is coming. Are you ready?

We do the usual each year. Buy a dye kit and let the kids go nuts. Thats all about to change. This year I plan on trying to dye our eggs a more natural way. Not sure which method we are going to use but I thought I would share all these great idea's with you. I found some great crafts and all around fun projects for the whole family. Remember you do not have to stick to the plan, you can alter your project anyway you want. :)

Make and Take has lots of great idea's.
Hunt for mixed up eggs is a fun way to get the kids to find the eggs you ( I mean the Easter bunny!) hide.
Easter candy made into lollipops is sure to get the kids excited.
Recycled Easter bunny basket would be so much fun! shows us how to make natural easter dye from lots of herbs and produce.

Jupiterschild sells all natural easter dye kits for only $12 (plus shipping) on Whats nice is that she does all the work for you, you just have fun!

Better Homes & garden has great recipes for all natural dye's that you can use for Easter eggs.

You didn't think Martha Stewart would forget to show us the perfect way to dye egg's did you? Oh Martha, you did it again!

Looking to buy Easter gifts? Here are a few great finds!

Take a peek at these beautiful wool eggs I found on  Maybe they will inspire you to do your own craft!

Easter Plantable Paper would be really fun. Just send or give this great gift and let their gift grow!

Give this worried bunny to any little one. I just love the simplicity of this bunny.

Donate this set of Easter Crayons to your child's classroom. What fun would these be!

I am in love with these nested hair pins. So beautiful.

Easter Galore

activity village has dozens of Easter printables for you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Colds go away!

UPDATE:Just learned 3 of my girls have step throat. That cost me $80 to find out ($20 each co pay) but since Hagan's wants people to get prescribed drugs from their store, they made a deal with our doctor and gave us free medication! So I saved about $30. So no gym, no fun time for mom. Its gonna be a long week......But we will be doing the same thing listed below. They have a horrible cough and all of the stuff below seems to be helping them out. Just hope I don't get strep throat.

Today I woke up feeling very refreshed. I scrambled to find my slippers and off I went to wake my older girls for school. My oldest says she doesn't feel very well which concerns me because she never complains about anything. Then my twins wander into the living room and tell me the same thing. Oh no, please say it isn't so. Nuts! One of them has a fever. So thats 3 out of 4 kids that are sick. Lucky me! I get the only healthy child off to school and off I go to get some medicine for the girls. My favorite place to get anything for the home is Whole Foods. Its the closest all natural store to me and I love their staff who helps me anytime I need help with anything. I thought it would be nice to share with you what we do when a cold or flu comes our way. I want people to know that all natural homeopathic medicine is better for your family and most of the time its cheaper.

We have used several different brands of liquid cold medicine but somehow we go back to Boiron each time. It can be found just about anywhere now which is great. I received a sample pack from the company about a year ago and it was the first all natural type of medicine we tried. I was skeptical about it because we had only used main stream medicines from the local grocery store. The medicine came through with flying colors. My kids love the taste of it and I love that they are not getting drugged up.  They offer two forms of medicine. Liquid is my girls favorite because it taste like honey and has no after taste. I never have to hold my girls down to give them their medicine anymore. Don't judge! You know we have all done it! lol. The other form is quick-dissolving pellets that taste sweet. Its more of a treat than a medicine really. Today I picked up the large bottle of Boiron Chestal Honey for $11.99 with a $1 off coupon that they had at the store. 1tsp-2tsp is all they need so this will last a long time.  It's in a paper box and a glass bottle so it can be recycled.  I also picked up a box of Oscillocococcinum, which is for flu like symptoms, for my 5 yr old with a fever. It comes with 6 doses of quick-dissolving pellets which is good for 2 days.  Once her fever is gone, its liquid medicine for her.

Recently I switched from main stream cough drops to Thayer's Slipper Elm Lozenges. At $2.99 a box I was skeptical once again. Boy was I wrong. My kids love these things and they work so good.  Our favorite flavors are tangerine and cherry.  These lozenges are preservative free, menthol free, gluten free and lactose free. Each lozenge has 150 mg of elm bark which is a oral demulcent that is is meant to relieve the irritation of the inflamed mucous membrane.  The box is small but contains 24 lozenges. Were on cold 2 and still have the same original 2 boxes I bought last time.  Another great thing about these is that the packaging is 100% recyclable. Sweet!

Things we use that we already have in our kitchen.

Honey-If my girls are just tired of having cough drops, they love just a teaspoon of honey instead. It soothes their through and quiets their cough.

Tea-Caffeine free tea is a must in any home. We prefer loose leaf tea but will use tea bags as well.  My girls favorite is peppermint tea or lemon verbena(from my garden last year) with a teaspoon of organic raw honey.  Just make your favorite tea and drink it as hot as you can stand it.  The tea will break down so much of the mucus and your cough will go away so fast. It really is the quickest way to calm your cough.

Neti Pot-This is a new addition to our home. I picked up a pretty ceramic Neti Pot the last time the girls were sick. The Neti Pot has been around for centuries and is used for common colds, allergies and nasal congestion.  You simply use a mixture of all natural salt, baking soda and warm water. Fill the Neti Pot with this mixture, tilt your head one way, insert the Neti on the top nostril and let the mixture drain down one side of your nose to the other. Sounds a bit freaky but I swear by this thing. It helps me with my allergies and my girls love using it when they have colds.  These can be as cheap as $4.99 for a plastic one or about $15 for a pretty ceramic one like mine. Plastic one has to be hand washed in warm water but is pretty durable. The ceramic one needs to be handled carefully but can be put in the dishwasher or hand washed in hot water. Your call.

Neti Stik-This is something I just bought today and was thrilled.  Cost me $4.99 but can be taken anywhere with me because its the size of chapstick.  Its made by Himalalan Institute and is a aromatherapy inhaler.  Its filled with peppermint, eucalyptic, menthol and lavender oil.  Simply remove the cap, insert tip into nostril(mine nostril is small so I put up as much as I can..sorry tmi) and inhale softly.  It really does help you breath easier out of your  nose.

Daily Vitamins-I buy Trader Joe's all natural chew-able vitamins for my girls. They come in a honey bear type plastic container that is 100% recyclable and are all natural with no preservatives.  They only cost me $2.99 for 60 which is super cheap. These are not the gummy chew-able ones but the crunchy old school ones. When my kids are sick they get 2 a day.  I myself take a multi vitamin that I also picked up at Whole Foods in a very large glass container that can be recycled. I think it was $9.99 for around 100 of them.

Healthy eating-Morning food is usually oat meal or a piece of fruit. We avoid any milk products when there is any cough or congestion because the milk makes it worst. For lunch's its vegetable soup with some sort of grain. Dinner is always healthy vegetables with either a whole grain noodle or brown rice.  Since my girls are all vegetarians its literally no change for me who has to cook it all.  We just avoid milk when possible.  We drink lots of water and the only other thing would be juice. Orange juice is recommended because it has lots of vitamin C which also helps you get better.

Vapor Bath-We do not use any thing you buy from a store because they are usually filled with so many chemicals.  Instead I bought some essential oils and use them. Lavender and eucalyptus are all you need. Just add a few drops to hot water and you have a vapor bath that opens up their nasal passages and relax's them. Perfect right before bedtime.

Lots of Z's-Getting lots of rest is the best form of medicine. If you follow all the step's above then your body has everything it needs to fight off the cold naturally. But in order to do this, you need lots of rest.  If your body is stressed in any way, everything you do to get better will not work as well. It will take much longer to get better so save yourself some time and get plenty of sleep.  This means no caffeine at all. Yep, no coffee, soda, or energy drinks. And remember that most pain relievers have caffeine in them! Avoid caffeine all together.

I will try my best to keep up on blog but as you can see, I am pretty busy trying to get my kids all better and also try to avoid getting myself sick. This is not a easy task.  I also will be looking into making my own cough syrup. I am hoping that this a cheaper alternative and love the fact that I control what goes into it. Of course I will keep you posted. Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

9 reasons to go organic

I received my April 2010 edition of Women's Health Magazine today and to my surprise there is a feature of the book Organic Manifesto written by Maria Rodale. I just heard of this book the other day and really want to read it. So I was thrilled when Women's Health Magazine did a 2 page spread about it. I decided to share all the great info from the magazine and book for those not able to get either of them.
Organic Manefesto is a new book that details why buying organically grown food might be the best thing you can do for your body and the planet. This will be the next book I read. WH Magazine has 9 things you should know about The Organic Solution.

Agricultural chemicals destroy the soil's natural ability to store and process carbon.  Mycorrhizal fungi are our greatest alley in the fight for our survival on this planet: They're fungi that grow on the roots of plants and contribute to taking greenhouse gases out of the air.  They are the hidden heroes beneath us.  Chemicals kill these hidden heroes.

Chemicals poison the air, water and soil.  The manufacturing, transportation, and use of chemicals for agriculture are energy intensive and poisonous to all things that come in contact with them.  Most chemicals don't biodegrade within a few months. Like nuclear waste, some toxins last forever, and many of the impacts are known to be horrible.  Already, dead zones in the ocean are starting to spread, wells are contaminated, and we suffer increasingly from infections and diseases such as asthma, diabetes, MRSA, Parkinson's, and cancers that are connected to these chemicals.

Smaller doses of chemicals can be just as dangerous as large doses.  Most of the government regulations on chemicals are based on estimated safe amounts of exposure.  Doctors and scientist are finding, however, that small doses, and cumulative small doses, can be just as toxic as large doses.  There really are no safe limits.

Chemicals are not necessary to grow food.  Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are substitute for thinking, understanding, and effort.  They are necessary only to generate large profits for businesses and for disposing of our toxic industrial wastes.  Virtually every food in the world has been sucessfully grown and made organically in modern, productive, and regenerative ways-from fine wine to white flour, apples, cherries, the most delicious gourmet beef, and olive oil.

Organic foods are healthier and safer.  Studies have shown that some organic foods are higher in antioxidants and powerful cancer-fighting nutrients such as conjugated linoleic acid.  They're safer because they are produced without dangerous chemicals, antiviotics, and risky (to say nothing of disgusting) and cheap practices like feeding dead cows to living cows, or putting contaminated sewage sludge onto farm fields.  Certified organic products are the only foods available that have a government-backed guarantee that no chemicals, antibiotics, sewage sludge, or GMOs were used in growing or processing.

Eating organic is easier than ever.  Choosing to eat organic food does not condemn you to a diet of nuts, berries, and tofu.  Today, you can find organic versions of the most popular foods, including such favorites as Hidden Valley ranch dressing and Heinz ketchup.  It is possible to produce any food organically, even Cap'n Crunch cereal and American Cheese.

Government subsidies are the primary reason for the low prices of chemical foods.  Without government subsidies, chemical food would not be less expensive, but rather much much more expensive.  Organic foods have no hidden cost.

Organic farming increases and protects the planet's natural biodiversity.  If you are an animal lover of any kind, organic is for you.  A recent report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature documents the "life on earth is under serious threat."  The report found that one-third of amphibians, at least one in eight birds, and a quarter of mammals are on the verge of extinction.  Half of all plant groups are threatened.  The toxic effects of chemicals have reduced all species abilities to survive and reproduce.

It's not too late to change and get healthier and happier!  People who eat organic foods reduce their pesticide intake by as much as 90 percent, according to the study from the University of Washington.  Further, research at the University of Colorado has found that certain strains of soil-borne bacteria not only stimulate the human immune system, but also boost serotonin levels in mice.  Low levels of serotonin are tied to depression, and drugs that inhavit its reuptake in the brain are used as antidepressants.  If we all farmed and gardened the organic way, we may not need all the antidepressant drugs that are ending up in our water supply.

Want an even greener garden? Find out why you should stop using chemicals on your grass and in your back yard.  Chemical lawn fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides used at home are just as dangerous, toxic, and threatening to our health and the environment as chemicals used on farms.  The choice to eliminate chemicals from your home and life is a powerful and important act that will benefit your family's heath immediately.  To get started, look to the many free resources on the internet, like .

Organic Manifesto by Maria Rodale is available in any book store and even online.

While your out pick up a Womens Health Magazine. It's full of great way's to lose weight, simple exercises and super yummy recipe's. Or wait till you get a free subscription like I did. Don't worry, I will tell you when it comes around again!

Don't forget to hit up Facebook here to get all my freebies and interesting read's.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The dangers of deodorant and directions to making all natural deodorant

I did a post about this same subject to raise awareness about the dangers of conventional deodorants.  Most conventional deodorants contain aluminum chlorohydrate, parabens, propylene glycol, triclosan, TEA, DEA, FD&C colors, and quaternium 18, among other toxic chemicals. Continuous intimate exposure to toxic chemicals may lead to allergic reactions or other diseases like Alzheimer's and cancer. Some may say its only small amounts and what harm could it do. These chemicals build up in the body and that is how they lead to causing you health problems. Its like saying have a drink with a small amount of poison in it. Its just a small amount! Well it add's up. Below are things you will find in common deodorants you find in any grocery store.

The World Health Organization has linked exposure to aluminum to Alzheimer's disease, with higher frequencies of deodorant use corresponding to higher risks of developing Alzheimer's. Abnormal accumulation of aluminum has been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, and when aluminum is injected into the brains of laboratory animals, the animals develop a neurological disease similar to Alzheimer's. Some researchers say that aluminum-based active ingredients in antiperspirants can mimic estrogen in the body.  A lifetime exposure to estrogen is a risk factor which is tied most strongly to breast cancer.

Lets not forget about parabens.  Parabens also increase the risk of breast cancer my mimicking estrogen, according to some experts. Researchers have found parabens inside autopsied breast tumors. Paraben's are used as a preservative in thousands of products. Cosmetics, Pharmaceutical products and even food.
Propylene glycol is as a humectant, which means it keeps substances from drying out, and it was originally developed as an anti-freeze. Are you kidding me? Oops, sorry I was writing what I was thinking. This stuff is used in paint, dog food, floor wax, and now in deodorant's.  In the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for propylene glycol, the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety warns workers to avoid skin contact with the toxic chemical, and yet millions of people are putting  it under their arms everyday. Chronic exposure can cause gastro-intestinal disturbances, nausea, headache, vomiting, and central nervous depression. How do these companies get away with putting this in our products, I have no idea.

TEA and DEA are hormone disruptors that are known to form carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemicals. In 1997, the U.S. Toxicology Program found that repeated skin application of DEA causes liver and kidney damage in animals. TEA can cause contact dermatitis.

FD&C colors are made from coal and have been shown to cause cancer in animals; they also often cause allergic skin reactions. Triclosan can be absorbed through the skin and causes liver damage in some lab animals, and quaternium compounds are the number one cause of preservative-related contact dermatitis. About 5% of the population is extremely allergic to quaternium compounds, which can cause asthma-like symptoms and even respiratory arrest when inhaled.

Now the list of cancer causing stuff is smoking, eating processed foods and now using mainstream products. I still cannot get over the fact that there is anti freeze in my deodorant. I really do not understand why we as consumers cannot figure these things out faster. I am now to the point where I trust no product anymore and do my research before I buy anything or use anything. I really have become paranoid about everything we put on our body or in our bodies.

Good news! You can make your own deodorant now and its super easy and all natural. Oh thank goodness! Almost 100% of the time there is a healthy natural alternative to everything. This is the easiest recipe I have found.

Coconut Oil Deodorant

Product needed:
Old deodorant bottle. You will need one you can push up or twist up. I have yet to find a metal deodorant container so my plastic one will have to do for now.

3-4 tsp of Baking Soda. Just your plain old baking soda from the cooking aisle will do. I keep mind in a old Tupperware container.

Coconut Oil. I recommend Certified Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. Cold-pressed and unrefined 100% pure. I paid $7.99 for a 12 fl oz glass jar of it.

Small glass bowl

Butter Knife

1. Put 1/4 cup of coconut oil in glass bowl. Microwave for about 10-15 seconds to make it easier to stir in the baking soda. Do not heat it till it turns to a liquid.

2.  Put in a tsp of baking soda and stir well with the butter knife. Stir in another tsp of baking soda. I think I put about 3-4 tsp of the baking soda in mine.

3. Take a common deodorant plastic container and clean it out. I used hot water and was able to get all deodorant residue out.

4.  Use butter knife and put all your coconut baking soda mixture into the deodorant container. Fill all the way full and make a heap of it on top so its easier to apply later.

5.  Leave out for 24 hours or put in the fridge. It needs time to harden up again.  Done!

Total cost: Well since I only used 1/4 cup, this would cost me about $1 to make myself. I already had the baking soda but even if I had to buy it , it would be super cheap.

Have any of you made your own deodorant? You have any alternatives to regular mainstream ones? Share with the whole class!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Copper-the bacteria killer. Who knew!

Sometimes microbes that cling onto things can and do migrate to uninfected people and make them sick. This is especially true in hospitals. Due to the use, overuse and abuse of antibiotics and antimicrobials, hospitals have become literally breeding grounds for super microbes that are resistant to any type of treatment. Stubborn little buggers!
Have you ever really looked around in hospitals?  Stainless steel door handles, elevator buttons, faucet handles, stair railings, garbage cans, and bed rails just to name a few. Germs love to play on these items just waiting for one of us to come by and touch it. Perfect for the germs to attack and make you sick. Did you hear that? That was my stomach turning upside down...uuggg. I walk around with my hands in my pocket and try my best to not touch anything. If I do have to touch I use my sleeve instead.  I get some strange looks but hey, what are the chances of them seeing me ever again? Exactly.
Copper, bronze and brass all have antimicrobial properties. There was a study conducted in 2000, at the Centre for Applied Microbiology & Research (CAMR) in the U.k,, found that the dangerous Mr.Ecoli strain survived for much shorter periods of time on copper and brass surfaced than it did on stainless steel. Researchers also found that Mr.Ecoli survived for 34 days on stainless steel. Holy cow!  The bacteria lived for four days on brass, and just four hours on copper. Now researchers are telling hospitals to use copper metals on door knobs, push plates, fittings, fixtures and work surfaces which would reduce the risk of cross contamination between staff and patients in critical care area's. If its good for the hospitals, its good for me.
We will be doing a overhaul in my kitchen here in a few weeks. To keep with the style and period of our home we will be keeping our sturdy cabinets but repainting them. Counters will be replaced with granite and flooring will be bamboo. We will be adding knobs and things and you bet we will be using copper. Yes it will be more expensive but it will be beautiful and keep those pesky germs and Mr.Ecoli away from us. If we cannot afford copper then the next option is brass. This doesn't make me happy because I think polished brass is just ugly and screams 1980 to me. No thanks! So we will be looking for antiqued brass. Its no copper but still a better option than stainless steel. I'm sure pictures will follow. Did you look closely at the picture? Oh how I dream of having that sink. I was looking for a good picture of copper knobs and ran across this picture. Long story short I ended up looking at copper kitchen things for an hour. My poor husband thinks this means were gonna be broke.  Too funny. 

Once again information was gathered from Green Barbarians by Ellen Sandbeck. This book has really opened my eyes to so many things. Even me, paranoid greenoholic, was just taken back by all the great useful information. Its a must read.