Category Archives: Eco-friendly

local shop spotlight: EGG|PLANT

EGG|PLANT

I recently came across a quaint, sustainable-savvy shop in St. Paul worth raving about. Enter Egg|Plant Urban Farm Supply store. I’m a huge fan of supporting local + family-owned businesses and after stopping and shopping at this one, I quickly grasped the “you’ll be a repeat-customer” vibe it was giving me.

While the shop itself is on the small side, it boasts an abundance of merchandise that might make you wish you had a cart. Among the shop’s vast range of products, you’ll find a large selection of all things necessary for creating an urban backyard homestead. Whether you’re looking to dabble in chicken-raising or try your hand at organic gardening, Egg|Plant is your go-to shop! You’ll also come across items for composting, homemade brewing, fermenting, cheese making, canning, preserving, plus more. In addition, the shop offers a variety of classes on the majority of those topics to provide you with everything you need to know on the subject.

EGG|PLANT

If you’re curious about learning how you can be more sustainable (even in an urban city-setting), or are simply looking for resources/supplies on a particular homesteading task like those mentioned above, I highly recommend making a stop at Egg|Plant.

Have you come across any new shops lately that has earned a spot on your favorites list?

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earth day deals.

Earth-Day

Earth Day is Monday and here are some fab freebies in honor of the occasion worth taking advantage of!

  • Target (4/21) – 1.5 million FREE reusable bags will be given away — 250,000 of which will also contain samples of sustainable products + coupons.
  • Caribou Coffee (4/22) – Bring in your reusable mug for a FREE fill of coffee.
  • MOKA Coffee (4/22) – $1 off any drink.
  • Mrs. Meyers Clean Day (4/19-4/22) – FREE shipping on all orders.
  • Sephora (4/22) – Receive a FREE full-size Origins moisturizer when you trade in an old skin care product/empty bottle.
  • Pottery Barn Kids (4/20-4/22) – Stop into the store to receive a FREE packet of seeds.
  • The Body Shop (4/22) – Receive a FREE ‘Earth Lovers’ shower gel with any purchase in-store or online.

Also, be sure to green up your act with my post featuring 10 easy ways to go green or Sonnet’s post on 8 simple ways to live greener!

jeanette

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homemade organic vanilla syrup.

Happy Monday, friends!

I’ve got just the thing to make your week a little sweeter: a recipe for organic vanilla bean coffee syrup! Not only is this syrup ridiculously good and easy to make, it’s also much more cost-effective than buying the pre-made stuff from the store, which typically has artificial flavoring and preservatives — no thank you!

organic vanilla syrup recipe

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 organic vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 tsp. organic vanilla extract
  • a container for storing (ours was $3.99 from Home Goods)

organic vanilla syrup ingredients

Directions:
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan and throw in the pod as well. Heat the mixture over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat, discard the vanilla bean pod and stir in the vanilla extract. Let cool. Store in the refrigerator.

Have a great week!

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foul faucet fix.

WARNING: This post contains unpleasant content that may result in the urge to inspect and clean all of the faucets in your house. Viewer discretion is advised.

This past weekend I was in one of those “get things done” kind of moods. I’m talking laundry, vacuuming, dusting, organizing, grocery shopping – the works. While on this little “get things done / clean ’til I drop” spree, I came across a grotesque discovery… a monstrous substance living on my kitchen faucet [insert Jaws theme song here]:

beforeSo are you grossed out or what? Hey, I warned ya!

Well, no wonder why the water pressure from the faucet was weak – it couldn’t get out thanks to all the grime and mineral deposits! Ugh. Luckily we have a water purifier and don’t drink from that faucet. (I can just hear the sigh of relief coming from those reading this who have drank a glass of water at our house.) The next step was to find a green cleaning solution to solve the issue. Enter ‘A Guide to Natural Housekeeping’ (the book I mentioned in this post.) The book talks a lot about vinegar – a very powerful (but natural) cleaning agent and its various uses, one of which was for my exact issue.

cleaning solutionAll you need to do is this: Using a rubber band, secure a small Ziploc bag full of vinegar to the faucet. Then simply wait 30 minutes up to a few hours, based on how bad the build-up is. (I waited approximately one hour). Lastly, take the  bag off and use an old toothbrush to remove any remaining build-up. The result?

afterA squeaky-clean faucet.

*A quick re-cap:
before and after

As you might have already guessed, I immediately inspected the rest of the sinks in the house (not as bad, thankfully) and gave them the same treatment. This method can also be used for shower heads. 

I hope that you found this post useful and that it might get you to explore other green cleaning solutions. I also hope that I didn’t ruin your lunch…

jeanette

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that’s a wrap.

While the holiday seasons brings forth an abundance of gifts, it also produces a large amount of waste. I am talking wrapping paper, people! According the EPA, the volume of curb-side trash increases by 25% from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day.

Make this season a little less wasteful (and a lot more environmentally friendly) with these simple gift-wrapping solutions:

newspaper
Good ol’ fashioned newspaper {image via}

map
Outdated maps

music
Old sheet music

brown paper bag
 Paper grocery bags {image via}

lunch sack
Brown lunch sacks

recycled bag
Gift wrap/bags from past holidays
(I am pretty sure my family has been exchanging the same gift bags for years now)

resuable bag (2)
Reusable bags –
my personal favorite!

burlap
Burlap sack
{image via}

towel
A kitchen towel
(two gifts in one!) {image via}

*Other ideas:

  •  Use shredded newspaper as a bag-filler in place of store-bought tissue paper
  •  Adorn gifts with items from nature such as pinecones, twigs or a sprig of berries {example}
  •  Instead of tying boxes with ribbon, use a natural fiber like jute (seen in picture #3 above)
  • Give homemade treat gifts in canning jars or tin buckets that can be reused {example}

Which of these green gift-wrapping ideas are your favorite?

Note: Images without credit are ones that I was unable to find an original source for – all images found on Pinterest!

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green gift guide.

Thanksgiving has passed and the chaos of Christmas shopping is in full swing. Why not be thoughtful of the environment while you’re on your holiday hunt this year? Simply support local businesses and eco-conscious products! Here’s what made the top ten list for my personal green gift guide:

  1. Jade yoga mat via Moss Envy – Give the gift of zen with this all natural yoga mat constructed of natural rubber (contains no PVC or ozone depleting substances commonly found in standard yoga mats). Made in the USA. Bonus – a tree is planted for every mat sold!
  2. Burt’s Bees almond milk hand crème – This ultra-rich (and delightful smelling) cream helps to relieve harsh hands brought on by old man winter.
  3. Whole Living magazine – Sign someone (or yourself) up for a subscription to get a dose of the latest eco-friendly happenings; everything from sustainable recipes to natural stress remedies.
  4. Mrs. Meyer’s Cleaning Set – Since cleaning is an inevitable part of life, why not use great-smelling and earth-friendly products while doing it? Enter Mrs. Meyers Clean Day. (I personally love the  holiday seasonal scents: orange clove and Iowa pine)
  5. Aveda limited edition candle – Set the ambiance with a SCENTsesational (couldn’t help myself) candle like this one from Aveda. The glass holder is made from 95% recycled materials and comes covered in hand-crafted lokta bark paper from Nepal.
  6. Night Owl Paper Goods to-do list notebook – ‘Tis the season to make those lists (and check them twice). Do it in style with this sustainably harvested birch jotter pad.
  7. Equal Exchange spicy hot cocoa – A mug full of hot chocolate is the timeless way to warm up on a cold winter’s night. Spice it up with this cayenne and cinnamon infused version for an extra kick! Note: it’s also organic and uses fair trade cocoa — score!
  8. YESto organic chapstick – Ban chapped lips for the arctic-like months with these organic and conditioning lip butters. Paraben, petroleum & phthalate free!
  9. True Food by Andrew Weil – A book of 125 recipes that support overall well-being through the use of fresh and seasonal ingredients. (It definitely has a spot on my xmas list!)
  10. Faribault Woolen Mill Co. wool throw – Keep the chills at bay and support a small business by warming up with a cozy wool throw (made right here in Minnesota)! Eco fact: Since sheep produce a new fleece every year, wool is a great renewable fiber source.

Are these items you’d consider gifting, either for yourself or for a loved one, this year?

Psst – Take your green thumb one step further by wrapping the gifts in newspaper to reduce, reuse, recycle! :-)

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a breath of fresh air.

Did you know that the air in an average home is anywhere from two to five times as polluted as the air outdoors?  After recently coming across that little piece of information I couldn’t help but put together my top tips that homeowners can implement to keep the air in their home as clean as possible. Read on and breathe easy…

·         Bring the outdoors in. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and emit oxygen, consequently improving air quality (read more about the benfits of indoor plants here). Aim for 1-2 plants per room for the best results.

·         Dust it off! Have you swiped a finger along the top of your door frames recently, or how about behind the TV? More than likely there is dust accumulating which can have a negative effect on the air you and your family breathe. Try to dust every two weeks to keep pesky dust bunnies at bay. Also consider washing your curtains every 1-2 months since those can be a hot spot for collecting dust as well.

·         Let in the breeze. Being that outdoor air quality is much cleaner than that of indoors, open the windows to let air circulate throughout the home, weather permitting of course!

·         Stick to soy. I am talking candles! Standard paraffin wax candles emit a smoke which contains carcinogenic toxins and create black soot. And on that note – pass on plug-in air fresheners, too. While they might make your home smell good, they aren’t natural and only raise your electric bill. Opt for reed diffusers with essential oils instead.

·         Focus on floors. Floors in the home, especially carpeted ones, are breeding grounds for all sorts of particles. Vacuum at least once a week to keep floors (and air) clean.

·         Shoes off. This might seem like a no-brainer but it’s definitely a noteworthy item to mention. Think of all the dirt and contaminants you step on when you are out and about – do you really want to track that around your house? Probably not. (You also might want to consider wiping off Fido’s paws regularly for the same reason)

·         Clean with green. Many household cleaning products contain chemicals that are not meant for humans to breathe in. Switch to green cleaning products such as those made by Seventh Generation, Method, or my personal favorite – Mrs. Meyers Clean Day. Even better though is to make your own (easy and cost-effective!)

·         Filter it. In addition to all the suggestions above, it is wise to invest in an air purifier (those with HEPA filters are best for eliminating the most air irritants), especially if you suffer from allergies.

Are any of these suggestions ones that you already implement in your home, or if not, ones that you’d consider?

 

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brush up your skills.

Now that I’ve talked a lot about slowly updating my beauty bag to include various eco-friendly products, why not also mention the same in regards to cosmetic brushes? Here are my top five favorites that are one or more of the following: cruelty-free, made from sustainable and/or recycled materials, won’t break the bank, comes in sustainable packaging. Check it out:

1 – Most affordable + most sustainable: EcoTools. Not only are these brushes easily accessible (find ’em at Target, Walmart and Walgreens), but they’re also extremely affordable! The various EcoTools’ brushes and kits range from $6.99-$15.99, all of which contain 100% cruelty-free brushes made of synthetic taklon bristles, recycled aluminum ferrules and bamboo handles. In addition, the company packages every product in an eco-conscious way by using reusable pouches, post-consumer recycled plastic and/or recyclable packaging. Also good to know – EcoTools is a member of 1% for the Planet, an alliance of businesses that support environmental initiatives!

2 – Best sample: RAW Natural Beauty via Sircle Samples. If you’re looking to test-drive a few eco-friendly brushes (or other natural beauty products) to see how you like them before draining your wallet, I highly recommend Sircle Samples! Sircle Samples is a fun and easy way to try out samples of various beauty and personal care products custom to your specific beauty needs, preferences, and style. I recently received this trio of sustainable brushes and must say that the flat-top foundation is a real winner!

3 – Best multi-purpose: Sigma Synthetic Precision Kit. The brushes in this kit were created with a unique design made to mimic your fingertips featuring Sigma’s exclusive synthetic Sigmax fibers. I love this kit for its ability to serve a variety of purposes – you can use the brushes for concealing blemishes, stippling product onto sun spots, applying foundation onto those hard-to-reach areas (around the nose, under the eyes), blending out shadow, highlighting the browbone, plus more! For all of the makeup mavens out there, this kit is a must-have for creating a truly flawless face! (You can read my brief review on the Sigma Synthetic Essential Kit that I wrote a while back here.)

4 – Best complete kit: Sigma Mrs. Bunny Essential Kit. When it comes to this particular Sigma brush kit, I always say they didn’t put the word “essential” in the title for nothing! Containing 12 professional makeup brushes, this kit includes every brush you could possibly need to create a complete makeup look. Whatsmore, the bristles are vegan-friendly and ultra-soft (hence the name “bunny” perhaps?! hehe) Bonus – the brushes come in a container that turns into two brush cup holders for organized storage. And just how can you say no to those pretty colors?

5 – Best for travel: Sonia Kashuk “Out of the Woods” collection. This makeup brush collection features handles made from wood, ferrules produced from recycled aluminum, and a sustainable cork bag perfect for holding your brushes and other small beauty items for travel.  (I’m also in love with the Sonia Kashuk limited edition “Straight from Nature” collection which gets the award for most unique design in my book!)

What are your go-to cosmetic brushes?

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green your hygiene routine.

I realize that in the past few months I’ve talked heavily about greening your beauty routine (here, here, here, here or here)… but what about all those other items we use on a regular basis?! Today I’m showing you some of my favorite eco-friendly hygiene products! Let’s get to it…


From left to right (sort of)…

  • Preserve toothbrush – Made of 100% recycled yogurt cups — just how cool is that? Even cooler is the fact that the packaging doubles as a return envelope; once you’re ready for a new toothbrush, simply put your used one back in the package and send it off to the company for recycling, no postage necessary!
  • EcoTools bath pouf – Produced from 100% recycled material, this bath pouf works great for daily cleansing and gentle exfoliation, eco style!
  • Organic cotton balls – Whitened with hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine. Find ’em at your local Whole Foods Market or co-op.
  • Tom’s of Maine whitening toothpaste – Get fresh breath and white teeth without the bleaching ingredients of standard toothpastes (plus no animal testing!) Bonus – 10% of the company’s sales go to charitable organizations that support the environment!
  • Schick Xtreme3 disposable eco razors – Hair (and landfill waste) be gone! The handles of these eco-chic razors are made from post-consumer plastic that would otherwise be destined for the dump. (Even the packaging is made from 100% recycled paper!)
  • Burt’s Bees tomato toner – *A personal fave! This 99.4% natural toner made from tomato, cucumber and parsley extracts helps to clean and tighten pores while leaving behind the subtle aroma of a sweet tomato garden — truly a summer skincare essential!
  • Crystal salt stick deodorant – By opting for this affordable option you’re steering clear of the aluminum-based ingredients of typical drugstore deodorants that are linked to an increased risk of cancer.
  • St. Ives body wash – Deal alert! For only $2.99, this energizing citrus-scented body wash will leave you smelling sweet using only ingredients made from 100% natural extracts, formulated without parabens and phthalates!
  • Moss Envy bamboo/organic cotton blend towels – Dry off with these eco-friendly towels made from the renewable bamboo plant and organic cotton. Whatsmore, they’re hypoallergenic, anti-microbial and fast-drying!
  • Goody eco-movement brush – Tame your tresses with this sustainable paddle brush crafted from natural bamboo!
  • Acure Organics dry shampoo – Why shampoo daily when you can turn to this fast-acting solution that absorbs oil while leaving behind a pleasant almond scent? Makes for a great go-to item for those pesky “ahh, I’m going to be late!!” mornings.
  • Neutrogena Naturals purifying facial cleanser – Wash away dirt and makeup without the use of harsh chemical sulfates, parabens, petrochemicals, dyes or phthalates. 

What are some of your favorite eco-friendly hygiene products?

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pass on the plastic.

{ 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 }

Today’s topic = reusable bags! There are countless reasons for why you should pass on the plastic and opt for reusable bags. Check out these interesting plastic  bag facts:

  • Every year, hundreds of thousands of marine mammals die from eating discarded plastic bags they mistake for food
  • Only 1% of plastic bags are recycled in the United States
  • The petroleum used to produce 14 plastic bags can drive a car one mile
  • Plastic bags make up more than 10% of washed-up debris polluting the United States coastline
  • A single plastic bag takes an average of 450 years to biodegrade

In a nutshell, plastic bags are rarely recycled, they’re made from petroleum oil and they pose a great deal of harm to our environment. With that being said, simply pick up a few reusable bags (often sold at the checkout area of stores for close to $0.99) and leave them in your car so they’re always on hand. If you have a more compact reusable bag (like #2 shown above), you can stash it in your purse. Bonus – many co-ops and grocery stores will give you small discount for bringing your own bag. Save the environment while saving a little money… what’s not to love?!

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