At five to six bucks a gallon, it can be heart breaking to toss a gallon of sour milk down the drain. After today’s post, you won’t ever need to do it again!
When your milk begins to approach its due date, simply pour it into a microwavable container or a stovetop saucepan and heat it until it barely boils. You’ll re-pasteurize the milk by killing the bacteria that would cause it to go bad. It may strike a few of you as rather icky, but the truth is that when you finish it will last for another week or two.
My mom used to practice this technique when we were little and I found it quite odd, but now I love being able to prevent a high priced organic product from going down the drain.
Do you have thrifty green tips to share? Click here to learn how to join us this week and please visit our contributors and make a comment. There’s always something new to learn!
Happy Valentines Day! Although it’s wonderful to be in love with a like-minded partner while raising children, going green often entails a bit more work around the home. There’s the trips to the compost bin, the diaper laundry, and all those homemade meals to prepare. It can be downright overwhelming unless you have a system to deal with the extra chores. Is there a system you use with your spouse or partner to share the workload? Do you have help from extended family? Is it worth it to pay for help with cleaning or a diaper service just to balance the rest of your life? Do you share the work with your children? Please let us know what works for you!
Here in Oregon, the only way our children get to see the light of day during the winter is to slip on raingear, hitch up their boots and enjoy some puddle jumping. As I was shopping for my son’s rain slicker this year I hit several used clothing stores without any luck. Finally, I went to my local retailer to pick up a coat and found the icky plastic smell overwhelming. It made me wonder, what were raincoats really made of?
I was worried that PVC, a toxic chemical often used in waterproof items such as shower curtains, bibs, and sometimes even soft baby’s chew toys, could be a factor. PVC or polyvinyl chloride releases toxins such as mercury, dioxins, and phthalates throughout its life cycle. For more info on PVC, check out this website.
When I googled “PVC in children’s raincoats,” instead of getting articles describing the dangers, I found several raincoats for sale openly stating that they were made of PVC. How bizarre!
I finally found a few spots that sell PVC-free raincoats on line. Calunaloves.com, CWDkids.com, Lands End, and L.L. Bean all offer coats made of safer plastic. Apparently many big box stores also have plans to eliminate PVC from their product lines. When shopping, look for the PVC-free tag in raincoats.
I’m still in search of the perfect raincoat, so please give me your advice if you’ve found one you love!
In the early days of the Green Baby Guide, I admitted to some baby “rules” I violate to save the planet. One of them is separating baby clothes from the rest of the laundry–a guideline I heard during our childbirth class and read in various baby books and websites. I am not sure what the reasoning behind that bit of advice is; certainly if someone in the house has a contagious illness there are easier ways to catch it than wearing clothes that have been washed in the same load.
The average family of four does more than seven loads of laundry a week. Many people wash even more than that, according to the answers to this Yahoo question. We (three of us) don’t do any more than three–maybe four–loads a week, and that includes diaper laundry! (We also use cloth napkins and dish towels instead of paper towels.) Reducing the amount of laundry you do can save thousands of gallons of water, not to mention electricity. If you have a 40 gallon top-loading machine and wash a load a day, you’re using over 14,000 gallons of water to wash your clothes every year! Tumble drying all those clothes could release as much as 1,825 pounds of carbon into the atmosphere in a year’s time, depending on where you live.
So how can you cut down on laundry? Here are three ideas:
Doing much less laundry works for me. (For more Works for Me Wednesday tips, check out Rocks in My Dryer.) How many loads of laundry do you wash per week? Any more tips for reducing the amount you do?
More Green Baby Guide laundry posts:
Thanks to my green resolutions from last year, I was able to make some big changes one step at a time. Although I haven’t accomplished all of them perfectly, they did help to get me jumpstart 2008 in a much greener fashion.
As I begin 2009 things seem even more hectic than they did a year ago. Here’s the big news: I’m pregnant! Our baby is due on June 15th, which is wonderful news. It also means that I’ll be juggling a nearly full time job, growing a human being, parenting a toddler, enjoying marriage, writing this blog and starting a monthly column in Metro Parent. It’s all great news, but already I find myself a little short of breath as I consider balancing it all. So, this year my goals are humble, but they will still be a great fun to accomplish.
Our water and electric board provides interest free loans for people wanting to get a solar hot water heater. It will pay for itself in just four years and with our Southern exposure, we should be able to heat several thousand gallons a year. We might wait to have it installed in the spring when the wet season isn’t so intense. Since I live in one of the nation’s greenest cities, you can spot several hundred solar hot water heating panels perched on rooftops throughout local neighborhoods.
Install a dishwasher.
Dishwashers are far more energy efficient than washing dishes in the sink, but our kitchen is the size of a postage stamp. Still, with a baby on the way, it would be a thrill to have a dishwasher in our small home. It would save us water and energy, but would also save time that I could use for my other green pursuits.
Find a dish soap solution.
If the dishwasher dream doesn’t happen, this goal will become even more important. Rebecca has been spending days, weeks, and months on researching the best eco-friendly solution for dish soap. Since my husband likes to generously soap every item, it will be nice to have a cost-friendly solution as well!
Plant a bigger vegetable garden.
Even as I write this I realize that it’s insanely optimistic. In the third trimester of this pregnancy I’ll be pooped, working almost full time, and preparing for the infant’s arrival. Planting a huge garden might not happen. But maybe I could ask for a garden work party in lieu of a baby shower….Hmm….
I’ve been aching to can produce and eyeing my friends jars of home-canned green beans with envy, but I haven’t found time in the last few years. I know that this next year will be especially hectic with baby, but it would thrill me to line my garage pantry with home-canned goodies. If I could do just one batch of peaches I would be satisfied for the summer.
What are your green resolutions this year? Keep them practical and simple and they’ll be much more likely to actually happen. We hope that 2009 is your greenest and best year yet!
One year ago Rebecca and I were enjoying the holiday with our families, but after all the gifts were opened and the dinner plates were washed, we were scrambling to get our website up and running before the New Year.
Twelve months and a hundred-something posts later, we’re happy to be celebrating the long and exciting journey we’ve made over the last year. Maybe in a few dozen living rooms across the country, our fellow bloggers and loyal readers will be opening fabric gift bags to find eco-friendly surprises or amazing garage sale finds. We wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukah, and a Fabulous Kwanzaa. We look forward to working with you for another year of green living!
I often hear people say that cloth diapers are no better for the planet than disposables because of all the water used to wash them. This argument has never made too much sense to me. Water is a renewable resource, but the trees cut down to make disposable diapers are often harvested unsustainably. The plastic used on each diaper is a petroleum product-definitely not a renewable resource. Then there’s the whole landfill issue. . . .
Not to say that I don’t care about wasting water. If you wash diapers every other day in a top loader, you’ll use a whopping 7,200 gallons water a year. Do you use a wet pail to soak your diapers? That’s 360 more gallons a year, for a grand total of 7,560. The good news is, it’s not necessary to blow through that much water. I estimate that I use under 1,200 gallons water a year washing diapers. I have a front loader that uses 12.4 gallons per wash, and I wash diapers every four days instead of every other day.
I came up with the brilliant idea of “offsetting” the amount of water I use to wash diapers. The concept is simple: you try to make up for an environmental sin by doing a good deed for the planet. (Disclaimer: I realize that this whole “offsetting” concept is suspect, and we should all be doing the most to conserve resources at all times.) The first step in my personal water offsetting mission is to use as little water as possible on laundry. It would be difficult to offset 7,560 gallons of water a year, but by practicing just a few extra water conservation techniques, I can easily offset the 1,200 gallons I use.
Of course there are dozens of ways to reduce water waste. I was surprised to find that my first two water-saving ideas conserved more than enough water to make up for my diaper-laundry water.
1. Double up your toilet flushes. The average person flushes eight times day. At 1.6 gallons per flush, that equals 12.8 gallons a day. Double up just one flush and you’ll save 584 gallons a year. That’s almost half the amount of water I’d use washing diapers already.
2. Reduce showering time. I am guilty of wasteful showering. The average shower uses 2.5 gallons of water a minute. A ten minute shower uses twenty-five gallons of water. If two adults each take ten-minute showers and reduce them to five-minute showers (or shower every other day), they could save twenty-five gallons a day, or 9,125 gallons a year! Now I’ve more than offset the amount of water used to wash diapers. It’s interesting to note that two adults taking daily 10-minute showers are using fifteen times the amount of water needed to wash a year’s worth of diaper laundry.
Does anyone else feel guilty for washing cloth diapers in water? How do you assuage your guilt? Any crazy water-saving ideas you care to share with us? Please tell!
Like some green moms, I aspired to blend boiled kale into ulta-nutritious meals that my baby would love without the expense and waste of prepared baby food.
After a few months of trying to balance sleep deprivation, dirty diapers, teaching, and my own sanity, I decided to embrace those tiny jars of freedom and relinquish my dreams of green perfection. Although I did supplement with home blended meals, organic jarred food was a huge gift. You can read about my baby food adventures here.
All those glass containers were carefully recycled, but now that I’m out of the baby food stage, I wish I would’ve reused them instead.
Here are just a few ways they could come in handy for holiday gifts:
Do you have any tips on how to reuse those nifty little storage containers? If so, we’d love to add to our list.
Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. While the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie are key factors, I mainly love that we spend a whole day basking in thankfulness.
Gratitude takes me beyond household chores, my desires for a dishwasher, and my fantasies of a foot massage. It helps me to look into my son’s chocolate brown eyes and take a moment to be humbled by what I already have.
When I’m in a thankful state of mind, I’m not feeling urges to buy or impatience over what we don’t have. If we could all wander around in a constant state of gratitude, we’d most likely all have less stuff, more happiness, and a much cleaner planet.
Here are a few images that remind me to be thankful for my glorious little family. They’re both taken from a hike last summer. The experience cost nothing and will be remembered for many years to come. (And yes, those green toes are mine.) Happy Thanksgiving!
We’ll be back next week with Thrifty Green Thursday!
Last summer I found out that Chinet, purveyor of paper plates, is actually a green company. If you are planning on using paper products for holiday parties or even (gasp!) Thanksgiving dinner, why not choose plates made from 100 percent recycled materials such as repurposed milk cartons and cardboard? Chinet’s plates are not only chlorine-free, they’re compostable, making them an eco-friendly choice for large gatherings. (Note: I swear I don’t work for Chinet! I am just impressed by their environmental efforts. Their recipes look pretty tempting, too.)
If you visit Chinet’s website, you’ll even find some holiday recipes. Here are just a few:
Perfect Roast Turkey
1 whole 14 to 16 pound frozen young turkey
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
½ tablespoon allspice berries
½ tablespoon candied ginger
1 gallon iced water
1 whole red apple, sliced
½ whole onion, sliced
1 whole cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
To make Brine, combine kosher salt, light brown sugar, vegetable stock, black peppercorns, allspice berries and candied ginger in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Early on the day of cooking (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in a cool area (like a basement) for 6 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining. A few minutes before roasting, heat oven to 500 degrees. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and a cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine. Place bird on roasting rack inside wide, low pan and pat dry with paper towels. Add the apple mixture to cavity along with rosemary and sage. Tuck back wings and coat whole bird liberally with canola (or other neutral) oil. Roast on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cover breast with double layer of aluminum foil, insert probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and return to oven, reducing temperature to 350 degrees. Set thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 ½ hours of roasting. Let turkey rest, loosely covered for 15 minutes before carving.
Grand Cranberry Relish
2 lbs fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
¼ cup Grand Marnier liqueur
1 whole orange, zested and juiced
Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, pulse several times to break down the cranberries and incorporate the ingredients; it should still be a bit chunky. Allow the cranberry relish to sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, so the flavors can marry.
Pumpkin Cream Cheese Pie
8 ounces packaged cream cheese, softened
2 cup canned pumpkin, mashed
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg combined with
2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 cup half-and-half
¼ cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground ginger, optional
1 piece pre-made pie dough
Whipped cream, for topping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place 1 piece of pre-made pie dough down into a 9-inch pie pan and press down along the bottom and sides. Pinch and crimp the edges together to make a pretty pattern. Put the pie shell into the freezer for 1 hour to firm up. Fit a piece of aluminum foil to cover the inside of the shell completely. Fill the shell up to the edges with pie weights or dried beans (about 2 pounds) and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights and bake for another 10 minutes or until the crust is beginning to color. For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half, and melted butter, and beat until combined. Finally, add the vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger, and beat until incorporated. Pour the filling into the warm prepared piecrust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cut into slices and top each piece with a generous amount of whipped cream.
Holiday Hot Toddy
2 whole tangerines
½ cup whole cloves
3 quarts pure, unsweetened cranberry juice
2 cups sugar
3 cups amber rum, if desired
Cut tangerines crosswise into ¼-inch-thick rounds and remove seeds. Stud rind of each tangerine round with 4 or 5 cloves. In a large saucepan simmer cranberry juice, tangerine rounds, and sugar, covered, 5 minutes and stir in rum. Serve toddies with clove-studded tangerine rounds in Chinet Comfort Cups.
Biodegradable paper plates and wonderful holiday recipes work for me! For more Works for Me Wednesday ideas, check out Rocks in My Dryer.