December 28, 2007


What Would Maria Montessori Do?

Our son attends a wonderful Montessori school.... academically at least. But I'm not so sure the grand dame Maria would appreciate how the board conducts business and raises funds for the school. I have found in the past year that it is in fact VERY elitist, and actually has fundraisers that encourage the rich to get richer. When a local store wants to help raise funds they get no support, yet weekly we are inundated with pleas from the school to support chain store giving. I'm just not so sure that Maria Montessori would go for that. My thinking is that she'd be very into sustainable living and supporting ALL children, not just those born into the wealthiest families in a community (no scholarships or grants are given at this school). My child is learning and flourishing, and makes us so proud, but I just had to vent about the direction the school chooses to go in it's fundraising and development. Just a vent, no real thoughts, and definitely not very green related.
Peace to all children !

November 27, 2007

Winter Holiday Shopping, The Green Way

It's the time of year in honor of Midwinter Solstice/Yule & Christmas that many houses and towns are decorated green.... this year I urge each of us to shop that way too! Below are some gifty and shopping ideas to make it a peaceful green season for the earth and its inhabitants.

  • SHOP LOCALLY- Independent stores generate 70% MORE local economic activity per square foot than chain stores! THat means that by shopping locally you're not only supporting that store but all the local businesses they support (like accountants, web site deisgners, local newspapers, local suppliers, etc), as opposed to your $$$ going to some corporate CEO living in a huge beach condo that has no desire to even step foot in your community let alone shop there too! So you ask- HOW? I don't know any local stores near me... this is where the ever friendly Google comes in handy. Search your town name plus the type of store and a plethora of local stores will pop up... example: "Anywhereville Toystores" or "Lititz Bookstores" *wink, wink*

  • Go home-made! If you're not crafty enough to knit, crochet, scrapbook, cardmake etc... there is a wonderful online marketplace full of talented artisans... and you can search by area so that you buy from those in your own community (or nearby):

  • Give a gift that encourages the recipient to go "green"- a tote bag for shopping filled with "green" items- cleaners, cloth napkins, recipes for organic meals, etc.... the possibilities are endless and can be designed with the recipient in mind
  • Shop Fair Trade- hve a coffee or tea drinker in your family... buy them some fair trade beverages (don't forget to include the chocolate, too!)
  • Give the gift of charity. Donate to a local, national, or international charity in some one elses name. "Adopt" an animal at the local zoo or park, donate to the Arbor Day Foundation and have a tree (or more) planted in the recipient's name.{} A personal favorite of mine is Heifer International. { }

Peace and Joy to everyone this holiday season. May you have a Happy Hanukkah, a Blessed Yule, a Merry Christmas, and a very happy New Year.

October 30, 2007

Clean Green!

Theses tips, suggestions, and bits of knowledge are quoted from the October 25 Daily Press (Hampton/Newport News VA) from an article by Cathy Grimes. Full article can be found here:,0,2436506.storygallery

  • "Veggie Power"- Look for vegetable based cleaners. If EVERY household in the United Staes made their next cleaner a vegetable one instead of a 28 ounce bottle of petroleum baded dishwashing soap we would save 82,000 barrels of oil! That's enough to drive one car more than 86 million miles!
  • "Concentrate!"- Buy concentrated cleaners. Water is the main ingredient in many ready-to-use cleaners, adds to the weight of the product, meaning it costs more to package and ship. Concentrated products - the kind that require you to add your own water - save packaging waste and fuel costs. If you buy them in recyclable containers, you also reduce the strain on landfills
  • "Avoid paper!"- Reusable, washable sponges and clothes work as well, if not better than use-once-and-toss paper towels or disposable clothes. If every household reduced its use of paper towels by one roll, the savings would equal 1.4 million trees and 3.7 million cubic-feet of landfill space.
  • "Wash efficiently!"- If you use a dishwasher, wait until it is full to run it. You'll save on water and energy costs while you save the environment. The same goes for clothes. Wash and dry large loads, and if you can air dry, do.
  • "Clean wisely!"- Look for dry cleaners that use nontoxic solvents. Most dry cleaners "wash" clothes in drums with highly toxic solvents, such as erchloroethylene. About 12 million pounds of these chemicals are released into the air each year, adding to the toxic soup that affects the climate
  • "Go Natural!"- Stock up on people-friendly cleaning products. Many environmental organizations recommend using baking soda, white vinegar, lemon juice and borax. Baking soda can be used like sink cleansing powder and also can freshen rooms and rugs. Vinegar works well on glass and cuts soap scum. Lemon juice removes stains and fights odors. Borax also removes stains and boosts laundry detergent's cleaning power.

Looking for places to buy eco-friendly products? I recommend these two locally owned businesses (and use them for our store and house supplies!): Greenlinepaper & Eco Products. com

October 09, 2007


(from Wikipedia)
Fair trade is an organized social movement which promotes standards for international labor, environmentalism, and social policy in areas related to production of Fairtrade labeled and unlabeled goods. The movement focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries.
Fair trade's strategic intent is to deliberately work with marginalised producers and workers in order to help them move from a position of vulnerability to security and economic self-sufficiency. It also aims at empowering them to become stakeholders in their own organizations and actively play a wider role in the global arena to achieve greater equity in international trade.

Show your support for local living economies in developing nations... shop FAIR TRADE!!

Some Fair trade links:

October 04, 2007

In Today's Washington Post----- Paper Vs. Plastic

Summary: US uses 100 billion plastic bags a year, with 12 billion barrels of oil
It takes 4x as much energy to make apaper bag than it does to make a plastic one
Paper bag rpoduction create 70% more air pollution and 50% more water pollution than plastic bag production
It takes 98% less energy to recycle a pound of plastic than it does a pound of paper
Paper is biodegradable, plastic is not

October 01, 2007

Some Basics to "Green" Living

The number one rule we as a family are trying hard to adhere to is shopping local. As store owners we know how hard it is to make ends meet, especially in a business where we have to compete with the big faceless, non-customer friendly box stores. But that's not the only reason. Did you know that with a box/chain store the average amount of $ that is funneled into the local economy is around 10% of their income, whereas a locally owned store will funnel about 75% back to the local economy? That means your local "mom & pop" shops are the ones paying for the schools, police, fire fighters, and local road improvement projects. Also, online companies like Amazon, funnel ZERO profits to the community (unless one of their warehouses is located there, then it is only the salaries of the workers). More importantly, we'd like to know where our food and goods are coming from. Here are some resources for those looking to invest in their community by shopping local:
Buy Fresh Buy Local

Don't forget to check out your local yellow pages for listings of locally owned grocery stores! The selection may be slimmer than at a super store, but the meat, dairy, eggs, and breads are fresh; and the money's earned there go back to your local economy! (and they prices are usually just as good as the super store's!)


(okay, that was a lame "Mommy Dearest" impression, but you get the idea).

This is one of the simplest things a family can do. If nothing else, request paper bags at check out, then put them aside to re-use, or recycle them!
There are also many great places to find re-usable shopping totes. The first place to look is your local grocery store. Many have mesh totes for sale right up close to the check out counter. Also, many of us have family members (if not ourselves) that attend business conferences, where a tote is part of the "freebies". Keep 'em, keep a few in the car for last minute milk (and cookie) runs. Keep them around the kitchen, keep them at work. We're trying to amass a collection of them ourselves to keep everywhere we may be when we think of heading to a store.
Worried you'll look like a noob (yep, another Sammie made up word!) when you get to the check out? Never fear, if I can do it, you can! I think of it as a chance to teach others about how to "save the earth", not to mention the example I'm setting for my son and his generation.
Don't have any bags to use? Here are some sources:

The 4 R's for Green Parents & Kids

REDUCE: Simple enough... the less garbage we create, the less gets put into the landfills
Use cloth lunch bags, use cloth sandwich and snack bags (some great ones can be found on all handmade by small independent merchants and moms!). Say "NO!" to paper towels, use cloth. A cloth napkin can last several days before needing anything, and be washed with regular laundry. These few simple things a family can do to reduce their contribution to landfills.
REUSE: STOP! Don't throw that away, re-use it, re-purpose it.
Many things that are in your kitchen and thrown out on a daily basis can be re-used in children's crafts. Egg Cartons: can be used to teach grouping and sorting (colored buttons for example), holders for small stickers, create caterpillars. Juice Boxes: cut off the top, glue on a construction paper wrap (after washing out of course), and viola! You've got handy dandy pencil and craft supply holders (not to mention a great afternoon of making a cool craft with your child/children). Paper Towel/Toilet Paper tubes make great pirate spy glasses or train/car tunnels. They also can be cut up to make napkin rings for those cloth napkins you're going to be using! (another nice craft time with the kids, is painting and personalizing them). Styrofoam Meat Platters: wash good, and you've now got paint pallettes for your little Picasso.
Got a pet? Use those newspaper plastic wraps to dispose of the poo.
RECYCLE: This is one we've all been doing for years, right????
Each week make sure all your glass, plastic, and aluminum cans go out in the recycle bin. Did you also know that books can be recycled? (first, though, try to take them to a used bookstore!). Just seperate the covers and the paper. Covers can be recycled with cardboard, and the pages with your newspaper. In many places "reynold's wrap"/tin foin/aluminum foil (whatever it's called in your family) can be put out with your soda cans. Phonebooks usually can be take to a recycling center as well.

REBUY: Do you REALLY need it new?
Let's face it, there isn't much that HAS to be bought brand new.
Children's clothes are a great example. A 4 year old is murder on clothes, not to mention they grow out of them soooooo fast. Thrift stores, consingment stores, and online places like Ebay & Craigslist are a great friend the the frugal re-buying parent. (not to mention if the kid doesn't kill the pants with numerous falls off the jungle gym, then you can re-sell it to pay for the next size of clothes you're buying)
Books! C'mon... do you NEED that Patterson they day it comes out? Can you wait a month and get it used at a local used bookstore? (and yes, occassionally even I get a new book, but it does get re-sold after I'm done to some one that had more patience than I!)
Lots and lots of baby items can be found on Craigslist, at yard sales, and Ebay.
Many household items can be found at these places as well. The more we re-buy or buy used, the less winds up in landfills and dumps.
(hint thrift stores and yard sales are great places to find those cloth napkins you're going to start using)

A final note.... many of the things listed above do take a little bit of sacrifice. yes, it means washing a napkin, yes it means taking the time to think about what is going into the garbage can as opposed to the recycle bin. Yes, your child may not have the latest fashions. But to be honest, isn't it a bit more important for their to be a healthy planet for that child to live on as an adult.

There are many more things you can do under each heading.... these are just a few ideas to get you and the family thinking. I suggest a family meeting to look around the house and see where else you can apply one of the 4R's of green living.