Monday, December 19, 2011

University of Texas at Dallas Wins the 2011 Innovation in Green Building Award

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), along with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), awarded the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) with the 2011 Innovation in Green Building award. The college received this award for its newly constructed, LEED Platinum Certified Student Services Building.

This award recognizes a college like UTD that is an innovator in using Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) to develop a green campus.

The newly constructed, four-story, 74,000 square ft. building houses 14 departments. The cost of building the Student Services Building was under $1.1 million.

The Student Services Building was designed with several project goals and outcomes:

Texas Temperatures- We all know how hot it can get here in Texas during the summer! The design team chose to install terra-cotta louvers on the outside of the building. They protect the building from the rays of the sun, and reduce heat gain as well

Making Use of Natural Daylight- Another important aspect of construction was controlling light and solar heat gain while providing daylight to most interior spaces. Approximately 76% of the rooms inside the building are afforded natural daylight.

Conserving Rain Water- The design of the building incorporates water conservation measures ranging from automatic sensors in faucets to outdoor systems. In the event of a thunderstorm, or even a light shower, rain water is collected in a two-tank, 40,000 gallon cistern to irrigate the Student Service's Building's drought-tolerant landscaping.

Doing Less With More- Sharing conference rooms and reducing the number of individual offices in the SSB allowed designers to dedicate 73 percent of the building’s space for specific service purposes. The remainder, including hallways and equipment closets, serves general operational purposes.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

When I get that feeling, I want Natural Healing - Pooh’s Secret Medicine

Ever wonder why everyone’s favorite bear never gets sick? Despite going on adventure after adventure though the woods, Winnie the Pooh always stays healthy. The rains can come down down down, and the wind can blow as hard as it wants, but it’s not going to get this bear down. His secret? Honey of course.

Raw Honey has many health benefits. Besides being a great tasting healthier alternative to table sugar, raw honey can help kick start your immune system. It contains live enzymes and many vitamins and minerals, including B complex, A, C, D, E, & K. It also contains amino acids and is a powerful antioxidant. It’s antimicrobial and antibacterial properties can help shorten the duration of colds. Taking a spoonful of honey, will help ease the pain of a sore throat. The honey will coat the throat providing soothing relief while it begins to attack the infection causing you pain to begin with.

Studies have shown honey to be effective at healing respiratory infections as well. Theses include bronchitis, sinusitis, rhinitis, cold, and flu. Unlike sugar that can depress your immune system, raw honey can actually jump start it. Give your immune system a super stimulant by adding honey to you Echinacea tea and help defeat those nasty colds. Make sure you wait until the tea has cooled to luke warm. The heat will kill the live enzymes and some of the nutritional content in the raw honey.

Local raw honey is even effective at treating seasonal allergies. My wife has suffered from allergies all her life. She began taking local raw honey just a couple months ago, and she has seen a noticeable improvement.

There is also research being done that indicates honey aids in the healing of burns and scrapes. “Honey provides a moist healing environment yet prevents bacterial growth even when wounds are heavily infected,” notes Dr. Peter Molan of the Honey Research Unit at the University of Waikato, New Zealand. Honey has shown to be more effective than antibacterial ointment when used to treat burns. Next time your little boy falls down and scrapes his knee, squeeze a little honey on it before applying the band aid.

Winnie the Pooh’s appetite for honey is insatiable. Perhaps because the reported benefits of raw honey are seemingly endless. Desperate parents out there, try giving a spoonful of honey to aid in water retention and help against bed wetting. Some say honey can aid in sleep as well. New benefits of honey are continuously being discovered. People are beginning to use honey as an energy booster, a digestion aid, and as a natural food preservative, Women are using raw honey as an alternative to synthetic beauty products. Could this be Pooh’s secret to how he has managed to stay so cute and cuddly for 85 years? Don’t wait until you get a rumbly in your tumbly. Go pick up a bottle and start experiencing the benefits of raw local honey today.

****Do not give raw honey to infants. A bacteria in raw honey, clostridium botulinum, is dangerous for infants****


Monday, December 5, 2011

Recycling at School

Last time, I talked about different things you could do to help recycle in the kitchen. Hopefully, you guys found those tips useful! This week I'll be giving some tips on how to recycle at school. School is a place where so much can be done to save, but things inevitably end up not getting done. With some luck maybe we can change that. (:

We all know how many worksheets get passed out at school everyday, but have we ever given a thought to whether or not the backside of the paper is being used? More likely than not, the papers are printed one side. If you ever notice something like this, it wouldn't hurt to just casually ask the teacher if he or she has ever considered printing double sided. In any case, you can always use the back side of the paper as scrap paper, so either way you'll be using the entire sheet!

With all the paper being used in a classroom, whenever you get the chance, make sure to throw your papers into the recycling bin. If you see a classmate throwing something recyclable into the trash can, why not ask him or her to try the recycling bin as well?

Take the bus to school! Everyday, millions of teens are either driven or drive to school-just imagine how much pollution there is! By taking the bus, you can ensure that at least one car will be off the road, so why not give it a try?

Instead of bringing a paper bag to school and having to get another one every single day, why not try getting a lunch box instead? Not only will you be saving money on stocking up on paper bags, but you'll be helping the environment as well.

That's all for this week, but hopefully it's enough to get your mind teeming with ideas to save at school as well!

Until next time,
greengirl (:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

It’s the holiday season!

Everyone is busy with shopping, finding great deals, choosing just the right gifts, and running around being Santa Clauses. There are so many ways that we can be green while shopping, wrapping, and getting ready for the Christmas season.
Here are some tips on how to have a sane and green shopping experience (Adapted from an article by Dan Shipley from

1. Make a List
Before buying, make a list of the items you might purchase for the people in your life, along with the cost of each item. Then, sleep on it. Modern marketing has made an art of turning the shopping experience into a cognitive morass that confuses your brain into spending too much money on things you don't need. Eliminate the waste by following Santa's example. A list will help you make better decisions and keep to a budget.

2. Check it Twice

Before making a purchase, check the price to get a good deal. But also check out the product and manufacturer. Greenpeace rates the makers of electronics (Nokia and Sony top the list), the Rainforest Action Network has just identified three publishers of children's books to avoid (because their policies support Indonesian deforestation) and will help you avoid toxic toys. Using resources like these are important, since marketing claims are often misleading.

3. Shop Online

Online shopping is generally a greener way to shop, essentially because trucks can deliver goods efficiently and it takes a lot less energy to run a warehouse for boxes of goods than a mall. So take a break from leftover turkey and check out the deals online.

4. Donate While You Shop

Donations to major charities were down 11% last year, according to a Chronicle of Philanthropy report documenting the worst decline in 20 years. Many sites channel a portion of the money to your designated charity. In addition, many credit cards encourage the accumulation of points that can be applied to your balance, redeemed for purchases or donated to charity. You could elect to donate the points accrued during the holiday to charity. Both are painless ways to essentially direct corporate profits to charities of your choice.

5. Shop from Your Favorite Charity

Modern non-profits often have marketplaces of their own, and the proceeds of sales benefit the organization's mission. Some examples: WWF, The Nature Conservancy and the Hudson Sloop Clearwater. Before exploring the for-profit options, see if your favorite non-profit has the right item.

6. Use Online Coupons
Several sites make finding coupons for green gifts easy. Check Ecobunga, Pristine Planet and for deals on sustainable, organic and Fair Trade products.

7. Buy Local
When you do leave your desk and hit the streets, look for opportunities to buy from local artists, artisans and businesses. That way the dollars you spend contribute more to the community where you live. Downtown business districts have suffered in the last generation as shoppers got in the habit of shopping at suburban malls, but you can join the movement to revitalize city districts by spending your holiday dollars there. A vibrant downtown helps preserve outlying farms, forests and open spaces by attracting development to urban centers.

8. Buy Certified Gifts
Whether you're buying electronics (Energy Star), clothing (Organic), jewelry (Fair Trade, Conflict Free) or books (Forest Stewardship Council), there's likely a reputable third-party government or non-profit certification program that has already done the hard work of vetting the product. Shop for products made by companies that consistently pay fair wages and manufacture products without burdening the environment.

9. Reduce Waste Before It Happens
The mound of wrapping paper, plastic clam shell packaging, boxes and ribbons filling trash bags on the curb Dec. 26 isn't made on Christmas morning. It's made with each purchase during the shopping season. Choose products made from recycled materials, with minimal recyclable packaging... and be creative when you wrap your gifts. You might just find that you end up with less waste than when you started!

The Christmas season is one of the most waste-creating occasions of the year. Here are some tips on how to reduce the amount of packaging and trash, reuse certain items and materials, and recycle everything else:

· Use fabric and yarn for gift-wrapping. These materials add pizzazz to the present in addition to being eco-friendly, durable, and reusable.

· Use bags and tissue paper for your presents. They are not as eco-friendly as fabric and yarn but are reusable nevertheless.

· Avoid using tons of gift wrap paper and excessive ribbons. Be careful when unwrapping these presents so the wrap, ribbons, and flowers may be reused.

Other tips:
· Don’t leave on your Christmas lights 24/7. Try to set the lights to have automatic timers that will turn them off and on at specific times. This can save so much energy!

· Look for a “green” tree. Artificial trees are actually quite damaging to the environment as they are usually made in China and require great amounts of pollutants to be emitted to be created. However, using fresh Christmas trees perhaps requires annual trips to load them back and forth and can wither easily.

· Choose incredible and unique green gifts under $20! You can easily find items made by independent artisans and made from natural materials without the usual loads of packaging and trash. Making your gifts from objects around the house is awesome as well!

Enjoy your holidays, everyone!


When I get that feeling, I want Natural Healing: A Spot of Tea

When I get that feeling, I want Natural Healing:
A spot of tea.

You are at work. You are feeling miserable. Stuffy nose, cough, sore throat all the wonderful symptoms of a good cold. The nice elderly women who works with you says, “let me make you a cup of tea. It should help you feel better.” You drink the freshly made tea, and sure enough your throat does feel a bit better. A little fresh air starts to pass through your clogged sinus cavities. You think to yourself, I have got to get some of this tea on my way home.

What is it about tea? Does it really have healing powers? How does drinking a cup of tea help me feel better?

Hot tea has a couple immediate benefits when you drink them. First, the steam helps loosen up the mucus that is preventing you from breathing. Second, the hot liquid has an immediate soothing effect on your sore throat. What makes tea so effective is the herbs used to make it. Most notably, Echinacea.

Echinacea is prescribed to us by mother nature. It is one of natures natural antibiotics. Echinacea stimulates our immune system making our own defenses stronger. It stimulates the cells responsible for identifying and “tagging” the intruding cells. Then, Echinacea stimulates the growth and production of white blood cells or the solider cells. Whether viral or bacterial, the new army of white blood cells can surround and conquer the intruding infection. Unlike antibiotics, echinacea works with our body keeping us strong. Antibiotics do kill the bacteria that cause the infection, but it also tears down our own defenses. Thus, increasing the chances of getting sick again. Furthermore, the anti inflammatory effect of echinacea helps open up swollen, clogged sinuses. Once mucus starts to drain, you begin feel better. The ability to breath lifts your spirit. You know the worst is over, and you are on the road to back to good health.

Herbal tea has been consumed for thousands of years across all cultures. It has stood the test of time. It was good enough for the ancient egyptians. ancient chinese rulers, and North American Indians. Echinacea is used my millions of people around the world to combat cold. Next time you are driving home from work feeling sick, stop at your local drug store. Avoid the temptation of all those over the counter cold medicines. Pick up a box of immune boosting echinacea tea, and start your climb back to health. Naturally!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Food for Thought Part II

Last time I talked about how our food supply chain has changed dramatically in the last 50 years or so, and why this should be a matter of concern to us. It’s very ironic that while the large food producing companies are becoming more efficient and profitable, we are becoming sick more often from food-related illnesses. In a study funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, it was found that in 2010, there were 76 million food-related illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths. The money cost to the U.S. was about $152 billion a year, or roughly $1,850 each time someone gets sick from food, I think we need to develop more awareness around these issues and take small but practical steps at the individual level, so that collectively we can start to make a difference. We have to be aware of what the food does to us, what it does to the environment, and whether humane labor and animal practices were followed.
In terms of reading material, you can find works from some leading thinkers on this topic at or your local library. These include:
Michael Pollan:

1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

2. The Omnivore's Dilemma for Kids: The Secrets Behind What You Eat

3. In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto

4. Food Rules: An Eater's Manual
Eric Schlosser:

1. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

2. Chew On This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food
Gary Hirshberg:

1. Stirring It Up: How to Make Money and Save the World

2. Anything But Neutral About Going (Carbon) Neutral
Incidentally, Gary Hirshberg runs Stonyfield farms that makes dairy products that are wholesome in every way ( The company is very successful, showing that you can do well by doing good.
You can also find a number of related videos on this topic. Some of them are:

1. Forks Over Knives

2. Food Matters

3. King Corn: You Are What You Eat

4. Food Beware: The French Organic Revolution

5. Food, Inc.

At home, here are some steps you can take on an everyday level. In the supermarket see if you can buy organic foods (may be a little more pricey), avoid canned and heavily packaged foods, take your own bags to cut down on plastic, check labels, buy foods that are in season locally (a good way to do this is to see if there are any local farmers’ markets in your area), and plan your shopping to reduce the number of driving trips to the supermarket.


Monday, November 14, 2011

When I Get that Feeling, I Want NATURAL Healing

Tis’ the season. No, it’s not the holiday season to which I am referring. It’s the season of chills and coughs, fever and fatigue, headaches and body aches. Some time soon, our kids will develop a runny nose that seems to run until about mid February. That’s right. Cold and flu season is upon us.

When faced with a nasty cold or flu virus, many of us reach for our favorite bottle of over the counter or prescription medicine, particularly if it’s your child who is sick. As a parent, it is heart breaking to see your kid suffer through a dreadful virus. Parents will do anything just to help them feel better. However, many people do not realize the lasting effects modern medicine has on the environment.

The extraction of raw materials, the production and packaging, transportation, and sale of these medicines all leave their impact on the environment. Even more alarming, is what happens when the medicines are discarded. Whether thrown out or excreted by the body in waste, these medicines enter our water supply.

Water treatment plants remove most conventional pollutants, but do not remove man made pollutants, like medicine. Steroids, hormones, pain killers, and antibiotics are just a few of the medicines now being found in rivers, lakes, and streams. Not only is this contaminating the water we drink every day, but we use these bodies of water for recreational purposes every day for swimming, boating, rafting or fishing. Our water supply is our most precious resource and we have to preserve and protect it.

What options do we have when we get sick???

There are hundreds of natural ways to combat sickness. Homeopathic medicine, vitamins, herbs, and even certain foods can help assist our immune system in combating the nasty infections. These methods have been used for centuries, and they have a much smaller environmental impact than modern medicine. Some people may even find that natural means of healing is more effective at lessoning the severity and duration of our sickness. I will begin posting a series of articles on the most popular and most effective means of natural healing. Check back often to learn more about what you can do to feel better while protecting the environment this cold and flu season.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Recycling in the Kitchen

Hey readers, so for the next couple of weeks I've decided to a series of articles that cover different areas of your house and backyard that will list out the many things you can do to recycle in those particular areas. This idea was inspired by a video project we're doing in the environmental club at my school, so thank you environmental club! (: This week, we'll be covering the kitchen. The kitchen is a place that is just teeming with activity, resulting in many, many instances, where we could be making greener choices.

Paper towels, we all use them for anything that comes by us. Whether it's wiping the table clean, the counter top, or just drying your hands, our handy friend, the paper towel, is always there to save us. Instead, why not try using a towel? Just hang the towel by the sink in your kitchen, and every time you have to dry your hands just use that. Replace paper towels for wiping off surfaces with sponges. You can always squeeze out the dirty water from the sponge, so it'll never become too unclean to use, and it is a perfect replacement for your paper towel.

We all wash dishes, but the trick is in how you wash them. When you wash your dirty plates and utensils, do you leave the water running while you scrub at them and put them in the dishwasher, or do you turn the water off? If you turn the water off, than good for you! However, if you don't then we've got a little talking to do. (: While you're washing the dishes, rinse them with water, then use a sponge or a similar thing to scrub the residual food off, give it one last rinse at the end and then make sure to turn off the faucet once more while you put the dish into the dishwasher. This way, when you don't really need the water, the faucet will be off and you won't be wasting any of it.

Filter contaminants such as lead and chloroform, along with the taste of chlorine, from your tap water with a water-filtering pitcher or a faucet-mounted system. You'll also save money over buying bottled water, and reduce the energy used and pollution created in producing, shipping, and disposing of all those plastic containers.

Don't' feel guilty about running your dishwasher, you should use it. The dishwasher actually uses less water than doing dishes by hand. Just make sure to run it only when it is completely full, otherwise you'll have to do lighter loads at more frequent intervals. Also, when the dishwasher is being run, try to run it at its lowest setting-choose light instead of heavy and air dry rather than heat.

Throwing food into the trash can wastes a valuable resource. Turn your coffee grounds, banana peels, and eggshells into a rich soil conditioner for houseplants, lawn, and garden by composting them. Keep a small bucket near your prep area to collect waste and then just add the contents to a backyard compost bin.

Rather than storing leftovers in plastic, try old fashioned glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel containers. While many types of plastic can be recycled, they're all made from petroleum, a nonrenewable resource. So cook a recipe of a favorite dish and pack it in your Pyrex or glass covered dishes.

Until next time,
greengirl (:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Food for Thought

Are we losing control over the food we eat? Over the last 50 to 60 years, farming in the U.S. has undergone a dramatic change. Farmers who used to cultivate their own lands have been almost completely replaced by corporate farming. Huge areas have been bought by a few large companies and they have used economies of scale and aggressive techniques like chemical pesticides and genetically modified crops to boost their profits. Produce is also being moved across vast distances from farm to supermarket, so that customers get all kinds of produce all year round. This convenience is coming at the cost of a high carbon footprint created by the transportation of these items. So is there no place for the small local farmer who has a direct relationship with his land, and who uses natural methods to grow fresh produce for his local customers?

Fortunately there seems to be a growing movement among small farmers and consumers who are willing to follow older and healthier ways of growing and consuming food products. The debate for most consumers is whether to pay more for food that is healthier for us and the environment. For farmers, it is the choice between pure profits and concern for quality of their produce.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Recycle List

Yesterday, my parents unexpectedly gifted me with an iPhone. Of course, every minute since then I've been on my phone browsing the app store, downloading anything that I have found interesting. Well while I was browsing, I came across an app that I thought would be extremely useful for all of my fellow earth lovers. The app is called 'My Recycle List,' and it lets you find nearby locations that accept certain recyclable items. The app 'lets you organize items by adding them to your Recycle List.' Using your Recycle List, you can then find the nearest location that will recycle whatever it is you are trying to. Here's a list of some of it's features, in case you would like to learn more about this handy tool:

* Find nearby recycling locations using GPS or ZIP
* Search for multiple materials at once
* Organize and Save your list for future use: Its like a grocery list for recyclers
* Share your recycle list with others via e-mail
* In-app interactive maps and web browser
* Covers the entire United States and some of Canada. International locations coming late 2010.
* Call recycling locations directly or add them to your contacts
* Works directly with our flagship site to search over 120,000 locations.
* We've put the most commonly recycled materials together into 9 groups: Electronics, Plastic, Metal, Paper, Glass, Household, Hazardous, Automobile and Yard Waste

Hopefully as you're reading this, you're finding this app as useful as I am, and I hope you download it! In case it has managed to spark your curiosity, here's a link to the page so you can find out more about it yourself, and maybe even get it.

Link to the App:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Helping Out

Earth Day may be on April 22nd,but we should never stop helping the environment! Here are 5 simple steps we can take to start us off:

1. Change a Light Bulb: Compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) use 65 % less energy then regular ones and they do not cost that much more. If everyone did this it could change the world!

2. Donate used goods: Don't throw away that pair of jeans donate it to Goodwill! Magazines you have read can be donated to local places with waiting rooms. Remember that saying? One person's garbage is another's treasure!

3. Water...don't waste it: When you are brushing your teeth, turn the water off, and make sure to fix those leaky faucets!

4. Use your own bag: Paper or Plastic... how about canvas? They cost under $5 and can be found in many stylish designs.

5. Walk, Bike, Carpool, Ride the Bus, Take the Light Rail: "Driving a typical car produces 95,000 pounds of global warming pollution," says Kathleen Rogers, president of Earth Day Network. Try carpooling! Like Lucy Hao said, It's much more environment-friendly and you'll get to spend time with your friends while you're at it.

So there you have it! 5 simple ways to start out helping the environment, do you have any ideas of your own? Share some that you came up with below!

More later, greengirl (:

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Saving in School

Wow! It's been a long time. School's started, and it's always busy busy busy! Yet, no matter how busy you are, always keep the environment in mind! Here are some really easy, quick ways to save at school:

1. Wake up in the morning not feeling like P. Diddy? I know. But it doesn't give you an excuse to leave the water running! Close the faucets when your brushing your teeth or putting on make up.

2. Decided what you're going to eat BEFORE opening the fridge. Not only will this save energy, but also time. You might even stick to your diet better.

3. Hop in the car.... with a friend. Carpool, ride the bus, walk, bike-whatever, just DON'T drive your gas-guzzling monster down to school with only you inside.

4. Recycle, recycle, recycle. I can't say it enough: RECYCLE. With all the papers and paper products you get at school, chucking them in the trash would be such a waste. Napkins, paper trays, tissues, paper towels, sometimes even worksheets- all that can go in the blue bin.

5. Be aware! If you see trash, pick it up. It'll only take you like 4 seconds, and you'll be setting an example for other people. Little things like these can really have a ripple effect.

So there you go! 5 simple, fast, yet effective ways to keep your green-living up. What are some other ways to save at school? Have y'all been busy?

Good Luck!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Recycling Do's and Don'ts

Recycling Do's and Don'ts
A couple of weeks ago, I joined the environmental club at my school and there have been meetings held every other week since then. Last week, in our meeting, someone brought up a very good issue, that's become especially big ever since school started. People have been 'recycling' more, but they do not seem to be doing it correctly. At least once everyday, I've come across someone throwing a used tissue or wax paper from some art project inside the recycling bin. Though these people may be throwing these things in with a good intention, in reality, their actions are not correct. So, I've compiled a list of things that do and don't go into the recycling bins.

Recycling Don'ts
- dirty plastic bags/wrap/items
- electronics/batteries
- dirty pizza boxes
- wax paper/waxy cardboard -
- anything soiled
- paper forks, spoons, plates etc.
- bottle caps
- hot cups
- sticky notes

Recycling Do's
-any clean paper (nothing with any food or such stains) ie. newspapers, magazines,junk mail etc.
- - cardboard that isn't too waxy & needs to be flattened
- cans/glass
- any clean plastic labeled with a 1-7 (except Styrofoam)
- aluminum cans

Now with these tips, hopefully there won't be any misconceptions about what goes in the recycling bin, and what doesn't. Have fun recycling!

More later, greengirl (:

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Gift of Environmental Life

Everyday this planet provides us with water, energy, and countless other resources that we greedily use up;sometimes, without a second thought to its reprecussions. But now, we have little 'gifts' of our own for the environment. We can plant a tree; with all the paper we use on a daily basis, it's probably the least we can do-other than recycling. Even better, if planting a tree seems too daunting a task, you can always contact local organizations and donate the money to them, and they'll plant the tree for you.

Another possible present we can give to our Earth is the gift of a clean planet. If we all work together, we can help keep this planet clean. The first step is simple: Don't litter. The second step, however, may be a bit more challenging: Pick up any trash you see lying around. But don't worry, you'll have help. (:

These are only two examples of presents, but don't be afraid to share your own 'gifts' below!

-greengirl (:

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reusing Your Plastic Bags

Hey guys, so I've already talked to all of you people about how many plastic bags we use everyday, so i won't bore you by reiterating the same facts over again-but, I did find some new ideas for how you can reuse your old plastic bags. Here are 16 ways utilize the same bags once again.

1. Carry Dirty Clothes – Use your plastic bags to bring home the dirty clothes from your trip. No one likes keeping dirty & clean clothes together, and this gives you an easy way to keep everyone happy.

2. Scoop the Litter Box – Flushing cat litter is a bit controversial, since cat waste contains toxins that’s harmful to aquatic life, and unfortunately, scooping is a fact of life for cat owners. You’ve got to put that smelly litter somewhere.
You’re probably using a plastic bag already, so you may as well RE-use one instead.

3. Stash One In the Glove Box – If someone in your family is prone to carsickness, keep a plastic bag in your glove box in case you don't have time to pull over.

4. Take to Concerts – Amphitheater shows and multi-day music festivals come with a lot of waste, and the trash and recycle bins seem to always overflow by the end. Instead of piling your empties on top of an overflowing bin, use a plastic grocery bag to take your recyclables home at the end of the show.

5. Remove Dog Waste – It’s only polite to pick up after your pet, and many areas even provide disposal areas for dog waste. Rather than grabbing the plastic bag provided, you can re-use a plastic bag that made its way into your house.

6. Use Them Again – It may not be as fancy as pulling out a canvas grocery tote, but if you’ve got a bunch of those plastic bags around the house, bring them to the store to tote another load of groceries home.

7. Line a Paint Tray – Next time you’re painting a room, use
a plastic bag to line the paint pan, rather than a disposable plastic pan liner. It takes less plastic, and it’s reuse to boot!

8. Cushion Valuables – Whether you’re packing to move or storing breakables in the attic, you can wrap them up in plastic bags to cushion them against damage.

9. Protect Paint Brushes – If you’re taking a break from painting, you can wrap the brush in a plastic bag to keep it from getting dry and hard. Just stick the wrapped up brushes into the fridge until you’re ready to get back to it.

10. Line Small Trash Cans – Reuse a plastic bag to line small trash cans, like in the bathroom, instead of buying new plastic can liners.

11. Save Energy – Instead of sand, you can stuff a draft dodger with plastic bags.

12. Donate Them – Places like libraries and food banks often need bags.

13. Protect Plants From Frost – Protect your plants from a freeze by wrapping them securely in a plastic bag overnight and removing the bag in the morning.

14. Save Shoes in Your Suitcase – When you’re packing for a trip, stash your shoes in a plastic bag, so they don’t dirty up your clothing.

15. Ship It – If you’re mailing something fragile, wrap it in plastic bags instead of new bubble wrap.

16. Protect Your Knees – Tie a couple of plastic bags around your knees to add some padding while you’re working in the garden.

Hopefully these tips have given you some more ideas on how to reuse those plastic bags that keep showing up everywhere. I'm sure you all have ideas of your own and let's keep them going in the comments!

-greengirl (:

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Organic Clothing

Organic clothing. It may be a foreign concept to most people, but it's something of importance. Normal clothing is manufactured using certain processes that are detrimental not only to us, but to the environment as well. The fibers in your clothes are bleached using cholrine. When the chlorine is released into local waterways, the chlorine combines with organic matter to form dioxins, a class of carcinogenic compounds that is incredibly dangerous to humans and wildlife alike. Once the textiles have mixed with the chlorine, chemical dyes are used on them. The conventional dyes are often made in a lab using heavy metals and other harmful chemicals that are dangerous for those creating the fabrics, as well as dangerous for the environment when it leaves the plant. Of particular concern are Azo dyes, used to give some garments their vibrant yellow, reds, and orange colors, which have been linked to cancer. Going by names such as “D&C Red 33” or “Sunset Yellow FCF,” these potential carcinogenic dyes can also be found in foods.

Just like these few problems above, there are many other details that I won't bore you with. Organic clothing however, gives people a solution to the various issues presented with normal clothing.

• Fabrics would be whitened using hydrogen peroxide, an extremely benign oxidant as compared to chlorine

• Natural dyes are used, created from earth born sources such as earthen clays and, plants extracts

• Only low-impact and fiber-reactive dyes, water soluble dyes are allowed

• Heavy metal-free dyes

So next time you're about to buy clothing, look at the tag and see if they're made out of these materials:

• Organic Cotton
• Bamboo
• Hemp
• Silk
• Wool
• Cashmere
• Linen

-greengirl (:

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Waste Not, Want Not

While on my hunt for possible green topics to write about, I came across an extremely interesting article called, "Waste Not, Want Not." The article talked about how 'waste not, want not' is a saying that everyone has grown up listening to, and it applies to our lives now, more than ever. With our natural resources slowly diminishing, we should be conscious of how much we're using and how much we're throwing away. The article listed some good tips on conserving generally everything, and I found a few tips of my own as well, so here are some possible ways to improve.

The toothpaste in the tube might seem like it's completely empty but it's not. Many times, I've been on the verge of just throwing away a tube thinking it's done, only to have my mom come & show me exactly how much is left. One way to really use all your toothpaste is to not only roll up the tube, but to use your thumb to firmly press down on that area right underneath the cap.

We all have plastic bags, those bags you get when you go to the grocery store & they pack all your thing inside of it? No matter how hard you try shaking them off, they always end up lying around inside your house until you end up throwing them away-at least that's the way it is in my house. Now, it's not really necessary to use a plastic bag in your trashes, but, if you're one of those people that needs a trash bag, why not use your old grocery bags? My sister insists on using a bag for all her trashes, so now we've made her in charge of all plastic bags entering our house. This way, there won't be two bags thrown away with your trash, you can bring it down to just one.

With all the different kinds of sauces & pastes out there, we end up using at least something in everything we cook. Pizza, pasta you name it, we've got a sauce for it. But with all these different kinds of pastes & sauces we use, we've got a universal problem throughout: that little bit of sauce left in the bottom or the side of the container that isn't enough to use & the bits and pieces stuck on the sides end up being thrown away. Well, I came across and noticed my mom using an excellent technique to keep the sauce from being wasted. What you can do to save that bit of sauce is to put a bit of oregano into the jar, then pour small amount of hot water in, and shake. Soon you'll end up with just enough of sauce for your next creation.

Well hopefully these few tips gave you some ideas for your house and you can use them in the near future.
Until next time,
- greengirl (:

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Go Green with Lunch Boxes

Many of you people out there may have to eat lunch outside of the house, or may know someone that has to do so. Everyday across the world, millions and millions of plastic bags, paper bags, ziploc bags & other bagging materials are used & thrown away. Every single one of those materials have the potential of never even being used at all-thus resulting in less wastage. If even half the general population switched out their plastic or paper bag in favor of a lunch box, then imagine how much we would be able to save. Apparently in just one day, one store uses & sells up to 4500 plastic bags-most of them ending up in landfills. So you guys, why don't we try, for just one day, using a lunchbox in favor of a plastic bag? One step at a time, we can all help our world.



Monday, August 29, 2011

Get Rid of Your Unwanted Plastic Bags Once and For All

Every year, we use around 100 billion plastic grocery bags in the United States alone. And while some cities across the nation have banned use of the bag, many of us aren’t so lucky.

Despite making an effort to go shopping with a reusable bag, those ever-present plastic shopping bags seem to reappear in every cabinet, drawer, and box in my house.

No matter what the reason, I can never bring myself to get rid of all of that plastic. If you’ve got an ever-growing collection of plastic bags making you feel guilty, don’t despair!

Here are some practical and crafty ways to use those bags over and over and over again!

1. Carry Dirty Clothes – Be sure to include a plastic on your packing list! Use it to tote home your dirty clothes or wet swimsuits while you’re on vacation.

2. Scoop the Litter BoxFlushing cat litter down the toilet can be difficult, especially since cat waste contains toxins that’s harmful to aquatic life, and unfortunately, scooping is a fact of life for cat owners. You’ve got to put that smelly litter somewhere. You’re probably using a plastic bag already, so you may as well RE-use one instead.

3. Stash Some In the Glove Box – If you or someone in your family is prone to car sickness, you can keep a plastic grocery bag in the glove box, in case you’re not able to pull over in time to avert disaster.

4. Take to Concerts – Amphitheater shows and multi-day music festivals come with a lot of waste, and the trash and recycle bins seem to always overflow by the end. Instead of piling your empties on top of an overflowing bin, use a plastic grocery bag to take your recyclables home at the end of the show.

5. Remove Dog Waste – I think that it’s only polite to pick up after your pet, and many areas even provide disposal areas for dog waste. Try reusing plastic bags from the grocery store instead of buying small ones at the pet store.

6. Use Them Again – It may not be as fancy as pulling out a canvas grocery tote, but if you’ve got a bunch of those plastic bags around the house, take them to the store to tote another load of groceries home.

7. Line a Paint Tray – Next time you’re painting a room, use a plastic bag to line the paint pan, rather than a disposable plastic pan liner.

8. Cushion Valuables – Whether you’re packing to move or storing Christmas ornaments in the attic, you can wrap them up in plastic bags to avoid damage.

9. Protect Paint Brushes – If you’re taking a break from painting, you can wrap the brush in a plastic bag to keep it from getting dry and hard. Just stick the wrapped up brushes into the fridge until you’re ready to get back to it!

10. Line Small Trash Cans – Reuse a plastic bag to line small trash cans, like in the bathroom, instead of buying new plastic can liners.

11. Donate Them – Places like libraries and food banks would appreciate your donation.

12. Protect Plants From Frost – Protect your plants from a freeze by wrapping them securely in a plastic bag overnight and removing the bag in the morning.

13. Save Shoes in Your Suitcase – When you’re packing for a trip, stash your shoes in a plastic bag, so they don’t make your clothes dirty.

14. Ship It – Plastic bags are proven to have the same benefits as bubble wrap and packing peanuts.

18. Protect Your Knees – Tie a couple of plastic bags around your knees to add some padding while you’re working in the garden.

What are some of your favorite ways to use plastic bags? Comment below to tell us your ideas!

Until next week, EcoNinja101 :-)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Do You Make These Mistakes in Packing Your Lunch?

Hi there, EcoNinjas!

Now that school has started, I decided to make a resolution to pack a zero waste lunch for every day of the year. Did you know that the average disposable lunch can create anywhere from 4-8 pounds of trash? That can add up to more than 300 pounds of trash per year!
Below are some tips for packing an eco-friendly lunch:
  1. Skip the brown bag, plastic bag, and aluminum foil- An easy way to reduce the amount of trash that goes into landfills every year, think about buying a reusable lunch bag. They have great storage options and are super easy to clean.
  2. Pack reusable silverware- Pack your stainless steel with your lunch to reduce the use of plastic cutlery.
  3. Buy your snacks in bulk- That way, you can still enjoy your favorite treats, but without too much of a cost on our environment.
  4. Pack a reusable water bottle- The Environmental Protection Agency reports that every year, approximately 2,400,000 tons of plastic bottles were thrown away. Contribute to reducing that number by buying a reusable water bottle!
Come on EcoNinjas! The world is in our hands!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Recycling Together

Recycling. We've all heard this word before, but it doesn't really mean much to us, does it? Don't worry I was in the same category as most of you people out there, I would never really see the point-when the trash is picked up from our homes, I had always assumed that when the trash collectors took it back to where they worked, the trash would be sifted through and the recyclable material would be separated from the plain trash. Recently, I read that not all trash gets separated. Some of our trash does indeed get sifted through and separated into recyclable and non-recyclable piles, but parts of our trash also ends up in landfills and even in the ocean. To make sure none of our trash ends up harming the environment, here are some easy tips on how to recycle:

1. Find a convenient place to collect recyclable items. Most things come from the kitchen, making it a good spot to set up a recycling center.

2. The great thing about recycling is that it lets you put your favorite old containers, bins, or baskets to use. Assign containers for glass, plastic, and aluminum. To avoid messes, choose solid containers for storing items such as glass jars or cans that may have a sticky residue.

3. Take leftover plastic bags back to grocery stores where they are collected and reused to make plastic lumber.

4. Check the bottom of plastic items to identify what type of plastic they are. If the type is not recycled at your local center, consider ways to reuse the container.

5. Save water and time when recycling cans and bottles. You no longer need to rinse them out or remove their labels.

6. Recycle junk mail or reuse it as scratch paper. To opt-out of certain junk-mailing lists, go to

7. Newspapers, magazines, and white paper can all be recycled as long as the paper is clean and dry. Plastic wrap, stickers, or rubber bands should be removed, but staples and plastic window envelopes are OK.

8. Recycle worn-out rechargeable batteries like those used in cell phones, computers, or power tools. Go to to find a drop-off location in your area.

9. Divvy up recycling duties among family members and sort items on a daily basis

Hopefully using these tips, we can at least do our own little part in helping the environment. Share these tips with your neighbors & friends and we can all work together in doing our parts. By recycling and using these tips, we can help recycle our materials and keep busy during this drought. Have fun!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Saving Water

Recently, for the first time in a long time, we finally got some rain. Yet, the drought is still prominent, the lake water levels are still low, and the water restrictions are piling up everyday. According to the New York Times, Texas has received less than half its normal rainfall: 6.53 inches instead of 16.03, and the drought has greatly hurt Texas's agricultural economy. Even worse, some climatologists say that this drought will last to even next year. So, now is the time to be even more water conversant, in order to save the environment and our sanity. Here are some easy ways to save water:

1. When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water, rather than letting the water run

2. For cold drinks, keep a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator, instead of turning on the tap.

3. Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap. The used water can them be used to water houseplants.
4. Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk and save water every time.

5. Check for leaks in toilets, bath tubs, faucets and swimming pools. (An easy way to test a toilet is to put food coloring in the toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Get it fixed ASAP!)

6. Add "walkways" and patios to your yard so those parts don't have to be watered.

7. Drop your tissue in the trash instead of flushing it down.

8. Dump extra ice on to a plant.

9. Track rainfall, then water your lawn accordingly.

10. Don't water your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.

Remember, although we all learned in school that water is a inexhaustible resource, it needs to be conserved in order to protect our environment's ability to support future generations. Share water conservation tips with your neighbors and friends and get involved. By working together and saving water, we can shorten this drought and keep ourselves sane.

~Lucy Hao

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Take Action

Like some of you may have heard, yesterday was an Indian holiday called 'Raksha Bandhan.' In this holiday the sisters pray for the long lives of their brothers, and the brothers, in return, promise to always protect the sisters. The custom is that on this day each year, the sisters tie a 'rakhi'-a kind of sacred bracelet around their brothers' wrists.
So when I was online yesterday, I came across a very interesting article about a governor that was tying rakhis around trees. The logic behind his unusual actions was that, he was trying to protect those trees by calling them his brothers & sisters. In an effort to promote going green in at least his home state, he told the public that in the new version of raksha bandhan not only do sisters tie rakhis to brothers, but men and women also take a pledge to protect trees.
Reading this, I thought that if there are people out there that are willing to go to such lengths, and are actually taking action to promote environmental awareness; then why don't we do something? This article isn't here to give you tips on what else you can do, it's here to just, hopefully, inspire you to do more. And if the message really has gotten through to you, then read the other articles in this blog-that's where you'll find how to actually take action.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Start a Summer Project – Container Gardening

Container gardening itself isn’t a new phenomenon, but we’ve got a trendy new take. These work great outdoors hanging from a wall or as a centerpiece on the dinner table. Even local businesses have sprung up offering ready-to-go assorted containers for purchase. With summer coming to a close, it makes a great last project before the kids go back to school or just for you.

The idea is to take any plant container you fancy, select several small plants with the same water requirements and unite them. My personal recommendation is to use succulents. They require little water and are sturdy, making them amenable to occasional droughts suffered when vacations happen or life gets hectic. Note of caution, be sure the soil has good drainage if you plant succulents.

I haven’t finished out my container garden yet, but here’s a great picture for inspiration: Please share your tips, or if you have a container garden, link to your pictures.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Heat Can be Yummy

Like Greengirl said, it's burning outside. It's so hot, I sleep without blankets. It's so hot, I don't even feel like going up the stairs. It's so hot, I lie on the tiles and eat ice cream at the same time (which takes skill). Ice cream and Popsicles may seem like salvation in this heat, but they are not only unhealthy but also horrible for the environment. Popsicles come individually wrapped, which creates a lot of waste, and ice cream is full of heavy cream and high fructose corn syrup. 

Here are a few simple, eco-friendly, healthy recipes that will help you keep cool and save the enviroment:

Grape Pops Recipe

(from Pops! Icy Treats for Everyone by Krystina Castella (Quirk Books, 2008))
(makes eight 6-ounce pops)
1 cups seedless red grapes, cut in half
4 cups white grape juice
8 plastic cups
8 popsicle sticks/chopsticks
8 banana slices

1. Stick a banana slice on each stick and place into the center of the cup, banana-slice-side down.
2. Divide the grape halves among the cups. Pour in the grape juice and reposition the sticks. 
3. Freeze for at least 6 hours.
4. Remove from the freezer;run tap water over the surface of the cup, and let sit for 3 minutes. 
5. Remove from mold and eat!

Citrus Popsicles
(makes eight 6-ounce popsicles)
1 cup of assorted fruit (frozen or fresh. Strawberries, kiwis, peaches, watermelon etc.)
16 ounces of lemon juice
4 cups orange juice
8 plastic cups
8 popsicle sticks/chopsticks
8 kiwi slices

1. Stick a kiwi slice on each stick and place into the center of the cup, kiwi-slice-side down.
2. Pour in 2 ounces of lemon juice per cup over the kiwi
3. Divide the assorted fruit into the cups; pour the orange juice and reposition the sticks.
4. Freeze for 6 hours
5. Remove from the freezer;run tap water over the surface of the cup, and let sit for 3 minutes. 
6. Remove from mold and eat!

Yogurt Parfait

(makes 4 servings)
2 1/2 cups vanilla yogurt
2 cups your favorite granola
2 1/2 cups fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, strawberries (hulled and sliced), and/or other fruit such as bananas, peaches or mangos, peeled and sliced
4 tablespoons honey

1. Line up 4 parfait, plastic, or other clear glasses.
2. Spoon 2 tablespoons of yogurt into each glass and smooth surface.
3. Spoon 2 tablespoons of fruit on top.
4. Repeat the process, adding a bit of honey here and there, to taste.
5. Spoon 2 tablespoons of granola on top.
6. Add a small dollop of yogurt on top of the granola in the center.
7. Position some berries on top of the yogurt.
8. Admire the beauty; Enjoy!

Yum! To be even more ecofriendly, use plastic popsicle sticks/chopsticks, so they can be washed and reused. Same goes with the cups.

~Lucy Hao

Staying Green for Back to School

Don't let the frenzy of buying back to school supplies derail your eco-conscious ways. Before even venturing out to a store, take stock of what you already have that didn't get used before. Also take into consideration how much use any new things will actually get before purchasing them. Here are some green ideas for some standard items:

  • backpacks: if a new one is needed, avoid vinyl and look for one made of nylon, hemp or organic cotton. Dsenyo makes cotton knapsacks in bright colors and prints and are handcrafted by women in Africa. A percentage of revenue goes back to their community for youth programs and health education

  • pens/pencils: look for refillable pens and biodegradable pencils. There are pencils like the ones at TreeSmart that are made from newspaper

  • paper/notebooks/binders: most stores sell recycled paper-you just have to look for it. Instead of the conventional plastic binders, look for an alternative like those at Jorgel Binders, which are made from cardboard and have removable and reusable metal rings inside. Ecojot's notebooks are made of recycled paper, and they have a limited edition line whose proceeds benefit the Jane Goodall Institute

  • lunch: a washable and reusable container to create a zero-waste lunch is ideal. The Whimsy Reusable Lunch Kit includes napkins, containers and a recycled lunch sack

  • clothes: the majority of money spent on back to school shopping goes towards new clothes. Thrift stores or clothes swapping with friends is a great way to save. If buying new clothes, look for quality as well as sustainable fabrics like bamboo and organic cotton as opposed to cheap items that will wear out quickly

Take this time as yet another opportunity to share with your kids why these green practices are so important. It is worth planning ahead and going a little out of your way to make sure we take care of our planet whenever and however we can.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stuck Inside

Some of you may have noticed that we have a slight drought problem going on...actually that's an understatement. We're on our 35th day of 100 plus degree temperatures, and things are definitely not looking up at all. The best we can do is just stay indoors, and hope that this streak will be over tomorrow. And to top it all off, there are energy issues going on because of all the people staying indoors and running their air conditioning 24/7-resulting in rolling blackouts. Well, while I was sitting at home and confined indoors, I decided to do some research on how to save energy-and here are some facts that I found:

-Instead of cooking with your stove, try using your microwave- it uses two-thirds less energy than the stove.

-Use the dishwasher! It uses much less water than washing dishes by hand.

-Set your thermostat to 78 degrees and 85 when your way. Use ceiling fans to keep the cool air circulating around your room.

-Turn off appliances, lights and equipment when not in use. It'll use 2% less energy that way.

With these precautions hopefully we'll be able to at least stop the rolling blackouts and prevent people from being forced into enduring this heat. Keep cool!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Green Your Beauty Routine: A Step by Step Guide to Giving Every Day a Green Start.

Hello Fellow Earth Lovers!

I have always been a fan of homemade beauty products. They are a great way to get creative at home and you have the benefit of knowing exactly what you use as part of your beauty routine. This weekend, I learned some scary facts about my favorite beauty products like: the average woman applies over 160 different chemicals to her face before drinking her morning coffee, and 64% of "natural" beauty products contain chemicals that are harmful to your body and our environment.

Well, EcoNinjas, it's time to take a stand! Below, is one of my favorite recipes to Green Your Beauty Routine. Enjoy!

Orange Yogurt Exfoliating Mask:

1 tablespoon of plain yogurt (I prefer Greek yogurt because it is much thicker)

Juice from about 1/4 of an orange (a splash of orange juice will work just as well)


Mix the yogurt and the orange juice. Spread the mixture evenly on your face. After 10 minutes, rinse. Instant rejuvination!

Why it Works...

Besides being a tasty treat, yogurt aides in digestion and may even help you feel fuller without adding tons of calories. As far as beauty goes, eating yogurt is good for your hair and nails, because of the amount of protein it contains. It also has zinc, lactic acid, and alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) which is great for calming inflamed skin, and boosting collagen production.

Combined with an orange (did you know that Vitamin C reverses aging skin?) you've got a soothing, natural, exfoliating mask that's both easy to make and kind to our environment.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Inspiring Kids

Lately, I've been feeling like all the little things I've been doing all these years to be eco-conscious hasn't added up to much and it sometimes gets difficutlt to keep going. I came across some stories recently about young environmentalists that really inspired me to not only continue with my efforts but to step it up.

  • Felix, a 9 year old in Germany, was so upset by what he was learning about global climate change that he decided to start his own organization called Plant for Planet with the goal being to plant a million trees in as many countries as he can. Thanks to some media attention, so far just over one million trees have been planted with more than a million pledged for planting

  • After the Gulf Coast oil spill, 11 year old Olivia teamed up the the Audubon Society to sell sketches she did and helped raise over $200,000 for relief efforts

  • 8 year old Cole in North Carolina got his entire elementary school to send postcards to fast food companies requesting they use recycled packaging. Success came when McDonald's agreed. Now Cole is working with several other elementary schools in his area to keep up the mission

Not only can these kids inspire everyone to do more, but to be more as well. Be a mentor and get kids into nature. There's no better way to cultivate a love of the outdoors and a desire to preserve it. There are proven health and psychological benefits connected to being outdoors, and in addition, kids may begin to see a future for themselves in the environmental field. At the very least, they are more likely to continue to spend time outdoors as they grow older. There are structured programs that can help guide them, but just spending more and more time outdoors will help. Ultimately, kids do what they see. Be an example everyday to encourage them by doing things like growing your own vegetables, composting, conserving water, carpooling, biking at local parks, etc. Hopefully, by staying with it, we can bring up the next generation of inspiring and eco-minded kids.