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24 posts from December 2012

December 28, 2012

DIY Natural Soap: Stank Dog Soap

Stank Dog SoapHeidi Corley Barto began to experiment with soap-making when her younger daughter started to experience skin issues. The Natural Soap Chef is the product of those experiments. Homemade soap allows you to control what goes into your soap, so that you can get clean while keeping nasty chemicals out of the environment and away from your skin. This recipe from The Natural Soap Chef is perfect for pet lovers.

Soap Recipe: Stank Dog Soap

This bar will deodorize anyone, canine or human! The idea for the soap came from my Vizsla dog, Penelope. Vizslas are known as Velcro dogs—they like to stick with their humans all the time. Penelope has been known to hop in while a family member is showering. Having a soap that serves double duty—what a brilliant idea!


Continue reading "DIY Natural Soap: Stank Dog Soap" »

December 26, 2012

App Obsession:

DIYappIn an ever-growing tech society, it can be hard to pull the kids away from their video games, iPhones or favorite TV shows and get them in touch with their own creativity. Crafting pulls out that creativity and allows kids to explore what it is that interests them in a fun, hands-on way, but it's not always easy to come up with something that the kids will think is cool. That's why parents and kids alike will love this app from

Why kids love it:

Not only is it an awesome way to keep track of all the crafty projects that they create, it's a way for the kids to show off their talents to other kids and share ideas on future projects. Much like Instagram, the kids can post pictures of what they've made, but they can also post video. also created a Skills section that rewards kids with badges for having completed projects under different categories. For example, if the kids are thinking about building a fort, the fort badge challenges them to build it out of three different materials before obtaining the badge. These badges seem like a great way to get excited about making something rather than watching it on TV and it gets the creative juices flowing by making them complete various tasks before becoming a Maker. 

Why parents love it:

Continue reading "App Obsession:" »

December 24, 2012

Green Your Holiday Spread

FarmersMarketFoodNow that you’ve got the decorations and partyware green themed, the food is the next essential ingredient to an eco-friendly party. Whether you decide to make the food yourself, have a potluck, or go with a caterer here are some tips for a spread that will keep your impact to a minimum.

Tip: Buy local, organic food for your holiday party.


Organic food isn’t just about putting the cleanest food into your own body; it’s about the entire process it went through before getting to you. By using organic food at your festivities, you’re helping to keep chemicals out of your body, but in the process you are keeping the environment and the workers who harvest your food chemical-free as well. While you may not be able to afford to make your whole spread organic, buying organic fruits and veggies is a great place to start.


Not only is it helpful to your own community to buy local, it is also helpful to the environment in general. By buying local in the winter, your food will generally be fresher because it was harvested more recently before making it to your dinner table. This also cuts back on climate-change impacts on the environment because your food isn’t traveling thousands of miles before reaching the table. The best places to look for local foods would be at a farmers' market or even through local CSA’s (community supported agriculture), so make sure you do your research before the party.


Don't forget to use those recycling and compost bins that you've set out for the party. By composting what you don't eat, you are helping that next batch of holiday food to be grown. This way instead of your leftovers going to a landfill, they will go back into the soil to aid new crops to grow or livestock to eat well themselves. 

--Jess Krager

--Photos courtesy of iStock/manleyaudio

Read More:

Worth a Shot: Eco-Liquors

Sierra Club: Food and Drink Tips

4 Reasons Organic Foods are Healthier


December 22, 2012

Recipes: Festive Cocktails

Lemon Ginger  Maple ToddyWith the weather getting colder and holiday parties in full swing, sometimes the best way to warm up is to fix yourself a cocktail. Now you can always go to the tried-and-true eggnog or brandy, but maybe you’re feeling like something a bit more creative this year. While cocktail recipes can get a little complex sometimes, here are a couple of drinks that can be made with your favorite eco-spirits and some common ingredients out of the cupboard.

Merry Margarita 

  • 6 shots tequila

  • 1 medium sized lemon

  • 6 tablespoons pure maple syrup

  • cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg

  • vanilla

  • Ice

Combine the tequila and maple syrup in a blender with a tray full of ice (add more later if this is not enough) and mix. Add two dashes of nutmeg and a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla then pulse. Set aside. Combine a tablespoon of sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a saucer. Wet the rim of your margarita glasses with a little water or vanilla, then dip and swirl each glass in the mixture until the rim are coated. Pour your margaritas in the each glass and enjoy! 

If tequila isn’t necessarily your drink of choice, or if you’re looking for something hot to warm your hands and belly, try the following recipe using some of the same ingredients in a whole new way.

Nice and Naughty Toddy

Continue reading "Recipes: Festive Cocktails" »

December 21, 2012

Green Your Gifting: Party Favor Ideas

Photo booth propsWhether you choose to do party favors or a gift exchange, a party always has more pizzazz if the guests don’t go home empty-handed. You could prepare a small token or give them the tools to make their own favors, but setting up a little something extra will go a long way toward making your guests feel appreciated.

Tip: Give green party favors or presents.

Party favors can be a great little takeaway for your holiday party. Depending on your time limit and budget, there are a couple different ways to go. 

Get crafty

Sometimes something handmade will impress your guests more than spending some cash. If you have spare time, you could individual gifts. A cute idea for individually made treasures are creating homemade ornaments  out of items around your house. Clothespins make great reindeer or toy soldier ornatments; and lightbulbs are pefect for Santas or penguins. Grab some paint and any extra bits of flair your can think of and craft something special for your coworkers. 

If you're short on time, set up a "photo booth" at your holiday party. Use old gift wrapping paper to create the backdrop. Next, use old boxes and paint/markers to make designs such as antlers, beards, santa hats, holiday scarves, elf hats, etc. Stick the cardboard to some wooden skewers and you have props for slightly cheesing yet memorable photos. Have a designated photographer for the evening and at the end of the party, upload them to a website, email them to guests, or print them out yourself if you have the materials.  

Continue reading "Green Your Gifting: Party Favor Ideas" »

December 20, 2012

Green Your Holiday Table

BambooPartywareHoliday parties can easily end up leaving a carbon footprint. Between paper cups, napkins, plates and cutlery, there can be a lot left over that ends up in the trash when it shouldn't.  We've got some tips that will make your shindig both fun and sustainable when it comes to the party supplies.

Tip: Use compostable or reusable partyware.

First of all, if you're throwing an office party take stock of all the supplies you may already have. If you have party supplies left over from the last event, utilize that or bring in things from around your own home. It's also important to note that if you are going to buy supplies, make sure you have more than just a trash can for the night's discards. Set up recycle and compost bins around the party aside those trash bins and you'll be one step closer to an eco-friendly gathering.  


Continue reading "Green Your Holiday Table " »

How to Make Your Own Tofu and Soy Milk

Make tofuTofu has an image problem. While it's lauded for being healthy and more environmentally friendly than meat, it tends to lack in the flavor department. And if that's not enough, it's also derided for being "too processed." After all, how on earth do you get that white jiggly stuff from a bean?

The first issue can be easily solved with a flavorful sauce. And to the second, perhaps the best way to open your mind to the world of tofu is to make it yourself. Making homemade tofu is a fun project that can result in several meals. Not only that, but the byproducts of tofu-making, okara and whey, are nutritious and can be eaten as well.

So, give it a try! You may be pleasantly surprised. The following recipe makes about 3 servings of tofu, as well as 5 cups of okara and 2 quarts of whey. Or, it can make 2 1/2 quarts of soy milk and 5 cups of okara.


Continue reading "How to Make Your Own Tofu and Soy Milk" »

Drinking Buddies

Whether you prefer your beverages hot or cold, there's no need to ever again slink out of the coffee shop feeling guilty. These reusable drink containers — all BPA-free — will keep you from wasting cups and bottles.


Faucet FacePrefer glass to plastic? FAUCET FACE feels you. After all, glass is fully recyclable and never leaches chemicals. Its sturdy 14.4-ounce containers remind us of old-fashioned milk bottles and come emblazoned with mottoes intended to glamorize tap water. For each four sold, the company donates a sand filter to India, where many families lack clean water. $15 ($25 for two)


When your travel plans or space constraints call for a flexible liquid-toting solution, take along the Runway pouch from VAPUR. It's light, foldable (when empty), sleek, and enlivened by bold, couture-inspired patterns. A looped-in carabiner adds function. $10

Topo bottle

Since you're on this site, you likely have a beyond normal love of hiking and/or public transportation. LIBERTY BOTTLEWORKS lets you display both of those eco-passions with patriotism — the company claims to produce the only made-in-the-USA metal water bottle and donates one percent of its proceeds to eco-causes. Its artist-driven designs include the Topo and the Mass Transit collections. $19


Popular bottle maker SIGG SWITZERLAND collaborated with a rainforest-conservation campaign called Cuipo to produce this fully recyclable, 20-ounce aluminum bottle adorned with their mascot, “Steve the Sloth.” It comes with an activation code; type it in on Cuipo’s website and you get to save a square meter of Panamanian rainforest. $22



BOBBLE makes clear, squeezable, recycled-plastic containers whose colorful carbon filters purify tap water as you drink. Each one creates the filtered-water equivalent of 300 average-size commercial water bottles. $9 for the 13-ounce size shown


For a straightforward design that gleams but doesn't sweat, you can't do much better than a bright-colored stainless-steel bottle from S'WELL. It's double-walled, so it keeps hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours and cold drinks cold for up to 24 — and it's great for wine and beer too. S'well donates a portion of its proceeds to WaterAid, a charity that helps the world's poorest people gain access to clean water. $35 for the 17-ounce size, $45 for the 25-ounce size

Bamboo bottle
Bamboo is a sustainable material, yes, but it happens to be an insulating one too. The Bamboo Bottle uses the wood to hug a 17-ounce, recycled-glass interior. You can add a classic lid ($6) or a hot one ($8) that will keep your coffee piping. Also: The BAMBOO BOTTLE CO. donates one percent of its proceeds to environmental nonprofits. $20 Mastrad

MASTRAD sells a double-glass-walled Travel Mug, which, in addition to being a handsome conversation piece, keeps your drink hot, your hand comfy, and anything inside from spilling out. $20

FACT: Americans throw away 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour, and 58 billion paper coffee cups every year.

 by Avital Andrews / photos (5) by Lori Eanes 

December 19, 2012

Feed Your Children Well

The problem with baby food is that it tends to end up on the floor. Or on the wall. Or in your hair. So we asked experts to recommend earth-friendly meals that infants would rather eat than fling. 

Plum Cereal

PLUM ORGANICS is a favorite brand among parents and pediatric pros — and tots love it too. Melanie Potock, author of Happy Mealtimes With Happy Kids, recommends the company's Organic Brown Rice Cereal, which comes in a container that's free of the toxic bisphenol A (BPA) compound. Potock praises the soft cereal for being made from whole grains, enriched with probiotics and nutrients, and free of genetically modified ingredients (GMOs). Plum is one of only about 600 Certified B corporations, which means that it abides by strict, transparent environmental policies. For ages four months and older. About $4 for 7 ounces Sprout baby food

Celebrity chef Tyler Florence started SPROUT, whose organic offerings are inspired by recipes that his own kids would eat. Ingrid Kellaghan, the founder of Chicago's Cambridge Nanny Group and an expert in childcare issues like mealtime fussiness, says, "Infants go gaga over the Apples pouch. It's so lusciously simple and nutrient-rich." Most of Sprout's products are roasted or baked, she adds, "so you get this amazing flavor that's bright and vivid, with the ideal texture for babies." Sprout's lightweight pouches are made without BPA — and when they're empty, you can ship them (for free) to TerraCycle, a company that makes them into new things and pays the charity of your choice for your plastic donation. For ages four months and older. $1.20 for 3.17 ounces

Ella's Kitchen

The Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, Apples, and Blueberries flavor from ELLA'S KITCHEN is a best seller. Many experts recommend it, including Elena Mauer, deputy editor of, a website for new parents. "Pouches are fantastic to toss in the diaper bag," she says, "and Ella's are just organic fruit or veggies — nothing added." Pouches require only a tenth of the cargo space that glass jars do and take less energy and fewer materials to produce. Like Sprout, Ella's partners with TerraCycle to keep its containers from ending up in landfills. "We work closely with our suppliers to create a sustainable supply chain and have launched a farm-trips program to let inner-city kids experience nature and learn about fresh, healthy food," says founder Paul Lindley (Ella's dad). For ages four months and older. About $2 for 3.5 ounces Happypuffs

Jina Park, who founded the luxury baby-goods trade show Plush, is a fan of the organic Greens Puffs from HAPPY FAMILY. "Babies and toddlers just love these finger foods that melt in their mouth," she says of the Cheerios-like tidbits. "The Puffs teach tactility and self-feeding and are made with whole grains." Even though they're packed with kale, collard greens, and spinach, plus vitamins and minerals, the GMO- and gluten-free snacks taste sweet, thanks to their fruit juice flavoring. And the Puffs' recyclable canisters are BPA-free. For ages seven months and older. $3.49 for 2.1 ounces

CauliflowerAll of our experts recommended the aforementioned products with the caveat that the greenest, healthiest thing you can serve is DIY baby food made from local, seasonal, organic produce. So we asked Lisa Barnes, author of Cooking for Baby, to give us a favorite recipe. Her cauliflower puree is rich in potassium and vitamins B and C. "The taste is mild," she writes, "and can easily be mixed with other vegetables such as spinach or broccoli to mellow the flavor." To make three servings, cut half a head of organic cauliflower into florets and steam them for about 10 minutes, or until they're tender. Immediately cool the florets under running water, then puree them in a food processor. For a smoother consistency, add water. Dress up leftovers with milk, sauteed garlic, and Parmesan to make a creamy side dish for kids and adults.

--Avital Andrews / photos by Lori Eanes

December 18, 2012

Sustainable Skiing: The Best and Worst Resorts

Ski tracksBack in 2003, Sierra magazine published an article on the sustainability, or lack thereof, of various ski and snowboard parks. Since ski runs are basically clear-cuts, and since ski resorts are heavy users of energy and water for snowmaking, snowmobiles, and lifts, it makes sense to keep score of which resorts trod heavily on the earth, and which ones tiptoe.

When Sierra first took a look at this issue, the overall outlook was pretty bleak. Over 20% of the resorts got a failing grade on the Ski Area Citizen's Coalition's annual Ski Area Report Card, and only 7% were A-class aces. The average score for all the accessed resorts was a C. But have resorts improved their practices in the decade since?

The answer, as it turns out, is a resounding YES. And 10 resorts stand above the rest.

Continue reading "Sustainable Skiing: The Best and Worst Resorts" »

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