Posts Tagged ‘tips’

Memorial Day Tips

 Memorial Day is around the corner and with this holiday comes lots of backyard BBQ’s! Here are some tips on how to make your festivities as eco-friendly as possible.  

  • Instead of getting supplies from a chain grocery store, support your local farmer’s market.  Walk or bike there to make it an even greener shopping trip.  Or if you have a garden, use your own organic ingredients.
  • Keep pesky mosquitoes away by using an organic bug spray/repellant.  You can also set out a cup of sugar water away from the crowd for the mosquitoes to flock to instead of your guests.
  • Serve your food with reusable or biodegradable plates, cups and utensils.
  • Use cloth napkins that can be washed and reused.
  • Set up recycling bins next to the trash can so guests will know to recycle.  Clearly label the bins by paper, plastic and aluminum. 
  • If you are using a charcoal grill, use lump charcoal made from natural and sustainable wood.  Avoid using lighter fluid if possible. 
  • Use biodegradable plastic trash bags to clean up unrecyclable items. 
  • Send your guests home with plenty of leftovers to avoid food waste. (Remind them to bring reusable containers with them)
  • Clean the grill using soap and water (and elbow grease) instead of using harsh chemicals. 
  • Compost any leftover food scraps in a special compost pile in your back yard. Don’t compost? Save the scraps for a neighbor who does.

Source: Energy Ace 

Meatless Monday

Here is an excerpt from ShopSmart magazine which identifies what we sometimes think of as “healthy” foods which aren’t so healthy. I find myself eating a lot of these foods as substitutes for my regular fare on Meatless Monday. Who knew???

  • Vegetable Chips
    Their colors may be mesmerizing and seemingly healthier than the standard chip, but they’re still high in calories and fat, and they don’t count as a serving of vegetables.

    Try this instead: Have some air-popped popcorn or freshly cut-up veggies with some hummus.

  • Applesauce
    Sweetened applesauce is loaded with sugar and calories, and it contains very little nutrients.

    Try this instead: Go for the unsweetened version sprinkled with a bit of cinnamon. Or, better yet, opt for a whole apple. You’ll get extra fiber as a bonus.

  • Granola Cereal
    Granola is usually high in sugar, fat, and calories and relatively low in vitamins and minerals. It also contains a whopping 400 calories in an average cup. (This was very surprising…I love granola).

    Try this instead: Have a bowl of an airy, oat-based cereal, like Cheerios, which topped ShopSmart’s test of kid-friendly cereals. For extra crunch and sweetness, add a sprinkling of granola on top.

  • Trail Mix
    Nuts can be a good source of heart-healthy fats, but some mixes contain calorie-laden dried fruits and even chocolate. One cup can contain almost 700 calories! (Did I mention I love granola in my trail mix!)

    Try this instead: Air-popped popcorn is a good source of whole grains, and it’s filling.

  • Turkey Hot Dogs
    A lot of turkey hot dogs are surprisingly high in fat, and some contain even more than regular hot dogs. They can also be loaded with sodium and nitrates, so beware. (Not exactly appropriate for Meatless Monday but still noteworthy).

    Try this instead: A turkey breast sandwich is a better choice. But if you’re really craving that hot dog, read packages and go for a turkey version with the least fat — and skip the bun.

  • Wrap Sandwiches
    These sandwiches can trick you into thinking you’re being healthier because the bread is thinner, but in reality, they are often made in a size that’s large enough for two people. ( Veggie wraps are were my one of my favorites).

    Try this instead: Have a sandwich on whole-grain or whole-wheat bread. Fill it with lean meats and plenty of fresh veggies.

  • Banana Chips
    Yes, they are made from bananas, but they are typically fried in coconut or palm oil, which is ultra unhealthy.

    Try this instead: Have a real banana. You’ll get lots of nutrients for half the calories and no fat.

  • Bran Muffins
    Many bran muffins are the over-sized and loaded with fat, sugar, and calories.

    Try this instead: Have bran cereal with low-fat milk. Add some fresh fruit on top, and you have a healthy start to your day!

  • Frozen Yogurt
    Frozen yogurt may be the most deceptive of all. It has more sugar and less protein and calcium than plain yogurt. Beware of bottled smoothies, too.

    Try this instead: Choose a light yogurt that’s low in fat and calories or a Greek yogurt that has live, active cultures. Then, top it with some fresh berries.

  • Couscous
    Just like white pasta, regular couscous is a processed, refined grain with little nutritional value.

    Try this instead: Buy whole-wheat couscous or opt for a whole grain like quinoa or brown rice.

Did any of your favorite foods make the list?

Earth Day Countdown: 29 Days



Recyclemania Tip:

Newspapers, magazines, and white paper can all be recycled as long as the paper is clean and dry. Plastic wrap, stickers, or rubber bands should be removed, but staples and plastic window envelopes are OK.

RecycleMania trivia question: Paper can be recycled up to _____ times before it is turned into organic waste and breaks down.

Comment on today’s post with the correct answer for a chance to win a prize from the Office of Sustainability. The winner will by randomly chosen from correct answers submitted by 5 pm (EST) on March 18, 2011. (Note: Prize must be picked up in the Office of Sustainability).

33 days until Earth Day on the Plaza….will you participate?

Say goodbye to your light bulbs

Did you know that beginning in 2012 there will be major changes in the way that you light your home? In an effort to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions the following changes will take place……..

  • The manufacture of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs will be banned beginning in January 2012.
  • The manufacture of 75-watt incandescent light bulbs will be banned beginning in January 2013.
  • The manufacture of 60- and  40 watt incandescent light bulbs will be banned beginning in January 2014

 2012: 100W phase out; 2013: 75W phase out; 2014: 40W & 60W phase out

What does the legislation say?
Between 2012 and 2014, standard A-line 40- and 100-watt incandescent light bulbs must use 30% less energy, but produce the same light output as the incandescent bulbs most of us use today.

What does this mean for me?
While you won’t be required to throw out your existing bulbs, you may be surprised when trying to find the same replacements at the store. After 2012, you’ll find that these bulbs will have to be replaced with energy-efficient options, such as Halogen, Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) light bulbs.

 Standard incandescent bulbs will be replaced with energy-efficient options such as Halogen, CFL, and LED light bulbs.

How much energy can an energy-efficient lighting really save?
The most common alternative to incandescents used today is the CFL. While the upfront investment is more for these bulbs, the cost is more than offset in money savings and product longevity.

Using a GE Energy Smart® CFL vs. standard incandescent bulb

Initial purchase price, per bulb $0.27 $3.77
Replacement cost (need to purchase 7 more) $1.89 $0.00
Energy cost (based on $0.10 per kWh over the life of the 8,000-hour bulb) $48.00 $12.00
Total cost $50.16 $15.77

savings in this example = $34.39

How will this legislation affect you? Were you aware of the changes?

 Source: GE Lighting, Business Wire

 35 days until Earth Day…test your shooting skills on the Plaza!

Ask the Sustainability Coordinator

Naturally I get lots of questions about sustainability and the environment. So I thought that from time to time I would share some of the most commonly asked questions with you. 

Q: Can I recycle this cup from _____________ (insert the name of a fast food restaurant here)?

 A: If the cup has a waxy coating (see picture to the right) it cannot be recycled. These cups are made of multiple types of materials and that makes it difficult for the recycler to identify the components.

If the cup does not have a waxy surface (see picture to the left), it can be recycled. To be sure, take a look at the bottom of the cup, there you should see the three chasing arrows (recycling) symbol. This means that the cup (or lid) can be recycled. Plastic straws can be recycled as well!

Photo Source: Dental Excellence and Make and Takes

Meatless Monday


As my Meatless Monday journey continues I find myself eating more fruits and vegetables (instead of chips and cookies). The one thing I didn’t factor in was if I was properly washing these foods.

 How to Properly Wash Fruits and Vegetables

 All fruits and veggies

  • Do Rinse all produce under running tap water while rubbing it with your hand.
  • Don’t fill the sink with water and let produce sit.

 Produce with Rinds, Grooves or Waxy Skin (melons, cucumbers, winter squash, citrus and potatoes)

  • Do scrub this produce with a brush.
  • Rubbing these foods my remove dirt but will not remove pathogens which may be stuck to the wax (this is where the brush comes in).


  • Do rinse bananas, there has not yet been a specific outbreak linked to bananas but think of how many hands may have touched your banana before you.

 Leafy Bunched Vegetables (lettuce, cabbage)

  • Do discard the outer layer of leaves before thoroughly rinsing the leaves in water.
  • Continue to rinse the leaves until dirt is no longer visible and then spin in a veggie dryer.
  • If lettuce is bagged and marked “ready to eat” according to the FDA, its safe to eat without rewashing it. Some experts disagree and urge consumers to wash all “ready to eat” veggies.

 Bunched Fruit (grapes, blueberries)

  • Rinse under running water in a colander (so all of your fruit doesn’t end going down the drain).
  • Using a spray nozzle will give a more thorough cleaning.

 One great overall tip was to NEVER taste fruit or vegetables in the store before they are washed (i.e tasting the grapes before you purchase them). The most surprising of these tips was rewashing the “ready to eat” veggies. Before reading this article I never rewashed the bagged lettuce (or washed bananas)…but I will start. What about you, do you rewash foods that are identified as “ready to eat”?


 Vegetarian Penne


  • 2 cups uncooked penne or medium tube pasta
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream


  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the onion, summer squash, zucchini, mushrooms and garlic in butter until tender.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the flour, seasonings and cream until smooth; add to the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Drain pasta and add to vegetable mixture. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.


Meatless Monday


When it comes to food, I don’t have much discipline! If  I want to eat a steak, Im going to eat a steak. My strong southern roots have made meat a big part of my diet. But my lack of discipline is not restricted to meat…I live by the motto “everything in moderation” so diets that prohibit certain items just don’t work for me. For example…I’m not a huge fan of chocolate but sometimes I need a Snickers fix. I don’t have to have a king sized candy bar…the snack size will suffice…but I just have to have it.

On that note I have great respect for people who choose (what some may consider alternative) eating habits. Vegetarians, vegans, pescatarians have all chosen to eliminate certain items from their diet for various reasons. But ultimately studies show that eliminating or reducing the intake of meat from your diet has healthy implications for your body and the planet.

Meatless Monday is an international campaign that encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays to improve their health and the health of the planet.

Why Monday? Well Monday is the beginning of the work week, the day when individuals settle back into a weekly routine. You also have a scheduled recurring reminder to start your week off on a nutritious note. In my case, I can do one day a week. You have to start somewhere, right?

So each Monday A Sustainable Life will offer meat-free recipes, reviews, nutrition and health news. I’ll also chronicle my journey towards healthier eating habits. So please join me for Meatless Mondays. Send your comments and favorite recipes to help others in their quest towards wellness.