Welcome to Green Gal's blog, where you'll find stories, recipes, gardening updates, and green tips related to nature, adventure, placemaking, and food systems. This blog is written by a young woman entrepreneur who is also a beginning farmer-gardener and seasoned sustainability educator who loves to grow, cook, ferment, and eat local and ecologically happy food.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Saving resources in unusual circumstances

First off, a quick update: my hair is still not super oily. I can feel the oil when I touch the top of my head, but no one can tell. The make-it-yourself deodorant works, as long as you don't go on a bike ride at top speed and sweat it off (however, I may not have applied enough that day because I used a blush brush...still have not found a suitable applicator. I tried a powder puff and that put too much. Cotton balls come apart and they aren't reusable.) Veganism is still going strong...but you'll see in a few moments why I've been challenged by my options and why it hasn't been at the forefront of my mind every time I eat something (although it's not like I've eaten meat or cheese...just things that may contain small amounts of dairy).Since Saturday, my family and I have been in and out of the hospital with my sister. She had a kidney transplant on Monday and is doing great! We plan on being here for a few weeks, staying nearby at a Ronald McDonald House and taking turns staying here at the hospital. We've eaten all of our meals out, either at the cafeteria or from nearby restaurants, and we haven't been able to cook any of our own meals.

So we've generated a lot of waste from plastic/paper plates, knives, forks, spoons, cups, napkins, etc. And it's hard to care about what we're throwing away when we've got someone in the hospital. But I've been trying to save things for later use--utensils, dry plates, cups--and I've been carrying a cloth napkin, reusable water bottle and reusable travel mug with me when I remember to grab it. As we fall into somewhat of a routine, I hope to always carry with me utensils, a napkin, my mug, and water bottle, so my waste reduces down to just the plates the food comes on. And hopefully now that we have a kitchen at the Ronald McDonald House, we'll be able to cook and save meals so we aren't buying icky, non-organic food from the cafeteria (more than once I've been unsure of whether what I was eating was vegan due to unknown butter or additives). It's definitely been a challenge being vegan in this situation. Last night I accidentally downed some M&Ms without thinking because I needed to eat something and they were in a trail mix. Like I said, once a routine sort of comes into play I'll be more strict and aware of what I'm eating and using up.So, the point of my post is to say that even when situations can seem too stressful or difficult for environmental concern, remembering to bring a few things along or trying to find time to plan ways to reduce waste is possible. Even if it's just bringing a reusable water bottle (see above picture of the water bottle I have from Klean Kanteen--definitely recommend it!) along, at least you're reducing to some extent. It shouldn't be a first concern when you're in a situation like I'm in, but it should still be considered important to find ways to reduce consumption.


On another note, this week's Change the World Wednesday, posted by Reduce Footprints, is about attempting a "No Spending Diet." Reduce Footprints explains:

"don't buy anything new (except for food, health and safety products). No new clothes ... no new shoes ... no new gizmos or gadgets ... forget about a new car, new furniture or new appliances ... nothing new for one week!"

I'm in! Read more about it and sign up to accept the challenge here.Green Gal


What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.

-- Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, July 5, 2009

How things are going

It's been almost a week since I first washed my hair with just water--no shampoo. And it's looking great! Before I went no shampoo, I used LUSH shampoo, and I never style it with fancy chemical product, so it's been pretty natural for awhile now. I usually only wash it two or three times a week, so the transition shouldn't be too difficult.So far I've washed it twice with just water and it's as thick and lovely as before. My hair doesn't get oily very easily, so fortunately, it's only a little bit oily near the top of my head, but not noticeably so. Now I'm saving materials (and money!) and reducing the amount of chemicals that go down the drain--all while becoming more natural and less reliant on chemicals and industry. I'm trying to convince my mom to try it, but she's used to shampoo and using styling products and making her hair look nice, so it would take a lot to convince her.

I tested out Melinda's deodorant recipe of baking soda and cornstarch yesterday. It worked as far as I could tell. I have yet to find a cute jar to put it in, so it's residing in a small Tupperware container for the time being. (I'm using Arm & Hammer baking soda and I realize they test on animals...we already bought it and I wasn't going to waste it, so I'm using it for now.) Once I've used it for a week or so I'll post an update as to whether or not it really works sufficiently enough to replace commercial deodorant (or my usual Tom's of Maine unscented, which I recommend if you're looking for a good vegan deodorant).Yesterday was my first day being vegan, and so far so good. I found this awesome vegan lip balm at Whole Foods--The Merry Hempsters Vegan SPF 18 Peppermint Hemp Balm. It makes your lips feel minty fresh! It's even better than Burt's Bees Honey Lip Balm--which I accidentally put on yesterday morning without thinking.
I realized that the lip balm recipe I'd been hoping to attempt uses lanolin which comes from sheep wool, so I won't be able to use that recipe. If you know of a do-it-yourself vegan lip balm recipe, please let me know!

We went to the farmer's market yesterday and stocked up on local, organic veggies and fruits. I saw one of my vegan friends at a stand and spoke with her and bought some nectarines from her. For dinner my grandma cooked some zucchini, squash and red onion and rice with peas. She also had mint + pea puree that she had made the night before that my cousin Allison had told her about. For dessert we had tart raspberries and blackberries--not organic, but the boy at the stand gave them to us free!

Then this afternoon, we went by High Tech Burrito--a delicious burrito place that has tons of vegan options. I got a burrito with black beans, lettuce, Spanish rice, salsa, guacamole, and pico de gallo. Yummy!---

"I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic faculties in the best condition has been particularly inclined to abstain from animal food..."

-- Henry David Thoreau, Higher Laws - Walden

Friday, July 3, 2009

Vegan resources

I've compiled for myself some vegan resources that I hope will be helpful to me as I embark on my vegan voyage tomorrow.
I tried to find a printable, pocket-sized list of animal ingredients that I may not be aware of when looking at ingredient lists. From PETA, I found a list with explanations and alternatives and then condensed the ingredients down, removing the additional information. Here is the list (You can copy and past into a word document, change font to 8-pt. Arial, make the page landscape and all margins .9 and it should all fit onto one page that you can print and fold up into a wallet.):

Aliphatic Alcohol.
Alligator Skin.
Alpha-Hydroxy Acids.
Amino Acids.
Aminosuccinate Acid.
Animal Fats and Oils.
Animal Hair.
Arachidonic Acid.
Arachidyl Proprionate.
Aspartic Acid. Aminosuccinate Acid.
Bee Pollen.
Bee Products.
Beeswax. Honeycomb.
Benzoic Acid.
Beta Carotene.
Biotin. Vitamin H. Vitamin B Factor.
Boar Bristles.
Bone Char.
Bone Meal.
Caprylamine Oxide.
Capryl Betaine.
Caprylic Acid.
Caprylic Triglyceride.
Carmine. Cochineal. Carminic Acid.
Carminic Acid.
Carotene. Provitamin A. Beta Carotene.
Casein. Caseinate. Sodium Caseinate.
Castor. Castoreum.
Cera Flava.
Cetyl Alcohol.
Cetyl Palmitate.
Choline Bitartrate.
Cod Liver Oil.
Colors. Dyes.
Cortisone. Corticosteroid.
Cysteine, L-Form.
Dimethyl Stearamine.
Duodenum Substances.
Egg Protein.
Emu Oil.
Estrogen. Estradiol.
Fatty Acids.
FD&C Colors.
Fish Liver Oil.
Fish Oil.
Fish Scales.
Gelatin. Gel.
Glucose Tyrosinase.
Glycerin. Glycerol.
Guanine. Pearl Essence.
Hide Glue.
Hyaluronic Acid.
Hydrolyzed Animal Protein.
Imidazolidinyl Urea.
Isopropyl Lanolate.
Isopropyl Myristate.
Isopropyl Palmitate.
Lactic Acid.
Lanolin. Lanolin Acids. Wool Fat. Wool Wax.
Lanolin Alcohol.
Leather. Suede. Calfskin. Sheepskin. Alligator Skin. Other Types of Skin.
Lecithin. Choline Bitartrate.
Linoleic Acid.
Lipoids. Lipids.
Marine Oil.
Milk Protein.
Mink Oil.
Monoglycerides. Glycerides. (See Glycerin.)
Musk (Oil).
Myristal Ether Sulfate.
Myristic Acid.
"Natural Sources."
Nucleic Acids.
Octyl Dodecanol.
Oleic Acid.
Oleyl Alcohol. Ocenol.
Oleyl Arachidate.
Oleyl Imidazoline.
Oleyl Myristate.
Oleyl Oleate.
Oleyl Stearate.
Palmitic Acid.
Panthenol. Dexpanthenol. Vitamin B-Complex Factor. Provitamin B-5.
Placenta. Placenta Polypeptides Protein. Afterbirth.
Provitamin A.
Provitamin B-5.
Provitamin D-2.
Rennet. Rennin.
Resinous Glaze.
Ribonucleic Acid.
RNA. Ribonucleic Acid.
Royal Jelly.
Sable Brushes.
Sea Turtle Oil.
Shark Liver Oil.
Shellac. Resinous Glaze.
Silk. Silk Powder.
Sodium Caseinate.
Sodium Steroyl Lactylate.
Sodium Tallowate.
Spermaceti. Cetyl Palmitate. Sperm Oil.
Sponge (Luna and Sea).
Stearamine Oxide.
Stearic Acid.
Stearic Hydrazide.
Stearoyl Lactylic Acid.
Stearyl Acetate.
Stearyl Alcohol. Sterols.
Stearyl Betaine.
Stearyl Caprylate.
Stearyl Citrate.
Stearyldimethyl Amine.
Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate.
Stearyl Heptanoate.
Stearyl Imidazoline.
Stearyl Octanoate.
Stearyl Stearate.
Steroids. Sterols.
Tallow. Tallow Fatty Alcohol. Stearic Acid.
Tallow Acid.
Tallow Amide.
Tallow Amine.
Tallow Glycerides.
Tallow Imidazoline.
Triterpene Alcohols.
Turtle Oil. Sea Turtle Oil.
Urea. Carbamide.
Uric Acid.
Vitamin A.
Vitamin B-Complex Factor.
Vitamin B Factor.
Vitamin B-12.
Vitamin D. Ergocalciferol. Vitamin D-2. Ergosterol. Provitamin D-2. Calciferol. Vitamin D-3.
Vitamin H.
Wool Fat.
Wool Wax.

I also researched companies that do not test on animals. I'm not going to be that strict for now since I'm just getting started, but I wanted to be more aware and make more conscious decisions. CaringConsumer.com has a page that offers a list of companies that do test on animals as well as a list of those that do not. There's also a function to search by product type. Very user-friendly!

VegCooking.com offers endless possibilities for vegan recipes--all of which look delicious! I can't wait to try them out. When I do, I'll post the recipe with pictures and a review.

I also read here about Chia seeds, a seemingly remarkable food that can be added to just about anything to bring protein to the meal. I can't wait to try them out!I will be sure to update my blog with how I'm doing as a vegan. Today is my last day as a non-vegan, so I'm calling it my "Fat Friday." Earlier, I ate my last In-N-Out burger and later today I'm going to have a bite of corn dog at the fair. M&Ms, a churro, and whatever other non-vegan foods that look appetizing tonight are also on my list before I begin my journey tomorrow morning.

Do you have any tips or suggestions for me? I'd love to hear what your favorite vegan foods and recipes are. Or if you have any advice for me, I'd really appreciate it!

Green Gal


Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

--Mark Twain

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Setting goals

The past few days, I've been thinking about what my goals are for greening my lifestyle. I scrolled through countless posts on The Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op blog, found awesome recipes for making my own soap and deodorant, and learned that you don't really need shampoo. And I've compiled a list of things that I'd like to try out in the coming month.
Here is what I've come up with. Please feel free to figure out what works for you from my list and apply it to your life. It always feels rejuvenating to make goals and stick with them.

Around the house:
- Change my light bulbs to CFL/LED
- Hang more laundry to dry outside since the weather has been so warm
- Attempt making my own deodorant, soap, lip balm, and cleaning products
- Go no 'poo--shampoo that is
- Boycott paper towels and use old rags instead--and remind my mom and sister to do so, as well
- Finally get a bucket to put under the faucet for the shower water while it heats up
- Turn the TV off more often and read or go outside
For once, actually go to the Farmer's Market with a plan to buy all the veggies and fruits we'll need for the week--and become more familiar with what's offered and from which farms
- Stop buying and eating processed foods
- Make some reusable bags for produce
No more coffee--I just don't need it and it's bad for my adrenal glands. I'm currently going to limit it to one cup of coffee a month. It better be a rich, shade-grown, organic cup o' joe when I do drink it, though! :)
- Reduce eating out due to unknown food sources, too many straws wasted when they put them in your drink without asking, and a general desire to begin making my own meals more often
- Completely eliminate individually-bottled drinks to reduce waste, and no more soda at all (chemicals cannot be good fuel!)
- Avoid artifical/natural flavors or artificial colors so I eat more whole, real foods
In general:
Choose days to spend no money at all
- Use the car less--or at least be entirely conscious each time I get in the car and think if I could possibly ride my bike or walk to where I'm going, or if there's anything else I can get while I'm out so we aren't making multiple trips
- Stop buying books--although I rarely buy them new, I need to read the ones I already have that I haven't yet read

And for the big, life-changing goal: Become vegan.

I'm allergic to milk, dislike eggs, and I've already limited my intake of chicken and eliminated beef from my diet. But I want to take the next step and actually consciously say no to any animal products. My only exception will be the occasional fish because I want to be able to eat fish I catch when camping. Perhaps eventually I'll say no to fish as well, but for now I'm going to make that my only exception.

So, due to this, I will be definitely increasing my intake of fruit and veggies, nuts, beans, and rice. There's a whole world of plant food out there that I haven't ever tried, and I want to explore those options to find something I enjoy.

Wish me luck--I'm hoping to begin the vegan diet in the coming days.

What are your green goals?

Green Gal


The world, we are told, was made especially for man--a presumption not supported by all the facts... Why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation?

-- John Muir

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