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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!!

Ditch the Toothpaste, Brush with Soap

Ever thought about brushing your teeth with soap? Maybe you should!

Have you heard of brushing your teeth with tooth soap? Read what it is, how to do it and why you should.

Disclaimer: This is not to be considered medical advice. Please consult your dentist.

Remember when you had to wash your mouth out with soap for saying a bad word as a kid?  Well, it turns out your elders may have been onto something because brushing your teeth with regular bar soap has been shown to work better than commercial toothpaste.


The main man behind the movement, Dr. Gerard F. Judd from Arizona, published a book called “Good Teeth” aimed at allowing people retain their original teeth well into their elderly year by following a few simple rules to maintain a healthy mouth and gums.

One of these main rules is to brush with regular bar soap.  According to Dr. Judd, commercial toothpaste contains a high amount of glycerin which deposits a layer on the tooth that covers the plaque and prevents it from being brushed – taking a whopping 27 rinses to remove.   It also prevents the tooth from re-mineralizing, which is essential to the health of the tooth.   Soap actively kills bacteria and removes plaque, thus preventing the onset of one of the most common diseases in the world – gingivitis and tooth decay.

One of the other main points Dr. Judd brings up is the over use of fluoride that Americans are accustomed to.  His main argument is that fluoride has been shown to double tooth decay during an average lifespan.  And, since most water supplies contain fluoride the use of it in our mouth care is overkill.  By using regular bar soap, you are eliminating several unnecessary ingredients.

If the thought of tasting soap during your daily brushings gives you the chills, don’t worry because you will get used to the taste after 3-4 brushes.   The best recommendation is to use a bar soap that is detergent-free and contains a very high percentage of olive oil.  Olive oil should be the first ingredient on the list.  Coconut oil found in most detergent and non-detergent based soaps are what give them the very strong “soapy” taste.

If you can, try to find 100% olive oil soap (also known as true castile, where the only oil in the soap is olive oil) – it will be sweeter flavored. Brushing with tooth soap has become more popular and there are now commercial available tooth soaps, making that a great option as well.  An essential oil mint blend such as spearmint or peppermint will also help improve the taste.  Rinse well (at least 2 times) with water after brushing and don’t forget to brush your tongue to eliminate odor causing bacteria.

After the first brush you will notice your mouth feeling like you had just walked out of the dentist’s office.  And, your teeth will feel cleaner for a much longer period of time.  It’s worth a try.  You may even find yourself wondering what to do with your extra money from not having to buy toothpaste or pay for expensive dentist bills.

Natural Cleaners You Can Make Yourself

Making your own DIY homemade natural cleaners isn’t hard and can save you a lot of money!

DIY Homemade Natural CleanersConventional cleaners often contain ingredients that can be harmful. Many of the ingredients are endocrine disrupters, which can cause adverse reproductive, neurological developmental and immune effects. These risks are especially high during prenatal and early postnatal development.

Making your own cleaners allows you to have control over the ingredients. It can also save you money. Buying the ingredients may cost a bit in the beginning but once you have the supplies on hand you can make these cleaners for less than you are spending now, in most cases. If you plan to make them often check out bulk ingredients on Amazon to save a little money.


There are many great homemade cleaners out there to try. Pinterest has endless options. These are just a few that use really good ingredients and are great products.

Homemade Natural Cleaners

DIY Homemade Natural Cleaners

Daily Shower Spray from Retro Housewife Goes Green

Dish Detergent for Hand Washing from Bren Did

Dusting Spray from Frugally Blonde

Stainless Steel Cleaner from The Crunchy Chronicles

Grapefruit Soft Scrub from Mommypotamus

DIY Homemade Natural Cleaners

Liquid Laundry Detergent from Retro Housewife Goes Green

Dishwasher Detergent from Bren Did

Bleach Alternative from One Good Thing by Jillee

Granite Cleaner from Root and Revel

Toilet Bowl Cleaner from Mom 4 Real

DIY Homemade Natural Cleaners

Citrus Refrigerator Deodorizer from Retro Housewife Goes Green

Lemon Infused Disinfectant Spray Cleaner from Bren Did

Dryer Sheets from View From The Fridge

Floor Cleaner from Hello Glow

Laundry Stain Remover from Bren Did

DIY Homemade Natural Cleaners

Sleep Linen Spray from Retro Housewife Goes Green

Scented Cleaning Vinegar from Bren Did

Bathroom Cleaner from Remodelaholic

Glass Cleaner from Pins and Procrastination

Lemon and Lavender All-Purpose Cleaner from Mommypotamus
If you are just getting started or like a more simple approach you can clean most things with castile soap, baking soda, or vinegar. Keeping these ingredients on hand is a great start. They are also featured in many of the recipes above.

Looking for more green living inspiration? Be sure to join the Green Oklahoma mailing list and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest

8 Reasons to Teach Kids to Care for the Earth

Is it that important to teach kids how to take care of the earth? We all know it’s important to care for the earth because that’s what we will be leaving for our kids, but it’s also important to be a good example for them. We need to teach them what they can do now and in the future to help our earth as well. It takes a village to make a change. Everyone has to work together for change to happen and the damage we have done to be reversed.

8 Reasons to Teach Kids to Care for the Earth

Over the past few years, we have seen some serious results of the way we’ve been living on this planet like there is no tomorrow. I want our grandchildren to inherit a wonderful, healthy place to live so we have to teach the next generation how to be good stewards.


The climate is changing, the earth is groaning for us to stop the damage. Are we listening? Have we made any changes? Does anyone care?

8 Reasons to Teach Kids to Care for the Earth

The society we live in is a disposable one. We don’t care what we waste. We don’t care what could be reused or donated instead of piled in a landfill. Why bring a cup to get your coffee when they have perfectly good ones there at the store? What about shopping bags? What about saving energy or fuel? It’s up to all of us to make a difference. Small changes can add up over time, so it’s important that we look at the small things.

Before I realized what was going on, I could use up a 12 pack of Bounty paper towels in my daycare in a month. That was one of the small changes I made, to pay attention to what I could use a washrag for or something else that could be reused. I still use paper towels, but two rolls last me about a year. I use them for very few things.

8 Reasons to Teach Kids to Care for the Earth

Daycare is messy business, so it’s tough to find ways to cut back on wasting resources. I have gone from getting approximately 10 plastic bags a week from the grocery store to maybe 25 in a year when I forget my bags. I have even taught my husband to ask not to have a bag when he buys just one thing. Ten bags a week is about 500 a year! I reuse some of them to send home soiled clothing but that’s a LOT of bags I was throwing away and then recycling. Eventually we pared it down to what we do now.

There are so many ways I can save resources in daycare AND it saves me money as well. I love that I’m being a good example to my kids. They know where the recycle bin is and if they are going to throw something away that’s recyclable, I tell them, put that in the recycle and they do it. That’s teaching them early what needs to be done.

8 Reasons to Teach Kids to Care for the Earth

 

Reasons to Teach Kids to Care for the Earth

Why should I care if my kids learn these lessons? There are many reasons, I’ll name a few here to get you thinking.

  1. It is SOOOO much easier to be disciplined to do something if you are used to doing it. There are many habits I really wish I would have been taught as a child. When I became an adult, it was so hard to discipline MYSELF to be a good worker, to clean up after myself, and other things. I wish I would have been a disciplined child, but I just wasn’t. I would love for my kids to have good earth friendly habits as second nature BEFORE they are the ones responsible for it.
  2. It teaches them respect for resources and doing the right thing. It’s in our nature to cast off doing what isn’t fun. An object at rest stays at rest. If kids feel compelled to recycle, pre-cycle or upcycle their trash instead of piling it all on someone else to deal with, that feeling stays with them. Teaching kids how hard it is to acquire resources or how things are made teaches them a greater appreciation for what they are choosing and using.
  3. They will be here after I’m gone. When I’m too old to make my shopping choices or to guide anyone else anymore, someone will need to carry on my beliefs about caring for the environment. The lessons they learn now will take them into the future.
  4. We need MORE people to care. I believe children are the future. They are the ones that will unite together to form a larger group of people who care if we teach them young. They can teach others as well.
  5. Kids have such unbridled passion. I remember seeing my daughter learn about being a good steward of the earth. She is still shouting it from the mountaintops. Young people have such vigor for what they believe in. I believe she is changing the world and I believe SHE can change our future.
  6. If they don’t take care of it, there may be nothing left. As quickly as we see the environment changing, we may not have much time left to make a change. If we don’t get as many people on board as we can now, it may be too late when these children are grown.
  7. It’s fun. Thinking of creative ways to care for the environment around us can be made into a game. It’s like a puzzle trying to figure out the best ways to make a difference. Kids can make it more fun for us as we teach them that it’s a pleasure to make this choice!
  8. It helps kids think about something outside of themselves. It’s never too early to teach children their wants and needs aren’t the most important thing. It teaches them empathy and patience if we show them that materialism is not good for anyone. Learning where many of our products come from is a big eye opener for kids and adults.

It’s a great and valuable lesson to teach children or other adults why these issues matter. Making small changes is a great way to take baby steps in making a different future than we are headed for now. Think of one thing you can do today to change the future and invite some kids to do it with you. You will plant a seed in them that will make a difference in our world for generations.

8 Reasons to Teach Kids to Care for the Earth

Green Tips

  • Start using reusable shopping bags.
  • Bring your own cup instead of getting a disposable one.
  • Serve food on real washable dishes and can the paper and Styrofoam products.
  • Chose glass as often as you can and recycle it when you’re finished using it. Glass can be recycled indefinitely and lasts nearly forever in a landfill.
  • Turn your heat or air two degrees cooler in winter and warmer in summer to save valuable resources. You might not even notice two degrees.
  • Start composting your food scraps for your garden or your neighbor’s.
  • Buy from bulk bins using your own containers to save packing. If you don’t have bulk bins, buy the biggest package possible so there is less packaging involved.
  • Use as little soap, shampoo, detergent, etc. as it takes to get the job done. Start by trying using half and see if things are still getting as clean.
  • Use vinegar, a great disinfectant, to clean as many things as you can. It’s great on glass diluted by half, it makes a great fabric softener, it can be used for tons of things and doesn’t leave harsh chemicals in the water supply and air.

There are many more things that can be super effective. Check into it and make small changes today!

For more on Little Sprouts Learning Garden please visit our website or Facebook page.

8 Reasons to Teach Kids to Care for the Earth

Getting to Know Your Meat

Get to Know Your Meat

Have you ever stopped to think about where your meat comes from? The USDA says that roughly 8-20 percent of U.S. meat supplies come from foreign sources, but also said that only the portions that are imported directly as meat are obvious.

“While it is relatively easy to track the amount of meat imported by the U.S. (2.1 billion pounds of beef and 0.8 billion pounds of pork in 2011) and the number of livestock that enter the U.S. (2.1 million cattle and 5.8 million hogs in 2011), it is more difficult to estimate the amount of meat produced in the United States from animals that originated abroad. ERS estimates derived using data on imported livestock by weight category and assumptions about animal growth patterns and the timing of production from imported animals show the share of domestic production attributed to foreign-born animals is significant and trending upward.” – How Much U.S. Meat Comes From Foreign Sources?


We have become very disconnected from our meat. Food blogger and author, Jamie Schler wrote on the Huffington Post about going shopping with her French husband in the U.S., this was his first trip the States.

“He glanced over the display: perfectly aligned Styrofoam platters each holding a perfectly cut, sliced and trimmed steak, chop or burger, each as gorgeously and evenly red as a fine bottle of Bordeaux. Clear plastic stretched across the surface of each piece of meat, displaying to, yes, perfection the item now shiny and smooth, as shiny and smooth as the waxed apples and eggplants over in the produce section. My husband turned to me, shaking his head in disappointment, and said, “You Americans really do not want to know that you are eating an animal, do you?”- This Little Piggy Went to Market: Where Does Your Meat Come From?

And he is right. Ask most Americans where the meat they are eating came from and they will tell you a name of a grocery store, and that’s all the information they can give you because that’s all they know. And chances are, we don’t really want to know where the meat came from or how it got to our grocery stores.

“It’s one thing to pick your own strawberries or buy green beans and fresh corn at the local Farmers’ Market, but it’s very different when you talk about where that New York Strip Steak or pork loin came from.  Do you want to have the conversation about the way chickens are raised before they are braised in your Le Creuset Dutch oven?  Probably not.  As Allison Bryant told me, “If you knew how those chickens were raised, you would probably eat more red meat.”- Honor the Animal

Is it possible to break away from this American habit of not knowing what we are eating? Yes it is, and it’s not as hard as you may think.  Buying local meat not only helps you have connection with your meat, it also helps our local economy. A much larger amount of the money you spend on local food will stay in the community and help strengthen it. It’s also likely safer because a lot of meat bought in grocery stores can contain meat from multiple animals making it hard to track if there is a problem. Local meat means you can also make sure that the meat is raised in a way that meets your standards.

You can find local meat in many places around the state. Locally owned natural food stores, like Native Roots Market in Oklahoma City, often stock local meat and can let you know where it came from if you want to know more about it. Even some chains around the state have local meat at times. Farmer’s markets and straight from the farms is another great way to get local meat. And one of the best ways to buy local meat is the Oklahoma Food Cooperative. All of the food they sell is local and they always disclose where the food came from and give you information about the farms. When you order from the Oklahoma Food Cooperative you know you are helping support Oklahoma’s farmers and ranches

As food recalls become more and more common, maybe it’s time to take cue from the French and get to know our food a little better.

 

Shop Oklahoma for Christmas

Finishing up your Christmas shopping? Be sure to support local stores to help your community while you shop! There are so many great ideas for ways to shop locally this Christmas.

shoplocal2

  • Gift Certificates to Local Shops
  • Keep It Local OK Discount Card
  • Gift Certificates for Local Restaurants
  • Donate in Recipients Name to a Local Charity
  • Shop Locally Owned Stores for Unique Gifts
  • Local Food and Drinks for Host/Hostess Gifts
  • Check Out Local Craft Fairs
  • Oklahoma Food Cooperative Membership
  • Gift Certificates for Local Services

There are so many ways to support local businesses this Christmas. We will be sharing some of our favorite gift ideas on our Facebook page until Christmas. Be sure to like us so you don’t miss any ideas!


Oklahoma Food Coop Gift Guide

Oklahoma Food Coop Gift Guide

The Oklahoma Food Coop has many wonderful gift items currently available. There is a wide range of gifts, you are sure to find something for everyone on your list! When you Christmas shop through the coop you are helping to support local producers and artists, as well as the Oklahoma Food Coop. Here is just a small sample of the great gifts you can find at the Oklahoma Food Coop this year.

 


000-4

Fresh Cedar Wreath- Cedar Spirit

Lotion Bars

Organic Peppermint Lotion Bar- Soft and Tweet

Foaming Scrub
Lavender Foaming Body Scrub- Theraganics

Chalk Board Labels

Chalk Board Labels- Celtic SuperCenter

OU Pen

OU Pen- 42 Minutes Woodworking

Chocolate Truffles
Chocolate Truffles- Backyard Bounty

Oklahoma Food Coop Cookbook

Oklahoma Food Coop Cookbook

December orders close on Thursday, Decemeber 11th. So get your orders in now.

DIY Holiday Gift Guide


DIY Holiday Gifts

Do-It-Yourself gifts are a fun way to give a unique gift. They are perfect for everyone on your list, especially the hard to buy for! We have put together some of our favorite ideas to help you get started.

popcorn

Popcorn Seasoning Kit

Peppermint Vanilla Lip Scrub

Peppermint Vanilla Lip Scrub

DIY Ornaments

Fabric Ornaments

sugar scrub

Sugar Scrub

homemade perfume

Solid Perfume

Gingerbread Playdough

Gingerbread Playdough

Etched Spoons

Etched Spoons

DIY Wreath
Diy Wreath

Reed Diffuser

Reed Diffuser

Peppermint Bath Bombs
Peppermint Bath Bombs

Share your favorite DIY holiday gift ideas in the comments below. And check back all month for more eco-friendly holiday ideas.


Small Business Saturday Deals

Today is Small Business Saturday. The weather is lovely and it’s a perfect day to get out and do some holiday shopping. Shopping locally helps your community in many ways and today you will find many great sales at local stores. Below are some we have found.

Shop Local in Oklahoma

Backyard Bounty (OKC)- Grab some food and coffee while getting your shopping done at Urban Agrarian. For one day only Backyard Bounty has a pop up cafe in the store.


Urban Agrarian (OKC)- Check out their build-your-own gift basket station to make a beautiful gift.

Green Bambino (OKC)- Get a scratch off card which is worth at least 10% off your entire purchase. There are even some cards that will make your purchases free.

Shop GOOD (OKC)- Buy one get one 1/2 off on all Shop Good tee shirts. 20% off all men’s & women’s clothing, shoes & bags. Buy one get one free clearance rack. Plus a free gift with your $50+ purchase (while supplies last) and complimentary hot coffee.

Collected Thread (OKC)- 3rd Annual Shop Garage Sale, Love Well Handmade sale as well as 10% off the entire shop.

The Changing Table (OKC)- Earn double Baby Buck Loyalty Rewards.

Ragsdale’s Conversation Emporium (Ada)- All books, vintage clothing and fabric, games, and selected art 50% off. Small business Saturday only.

The Woodland Emporium (Sulphur)- First 10 customers that spend $45 or more on Small Business Saturday will receive a free gift. Other deals going on as well.

SMITH’s Okie Twister Co. (Sulphur)- All fall items are 40% off.

Owl & Drum (Tulsa)- All fabric on sale. 20-50% off select gifts.

2nd Hand 3rd Eye (Tulsa)- 20% off of the whole store.

Okie Crowe (Tulsa)- Free Okie Crowe soap with $20 purchase in-store and online while supplies last. One per customer.

The Bookerie, the Favoring Brave store (Tulsa)-  Get a free mini print with a $30 purchase.

Theraganics (Tulsa)- Spend $25 and get a free canvas tote. Every purchase gets a free gift, a shower pouf, soap sack or face brush.

Old Pink Truck (Tulsa)-  20% OFF

Garden Deva Sculpture (Tulsa)- 40% off Holiday, 25% off all in-stock metal art.

This Land Press Store (Tulsa)- Grand opening! First 50 guests will receive a complimentary stocking stuffer, and purchases over $50 will come with a gift subscription. Cider and cookies, as well as new merchandise and special offers throughout the store

Grogg’s Green Barn (Tulsa)- Get cash back for the spring.

River City Trading Post (Jenks)- Drawings for $25 prepaid America Express gift cards. Spend $100 or more and your name goes in for the drawing. Free totes while supplies last.

The Vintage Phoenix Vendor Mall (Broken Arrow)- 5% – 60% off.

Bouncing Woolies (online)- Dryer balls as low as $5 in FUNK style. Free shipping on all USA orders of $100+


Have you seen other deals around your town? Share in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And share the graphic above on your social media to encourage your friends to shop local this holiday season.

Lead Exposure and Christmas Photos

Christmas photos of kids, pets, and families wrapped in lights are cute but they may not be safe.

Every year we see adorable photos of kids, pets, and families wrapped in Christmas lights. There is a hidden danger though.

 


This time of the year you will see photos of kids, pets, and couples wrapped in Christmas lights. Sure these photos are cute but is there a hidden danger?

One big danger is the fact that most Christmas lights contain lead. According to one CNN analysis four common brands of Christmas lights contained lead levels that are considered to be dangerous to children. And many experts say no level is safe.

“There is no level at which lead exposure is safe,” Dr. Trasande said. “Even at one microgram/deciliter — the lowest level in a person’s blood stream that we can detect — that level has been associated with cognitive impairment in children.”- read more

A quick search on Pinterest and you will find hundreds of photos of babies wrapped in lights, some with the lights in their mouths. This is very concerning given the amount of surface lead found in Christmas lights. Also in many of the photos the lights are plugged in, adding an extra danger to the situation.

Protect Yourself from Lead Christmas Lights

  • Don’t let children handle the lights.
  • Wash your hands after handling lights.
  • Wear gloves while handling lights.
  • Choose Made in the USA lights when possible, generally they have lower levels of lead than imported brands.
  • Buy lead-free lights.
  • Vacuum often with a HEPA filter vacuum and/or wet mop.
  • Dust often with a wet rag.
  • And of course, skip the photos with people and animals wrapped in Christmas lights.

Artificial Christmas trees often contain lead as well, so use the same caution with the tree. Also look for trees that use PE tips, it reduces the amount of PVC and lead.

Be sure to share this post to help prevent lead exposure this holiday season.