An Inconvenient Truth. I haven't seen it yet, but all the press about global warming (whether you believe the stats or not), got me thinking about what I do to help our environment. I'm ashamed to say, not much! Although I'm a "nature girl" my environmental activism has been limited to teaching my children to respect the earth and walking around the house turning off lights others have left on. I CAN DO BETTER! So, for the next year (starting April 1/07), I will do my best to research, learn and/or implement one activity per week, that will help reduce my family's carbon footprint. When I informed my family, my eldest asked "are we going to be Amish...are we going to be hippies? My answers, of course, were "no" and "no", but it did make me think there may be a lot of people who believe "going green" is like that. That is, doing without and hugging trees. I also don't want to go broke being kind to our environment. I will be seeking out resources that offer reasonably priced goods/supplies so we can make some important changes, but still send the kids to college. I want this to be an enjoyable process, which is why I am calling this blog Going Green Painlessly (be aware, during this journey I will drop any practice that becomes torture!). I'm fairly confident I'll find a nice balance! Wish me luck! Debbie

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Week 52 - Spread the Word!!

We made it! Fifty two weeks of environmentally friendly ideas, topics and ways to take action.

Key Lessons Learned

  1. We kind of go through life with blinders on. Once you choose to take a look, it's apparent we can make small changes that have a big impact. Which leads me to...

  2. Living in a more environmentally friendly way is easy once you know you have options. Doing research to discover those options was one of my favorite things about going green and writing this blog.

  3. It's possible to make changes that aren't going to make your wallet suffer. If you remember from my introduction, I wasn't going to commit to things that were ridiculously priced; changes had to stay within my budget, and for the most part they did.

Changes with Big Impact

I made a lot of changes in how my family lives. The following made a difference in a big way:

  1. Recycling - this is likely the change that takes the most time, because it's ongoing. But going to the Recycling Center a few times a month isn't a big deal. It was immediate gratification. I could see how much less we were sending to the landfill.

  2. Reusable Bags - this is one of my favorites. A couple months after I purchased my bags, the grocery stores in town started selling them. I have been asked about them often and store clerks have expressed how they wish more people would use them (younger clerks in particular). I used to have plastic bags exploding from my pantry; now I currently have one.

  3. Reusable Containers for Lunches - my kids' lunches are now almost waste free. We purchased containers for them to use over and over. Obviously we have to wash them between uses, but it's a small price to pay.

What Now?

One thing I came to realize was change takes time. There were different things I wanted to do but couldn't fit them in when I wrote about them. Take composting for example. I already have the compost bin. I just have to do some repairs to it, buy a compost pail for my kitchen and start adding to it. I will try to have this done by Spring.

So that's my plan. I will go back to see what changes I haven't set into motion and try to accomplish them. I encourage you, to do the same.

One Last Thought

For the last few weeks I have been thinking about how I should end this blog; thinking about what my final suggestion for helping the environment should be. Here it is: start an eco-conversation everywhere you go. You don't have to take it to the extreme and say, write a blog about it and you don't have to "hit people over the head" either. When opportunities present themselves, share what you know (and at this point you know a lot). If you don't feel comfortable talking, share this blog (it will still be here, I just won't be adding to it).

To close, I would just like to say thank you for going on this journey with me. I hope it has been as interesting, informative and persuasive for you, as it has been for me!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Week 51 - Go Fish, but Keep This in Mind

From the (The Environmental Defense Fund): "According to a 2006 report in the journal Science, several of the world’s leading marine biologists concluded that, if bad fishing practices continued, in a worse-case scenario all fish and seafood species worldwide would crash by 2048. Worldwide, it is estimated that some 90 percent of species of large predatory fish are gone. Domestically, of 230 assessed U.S. fisheries, 54 stocks are classified as over-fished, 45 are experiencing over-fishing, and the status of just over half of the nation’s stocks are unknown".

We have all heard about the health benefits of eating fish. What we don't hear a lot about is how to:

  1. Choose eco-friendly fish

  2. Avoid buying over-fished species, and

  3. Avoid mercury/PCB contaminated fish.

To make the best choice for the environment and your family, visit the following websites before your next trip to the seafood counter.

This is a fabulous website, with tons of environmental and health information.

Under 'features' click on 'seafood choices'. This takes you to a page that lists various fish as being: eco-friendly, eco-o.k., or eco-worst, and provides a description of what these terms mean.

They also provide:

  • A Health Alert chart. This chart lists all the fish and how many servings/month are safe (due to mercury and PCBs) for men, women, older kids and younger kids. I have to say, I was quite surprised at the number of fish that are not safe to eat at all, and at the low number of suggested servings for older and younger kids.
  • Recipes for eco-friendly fish

  • Alternative eco-friendly choices which are similar in flavor and/or texture for the 'eco-o.k.' and 'eco-worst' fish. .

  • A printable pocket guide to keep in your wallet.

Blue Ocean Institute Guide to Ocean Friendly Seafood. Click on "Click here to learn all about your seafood".

Blue Ocean uses a Fish Key to rate the fish. It also indicates the best environmental choice with a check mark and uses a red flag to indicate which fish are contaminated.

They also provide:

  • FishPhone ( Blue Ocean’s new sustainable seafood text messaging service (see their website for details on how to access it).

  • A down loadable pocket guide.

  • The ability to search for your favorite species.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has a down loadable wallet card. The card rates seafood according to how much mercury it contains, and tells us how many servings are advisable.

They also provide:

  • A lot of information about what mercury is, where it's found, and how to protect your family.

Why Should We Care?

  1. A lot of the world population relies on fish for food and fishing for income. Yes these same countries are often responsible for a lot of the over fishing (there's enough blame to go around). Someone needs to step up and convince them this is not the way to go; that current practices are a threat to their livelihood. We can send that message by not buying their product.
  2. Obviously, we want aquatic life. I don't think any of us support the extinction of any animal. The loss of sea creatures would be the start of a disastrous domino effect. Think of all the animals (bears, birds, and people) that eat fish.

  3. The amount of mercury, PCBs and other contaminants in fish is staggering. If what industries dump (both in our waterways and into the air) is left unchecked (or at current standards), we won't have any safe fish to eat. What can we do? Vote for a candidate who supports the Clean Air /Water Act and its expansion.

I believe all of us can make this very simple change. It just takes a click of the mouse and you will have in your hand all you need to make an environmentally friendly choice every time you shop. It's good for the earth and your family. One more win-win!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Week 50 - The 3Rs of Sports Equipment

We are now into March and the spring athletic season if off and running. Kids have begun practice and parents are digging deep to ensure their children have the newest and coolest sports equipment. Before you go out and drop a ridiculous amount of money on new equipment, consider swapping or purchasing used equipment. That's right. Once again, I'm talking about the 3 Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle.

The Why

There are several reasons to consider swapping or purchasing used equipment.
  • It's cheaper (and the items generally look 'almost new' or better).
  • It keeps stuff out of landfills
  • It reduces the number of resources used to manufacture and transport items.

The How

1. Try a No Cost Exchange (like

From their website: The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,281 groups with 4,622,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns.

They have everything. Go to their site and sign-up (it's free). You can then browse by county or town. If your community doesn't have a group, start one!

Freecycle's purpose is to keep stuff out of the landfill and to help reduce consumption.

Another notable exchange site is

2. Purchase Used Sports Equipment

There are a number of ways to purchase used equipment.

Play it Again Sports: This is a nationwide used sports equipment chain. Visit their website at to locate one in your area. Before you go, make a phone call to see if they have what you're looking for.

EBay ( This online auction site offers everything you can imagine. You can choose to bid on items, or buy them outright.

Recycling Sports ( Online classifieds for used sports equipment. According to their site: Sellers are charged a $1.00 listing fee for posting and a closing fee of 2% of the sales price when the item is purchased. Visit the site for details.

Garage Sales: Spring not only brings sports, it also brings garage sales. Obviously you won't be able to anticipate what you may find, but keep an eye out anyway.

Swap or Give Your Stuff to Friends: We all have friends with kids at various stages of growth. Swap equipment with them just like you would clothes. If you can't swap, give your stuff to someone you know. You may not get equipment you need right now, but its great karma and you may get something else you need in the future.

Donate: If you don't have friends that can use your equipment, donate your items to Boys/Girls Clubs, after school programs, coaches or Goodwill.

3. Still Not on Board?

If you still are not convinced that used equipment is the way to go, ask yourself these questions:

How old is my kid and is s/he still growing?

Keep in mind your child may only be using a particular piece of equipment for one season (if you're lucky - think shoes). Why spend so much on brand new. Help the environment and your wallet by borrowing or buying previously owned.

Is this the first time my child is trying a sport or does my kid change sports at the drop of a hat?

If your child hasn't made a commitment to a sport, don't commit with your cash or environmental resources.

Is it important to ME or my child if something is brand new and/or a particular brand?

Does your five year old really need brand new Nike cleats? That's a purchase parents make for themselves.

We often want to put the affects of branding off on the kids ("they just have to have that name brand"), but it's often our own ideas of giving our children the very "best" that motivates us. I would rather have my kids understand everything is not disposable; that when we have something, we should use it up and not cast it aside because something supposedly better has come along. That way of thinking has put us in this environmental crisis.

I understand when our kids get older (or if our child honestly shows exceptional talent in a sport), it gets more difficult. But try not to assume what your child's response to previously owned equipment will be. Instead, use it as a learning opportunity and just maybe they’ll surprise you!!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Week 49 - Greening Baby

All of us at one time or another have either been pregnant or have known someone that is and most of us can say we have attended at least one baby shower in our lives. Expecting a new little life is an exciting time, but it's also an expensive time. You can count on that little person draining your finances for the next, say 24 years. So while you are busy spending hand over fist getting ready for Junior's arrival, the last thing you may be considering is adding even more to the already hefty price tag by throwing in "green" and/or organic products into the mix. But trust me. There are a slew of ways to green your baby (and your pregnancy) without breaking the bank. Let's start with the 3 Rs.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

  1. Let's begin with the mom-to-be and maternity wear. When I was pregnant Target wasn't in our area, and maternity clothing were expensive and ugly (I still don't understand the whole bow thing). Things have come a long way, but ask yourself: do I really need a new wardrobe; one that will essentially be worn for only about 5 or 6 months? Check with your friends to see if they have any nice pieces, to carry you through that short period. When you are finished with them, pass them on to the next friend that is expecting.
  2. Baby furniture (crib, change table, rocker, etc.) are the items that cost a lot. Why buy new? I know we all feel the urge to give our children the best of everything and that begins with the nursery furnishings. But remember the days when families handed down cradles? That's what we should be doing. Check with relatives, or the Salvation Army and Goodwill stores, to see what is available at a fraction of the cost. Before you accept or buy used furniture (particularly the crib) ensure it meets all safety standards and is sturdy.

  3. If you must buy new, look into buying a crib which will convert to a toddler bed at a later date, and a change table which will later become a chest of drawers.

  4. Strollers and car seats. Check out garage sales, the Salvation Army, Goodwill, friends and family first. Again ensure the items meet the current safety standards. I had 4 strollers (two umbrellas, one for rugged terrain, one double stroller and a side-by-side jogger/bike trailer. One soon to be grandparents couple, purchased all of them at our garage sale. Now granted, I'm a little particular so the strollers were in excellent condition. But I'm definitely not the only one like that, so take a look at what's out there first.

  5. The above also applies to car seats. **YOU MUST KNOW THE SAFETY STANDARDS! This is an area where I would only be comfortable getting a seat from someone I know and trust (for example, maybe a friend had a baby a short while ago and has moved up to a larger seat).

  6. Baby clothes. The amount you receive and buy is staggering and unnecessary. Again, friends, family, garage sales, consignment shops, etc. This would be a great time to organize some friends and do a children's clothing exchange.

This entire section is about reducing how much stuff we accumulate; stuff that may end up in the landfill. It's such a waste, particularly because we use the items for such a short period of time. Remember, if you do want to get rid of things, donate the gently used items to charity.

Cloth or Disposable? (Canadian Living Magazine)

The next chunk of change you spend will be on diapers. But do you choose cloth over disposable? It's not as obvious as it seems. Here's how it breaks down:


  • You will use about 10/day depending on the age of the child

The pros:

  • they now have Velcro and plastic clips which make changing them easier

  • they are softer then disposable

  • they may cause fewer rashes

The cons:

  • they are not convenient for traveling

  • many day cares will not use them

The environmental impact:

  • home laundered diapers use about 9,000 gallons of water a year; a commercial service uses about 5,500 gallons.

  • also, you are likely using hot water (energy), soap and possibly bleach.


  • You will use on average 5/day (that seems low to me)

The pros:

  • they are convenient; they can bought and disposed of anywhere

The cons: see below.

The environmental impact:

  • the manufacturing process uses 29% less energy than home laundered cloth diapers; 20% less energy than commercially washed diapers.

  • according to disposable diapers produce at least 70 times more waste than cloth diapers, and Americans trash 18 bil diapers each year.

So in the end (outside of the convenience factor), it seems you have to decide between conserving water/energy, and sending trash to the landfill. It will largely depend on where you live (for example, drought conditions?).

A few other options:

  • Visit They offer diaper pants with flushable liners. According to their website: "gDiapers have no elemental chlorine, no perfumes, no smell, no garbage and no guilt. In fact, flushables are so gentle on the Earth you can even garden compost the wet ones in one compost cycle, approximately 50 – 150 days. Just think of the standing ovation you’ll get from the planet."

  • This is icky to me, but there are some North American cities that offer curbside composting programs, where you can compost your kids' diapers. Check it out, if you are up for it.

Green Baby Care Products

What should you choose to bathe, shampoo, wipe and moisturize your baby? Organic and all natural products would be the place to start. You want to choose products that are free of preservatives, synthetic fragrances, artificial colors, petroleum and of course they should not be tested on animals. There are many companies out there and you don't have to pay a fortune. Do a little research and shop around. You will find something to fit your budget.

Here are a few places to start:

So yes there is a lot to think about and you may feel you just don't need another thing on your list. But keep in mind we are trying to live in a more environmentally friendly way, so we leave a healthy planet for future generations. I can't think of a better reminder of the importance of what we are trying to do, then a new arrival to our families; even if it's just our global family!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Week 48 - 20/20 for Everyone!

I am happy to say that at 42 years of age, I still have perfect vision. Granted my eyes do get tired faster and if I read for a few hours at a time things do get a little fuzzy. But I don’t wear glasses yet, so the number of useless eye glasses that may be lying around taking up space never really occurred to me. Just think about it. Prescriptions and fashion change often, as does a growing child. Not to mention those of us who have gone the Lasik route. Usually these outgrown, out of style or obsolete glasses end up in the landfill and that’s a shame. As a matter of fact, according to the Vision Council of America, “64% of adult Americans wear prescription glasses, yet less than 1/10 of 1% of glasses sold each year are donated and reused.” This is terrible since according to the World Health Organization, about 25% of the world’s population require eyeglasses. So what can we do with all those spare specs to help the environment? Recycle them of course!

Who: Give the Gift of Sight Program (

Since 1991 this organization has collected and distributed used eyeglasses to people in developing countries. To date they have restored vision to 2.6 million people in 30 countries. They also provide free vision screening.


Drop off your old glasses at:

Pearle Vision
BJ’s Optical

Who: The Lions Club (

This organization collects more than 20 million glasses a year and passes them on to underprivileged kids and adults around the world.


Visit to find a donation box in your area (check out your local library). Also, on their website you can find a recycling center you can send the glasses to.

Who: New Eyes for the Needy (

Last year, this organization provided recycled eye wear to more than 280,000 people in 22 countries.


Send your “gently worn” glasses to:

549 Millburn Ave.
P.O. Box 332
Short Hills, NJ 07078

Keep in mind all of these organizations accept glasses which may need some repair, non-prescription sunglasses and are always very happy to receive children’s glasses.

The Why:

If you require incentive other than the warm fuzzy feeling, consider the following:
  • Reusing glasses means saving the energy and materials needed to create a new pair. Okay it’s not a ton, but it’s something.

  • Giving away your old glasses is a tax deductible donation.

This is another one of those win-win-win changes. The environment wins with less junk in landfills and less energy/material being used for production; our optically challenged brothers and sisters worldwide win by receiving glasses at minimal if any cost, which restores their vision and surely changes their lives; and we really make out: 1) above mentioned warm and fuzzy feeling from helping others, 2) less clutter in our drawers and 3) a tax deduction to boot. Whoever coined the phrase ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ was undoubtedly talking about eyeglasses!