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Archives for March 2013

Featured Business: Natural Green Cleaners

carpet cleaningNatural Green Cleaners is an eco-friendly carpet cleaning, upholstery, tile, and wood floor cleaning business in Norman. They use environmentally friendly cleaners that are safe for your family and pets. Their cleaning methods use less water and electric equipment instead of dirty fuel power equipment that is low and bad for the environment.

We got the chance to talk to Michael, the owners of Natural Green Cleaners, and this is what he had to say.

GO: Why did you decide to open Natural Green Cleaners?
Michael: I wanted to start my own business and I had some experience in carpet cleaning, so I thought about how I could make it better and improve upon what others are doing.


GO: Why is it important to you that your business is eco-friendly?
Michael: I feel good knowing that I am not leaving harmful chemicals in my customer’s homes. I’m also trying to set an example for other businesses and entrepreneurs that green is the responsible way to go.

GO: What’s the best advice about going green you have ever gotten?
Michael: “It’s not easy being green” – Kermit. No really, what I mean by that is that running an eco-friendly business takes constant diligence in thinking about what you’re doing and what impact it will have. Also, it’s not as easy just to go pick up the green cleaners I use at the local supply store, those kinds of products are not real popular here in Oklahoma so it takes some effort to seek them out.

GO: What’s your favorite service you offer?
Michael: I enjoy carpet cleaning. It’s very calming to run the machine and it’s also very gratifying to go into a home and see the dirt and then when I leave its nice and clean, I feel a sense of accomplishment. We also offer upholstery cleaning, tile cleaning, and wood floor cleaning.

GO: Why do you feel it’s important to support locally owned businesses?
Michael: Locally owned businesses are run by your friends and neighbors. Its great meeting them and they’re always more than willing to discuss their products and services with you. There is a passion there that you don’t get from big box chains and corporations.

GO: What is your favorite thing to do in Oklahoma?
Michael: I’m an outdoor enthusiast. I enjoy hiking, camping, hunting mushrooms, and fishing all across the state, but most of all in far South East Oklahoma.

GO: Other than your own business, what is your favorite eco-friendly business in Oklahoma?
Michael: There is a business called Fertile Ground in Oklahoma City. They do restaurant composting and residential compost pick-up diverting food waste into useful nutrient rich compost. They also do zero waste events in which they recycle and compost all the waste and trash from special events. They build compost bins and raised bed gardens as well.

If you would like to learn more about Natural Green Cleaners, please be sure to visit their website and Facebook page, and don’t forget to tell them we sent you.

We hope you enjoyed getting to learn more about Natural Green Cleaners and the face behind the business. Be sure to let us know about 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.

All photos are property of Natural Green Cleaners.

The Importance of Buying Local

produceAs a well known produce fanatic, I received several calls/texts/Facebook messages this morning about the grand opening of Sprouts Market. I do plan on checking out what they have to offer, but I’m less than ecstatic for a multitude of reasons. I had a chance to talk with a few of Sprouts opening team members. I asked where their produce came from and was told “a warehouse is in Dallas” before that it come from California. While cheap prices and great deals are something most people get excited about, I personally, prefer to buy local for many reasons.

First of all Norman lost an amazing local grocer, Native Roots Market, that provided a wonderful variety of local and seasonal produce. As they opened a new store in the Deep Deuce area of downtown Oklahoma City they made the decision to close their store in Norman when confronted with the increased competition by Natural Grocers and Sprouts Market.

Buying locally grown food is important for so many reasons. The average piece of produce travels 5,000 miles to get to your supermarket. Choosing food that has traveled fewer miles (and therefore used less fuel) is good for the environment. The Harvard Medical School Center for Health and the Global Environment notes that food transported long distances is not likely to be as nutritious as food grown and consumed locally. Eating food that was grown organically and without harmful pesticides does your body good. Plus, buying directly from your local farmers ensures that they’ll stay in business for years to come. When you buy direct, your dollars stay within your community, and strengthen the local economy. More than 90¢ of every dollar you spend goes to the farmer. This is important because as mergers in the food industry have increased, the portion of your food dollar paid to farmers has decreased. Vegetable farmers earn only 21¢ of your dollar; the other 79¢ goes to pay for marketing, distribution, and other costs.


7 ways to eat more local foods-

  1. Shop weekly at your local farmers market
  2. Join a CSA or a Co-op
  3. Buy from local grocers that stock local food
  4. Support restaurants and grocers that buy locally produced food
  5. Preserve food from the season by freezing or canning to eat later in the year
  6. Grow your own food!
  7. Visit local farms

I recently join the Oklahoma Food Co-op. I’m much more excited about all the local, fresh meat,  and vegetables that are offered for very reasonable prices. I love the fact that I’m supporting my community while receiving organic, fresh food. It’s an amazing thing to know where your food comes from, who’s growing/raising it and how.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

 

 Photo credits: Quiltsalad

New Study Links Wastewater Injection to Oklahoma’s Largest Earthquake

Research released yesterday written by University of Oklahoma seismologist Katie Keranen, co-written with Columbia University’s Heather Savage and Geoffrey Abers, and the U.S. Geological Survey’s Elizabeth Cochran, gives more evidence that the state’s largest-recorded earthquake, a magnitude 5.7 quake on Nov. 6, 2011, was triggered by wastewater injection wells.

Keranen rushed to install seismographs after the 5.0 quake on Nov. 5, 2011, which would turn out to be a foreshock to the 5.7 earthquake on Nov. 6. After the 5.7 main shock, Keranen deployed more stations with students. They found that the earthquake was no more than 650 feet from active injection wells. These wells had been being pumped for 13 years at zero to low pressure, from 2001 to 2006 the pressure rose more than 10-fold.

“The magnitude 5.7 quake near Prague was preceded by a 5.0 shock and followed by thousands of aftershocks. What made the swarm unusual is that wastewater had been pumped into abandoned oil wells nearby for 17 years without incident. In the study, researchers hypothesize that as wastewater replenished compartments once filled with oil, the pressure to keep the fluid going down had to be ratcheted up. As pressure built up, a known fault—known to geologists as the Wilzetta fault—jumped. “When you overpressure the fault, you reduce the stress that’s pinning the fault into place and that’s when earthquakes happen,” said study coauthor Heather Savage, a geophysicist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.” –read more


The possible link between wastewater injection wells and earthquakes, has been being studied for awhile now. A U.S. Geological Survey study of earthquakes from Alabama to the Northern Rockies, led by USGS geophysicist, William Ellsworth, showed links between the wells and earthquakes.

“Something is going on out of the ordinary,” Ellsworth said. “The largest preponderance of evidence,” he said, points to the Oklahoma and Colorado quakes and the rise in the number of midcontinent earthquakes being caused by injection of wastewater from oil and gas drilling.” –read more

But not all seismologist agree with the link and say more research needs to be done. Austin Holland, Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist, is one of the seismologists that is skeptical. This is a view also shared by the Corporation Commission and the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association. The Oklahoma Geological Survey released a policy paper written in response to the new study saying, “the interpretation that best fits current data is that the Prague Earthquake Sequence was the result of natural causes.” And that “further studies of seismic activity in Oklahoma will result in a better understanding of seismicity statewide.”

Earlier this year StateImpact did a story about the possible links and the problems with getting the data needed for the studies.

“The scientific consensus is growing, but it’s not unanimous. But there is one thing geophysicists and seismologists agree on — even skeptics: They can’t get their hands on the data they need to study the link.”- StateImpact

As Oklahoma continues to have unusual earthquake activity, this will continue to be studied. Though until all of the data needed is available, it’s unlikely we can know for sure what links there are, if any.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Map Credit: U.S. Geological Survey
Department of the Interior/USGS

 

Drought Conditions Improve, But Long Term Outlook Still Poor

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor report shows more improvement for Oklahoma. Part of eastern Oklahoma has gone from severe drought status to moderate. The whole state is still in at least a moderate drought so we still have a long way to go but the area under an exceptional drought has gone down to only 9.71% of the state. Just three months ago 34.56% of the state was under an exceptional drought.

Screen Shot 2013-03-25 at 9.21.01 PM

The U.S. Drought Monitor is produced in partnership between the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Map courtesy of NDMC-UNL.

Parts of the state have received more rain since the last U.S. Drought Monitor report but overall March has not been as good to the state as February was. After the rain and snow this weekend, the state average precipitation is 0.95 inches. This is 1.53 inches below normal.

“That’s the story of the drought over the last 2.5 years … one step forward and two steps back. One saving grace has been the below normal temperatures. That has both kept the vegetation at bay, easing the stress on the replenished soil moisture we received over the previous two months, but also kept the evaporation down. That also helps to keep that soil moisture in place while the rains have been absent, and also slows the evaporation from some of the state’s beleaguered reservoirs.”- Gary McManus, Mesonet


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released the U.S. Spring Outlook last week and it shows a mix of good and bad news for Oklahoma. Part of the state is predicted to have the drought possibly intensify but a small part of the state, the far north eastern area, is predicted to have to see improvement. Most of the state falls in the area that is predicted to have an ongoing drought with some improvement possible. The outlook also predicts higher than normal temperatures for spring.

There is some rain in the 7-day forecast, hopefully it will be more than a drizzle. With the possibility of another hot and dry summer, and the current drought situation the state can use all of the rain it can get.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page. 

Greener Skin Care

Many women seem to hate their skin, right? Well, I am no exception. My skin is very oily and acne-prone, yet has some dry spots and always feels tight after a cleansing routine. I started to think about the products I used, read through the ingredients, learned what they were. I realized that maybe the reason my skin is so uneven is because of the harsh chemicals I was putting on my skin every day. I started to ask around for some natural ways to cleanse my face.

I know some people who oil cleanse their skin, and swear by it! For someone with oily skin, the word “oil” is a scary word. I wanted to try something a little tamer first, that was not pure oil. My co-worker introduced me to the brand One Love Organics. These products are made from simple, raw plant minerals and oils. No sulfates, no preservatives, no mineral oil, no synthetic fragrances….. the list goes on!

onelove


Right away I noticed a difference with my skin. My skin was soft and moisturized. Moisturized skin always frightened me, as it conjured images of “oily” which was the exact opposite of what I thought my skin needed to be. Little did I know that stripping all the natural oils from your skin with harsh chemicals actually makes you produce more oil. I have never seen my skin this healthy and glowing! Seems like a “duh” moment, I know, thinking that nature holds the best for your skin, as well as your body. I am conscious of eating healthy and organically, so why would I only care about what is going in my body and not ON it?

I am absolutely in love with One Love Organics – their philosophy, philanthropy, and natural ingredients are the embodiment of eco-friendly living. I definitely recommend trying to find beauty products that use pure, natural plant oils, no matter what brand! Not only are there superficial benefits (healthy, younger looking skin) but finding natural products that are environmentally friendly from their ingredients to their packaging, allows us to take another step in the direction of green living!

Do you use a natural face cleanser? Share your thoughts below or join the conversation on our Facebook page.  

Disclaimer: We are not connected with One Love Organics, nor were we paid for this post. Christina is just a fan and user of these products.

Photo Credit: One Love Organics

Naturally Dyeing Easter Eggs

dyeingeggs

Naturally dyeing Easter eggs is a fun and simple project to do with children.  We searched our home for fruits, vegetables, and spices that would produce color.  We also took a trip to the produce section at the grocery store and talked about the various plants that dye our fingers when we eat them.  We skipped the bananas and looked at raspberries and blackberries.

There are two ways to naturally dye Easter eggs.  You can dye them after the eggs are hard boiled or dye them while the eggs are cooking.  Because my children are young, we chose to dye the eggs after they were hard boiled.  It was more fun for them, and it kept them away from the hot stove.  However, using a hot method does tend to provide a deeper color.


For the cold method:

  1. Boil eggs and let them cool
  2. Cover the boiled eggs with water
  3. Add the dyeing material
  4. Add one tablespoon of vinegar
  5. Let the eggs soak for a couple hours or even overnight in the refrigerator

For the hot method:

  1. Place the uncooked eggs in a pan and cover with water
  2. Add one tablespoon of vinegar
  3. Add the dyeing material.  Use more dye material for more eggs or to darken the color
  4. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  5. Strain water and let eggs soak longer if a deeper color is desired

For our dyeing material, we used fresh raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, steamed spinach (blended), coffee, turmeric, steamed carrots (blended), and grape juice.

eggs2

 

The coffee, turmeric, and grape juice worked well and produced even color.  The berries (smashed and placed in glasses) and the steamed carrots did not produce color.  However, my three-year-old was able to paint an egg with smashed berries and a paint brush.  That was fun for her.

eastereggs2

We left our eggs to soak overnight.  Because we did not strain our material, we made speckled eggs.  The kids thought these were fantastic.  I was disappointed none of our eggs turned bright pink, so the next day I tried the hot method with dried blackberries and cherries.  The eggs turned a peachy brown color which was not the effect I was hoping for.  Next time, we will try cooking beets.

Experiment with the following to see what colors you can create:

Red / Pink BeetsBoiled red onion skinsCanned cherries CranberriesPomegranate juiceRaspberries
Orange Boiled yellow onion skinsCooked carrots Chili PowderPaprika
Yellow Boiled carrot topsBoiled orange peelsGround cumin  Ground turmericVarious teas (chamomile, green tea)
Green Boiled spinach leaves
Blue Boiled red cabbage leavesCanned blueberries Grape juice
Purple / Lavender Grape juice (smaller quantities) Red wine
Brown CoffeeBlack Tea Boiled freeze-dried cherries

 

Have you tried dyeing Easter eggs naturally? Share your thoughts below or join the conversation on our Facebook page.  

Earth Hour 2013

Earth Hour is tonight at 8:30 p.m. It’s an hour to come together and bring awareness to the environmental issues impacting all of us. For just one hour people all over the world turn off their lights and come together for one purpose. But it can’t just end at 9:30 p.m. when the lights are back on. We must make a commitment to change are habits all year.

So while the lights are out make a pledge to change one thing this year. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Stop drinking bottled water.
  • Switch your light bulbs to CFLs or LEDs.
  • Use reusable shopping bags.
  • Say no to plastic straws.
  • Switch to cloth napkins.
  • Use rags instead of paper towels.
  • Switch to natural cleaners.
  • Join an environmental group in your community.
  • Spend 15 minutes each week picking up trash around your neighborhood.
  • Use power stripes to help stop vampire energy use.
  • Mulch your leaves, don’t rake them.
  • Start a compost bin.
  • Take shorter showers.
  • Fix any leaks in your house.
  • Bring your own mug when you get coffee.
  • Join the Oklahoma Food Coop.
  • Call your energy company to see if you can buy alternative energy credits to off-set some of your energy use.

These are just a few ideas. We would love to hear your’s and also we would love to hear what you pledge to do this year to make the planet a little greener. Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.


 

Is Tire Burning Really Recycling?

tiresWhen you buy a new tire in Oklahoma you may notice a tire recycling fee. Many people believe this means their old tires are being recycled but many of Oklahoma’s tires go to cement kilns to be burned for fuel. While some consider this recycling, is it really? And is it safe?

When Erie, Pa wanted to start burning tires in their power plant a group of residents formed the group KEEP (Keep Erie’s Environment Protected) and had this to say about the idea.

“They are calling this a completely green, renewable thing; well, burning tires isn’t considered renewable by anybody,” said KEEP member Dennis Stratton, an electrical engineer. “They talk about gasification and liquefaction. You’re going to be throwing tire chunks into an oven at 1,600 degrees; I don’t care what you call it, it’s still going to be burning.” –read more


When tires are burned they release many toxins. Some of the toxins include things like dioxins, which are highly toxic and causes seriously health problems. The World Health Organization says most toxic forms of dioxin are the most carcinogenic substances known to science.  Tires also contain petrochemical feedstock which includes styrene (a benzene derivative) and butadiene, both are carcinogens. Heavy metals are also often released.

One of the places that burns tires in Oklahoma is the cement plant in Ada. The facility is listed as a “high-priority violator” of the Clean Air Act by the EPA. The plant has been out of compliance for many years.

There are ways to use tires in more environmentally friendly ways. Tires can be used as mulch, in asphalt, to make playgrounds and many other things. These options can help keep a lot of pollution out of our air, while still dealing with the disposal issues with tires.

Share your thoughts in the comments below or on our Facebook page

Photo Credit:  Public Domain 

 

Acclaimed Environmental Author to Speak at the University of Tulsa

plasticfreeBeth Terry the acclaimed author of Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too and the blog My Plastic-Free Life, will be speaking in Tulsa on April 2nd. The event is being put on by Booksmart Tulsa, the University of Tulsa, and make:Tulsa.

Beth Terry’s book shares her personal journey to reduce her use of plastic, lots of great tips to help you reduce your use of plastic, why plastic is such a problem, and it also profiles other activists that have helped with the plastic pollution problem. The profiles include myself, Lisa Sharp. Beth shares my story and how I helped to bring curbside recycling to my town here in Oklahoma. I will also be speaking at the event.

Before the event there will be a learning opportunity for alternative ways to use plastic and other recyclable materials. At the event make:Tulsa will share ideas for useful and decorative items using recyclable materials.


Here is what someone had to say about seeing Beth Terry speak at the University of North Carolina Wilmington earlier this month,

“What i learned was astonishing!….i knew that plastic was a problem and i thought that i was a pretty good steward …. I don’t use plastic bags, or saran wrap… I recycle. yadda yadda… I was humbled. There is SO much to the plastic problem that I didn’t know. And there are so many things that i can do to change my ways.”- read more

The event is Tuesday, April 2nd at the University of Tulsa. The talk will start at 7 p.m. but you will want to get there early for the pre-events, which start at 5:30 p.m. It’s sure to be a very interesting event and a great learning opportunity. Let’s give Beth Terry a warm Oklahoma welcome and fill the room. You won’t be disappointed if you come.

Photo Credit: Beth Terry

 

Eat Local, Save Money

Food costs are rising, along with just about everything else. Most of us are trying to find ways to stretch our food budget these days. It is possible to lower your food bill and still eat local, healthy food. Many of the ways to save are very simple.

farmersmarket

  • Quit eating fast food. Fast food seems quick and cheap but it adds up and really in the time you drive somewhere, wait in line, and get back home you haven’t really saved time. There are many ways to eat at home even when you don’t have much time, use a crockpot, make meals ahead of time and freeze them, cook quick meals like fish, or buy some pre-made meals from the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. These pre-made meals are affordable and much better for us than fast food.  
  • Meal Plan. Americans waste a lot of food and that translates to a lot of money. Planning your meals and shopping with a list can help make sure you buy what you need and don’t end up having to throw out food.
  • Join the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. Buying through a coop can save you a lot of money. You are buying food that is in season and you cut out a lot of the middle men, which means savings for you. There are also volunteer opportunities that can be used for credits for your order.
  • Shop farmer’s markets. Like with the coop, you will be cutting out the middle man. You can find so many great local products at farmer’s markets and it’s a lot of fun to get to know the people producing your food.
  • Buy in bulk. If you have items your family uses a lot of, talk to the producer about buying in bulk, some allow this and will give a discount.
  • Grow your own. Growing your own food can be fun and will save you a lot of money. Now is the perfect time to start working on a garden!
  • Make your own. Cooking from scratch is a great way to save money and reduce packaging waste. Many things we think of as being hard to make, really aren’t. Take it slow and try one new from scratch recipe a week or a month.

These are just a few ways you can eat local, healthy food, and save money! We would love to hear your tips, share in the comments below or on our Facebook page

Photo Credit:  Marc_Smith