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Archives for July 2011

Blue Green Algae Update

Last week we reported that blue green algae has been found in several lakes in Oklahoma. Since then the conditions at Grand Lake have improved but now the toxic algae has been found in Skiatook lake. The following lakes currently have  closings due to blue green algae.

  • Fort Gibson
  • Eufaula
  • Keystone
  • Skiatook

Lakes with warnings include.

  • Eufaula
  • Keystone

Lakes with advisories include.

  • Fort Gibson
  • Eufaula
  • Keystone
  • Skiatook
  • Tenkiller

The US Army Corps of Engineers have asked that people follow these precautions.

  • Don’t drink untreated water.
  • Don’t swim, water ski, wade, or boat in areas where the water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water.
  • If you swim or wade in water that may have blue green algae present, rinse off with fresh water and soap. This is also an effective method of reducing exposure for pets.
  • Don’t let pets or livestock swim or drink where water is discolored or where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae on the water.
  • Respect all water and beach closures.

If you would like to learn more about blue green algae and are in the Tulsa area, Sustainable Tulsa is having a presentation about the issue on August 4th. It will be at Elote Cafe and Catering, 514 S. Boston in downtown Tulsa, lunch is at 12:30 p.m. and the presentation and networking start at 1:00 p.m. Click here for more info.
For more information on blue green algae, visit the DEQ’s website and the US Army Corp of Engineers’ website.

Photos are all property of the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.


Erin Brockovich Attends a Meeting About Contamination in Duncan

Earlier this month Halliburton confirmed that ground water in Duncan has been contaminated with perchlorate. Perchlorate has been linked to harming the thyroid’s ability to produce hormones needed for normal development and growth. Currently perchlorate is unregulated but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to propose a regulatory drinking water limit for the chemical.

The perchlorate came from rocket fuel, which Halliburton had burned on property near Osage Road in Duncan. Halliburton ceased burning the rocket fuel in 1991 but the company still believes they contributed to the contamination.The contamination was found while Halliburton was testing water samples from near by wells as part of the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) requirements for closing the site.

In one rural neighborhood in Duncan it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have a thyroid problem. Some have no insurance so are unable to get the help they need. Halliburton has said they will help reimburse residents for health screenings. They are also giving residence bottled water and working to connect people to municipal water. However many still feel they aren’t acting fast enough and aren’t being honest.


Contaminated water has brought Erin Brockovich, made famous by the Julia Roberts’ film, to Duncan. Brockovich attended a town meeting last night about the contamination. She said her team is working on testing and researching the problem and will be in contact with the town about their results. Brockovich told residents that their contamination is the largest they have ever tested. She also says Halliburton needs to step up and not drag their feet with this major contamination.

 
If you live in Duncan and feel your health problems may have been caused by this contamination we want to hear from you. Please contact us at gogreenokla@gmail.com

 

Photo credits: Some rights reserved by Dottie Mae


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.


 

 

 

 

Homemade Natural Cleaners

Many conventional cleaners contain harmful chemicals. However, you can make your own for very little cost and effort. Here are some recipes to get you started.

HE Liquid Laundry Soap
Front loading washers save on water and energy but require special soap. The soap needs to not make many suds. This recipe is great for high efficiency washers. It also can help prevent mold build up in washers because it doesn’t leave a film like most soaps.

To make this soap you will need soap nuts. Many natural grocery stores carry soap nuts. Native Roots Market carries Eco Nuts brand of soap nuts and you can also find them at Whole Foods and other stores like those. If you can’t find them locally you can buy them from sites like Amazon.com, Eco Nuts, and Laundry Tree. You can use soap nuts in a little cloth bag, which you just throw in your washer. However, you have to use warm or hot water when using them like this and that adds to your energy bill. To use soap nuts in cold water simply make the liquid version.


To make this soap, boil four cups of boiling water and place six-eight soap nuts in the water, take off the heat. Let the soap sit overnight. In the morning strain the soap nuts from the water; these can be composted. Pour the soap into a bottle and store in the fridge for longer shelve life. When it’s time to use the soap use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of soap for each load, depending on soil level and size of the load.

Color Safe Bleach
Take a clean plastic gallon jug (an old laundry soap bottle works well) and add two cups of hydrogen peroxide and fill with water. To use just soak your items for 10 to 30 minutes or add a half cup to your washer. Just as with any color safe bleach it’s not safe for all clothing. Test it first or only use on clothes that state it’s safe to use color safe bleach.

Mold Cleaner/ Disinfectant
Mix a few teaspoons of tea tree essential oil and two cups of water. Pour into a clean spray bottle, shake well before use.

For mold, spray on mold and let sit for two hours, wipe off. For disinfectant, spray on surface and let sit for 15-30 minutes, wipe clean with damp cloth.


All Purpose Spray
Mix two cups of water and two teaspoons of liquid castile soap (like Dr. Bronners) in a spray bottle. To use, spray on surface and wipe with damp cloth.


Liquid Dish Soap
(Not for use in the dishwasher!)
Fill a bottle with half water and half castile soap.


Toilet Bowl Cleaner
Spray white vinegar in bowl. Let sit while you clean the rest of the bathroom. Add some baking soda and scrub.


Microwave Cleaner
Heat one cup of vinegar in a microwave safe bowl for one- two minutes. Wipe out with a cloth and warm soapy water.


Drain Cleaner
Pour a 1/4 cup of baking soda down the drain, follow with 1/2 cup of vinegar, cover drain tightly until it stops fizzing. Flush with about a gallon of hot water.


Carpet Freshener
Mix baking soda with a few drops of essential oils or add dried herbs or cinnamon. Mix well. Sprinkle on the carpet and let sit for about 15-30 minutes. Vacuum normally.

Soft Scrub
Sprinkle some baking soda on the surface and scrub with a damp cloth. Then just rinse.

Have you tried making your own cleaners? Which have been your favorites? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.


 

Harmful Algae in Oklahoma Lakes

A harmful algae is showing up in lakes around Oklahoma. The algae is called Blue Green Algae and it’s very harmful to people and animals. The algae creates endotoxins, hepatoxins and neurotoxins. Current lakes in Oklahoma that the algae has been found in include, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Keystone, Fort Gibson, Lake Tenkiller, and Lake Eufaula.

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) says “when in doubt stay out.” You can’t know for sure what kind of algae a bloom is just by looking so if algae is present it’s best to stay out of the water and to also keep pets and livestock away. The DEQ also asks that if you see an algae bloom that looks like thick pea soup; green paint; bluish, brownish or reddish- green paint, please report it to the DEQ.

You can help prevent this toxic algae by not using products that contain phosphorous. Some products you may have in your home that can contain phosphorous include:

  • Automatic Dishwasher Detergent
  • Cleaners
  • Fertilizer

To help avoid these products use natural cleaning products, phosphorous free, natural fertilizers, and phosphorous-free automatic dishwasher detergent, which is becoming very common as many states have outlawed automatic dishwasher detergent containing phosphorous.

For more information visit the DEQ’s website.

Photos are all property of the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.


 

 

 

Staying Safe in the Sun

The UV index has been very high lately in Oklahoma, making sunscreen even more necessary. The one problem is many sunscreens have cancer causing toxic chemicals in them, so how can you stay safe from the sun and these chemicals? Thankfully there are many great natural options out there. Here are a few of our favorites.

Loving Naturals Clear Body Sunscreen, SPF 30+

Badger SPF 30+ Lightly Scented Lavender

California Baby® No Fragrance SPF 30+ Sunblock Stick

thinksport LIVESTRONG sunscreen , SPF 30+

You can find more great brands on the EWG’s 2011 Sunscreen Guide. Be sure to check your local natural food store for these sunscreens and others. If you do get a sunburn check out these natural sunburn remedies.

Do you have a favorite natural sunscreen or sunburn remedy, share it with us in the comments below.


Photos are all property of the companies that make the products.


About the Author


Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.


 

July’s Featured Business: Green Bambino

We asked our readers to let use know what their favorite local green business is and the overwhelming response was Green Bambino, in Oklahoma City. We had the pleasure of interviewing Morgan Harris, the owner of Green Bambino,  to find out more about this store you all love.

Morgan Harris, Owner of Green Bambino


GO: What made you decide to start Green Bambino?

MH: When we chose to cloth diaper our son when he was born, I had to do all my research and purchasing online. My best friend was the only person I knew attempting to cloth diaper when I was, so we felt pretty alone.

About the time our son turned one, we started to talk about opening a cloth diaper store. We couldn’t understand why something like it didn’t already exist in Oklahoma City. I knew how much help I needed and how much I would have enjoyed seeing the diapers before purchasing them, so we thought other people out there would feel the same. I knew I could share the knowledge I had gained since my son was born and show Oklahoma parents how much cloth diapers had changed.

GO: Why is it important to you that your business is eco-friendly?
MH: Since we sell products that help families reduce their environmental impact, it only makes sense that we should run our business with the same values. It’s not hard to make a business greener – we take home paper, plastic and glass to recycle and make regular cardboard recycling runs to Goodwill. We choose recycled paper products wherever possible. Recycled paper gift bags and copier paper don’t cost any more than products that aren’t made from recycled paper. When it comes to the design and furnishing of our store, we have found that reusing things like doors for tables and shelves saved us money over traditional retail fixtures and makes our store unique.


In short, being eco-friendly is a big part of who we are anyway, but there are business advantages to making green choices with our store.


GO: What’s the best advice about going green you have ever gotten?

MH: The best advice is what we tell our customers – going green doesn’t happen overnight and shouldn’t stress you out. Do what you can, when you can. For some people, that means recycling more this month than last. For others it means a 100%-organic diet grown locally. If we all take small steps toward being greener, we’ll make a bigger impact than if a few of us jump in feet first.

GO: If someone was going to try just one of your products which would you recommend?
MH: Charlie’s Soap laundry detergent. Whether you have children in diapers or not, Charlie’s is a much greener alternative to traditional petroleum-based detergents and actually works. We’ve used it for all of our laundry for more than three years.

GO: Why do you feel it’s important to shop locally?
MH: Here’s me getting on a soapbox.
Many people don’t understand that they really do vote with their wallets. When you shop online, every dime you spend goes somewhere else to fund some other town’s schools, streets and police departments. Not a penny stays in Oklahoma. When you shop at locally-owned businesses, almost 70% of your money stays in Oklahoma helping to keep our communities thriving. If you want to learn more about how you impact your local economy, visit http://www.the350project.net/home.html.

When you shop locally, you are telling local business owners “I value what you do for our community and I want you to stay around.”

When was the last time Amazon.com donated something to your child’s school fundraiser?

GO: What is your favorite thing to do in Oklahoma?
MH: If I base my answer on what we do most, it’s eating at locally-owned restaurants. Oklahoma City has so many amazing local restaurants that we refuse to eat at chains. My son would say his favorite thing is to go see Malee, the baby elephant at the Oklahoma City Zoo.

GO: Other than your own business what is your favorite eco-friendly business in Oklahoma?
MH: Green Goodies by Tiffany. Have you tasted her cupcakes and cookies?!?

Hope you enjoyed getting to learn more about Green Bambino and the face behind the business. Be sure to let us know other local green businesses you would like to see featured. Just post in the comments below, on our Facebook page or email us at gogreenokla@gmail.com.