1. Going Green with Sir Winston Pugsalot

    Posted on June 21, 2012 by Ashley S

    My Poor Baby

    I didn’t exactly plan to start cooking for Sir Winston Pugsalot, but he became really sick about halfway through last school year. I worried that I killed him by feeding him some kind of tainted food or maybe by using clear plastic wrap over opened cans of dog food, but in the end Dr. Paws (our vet) explained that pugs are prone to developing elongated soft palates that can block their throats and cause them to choke and cough up food. Sir WP and I were extremely lucky, as the condition can be corrected by (very expensive) surgery. When I began to choke and cough at the estimated cost of Sir WP’s surgery, Dr. Paws suggested that I try feeding Sir WP a soft, homemade diet and see if it helped.

    When we got home, I scoured the Internet for easy home dog food recipes and ended up with a grocery list of ingredients. And then to my boyfriend’s amusement, I began to cook homemade dog food for Sir WP. While it didn’t happen immediately, Sir WP got better—a lot better. He stopped choking and he had more energy, his eyes brightened and his fur looked better than mine, even after a special hot oil treatment. I discovered, too, that Sir WP and I had stopped supporting some truly cruel and wasteful ways in which commercial dog food is manufactured.

    Benefits of Homemade Doggie Treats

    Unlike commercial dog food—the production of which frequently involves animal abuse, and the ingredients of which are usually subpar—homemade doggie treats are very beneficial for your pooch. These are almost always made of whole ingredients, rather than processed ones, which help to keep your dog svelte and healthy. Additionally, you don’t have to worry about possible contamination as has been evidenced lately with the seemingly never-ending pet food recall.  Finally, when you know exactly what is going into your pup’s system, you also know exactly what isn’t going in—namely, unknown, potentially harmful chemicals.

    Sir WP Follow-Up

    When Sir WP returned for a check-up, we were chastised for the state of Sir WP’s teeth. Unlike human dental insurance plans, which encourage regular oral check-ups, dogs’ dental hygiene is frequently ignored—guilty as charged. I was already making Sir WP’s meals once or twice a month and freezing them, so it wasn’t a huge leap to begin to make homemade dog biscuits designed to be crunchy enough to clean his teeth. He hasn’t expressed his opinion verbally, but his breath has improved and his teeth look a little cleaner.

    Sir WP Dental Balls

    Preheat your oven to 400°F.

    Mix 1/2 cup organic crunchy peanut butter, 1/2 cup organic butter, 2 organic eggs, 3 cups organic rolled oats, 1 cup organic applesauce and 1/2 cup frozen green peas into a paste. Roll into balls and place on nonstick cookie sheet. Flatten balls into a lump with the bottom of a large spoon. Bake until browned, about 6 minutes. Let cool and harden. Store in a cookie jar.

  2. Save a Paper, Save a Tree, Save a Dollar

    Posted on May 8, 2012 by Ashley S

    Asking a writer/law student how to use less paper is like asking a great white shark how to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet, but I’ll do my best. There are a few basic uses of paper and a few different techniques to reduce those uses (don’t worry I won’t be asking you to switch to single-ply toilet paper or anything).

    Writing Paper

    I love writing paper. There’s nothing like the convenience of grabbing a notebook or a piece of loose leaf paper and scribbling down my latest brilliant (or not-so-brilliant) thought.

    Unfortunately, I’m thinking my way to a pulverized tree. According to the website Conservatree, each tree can yield just over 8,000 sheets of paper. That’s 16 reams of paper or 80-100 sheet notebooks. Maybe that sounds like a lot of paper to you, but to me, that sounds like a productive week. Luckily for me, and the trees, many of the places I write for, both academically and professionally, will allow me to fileshare and submit my work digitally.

    Even if you’re not much of a typist or if you need to use sketches and figures in your writing, a good tablet computer with a stylus will let you write freehand on the touch screen itself, saving paper and giving you the benefit of spell check (woohoo!) while you are working. For those occasions where you absolutely must use paper, paying a few extra cents and getting the stuff that’s recycled can help with your eco-guilt.

    Billing Statements

    Okay, chances are you don’t get 8,000 billing statements in a given year, but if you put together yours with your neighbors, coworkers and friends, we’re probably getting into tree-saving territory. Now that just about every company offers paperless billing, you have the option to save those trees, as long as you’re responsible enough to keep an eye on your bank account without those bills to remind you when money is being deducted.

    There are other benefits to paperless billing, too. Sometimes companies will offer you an incentive like a gift card or sweepstakes entry for going paperless. You also get to save postage and checks, and save yourself the problems you would incur if a statement were to be lost in the mail. Also, as the Little Green Blog points out, you’ll have a much slimmer file cabinet.

    Other Paper Products

    Okay, as I said, I don’t expect you to go without toilet paper; heck I’m not even going to ask you to go to cloth diapers (although you would save a lot of landfill space).

    Let’s take a look at paper towels, though. Do you really need to use a paper towel for every spill? Wouldn’t a nice reusable washcloth be just as good, or better? Again, you’ll save a few bucks, too, as all those rolls of paper towels start to add up in cost. If you must use paper towels, there are recycled options available.

    Saving trees doesn’t have to be painful, and it can really make you feel good about yourself and what you’re doing for the environment. Using options besides paper, or using recycled paper, can make a big impact on your environmental footprint.

    Best of all, cutting down on paper use can sometimes help you to save the most important paper of all–the green kind with pictures of presidents on it.

  3. Eco-Friendly Summer Fun

    Posted on April 10, 2012 by Ashley S

    Summer is the season for cookouts, trips to the beach and naps in the sun. Unfortunately, it also tends to be a prime season for polluting the very resources that allow people to enjoy their favorite warm weather activities This summer, keep participating in the activities you enjoy, but do it in a way that won’t hurt Mother Nature. The following tips should help get you started on a fantastic green summer.

    Summer Gardening

    Here’s a tip that will help you save money, eat healthy and be a friend to the environment: Grow fruits and veggies in your garden. Eating produce grown in a backyard garden is far better for the environment that consuming fruits and vegetables that have been treated with pesticides, excessively watered and transported across the country in a gas-guzzling truck. Gardening doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Stick with plants that grow well in your region’s climate and you’ll have no trouble growing a bumper crop of delicious fruits and vegetables.

    Stick with Reusable Utensils

    Once you’ve harvested the produce from your garden, it’s time to celebrate with a delicious and healthy meal. Keep the celebration green by using plates, cups and utensils that can be washed up and reused at a later time. While paper plates save a bit of immediate washing, the long-term impact on the environment can be harsh. Making a point of eating with reusable utensils and dishware doesn’t mean that you always have to take out the fancy china-a more casual set of plastic dishware should work just fine.

    Drink From a Water Bottle

    This eco friendly hint goes right along with the one listed above. Buying bottled water in the store is not only overpriced, it is terrible for the environment. Do your part by investing in a good water bottle. If you’re worried about the taste of well or city water, simply add a filter to your sink. The end result will be fresh water that keeps both you and the environment healthy.

    Use a Canopy Tent

    Next time you have your friends and family members over for grilling, keep your guests shaded the eco-friendly way: with a canopy tent. Unlike other shading options, a good canopy tent will shield you and your guests from the sun without using up precious energy. These tents are easy to put up and take down, adding an extra level of convenience to any get-together.

    Ride Your Bike

    The weather is nice enough now that you really don’t need to take the car everywhere. Not only is riding your bike far better for the environment, it’s also good for your health. Even a short bike ride is capable of burning hundreds of calories. Biking can also be an excellent social activity. Instead of driving all over with your friends, pull out your bikes and ride to the nearest park.

    Staying green this summer doesn’t have to be difficult, inconvenient or expensive. With a few basic changes to your routine, you can enjoy your favorite summer activities while doing your part for the environment.

    The summer is about to heat up, but with a little bit of effort and good decision-making it can be safe and fun for you and the Earth!

  4. Inspire Others to Eat Green & Eat Local

    Posted on March 13, 2012 by Ashley S

    As a law student, I’m constantly on the go. Running back and forth between classes, the library and trying to squeeze in some time at the gym burns energy faster than you might think. Most days I pick up food on the go at local restaurants and fortunately, here in Chicago, we have some great ones that offer healthy, energizing options.

    Visiting all these different spots has shown me that there’s a lot of competition in the city and running a restaurant can prove challenging. But if you were to advertise your restaurant as “green and healthy” this might attract those who support local eateries and green businesses.

    Getting Started

    Restaurant experience is helpful. But if you don’t have experience working in or running a restaurant, buying into a franchise is an excellent idea. Once you’re a franchise owner, you will receive training and plenty of resources to help you get started. The corporate office will develop marketing campaigns for you, as well as assign a management team to help you in the beginning.

    You can also buy an existing restaurant and benefit from this establishment’s good reputation and client-base. Be sure to ask questions before making an offer. Why is the owner selling? What’s included in the sale price? Others factors to consider include the restaurant’s location, as well as the restaurant’s past and current financial records.

    Starting an independent restaurant from the ground gives you creative freedom, in which you’re able to develop a completely original idea and concept. Understand, however, new start-ups require restaurant experience, a lot of time, and generally a type A personality.

    Organic Food

    Advocating green eating can be somewhat challenging if you buy into a franchise or purchase an existing restaurant. These restaurants have an established menu and switching up the food selection might turn off loyal clients. Independent restaurants give you the freedom to create your own menu. But even if you can’t completely change the menu on a franchise or newly acquired restaurant, you can make little changes and incorporate additional items to show your support for healthy eating.

    Start by researching and comparing organic suppliers. Perhaps you can begin buying your meats, dairy products, vegetables and fruits from these companies. Cost is an issue and you’ll need to find a supplier with reasonable prices. This keeps your food costs low, so you don’t have to raise your prices.

    Restaurant Supplies

    Green restaurant ventures don’t stop with food preparation. Reducing the amount of energy that your restaurant consumes also contributes to your green efforts. Restaurants require ice machines, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, fryers, ovens and other supplies. Replacing at least one restaurant supply or piece of equipment with an energy-efficient alternative can save your establishment hundreds each year. The yearly savings can double or triple by incorporating all energy-efficient supplies in your commercial kitchen.

    Smaller Steps

    Other green tips to help save energy include regularly changing your air filters, opting for energy-efficient lighting, switching to programmable thermostats, regularly checking pipes and seals for leaks and conserving hot water. Going green is a group effort and it’s imperative that you educate your staff on various energy conserving methods.

  5. Going Green on Vacation

    Posted on February 15, 2012 by Ashley S

    If I told you that you could take a vacation, stay at top of the line hotels and eat at five-star restaurants all the while protecting the environment would you be interested? I thought you would be. Well, all of that is possible because more hotels, restaurants and stores are getting on board with the eco-friendly movement every day.

    I’m a law student who lives in Chicago so I don’t have the money or time to travel often but I make up for it by exploring the various Chicago attractions. Here are some tips to help you plan a green vacation wherever it is that you might be headed.

    Recycle while you sleep

    First of all, search for eco-friendly accommodations available at your destination.

    The Westin Hotel and Resort in Chicago earned recognition for their green practices and they are proud to be Green Seal Silver Certified.  That title is not just for show, either. They are dedicated to recycling and reusing products as much as possible but they are not alone. Green hotels are sprouting up like flowers in the spring around the world. While you’re looking to book a room, take a minute to check the website and see if they have a section discussing their green initiative.

    Eat green without going vegetarian

    Trying out popular restaurants in the area you are visiting is a must while you’re on vacation, but if you can you should find some that use organic foods. Restaurants that go organic normally are involved in other green practices like using efficiency lighting to conserve energy and recycling plastics and bottles instead of throwing them away.

    Green activities

    If you’re looking for eco-friendly activities to enjoy on your trip those are not hard to find, either. In warmer weather getting out and taking in the sights of your new surroundings is more enjoyable than walking around in cold temperatures but there are green activities that are available year round.

    • Make it a spa day – Taking in a day at a spa is great way to ease tension and have your stress literally rubbed off of you. Many spas are big supporters of the green movement and offer drinks and snacks that are made from organic fruits and vegetables. The laid back, relaxed vibe is good for the green movement and energy conservation, too, because the lighting is usually dim and they look to avoid using products that are bad for the environment.
    • Go shopping – More clothing stores and fashion lines are supporting the green movement by donating a portion of their proceeds to different environmentally focused organizations. Some stores have partnered up with these organizations and have agreed to not sell certain products that are harmful to nature or made with the skin or fur of endangered species. Now the people who love to shop can feel good because a portion of the money they spend is being used to help a good cause.

    It’s not difficult to plan a green vacation and you can have a positive impact on the environment while having a great time and eating good food. It’s definitely worth doing whether you trip is to Chicago or China.

  6. Protect the Environment, Protect Yourself

    Posted on January 17, 2012 by Ashley S

    If you live in the city like me, there are eco-friendly options for your safety better than this dog- although probably not as cute!

    Wanting to live an environmentally friendly lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself from basics you need. You just have to find alternative means that accomplish what you need while still being sustainable for the environment. Some people spend a fortune on home security systems that use up a lot of energy and aren’t efficient at all. You can go to online resources like protectyourhome.com for eco-friendly information that are easily affordable options – and I have a few green options to share too!

    Natural protection

    I have family in the south that lives out in the country. Here in the city, our homes are separated from our neighbors by a few feet. In the country where my family lives, huge fields separate the neighbors. There is a lot of space and there aren’t many people who travel the country roads. They never owned a security system to protect their home, but they always kept a few dogs in the yard. These dogs were friendly with us—and the pigs and chickens my grandparents kept—but whenever a stranger pulled up they let us know. My grandfather liked dogs but he kept them more for protection than as pets. They stayed outside and kept stray dogs and strangers from entering the yard. When it comes to green security nothing is more eco-friendly than that! But I live in Chicago, and I understand that in certain areas you will need a lot more than a dog to provide security.

    Harness the sun’s energy

    Vivint is one company that has jumped on the green bandwagon and is attempting to create a new system that will save money and use less energy. Their idea is a bit more radical than others because it requires a drastic change that is definitely beneficial, although many people still don’t have the capabilities to do it yet. They are focusing on homes with solar powered panels that use the sun’s energy to power home appliances. They install panels into the home that allows users to track how much energy certain appliances are using. They are also extending that feature to smartphones so people can track their status while on the go.

    Recycle when you upgrade

    ADT security systems are a good choice for security systems because they reuse parts of outdated devices to produce the newer models. Each system has minerals inside of it that can be taken out and put to use along with metals that are difficult to break down and would only increase waste if they were thrown away. ADT has implemented smartphone usage into their system too. Users can turn lights off and on and save energy while they are away from home. The thermostat can be controlled via the phone too—giving users control of their home while on the move.

    There are many ways to protect yourself and your family while still looking out for the environment and conserving energy. Each day people are working on new ways make these systems even more efficient and eco-friendly too. Do you have any tips or ideas to add that I didn’t mention?

  7. Bring Your Own Utensils

    Posted on June 3, 2009 by Allie

    I carry a titanium backpacking spork around in my purse.  I know that sounds kind of weird, but it saves me from using disposable utensils when I eat out, and it’s so light, I never even notice that I’m carrying it.

    Before the Industrail Revolution it was common for guests to be expected to bring their own utensils with them when invited to dine, because utensils were expensive, labor intensive items, and most people didn’t own extra sets.  Now, when it’s possible to buy a set of 1,000 plastic utensils for under $20, people don’t even think about bringing their own.

    But think of the plastic waste that can be saved by slipping a fork from home in your purse on the way out the door.  You don’t need anything fancy.  Grab one from your kitchen drawer, or if you’re worried about loosing a piece of a set, pick up a few spare utensils the next time you hit a discount store, thrift shop, or yard sale.  It’s simple a simple way to cut down waste, and it’s always nicer to eat with real utensils anyway.

  8. Make Your Own Snack Bags

    Posted on May 1, 2009 by Allie

    Howling Hill sent me a great link to instructions for making your own reusable cloth snack bags.  The instructions are thorough with pictures showing the steps.  They’re so cute and easy!  Make them out of scrap fabric and you’ll save money and cut down on your plastic waste.

    Thanks, HH!

  9. Swap Your Veggies!

    Posted on by Allie

    Gardening is full of surprises.  Sometimes you plant tomatoes hoping for a great harvest, only to get a a few mealy ones that never quite turn red.  Other times, you end up with so many tomatoes you just don’t know what to do with them all.

    Inhabitat found a great resource for gardenersVeggie Trader lets you trade the overflow of your bumper crops for someone else’s.  Check it out!

  10. Buy a Used Bike

    Posted on April 20, 2009 by Allie

    It’s bike weather!  Everyone knows that biking instead of driving is a fabulous way to lessen your carbon footprint, save money, and stay fit.  But not everyone knows what to look for in a bicycle.  Read more…

Tip of the Day

If It Doesn’t Smell, Don’t Wash It

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According to Real Simple, if every American made an effort to launder less — cutting out just one load of laundry a week per household — we’d save enough water to fill seven million swimming pools each year.

So if it looks clean, and it smells clean, call it clean and wear it again. Consider hanging worn clothes out on your clothesline to freshen them up between wearings.


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