Earth Day Everyday

It’s April already and would be a completely wonderful month if it weren’t for April 15th (for my American readers, anyway)!

I’ve planted the veggie garden up at my neighbors, the flowers and trees are beginning to bloom here in the Ozark Mountains (as are my allergies), but it’s all good, I love this time of year.

April is also the month of Earth Day, which falls on April 22nd this year. This designated day to bring awareness to the environmental issues we all face is 40 years old this year. There will be lots going on, some of which are listed at the Earth Day website.

In celebration here on Living Large, I’ll be doing a few more posts on the environment and also doing giveaways each week!

Since we’re at the beginning of the month, I thought I would sit down and make a list of 5 changes I can make to help the environment, while removing more toxins from our daily lives.

  • One of the biggest changes I’m going to embark on this month is going to all natural hygiene and personal care products. I already use Bare Escentuals makeup, which is great. I can even sleep in it and my skin’s problems do better when I’m wearing it. One of the most challenging might be changing our toothpaste. I have a problem with tooth sensitivity and I’m not sure how an all-natural toothpaste will work, but I’m going to give it a try. I’m also changing our soap and lotions.  This is an easy one for me. I love Indigo Wild products. Besides being a homegrown, Kansas City based company, they love dogs. All of the workers in their offices and plant are free to bring their canine kids to work, making for happy dogs and employees. Their all-natural shay butter products are wonderful. I haven’t decided on deodorant as of yet. My friend over at Frugal Kiwi has an easy-looking recipe for homemade deodorant, so I may try that.
  • After our terrible ice storm last year, we got into the habit of turning off the power strip that plugs in our television and DVD set-up. We also got into the habit of turning off the electric hot water heater when it wasn’t in use. I don’t know exactly when we got back out of that habit, but given we need to save every dollar we can and I hate wasting electricity, we’re back on that wagon.
  • Do more to track down organic meat here. While I would happily go vegetarian, my husband can’t get over the idea of never eating meat. In the city, our choice was simple and easy. Good Natured Family Farms, a co-op of all natural farmers, banned together to sell to one of the family-owned grocers and we had a store that sold their products 10 minutes from our home. When I asked a meat market butcher here about free-range, all natural or organic meat here, he told me he only had meat that was processed “the regular way.” After watching the documentary, Food, Inc., I’ll take it processed the good old fashioned all natural way, thank you.
  • I’m packing away all of our Teflon non-stick cookware and digging out my husband’s collection of cast iron cookware. There’s no reason we have to use these pieces only for hobby cooking outside. After going to a friend’s house for dinner and watching her cook with ease on her set and feeling as if we got a better meal, I’m making the switch!
  • This will be the month I will start reading up on canning and freezing the bounty of veggies we’re sure to get out of the neighbors garden this summer. This will not only make me feel better about where our food is originating, but will also save us on our grocery bill throughout the rest of the year.

Ok, readers, your turn. Tell us all at least one thing you intend to change this month that will help you and help the earth. You can think of just one thing, even if it is to just watch an environmental documentary such as Food, Inc. Make a comment on this post between now and 5 a.m. CST on Monday, April 5 when the new post is up and I will draw one winner for a copy of the book, “The Green Year: 365 small things you can do to make a big difference,” to be shipped to you. I’ve talked about this book before. It is my go-to resource when I want to find new small baby steps I can take to help the environment. My friend and colleague Jodi Helmer did a fabulous job on this book! NOTE: You have to watch for the drawing winner announcement on Monday and if you’ve won, contact me by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 6 with your mailing address. Otherwise, I will have to draw another winner!

Have a great weekend and to my Christian friends and readers, Happy Easter!

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36 Responses

  1. Good article. Looking forward to more.

  2. MarthaandMe says:

    I will be interested to hear how your use of the cast iron cookware goes. Same thing with the toothpaste since I have sensitivity problems too.

    I would like to research ways to keep weeds out of our gardens without chemicals.

  3. Not just because of Earth Day, but as part of an over all lifestyle change, this month I’m attempting to reduce my trash to as close to zero as possible. Step one was learning to always have a reusable bag with me (regardless of where I was headed). Step two is becoming conscious of the things I bring into my home that end up in the garbage or the recycle bin. So much of what I bring home from the grocery is packaging! I’ve started a list of packaged things that I can’t seem to do without, and I’m seriously looking for other alternatives.

  4. Well, I started seeds under grow lights in my dining room for the vegetable garden. I’m composting, amazed at how much I avoid throwing away by doing this, make my own toothpaste using baking soda, hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil and peppermint oil. Planning on air drying a lot of our laundry as soon as the weather warms up, and we just purchased chickens for the eggs we will get. I saw FoodInc, also!

  5. Keri says:

    Lots of changes here (for the year, actually) but this month we will be getting chickens! That way we can get organic, free-range eggs right in our backyard! Hopefully the chickens will eat the pesky bugs out of our garden! Win-win situation if you ask me. =)

  6. Frugal Kiwi says:

    Thanks for the mention Kerri. I’ve also got recipes for DIY toothpaste, liquid laundry detergent and castile soap as well over on my site. My next project is DIY washing up liquid for dishes. I’ve got a recipe for dishwasher powder on the site that people love, but no dishwasher myself anymore.

  7. Kim says:

    I’m going to start making homemade soap this month too. I have all the ingredients, bought a book, and am just waiting for a period of kidless free time– I’m afraid to handle lye with toddlers underfoot!

    I’m also pursuing getting our backyard fenced– not the most “green” activity in and of itself, but once fenced, our gardening abilities will be multiplied considerably. (Toddlers and unfenced yards don’t mix well with mom being absorbed in her gardening duties.)

  8. S.A.B.L.E. says:

    Kerri, Thanks for sharing your ideas for changes you are plannning. It’s a reminder that if we all do lots of little things, it all adds up to make a difference. It helps keep me inspired to do what I can and to try to do more on a regular basis.

    I do alot of recycling, have a compost pile, raise chickens for eggs, raise Angora rabbits, Angora goats and a few sheep for fiber to spin my own yarn to make lots of things to keep me warm in the winter. I have several varities of cotton seeds started.

    For Earth Day I will doing a spinning (as in fiber) demo. For April I want to learn make my own soap. Homemade soaps are so much nicer to the skin.

    • S.A.B.L.E., OMG, you’re doing so much! Raising your own wool, growing cotton and spinning yarn, WOW!
      If the homemade soap doesn’t work out (it seems like an awfully big project for me but probably not to you), check out Indigo Wild. Very close to homemade!

  9. Phillis Godwin says:

    We have a new meat store in downtown Shawnee where the meat is only grown on a ranch out in Kansas. We tried it and it was wonderful. It’s more expensive,but it taste so much better. love

    • That’s great, Phillis. It’s also really nice to support small, local farms. If that doesn’t work out for you, Hen House has Good Natured Family Farm products (meat, eggs, glass bottled milk), poultry, veggies in season, all of which are grown and harvested on small family farms in KS and MO. All are not certified organic, but to be in the co-op, they must be all natural, grass fed and free range. It does make a big difference.

  10. Kathleen Winn says:

    Wow Kerri- I’m impressed with your list! My husband and I both serve as officers in an organization dedicated to the preservation of Missouri’s native plant species. As part of our “duties,” we’ll be taking part in several Earth Day events, passing out info, answering questions and encouraging people to use native plants in their spring landscaping- they are hardier, more drought resistant, as well as being much less susceptible to disease and pests (as well as being beautiful and beneficial to bees and butterflies.)

    One of my own personal goals is to cut down on the use of paper as much as possible. I admit to being a paper towel junkie- it’s so easy to grab one, wipe up a mess and throw it in the trash- but I know how bad it is for the environment to do that. I also want to eliminate paper napkins from our cupboards. It shouldn’t be a big deal to wash a few napkins each week, instead of grabbing paper ones that end up in a landfill. I’m also trying to be much more diligent about items that can be recycled. It’s amazing to me how many more products are now recyclable, and I think I’m throwing away some that could be recycled, so am being more careful to look at each plastic or paper or glass item and check for the recycling symbol, before throwing it in the trash.

  11. Sandy says:

    Hey Kerri!

    I just switched toothpaste to TOM’s of maine. It has worked wonders on my sensitive teeth. They are definitely a green company and they list the ingredients in their products and also where to recycle their products. They also sell soap, deodorant, etc. Just google and check them out.

    The one thing I want to do this month is start finding people to give my chicken eggs to.(They have started back laying with the warmer weather). Because we have a surplus I often end up tossing them out, which is so wasteful. I am surprised that so many of my neigbors have an aversion to eating farm eggs. They’ll buy store bought ones.. go figure.

    I have recently found 2 people I work with who are going to try them. So hopefully starting this month I’ll have someone to give them to and maybe through word of mouth I’ll get a few more interested in trying them out!

    • Thanks for the referral for the toothpaste, Sandy, I will check them out. I will also see if my local health food store carries the brand!
      I know what you mean about the eggs, my husband was a little creeped out when I started buying eggs from a neighbor (?) Anyway, he said, “I don’t know what’s in them,” and then we watched Food, Inc., and he said, “Well, I guess we don’t really know what’s in anything! He thought the neighbors eggs tasted better!
      If you can’t sell your eggs, I’m wondering if a local food pantry, women’s shelter, or homeless shelter would take them?

      • Sandy says:

        I was just going to give them away and not charge anything for them. I just today heard of family of 6 nearby who could probably use the extra’s(one of the parents has been unemployed for months now) So I’m going to check with them tomorrow, much rather have them go to a family who could use some help with their food bill. But if that doesn’t work out, the food pantry is a great idea!

    • Mary Brown says:

      On the Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, my local grocery store Shop Rite carries it and charges about hale that of the health food store. If yours doesn’t have it you can ask the manager if he would order it for you.

  12. *growing more of our own food
    *cutting out most processed foods
    *replacing some of our plastic containers with glass
    *with any luck by the end of the month our city will be allowing us to keep a few chickens
    *watching less tv to conserve electricity
    *focus on the REDUCE part of “reduce, reuse, recycle” by not buying much and helping to ease the burden of over-consumption

    Those are just a few

    • Sandy says:

      Hey Jenna,

      I hope your city will allow you to have a few chickens, not only will you get free eggs they are wonderful for eating food scraps. Plus chicken manure for fertilizing. It’s a win/win situation. I have a very small coop with 5 hens and 1 rooster. My 5 hens produce more eggs than we can eat during the summer. Good luck!

    • Excellent list, Jenna. I also want to start replacing some of our plastics with glass.

  13. Alexandra says:

    Great post, Kerri. I try to celebrate Earth Day every day of the year so am not planning on changing one specific thing. Perhaps I will send a greeting card to Lisa Jackson, EPA administrator under Obama, to thank her for all she is doing for the environment? We are so lucky to have this woman, who intends to take on the chemical companies. BPA CHANGE SOON was the first indicator that she means business. Just a month or two ago the American Chemical Council was on a radio show with the authors of Slow Death by Rubber Ducky, and the ACC spokesman was declaring how safe BPA is. We get it now. They lie. We need to stand strong and oppose these corporations. In the midwest, communities are suing the chemical company that makes the weed-killer that polluted local water. We need to be stewards of our land, not just on Earth Day, but every day.

    Citizens here on Cape Cod are trying to unite since our utility company intends to spray five herbicides under our power lines, toxic chemicals which will filter down through sandy soil into our water supply. They used to mow. Must be more expensive. Our Congressman just wrote a letter to Ms. Jackson, pointing out that regs for the whole nation need to be specific to a place, sometimes.

    I like Mary’s suggestion above, of only buying Made in the USA goods. For now, it is hard, but that should be our goal across America. I am horrified by how all you can buy is from China.

    I believe blogs like yours and mine make a difference, too, Kerri. Here on Cape Cod, we have discovered the main newspaper has a tendency to side with the utility company and so cannot be counted on to report accurate information. I think blogs serve a real purpose in raising awareness on issues that are not usually covered by mainstream media, like green issues, and especially environment …. A whole lot of green-washing going on out there. We need to ask ourselves, is this company REALLY green? Like, our utility, for instance. They say they are but will not budge on this issue of using herbicides.

    • kerri says:

      I agree, Alexandra. So many media outlets are working with such a small staff, I think a lot of it is just lack of full reporting. Hopefully, our sites do help make a difference.

  14. Paula Chelesnik says:

    We recycle everything. When they quit taking glass at the curb we took it out the recycling place. Thank goodness for the new Ripple glass recycling bins that are popping up everywhere. Now we can take it on our way to other places instead of letting it build up in the garage until we were going that way, since it wasn’t very close to home. The new glass dropoff is less than a mile from home.We also compost. A neighbor has shown interest in starting a compost pile and I’m trying to encourage her to do so. It’s really so easy. I always cringe when I see 10 or 20 bags of yard waste out by the road. Cleaned the leaves out of my flower beds yesterday and ran the mower over them to mulch them and barely had any left to put in the compost bin. Hate to see any of those beneficial nutrients go to the landfill. When I put the trash out this morning to be picked up it was a tiny little bag the size you get your groceries in. To bad we can’t get a discount for not having much trash.

    • kerri says:

      Wow, Paula. It sounds like you already to so much! I’m glad that Kansas City has a new glass recycle place. When we moved, all of the recyclers I knew were refusing glass.

    • Mary Brown says:

      Hi Paula,

      My town collects leaves several times a year and also put in a dumpster at the town garage for grass clipping and branches. After they have compost they use it at the parks or residents can have it if they pick it up. They collect christmas trees and chip them for residents to take as mulch and they either use the rest themselves or composted.

      Maybe you could get your town on board with something like this. Our changes came about when the mayor started having a monthly coffee hour with the residents to hear any ideas or comments good or bad.
      Mary

  15. kerri says:

    Great, Mary! I do “sneak” in at least a couple of meatless meals each week. I went to the Taste of Home Cooking School last weekend and they had some really nice looking veggie meals. Buying what’s in season is also a goal of mine.

  16. Mary Brown says:

    This month my goal is to only buy items grown or made in the United Stated. This will mean buying some frozen vegetables instead of fresh for a couple of months but I want to get to the point where I’m eating what’s in season or what I’ve stored. I’m also going to try the deodor­ant you mentioned. The other thing is I started yesterday is reducing the amount of meat that I eat at a meal and then I want to reduce how often I eat meat.

    Mary