Wednesday, December 5, 2007

You Tube Debut!

Check out our You Tube debut!

This video will jump start your family *Living Green*!

Enjoy and share with all of the young families in your life. I'd greatly appreciate any comments on the video, or ideas for future videos.

Thanks green mamas!


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Finding Eco-Quality on the Web

This week I'd like to point you to some excellent sites out there for finding all sorts of quality, environmentally-friendly products and services. These websites hand-select vendors, or rely on the input of others who have used them, to find products or services that are truly green. These sites look past green marketing to find products and services that save energy, are less toxic, save water, and are high quality.

Take some time to look them over... you may just find a few ideas for your holiday gift lists!

Low Impact Living
The Green Guide
Great Green Goods (a shopping blog)
Great Green Baby (a shopping blog for baby stuff)

Happy holiday shopping green mamas!


Monday, November 12, 2007

Killer Toys!

Well, the holidays are fast-approaching, and I have begun to think about where to find gifts that are fun, kid-friendly, imagination enhancing and most of all... SAFE! It seems like we can't turn on the TV these days without hearing about another toy recall: lead, poison, drugs, you name it! This season, let's work together to support small companies that are both eco-friendly and kid-friendly. Here are some of my favorite sources. Let me hear from you about yours!

I really like this source for all sorts of gift-giving (and getting! :))
The owner also produces an excellent podcast, called More Hip Than Hippie which is broadcast weekly. Learn more about it at their website! And, tell them I sent you!

Magic Cabin
This is a great new source for me that I saw on Martha Stewart's show last week. There are some excellent choices and ideas here!

Taraluna is another source for many types of gifts. The owner is on the greenbusiness listserve that I follow. Her store provides great customer service! If you visit them, tell them I sent you!

Tree City Diapers
This store is local to us here in Ann Arbor. It has a wonderful selection of all things for your little ones, plus slings, cloth diapers, nursing stuff, etc.
They also always provide great customer service! One of my favorite baby gifts is the kleen kanteen sippy cup... you'll find it here!

Other sources that look interesting, but that I have not tried personally...



Bella Luna Toys

Fat Brain Toys


Pristine Planet

Enjoy shopping with these eco-friendly and kid-safe retailers!

Have a great day!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Want to Buy a Green House?

Isn't this just the most adorable stucco and limestone home. Inside you will find a chic limestone fireplace, a gourmet kitchen, four spacious bedrooms, four designer bathrooms, plus a bonus room with a tree-top balcony. It's in a lovely neighborhood in the western hills of Austin with a distant view of the Lake Travis dam. Move into this home and your children will walk to exemplary schools and you'll end each evening with a glass of wine on your upper balcony listening to the sounds of laughter echoing in the canyon. Just beyond your backyard is a greenbelt filled with trails for biking, running or nature walks.

Oh, and did I mention that in the bones of this home are some rock star "green" features!

The most important "green" features in this home will keep you cool in hot Texas summers without breaking the bank as the costs of energy continue to skyrocket! In fact, this home can produce much of the energy that it needs with free, clean energy from the sun! It also sparkles with a high tech radiant barrier and extra-high ceilings to keep it cool even without AC! And, for those days and nights when AC is a must... this house can cool only the rooms that you're in with 3 separate zones.

Beyond the cool factor... this home also has high efficiency lighting and appliances. The coolest thing about the most modern green homes like this one, is that your lifestyle is actually improved by living in them. With this home, you'll be saving the planet, saving money, and you won't be sacrificing a thing.

On the surface, this home looks like the modern, hip, high fashion home that it is... only you will know all of its hidden, high tech, planet-saving features. Well, that is until you start bragging about them to all of your neighbors, then they will be racing to keep up with you.

Come on Clark Kent... this Superman home is waiting for you!

Now that you just can't wait to live in this fabulous green Austin home... check out the listing and give my realtor, Maryann Pyle, a call (512-422-6207) she'd love to show you around. By the way, she's working on her EcoBroker certification, and is a great resource for green homes all over Austin!

Take care green mamas,


Friday, October 5, 2007

How to be an Armchair Activist (aka SuperMom!)

Today, I'd like to take the opportunity to talk to all of you about becoming a more active citizen. Here's the problem. Global Warming is here, and we must deal with it, mitigate it, and adapt to it. But, we can't do it alone. Each of us must take the small and large daily steps to minimize our own contribution. We have talked about a lot of these steps here, and we'll continue to do that each week. But, it must be said that individual action will not stop global warming.

Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced. As much as I'd like to think that everyone is just going to jump in and do their part, we don't have enough time to even educate everyone about this problem, never mind teach them how to respond. So, greenhouse gas emissions reductions must be MANDITORY. At the end of the day, emitting greenhouse gases must become expensive if all people and businesses are going to stop doing so. This has to happen in each city, state, and nation. Right now the US and China are neck and neck as global leaders of polluting emissions, and those of us in the US are far higher emitters per capita. To begin to attack this problem, all of us must support policies that will bring us closer to mandatory reductions. And, as the Artic ice (aka "the canary in the coal mine") is telling us loudly and clearly this week, these emissions reductions must begin now.

Here's how to help shape policy right now:

1. Know your legislators. Go to my website and click on the "Congress and State" link. Find out who your legislators are and call them or read their websites to find out what their positions are on climate change issues. Get to know them, call them, attend their events. No matter which party they belong to, they are just people, and will often listen to the squeakiest wheels, and those who financially support their campaigns.

2. Be supportive of good policies, and actively fight poor ones. From everything that I have learned about climate change policy, there are a few good ones that stand out:
Mandatory Caps on Greenhouse Gas Emissions: This idea can allow nations and the global business community to use innovation to lower their emissions to the mandatory level. If they can innovate beyond the mandatory level, they can sell "carbon credits" on the open market to those companies that cannot reach their mandatory limit, who will be forced to buy credits. Cap and Trade programs work best if the caps are mandatory, economy-wide, strong and scientifically based, steadily lowered over time, and if the initial credits are auctioned off rather than simply given away to the most polluting firms by the government. Look for those key factors when expression support or opposition to "Cap and Trade" policies
Higher Fuel Economy Standards: Not only must we express our opinions to Congress and other legislators, but we must speak directly to leaders of companies, especially those that are large and global. Large, global companies have the financial power to lobby legislators to write laws that will make it easier for them to do business. For example, all of the major automakers, including Toyota (maker of the Prius), are actively lobbying Congress right now to weaken the fuel economy standards in the coming energy bill. They claim that meeting the proposed standards will be impossible from an engineering perspective. However, that is simply not true since the standard in question, 35mpg for cars and trucks, is already in place in Europe and Japan, and will be achieved in China in 2009. (See graph on page 9 of this report.) The main problem is that Americans prefer larger cars, so it becomes an economic issue for those companies who want to make those large cars that we prefer to drive. Well, as citizens, we can choose smaller cars, or companies can be forced to innovate in order to create larger cars that still meet the standards using plug-in hybrid technology and other new technologies. When we make these standards mandatory we encourage and reward important innovations that will otherwise not be rewarded by the current market in which environmental issues are primarily seen as externalities.
A Tax or Fee on Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Most economists agree that this is the fastest, most effective, and simplest way to move us into a post-fossil fuel economy. Right now it seems to be politically unpopular. But, that is quickly changing. Jump on the bandwagon for a Carbon Tax, and we'll very quickly reward innovation and tax behaviors that will lead to the destruction of our children's futures. For more about the economics of the Carbon Tax, visit this website. And, don't worry, it's not going to "wreck the economy." The more quickly we learn that lowering greenhouse gas emissions does not have to destroy our economic prosperity, the more quickly we will push to save our habitat.

3. Sign up for Automatic Alerts. It's tough enough to remember when one kid has soccer practice and the other has a doctor's appointment, never mind keeping up with your local, state and national legislative sessions. Let the hard core activists do the work for you, and just throw your voice in the fray at times that are most important to getting things done. Go to my website, and click on the links under "Action Non-Profit Groups." Sign up with these groups, and they will send action alerts right to your email box when important legislation in your area needs a push from you. Also, look for local and regional groups that are working to keep the air and water clean, the parks green, and the children healthy in your neighborhood.

It's that simple. Three steps to save the world for your kids! Don't you feel like SuperMom today!

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Power Vampires

See Smart Home USA

Does it really matter if I unplug my cellphone charger, coffee maker, computer, TV, etc. when they're not on?


Power (or energy) vampires are one of my biggest eco-pet peeves! If all of us would just remember (or set up systems to remember for us) to turn things all the way off when they are not in use, we would save a lot of power! And, a lot of money!!! I once calculated that by turning off just my TV, DVD, cable box and stereo and then shutting the power strip that they are all plugged into off (so, all of them are truly OFF and not on standby), I could save about $2000 to send with my daughter when she heads off to college... and, it would have NO EFFECT on my lifestyle.

So, do it today! Eliminate the vampires in your life! :)

Check out these links for more detailed info on energy vampires...

Grinning Planet

Have a great week!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lazy Composting

Hi Everyone! This week we're talking compost. I get questions all of the time about composting. Is it worth it? Is it difficult? Is it messy? My answer is always that it is so easy! And, you will dramatically reduce the amount of trash you send to the landfill (reducing your personal carbon footprint), since Americans throw away 12%-25% of the food we purchase to eat.

The Guide to Lazy Composting...

First of all, we bought a plastic bin with a carbon filter to keep on the kitchen counter. That way for a few days at a time, I can just collect the kitchen scaps as I'm cooking. All kitchen scraps except for meat, dairy, eggs or oil can go into the compost. Vegetable and fruit scaps, peels, rinds, coffee grounds, filters, tea bags, etc. can all be composted. Rachel Ray keeps a "garbage bowl" on her counter when cooking. I do the same thing, it's just a "compost bowl" at our house. To buy one go to this website.

Then, we keep a large trash can with a lid out in the back yard. Every few days, dump the kitchen scraps into the outdoor trash can. Basically compost is just rotten organic material, that becomes a great soil additive for a strong organic garden. Without going into too much detail, you want a balance of carbon, nitrogen, moisture and oxygen. So, practically speaking, you want an approximate balance of "brown" (shredded newspapers, toilet paper rolls, leaves) and "green" material (kitchen scraps, grass clippings.) If you begin your compost in the fall, start with a nice base of leaves from your yard, then just add the kitchen scraps all winter until the compost is ready for your spring garden. When you start again in the spring, add layers of toilet paper rolls or shredded newspaper from time to time to keep your kitchen scraps from getting too moist.

And, that's it!

For another perspective on "lazy composting," check out today's tip from The Green Life.

More Composting Resources:
Compost Guide
EPA's Guide to Composting
TerraCycle (organic fertilizer made and packaged entirely from waste!!!)

Happy Composting!
Hit the farmer's market this fall as often as you can! Winter's coming!

Keep up the great questions. And, check the main website weekly for new links.
Take care ecomamas!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Reader Question: A Greener Way to Pick Up Dog Poop

Good Morning Everyone! This week's question is from Heidi in Ann Arbor. She's begun to compost more and more of her family's waste for her garden. Now she would like to start composting the dog poop that she picks up on her daily walks with her 2 dogs and her toddler. My first thought was to use a child's sand bucket and just "scoop the poop" into it and then dump it in the compost when she returns home. But, when you're trying corral 2 dogs and a stroller, it's tricky to add a sand bucket and a scooper to the mix. So, I came across this excellent post from The Green Life: a pet lover's perspective on living healthy and green. This post is full of resources for biodegradable dog poop bags that can be easily composted along with the dog poop.

Check it out here!

And, as a follow up to last week's post, a reader recommended Trader Joe's liquid laundry detergent. It is concentrated, so the small jug contains many cleaning loads, just be sure not to use too much with each load. It is eco-friendly and at minimum it removes stains as well as regular detergents. Try it!

Have a great week!
Keep sending me your ecomama questions...

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reader Question: Greening your Laundry Detergent

Our first question comes from Amy in Ann Arbor, MI. She wants to know what laundry detergent to use that is both eco-friendly and can be used with a newborn in her growing family.

First of all, the #1 thing to do to "green" your washing machine is to wash everything in COLD. Most of the energy that is used for washing clothes comes from heating the water, and the vast majority of our homes are supplied by electricity from coal or natural gas-fired power plants which are the most significant source of pollution in our homes.

Here is what else I dug up on eco-friendly laundry...
1. What to avoid to protect the water supply, air quality and human health: petroleum-based chemicals, optical brightners, dyes or artificial fragrances.
2. Instead, look for brands that are biodegradable, non-toxic, vegetable-based cleansers, dye-free, and either fragrance free or fragranced using natural essential oils.

At our house, I use the Whole Foods 365 brand laundry powder, mainly because of its low cost. Admittedly, it doesn't remove all of the tough preschool stains we have around here. But, it won't irritate our skin or eyes, has no chemicals in it that may cause cancer, and won't pollute the environment. None of our old brands cleaned everything perfectly either.

For a home with a new baby, I would recommend using Seventh Generation's Baby Laundry Detergent or their Free and Clear version. Both are similar and are free of dyes and fragrances which can irritate a baby's skin. Just because these detergents are gentle it doesn't mean that they are not effective enough for cleaning all of your family's clothes. There are other "free and clear" laundry detergent brands on the market. But, I cannot confirm that they are not made with petroleum based chemicals. So, though they won't irritate your family's skin, they will pollute our air and water.

Other recommended brands are: Ecover, Sun & Earth, and Natural Choices Home Safe Products.

Also, exchange chlorine bleach (a known carcinogen) for oxygen bleaches, and add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your laundry's rinse cycle instead of using fabric softener.

For more resources on greening your laundry detergent check out these resources:
1. Green Clean: The Environmentally Sound Guide to Cleaning Your Home by Linda Mason Hunter and Mikki Halpin
2. Clean House, Clean Planet: Clean Your House for Pennies a Day The Safe, Non-Toxic Way by Karen Logan
3. Co-op America (details a very inexpensive way to use castille soap to clean your laundry.)
4. The Green Guide (includes user feedback on some eco-friendly laundry detergent brands)
5. The Green Guide (more DIY recipes)

Thanks for the question, Amy!
Look for more info on high efficiency washing machines and how to save energy when drying in a future post.
Keep the questions coming to

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Welcome to Moms Living Green!

Today I am launching my new website:! The website, and associated blog, educational resource and consulting company has grown out of 2 years worth of exhaustive (though by no means all-inclusive) research on climate change (global warming.) At this point, I think I have come to a pretty full understanding of what we will be facing as mothers to young children who will be growing up in an era of climate change. Along the way, I have discovered some unexpected connections between our lives and our environment, lots of mis-information, lots of excellent information, and lots of fun resources, products and forward thinking entrepreneurs and policy-makers. I'm looking forward to your questions, ideas and perspectives, as we raise the next generation... here's to the Green Generation!