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Hey everyone! It has been awhile, but we all know how summer can get a little hectic, hot but FUN. I have been busy with friends and family enjoying bbqs, beach trips, DC adventures and of course lazy pool days. With summer in full force, I have not been able to sit down and continue my weekly posts of green living in Rockville, but that’s not to say I haven’t been living green.

With lots of criticisms from my close friends (you know who you are) I still and will continue to hold my own. Between friend get-togethers and trips to the beach, I am on constant alert to live a little more simply. Whether that is making sure EVERYONE recycles (friends like to do the whole sarcastic “Caitlin, look, I am throwing a can directly into the trash…” which I have to just ignore and laugh but still make sure they don’t) or to suggest to go to the farmer’s market to grab a bunch of local veggies and grill them alongside their main dish. I am always living as green as possible at home, but yet it gets harder to do that outside the home, in social or group settings.

I am a young (I feel older) 22 year old that loves to go out and have a good time. This is at a cost. Endless amounts of consuming, whether it is food or alcohol, my friends and I will always be out purchasing something. This is NOT to say I try to hype on my friends’ choices, but it is to say that it is harder to bite my tongue when I know our choices could be a little greener. There are ups and downs to my social butterflies: we always try to take public transportation, or just walk. We usually strive to find unique, local business that offer local and organic food/drinks. But then again some friends may not agree with the choice and I have to sacrifice. We mostly live in suburban MD that means more driving than desire. Also the amount of my friends and I manage to drink on those summer nights is unthinking, lots and lots of bottles and cans (hopefully always gets recycled).

My friends are warming up to the whole “green living” aspect of me. They understand that this is my life. But I realized I have to be less of a lecturer and more of a loving friend to everyone. Summer time is exciting. There are amazing things happening around me that I am soaking up and sharing with everyone. But there are still harmful things in life that I want to provide an alternative choice to the ones I love; just sometimes they don’t want to hear it. So I have learned and will continue to learn to only answer and tell when asked about certain things, but continue to point out the positive, beautiful things in life, like the great vegetables springing from my garden!  Happy Summer!

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So I have been a pretty busy recently with various projects ranging from my Argentina photo book (look here!), to working on computers for my friend’s IT company….But what I really enjoy lately is making things by myself, whether it be small craft projects, new clothing, or new recipes. 

RAIN BARREL
I already have my garden growing and I see some budding on the tomato and squash plants! VERY exciting! I have compost in action and the last thing I had to do to complete the outdoor project was to make a rain barrel catcher. Now you can surely purchase these barrels to attach to your gutter that has an attachable hose at the bottle, so it is as easy as 1-2-3 to water your plants. Check out these here. But they are quite expensive and plus for us, our gutter was far away from any plants we needed to water, so I made my own!

I purchased a cheap $10 plastic bin (like the compost one) with a lid. Then I purchased a gutter attachment that curves – see here, for another $10. Cut what you need off the existing gutter, attach the piece and curve it into the barrel. Easy as that! All for $20!

rainbarrel

What is left to do now is to cut a hole in the lid and stick the attachment in – this is so bugs don’t start feeding off the water…
When you want to water your plants, take a simple watering can and scoop up the water and take it where you need! After all this rain, it has been completely full for weeks – one step to save lots of water! 🙂

NEW(OLD) Skirt!
Next on the to do list I had was to make new clothes out of old. I am not amazing at sewing what-so-ever, actually I am pretty awful :/ but I wanted to try. So I took all the clothes out of my closet that I was going to sell but instead figured out how I can reuse them all together. So below is what I made out of 2 shirts…

Front

Side

So it’s not perfect, but hey, it is salvaging old clothes and one skirt less that I would otherwise buy… 🙂
I have been inspired by these few sites that are amazing! Check them out – anyone who wants to not buy new clothes, but would like to up-cycle their existing wardrobe…

Crafting a Greener World – sewing but as well as other home, craft projects…catch them on Twitter! @CAGW
Transforming a men’s shirt into a skirt … CraftGossip– This one is for a young girl, but Clever Girl has it figured out for woman.. I love them all and already got dad’s shirt to do my own! 

GOLDFISH!
I made my own Goldfish! Ok well in the end it was Goldcircles…I didn’t have any cookie cutters to make cool shapes but check it out!

GoldCircles

You can spot the few attempted “goldfish” I tried to make by hand. It was a simple recipe I found on Yumsugar, with only a few ingredients. VERY tasty! Better than the unknown ingredients found in store-bought goldfish…

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[Guest post from James O’Shea, representive of maacenter, Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center.]

In recent years there has been a great deal of national attention focused on the improvement of industrial environmental standards. Even as we attempt to rebuild our economy, we seem to be focused on not only restoring industry, but also using this as an opportunity to do it in a way that is not environmentally destructive. This provides us the opportunity to improve all aspects of these industries, including the workplace hazards among workers and the health hazards affecting members of the surrounding communities that were all too common.

What many people may fail to realize is that not only does the health of our planet depend on improved environmental standards, but our health may as well. Health complications of industry can essentially be divided into two categories, both direct and indirect.

Direct health conditions which have arisen as a result of the burning of fossil fuels, for instant, are increased asthmas rates in areas with high smog indices. Even mild cases of asthma can deteriorate overall respiratory capacity over time and leave breathing seriously diminished if the quality of the air people breathe is unimproved. Release of chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere has shown to lower  our filtered sunlight, increasing ultraviolet light exposure. Ultraviolet light has been conclusively link to skin cancer. Perhaps it is no surprise then that skin cancer incidence in countries like South Africa and Australia, where the atmosphere is most diminished, is much higher than other areas of the earth.

Indirect health consequences include those which can be attributed to antiquated industrial infrastructure, including toxin exposure among workers. Oil refinery workers, for instance, are shown to have a much higher chance of developing mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, than those in cleaner industries. While asbestos was banned for most uses in the late 1970s several of these refineries and factories are still using pre-ban equipment which is exposing workers to harmful asbestos fibers.

We see then, that there is a clear advantage to implementation of cleaner, more sustainable energy policies and environmental attitudes, not only for the health or our planet and our posterity, but that of world’s population even today. 

June 3, 2009

Written by James O’Shea, representative of maacenter, the web’s leading organization for relevant and authoritative information regarding asbestos and health complications associated with asbestos exposure. Our organization is staffed entirely by writers and other developers who recognize the importance of building awareness in the fight against cancer.

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I planted my garden! Well, it is for my Mom, but me too! It took a long 5 hours to over turn the grass near our little shed in the backyard. But once the soil was mixed planting all my plants took no time! 

So here is what I got: 

3 “Anana Orange” heirloom tomatoes, 1 “Sweet 100” tomato, 1 “Sun Gold” tomato”, 1 “La Roma”, 1 “Early Girl” tomato, 1 “Garden Peach” heirloom tomato, 1 “Celebrity” tomato, 1 zucchini, 2 “Yellow Crookneck” squash, 1 “Burpee” eggplant, 1 “Chiban” eggplant, 2 “Burpee Hybrid” cucumber and 1 watermelon!! phewww that is a lot! 

Check it out!

Before

Before

 

After

After

So I will be swimming with produce in just under 2 months! Can’t wait!

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So I was with my Aunt this weekend up in Fredrick, MD. She came back from Wal-mart in the morning with tons of plastic bags (you know this doesn’t fly with me if you read my 5 challenges post previously…) and I asked her where were her cloth reusable bags?? Her response was “I reuse them! I use them to pick up Shadow’s poop…” I said Okay, understandable, but you still throw away all of these plastic bags, thats not good. Now its hard when family becomes involved in these sorts of situations. I hate to be the one that says, “Well actually Aunt Shell, you aren’t really doing any better if you were to just to use the bags once and throw them away.” So I am careful to choose my words wisely and try to shift her (or anyone else for that matter) thinking; how to be even MORE green. I told her later that I had to come up with a solution so she wouldn’t have to be dependent on reusing plastic bags. 

So this is what I have come up with, ways to help minimize your dependence on plastic bags. 

1. Pooper-scooper – so you have to carry this thing around with you when walk the dog, but scooping that poop up and putting it in the trash will save hundreds of plastic bags a year. The only thing is, you should put it in a biodegradable bag, which brings me to..

2. 100% Biodegradable plastic bags  – BIOBAG which is made up of 100% decomposable matter, so no chemicals or toxins going into the land. You could use these while you follow your dog or even use them to as your main trash bag when scooping the poop up. 

3. Compost your pet’s waste – If you want to get really green with your dog’s number 2, check out this article by Marion Owen about how to compost your dog’s waste! Dog Waste Composter 

And don’t forget all of the other opportunities to green your pet:

-Make new toys out of old articles of clothing or balls

-Buy natural, organic food

-Use biodegradable kitty litter like FelinePine.

-Bake your own dog’s treats, check out these recipes from The Poop Pantry.

A healthy pet is a happy one! 

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After I came back from Buenos Aires, I was inspired to do more with less. That is, less energy, spend less money, but with a little more patience. And after all, summer is approaching, that means more SUN ENERGY!

After washing and drying your clothes by hand for more than 5 weeks, I became more appreciative of our efficient machine washer and dryer here at home. But there is something about the sun drying my clothes which I like a little bit better. So,

1: Dry clothes by hand, OUTSIDE! 

I took on this task the day I came back from Argentina, washed all my clothes on one setting less (warm instead of hot, or cold instead of warm) and took each load outside to my deck, hung them up on the dryer rack (or use a clothes line) in the sun (but be careful of the sun fading the color, they can dry just as good in the shade when it is warm out) and waited. I swear, 10 minutes later in 70 degree weather, they were all dry! Ready to be folded and put away. There is something real soothing about hanging up your clothes in the hot sun. I LOVE IT! Less money on your electricity bill, a little more patience and you can become a little more greener! 

hanging my clothes

2. Compost! See my post earlier about how easy it is to compost! Without spending more than 10 bucks! Anyone can do it, even in an apartment! 

3. Use less! Of course of course, everyone says use less, but one trick my family and I figured out was to use more microwave save containers: this means less plastic-wrap (which some contain toxins like DEHA that is a known human carcinogen, EEK!) used to heat up your dishes as well as to preserve food in the refrigerator. Check out these inexpensive ceramic containers: Chefini. Another trick I found was using less plastic bags and more reusable containers, like plastic containers or these cool snack pouches! (Seen on Oprah) Reusablebags.com 

www.reusablebags.com

4. Steel Bottle What? Steel?…Yup! Plastic is OUT and Steel is IN. Most plastic bottles (reusable or not) contain a chemical called BPA or Bisphenol A that can affect your brain and physical well being. That doesn’t sound too good…so check out Klean Kanteen and purchase one bottle for $20 that is socially, economically and environmentally responsible. With YOUR purchase of one bottle can save hundreds of plastic bottles you would be purchasing over a year that will be kept out of the landfill! Pretty easy right?

 

 

 

5. Reusable Bags I know, you have heard this plenty of times, but it works! And it is EASY. SO SO easy. Many of the bags I have received were free from expos but the few that I have bought were around $1 – $5. Cheap right? With a few dollars, you can save hundreds of plastic bags a year bringing them with you wherever you may go. I take them to Target, the grocery store, CVS, everywhere. Ok so in the beginning I get lots of looks, especially if it isn’t at a farmers market or Whole Foods. Or comments like “Trying to save the world huh…?” that is usually not too friendly…But, my response is, well actually yes, I am. Believe me, it is started to catch on. It is so simple and so easy people will get the hang of it. Right as your checking out, just say to the cashier, “I have my own bag” and where I live, they usually bag (other places you have to do it yourself which makes it easier) so just hand it over. Remember, a plastic bag is a 500 – 1,000 year life span: read about it more here  wholefoods

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Compost!

Now, it seems scary, but I swear it is NOT. I tried this last year, and I was determine to figure it out, in a simple easy way. And it can be done! With only up to 10 dollars for materials, you can reduce your waste that goes into the landfill right in your kitchen.

Why this is good?  When you throw away simple food scraps like veggie shavings or banana peels into a plastic bag that can hold up for hundreds of years, nitrogen is produced along with other toxins which pollutes the land it is sitting in. NOT GOOD! This is one simple way, anyone can reduce their waste and have a better impact on our planet!

Step one: get a big plastic garbage can, about 32 ounces or less 

Step two: poke a bunch of holes in the side of the can with a hammer and nail about 1/4 inch thick, spaced about 10 inches apart all the way around.

Step three: collect your kitchen scraps: fruit peels, veggie shavings, egg shells, tea bags, coffee grinds, but NO meat or fish scraps and NO pet waste. 

Step four: add BROWN (carbon) ingredients: dried leaves, shredded newspaper or cardboard and GREEN (nitrogen) ingredients: kitchen scraps, fresh soil, garden waste…throw it all into the big trash bin

Step five: put the lid on top and roll the bin on it’s side to combine all ingredients or use a shovel to smash it all up

Step six: repeat the layering each time you add your kitchen scraps

Note: if it starts to smell funky, this means you have too much GREEN/nitrogen ingredients, and you need to add more BROWN/carbon ingredients: add shredded newspaper or cardboard to the pile and make sure you mix it up! 

Step seven: keep it moist! don’t drench the mixture, but sprinkle water on it every time you layer

Step eight: Once your compost becomes a soil mixture, usually takes about 2 -4 months, add it to your favorite part of your garden by mixing it with existing soil. Don’t have a garden big enough? Find a near by park or even a plot of land in the city: you will be doing your local community a favor! 

Check out more on compost and guerrilla gardening!

 

My compost!

My compost!

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