Category Archives: Uncategorized

Food as Fuel – Green Smoothies

 

Green Smoothie

“I will not eat them, Sam I am!”**

Have you ever said that you hate green vegetables?  Or, vegetables in general?  My kids have had this challenge.  It’s just a color like red, purple, blue or brown.  Green food has gotten a bad rap over the years.  But, the fact is, we should be eating mostly vegetables in all colors of the rainbow.

The great news is that thanks to the invention of the blender and some incredible creativity on the part of those who thought to put green veggies in with fruit, fruit juices, yogurt and such, you can ingest your veggies with ease and best of all – it tastes delicious!

Enter the green smoothie.  It may not look like something you want to drink and it certainly won’t taste like a chocolate shake, but you can learn to love it!

A green smoothie consists of:

*two to three (or more) types of fruit

*a cup or two of green vegetable (spinach, kale, collard greens and such)

*liquid (water, milk, almond milk, coconut water, etc.)

*optionally, a “boost” (protein powder, almond flour, chia seeds, peanut butter, etc.)

Blend and serve.  Too easy!

My biggest inspirations have come from the following cookbooks:

Deceptively Delicious by, Jessica Seinfeld (the comedian’s wife)

http://www.doitdelicious.com/cookbooks/deceptively_delicious

Nourishing Meals by, Alissa Segersten & Tom Malteerre, MS, CN

http://www.nourishingmeals.com/

Simple Green Smoothies by, Jen Hansard & Jadah Sellner

You can sustain your health easily with one nutrition-packed “perfect food” green smoothie every day.  To make it easier, you can prepare the ingredients in the single serve blender cup or a Mason (or similar) jar.  Just put the ingredients in – all except the liquid and refrigerate (for up to a week).  When you are ready to make your smoothie, pour in the liquid (water, coconut water, almond milk or other dairy-free milk, or milk) and blend.  Too easy!

 

**From Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs & Ham”

Litter, Litter on the Ground…

Litter, Litter on the Ground…how long ’til you are found?

Litter

Paul Lewis…litter louts

Post Halloween candy wrappers are scattered on the ground about this time of year.  On the walk to my daughter’s school, I frequently see plastic sandwich baggies or granola bar wrappers.  (Funny, because I thought we ended littering in the 1980’s).  I usually pick them up, but sometimes it becomes an overwhelming task because there seems to be no end to it.  I have taught my children that they should pick up litter and put it in its proper place (the recycle bin if it’s recyclable, the garbage if it’s not).  But, once I (or they) pick up the litter, it is our responsibility to take care of it.

What does litter have to do with sustainable living?

Well, beyond the pure aesthetics, it can contaminate soil and water.  Especially if it seeps into the water table as well as clog storm drains and cause flooding.

On land, litter can smother plants, start fires and harm or kill animals. It also attracts rats and harmful bacteria.  On roadways, it can cause automobile accidents and injuries.  Like when people throw cans (or their fast-food restaurant waste) out their car window.  When litter (such as plastic straws and six-pack rings) end up in the ocean, it is devastating to marine life. Cigarette butts are terribly toxic.

Clean up efforts cost millions of dollars – so taxpayers are ultimately affected by litter in one form or another.  In a landmark study by Keep America Beautiful found that 85% of littering is attributed to individuals.

For our own part, we can be responsible about our own waste.  And…as you are walking around  – whether it be a parking lot, sidewalk, beach or mountain trail – pick up litter you see and dispose of it properly.  We can carry around biodegradable bags in our pockets or purses or backpacks and collect items in them until we can get it to a proper receptacle.  We’ll feel better for having done something good and the world will be a more beautiful place.

For more information on this topic, see these links:

http://education.seattlepi.com/littering-affect-environment-6802.html

http://www.sustainablebrands.com/news_and_views/behavior_change/case-study-how-we-changed-behavior-littering

Take Action!

Keep America Beautiful has heaps of research about littering, but also ways you can get involved:

https://www.kab.org/resources/end-littering

Food as Fuel

by,

Liz Rutledge

dreamstime_s_37124190

You’re probably thinking this is a blog post about bio-diesel.  Well, it’s not…not this time, at least.  A good friend of mine who is busy and travels for work a lot recently challenged me to take on “Food as Fuel”.  The challenge is to create a meal plan of sorts such that said friend can eat 80% food as fuel and 20% food as a social activity.  Because my friend travels so much, I can only really assist with the home times.

I have always loved food.  My mother tells me that I ate green onions in my high chair.  I have always eaten my veggies without being told to and I have been vegetarian.  I took a nutrition class in college and was a weight loss counselor for a time.  I am passionate about food.

Not everyone loves eating their greens, which is why I think the green smoothie was invented…to mask the taste and texture of spinach, kale, collard greens and other green foods that some people don’t like in their most natural state.

I have started a quest to analyze daily recommended nutrition and come up with solutions that make life easier and maintaining our health more sustainable.  My quest, potentially much to my family’s chagrin, will include making easy “fast food” that fuels us and nourishes us.  I will include investigation in to the “Dirty Dozen” and the “Clean Fifteen” as well as when organic is important in general.

Solutions will include not only green smoothies, but also mason jar salads, mason jar pancake mix and burgers made up of so many foods, they may very well be all you need on your plate.

Suggestions are welcome, so feel free to comment!

SustainableThree.com’s 2016 Challenge

It’s a new year…a new chance to do it better, differently than previous years.

What are you willing to commit to?

Each year, I add a level of resiliency to my lifestyle.

In 2015, I started recycling plastic bags (which you can typically do at your local supermarket – Whole Foods does it best in my opinion).  I also researched solar options for our home.  Watch for a blog post on comparing solar options in the near future.

In 2014, I committed to reduce plastic usage and switched to glass containers for leftovers.

In 2013, we did an energy audit and switched 95% of our light bulbs to LEDs which use very little energy and last 8+ years.  (The remaining 5% are incandescent lightbulbs we are using up so as not to just waste them).  we also converted our showers and toilets to be more water conservative.

In 2012, I started donating items to R.A.F.T. (http://www.raftcolorado.org/)

In 2011, I started a backyard garden.

In 2010, I started a compost bin in my back yard.  We also purchased a hybrid car.

 

In 2006, I started line-drying our family’s clothes.

Since 1996, I’ve recycled every item I can…

You get the idea.  ll these efforts accumulate as new habits and become easier each time.

Here are some other options:

Eat less meat or switch to a plant-based diet

Bike to work or school 1, 2, 3 or more days/week

Take the bus 1, 2, 3 or more days/week.

Switch to solar for your electricity source.

Recycle if you don’t

Reuse more if you don’t

…there’s so much more.

What are you willing to commit to in 2016?

Submit your personal challenge in the Comments section.  Our environment thanks you!

Shopping More Sustainably

Green Shopping Cart
Photo Source: http://algaegeszseg.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/bev-kos%C3%A1r-fa.jpg

Shopping More Sustainably

Have you had enough of the holiday shopping craziness?  There are more sustainable ways to shop for your friends and family.

In America, we just celebrated Thanksgiving.  The day following Thanksgiving is called “Black  Friday” for retailers.  They offer incredible deals (50% off or more in most cases) only on this day to move their bottom line to the black from the red…hoping for a positive cash flow and to end the year in a better financial state.

This involves getting up early, being away from family, and has led to some pretty crazy situations where there are crowds of people all trying to squeeze through the store doorways in search of the limited number of televisions on sale.

See for yourself:

A more sane and eco-friendly way to shop for your loved ones is to take advantage of the many on-line deals rather than be in the mob scene that is Black Friday.  Many offer deals on “Cyber Saturday”.  Great deals can still be found and items shipped and wrapped preventing injury and trauma.

Shopping More Sustainably:

Even better, you can choose gift ideas that align with more sustainable living:

Here are some examples:

EWG.org has gift ideas

https://donate.ewg.org/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=7901&track=2015YEABagHPRot&_ga=1.11783924.1501329349.1448729591

Take Part has a sustainable shopping list:

http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/10/08/sustainable-shopping-list

Mashable has some suggestions here:

http://mashable.com/2013/08/26/eco-friendly-online-shopping/#PNFWohOC6sqi

You could go second-hand…often second hand shops have items that have never been used and still have the tags attached:

The Junior League:

https://www.ajli.org/?nd=shop

Or, you can buy gifts in people’s names with organizations you care about:

Here are some ideas:

Heiffer International:

http://www.heifer.org/gift-catalog/index.html

The Nature Conservancy

http://gifts.nature.org/?ref=site

World Wildlife Fund

http://www.worldwildlife.org/

 

Earth-Healthy Holiday Travel

Earth-Healthy Holiday Travel

up-in-the-clouds

The holidays are upon us…perhaps sooner that we thought they would be.  By Halloween, retailers have holiday decorations up and winter coats line the racks in place of swim suits.

Many of us have to travel to see our loved ones for Thanksgiving and that poses its own set of challenges when trying to live more sustainably.

I just went to Chicago for my sister’s 40th birthday party.  I got a great fare, a ride to the airport from my ever-supportive hubby, smooth sailing through security, picked up on the far end and very little stress.

As I went through this process, I became the observer like a private investigator or secret shopper.  How much fuel was burned on our way to the airport?  How much does the plane use?  Where can I recycle and what items are accepted?  What food will they serve on the plane and in what packaging?  Does the airline recycle?

As part of this experiment, I brought my own silicone-covered glass bottle and sipped the water in it on the way to the airport…thereby hydrating my body for the plane ride.  By the time I got to security, I had finished the water since it had to be empty to go through the security scanners.  I packed very lightly so I didn’t have to check a bag and put the empty bottle in the bottle holder on my backpack before putting it on the conveyor belt on its way to the x-ray machine.

In my small purse, I brought along my empty reusable coffee cup and lid along with a cardboard sleeve.

Although I was relaxed on my way to the gate, I actually was running late for the boarding procedure.  So, on the other side of security, I quickly filled my bottle with filtered water at a bottle filling station next to the restrooms and drinking fountains.  By bringing my own bottle, I not only saved a plastic bottle (which won’t biodegrade for 450) years from hitting the landfill, I also saved anywhere from $2.00 to $5.00.

Once seated comfortably on the plane, I settled in with my book until we were at cruising altitude when the flight attendants came by with drinks.  I asked the flight attendant if I could use my own cup for a cup of coffee and she happily complied.

I feel better having used my own cup and bottle knowing that I saved a plastic water bottle from ending up in the landfill or recycled (which uses energy) and saved about $8.00 not having to buy overpriced water and coffee at the airport.  I will run those cups through the dishwasher which will be run anyway (full and using environmentally-friendly dish-washing detergent).

As for the fuel?  I can off-set that using an on-line carbon footprint calculator like one mentioned in my previous blog, here.

 

 

Fall Clean Out!

fall_treeDe-Cluttering is like raking leaves in Autumn

The weather is starting to get cooler.  It’s a great time to clean out.  But, what to do with all that STUFF?  More and more people are finding that they can live with less and less…stuff.

Most of what we want to get rid of will not bio-degrade any time soon.

The good news is that there are heaps of options for donating, repurposing and recycling your unwanted stuff.

Clothing, Shoes, Textiles and Other Household Items

The Junior League – Not only will The Junior League take high fashion clothing, but will take ANY textiles.  They are repurposed for quilts and more.

Red Apple Recycling / Little Red School House – Fund schools’ sustainability and wellness programs through clothing and shoe donations.  They also will take any clean textiles which are repurposed for cleaning rags and more.

USAgain – Collects unwanted textiles and resells them in the U.S. and abroad, effectively diverting millions of pounds of clothing from landfills, generating new revenue streams for U.S. businesses and non-profits, and fueling local economies in emerging countries.

The Salvation Army – You can schedule a pick up or drop off to any of their nationwide locations.

Goodwill –  Accepts most clothing and household items.  There are a few things they can’t accept – such as items that have been recalled, banned or do not meet current safety standards. In addition, if you’re looking to donate specialty items such as computers, vehicles or mattresses, it’s best to give your local Goodwill agency a call first to find out any rules or restrictions around these items.

Computers, Electronics, Batteries, Paint, Papers and More

Whole Foods provides collection boxes in many stores for cell phones, ink jet cartridges, batteries, lightbulbs (CFLs), corks, toothbrushes and more .  What is accepted varies by location.  You can find your closest store here.

There are also mail-in programs like this one .  It’s a bit pricey, but if you don’t want to drive to drop off your items, it’s an option.

Some areas have programs where items are repurposed for classroom use.  Like R.A.F.T. in Denver, CO.  They accept all sorts of things – like corks, bottle caps/lids, Styrofoam and much more.

Paper Shredding and Electronics Recycling through programs like Clean Sweep (Denver, CO)-  Clean out your home and responsibly dispose of old documents, electronics, and paint.  This is a great way to securely dispose of that computer or cell phone that no longer works.  They do an FBI wipe of the hard drive and responsibly recycle the components.  Papers are shredded securely.  Donations are redirected to the school sponsoring the activity and the sponsors get great exposure.

Children’s Clothes, Shoes, Toys, Strollers, Cribs and More

Just Between Friends (JBF) holds bi-annual sales around the US of good, clean, reusable items at a fraction of retail.  It’s like a giant garage sale with high standards for cleanliness and safety.  All items are inspected prior to acceptance into the sale.  And, no re-called toys are accepted.  Since children spend so little time in any size of clothing or toy, it just makes sense to pass them along.  Want to make a little money in the process of cleaning out? You can become a consignor here.

This is just the beginning.  There is much more to come!

Sustainable Three Blog

Plant---SM

April 30, 2014

I have always had a deep love of nature.  Essentially a Colorado native, I grew up daydreaming in the fields of my elementary school smelling grass and playing with dandelions (turning our skin yellow when they were yellow and making wishes when they were grey and puffy).  My family and I also frequently went to the mountains to our tiny cabin on 3/4 of an acre.  We would hike and collect and smell the fresh air.  We would pick wild raspberries and eat them, right off the cane.  We would use the outhouse which involved walking up rickety steps my dad had nailed right into the side of the hill.  Mostly, I remember having the space to enjoy nature.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to enjoy gardening.  The most exciting presents arrive daily throughout the spring and summer.

Additionally, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to notice trends that make me sad.  When I was younger, in winter, we would witness the “Brown Cloud” over the downtown buildings of Denver.  The air pollution would hover just over the buildings.  Now, that “Brown Cloud” stretches from Colorado Springs to Boulder…and I can SEE it with my own eyes – in my lifetime!  So, we’re talking thirty years.  I see litter.  I see waste.  I see people throwing recyclable and reusable items in the garbage rather than the recycle bins – the city now provides roll-away recycle bins and the recycling is single stream.  I see recycling containers in restaurants and parks and the zoo.  Upon closer investigation, items that are not recyclable are in the recycling and items that are recyclable are in the garbage.  I see that brown cloud.  I see the increase in traffic and water usage.  I see harmful chemicals being sprayed on plants, trees and grasses.

But, I have hope.  Because we used to have to take our recycling to a facility.  We used to have to separate our items.  We used to do a lot more work.  Slowly, it’s getting better and easier.  Perhaps one day, recycling will truly be single stream and we won’t even have to separate garbage from recycling.  Perhaps we will teach ourselves to reuse rather than recycle in the first place.  Perhaps we won’t feel as though we need so much stuff.

I get that it’s a pain to have to do any of it.  It’s so much easier to throw things away.  But, I can tell you, these days, with all the catastrophes happening in the world, it feels GREAT to do SOMETHING to make a difference for the better.  That’s where I come in.  Follow me on my journey to attempt to achieve a more sustainable household.  We live in the city, so we most likely will not have cows grazing in our backyard.  We won’t have enough crops in our garden to feed our entire family for the entire year.  But, we will continue to try to decrease our carbon footprint, increase our handprint and increase our overall resiliency.

The concept behind Sustainable Three is simple:  Choose three habits to change at a time.  Or, do three things once each until they start to form a habit.  Be gentle with yourself.  But, be optimistic.  If nothing else, these three steps should help you “get the ‘should’ off your back.”