Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Greener Oral Care

This post was suggested by a commenter last week. Retro Housewife is here to please.
If you have post suggestions let me know. :)

It's amazing the amount of waste and toxins that can go into caring for our teeth. There are tooth brushes, mouthwash, toothpaste, and dental floss. There are more natural options though, that help us reduce our carbon footprint and are healthier for us.

While there are many natural toothpastes out there at are free of things like SLS, fluoride, artificial sweeteners, and dyes, there is one thing most of those still have that maybe bad for our teeth, glycerin. Glycerin is thought to coat your teeth and make it where they can't remineralize.



One great natural option is tooth soap. Tooth soap is just a soap made for teeth, it takes a bit of getting used to. However, they are in flavors that taste pretty good and some people like the way it foams. It does leave your teeth feeling nice a clean. A popular option for natural tooth soap is Rose of Sharon Acres, it comes in several flavors. If you just can't make yourself use the soap you can also get glycerin free toothpaste from Miessence. Or there are tooth powders which are very similar to tooth soap. Both are also great options.

For mouthwash you also want something glycerin free. This is also hard to find even in natural mouthwashes. One great option is the certified organic mouthwash from Miessence. It's highly concentrated so there is less waste and it lasts a long time.



Tooth brushes can mean a lot of plastic waste. This is a big subject all on its own so for more check out this post on My Plastic-Free Life about tooth brush options. For dental floss check out Eco-Dent or Tom's of Maine.

With a few simple changes your oral care can be better for you and the planet. Do you use any of these oral care options? Are there other green oral care products you like?


Photo credits:
Tooth Soap- Rose of Sharon Acres
Mouthwash- Ely Organics


I'm not a dentist so as with all medical things, do your own research and talk to your dentist if you have questions. This is just what I have found works for me.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Resolutions as Seedlings...they take a while to grow.

A Suburban Greenmom ponders change, growth, and self-improvement…

This month’s Green Mom’s Carnival topic is “half-year resolutions.”
I think it’s brilliant.
January is such a dreary month, and after all the holiday craziness all I really want to do is collapse not decide to make huge life changes. But spring? Springtime just begs for new life, new plans, new changes. In springtime, you can do anything.
Okay, the reality is that the springtime resolutions tend to go about as well and as quickly as the winter ones…but somehow the ones I make in springtime are the ones that tend to stick. They hang on, they don’t go away. Maybe it’s because I associate spring with gardening, and gardening isn’t about making giant changes and suddenly having everything be Finished And Done. Spring is about working your butt off and then having to wait and wait and work more and wait and tend and wait and then eventually you might have a harvest. If the bunnies stay the hell out of your kohlrabi.
Last spring was when I resolved that I wanted to go back to school, for real. Not to chip away slowly at another degree, but to make it my primary business to get my doctorate, and then hopefully find a position on a university music faculty somewhere. In springtime you really can’t do jack about getting into a school, just research and thinking and plotting and making connections and such. Nevertheless, in exactly one month I will be leaving my current job to begin full time doctoral study at a very fine university. I haven’t even started actually doing the thing my resolution was about, and it will take me another 3-4 years to even get the degree, but it’s real! I’m really going to do this. And it started last spring.
I think it was also last spring or so, late in the spring, actually, when we realized our half-butt attempts at gardening were not going to cut it, and we didn’t want another squishy swampy clay-dirt rotten-harvest spring in the backyard of the home we moved into almost 3 years ago. By the time we made the resolutionthe veggie plants were already in, so we figured we should just wait the season out and then start doing it right come autumn. We planned. We plotted. There would be a beautiful garden with herbs and flowers and enough fruits and veggies to cut our grocery bills dramatically, enough that I could can tomatoes for winter and make salsa and freeze pesto and make our own elderberry cough syrups…eventually.
So in fall we raked three yards worth of leaves, and the neighbors’ kids (who donated many of the leaves) came and their kids and mine jumped in the hugest leaf pile I’ve ever seen for about an hour. It was awesome.













See in the back left corner, our sort of overgrown raised bed? That was the veggie garden before. A testament to how bad I am at weed management.
The other corner had a smaller bed, in which I’d put my mint, lemon balm, and two unfortunate lavender plants. I misunderestimated the aggression of the two mints, and the lavenders were utterly swamped and overgrown. Only one has survived.

(And gotta love this action shot, huh?)














Our goal was to landscape the entire back of our yard, and to put in a shed for storage and my husband’s woodworking stuff. So we mapped and trenched it out, covered the grass with cardboard and laid in a border…covered everything with manure, leaves, 11 cubic yards of topsoil, and 4 cubic yards of wood chip mulch……had the shed built…edged and planted and re-protected from the hungry bunnies (chicken wire rocks).

And this is now our yard:

(Now do you see why I've been so obsessed with gardening this season?)
Obviously, it’s got a long way to go. I just found out that my plug packs of perennial herbs and groundcovers are on backorder, and I’m trying to figure out when I’ll get them. And the new plants and berry bushes will take ages to really establish, and the apple tree will be kind of diminutive for quite a while. It’ll be a good 3-4 years—probably about the same time I’ll be getting ready to graduate with my doctorate—before it really even vaguely starts to resemble the garden I’m dreaming of, the one we resolved last spring.
But it’s a start.
The important resolutions don’t come on command. They sleep underground, they sprout in the darkness and push their way into the light. And once there, we can ignore them if we choose. Or we can feed them and nurture them until they bear fruit.
Happy Spring, everyone!
--Jenn the Greenmom
This is the Green Phone Booth's contribution to the Green Moms Carnival to be hosted at Organic Mania on June 22nd.  Make sure you pop in to find out what the green women of the blogosphere resolve mid-year.

Phone Booth Flashback

Welcome to the Phone Booth Flashback, where we take a trip down memory lane so you can catch up on posts from the Booth's past.

Last Year
  • Garbage for Your Garden: EnviRambo shows how to use the lasagna method to clear a spot and make soil for your garden.
Two Years Ago
  • Green Art: Jess of Sweet Eventide searches for greener art supplies.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

A reason

Going Green Mama is back from her 20-hour camping trip with the kids.

Hi all,

First I want to apologize for phoning in my post for this week. I simply ran out of time as I prepped for our first camping trip with the kids. What an experience. We're home less than a day later.

But despite the craziness, and my desire to crack open a bottle of wine the minute I hit the door, maybe there was method to their madness. Because as I'm sitting here, a round of thunderstorms is popping up around here. And I can't imagine consoling my 3 and 5 year old in a unfamiliar wooded camp in a tent in a thunderstorm.

So maybe there's a reason for things after all...

Wishing you a wonderful Memorial Day weekend. See you all when you catch up!

Robbie @ Going Green Mama

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Do you have what it takes to build a green movement?

For years I've believed that the best way to share the green life was in living by example. Do green things and let friends, family and co-workers watch, hoping they'd catch on and join the game. At times this has met with moderate success, but mostly I've just been known as the resident tree-hugger, preaching to the choir and otherwise letting folks mind their own business. 

Thanks to some leadership training that I am benefiting from as part of my masters program, I've been learning more about what it takes to be an effective leader. Integrity, self-expression, self-awareness, humility and a knack for strategy are all winning characteristics, but a willingness to take risks is key. Last night we watched an amusing video short on creating a movement and now it all seems so simple.


Key Points for leaders: Be willing to take a risk, nurture your followers, be easy to follow, and embrace your followers as equals.
Key Point for everyone else:  Leadership is over glorified...it is the first follower that transforms the first nut into a leader. The best way to make a movement is to courageously follow!

So, if you've got a knack for leadership do something different and noticeable, but be easy to follow and supportive of your first few followers.  If you are a follower, look for those in your community who are taking the lead and joyfully follow! Together, we can build a movement!


Readers I'd love to hear from you: What do you do to be a leader in the green movement? And or could you be a better follower? How can we better support current green leaders?






The Trouble with Neighbors

I have a friend who is going through a rough time with a neighbor who objects to my friend’s backyard pets, including chickens and pygmy goats. In short, my friend lives in a lovely community that supports urban homesteading. Most of her neighbors love visiting the goats, appreciate gifts of fresh eggs and even talked her into keeping roosters because they enjoyed the crowing.

However, one neighbor, whose yard adjoins my friend’s yard, was not happy. Instead of talking directly with my friend, the neighbor went to the city with complaints. My friend immediately gave up the roosters but the city determined that all of the other pets and the pets’ accommodations (chicken coop) meet the city’s code.

My summary doesn’t begin to touch on the drama my friend has faced in her little community. But the other details are irrelevant to this blog post.

The bottom line is that my friend isn’t doing anything wrong. This community — which is located close to a major city — has laws that welcome urban homesteading. However, my friend is upset by the situation with the neighbor as well as by comments she has read on articles about the issue.

But my friend loves her animals and she has had other people point out that what she’s doing is important. One person called her “an important pioneer in urban agriculture.”

What do you guys think of the role of people who help to change the norms?

In the meantime, how do we walk the fine line? How do we be good neighbors and yet live the lives we long for? What do we do when our sustainable lives crash into our neighbors' modern suburban or urban lifestyles?

And do we ask permission — ask neighbors what they think about chickens before we bring them home — or ask forgiveness with a few fresh eggs as appeasement gifts?

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Gardening...It grows on you!

Garden memories with The Conscious Shopper

I was digging around in an old box of photos today and came across this gem:

Foreground: My first garden, 2001
Background: My current garden, 2011

There I am, kissing the very first tomato grown entirely by me. I was in college, renting a horrendous bright peach house with three other college students, and for some reason one summer, I got this crazy notion that I needed to plant a little vegetable plot on the side of my house.

My next door neighbors - two little old ladies who walked the neighborhood every day - were intrigued by my pseudo-garden and happy to offer unasked for advice. "Nothing will grow there. You don't have enough sun." they said.

In a way, they were right: I didn't get much from that garden. I can remember harvesting a few tomatoes and peppers, and then maybe that spot really didn't get enough sun, or maybe I got distracted and forgot to water, or maybe I forgot about the garden completely (I was attending school part time as well as working the night shift full time at a factory and planning a wedding with my now husband, so I was a tiny bit busy that summer).

But they were also very wrong; my love of growing things grew out of that little garden. I can remember the excitement of plucking that first tomato off the vine, the delicious reward for the sweat and labor that took those tomato plants from little seedlings to bushy vines. And the memory was still with me three years later when I planted my second pseudo-garden (four tomato plants in containers on an apartment balcony that definitely didn't get enough sun) and my third garden in the tiny plot in front of my townhouse ("Let's just stick with flowers for awhile, okay, honey?") and finally my current garden (four square foot gardening beds).

This week, I've harvested two beds worth of kale, swiss chard, and beets, and we're enjoying a daily bounty of fresh snow peas. But I'll tell you, nothing compares to that very first tomato.

When did you fall in love with gardening?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Washing My Own Mouth Out With Soap

Retro Housewife talks about why she uses soap to brush her teeth and the other "strange" things she does.

Some green habits have become pretty common. Few people would call using reusable bags or bottles weird but some green habits are still not main stream. Here are a few of mine.

  • Brushing my teeth with soap. I started by just using a fluoride free toothpaste, then I learned about SLS so found one free of that, and then I learned most of those still have glycerin. And if you didn't know, glycerin has been shown to coat your teeth and keep them from remineralizing. So I switched to a tooth soap. I will say it was a bit weird at first but once you are used to it, it's nice. My teeth are so smooth after and they are much whiter. 
  • Use baking soda as deodorant. I started with a mineral stone but while safer than traditional deodorant they still have some aluminum so I now use plain and simple baking soda.
  • Using a glass straw. The staff at my favorite places to eat are starting to remember that I don't want plastic straws and that I bring my own. If I forget my glass straw they often ask where it is. This may seem like a small habit but those plastic straws add up and I use my glass straw as an awareness tool. I have gotten to talk to people about plastic pollution several times because they asked about my straw.
  • My diet. I eat almost all organically grown food and I'm a flexitarian (aka semi-vegetarian). I only eat humanly raised meat and very little of it. This is harder to understand than vegetarianism so I often just say I'm a vegetarian to make it easier. 
  • I don't drive. I don't even have a license and we are an one car family. While, to be honest, health reasons play into why I don't have a license, even if I had one we would still only have one car and I would rarely drive. 
  • I won't shop at Walmart and rarely shop at other big box stores. There are many reasons for this. I don't shop at Walmart because of their poor policies. This is odd to people around here because it's one of the few stores in my town and even people who hate Walmart don't see how you can avoid it. I avoid big box stores in general because I try to shop and buy local and big box stores have few products that I would buy.
  • I use cloth menstrual pads. While I do still use some organic tampons, I use cloth pads as well. I love them. I hated pads before but the cloth ones are so soft. They aren't gross and are very easy to care for.

Those are just a few of my "weird" green habits. What green habits do you have that others think are odd?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The garden is becoming a reality


Look out: it's a greenmom with a plan


Okay, here it is: My garden plan.


It’s the first time I’ve ever actually drawn one up.

Okay, no, it’s not to scale, I didn’t graph it precisely, it’s fairly vague and just based on what the yard looks like to me from my window. But it’s the basic idea.

I have this total mental picture of what it’s all going to look like. It doesn’t look much like my mental picture yet. Or really, at all. I don’t know if it ever will; my gardens never look anything like my mental pictures of them. But until such time as it clearly fulfills the almost inevitable antithesis of my vision, I can dream, right?

I’m trying to employ some of the principles of companion gardening that I’ve been reading about: our new apple tree is supposedly resistant to apple scab, but I’m told that growing chives around it will discourage the scab, and planting nasturtiums around the perimeter will prevent other pests from taking hold. And chives are supposed to be good for carrots too, so I figure what the heck, let’s throw some carrots into the ground too. Basil and tomatoes are said to be as good partners in the garden as they are in bruschetta, so I’ll put those in together, and radishes are excellent companions for squash and cucumbers because they make the soil inhospitable to the squash borers and cucumber beetles. Pole beans and snap peas will trail up trellises on the sunny side of the shed; they are good companions to each other, and I may try putting some carrots in the ground in the same area, since they also work well with the beans and peas. The rear corner of the yard is sort of semi-shade and wet; we put in red twig dogwoods and a pussy willow last year to try to deal with some of the water, but it’s just plain mooshy there in the spring. So we’re putting a few wild flowering herbs back there, the kinds of things I can make teas and tinctures out of, like bergamot, hyssop, and marsh mallow. The fruit bushes are to the north-facing rear of the garden so they won’t crowd out the sun from the veggies and other plants. That one remaining question mark is a really good area of garden space, but I’m not sure what I want to plant there yet; the one thing I do know is that next year the squash and cucumbers will go in the spot where currently the tomatoes and question mark are; it’s a good idea to move your squash around year to year to avoid giving borers or other bugs a chance to settle in and get too comfortable. And I have a feeling once I get to buying my veggie plants I’ll come across some lovely things I’ve never tried that I just want to give a shot…broccoli, for one. Cauliflower. Heck, I might even give peppers a try again, even though I’ve had almost no luck with them in the past.

The plan does not specify, though I will definitely do them, three additional things: I will plant climbing nasturtiums around the perimeter of the fence in back to discourage bunnies; I will sow annual chamomile all around to hopefully act as a living mulch and also feed next spring’s soil; and I will dot the whole area with marigolds, which kill nemotodes in the soil.

If the above doesn’t drive me crazy and take all my energy (and money!), I’d also like to do a half-barrel on my patio by the kitchen where I can grow lettuce and other salad greens, as well as a few more herbs I want to keep especially handy—tarragon, rosemary, basil, and such. And I have this yen to grow our own strawberries…although the elders, blues, and raspberries might be about all we can deal with for now, not to mention the little bush cherry I got for 60% off from Gurney’s.

So, back to my question mark…what do you guys think I should grow there?

--Jenn the Greenmom

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Phone Booth Flashback

Welcome to the Phone Booth Flashback, where we take a trip down memory lane so you can catch up on posts from the Booth's past.

Last Year
  • Letterboxing 101: The Greenhabilitator explores the concept of letterboxing, a cross between treasure hunting and scenic exploration.
  • Portland City Walk: Jess of Sweet Eventide takes a walk around Portland (with beautiful pictures of course).

Two Years Ago
  • Bacon Fever: EcoWonder's family comes down with the flu (but not the swine flu).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Since the world is ending today...

In which Going Green Mama ponders the steps not taken.

Twitter was all a twitter yesterday on how the world is supposedly ending today. I suppose that gives me an excuse to blog and not clean my house this quiet morning.

But say for an instant that mankind was privvy to this date of the rapture, and I have to wonder, if I did it again, what would I have done differently?

Charity, relationships and not applying for an internship at the Olympics (I think it was in Japan that year) aside, I thankfully regret few things in my life at this point. But there are things I wish I had done. The good news is it's likely not too late!

Took my family to Yellowstone and Acadia national parks. I love both, one fondly from childhood memories, the other from a pre-parenting visit one quiet September week. I'd love to experience the wonder of seeing these for the first time. If dump trucks are exciting, I'd love to see my son's reactions to black bears and buffalo!

Camped and experienced nature more. My husband and I love nature and went camping for part of our honeymoon...15 years ago. That sad realization that our gear hadn't been touched during years of retail hours just saddens me. Yes, in retrospect, I should have used more of my vacation time, however, responsibilities in my last two jobs haven't allowed that as much as my time-off bank suggests.

Gone on a horseback riding trip. A real one, not a quickie romp around a field. The worst part of it is, I know a great family-owned placed in Colorado Springs...owned by my aunt and uncle, and we just haven't taken the trek.

Seen nature's wonders. Hiked in Washington and Oregon. Gone to northern California. In suburbia, I miss trees that are taller than 10 feet high.

Kayaked again. Less of a regret than it was a blast, I have had the joy of kayaking in both oceans. A little Dranamine, and I'd be up for more!

Explored from a pint-sized view. Too often, when we do hike, I'm about getting to a destination. I need to remember that the little snails and worms my daughter finds on her walks are just as exciting and thrilling. After all, God's creation is about wonder, even small wonders.

What about you? What have you put off too long and wished you'd made more time to do?

Friday, May 20, 2011

My Prettiest Pie

From Emerald Apron's Kitchen



Strawberries are just around the corner here, and I can't wait! Rhubarbis in full swing right now, and I love to combine the two into this gorgeous pie. A lattice crust is easy and impressive, so just try it if you've never made one before.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Lattice Crust


■1 quart strawberries, hulled and chopped into large pieces
■3-4 big stalks of rhubarb, sliced
■3/4 cup sugar
■3 heaping Tbsp cornstarch
■dough for 2-crusted pie
■1 egg
■1 tsp sugar


Combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. Line a pie pan with one crust, then roll out the second crust and slice it into 1-inch strips. I find a pizza cutter works well for this task. Pour the filling into the bottom crust, then lay out the top crust. It looks impressive, but it’s easy to weave the crust. Just start in the middle with a long strip and work your way out. Trim and tuck in the ends, then crimp the edges. Beat the egg and brush it onto the crust, then sprinkle with sugar. I usually don’t like an egg wash on pies, but I think it adds a nice shimmer to the lattice top. Bake at 350°F for 60-70 minutes until the filling is bubbly and the crust is browned. It’s a good idea to place it on a baking sheet to catch any bubbled-over filling. Cool and enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Snackers for Slackers

From the bean of Green Bean.


I'm not necessarily a slacker mom but I do have my aspirations.

My kids are at a nice age.  6 and 8.  They are finally able to do a bit more for themselves.  They can set and clear the table.  Take out the trash and, with lots of complaining, do their own laundry.  They can even prepare their own food . . . sometimes.

Yay, independence!  But boo to poor choices, desire for packaged and/or processed foods and the inability to slice an apple with a knife yet. ;-)

We have a fruit bowl out at all times and I keep veggies - snap peas, carrots and such - in the fridge.  My kids can throw together a quesadilla or PB&J in no time flat but I'm looking for other ideas for healthy snacking that are sustainable in both the environmental sense AND in the time sense.  For years, I tried the home-baked snack approach but as kids get bigger and eat more and more, always homemade becomes harder and harder.

Any thoughts?  What are your or your children's favorite snacks?  How do you keep packaging down and the interest up?  What else can they make themselves easily.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Urban Adventuring

The Conscious Shopper and the Conscious Kiddos take a walk...

At 70 degrees and partly cloudy, the weather is perfect for the walk home from my kids' school. As I push our stroller past the carpool lane, my two school-age boys rush up to greet me and their younger brother. They simultaneously launch into rapid-fire descriptions of their day as I steer the stroller back toward the bus stop. Just past the school, I notice the sidewalk change from gray to splotchy purple. "Hey, look, guys," I say, pointing up. "Has this tree always been here?"

"Mulberries!" my oldest exclaims. We each gather a handful of the sweet berries and enjoy a spontaneous snack as we continue home.


At the bus stop, the two older boys scramble up their favorite climbing tree while the three-year-old and I inspect an army of ants devouring a cracker on the sidewalk. After a few minutes, I call out, "Bus!" The bigger boys race to grab their backpacks while their younger brother chants "bus, bus, bus, bus" while dancing gleefully.

With nearly two years of experience, all three of my boys are old hats at riding the bus. They greet the bus driver and then settle into a seat at the front - they know that I won't let them ride in the upper section at the back of the bus (even if it's more fun back there) because I can't fit our stroller up the stairs, and they don't even argue about it anymore. I don't have to constantly remind them to stay in their seats or to use quiet voices, but we do still have a daily battle over who gets to pull the cord to let the driver know we're ready to get off....(As wonderful as my boys are, they are not perfect...)

The three-year-old opts to walk the rest of the way home, so I push the stroller with one hand while helping him balance on the short brick wall between the sidewalk and the grass. The other two boys weave in and out of the trees and bushes lining the city parking lot we're passing as if they are tigers on the prowl.

The six-year-old stops short. "Is it fall?" he asks, pointing to the leaves scattered on the sidewalk and grass.

"No, those are magnolia leaves," I say. "You see that tree there with the big white flowers? That's a magnolia, and for some reason, magnolias lose a lot of their leaves in the spring instead of the fall."

"You know a lot about trees," my seven-year-old comments.

"Not a lot," I disagree. "Just some."

"Can you pick me one of the flowers?" he asks.

"No, that tree is too tall - I can't reach. But remember that other tree with the limb that hangs really low? That's a magnolia too. Maybe we can find a flower to pick there."

"But that's in someone's yard. You always say we shouldn't pick flowers in people's yards."

I nod. "True, but I don't think they'll mind if we pick one flower just this once."

When we've made our way to the magnolia, I point out a flower that my son can reach, but just as he's plucking it, the owner of the house pulls into his driveway. Of course, the one time I let them pick a flower out of someone's yard...

"Sorry!" I call out to the homeowner, and thankfully, he shrugs.

"It's not like I don't have 200 more," he says.

"They're irresistible," I explain.

He nods, "I think I'll pick a few and take them in my house too."

As we turn up the street toward our house, the boys stop to climb "king rock," while I hold the precious magnolia flower. It smells delicious.


There's been some friendly discussion in the greenosphere recently about which is greener - the city, the country, or the 'burbs, and just as Jenn feels defensive when people claim that urban developments are much greener than the suburbs, I get riled up when people say that they need to live in the country (or the suburbs) to feel connected to nature, and especially when they say how wonderful big backyards are for children to develop a love of nature.

I've written before about my worry that my urban kids aren't getting enough exposure to nature. Well, upon further reflection, I'm revolting from that thought. A big backyard does not a nature lover make, and even having nature-loving parents does not guarantee that a child will grow up to love the great outdoors. My younger brother, for example, can't stand to spend more than a few minutes outside - even though we both grew up in the same house with the same backyard and the same garden-loving mother.

No matter where we live, all we can do is fill our kids' childhoods with as much nature as we can stuff in, and then hope for the best. Here in the city, I try my best every day to introduce my kids to the wonder I see in nature, and I have my fingers crossed that they'll see the wonder too. So far, I think they get it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Homemade Summer Treats

Retro Housewife while not looking forward to the Oklahoma heat, is looking forward to cold treats!

Summer is just around the counter and that means it's almost time for lemonade, ice cream, popsicles and other yummy foods. Often these items are full of nasty chemicals so here are some recipes for making your own healthier versions. 

Lemonade
Ingredients: 
1 cup of fresh lemon juice (around 6-8 lemons)
1 cup of sugar
7 cups of water

Directions:
Mix all the ingredients and chill.

*Note: It's easier to dissolve sugar in hot water so you can boil a little bit of the water, add the sugar and then mix it with the rest of the water and the lemon juice.


No Power Ice Cream
A great way to make ice cream this summer is the Play & Freeze Ice Cream Ball. They are BPA-free and use no electricity! You just fill the ball and roll it around. It's a great way to burn some calories before pigging out on ice cream. Here is my recipe that works for the original size ice cream ball.



Ingredients:
1 quart of Half & Half or Cream (Half &Half takes a bit longer but is more affordable and lighter)
1 tablespoon vanilla
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions:
Fill the ball with ice and rock salt (via directions with the ball).

Mix all ingredients in bowl and pour in to the metal cylinder of the ice cream ball.



Now it’s time to make the ice cream. Just roll the ball around for 15 minutes, then check the ice cream and scrap the hard ice cream off the sides and add a bit more ice and salt. Then around again for 15 more minutes.


Popsicles
Ingredients:
Favorite juice

Directions:
Pour into a popsicle mold and freeze. I'm lusting over this plastic-free popsicle mold, you can also get bpa-free plastic molds from The Soft Landing.


What are your favorite homemade summer treats?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gardening Books (book reviews)

A knowledge-hungry greenmom visits the library and finds some really good stuff...

In my recent zeal for getting my newly landscaped garden happy and producing, I have been borrowing books from the library at a fairly alarming rate. (And unlike most of the books I get from the library, I’m actually reading these!)

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m interested in the whole idea of “permaculture,” basically an approach to gardening which seeks to keep plants and humans in healthy mutually beneficial relationship to one another, looking at the garden as a self-maintaning ecosystem of which humans are a part. I am currently reading Toby Hemenway’s Gaia’s Garden, a really excellent introduction to permaculture on a home-garden scale. This book not only gives specific techniques for how to “do” permaculture, but more importantly (to me) it gives a really good explanation of the philosophy behind permaculture and eco-gardens, so that after a bit one is able to envision ideas on one’s own. I really like it—this may be one I go out and buy once I have to return it.

Another interesting book, though one I probably won’t go out and buy now that I’ve read it, is Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza. It gives pretty good detail on what looks like a really cool and easy way to garden, if you have access to enough organic materials like leaves and manure and grass clippings and peat—you just layer them one on top of the other in autumn, let them “cook” over the winter (during which time the 18-24 inches of Stuff you put down in layers decayed down to a lovely rich 6-8 inches of composted goodness), and then just plant right in there. The author has had a lot of really good experience with the method, and it’s sort of like what we did in our yard last fall. From my perspective the weakness of the method is that it really does assume one has a huge enough yard to generate a whole lot of grass clippings, access to lots of compost and/or manure, and so forth. Here in the burbs, it's more of a challenge, although we've persuaded most of our neighbors to give us their autumn leaves and there's a horse stable nearby where the manure is free.

And finally, the one I just grabbed off the shelf at the library, Rodale’s Low-Maintenance Gardening Techniques. The title appealed to this very lazy gardener, and I'm really glad I impulsively grabbed it. This is another one I may have to buy, just because it’s such a good basic reference book for growing all kinds of things without doing any more work than absolutely necessary. And like Gaia’s Garden, it explains why certain techniques and methods work better than others, which makes the principles fairly easy to apply across the board.

So, out to you—does anyone have any other favorite gardening references? I’m jumping into the pool with both feet, into the deep end. I’d love to avoid as much of the “error” portion of “trial and error” as possible, so any additional information I can acquire would be awesome!

--Jenn the Greenmom

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pay more now or later?

In which Going Green Mama ponders her wallet...

I admit it. I have become a cheapskate in recent years. Nearly 3 years of un/underemployment will do it to you.

But even as we're crawling out of our debt mess and restructuring our family life, I've noticed something new about the way I shop. Sometimes, convenience rules out.

I can spend $4-5 on a shirt or a pair of shorts at the children's resale shop, or I can stock up for $3.50 this week at Target. Both will equally get me through the season. One may have a less harsh impact on the environment. That 50 cent difference? Could be eaten up by gas and wear on my car from multiple trips in an attempt to find a particular item. Does buying resale in this case make sense?

It's a question I took notice of the other day on a station's site on Facebook, asking readers how they're cutting costs with $4/gallon gas. The discussion quickly turned to the rise of Goodwill stores and their corresponding rise in prices for what many felt were often substandard product. Why buy used when new is the same price? Has the Wal-mart mentality hit resale too?

What do you think? Do we pay more now, or pay more later?

Farmers market linkup coming soon

Letting you all know we'll kick off the farmers market round up beginning in June! Watch for this on Saturday mornings!

Robbie @ Going Green Mama

Friday, May 13, 2011

Simple Gifts

In which Truffula gets excited over 5 scraps of paper... 
"'Tis the gift to be loved and that love to return,
'Tis the gift to be taught and a richer gift to learn,
And when we expect of others what we try to live each day,
Then we'll all live together and we'll all learn to say..."
The TruffulaBoyz love giving presents.  Any occasion will do for them, and with Mother's Day next in line, they began hinting around.  My 7-year-old was pleased as Punch to conspiratorially share his perfect gift idea with me.  Oh, my!  It's true: I have been coveting those for months.  But, I'm still working on convincing myself about the spendy purchase.  The Boyz and I then had a little chat about giving experiences versus giving things, after which my mind moved on to other topics.

Younger minds, however, stayed on track.  Sunday came, along with a plastic grocery bag lovingly presented in an 11-year-old fist.  There were two sets of items inside.  One was a batch of handwritten coupons, frugally lettered on scrap paper, for thoughtfully selected things to do or receive.  I am now the proud "owner" of:

  • help in the garden "for at most 1 (one) hour" - lol!
  • a hike on one of my favorite trails
  • a recorder lesson, to be given by me to the coupon creator
  • five tutoring sessions in Chinese, with checkboxes to mark off each session as it's redeemed(I've gotten so behind the Boyz in our language lessons, which concerns them greatly!)
  • a nature walk with the donor, to a destination of my choice.
Anyone verklempt yet?  Hold your (cloth) hankies for another moment, because it got even better!  One of the skills we've worked on is using our entire sheet of paper and then making a nice border for the contents.  This has, at times, met with resistance.  But, lo!  Each coupon was framed by a carefully drawn border, chosen to complement the words.  For example, the hike on my rocky trail got spiky "mountains", the tutoring was beautified with a ring of Chinese characters, and the nature walk coupon was graced by trees.



You're wondering about the remaining contents of the bag, I'm sure.  In there was... a pack of chewing gum.  Gum is among the Boyz' most precious commodities.  And, this wasn't any old bunch of sticks.  It was the special dessert-flavored variety they have newly discovered, and its procurement required a special mission to the store.  My practical son explained that if I had one stick per week, it would last me for 15 weeks!  Maybe I'll share a piece when he and I go hiking -- "losing" a week will be absolutely worth it.

A happy May to all! 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Connecting Our Kids with Nature

SustainaMom is hosting a Green Moms Carnival this morning...

When I first proposed the topic “Inspiring Ideas for Getting Back to Nature with Kids,” I was frustrated because I wanted to take my 4-year-old son camping but I was scared to tackle a big trip on my own. I was looking for alternative ideas. Ironically, my husband finagled a day off from each of his two jobs and we managed our first family camping trip just this past weekend! For the past 5 days, my son has been asking, “Can we go camping-and-sleep-in-the-tent-ALL-NIGHT-LONG again?” I’ll say that indicates it was a successful trip!

Discovering “that thing with 100 legs,” wherein a centipede
is the mystical creature of the camping trip.

I don’t know if we’ll swing another camping trip again this summer, but in the meantime, I’m grateful to have read all of the alternative back-to-nature ideas shared by the Green Moms Carnivalists!

The resounding theme from these posts: keep it simple!

Citizen Green makes the point that we don’t have to take our kids on a grand adventure. Kids are just as excited to explore the backyard. She says, “Nature includes plants, fungi, bugs, worms, not only dramatic animals like giraffes and elephants.”

She also points out that education is important to help kids make the connection to nature. As an example of an environmental education tool for kids, she shares information about children’s book “Patti Pelican and The Gulf Oil Spill.”

Climate Mama shares five fun nature activities that are great for any backyard or park — and the ideas remind us that reconnecting with nature isn’t a big production. It’s the simple things that enchant our kids!

In “Getting Back to Nature With Kids: Bit by Bit, Bug by Bug,” Lynn at OrganicMania proves that 45 minutes and a little conscious effort are all you need to squeeze an adventure into an afternoon.

Green Bean takes her inspiration from a bench that beckons passersby. Getting back to nature isn’t always an “activity.” Sometimes it is passive and we just need to slow down long enough to be aware of the nature all around us.

Crunchy Chicken takes her kiddos exploring on the beach as they look for the exotic and the mundane at low tide. Crunchy casts another vote for the everyday adventure — and the truly natural: “If all we do is wow our kids with sea otter tricks, jumping killer whales and stories of deadly sharks and eels, how do they garner respect for the little guys whose lives make those farther up the food chain possible?”

We may not all have a beach in our backyards, but we do have native plants, birds and animals. What is native in your neck of the woods?

Abbie at Farmer’s Daughter suggests a lichen scavenger hunt with educational undertones. (I remember being quite intrigued by lichen as a child — I always thought the trees had some sort of disease. Never knew you could monitor air quality by the lichen!)

Karen at Best of Mother Earth teaches children to make seed starter pots out of newspaper. What a great, indoor, anytime, cheap activity that really gives kids insight into our connection (or dependence) on nature!

Take it a step further and plant a garden. Beth Terry at My Plastic Free Life is stepping away from her computer and getting her hands dirty. There’s nothing like a garden to force you to make time to be outside!

Eco-novice encourages us to embrace the mess and the chaos that comes from exploring the outdoors. She has great ideas for helping your kids see the connections in nature once you get outside.

Katy at Non-Toxic Kids sees nature as a opportunity to encourage our kids' imaginations to go wild. She builds fairy houses in the woods with her daughters!

Tiffany at Nature Moms shares a few bigger ideas, from her dream of hiking the Appalachian Trail with her kids to creating a certified wildlife habitat in the backyard. I love her ideas, especially that of “equipping kids for nature observation.” There’s nothing like binoculars or a magnifying glass to encourage kids to really look around and discover nature.

On the other hand, we can’t force our kids to enjoy nature to the exclusion of pop culture. In “I Took Her Camping; She Took Her iPod,” Diane of Big Green Purse reminds us that a parent’s job is to provide the opportunity to connect with nature.

Lisa at Retro Housewife Goes Green reminds us that teens aren’t the only ones that need to step away from the screens. Adults also need to make time for nature. Once you finish reading Lisa’s post, shut off the computer and get outside!

How do you help your kids connect with nature — and make time for your own connection with the world away from your computer?

Next month, OrganicMania is hosting a "Half-Year Resolutions" carnival. Details here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The World Needs Your Blog

Two and a half years ago, I was browsing a newsletter from Seventh Generation and stumbled on my very first green blog, My Plastic-Free Life (then known as Fake Plastic Fish). From there, I discovered the legendary Crunchy Chicken, Green Bean's lovely (and recently resurrected) personal blog, the thought-provoking button-pusher Arduous, the controversial No Impact Man, and a slew of other wonderful green-minded bloggers who all picked up the pen keyboard around the same time in 2007.

At the time that I started blogging in 2008, bloggers were flooding the greenosphere. Every week, I'd stumble onto another fabulous blog by another excellent writer, and I had to shout to get my little blog noticed. Back then, green bloggers seemed so full of fervor and drive, I felt like I was caught up in a wave of momentum that would inevitably be victorious.

Recently, I was thinking about what was happening in 2007/2008 that made it such a prime time for green blogging. Perhaps it was the release of those classic green works An Inconvenient Truth, The Omnivore's Dilemma, and Animal Vegetable Miracle, which all came out the year before then. Perhaps it was the hopeful political climate of 2008. Perhaps it was the start of the recession. Whatever the reason, the climate was right then.

Most of the bloggers I first discovered aren't around anymore, and lately I feel like I've fallen out of touch with the greenosphere. I've grown quite complacent here in my little sweet spot. Perhaps there's just as much momentum now as there was three years ago, but lately I'm not feeling it.

And the thing is, we need just as many voices now. No, we need more voices! If the green movement is dropping off the public's radar (as it feels like to me), we need more voices speaking louder!

So if you're a green blogger, tell me about your blog. Link to it here in the comments, and I'll check it out. I need to spice up my Google Reader!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Sounding the Alarm

Retro Housewife here to share a video with you and talk about toxins.




While I have always been a bit of a hippie, my real wake-up call came when I was struggling with fibromyalgia. I was in extreme pain, always tired, and most days just getting out of bed was a struggle. I've never been a fan of medicating just to cover up a problem so I started reading all about treating fibromyalgia naturally. This lead to me discovering that toxins were likely playing a role in how I felt. Around this same time I watched An Inconvenient Truth and had a major light bulb moment. Not only was I making myself sick, I was harming the plant.

I started getting rid of all the toxic cleaners in my house, all the toxic personal care items and started switching over to an organic diet. I already ate some organic food and knew dyes, trans fats, MSG, and HFCS were bad so that was very helpful in my switch. I also started reading everything I could on toxins and our health.

It didn't take long for my health to start turning around. I not only now have less pain and have my fibromyalgia more under control, I also no longer have high blood pressure, or high insulin, I have lost over 30 lbs so far (while still eating what I want, just organic and homemade versions), I have better skin, I rarely have IBS issues, have cut down on how many cluster headaches I have, and overall I'm healthier. My impact on the earth has also greatly decreased. It's amazing just how much our health and the planet's health are connected.

Now through my blog and other forms of activism I'm trying to help others see how toxins are effecting our health and the health of the planet. I hope to help be a wake-up call for others.

What was your wake-up call? Are you sounding the alarm for others?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Seasonal Allergies--Holistic treatment?

A sad and worried Greenmom sends her son to school with drippy nose and bright red eyes...

I’ve managed through trial and error to manage a lot of our family’s health issues with non-pharmaceutical medical treatments. Echinacea tincture and green smoothies to build the immune system and keep the bugs away to begin with, diffused essential oils like eucalyptus and tea tree to clear out the passages, medicinal teas and herbal potions to alleviate symptoms when they do come—like peppermint and ginger for indigestion, lemon balm for stuffiness, slippery elm for inflamed throats and voices, stuff like that—and the occasional homeopathic remedy when things get a little tougher.

This time I may be stumped. My son appears to have fairly severe seasonal allergies. In the past few weeks he’s gone from a little eye rubbing to full-fledged coughs and sneezes, nostrils lined with gross dried boogerishness, and eyes so red he looks kinda like a werewolf. (Um…I hope they are seasonal allergies. When’s the next full moon?)

I’m looking at my pharmacopeia and realizing I don’t really have much to work with here, except for treating the symptoms themselves. We give him elderberry cough syrup for the cough (and immune building), and tea for the general symptoms, but beyond that I don’t really know what to do.

Which gives me something new to do a Google search about.

Unfortunately, even Google is of limited help this time. What I get are a lot of miracle cure potions, rather than actual material medica information. But I know my Google, and I have come up with some possibilities:

Nettle tea is said to be helpful for reducing hayfever symptoms. I’d never get him to drink it, but I might try a tincture in some juice. Angelica is another anti-allergy herb we might try. Licorice is an anti-inflammatory and demulcent, so while it might not address the causes of the symptoms it may alleviate them a good bit. Rooibos, found in a lot of teas, is also said to reduce histamine activity. Honey—specifically local honey—is also said to help with allergies, I suppose because it contains the allergens themselves in a form that helps the body in a quasi-immunotherapy kind of way to assimilate them. As with practically any other physical complaint, apple cider vinegar comes up in allergy relief searches as well as an aid in reducing rhinitis type symptoms, as does Vitamin C.

Acupuncture is having some pretty successful trials. I’m not sure I’m ready to try that on my 8-year-old…anyone have any experience with this particular art form?

Finally, I took a look at homeopathy. About 18 months ago I did a post here about my burgeoning interest in this popular but exceedingly non-intuitive form of health care, and since then I have been continuing to explore and learn about it. It’s still pretty darned non-intuitive, but it also seems to work, though I don’t really know why. Anyway, there’s a page on ABCHomeopathy that’s strictly for allergies, and it suggests that I might try Sabadilla or Capiscum Annuum for my son’s problems. I’m not sure how it works or if it works, but one way or the other I’m prepared to put down the $5.99 plus tax to give that a try before sending my son to the allergist and having his arms pricked full of little holes and then sending him for years of allergy shots.

On the other hand, I am resigned that the allergist and immunotherapy route might be where we’re headed one way or the other. We could make it a family affair—my husband already goes, and my cat allergies are bad enough that I’ve considered for years whether I should just suck it up and get the allergy shots for that. If it really is a family connection, my daughter might well be set to start her own allergies in a year or two…

And now (as usual) I shout out to Booth readers: anyone have any experience with holistic allergy treatments?

--Jenn the Greenmom

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again...

Going Green Mama has created a party animal....

It's May, which means one thing: We're talking about parties...and have done so for months.

Literally the day after my daughter's 5th birthday, in which I went out at Goodwill to create a Fancy Nancy themed tea party, she announced the theme for year 6: a Mamma Mia party.

Yikes. The pressure was on. And it stayed on, until the last week or so, when we finally discussed what it meant for a Mamma Mia party. Apparently it involved the girls and boys singing renditions of the songs. Except that I don't know that every child has the same affinity for the movie. Or if her best friend Jonathan is ready for the solo act.

So we've been talking alternate ideas of late. She's kicked around princesses and rainbows, and thankfully hasn't brought up the idea of partying at venues like the gymnastics school or pizza places. But finding a theme that works for six year olds, doesn't cost $150 and still is resource-friendly is a challenge.

So today, Boothers, I'm turning to you: What are you best party ideas that you've done for your families?

Thanks to all of you who responded about the farmers market wrap-up. We'll get this started soon!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Mother's Day Inspiration

A late-breaking Friday post from Emerald Apron




As we head into Mother’s Day weekend, I’m going to write about one mom who has really inspired me. Emma Kwasnica is a mother who has organized a global milk exchange network, Human Milk For Human Babies Global Network (HM4HB), over the past six months. Moms and dads all over the world are now able to find donor milk for their babies because many nursing mothers have an excess of milk or have expressed and frozen a huge stash that they will not be able to use. Families can find their local HM4HB group on Facebook, where requests are made and donors offer their milk.


There are a variety of reasons why babies may need donor milk. Some mothers of preemies or working mothers have trouble expressing enough milk for their children and look for donor milk. Some mothers did not receive the support to be able to breastfeed successfully or are unable to breastfeed due to insufficient glandular tissue and have turned to donors. Adopted babies whose parents cannot or do not want to induce their own lactation have found a solution in donors (Elton John was recently in the news about this!). Whatever the reason that a baby is not breastfed by his or her own mother, the HM4HB enables him or her to get milk.


Some controversy has erupted over mother-to-mother milk sharing, with health agencies warning about the risks of getting milk from another mother. While I understand that they are concerned that the milk may be handled improperly, I would counter that lactating mothers like myself are very knowledgeable about expressing and storing milk safely. As far as health concerns, HM4HB advocates for informed milk sharing, encouraging recipients and donors to discuss health information and share blood test results. Unlike using a formal milk bank, informal milk sharing is free of charge.


I feel fortunate to have had the support I needed to be able to develop a successful breastfeeding relationship with my son. However, in the beginning I was pressured to supplement with formula before my mature milk came in. (I now believe that was unnecessary and could have sabotaged us, but that’s another story for another day.) I wish I had known about the possibility of donor milk then, and I am frankly rather annoyed that the pediatrician and lactation consultant didn’t even discuss it as an option. Though I don’t have an excess of milk to donate at this point, I am hoping to be able to help a family or families in the future.


That Emma Kwasnica saw the need for a global milk sharing network and acted on it to set up HM4HB is pretty rad, to use her own terminology. Please share a story of a mom who inspires you!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Greedy Gardeners!



From the not-quite-satisfied brain of Green Bean.

Many of us have heard the axiom that one's spending rises to one's income level.  I have long believed the same to be true with free time.  I always manage to fill my spare no matter how much or little I have.  (I'm blogging in my "free time" right now, aren't I?).  Well, I'm here to tell you that gardening also rises with the size of your yard.

A couple years back, I found myself elbow to elbow between a pair of fruit trees in the back and a trim picket fence in the front.  I squeezed summer squash in between the tomatoes and behind the lettuce.  The stretching pumpkin vines were piled up on top of each other and off the path.  A single blackberry bush was held prisoner along the fence but still spewed out staining berries by the dozens.  We lopped off a branch of the orange tree to pry the hen house in.

Fast forward and I am in my dream home.  Or dream yard at least.  A large sunny swath just waiting to be planted.  And plant I did.  And plant and plant and plant.

And you know what?  After the nine trees, six berry bushes, seven tomato plants, four pepper plants, mounds of pumpkins, peas, summer squash, lettuce, herbs and wildflowers, well, darn it?  Where the heck am I going to put the sunflowers?!

I've overflown my raised beds, outgrown the planting areas, infiltrated the boy's "adventure" space, filled up a few vacant pots and am researching some sunnier spots in the front yard!  (There aren't many!) So beware.  Before you build a raised bed, buy some pots, invest some sweat equity in digging up the lawn or a planting bed, know that whatever you are doing is great, but it will not satisfy the greedy gardener!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Grounded Gardening

The Conscious Shopper battles a squirrel for her garden

We have a dastardly squirrel in our backyard who sneaks into my garden in the wee hours of the morning and digs enormous craters, scattering my poor seedlings right and left. We call him Mr. Squirrel.*

All of my friends tell me I should buy a bb gun. Um, remember how I was a vegetarian for 12 years? I'm not that kind of person.

My kids decided to take matters into their own hands by building elaborate squirrel traps all over our yard. Don't worry - Mr. Squirrel would have to be pretty dumb to fall for one of those traps, and if he did, well, it'd be natural selection, I suppose.

No squirrels were harmed in the making of this trap.

I decided to seek out more humane methods to save my garden from the squirrel by asking the Internets. Their advice included:
  • Cover your plants with chicken wire.
  • Put a birdfeeder in your yard and allow the squirrels to eat from it.
  • Put a birdbath in your yard - often squirrels attack gardens because they're thirsty rather than hungry.
  • Spray your plants with pepper spray.
My husband and I found one piece of advice particularly intriguing: sprinkle coffee grounds all around your plants. Since our problem isn't that the squirrel is eating our plants but simply digging in the garden, we decided to give the coffee grounds a try. Except for one little detail...we don't drink coffee!

Not a problem! The Internets had a solution for that too. It seems Starbucks is drowning in coffee grounds and is quite willing to hand them out for free to anyone who asks.

Does it work? Yes, sort of. (As is the answer to so many questions.) The coffee grounds seem to keep out Mr. Squirrel for the first day or two after we spread them around the plants. After that, he is nonplussed.

But wait - is it okay to spread coffee grounds all over my garden? Yes! In fact, they are a good way to add nitrogen to the soil. However, some sources say that it's better to add the coffee grounds to your compost pile rather than directly to your plants. I'm pretty new at this whole gardening thing, so I won't make a judgment call on that debate. But I can say that coffee grounds greatly improve the stink of the compost pile!

Have you tried using coffee grounds on your garden?

*Have any of you ever read the Diary of a Wombat? We are the human family in that book, and the wombat is our squirrel. Despite our differences, we are quite fond of him.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Bitter Truth About Hershey

Retro Housewife with an important message about chocolate and this post won't make you hungry.



Most of us love chocolate. American's eat a lot of the stuff, around 2.8 billion pounds a year. But there is a dirty secret behind that sweet chocolate bar. Around 70% of the cocoa beans that are used to make our chocolate come from western Africa, where forced labor is far to common.

The Assessment of Child Labor in the Cocoa Supply Chain in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana, done by the Payson Center at Tulane University in 2009, found that children used in cocoa farmer are involved in weeding, plucking the cocoa pods, gathering the pods, and other jobs. They are often exposed to toxic pesticides, have to carry heavy loads, and use dangerous tools.

The report also showed that 15% of the children surveyed were forced to work in the past twelve months. And nearly 50% of the children working in the farms in Cote d'Ivoire and over 50% in Ghana reported injuries from the work over the past year. Human trafficking is a major problem as well. Many children are brought from Mali to work on the cocoa plantations.

So what does all of this have to do with Hershey? Well Hershey is the most popular brand in the U.S. They account for 42.5% of the U.S. market. Even though Hershey has known since at least 2001 of the problems that exist with it's supply chain, they have yet to stop sourcing from places that use forced labor. Getting Hershey to change its ways would equal a huge win for fair trade in the cocoa industry and would be a large step in ending forced labor in the western Africa.

You can help tell Hershey that you want fair chocolate by going to the Raise The Bar campaign page and sending an email to Hershey, call Hershey, and more. We need to tell companies like Hershey that we demand fair and ethical products.


The winner of the Raise The Bar video contest.




Will learning this make you rethink your chocolate buying habits? Do you already support Fair Trade chocolate? IF so, what are your favorite brands?

Photo credits: miss karen

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