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Encouraging Kids to Eat Healthy

Worried about your kid’s eating habits? Want them to eat healthier foods and make better choices on their own? There are some easy ways to help encourage healthy eating habits for your kids. 

Encouraging kids to eat healthy, healthy eating, kids gardening, kids cooking

Childhood obesity is on the rise and we are seeing more and more illnesses in children which are linked to weight and nutrition. It’s a problem that often follows them to adulthood.

Teaching young kids to eat and enjoy healthy foods is very important. They are tempted by sweet treats more than ever with ads targeting them everywhere. It can be hard to get them to make the right choices.

Thankfully there are some ways that have been proven to help encourage healthy eating habits. Sure your kids will likely still want a candy bar from time to time, don’t we all, but overall they can learn to make better choices.

Encouraging Kids to Eat Healthy

There are several ways that have been shown to encourage healthy eating habits in kids. By instilling healthy habits at a young age you set your child up for a healthier adulthood.

Encouraging kids to eat healthy, healthy eating, kids gardening, kids cooking


Gardening with kids helps encourage them to try new foods and also helps instill green living habits. Christina of Little Sprouts Learning runs a daycare and teaches the kids to garden, she has wonderful success with this. Kids at her daycare and now trying and enjoying more healthy foods.

“When introducing a new food, I let them decide when they want to try it and if I like it, I let them know.  I never pressure them to try anything.  I just let nature take its course.  Lots of healthy fresh foods are being eaten here that just a few years ago I would never have imagined kids even trying much less begging for.” – Gardening With Kids, Why It’s Important

Encouraging kids to eat healthy, healthy eating, kids gardening, kids cooking


Teaching kids to cook is another great way to get them involved with food. A review done of eight studies on cooking education programs for kids between 5 and 12 years old, showed in increased consumption of fruit, vegetables, dietary fiber, as well as a greater willingness to try new foods.

“We found that it is particularly important to expose kids to healthy foods on a number of occasions. This makes them feel comfortable with the new foods, which helps them build healthy habits,” said Derek Hersch, the lead author of the study.

WebMD lists a wide range of short-term and long-term benefits to teaching your kids to cook.

  • Encourages kids to try healthy foods.
  • Kids are more likely to sit down to a family meal when they helped prepare it.
  • It can increase self-confidence.
  • Kids that learn to eat well may be more likely to eat healthy as adults.

A great place to start is by teaching your kids how to make healthy snacks. You can find great snack recipes in this download 10 Snacks Your Kids Can Make.

Kids Cook Real Food

It’s also easier than ever to teach your kids to cook with the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse. Even if you aren’t the best cook with the help of this course you can teach your kids valuable lessons.

Doing these fairly simple things will help your children for the rest of their lives. And who knows, maybe you will get the benefits of not having to cook every night.

Getting the Most Calories Out of Your Homestead Garden

When starting a vegetable garden you want to get the most out of every square foot that you can! Here are some ways to have a more calorie intensive garden.

Homestead garden, vegetable garden, gardening, eat local, grow your own

Whether you are planning on starting your first urban garden as a pastime or simply growing food to support a small family on a spacious garden, then it goes without saying that calorie intensive farming ought to be at the top of your list. But how exactly can you make sure that you’re getting the most calories per foot out of your backyard’s garden? Well, here is a quick primer to that.

1. Establish Permanent Garden Beds

Setting up an array of permanent garden beds as opposed to the plants-by-row approach allows you the opportunity to narrow down your efforts specifically on only where your plants grow. And as a direct result, this reduces wastage of irrigation water, compost or fertilizer on unplanted parts of the garden significantly.

In addition to this, it also ensures that soil compaction is a non-issue as you will be walking on permanent pathways whenever you transverse the garden and never on the planted areas. As a side note: This idea of having permanent garden beds in the place of conventional rows is borrowed from some of the agriculturally productive parts of the world where intensive farming is taken up on a large scale.

Homestead garden, vegetable garden, gardening, eat local, grow your own

2. Make Good use of Compost

Compost or organic manure has a unique advantage over commercially produced fertilizers in that its nutrients are released slowly and gradually over a long span of time. This slow-release of nutrients allows a balanced injection of macronutrients in the soil which promotes a luxurious and healthy growth of your crops.

Aside from that, the content of organic matter in the compost also boosts the soil’s water retention capacity, improves the texture, and generally supports a high yield.

3. Practice High-density and Intensive Mixed Farming

As much intensive farming makes the best of the available garden space at your disposal, complimenting it with mixed farming is one of the best ways of ensuring high yield (and consequently, a high calorific output per foot unit) in your homestead garden.

Novice gardeners, for instance, can kick start this farming strategy of boosting their overall yield by first adopting Bartholomew’s method that involves subdividing the plot into smaller 1-foot square areas. This can be helpful in visualizing (from a close point of view) how densely or sparsely you can plant your produce.

Homestead garden, vegetable garden, gardening, eat local, grow your own

4. Succession Planting

One of the best ways of getting the most calories out of your homestead garden is by practicing crop rotation in the form of succession planting. This is an excellent approach to making sure that at no given time – all year round – your garden lies idle. Again, replanting quickly (with a different crop ) as soon as you harvest is a guaranteed way of ensuring a continuous crop cover all-year-round.

The Bottom Line

Besides boosting the number of calories per square foot obtained in a given patch of land, interspersing different crops at different times of the year is one of the major principles of intensive farming that promotes sustainability.

Furthermore, it is also evident that mixing plants of different heights, root depths and growth rates is a convenient way of packing more crops in a given small space without bordering on over-exploitation.

Is Your Makeup Putting Your Health At Risk?

Do you know what’s in your makeup? Do you even know if your makeup is safe to be using? You may be surprised what’s hiding in some makeup.

safer makeup, natural makeup, organic makeup, safer cosmetics

When we buy something we assume it’s safe. We have regulations and laws to help protect us, right? Sadly, in the case of cosmetics we may not be as protected as we think.

EWG’s site Skin Deep shares some myths about cosmetic safety, including this kind of frightening one-

Myth – If it’s for sale at a supermarket, drugstore or department store cosmetics counter, it must be safe.

Fact –  The Food and Drug Administration has no authority to require companies to test cosmetics products for safety. The agency does not review or approve the vast majority of products or ingredients before they go on the market. FDA conducts pre-market reviews only of certain cosmetics color additives and active ingredients that are classified as over-the-counter drugs (FDA 2005, 2010). – Myths on Cosmetic Safety

If they aren’t required to be tested for safety, how do we know if they are safe? Well the honest answer is, we don’t know they are. There are many possibly harmful ingredients in the products we use everyday and they could be putting our health at risk. Here are just some of the chemicals commonly found in cosmetics.


Parabens are used widely as a preservative. They are used because they have bactericidal and fungicidal properties. You can find parabens in everything from shampoo to toothpaste. Parabens mimic estrogen and have been identified in biopsy samples from breast tumors. Some commonly used parabens are methylparaben, propylparaben, and butylparaben.


Phthalates are commonly used to soften vinyl plastics. You know that smell your new vinyl shower curtain gives off? That’s phthalates. They are a common ingredient in fragrances used in cosmetics and household products. Like parabens, phthalates are thought to disrupt the hormonal system. Unlike parabens, you aren’t likely to see phthalates listed in the ingredients. To help avoid phthalates, skip products that list fragrance in the ingredients.


1,4-dioxane is a known animal carcinogen and probable human carcinogen. It’s found in shampoos, soaps, bubble bath, and more. You won’t find 1,4-dioxane on any label. Avoid products that contain ingredients like sodium myreth sulfate, PEG chemicals that include the clauses “xynol,” “ceteareth” and “oleth.”

Ethylene Oxide

Ethylene oxide is commonly found in fragrances and is in many popular shampoos. It is a known human carcinogen. As with phthalates, avoid products that list fragrance in the ingredients.


You most likely remember the news stories about lead in our lipsticks. Well it can also be found in sunscreen, foundation, nail polish, and even whitening toothpaste! Lead is a neurotoxin which can cause developmental problems as well as miscarriages and reduced fertility. Since lead and other heavy metals are in many products and aren’t listed in the ingredients, it’s hard to know what’s safe.

Safer Cosmetic Brands

EWG’s Skin Deep database is a great place to check to see if products you are using are safe. There are also some more natural brands out there committed to using better ingredients.

Making the switch to safer cosmetics is a great way to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. There are many great safe brands out there making wonderful products you can feel good using.

5 Tips for Green Travel

Looking to reduce your impact when traveling? There are some easy ways to go green while travel!

green travel, traveling eco-friendly

You might be wondering what the heck does “travel green’’ mean anyways!? Being green at home makes sense but how do you take those habits with you when you go on a vacation, and why is it important?

If you are familiar with sustainable living, then you are already aware of what a carbon footprint is. It won’t come as a surprise to you if I tell you transportation is one of the biggest contributors to increasing our carbon footprint, especially airplane travel. This means every time we decide to take a trip that requires us to jump on a plane, we are emitting some crazy amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

How do we change this? How can you make your trip ‘greener’ per say? The first step of any vacation is planning the trip itself. How you plan your trip makes a huge impact to how much more eco-friendly your next vacation will be. Below I will list for you the Top 5 actions you can do to make your trip greener!

Unplug your devices

As I mentioned prior, transportation is a huge part of your footprint. However, energy use is another big one. How you use energy can make a difference in how big your footprint will be. Doing the simple action of unplugging your devices when not in use will make a difference. Just because you turned off your device or appliance, doesn’t mean it still isn’t using energy. When it is completely unplugged no energy is being used. When in your hotel room, unplug your hair dryers, lamps and fridge (if you don’t need it on).

Stop using bottled water

Waste is another big component to your carbon footprint. Not only is bottled water a huge contributor to waste, not only in landfills but in our oceans. Another component that people may not realize about bottle water, is the plastic itself. Obtaining plastic uses up a massive amount of resources, and sometimes creates scenario like oil spills damaging our environment. All of this can be mitigated if you stop using bottled water. Instead use a reusable water bottle

Stop using straws

Straws are not a necessity when travelling or at home. The plastic used in straws contribute to a lot of the waste found in our oceans. The problem with plastic is it doesn’t break down, and straws are something that can easily be used frequently. If straws are something you can’t do without, try using the reusable straws or switching to the paper straws.

Buy items with less packaging

We all need to purchase things, whether it is a new pair of shoes, or our groceries or a new set of headphones. What we all can do is be more mindful of how much packaging each of these items come in. Not everything needs to be wrapped up in copious amounts of plastic or cardboard. Try to find things that has less packaging, and this will reduce your waste and therefore your footprint as well.

Start looking at the labels of where things are made

Remember how I mentioned transportation is a big part of our footprint? Well the goods we buy also need a way to get to us. This means if you live in North America, but frequently buy clothes made in Asia, you are going to have a larger footprint. Since your clothes are being shipped halfway across the world. How can this be avoided? Start looking at the label, see where things are made and produced. Make informed decisions before your purchase and you can choose to buy things that are more local or produced closer to home.

This is just a tip of the iceberg of the actions you can take while you travel. I have put together a packing list that will make your trips more sustainable. Head over to Green Travelling 101 and grab your free eco-friendly packing list.

Organic Food on a Budget

Eating organic food doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. These are great tips for eating healthy food on a budget. 

Eating organic food doesn't have to cost a lot of money. These are great tips for eating healthy food on a budget.

Eating organic food is better for us and the planet. Organic food is grown without harmful pesticides and usually is better for the environment. Some studies have shown some organic food to have higher nutritional value as well.

Cost is often what stands in people’s way when they want to eat more organic food. While organic food doesn’t always cost more it often does. While the increased cost may be worth it not everyone is in a place where they can add the added cost to their budget.

As organic food has become more popular the cost is down and there are more ways to save. Now more people can afford to add organic food into their budget.

How to Eat Organic Food on a Budget

  • Eat at home more often. This will help you save overall as eating out can be very expensive. This is also better for your health.
  • Buy grains in bulk. Stores like Native Roots Market, Whole Foods, and Sprouts have a great selection of bulk foods.
  • Eat less meat. Meat can be very expensive and most of us eat too much of it. You don’t have to go vegetarian just try adding more meatless meals to your diet. One great way to do this is, Meatless Monday.
  • Check out the Dirty Dozen to find what produce is most important to buy organically.
  • Eat seasonally. Produce is cheaper when it’s in season so learn to eat in season produce. Frozen fruits and veggies are a good choice when the food is out of season in your area.
  • Be careful not to waste food. American’s waste around 27 percent of the food available for consumption. Making sure you aren’t throwing away food will help you save. Meal planning is one way you can reduce waste.
  • Grow your own food. You don’t have to have farm land to grow your own food. Even a few pots with some favorite produce can help you save.
  • Check out local CSA’s, farmer’s markets and co-ops. You can often get better prices by going straight to the source.
  • Buy less packaged food. Packaged food almost always costs more than making it yourself. This also helps cut down on waste.
  • Use coupons. There are a fair number of coupons out there for organic food. Check out Saving with Organic Coupons for more.
  • Use apps to save money. There are some great apps that you can submit your receipt to and earn cash back. It’s a great way to save a little extra money.
  • Use online services like Thrive Market and Amazon Prime Pantry to find good deals on organic food.

Following these tips can help you buy more organic food without breaking your budget. Do you have any tips to share on saving on organic food? If so please share them in the comments below.

How to Make Homemade Baby Food Purées

Want to start making your own baby food purées? It’s not as hard as you think. 

Want to make your own homemade baby food purees? It's not as hard as you think.

Starting solids has been quite an adventure. As a first-time mom, there’s a lot of information to consider and several different methods of feeding. After a great deal of research and taking a class on starting solids and homemade baby food I felt ready, but my baby had other ideas.

We started offering solids at six months, but she just was not interested. Throughout the next three months, we continued to offer, but there was still no interest. Right around when she turned nine months, she started to show some interest so we started making our own purées.

Homemade baby food supplies

As we all know, there’s many ways to skin a cat. Everyone has different ideas about how to introduce solids. I tried a few different methods before deciding that purées were the best way for all of us. I purchased a Beaba Babycook and started with simple purées of a single fruit or vegetable.

When buying the fruits and vegetables, I mostly try to adhere to the “clean fifteen/dirty dozen” rules. Once you can eliminate any foods that may cause an allergic reaction in your child, then comes the fun part! You can start making purée mixes with many fruits and vegetables. Recipes are easy to find online and there are even baby food cookbooks. Or you can create your own!


Once you get the hang of making your own food, it’s easy! I use the Babycook machine, but purées can be made in a blender as well. What I love about the Babycook is that it is an all-in-one machine. It steam cooks and purées your food. To start, chop up your food into chunks and set it to steam cook on the desired setting. After it has finished, dump your steamed food into the blender part of the machine and purée to your preference.

After I make a batch of food, I pour it into a silicone ice tray and freeze for an hour or two. After each portion is frozen, pop them out of the ice tray and store in freezer bags until you are ready to feed them to your little one. I like to label mine with the contents and when I made them so I know how old they are.

When you get ready to prepare them, you can either re-steam a cube in the Babycook machine or throw them in the microwave for ten seconds at a time. One cube is about one portion for my little eater, but if your baby likes more you can always heat up another one. If your baby likes to eat out of pouches like mine does, then you can buy reusable pouches and put in your own baby food. My daughter likes them because she can squeeze them herself.

Homemade baby food storage

Homemade purées can be fun and give you the peace of mind of knowing what your child is eating. I occasionally give my child store bought food when I need a break or we are out and about, but for the most part, we know the source of her foods.

Do you make your own baby food? Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page.


Eat Local and Support Local Stillwater Farms

Eating local is made easy with 1907 Meat Company in Stillwater, Oklahoma. 

Eat Local and Support Local Stillwater Farms with 1907 Meat Company

Eating and buying locally grown foods has many benefits.  It supports local farms and helps the regional economy. Many of us look to local farmers markets or stands to buy seasonal fruits and vegetables. But where do you find or buy your local meat? In Stillwater, 1907 Meat Company, a whole animal butcher shop and restaurant, is working with local ranches to offer locally grown beef, pork, lamb, and chicken.

Eat Local and Support Local Stillwater Farms with 1907 Meat Company

On a recent trip to Stillwater, I stopped in at 1907 Meat Company to talk with owner Adam Gribben about his business and learn more about how he is working within his community to offer locally grown products that customers want. I even sampled a few items off the lunch menu that will have me returning again and again.

Adam is an OSU graduate who recently returned to the area. He opened 1907 Meat Company to reconnect people with local farmers and locally made products. He wanted to focus on food transparency because customers are demanding it. He said,

“We tell the truth. You know where it comes from, what’s in it, or what’s not in it, because there’s nothing in it. It’s meat from an animal that was raised on a farm that you can go visit.”

Eat Local and Support Local Stillwater Farms with 1907 Meat Company


The shop works closely 22 local ranchers to produce beef, pork, chicken, and lamb. Every animal is humanely raised, pasture fed, and finished on grain and grass. They use a local processor and an in-house butcher, Chad Smith who is a 3rd generation butcher. The shop is involved in every step.

In addition to locally sourced meat, you can find fresh local produce from Bear Creek Farms that is delivered fresh produce to the shop weekly. You can often find him and other local farmers in the shop. That’s the beauty of this local shop. It is connecting the community is so many ways.

Eat Local and Support Local Stillwater Farms with 1907 Meat Company

Because this is a whole animal butcher shop, you can get hard to find tongue, lard, heart, and more. Leftover bones are smoked and available for dog treats. Products are also rotated out of the meat case and offered in the restaurant. Executive Chef Matt Buechele creates a unique daily menu for breakfast and lunch Tuesday thru Saturday and Brunch on Sunday. When we were in town, we went for both Saturday lunch and Sunday Brunch. My favorite thing has to be the Short Rib Hash with potatoes, peppers, onions, and two eggs. I mean there isn’t a word in that title I don’t love. Everything on the menu is equally as delicious.

Eating and buying local is a win for the consumer, grower, and the community. Reconnect with your local farmers and ranchers to taste the Made in Oklahoma products today.

How Bad Are Your Pets for the Environment?

Your pets have a big impact on the planet. There are some steps you can take to reduce that impact though. 

How bad are your pets for the environment? They can be greener!

People with furry family members often form a strong bond with them. This is great from an emotional standpoint, but everything we do has an environmental impact, and that includes pets. Many common habits of pet owners aren’t exactly eco-friendly, but a little bit of forethought can make a big difference.

What’s Goes In … 

If you have a pet, you’re familiar with cleaning up after them. Most pet owners are pretty good about picking it up, but some people aren’t. People who have dogs that poop in their yards usually pick it up weekly or monthly, but not daily.

There are a few reasons people don’t pick up poop, including the misconception that it’s a good fertilizer. Really, it’s not that good for the soil. While it does give some nutrients, mostly nitrogen, it’s also a carrier for lots of diseases. Dogs can carry up to 65 diseases that are transmittable to humans, so keeping their feces around as fertilizer may not be the best idea.

Cat feces can also pose a problem. Cats require something dogs don’t – a litter box. Cat litter is often difficult to dispose of properly. It shouldn’t be flushed unless you get a kind designed for that, and clay-based litters won’t degrade at all, ever. With all the cats around, about 2 million tons of cat litter gets sent to landfills in America every year.

When you do pick up poop or clean out the litter box, what do you put it in? Most people use a plastic bag, and everyone already knows how bad plastic bags are. Of course this is a better use than just throwing them away, but it’s also very effective at not allowing the poop to break down for the next 150 years.

Gotta Feed ‘Em!

If you have a pet, it’s generally considered good practice to keep it alive. That often involves food, unless it’s a cat that can get its own food – in which case you don’t have a pet as much as a feral cat that’s not afraid of you. If you use canned food, that’s two or more cans of food a day. Hopefully those cans go in the recycling, but not everyone recycles.

Then you have to look at the food its self. Almost all commercial pet foods include meat. While human food has gotten a lot of attention for being locally sourced and humanely raised, pet food hasn’t quite gotten there. So most pet food is probably coming from conditions you’re trying to avoid for yourself. If you think dog and cat poop is bad, you don’t want to get started on waste products from large-scale farming operations

Grooming Extras

Pets need to be taken care of. Some animals will actually suffer if they aren’t properly groomed, like poodles, who don’t shed. If you have a pet, keeping them properly groomed is part and parcel of ownership. This includes everything from washing and brushing to preventive medicine like flea guard and tooth-brushing.

Depending on the animal and the level of grooming involved, it can be simpler to pay someone else to do it. While this can save you time and effort, it’s one more errand to run. Unless you can walk, you’re probably driving your pet since most public transportation doesn’t allow them. To cut down on burning extra fossil fuels, find the closest pet groomer possible. Maybe you’ll get lucky and one will be in walking distance.

Even if you do it yourself, that’s still a significant amount of chemicals to add to the environment. Buying green or biodegradable products will help cut down on the environmental impact. If you have an animal, it’s important to take care of it properly – but you can make choices that benefit the environment as well as your pet.

Wildlife Damage

Cats are pretty decent hunters, even if they’re well fed and kept inside. This is fine if they’re being good mousers in your barn, but when they’re hunting other wildlife, it can sometimes be a bit of a problem. One cat won’t do much, but when you take into account all the outdoor cats that are hunting for fun, you end up with a pretty significant impact.

Cats kill all kinds of things, like birds, rabbits, squirrels, bats, voles, mice, snakes and probably a lot more. Scientists can’t measure how many of each species cats kill each year because it’s simply too broad a spectrum. However, they have taken a look at birds, and cats kill about 10 percent of the land bird population of the United States every year. That’s an insane amount! Some people are upset about birds flying into wind farms, but they should really be looking at their furry friends.

Having a pet may not be the best thing you can do for the environment, but it’s certainly not the worst. Try to be conscious about the products you buy for your animal, just like you are for yourself. Biodegradable poop bags, locally sourced meats and a pet with minimal reasons to hunt are all great steps to take.

Only Natural Pet

Organic Milk: Not As Healthy As You Think?

Think all organic milk is healthy? It may not be as healthy as you think.

Is organic milk as healthy as you think? It may not be.

Did you know that most cartons of organic milk have an average shelf life of 6 months, no refrigeration required? Gratitude for this amazing shelf life belongs to a process called UHT or ultra-high temperature pasteurization. While milk pasteurization has been around for over a hundred years, UHT has only been commercially used since the 1970s. The consequences of UHT on organic milk (or any milk) are questionable.

Pasteurization is a heating process, legally mandated in any milk being shipped across state lines, to kill harmful bacteria. States also have laws about whether or not pasteurization is required for in-state sales. Pasteurization was implemented during a time when thousands of people were dying from diseases carried by milk. While several different pasteurization methods exist, two are most common:  high temperature short time (HTST) or flash and UHT.

HTST Pasteurization Method

Milk is heated to 161 degrees F for atleast 15 seconds. It kills harmful bacteria but leaves good probiotic bacteria. HTST ensures that your milk is fresher and likely, more local than UHT milk as its expiration date is much shorter.[i]

UHT Pasteurization Method

This method heats milk to 280 degrees F for 2 seconds. UHT quickly kills 100 percent of bacteria in milk, even the good ones. Milk that has undergone UHT often tastes “burnt.” Furthermore, the UHT process requires more energy than the HTST method. Using UHT method, it is also possible to reheat any unsold/unopened milk and place them back on the store shelf.[ii]

Controversy exists whether or not UHT is actually a beneficial process to keeping our milk healthy and safe. Some research claims that the nutrients that are killed through the UHT process are not necessary for human health. However, what is known is that yogurt or keffir cannot be made from UHT milk, but it can be made from HTST milk, implying that certain healthy bacteria are only present in HTST processed milk.  It is also important to keep in mind that much of the organic milk is packaged in a non recyclable container. Milk companies will state that consumers are demanding milk with longer shelf life for convenience. It is up to us to demand otherwise.

Want to know which brands of organic milk don’t use UHT? Thanks to research by the Sweet Beet blog, we have a list of milk producers, but always make sure you read the labels first before purchase.

Brands that don’t use UHT
Natural by Nature

Brands that use both HTST and UHT (read the label): 
Organic Valley
Whole Foods 365 Organic

[i] If you want to find out where your milk is from, find the code on your milk and use this website Where is my Milk from?

[ii] Controversy exists whether or not this is actually happening, but research has been conducted on reheating milk using the UHT method. See Cattaneo, S., Masotti, F., & Pellegrino, L. (2008). Effects of overprocessing on heat damage of UHT milk. Eur Food Res Technology, 226, 1099-1106.Sources

  1. CDC. (2013) Raw Milk Questions and Answers.
  2. The Sweet Beet
  3. Encyclopaedia Britannica
  4. Food Renegade
  5. Locavore Del Mundo


Creating Green Habits

It’s A Great Time to Adopt A New Easy, Green Habit!

Wanting to be more eco-friendly? These tips will help you create green living habits.

It’s the start of a new year and everyone is talking about the new habits they plan to adopt, me included. I’m not going to lie, changing a habit is hard! It takes a lot of focus, determination and time. Now consider trying to change the habits of others – especially your family members. However, given the right incentive (no, not a bribe!) all of the effort and time will be worth it. Hopefully this post encourages you to begin to think about your family’s green habits!

What Is A Habit?

A habit is defined as, “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.” What are your family’s (not so) green habits? Are they in the habit of leaving the water running while brushing their teeth? Are they in the habit of leaving lights on even after they leave a room? Are they in the habit of tossing all trash into one garbage can?  If you are like most families you have some of these habits but have never stopped to think about why you are doing them and why or if you should change them.

Here’s one last fact about habits that is actually pretty interesting. A study conducted by a health psychology researcher at University College London concluded that on average, it takes more than two months before a new behavior becomes automatic – 66 days to be exact. Check out this article on the Huffington Post for more info about the study.

Green Habits You Can Adopt

Use Cloth Paper Towels
Did you know that 13 billion pounds of paper towels are used each year? That’s over 45 pounds of paper towels per person, per year. You can definitely make a dent in that by adopting a new habit and switching to cloth “paper” towels instead! Here are three easy options:

A super easy, cheap option to using paper towels, that you can probably implement today, is to use old t-shirts or towels. Dig them out of their hiding places in your house and put them to good use. Just cut them up into a paper towel-like size and you’re ready for messes!

If you’re into something a little fancier or are looking for a particular color scheme pick up some small, kitchen towels as an alternative to paper towels.  They can be stashed in a kitchen drawer or stored on the counter in a cute basket for easy access when needed. It’s easy to pop them in the washer once a week ready to go for the next mess.

My favorite option is the cutest of the alternatives to paper towels on the list! These cute, rolls of cloth paper towels fit a paper towel holder just like the paper rolls except they aren’t paper! They snap or Velcro together to form a roll of towels so you still get the satisfying feeling of pulling a towel off the roll.

Use LED Light Bulbs
A big chunk (34.6%) of a family’s energy use is on appliances, electronics and lighting – a perfect place start a new habit.

To use less energy when it comes to lighting is easy, right? Just turn off the light when it’s not needed and you’re done, but that’s only part of the equation. In addition to turning off the light you can also upgrade your bulb to a more energy efficient LED bulb.

Here is a quick comparison between incandescent bulbs (the ones you are probably most familiar with) and LED bulbs:

LED bulbs

Now don’t be alarmed by the cost per LED bulb. Just keep reading until you get to the total cost for 50,000 hours. There is your rationale for spending the money on an LED bulb. Check out the number of KWh of electricity used over 50,000 ours numbers.  Incandescent bulbs use a whopping 3,000 KWh while LEDs use just 500. That’s a huge savings on electricity and valuable natural resources.

Program Your Thermostat

According to the US Energy Information Administration, in 2009 US homes on average used 41.5% of their total energy use on space heating and 6.2% of their total energy use on air conditioning (or 47.7%). That’s a big chunk worth exploring…and worth forming a new habit.

Get into the habit of programming or managing your thermostat settings. If you have a programmable thermostat, great!  If not, you will have to manually adjust it but it’s doable.

If you are like me you may have had a programmable thermostat for a while but haven’t gotten around to actually programming it. Familiarize yourself with your thermostat. If you have to, dig out or go online to find the user’s manual for your model.

Here is a general guide for winter settings for a family with adults and children that are out of the house all day for work and school:

  • 68°F about 30 minutes before family wakes up
  • 56°F to 58°F at the time the family typically leaves the house
  • 68°F about 30 minutes before the family starts arriving at home
  • 56°F to 58°F once the whole family has gone to bed (and is bundled in warm pj’s and blankets!)

Ready For New Habits?

I know making and breaking habits is hard but if you are motivated and determined you will succeed. And why not focus on making your world a better place for you and your family? Your actions can serve as a valuable lesson for others around you. And these EASY actions are definitely doable – just give it 2 months!!