Tree Huggers Unite! Check Out The Most Eco-Friendly Blogs on the Net

by Paulina Aguilera

Kermit the Frog said it best when he said “It’s not easy being green.” But with the advent of the World Wide Web, being green really is easy – not to mention cheap. It’s just a matter of knowing where to turn to for helpful green advice, eco-friendly tips, and money-saving information that helps us save our environment at the same time.

Say what you will about the Internet, but without it, the spreading of environmentally sound advice to millions across the world couldn’t be possible. If you want a recipe for all-natural, animal-friendly, all-purpose cleaner, you only need to ask the Google gods. Maybe you want to green your upcoming wedding. You can just hop online, type in “green wedding” and thousands upon thousands of possibilities are instantly presented before you. Here’s something I learned using the power of the net: Wear a vintage wedding dress. You will get it at a steal, it will likely be made in America, and no one else will have one quite like it.

There are so many venues to find eco-friendly living advice, so the greatest challenge is no longer “Where can I find good green tips?” but “Where can I find the best green tips?” Of all the Websites and blogs currently touting green living advice, we here at have selected the four best that will be worth your precious internet browsing hours.

ecolife  (

Ecolife This Canadian-based blog covers every aspect of a greener lifestyle, from parenting to beauty. Not quite sure what the hullabaloo about carbon offsets is about? Ecolife lays it out so you can understand it better in the blog entitled “Clearing Up the Offset Confusion.” Think conventional baby formula is a good idea for your infant? Maryruth’s excellently researched “Choosing Organic Baby Formula” exposes the potential harms of using regular baby formula, and includes links on recipes for making your own organic baby formula at home.

And if you’re moving a long distance, ecolife presents a great guide to finding green airlines that help you get to your final destination with a reduced carbon footprint. But the blog of particular note is the recycling facts – a must-read for any avid recycler. Until I read it, I had no idea that sending yard waste to the landfill could lead to the development of leachate, a dangerous combination of toxins and metals that seeps into our groundwater.

The Mindful Consumer (

The Mindful Consumer The Mindful Consumer blogs are the brainchild of Washington D.C. duo Sara Ellard and Ron Exler. Both Washingtonians describe the challenges of living as a green consumer everyday. Together, they have managed to bring well-researched blogs that are relatable, explore a broad variety of topics, and comes from a genuine place of concern for the environment.

Most of us trying to live an environmentally conscious lifestyle are fed up with paying higher prices for organic and all natural goods. Ron shares his irritation with the situation in this blog that calls for equal prices on green goods. Plus, Sara offers five cheap ways you can go green, including a tip that will help you furnish your new home for less.

Green Matters (

Green Matters If there was a green living bandwagon, best-selling author of It’s Easy Being Green: A Handbook for Earth-Friendly Living Crissy Trask would be driving it. She’s been dishing out excellent green advice on her Green Matters blog since 1999, which explains the tagline “The Original Green Lifestyle Website.”

Crissy’s blogs range from tidbits on newly coined words (take the word cheatatarian, for one – you know who you are…) to political discussions, like her thoughts on Sarah Palin’s decision to feed school kids cookies in a school with limits on sweets. And if you’re in the habit of feeding ducks at your local park, read Crissy’s plea on why you need to stop feeding the ducks.

Mother Earth News (

Mother Earth News This Website is also a popular sustainable living publication – one of the longest running magazines of its kind, in fact. Although they don’t proclaim to be a green living Website, Topeka-based Mother Earth News aims to make your life choices wiser. This is the go-to site if you have dreams of the simple life consisting of a vegetable patch, a few cows, and maybe some chickens running around.

Got a green thumb? You could spend hours browsing and reading the many organic gardening posts featured here. Curious about the new electric cars hitting the market this year? Take an in-depth look at the fact-filled “Why Electric Cars Are Greener” blog from James Kliesch. For the handyman or woman moving into a fixer upper, don’t miss the many projects in the must-read do-it-yourself section.

There you have it! These four eco-conscious blogs and sites are the perfect resources for your environmentally friendly self. You can spruce up your beauty regimen with the natural makeup remover tips and products researched by ecolife. You can learn how to be a Mindful Consumer with help from Sara and Ron’s camp. You can find tips on caring for livestock for your eco-friendly farm at Mother Earth News. So start browsing and stop wasting!

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Forget the Lawn – Grow food Instead.

Forget the Lawn – Grow food Instead.

By Jan M. Weiss –

A bright green healthy lawn was historically presented as a message from the ultra-rich people exclaiming to their minions that they had so much money that they could use their land for lawn instead of using it to grow food. Times have changed – thankfully – and today’s lawn is ubiquitous with life in the suburbs. Running in the sprinklers and playing catch with the family dog reflects a lifestyle of ease, comfort and simplicity. However, there is the other side of lawn ownership and that is the abundance of water it takes to keep it lush and the variety of fertilizers that must be used to keep it green, resulting in these chemicals ending up in our water supplies – upsetting the delicate balance in our oceans. A lawn isn’t necessary or cost efficient and homeowners across the nation have woken up to the idea of getting rid of their lawns altogether and joining a movement of turning their front yards into beautiful edible gardens.

We removed our lawn four years ago and planted a Mediterranean garden that grows beautiful in our arid California climate. Then last year I began growing vegetables beginning with lettuce last winter. In the spring I added parsley, basil, thyme and mint and then a potted pepper plant. My neighbors stop by out of curiosity and to remark on how beautiful it is. I have begun evangelizing the pluses of removing your lawn and growing food. And…it’s much easier then you think. Follow these tips and in a year’s time you will have fresh food growing in your garden.

• To begin with you will need to remove the lawn. You can simply rip it out as we did…or peel it up and have it taken away. You can rent a machine that will assist in peeling it away – or you can kill off the lawn by covering the lawn in the fall with a layer of newspaper. Cover the newspaper with mulch, leaves and dirt. This top layer will break down the newspaper and the lawn will die off and by spring you have a dirt patch ready to plant. Do not use any kind of weed or plant killer – you will end up destroying the dirt and its healthy growing properties.

• Draw out a garden design and divide the lot up into sections; include walkways with gravel,decomposed granite (DG) or flagstone. When adding the walkways be sure to plan so that you can easily reach over to pick up plants without have to tramp over the dirt, possibly crushing your veggies. Not all of the sections need to be planted with vegetables, especially if the lot is very large. Instead add lavender or other drought tolerant plants that will attract butterflies and bees.

• Decide what to plant in each section and keep like items together. For example use one section for winter greens, another for herbs and another for squash or tomatoes. When your summer vegetables are over, plant colorful annuals until the next planting season-which could be winter or early spring.

• Some vegetables are simply beautiful to look at as well as eating such as red peppers or cherry tomatoes and nasturtiums. Make sure your garden is as visually appealing as it is delicious.

• Many vegetable varieties are best grown in colder climates such as broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts; unless your garden will be covered with snow don’t give up on a winter harvest.

• If you plant too much don’t worry – many food banks and churches will take your excess and you can also share with neighbors. My herb garden has become to the go-to place in our cul de sac for the last minute basil request. And when the mint took over I have became a mint pusher by never letting a guest leave without taking a bag of this fragrant herb.

• Be sure to have a compost bin and take the composted dirt and use it as fertilizer, sprinkling it around the base of the plants and then watering it in.

Encourage your neighbors, by your example, to join in this gardening revolution.

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Everyday is Earth Day for Sweet Spud

Every day is Earth Day for Sweet Spud! The inspiring collection of organic cotton children’s apparel will be exhibiting at Green Festivals, a celebration of sustainable products and programs held April 9-10 in San Francisco. The nation’s premier sustainability event for 10 years, Green Festivals will showcase eco-friendly businesses in their marketplace and host fun activities for kids, vegetarian cuisine sampling, and how-to workshops.

Sweet Spud was recently named one of the Top 10 Exhibitors by Green Festivals, ranking #3 from over 350 eco-friendly businesses. To participate in this two-day event, all exhibitors are screened for their commitment to environmental sustainability and social justice using Green America,, green business standards and earn the Green America Seal of Approval.

Combining messages of love and peace from world leaders like Gandhi with enlightened graphics, Sweet Spud features super soft, certified organic cotton bodysuits, toddler tees, yoga pants, and hats for little ones. Every facet of the collection is eco-friendly, from recycled hangtags to water-based inks and eco-friendly gift packaging. From soil to shelf, Sweet Spud is true to the Earth- and easy on the wallet- pieces range from $13-$22. View the collection and learn more about Sweet Spud’s green practices at

Green Festivals will be held at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center on Saturday and Sunday, April 9-10. Visit Sweet Spud at booth#838. For more details, visit

For all media inquiries, please contact:

Adrienne Dorsey

Magnolia PR

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Marcal Small Steps Announces New Product Improvements

Nation’s leading 100 percent recycled paper goods brand again proves performance and price needn’t be sacrificed to go green

Marcal has announced enhancements to products in its leading line of paper goods made from 100 percent recycled paper. Marcal® Small Steps® two-ply bath tissue is now even softer, and Marcal Small Steps paper towels are stronger when wet. The new products started shipping to retailers in early February.

The performance improvements came from advances in production and processing methods. Marcal Small Steps will continue to sell for typically less than other paper goods made from 100 percent recycled paper, as well as products made from virgin fiber (sourced from freshly killed trees).

“These new products advance our brand’s mission to demonstrate how making environmentally responsible choices doesn’t have to mean sacrificing performance or paying more,” said MJ Jolda, Marcal’s Senior Vice President, Marketing. “The enhancements give our many fans even more reasons to love Marcal Small Steps, and give others new reasons to reconsider their paper buying habits. That’s critical, since right now, only two percent of household paper goods purchased by U.S. households are made from 100 percent recycled paper.”

The enhancements extend to Marcal Small Steps facial tissues, soon to get a facelift with beautiful new box decor. The brand tapped its ever-growing social media fan base to choose the winning designs. Soon to stand out on store shelves, and fit in right at home, are striking, elegant floral motifs in a variety of designs and colors. Cube boxes will arrive in stores by March, with flat boxes following for Earth Month in April.

For more information about Marcal (R) Small Steps (R) check out Also be sure to visit their facebook and twitter pages.

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Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative: Overview of Issues

The Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative is an organization being developed that will merge science and management practices into a group designed for information sharing and addressing issues of importance dealing with landscape conservation thoughout the Great Basin region. LCC’s were established in 2009 by Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar.

It is composed of a steering commitee which includes the following participants:

Federal agencies- 3 representatives from the Departmen of Interior including 1 Bureau of Land Management, 1 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and 1 rotating seat from others. 3 representatives from the Department of Agriculture including 1 U.S. Forest Service, 1 Natural Resource Conservation Service, and 1 rotating seat from the others.
State- 5 representatives from the Great Basin States 1 from each State
Tribes- 5 Tribal representatives
Great Basin Research and Management Partnership- 1 representative
Great Basin Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit- 1 representative
Great Basin Environmental Program- 1 representative
Non-Governmental Organization and Private-10 representatives. This wll include members from landowner associations, Wildlife organizations, mining, inustrial, and other private organizations.
The next group of the LCC is the Issue Based Working groups. These groups will be solutions based and will be the ones delivering the products and proposals. The Issue Based Working Groups will be composed of a mixture of different organization.

The Stakeholder Forum is the annual meeting of the LCC. The Steering Committee will organize the event, and it will be open to all stakeholders.

The staff of the LCC will be composed of the LCC Coodinator others need to assist. The Coodinator will support the Steering Committee, Working Groups, build relationships with all members, and coodinate events.

The issues that the LCC will focus on will be the ones in which people in the region are concerned. These are the ones discussed at the last meeting.

Urbanization and Changing Land Use- What is the impact on the landscape?
Public Perception of Land Management- How does the public views land management organizations and actions?
Water Resources- How can we minmize contamination and depletion of water sources?
Energy Developement- How to minimize landscape damage from upcoming renewable energy projects?
Climate Change- What is the impact it is having on the region and what is the adaptability of all effected?
Abnormal Wildfire Regimes- How is it effecting the species and landscape?
Invasive Plant Species- How do we get rid of them?
Insect outbreaks- What is the cause and damage to land?
Riparian and Aquatic Ecosystems- What is the impact and what are some conservation methods that can be used?
Plant Communities- How are they impacted by fires, insects, climate, etc?
These are just summaries or the issues. Each one will be covered more in depth in upcoming articles. The LCC is looking for support from any groups concerned with conservation and environmental issues. Anyone interested should contact

This was written originally on I am the writer and decided to post here as well to let as many people as possible know about the organization and plans.

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New Sustainable Living Book for Families with a “how to” twist Reaches #1 on

Tracy Lydiatt, The Green Families Guru is excited to announce the recent success of her official book launch for her book, Your Green Family Blueprint on

Ms. Lydiatt says, “On the morning of the first day of the book launch, I’m very excited to announce that my book Your Green Family Blueprint, went to #1 position in the category of Sustainable Living books on”

Participating in the launch were important partners that helped rocket the book to the #1 position in the Sustainable Living books category.   Book launch partners included businesses, organizations and individuals from Ireland, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, the USA and Canada. All partners were selected because they contribute through different but complimentary facets, working towards the creation of a sustainable society and added value to families and individuals interested in greening their families.

Many of the eco-friendly, green books available currently focus on the ‘what’ to do to green your family.  They are an important part of the equation although many families are time-poor and become easily overwhelmed by so much information on going green.  Often, they tend to give up because they do not have the time to read, digest, synthesize and apply the information to their family in an easy, practical way.  Ms. Lydiatt’s book adds a new twist to the going green movement by taking the ‘what’ to do and empowering families on ‘how’ to make it work for them with easy, breezy practicality.

Your Green Family Blueprint is published by Vervante Inc. and distributed through
Retail Price: $21.99 USD
ISBN-10: 1450742033
ISBN-13: 978-1450742030

For more information about Your Green Family Blueprint, please visit:
For a free preview of the book go to:

Tracy Lydiatt – B.Sc, M.Sc
The Green Families Guru
#1 Bestselling author, speaker and educator on sustainability for families

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Soy Candle Trend Gains Momentum As Consumers Learn Benefits

Soy candles are seemingly everywhere these days.  These candles have long been a favorite of environmentally and health conscious consumers but these eco-friendly products are now making their way into new homes at an accelerated pace.  The soy trend is gaining momentum as shoppers learn the benefits of soy wax candles over traditional paraffin wax candles.  Many consumers indicate soy candles are simply a better value.  The unique properties of soy wax allow the candle to burn three times longer and produce a much stronger fragrance than traditional candles.  Soy bean wax candles are also cleaner. Soy candles produce no black soot when used.  That means no black gunk on the inside of the candle jar or on the walls and furniture near the candle. In addition, soy wax spills are easily cleaned with just soap and water.

Over the last few years, health concerns have pushed consumers away from paraffin wax candles.  These candles are petroleum based and release CO2 and toxins when burned.  Unfortunately, these toxins are unhealthy when inhaled and the risks become even greater when multiple candles are burned within a single household.  Soy bean wax is also a renewable and sustainable resource making it a favorite of environmentally minded consumers.  Soy bean wax is a natural wax, similar to beeswax, but much less expensive.  Because soy bean wax is 100% natural, it is completely biodegradable.  Purchasing these scented candles is also considered a great way to support the American agricultural community.

Small companies have been the quickest to capitalize on the surging popularity of soy candles.  Jeremy Podliska, owner of based out of Omaha Nebraska, has been thrilled with the demand for his scented soy candles.  “We’re able to be very competitive in this niche candle market because our customers want something the larger candle production companies aren’t providing.  They want candles that are hand poured, made with 100% natural soy bean wax and have a design that is modern and stylish.”  The company also attempts to distinguished themselves from the competition by offering unique candle aromas such as Caramel Cinnamon Latte and Mango Papaya.   Sheer Soy’s “candle of the month club” is a popular program for candle lovers that want to try a variety of their most popular fragrances.  This company is just one of many that appear to be gaining a foothold with consumers that prefer to shop with smaller and socially responsible organizations.

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview, please call Jeremy Podliska at 402-350-5601 or email

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Organic and Fair Trade Flowers not just for Valentine’s Day Anymore

Wendy Martin Turley @WendyMTurley – I’m an Interior Decorating Senior at Humber College and I always believed that cut flowers were bad for the environment because you’re cutting and spraying them. Often the workers aren’t paid fairly.  My parents led me to believe this was bad too; because, my father always gave my mother uncut flowers on special occasions. The Celtic culture believes giving cut flowers is wishing the receiver death also.

Now this last Valentine’s season I’ve learnt that florists are beginning to get on the environmental causes too.  There was a call from the local papers in the Toronto Area for people to ask their florists for organic and fair trade flowers.  I’ve done a little research in my local area and have found at least one florist who specializes in only selling organic and fair trade flowers.

Why does this interest me?  In the Decorating and Design field we shudder at the thought of fake flowers and real flowers can be a finishing touch in many rooms.  We use cut flowers and this is a profession that no matter what we do, we impact the environment in positive and negative ways.  There is a push from clients for green products and greener environments and so we are pushing venders and manufacturers to rethink their products and how they are made.  It’s our job to educate ourselves on what says it’s Green and what’s really environmentally green. Every little effort will have a positive impact.

If I can made a smaller carbon footprint by using truly environmentally sound products I will.  I’ll start by using Organic and Fair Trade Flowers.  In the Toronto Area there check out, for Organic and Fair Trade Flowers or the Toronto Star Article for other shops with unique eco services .

Photos from:

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Troy Pavelka of Normandy Builders Receives LEED Green Associate Certification from the US Green Building Council

Hinsdale, IL ─ February 25 ─ Troy Pavelka of Normandy Builders has recently been awarded the LEED Green Associate credential by the Green Building Certification Institute, a branch of the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED certification means that Pavelka has passed his certification exam and has shown knowledge in green building and remodeling principles.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and was developed by the US Green Building Council as a way to identify and implement practical and measurable green building solutions.  Buildings or homes can qualify for a variety of LEED certifications depending on how well they score on the LEED Green Building Rating System.  A LEED Green Associate certification shows that Pavelka is knowledgeable about these building methods and has studied and been tested about the extent of his knowledge on the subject.

As a licensed architect, Pavelka understands the benefits of incorporating green principles into the home remodeling projects of his clients.  “Many of the ways to make your remodeling project more green are affordable and easy to obtain,” says Pavelka.  “There has been this misconception that going green is an all or nothing prospect, which can significantly increase the price of your project.  While it is true that there are many high tech ‘green’ solutions, many of today’s solutions can be found at nearly any price point and can be a part of an affordable remodeling project.”

Pavelka will be giving a seminar to homeowners on the ways that green remodeling can be incorporated into a home remodeling project on Saturday April 16, 2011 from 10:30AM to 12:30PM at Normandy Builders Hinsdale Showroom.  The seminar is entitled “Commonsense Green Remodeling” and is free to attend for those who register at

About Normandy Builders

Normandy Builders is a Design/Build remodeling firm that develops plans and designs and then executes those plans to create a single point of contact for a homeowner’s remodeling project.  Normandy Builders has been providing award winning kitchens, baths, renovations and additions to Chicago area clients for over 30 years.  Normandy is known for great service, high ethical standards, and exceptional quality of work.  Their dedication to their clients has previously earned them the title of Remodeler of the Year by Professional Remodeler Magazine, as well as the distinction of GuildQuality Guildmaster Award in 2008, 2009, and 2010.  Centrally located in Hinsdale, Normandy Builders services the entire Chicago Metro area.  Normandy’s headquarters also features an 8,000 sq ft showroom that allows prospective clients to learn more about the renovation process and makes the selections process for existing clients quick and convenient.

About Troy Pavelka

Troy is an award winning licensed architect who directs Normandy’s design staff to ensure aesthetic sensitivity and function.  With Normandy since 2002, he was promoted to Design Manager in 2008.  Having received his Masters Degree in Architecture from the University of Illinois, Troy exhibits a passion for architecture and a strong focus on design.  He is also well versed in environmentally sensitive construction and tries to integrate that knowledge into each of his projects.  Troy serves on the Design Review Board as a Design Commissioner for the Village of La Grange, and has earned LEED Green Associate certification.

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How to go green with your wedding registry

It is well known that, going green with a wedding registry can mean a lot of things – going local, going healthy, going chemical-free and going safe for the planet.  The part that is little known is that, going green with a wedding registry also means you’ll get the most unique, fun and highly cared for products on the market – and it won’t be a dime more expensive, or take a minute longer than directing your invites to a major retailer.

Sustainable gift registries and ideas are out there, and it only takes a little bit of effort for the planet-minded brides and grooms-to-be to find them. Yes, it may mean splitting up gift registries into categories of different stores, and yes, it may be an online-only thing, which grandma may have trouble with (until you teach her the modern meaning of ‘mouse’). But is it worth it?
Boy, is it ever!

Green doesn’t have to be more expensive, and in fact the quality and sustainable specialties of green brands are just as prestigious as going high-end on your wedding registry.  For example, the gift registry at Shoo-Foo Eco Linens offers bamboo towels and bedding that are breathable, stay fresh longer, hang like cashmere, shine like silk and are probably the softest material you’ve ever felt in your life!  Sensitive skin will especially appreciate their hypoallergenic qualities, and luxury seekers will love the 300-thread count of the bedding set, plus the 600 grams per square meter of the towels. They’ve got it all from robes to face clothsshower mats, gym towels and of course, a huge bath sheet! (plus more!).

They are local and have the certifications to prove their sustainability. It’s a great place to start a gift registry for wedding showers, stagettes and rehearsal dinners that are all about being environmentally friendly and gifting with organic sources.

Then there are companies like Cookworks, a local Vancouver kitchenware store. While they may not be pushing the green side of their marketing efforts, brides can rest knowing that at least they offer high quality items that won’t be polluting the earth to get to your door, since they are local.

Another great option would be requests for fine art gifts (a great investment scheme), to support your local art community.  In fact, Vancouver’s Jacana Art Gallery is stepping onto the wedding scene as an art gallery with a bridal speciality; couples can now book the sleek-looking space and customize the art decor for their reception or ceremony, plus request a gift registry there.

Finally, for lovebirds who already have all the household necessities, thinking outside the box will eliminate the need for boring cash envelopes.  Consider asking for experience gifts, like a gourmet kayaking trip from Edible British Columbia. Or perhaps a rafting trip or some other fear-defying activity, perfect for learning the true meaning of “till death do us part.”

Registries are a great way to ensure your gifts are green by directing your guests to the items you specifically want.  While there are more green companies out there offering gifts that would be perfect for weddings, often they can only offer one-of-a-kind items, or are not set up for keeping a registry over a long period of time.  In cases like this, be sure to mix up your wedding gift requests, being open to what may arrive from the green sources without official gift registries, and being particular with the green stores that can well-manage your inventory of goodies-to-come!

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