I'm in a Blogging Funk, so I'm taking a few days off

>> Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I had a pretty crappy day yesterday - both online and in real life, I've fallen behind in my chores at home, and I'm having trouble sleeping for some reason. So I've decided to take a few days off from blogging. I'll see you back here on Monday with the next challenge.

A few final thoughts about cloth diapers:

Lina commented on Monday:

Hi - Just a rah-rah for anyone taking on this challenge. We've used Fuzzi Bunz for all 3 of our kids now and have gotten so used to them that we even take them on trips with us (mostly because we tend to only go visit family and friends with washing machines :). I just wanted to echo your cost savings point. We have a 4 year old, a 3 year old (both now out of diapers) and a 6 month old and we haven't bought any diapers, cloth or disposable, since 2005.
I just wanted to give a little shout out to Lina because she was actually my inspiration for giving cloth a try four years ago, and I bet she never knew it. :)

I was planning to write a post this week relating what we've tried, but I don't feel up to it. So if anyone is thinking about using cloth diapers and wants some help wading through all the options, shoot me an email - I'm happy to help.

Finally, I hope you'll check out my post today at the Green Phone Booth: Bagels and Pretzels and Breadsticks Oh My! It includes lots of the yummy snack recipes we've been trying out this month. And don't forget to check out my guest post at It's Frugal Being Green!

See you in a few days!

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Simplify Your Budget with the 60 Percent Solution

>> Tuesday, February 23, 2010

I also have a guest post today over at It's Frugal Being Green. I'm pretty excited because I think Carrie is AWESOME and because I get a chance to talk about something a little bit beyond the realm of The Conscious Shopper: budgeting!

(I promise it's more exciting than it sounds...)

I hope you'll head on over and check it out!

Read more...

Save Money with Cloth Diapers

I'm over at The Green Phone Booth today, calculating the cost of cloth vs. disposable:


When my youngest was about six month's old, my husband and I decided we were probably maybe most likely not having any more kids so there was no reason to hang on to all of our baby stuff. So as my little guy grew out of each phase of babyhood, I thrifted, Craigslisted, and Freecycled the clothes, shoes, bottles, toys, mobile, bedding, bouncy seat, and exersaucer that had gotten me through three babies, and then I stored the rest in a box in my attic.

You know what's in that box? The treasured baby possessions that I just couldn't bear to part with?
  • the outfit all three of my boys were christened in
  • the Moby wrap I got for my last baby that sparked a Moby wrap fad among my friends
  • two sizes of Fuzzibunz diapers and Thirsties wraps
As strange as it may sound, I couldn't let go of my cloth diapers.

Read more...

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Challengicious Monday: Green Your Diapers

>> Monday, February 22, 2010

Mondays are challengicious at The Conscious Shopper. Here's your next trash-related challenge:

Green Your Diapers


To complete this challenge, you can...

BABY STEPS

  • Switch to eco-friendly diapers. Look for chlorine-free and fragrance-free, and avoid sodium polyacrylate if you can. (Sodium polyacrylate is the chemical in the super-absorbent gel-like balls found inside modern disposable diapers, and some studies indicate that it causes infertility in boys. The jury is still out on this, so make your best judgement.)
JOGGING STRIDE
  • Use cloth diapers at home. If your daycare service won't accept cloth or if you just can't handle cloth on the go, be a part time cloth user - use cloth at home and disposables everywhere else. You'll still save money and reduce your waste line.
MARATHON RUNNER
  • Use cloth diapers full time. Modern cloth diapers are completely different from cloth of the past. You may be surprised how easy and convenient it is to use cloth.
The cloth vs. disposable debate is one of those unavoidable and unanswerable green questions. Like paper vs. plastic, it depends on whom you ask. There are certainly acceptable green options for disposable diapers, and if you're absolutely opposed to cloth diapering (you don't have a washer/dryer in your home, you live in a high-drought area, you have a germophobia), I'm not going to look down on you for choosing disposables. In my opinion, the important thing is that you've made a conscious choice.

And yet...I also think cloth diapers are the best choice for a Conscious Shopper because they save so much money. Later this week, I'll break down the cloth diapering money savings for you.

I know that this challenge is targeted at a very few of you readers. For those of you who haven't had kids yet, I hope you'll at least give cloth diapers a second look. And for those of you who are beyond this stage of life, use this week to take a look back at past challenges and reassess how you've been doing.

I've been using cloth diapers since First Son was just past two and Second son was approaching a year. Unfortunately, we've never figured out the nighttime cloth situation. I know other people are able to do it, but my boys have gotten crazy bad rashes from soaking in wet cloth all night.

So with Second Son and Third Son, we've done full time cloth until they started sleeping through the night, and then we switched to cloth during the day and disposable at night. My challenge this week is to give cloth at night one more try. But even if it doesn't work, I'm hoping to be diaper free within the next six months. (Fingers crossed for an easy potty training.)

For more specific information about greening your diapers, check out I Need...Diapers.

Will you take the challenge?
____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

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The Great Snack Experiment: Parmesan Crackers

>> Saturday, February 20, 2010

For my February Extreme Challenge, I stopped buying crackers for the month (along with a few other processed foods that have been lingering around in our diet). Crackers - specifically Goldfish crackers - have been my family's go-to snack since First Son was old enough for solids. There are so many things to love about a storebought cracker: they're cheap, easy, small, self-serve, and don't make too much of a mess. But my family has greened our diet and trimmed our waste-line, and crackers no longer fit the bill.

I've discovered this month, though, that deciding to cut out those lingering processed foods without coming up with a back-up plan is a disastrous way to go about it. We've been experiencing a domino effect of food shortages. Toast for breakfast leads to no bread for lunch, leading to no muffins for snacks, and so on. It's been tough to keep up with all of the from-scratch food needs around here, and after the month is over, I'm not sure how much I'll stick with it.

In the meantime, I've been trying out several homemade goodies and wanted to share a few with you, starting with this one:

Parmesan Crackers


MAKES: 2 dozen crackers
COST: $2.17*

3/4 c. whole-wheat flour
3/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 T milk
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Stir together the flour and salt. Cut in the butter (like when you're making biscuits), and then stir in the cheese.
  • Add the milk, one tablespoon at a time until the mixture holds together.
  • Roll out the dough onto a floured surface until very thin. Cut into squares and place on a baking sheet.
  • Bake 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. After you remove them from the oven, the crackers will continue to crisp up as they cool. They don't ever get as crispy as wheat thins, but they're similar with a cheesy flavor.
*Note that all costs are estimates based on prices in my area. Your costs may vary.

UPDATE: I tried this recipe again but substituted cheddar for the parmesan. It went over much better with the kids.


This recipe is based on fresh365's Parmesan and Cracked-Pepper Crackers and Smitten Kitchen's Parmesan Cream Crackers. I used all whole wheat flour and left out the cracked pepper because I knew my kids would refuse to eat them with pepper. Turned out that they refused to eat them anyway (parmesan is not their favorite cheese), but I thought the crackers were really tasty. So tasty that I ate them all within two days. And that, dear readers, is part of the reason I like storebought crackers. I am never ever tempted to snack on Goldfish.

And by the way, if you don't know about fresh365 or Smitten Kitchen, you need to check them out right now. They both take the most mouthwatering photos (and make very yummy food).

So that's my first snack recipe. If you have a favorite snack recipe you think I should try, send it my way!

____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

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Announcing the Winner of the EcoUsable Water Bottles Giveaway

>> Friday, February 19, 2010

The 1st place winner of the EcoUsable water bottles is DownDoggin in MN, who wrote:

I use a reusable water bottle because it's better for the planet, easy, cheap, and I can't see any reason not to. Here's my two cents for the day; you can fill them 3/4 of the way, throw them in the freezer and use them to keep you cooler cold on camping trips, when the ice melts you have extra drinking water...and I fill my bottle up at gas stations using the soda machines, nine out of ten times there's a water tab on them. It's an easy way to continue using your bottle without having to fill it in the gas station bathroom and it's free :)
The 2nd place winner is Wonder-ful, who wrote:
I was just talking to my grandma about trying a reusable water bottle. I have a stainless steel one that when filled with water from the fridge, keeps is very very cold for a long time.

She uses plastic bottles and insists on having them kept in the fridge to ensure that the water is cold at any given point in time.

My arguement is that by getting her a bottle that miraculously keeps water cold for hours at a time we'd be saving a butt-load of money and our sanity (as we're the ones going back and fourth between her and the fridge)

I'm entering for her.
Congratulations to both of you! Please email me with your address to consciousshopperblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

If you didn't win this giveaway, don't worry...all is not lost. You can use the coupon code ECO10 to receive 10 percent off of the purchase of your very own EcoUsable water bottle.

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Save Time in the Kitchen by Meal Planning

>> Thursday, February 18, 2010

A month ago, I related my K.I.S.S. method for saving time in the kitchen. Basically, the idea is that you can save time when cooking from scratch by keeping it simple: simple sides, simple meals, simple breads, simple stews...

Cooking from scratch is an important part of being a Conscious Shopper:

  • When you buy basic ingredients like oats, beans, and rice from the bulk bins, you cut back on your trash production.
  • When you use fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients, you cast a vote for a reformed food system and keep your family healthier.
  • And perhaps most importantly, you save money, making it possible for you to afford those fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients.
But the flip side of all these benefits is TIME. Cooking from scratch takes more time. Time that you may not feel you can afford to spend.

Keeping it simple in the kitchen can save you time. And here's my other big tip for saving time when cooking from scratch:

MEAL PLAN

Do you ever have those "Oh, crap, it's 5:00!" moments? You know, those days when you're rushed, rushed, rushed, and you only have 20 minutes to get dinner on the table, and you spend 15 minutes of it staring into your fridge trying to figure out what to make. So you end up having PB&J.

Or you decide that you're going to have spaghetti for dinner, only to discover that you've run out of tomato sauce. So you eat PB&J.

A meal plan will solve your problems. No more staring blankly into the fridge - you'll know as soon as you walk in the door what you're going to make. No more running out of key ingredients...well, okay, running out of key ingredients less often. No more PB&J. (Unless you really love peanut butter sandwiches for dinner. Then by all means, stick with your current system.)

Your meal plan doesn't have to be ultra detailed. It doesn't have to be overly restrictive. It should simply be a basic guide to what you have available to eat in a given week. For example, my basic meal plan goes like this:

Monday:
pizza
Tuesday: Mexican
Wednesday: eggs
Thursday: stir fry
Friday: bean burgers
Saturday: pasta
Sunday: meat

On shopping day, I get more specific about what we're going to eat on a given night. Mexican changes to "nachos." Bean burgers become "butter bean burgers with collard greens." Etc. From there, I can easily make a grocery list, ensuring that I have everything I need to cook for the week.

But just because I've said Tuesday is going to be nacho night doesn't mean I can't decide to make burritos instead. Same basic ingredients so an easy swap. Or I might decide on Tuesday that I'm not in the mood for nachos and would rather make butter bean burgers. Easy enough to swap Tuesdays meal for Fridays and still have everything I need to quickly make dinner all week.

And of course, don't forget to keep your meal plan simple. I make pizza on my bread baking day because I can use some of the bread dough as pizza crust and toss the pizza onto the bottom of the oven while the rest of my bread is baking. Once a week, we eat scrambled eggs and toast for dinner because I can get the entire meal on the table in less than 30 minutes, including chopping vegetables to add to the eggs and toasting and buttering ten pieces of bread. I also make sure to plan dinners that will take more time for days I know I'll have time.

I had originally planned this post as a list of ideas for saving time in the kitchen, but meal planning took over. So you'll have to wait for the rest of the tips on another day.

Do you use a meal plan? How does it work for you?
____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

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How to Store Produce without Packaging

>> Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I'm over at The Green Phone Booth today with some tips for storing produce without packaging:


Last Monday, Freakonomics had a post called How About Them (Wrapped) Apples? suggesting that packaging on foods is a good thing because "in addition to protecting food from its microbial surroundings, packaging significantly prolongs shelf life, which in turn improves the chances of the food actually being eaten." Later in the article, the author suggests that Americans waste half of all the food they buy.

The same day, Arduous took up the argument with the assertion, "If the waste trade-off is either the plastic bag for a bag of pre-washed lettuce, or an entire head of lettuce that rotted before you got to eating it, I would probably say to go with the bag of lettuce."

Read more...
Do you have any tips for storing produce?

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My Personal Care Products

>> Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I think it's helpful when you're first starting out on your green journey to know what products other people have chosen to use. So even though I don't feel like I'm the best example to follow, here are the products I've been using, and I hope you'll add in the comments what non-toxic or less toxic personal care and beauty products you're using.


Shampoo: Lush Karma Komba shampoo bar

Conditioner: Lush Jungle conditioner bar

Soap: Sappo Hill or Dr. Bronners

Deodorant: Crystal

Toothpaste:
Tom's of Maine Clean and Gentle Care SLS-Free toothpaste

Toothbrush:
Preserve recyclable toothbrush

Facial soap:
coconut oil

Facial toner: diluted apple cider vinegar

Facial lotion: basic glycerin formula with grapeseed oil

Hand and body lotion: basic glycerin formula with avocado oil

Makeup: I've been using Physician's Formula Organic Wear makeup since last fall. I'm not super happy with it.

Razor:
I use a Venus razor and dry my blades between uses, enabling me to change the blade about once every six months. For shaving cream, I use soap.

Feminine products: Keeper menstrual cup

Did I leave anything out? What do you use?

____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

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Challengicious Monday: Go Green in the Bathroom

>> Monday, February 15, 2010

Mondays are challengicious at The Conscious Shopper. Here's your next trash-related challenge:

Go Green in the Bathroom

To complete this challenge, you can...

BABY STEPS
  • Use fewer personal care products. Think about your morning routine. How many products do you use? Do you really need that many? If you can leave something out, then do it.
JOGGING STRIDE
  • Avoid the Dirty Dozen. These are the ingredients that have been most commonly linked to health problems.
MARATHON RUNNER
  • Switch to products that score low on the Skin Deep Guide, the Environmental Working Group's cosmetic safety database. They have tested thousands of products for toxicity and rank them on a 0-10 scale, with 0 being the best and 10 being the worst. Even some products labeled as "natural" rank high on the scale, so it's important to check out all products before you buy.
According to the Environmental Working Group, 10,500 unique chemicals are used in personal care products, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers, and surfactants. How many of these chemicals have been tested for safety? "An EWG analysis found that in its 30-year history, the industry's self-policing safety panel has reviewed the safety of just 11 percent of the 10,500 ingredients used in personal care products."

And I'm putting those products on my face (and hair and mouth and eyes and all my other 2000 parts)? And the 2000 parts of my babies?

A quick look at some recent posts indicates that I'm struggling a bit in this area because it is SO HARD to find personal care products that meet all aspects of my criteria: non-toxic, affordable, and actually work. But I'm doing my best with what I can find and afford, so come back tomorrow to read more about what I've been using.

Like the green your household cleaners challenge, I stuck this challenge with the trash challenges because it didn't fit anywhere else, but it's not going to have an effect on your trash unless you make specific changes: using fewer, buying in bulk, buying concentrate, or making your own. Switching to a menstrual cup and using a safety razor are also good ways to decrease your trash production. And of course, by being more conscious about your personal care products, you avoid putting toxic chemicals into your body, water supply, and the environment.

For more specific information about how and why you should green your bathroom routine, check out:
And for some DIY personal care products, try out:
Will you take the challenge?
____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

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Easy Homemade Handkerchiefs

>> Saturday, February 13, 2010

Earlier this week, I mentioned that I was going to be making some hankies for my family to help us dispose of our disposable paper products, and I asked, "Anyone know what the best fabric for homemade handkerchiefs is?"

Brenda from Sense of Home
responded that "the best handkerchiefs are 100% cotton."

Aha! We happened to have a bag of my husband's old 100% cotton t-shirts hanging around the closet, waiting to be turned into rags. Instead, why not make handkerchiefs?

My husband and I took turns cutting them up, and I'm not even going to bother hemming them. I'm going to blow my nose in them...they don't have to look pretty. And if they fray in the wash, they'll be easy and cheap to replace.


I've also read that linen makes a good fabric for handkerchiefs, so I thought I'd buy some linen and make a few prettier handkerchiefs, just for fun. But, phew, linen is an expensive fabric! So I'm going to wait until later in the month when JoAnn's is having a fabric sale, and then buy enough linen to make some bread bags also. Two birds, one stone.

But even without the "pretty" handkerchiefs, we are well-stocked in cloth tissues now. And just in time...I think I'm coming down with a cold.

____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

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EcoUsable Product Review and Giveaway

>> Friday, February 12, 2010

After the reusable water bottle challenge, a couple people asked me where I got the bottle my son is drinking out of. Well, here's your answer:

ECOUSABLE REVIEW

EcoUsable carries two types of bottles: standard stainless steel bottles in 10, 16, and 33 oz. sizes, and Ech2o Filtered water bottles in 18 and 25 oz. sizes. They also carry a wide variety of Water Wrapz - a sleeve that fits around the bottles for a comfortable hold and stylish look. Each standard bottle comes with a color coordinated carabiner so you can attach your bottle to your purse, bag, or backpack, and sports caps are also available. The Ech2o bottles contain a filter that will remove a variety of contaminants and can be used to filter up to 100 gallons of water. They come with a flip top.

Before I contacted EcoUsable about doing a review, we already had one of each type of bottle, so you can probably already guess that I like them. I especially like the standard bottles. With all of the stainless steel water bottles flooding the market, why do I like these bottles so much?

I think EcoUsable is a perfect stainless steel water bottle for kids. Here's why:
  • They have a slim, easy to hold design.
  • The 10 oz. and 16 oz. sizes are perfect for small and medium-sized kids.
  • The loop caps attach with a "half loop turn," which makes them easy to get on and off.
  • The sports caps are perfect for small kids that can't handle the loop cap.
  • The bottles come in fun colors and patterns.
  • The affordable Water Wrapz make it possible to spice up a bottle your child has fallen out of love with.
  • The price is not exorbitant.
I'm less enthusiastic about the Ech2o bottles - not because I don't think they're great but because I don't have as much need for that type of bottle in my life, and they are very pricey. But I think you should give the Ech2o a look if you have any of the following needs:
  • You don't like the taste of your tap water.
  • You're concerned about the quality of your city's tap water and are often away from home.
  • You camp/hike/backpack and need to filter water from rivers or lakes.
  • You want a filtered water bottle for your 72-hour emergency kit.
  • You want to keep a filtered water bottle in your car for emergencies.
Packaging
  • The water bottles arrived at my door in a cardboard box stuffed with newspaper. The bottles themselves are encased in a biodegradable baggie. Personally, I'm not a fan of bioplastics and think the bottles would be just fine shipping without the baggies. The sports caps are individually packaged in regular plastic.
Materials
  • All EcoUsable bottles are made of 304 food grade stainless steel and can be recycled at the end of their lives. Unlike aluminum bottles, stainless steel bottles do not leach and require no inner lining. The caps are made of #5 BPA-free plastic. On the bottom of each bottle is a non-slip pad made of non-toxic ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) - check out Healthy Child Healthy World for more info on EVA. The Water Wrapz are 70% polyester and 30% natural latex rubber.
Manufacturing
  • EcoUsable bottles are made in China, although the Ech2o filters are produced in the U.S. Regarding manufacturing, EcoUsable says:
To keep prices affordable we responsibly produce our bottles in China. We have an experienced and dependable team in China that visits the manufacturing facility on a regular basis. Our factory staff are all over 19 years of age, paid competitive wages for the area, and have a safe working environment. We hand inspect each shipment to ensure that EcoUsable's high quality standard is maintained. You can rest assured that we work in a socially responsible manner to bring you the highest quality bottle at a reasonable price.
Quality
  • Stainless steel is a long-lasting, durable material, and both the standard bottles and the Ech2o seem well-constructed. However, unless you are ultra careful, expect that your bottle will get dents and scuffs.
Affordability
  • The standard bottles range in price from $12.50 to $18.50, a typical price for a good stainless steel water bottle. As I already mentioned, the 25 oz. Ech2o bottles are very pricey at $40 each. (Unfortunately, I don't have the price on the 18 oz. bottles.) I personally think the Ech2o is less of an everyday use bottle and more of a special occasion bottle for situations like camping, hiking, backpacking, and emergencies.
Availability
  • EcoUsable bottles are available in 1,500 retail stores nationwide and of course online at ecousable.com. You can also purchase bottles branded with your group's logo for fundraising and promotional purposes.
Visit ecousable.com for more information and to purchase your own EcoUsable bottles!

GIVEAWAY


EcoUsable sent me everything but the kitchen sink for this giveaway. I have a 33 oz. standard bottle, two 16 oz. standard bottles, one 10 oz. standard bottle, one 25 oz. Ech2o, two 18 oz. Ech2os, five Water Wrapz, and two sports caps.

So that means, lucky readers, that there will be two winners of this giveaway! The first place winner will get his/her choice of four water bottles, three wrapz, and one sports cap. The second place winner will get what's left (including three water bottles, two wrapz, and one sports cap).

To enter:

  • Leave a comment on this post stating why you use a reusable water bottle. If you haven't switched to a reusable bottle yet, you can say why you want to switch.
  • You can earn up to two extra entries by sharing this post on Facebook or tweeting it on Twitter and then leaving a comment for each thing that you do. This is completely based on the honor system, and remember that each comment is a separate entry.
You have until next Thursday, February 18 to enter. I'll randomly select two winners and announce the results next Friday. Good luck!

Comments are closed. The 1st place winner is DownDoggin in MN, who wrote:
I use a reusable water bottle because it's better for the planet, easy, cheap, and I can't see any reason not to. Here's my two cents for the day; you can fill them 3/4 of the way, throw them in the freezer and use them to keep you cooler cold on camping trips, when the ice melts you have extra drinking water...and I fill my bottle up at gas stations using the soda machines, nine out of ten times there's a water tab on them. It's an easy way to continue using your bottle without having to fill it in the gas station bathroom and it's free :)
The 2nd place winner is Wonder-ful, who wrote:
I was just talking to my grandma about trying a reusable water bottle. I have a stainless steel one that when filled with water from the fridge, keeps is very very cold for a long time.

She uses plastic bottles and insists on having them kept in the fridge to ensure that the water is cold at any given point in time.

My arguement is that by getting her a bottle that miraculously keeps water cold for hours at a time we'd be saving a butt-load of money and our sanity (as we're the ones going back and fourth between her and the fridge)

I'm entering for her.
Congratulations to both of you! Please email me with your address to consciousshopperblog [at] gmail [dot] com.

If you don't win this giveaway, don't worry...all is not lost. You can use the coupon code ECO10 to receive 10 percent off of the purchase of your very own EcoUsable water bottle.

____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.
  • Disclosure: EcoUsable sent me several water bottles to be able to write this review but did not compensate me in any other way. Most of the information in this review comes from EcoUsable's website, but the opinions are entirely my own.

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Three Reasons Trees Are Better than Paper Towels

>> Thursday, February 11, 2010

Trees provide shade.
Solar heat absorbed through windows and roofs can increase your air conditioner use. Incorporating shading concepts into your landscape design can help reduce this solar heat gain, reducing your cooling costs. - U.S. Department of Energy



Trees capture carbon.

Forests are the world's second largest carbon reservoirs (oceans are the largest). Unlike oceans, however, we can grow new forests. Planting new trees remains one of the cheapest, most effective means of drawing excess CO2 from the atmosphere. One acre of forestland will sequester between 150 - 200 tons of CO2 in its first 40 years. - American Forests


Trees are fun to climb.
Leaves, rocks, sticks, acorns, creeks, trees, and good old fashioned dirt will challenge children to create their own games and worlds of wonder. These simple, natural items are the building blocks of great play and countless adventures, and are there at the ready. - Grass Stain Guru


Who else cares about disposable paper products?

:: The Natural Resources Defense Council provides an extensive guide to paper products, including comparisons of different brands of disposable paper products.

:: To help you get over the paper towel addiction, give Skoy cloths a try. They're 100 percent biodegradable and last as long as 15 rolls of paper towels. (I've never tried these, but many people really like them.)

:: The New American Dream shows you how to Junk Your Junk Mail.

:: Having trouble finding FSC certified paper? Go straight to the source: The Forest Stewardship Council's retailer database.

:: Next time you have a package to wrap, reach for cloth instead of paper. Here's a guide to folding furoshiki style.

:: Crunchy Chicken hosts a Cloth Wipe Challenge every year to encourage people to switch to cloth "toilet paper."

:: Smart Family Tips shows you how to make your own cloth napkins.

:: SouleMama created a fantastic bag for storing hankies to keep them from getting dusty.

Why do you care?
____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

Read more...

Love Love Kiss Kiss Blah Blah Blah

>> Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm over at the Green Phone Booth today with some recipes for a DIY eco-friendly facial:

My husband is not only the man of my dreams but was in fact my very first real boyfriend. Which means that until we met, I spent many a Valentine's Day nursing a pint of Ben and Jerry's all by my lonesome. Back then it seemed like Valentine's Day was specifically designed to remind me how much I sucked. Not to mention all that pink and red and hearts and plush toys. Gag me!

Eating an entire box of chocolates while wallowing in self pity may have made me feel better momentarily, but it probably wasn't the healthiest option. So for any Valentine's hating readers out there, here's another suggestion: Host a home spa.

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____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

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Smile and Happiness Will Follow

>> Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I'm over at The Green Phone Booth today with a tip for staying motivated to live sustainably during the winter: Focus on the positive.

With those thoughts in mind, I want to do a little exercise. I'd like you to take a minute to note all the changes you've made since you started on your green journey. Don't just think about it...write them down - either here in the comments, on your own blog, or on a piece of paper.

Then when you get discouraged because you've gone back to using your dryer, your public transportation is a pain in the rear, or you had an impulse buy at Target, push aside the guilt and whip out your "List of Changes."

Yes, the winter is dreary, the root vegetables endless. Yes, the long, gravelly path to sustainability is the road less traveled. But, look how much we have done!

Read more...
Here's my list of changes:
  • Use cloth bags and produce bags
  • Use a reusable water bottle and thermos
  • Use homemade or less toxic household cleaners
  • Switched to recycled paper products or cloth
  • Use cloth diapers 80 percent of the time
  • Shop the bulk bins
  • Switch to dried beans instead of canned
  • Started a worm bin
  • Husband and First Son pack lunches
  • Use CFLs where possible
  • Use cold water and line dry shirts and pants
  • Use power strips
  • Support a tiny bit of renewable energy as part of our power bill
  • Husband and First Son walk to work/school about 2/3 of the time
  • Try to buy used before new
  • Joined a CSA
  • Buy all organic
  • Use less plastic
  • Keep house warmer in summer and colder in winter
  • Cook as much from scratch as we can
And still more to come as I keep working this year on The Conscious Shopper Challenge!
____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

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Challengicious Monday: Dispose of Your Disposable Paper Products

>> Monday, February 8, 2010

Mondays are challengicious at The Conscious Shopper. Here's your next trash-related challenge:

Dispose of Your Disposable Paper Products


To complete this challenge, you can...

BABY STEPS
  • Use fewer disposable paper products. Grab a smaller stack of napkins. Rip off fewer squares of toilet paper. Reach for a cloth towel before a paper towel. You know the drill.
JOGGING STRIDE
  • Buy paper products with recycled content. Look for brands with at least 80% post-consumer recycled content and that are whitened without chlorine bleach.
MARATHON RUNNER
  • Use cloth. Napkins and towels are an easy switch. Handkerchiefs are a little more challenging. If you're a super duper marathon runner, you can even switch to cloth "toilet paper." And don't worry - these changes will barely add anything to your laundry pile.
This challenge is specifically geared toward those paper products that you can't recycle: paper towels, toilet paper, and napkins. But hopefully, you'll also take some steps toward reducing your overall paper use this week since according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), "The pulp and paper industry may contribute to more global and local environmental problems than any other industry in the world." Use recycled, print less, print on both sides, and recycle when you're done.

Right now, I'm somewhere between Jogging Stride and Marathon Runner on this challenge. All of the paper products we use have recycled content, and we've made a good effort at switching from paper to cloth (we ran out of paper towels at Thanksgiving and still haven't bought more). But I plan to nudge us a bit further this week by making some handkerchiefs to stash in the bathroom. Anyone know what the best fabric for homemade handkerchiefs is?

For more specific information about how and why you should reduce your paper consumption, check out:
Will you take the challenge?
____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

Read more...

January Monthly Budget Round-Up

>> Friday, February 5, 2010

This is how we feel about snow around here.

Monthly Spending (budgeted amount in parentheses)
  • Groceries: $745.10 ($650)
  • Transportation: $165.61 ($150)
  • Energy: $154.11 ($150)
  • Utilities: $42.54 ($50)
  • Entertainment/Miscellaneous: $342.05 ($400)
  • Clothes: $26.91 (no set budget)
  • TOTAL: $1,476.32 ($1,400)

The Numbers:
  • Trash: 4 bags of trash (13 gallon bags); 1 recycling bin with plastic, metal, and glass; 2 paper grocery sacks of paper
  • Miles Driven: 798
  • Average daily electricity use: 26 kWh
  • Average daily water use: 122 gallons

Best of...

Next Month I'll Be...

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Announcing the Winner of the Ecobags Giveaway

>> Thursday, February 4, 2010

The winner of the ECOBAGS produce bags giveaway is....KaKi, who wrote:

I have been using cloth bags for several years now. I have one large canvas bag which I received free a long time ago which I use to store all my bags. I hang it over the passenger's head rest and that way it is visible to me and reminds me to pick it up. What I don't have and have been looking into are produce bags. so.....fingers crossed.....
Glad to help you get started with cloth produce bags, KaKi! Please email your address to consciousshopperblog [at] gmail [dot] com and I'll get those shipped write out to you.


This was a great giveaway, and I'm looking forward to the next one coming up hopefully next week.

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Recipes for Homemade Household Cleaners

:: Here are the recipes I use for glass cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, floor cleaner, and wood furniture duster from Better Basics for the Home. And here's the recipe I use for Febreze.

:: Care2 provides a step-by-step guide to creating your own non-toxic cleaning kit, including a creamy soft scrubber, window cleaner, oven cleaner, all-purpose spray, furniture polish, vinegar deodorizer, and mold killers.

:: You can find recipes for laundry detergent at The Simple Dollar and Make it From Scratch and homemade HE laundry detergent at Condo Blues.

:: At the Green Phone Booth, Greeen Sheeep has a recipe for dishwasher detergent.

Need a Reason to Care?




Who else cares about household cleaners?

:: The Environmental Working Group is the go-to source for information about chemicals, toxicity, and health.

:: If you believe in ingredient disclosure and toxic chemical policy reform, check out the Million Baby Crawl and push for the passage of the Kid Safe Chemicals Act.

:: Healthy Child, Healthy World is a great resource for information about kids and chemicals, such as this article on the The Top Ten Products You Don't Need.

:: Jennifer Taggart is the Smart Mama who writes about keeping your homes safe from harmful chemicals.

:: Fake Plastic Fish wrote an in-depth post about the many uses of baking soda.

:: Wisebread lists 254 uses for vinegar...and counting.

:: Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less Toxic Living is the definitive resource for homemade non-toxic cleaning supplies, beauty supplies, and more.

Why do you care?
____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the latest challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays here.


Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

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Book Review: Cheap

>> Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I'm over at The Green Phone Booth today with a review of the new book Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture.

Like many young couples, my husband and I furnished our first home at Ikea and Target, but a year ago, I decided I wanted to start upgrading to "grown-up furniture," starting with our bookcases. I dreamed of solidly crafted bookcases that would last the rest of our lives. So when we moved to Raleigh, we sold our cheap Ikea bookcases, gave away enough books to be able to downsize to two bookcases, and then I went shopping.

Cue reality. Even though I am definitely a grown-up, I cannot afford grown-up furniture. Two hardwood bookcases from grown-up stores like Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn cost upwards of $800. Ouch!

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____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

Read more...

February Extreme Challenge

>> Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Here's your extreme challenge for February:

Give Up Processed/Packaged Foods for a Month


To complete this challenge, you can...

BABY STEPS

  • Give up your biggest processed/packaged downfalls. Two types of processed foods that I just haven't been able to let go of are cold cereal and crackers. Maybe for you it's frozen pizza or ice cream. Just for one month, try giving them up.
JOGGING STRIDE
  • Give up processed foods. Try spending a month making as much food as you can from scratch. Don't think you have time? Check out my Keep It Simple Stupid method of cooking, and later this month, I'll have more tips for saving time when cooking from scratch.
MARATHON RUNNER
  • Give up all foods that come in packaging. Remember, it's just for one month, so push yourself to the limit. You might discover that giving up cheese makes your family miserable, or the extreme might force you to find a way to obtain cheese without packaging. Either way, you'll have a better idea of where your family's sweet spot is.
As always, you can modify these suggestions to meet your family's needs. Just make sure you:

Make a plan.
Write it down.
Post it somewhere you'll see it.


Here's what my family will be doing:

We've already purged ourselves of most processed/packaged foods. The main culprits that are still hanging around are crackers, cereal, tortillas, macaroni and cheese, and ramen noodles. Just for one month, I'm going to try feeding my family without those old standbys.

On the other hand, most of our other food packaging comes from milk, cheese, and butter, and my family will not be giving up those foods. We are mostly vegetarian, so I feel like those foods are very important for my family's health.

Will you accept the February Extreme Challenge to give up processed/packaged foods for a month? Let me know in the comments what your family will be doing.

____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

Read more...

Challengicious Monday: Green Your Household Cleaners

>> Monday, February 1, 2010

Mondays are challengicious at The Conscious Shopper. Here's your next trash-related challenge:

Green Your Household Cleaners

My household cleaners (the oatmeal container is really borax)

To complete this challenge, you can...

BABY STEPS
  • Buy less toxic commercial cleaners. Look for products that disclose their ingredients, and avoid chlorine, ammonia, glycol ethers, monoethanolamine (MEA), diethanolamine (DEA), triclosan, alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs), pthalates, and petroleum-based ingredients. Also note that the labels "natural," "organic," and "biodegradable" are not regulated for use on cleaning products and can be misleading or inaccurate.
JOGGING STRIDE
  • Buy less toxic commercial cleaners in concentrated or bulk sizes. Provide your own water and save unnecessary packaging.
MARATHON RUNNER
  • Make your own household cleaners. Making your own cleaners is so easy. Here are a couple household cleaner recipes to get you started, and I'll have a few more for you later this week.
I lumped this challenge with the other trash challenges because it didn't seem to fit anywhere else. But if you just take the Baby Step, greening your household cleaners probably isn't going to make much of a difference on your trash production. On the other hand, choosing greener cleaners will reduce your exposure to potentially toxic chemicals and prevent those chemicals from contaminating your water source

If you choose the Jogging Stride or Marathon Runner steps, you'll produce less waste and save your family money!

Will you take the challenge?
____________________

You have hereby been challenged to go green in a year without going broke! Check out the last challenge, or view the whole list of Challengicious Mondays.

Like what you see? Sign up for my RSS feed, follow me on Twitter, and join my "Go Green without Going Broke" group on Facebook! You can also find me over at The Green Phone Booth.

Read more...
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Copyright

© 2008-2010 The Conscious Shopper

You're welcome to link to any posts at The Conscious Shopper, but please do not use images or content from this site without my permission. Contact me at consciousshopperblog@gmail.com.

Disclosure

I do not accept money for writing reviews, but I do accept products for review and to giveaway. When posting a review, I fully disclose any free samples received from the company. I include information provided by the company in my reviews, but all opinions about the product are my own and I will not provide a good review for any product or company just because they sent me some free samples.

Disclaimer

The ideas on this blog are my opinion and are provided for informational purposes and entertainment only. I am not a financial advisor or medical professional. Please do not misconstrue the information on this blog as advice.

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