I love to wake up in the morning to farm fresh produce on my front porch. It makes getting out of bed so much easier – well, that and coffee – but still, I was excited to get out of bed this morning to see what good stuff I had waiting on my porch.
I forgot how much I enjoyed it. When I moved a couple of years ago, the company that was delivering my produce said they wouldn’t be able to deliver to my new address. I haven’t found anyone to fill the bill until now.
I opted for an every-other week shipment. The produce is fresh, seasonal, and grown using organic farming methods. It arrives in a box that you return for reuse at your next shipment.
It’s like a little present on your doorstep. Each box is a surprise, including the freshest in-season fruits and vegetables.
Here’s today’s shipment:
Fresh kale, lettuce, leaks, onions, oranges, blueberries and more.
I like that I am supporting local, organic, sustainable agriculture, and buying produce that is in-season. I also like the “surprise” factor of getting some fruits or vegetables that I may not have found at my local store, or may not have ventured to try, like this Romanesco -
It’s like a work of art, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten it. I’m reading all about it now and looking for a good recipe. If anyone has one, please let me know.
I plan to put all this produce to good use in the next week or so. If I can’t use all in time, I wash, dry and freeze it for later use. Like the kale – I’ll use half now, and break up and freeze half later for using in smoothies.
You can also order Tanaka Farms CSA boxes for pickup at the Tanaka Farms produce stand in Irvine or at Whole Foods locations across Orange County. For more information on that program, visit the Tanaka Farms CSA Program page.
Biking is good for your body, good for the environment, and good for your wallet. To see just how much you can save by biking versus driving, check out this cool page, Going Car Free Can Make you a Millionaire, from bicycle universe.
Now, realistically, we aren’t going to give up our cars and become millionaires, but we can all swap out our car for a day, for a trip, or maybe even for a month – while saving money and reducing emissions.
The weather is gorgeous. No better time than now to swap your ride.
To celebrate bike month, OCTA is hosting a bike rally on Thursday, May 16th from 7:30-9:00am in Old Town Orange. The ride will be from the Orange Metrolink station to OCTA headquarters. Metrolink is offering FREE rides that day to anyone who boards with a bike.
OCTA is also sponsoring a month-long Instagram photo contest. Just post your photos with the hashtag #bikeOC and be entered to win prizes like a Trek commuter bike, cycling bags, and other gear.
For the afternoon, the day, or commuting to and from work all month long, swap your ride and give biking a try. It’s a great way to enjoy all the beauty Orange County has to offer.
I recently had the opportunity to check out Green2go restaurant in Brea and meet with it’s founders, Anita Allison and Joulia Kallah. Allison and Kallah are two moms on a mission – “to change the face, the depth and breadth, of ‘fast food’, making healthy eating easy, delicious and affordable for everyone.”
Which should be music to the ears of all busy moms trying to feed their families healthy, organic meals in between homework and driving back and forth for after-school sports and activities.
Today, almost five years after the concept for this restaurant was born, these two moms are on their way to achieving that goal at their current location in Brea.
One visit to the restaurant – whether you are dining in, taking meals to go, or just stopping by for some local organic produce from the Green2go farmer’s market – and you can feel the warm family-friendly atmosphere.
With affordable, kid-friendly meals like pasta marinara, burgers, fish tacos, and even organic mac-n-cheese, there are menu items to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters in your family.
Although many of the menu items are traditional, the difference at Green2go is that each ingredient they use serves a purpose – either because of its nutritional density, health benefits and cleanliness (lack of chemicals and additives); or because it is local, organic, and in season. In addition, Green2go’s ingredients only come from small farmers and ranchers who follow strict organic and humane practices.
Recently, Allison and Kallah partnered with Adam Navidi of Future Foods Farms in Brea. Their combined talents make Green2go the go-to spot for healthy, affordable, family-friendly meals, as well as a market where customers can purchase the local organic greens grown at Future Foods Farms. And from their biodegradable to-go packaging, to their reuse of aluminum foil from the restaurant out on the farm (as a bird deterrent), Allison, Kallah, and Navidi have a shared vision of being “the most sustainable restaurant around.”
In addition to pre-made menu items, which you can eat there or take with you, you can stop by the farmers market to find seasonal, local, organic produce – or even stumble upon unique treats like these mini mandarin oranges I discovered there that my kids are now obsessed with.
Green2go is located at 2435-A East Imperial Highway, in the Brea Union Plaza, at the corner of East Imperial Highway and Shopping Mall Way. The restaurant and market are open Wednesday through Sunday, from 11:00am to 9:00pm.
Use Natural Hand Sanitizers – most hand sanitizers contain antibacterial agents that cause more harm than good. They can lead to antibiotic resistance and the creation of superbugs. Soap and water are usually all anyone needs to get the job done. If you want to send your kids to school with a hand sanitizer, there are lots of good natural ones using a simple solution of alcohol and natural fragrances. I carry this EO Hand Sanitizing Spray in my purse. It smells great, is all organic, and kills germs. You can also make your own hand sanitizer at home – no harsh chemicals required.
Stop germs at the front door. As soon as you enter the house, take off your shoes and head straight to the sink to wash your hands with warm water and soap. Stop the bugs before they get in.
Put down the disinfectant sprays – Instead of exposing your family to potential toxins, try homemade solutions. A simple vinegar and water (50/50 mix) solution does have antimicrobial properties. Various studies have found that store-bought vinegar (a 5 percent acetic acid), in combination with table salt or hydrogen peroxide, can inhibit the growth of some strains of E. coli and is an effective mold killer.
But for fighting the flu virus specifically, it’s safer to go with Chlorine bleach. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t recommend the use of chlorine bleach, due to the potential health and environmental problems. However, when it comes to controlling flu, it’s a proven winner, and you’re better off going with a diluted chlorine bleach solution than a pre-made disinfectant like Lysol. Lysol and other over-the-counter cleaners are not required to disclose their ingredients, many of which may be harmful to your family and the environment. But when you mix a homemade bleach solution, you’ll know exactly what’s in it. You can also reduce bleach’s health and environmental impact with these steps:
Don’t make it too concentrated. Look for a concentration of 5 to 10 percent to reduce your chances of experiencing respiratory and skin irritation.
Always dilute it. You don’t need much bleach to kill the flu virus. Just one-quarter cup of bleach in a gallon of water, or one tablespoon per quart, is all you need to disinfect surfaces.
Make small batches and use right away. Bleach solutions have the most potency when mixed right before they’re applied.
Never mix with other cleaners…like ever. Chlorine bleach could react with unlisted ingredients in commercial cleaners, like ammonia, to form toxic fumes.
The best defense is a good offense – healthy food, lots of water and rest. These are the keys to building up immunity to help you not get sick in the first place, or at least minimize flu symptoms and duration of the illness.
Hoping you and your family make it through flu season without getting struck down, and without bringing hazardous chemicals in your house. Fight the flu…naturally.
I like resolutions that are simple, inexpensive and easy to keep – oh, and healthy and green too.
One I’m trying this year is just to get outside more.
The benefits are many – for body, mind and soul. It’s pretty impossible to be in a bad mood with an ocean breeze on your face and a view like this.
And when you are outside, you are usually engaged in something active. Whether it’s a stroll, hike, bike or run, it’s an activity that is good for your body.
Also, when powered by your own body, you aren’t generating a carbon footprint, so on top of that you are being green. It’s the perfect resolution!
It can be as simple as taking a jog on a trail or beach near your house, biking through your neighborhood, strolling down to the park with the kids or taking a walk outside your office on your lunch break.
One of the things I love about Orange County is not only our proximity to the beach, but our wealth of hiking and walking trails. You can take a beach stroll in the morning and a trail run in the afternoon.
I snapped the photo above in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park, just one of the many hiking areas in Orange County. For a list of all the OC Parks and trails click here and a list of some of the beautiful OC beaches can be found here.
If you are looking for something more structured, check out all the happenings at OC Parks this month and all year. This month-by-month event guide includes organized group hikes, kids activities and much more to help you get outside and enjoy all Orange County has to offer.
I’m going to resolve to sign my son and I up for one of the “Into the Wild” runs happening at various parks throughout the year. Come on, join us. Let’s get outside!
This New Year’s Eve, let OCTA do the driving – for free!
For the 11th year, OCTA will be offering free bus rides on all fixed-route buses on New Year’s Eve to promote safe travel. Free bus rides will be available from 6:00 p.m. Monday, December 31, until 2:30 a.m., Tuesday, January 1, 2013, or the last regularly scheduled trip for each route. Not all bus routes operate until 2:30 a.m. so please be sure to check your route for last trip information before you go.
Taking the bus is easy. Just do a little advance planning by using OCTA’s trip planner. Remember that buses will be on a Sunday/Holiday schedule on January 1 to observe New Year’s Day.
Be sure to plan your trip home too, so you are ready before you hit the New Year’s Eve party circuit.
If you are heading to the OC Fair New Year’s Eve Block Party, there are plenty of buses to get you there and back safely. You can even get $5 off admission at the OCTA store (while supplies last).
It’s safe! It’s green! It’s free! If you are heading out to New Year’s celebrations, there is no excuse to not play it safe by letting OCTA do the driving.
The December edition of OC Family magazine includes this ultimate holiday toy guide. It’s a great-looking spread, and check out the sidebar, “As Green as it Gets”.
I am excited that green toys are so prominently featured in the holiday guide, and also that I was able to help create the list!
I looked at a number of green toys before I submitted my final selections. I want to share some of the criteria I looked for when selecting the toys, and hopefully inspire you to do the same as you head out for any remaining holiday shopping. (Which if you are a procrastinator like me, is most of it.)
When evaluating the “greenness” of a toy (or really any item for that matter), here are some things to look for:
Is it made from sustainable material?By sustainable I mean reused or recycled material, or material that replenishes quickly, or grows easily without chemicals and pesticides (like bamboo).
In this feature, the Green Toys brand, made from 100% recycled plastic, is a perfect example of use of sustainable material.
Is it safe, non-toxic, natural, organic?Unfortunately, many kids’ toys contain PVC and other potentially toxic material. No, I am not trying to scare you by saying that if you are buying those you are poisoning your children. But with the safety of many materials in question, and alternatives available, why bring unnecessary toxins into your home?
For example, the eco-dough from Eco-Kids in this feature, is handmade with natural and organic fruit, plant and vegetable extracts. This is the exact kind of item that kids end up putting in their mouths. Wouldn’t you feel better knowing it’s all natural and organic?
Where is it manufactured?Of course local creations are preferred, but I’m not part of the I-won’t-buy-anything-made-in-China crowd. Items can be manufactured responsibly or irresponsibly anywhere. And trying to find toys not made out of the country is a difficult thing.
For example, PlanToys (actually manufactured in Thailand), creates composite wood from sawdust and organic pigments to make everything from train sets to this classic alligator pull-along toy.
How is it manufactured?How does the company treat workers, communities and the environment? One easy way to assess this is to look for fair-trade items. When an item is Fair Trade Certified, it ensures that those manufacturing the products are paid a “living wage” for their work. Also, fair trade gives back to the local communities in which the product is manufactured.
One item that didn’t make the list this year is the Senda Athletics Fair Trade Soccer Ball. Senda ensures that all workers in the supply chain – from factory workers and stitchers – receive at least the national minimum wage; that there is no child labor; and that the health and safety of workers is safeguarded. They also pay a Fair Trade Premium – for community and economic development projects. Improve lives and protect the planet with the purchase of a soccer ball - I mean come on, it’s hard to say no to that.
How is it packaged?Is the packaging minimal, recyclable?
I really like the Green Toys packaging, made from recycled corrugated boxes with no plastics, cellophane or twist-ties. The packaging is also 100% recyclable. And just imagine – no removing 100 annoying twist ties on Christmas day!
Is it well-made?There are few things I dislike more than cheap plastic items that break within the first few times playing with them. It’s wasteful in terms of money and resources (no matter how great of a sale you scored) and ends up forever in a landfill.
Every toy on this list is a high-quality, well-made, durable item. Some (like the plastic tea set) are even recyclable at the end of their life-cycle.
Is it reasonable priced? Green is not synonymous with expensive.
For example, the adorable alligator in this feature is $19.99, about the going rate of most pull-along toys. It doesn’t have to cost more because it’s green.
Finally, is it fun and will kids play with it?If your kids aren’t going to use it, it’s wasteful no matter how it’s manufactured.
I love the Anamalz toys in this feature. They are adorable, durable, and would make great toys for girls or boys. My kids always loved playing with little people or animal toys. I can picture them spending hours making up games with these little creatures. Also, these toys are made from sustainable maple wood, and the scraps from production are used on a mushroom farm. I mean, seriously, how cool is that?
Green is based upon many factors, some of which are certainly subjective. While it’s not an exact science, considering any of the above criteria in your purchases makes a difference. I truly believe that the items we purchase matter. In fact, I think it’s one of the few measurable differences we can make on a daily basis.
This holiday season, consider purchasing one or two items that are made locally, or sustainably, or are fair-trade, or even all of the above. I’m not suggesting that you only purchase green toys, or that toys have to meet all of these criteria. By even considering one of the above (like purchasing items with reduced packaging), you can make a difference.
From source material, to manufacturing, to disposal, these toys have a story to tell. Something you can’t say about most items on the store shelves.
Above all, the greenest thing you can do is not to over-buy for your kids. A few high-quality items are better than lots of little things. Your pocket book, the landfill, and someday, even your kids will thank you for it.
To check out the entire OC Family December edition, click here or pick up a copy at many locations throughout Orange County.
Thursday, November 15th is America Recycles Day, the only nationally recognized day dedicated to encouraging Americans to recycle and to buy recycled products.
Since 1997, communities across the country have come together on this date to celebrate recycling efforts. More than a celebration, America Recycle’s Day is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to the promotion of recycling programs in the United States.
For municipal solid waste, today’s recycling rates in the United States stand at roughly 34%. Compare this to Sweden, where they are so diligent about recycling that only 4% of their waste is sent to the landfill (the rest is burned for energy and the country has literally RUN OUT OF TRASH!), and you can see that we have a long way to go.
Even at current recycling rates, recycling is a multi-billion dollar industry that employs millions of Americans and helps advance our clean energy economy.
Through the simple act of recycling and buying recycled products, consumers create the demand for and fill the supply chain with recycled materials. These materials help fuel the economy. But there is more opportunity that is not being realized. Too much of our recyclable materials still end up in the landfill.
Here are a few of the latest and greatest recycling tips:
No more removing the plastic bottle tops from your bottles before recycling. Technology has improved and today, plastic bottle caps are generally recyclable along with the bottle! Check with your local solid waste & recycling office to be sure, but many recycling programs accept bottle caps, made from #5 and #2 plastics.
Half is better than none! Although you can’t recycle your whole pizza box, you can tear off and recycle the top half, as long as it’s grease-free. If your coffee cup isn’t recyclable, you can still recycle the cardboard sleeve from the outside. Think of your recycling in pieces rather than an “all or nothing” scenario.
When recycling your clean aluminum foil, fold it into a flat square rather than squishing into a ball. When it’s in a ball, recycling facilities don’t know if there is food inside. They simply don’t have the capacity to open and check each piece that comes through the facility.
Bring recycling to your bathroom – don’t toss those toilet paper rolls and empty shampoo bottles. Take them to the recycling can instead.
For more great recycling tips, check out the Tip of the Day page of the America Recycles website.
While there is much disagreement right now on how to boost our economy, something we can all agree on is the benefit of creating more green jobs, reducing landfills and litter, and protecting our natural resources. One simple way to do all three is with the simple act of recycling.
To get involved in recycling during America Recycles Day tomorrow or find more information about recycling every day of the year, visit americarecyclesday.org.
On my run this morning, I saw a three-year-old girl, on her way to preschool decked out in her Snow White costume.
Instantly, it took me back to this Halloween:
Oh they were so cute, and so much work, and impossible to get to hold still and take just one good photo of the two of them together, and so crabby by the end of the night.
Fast forward ten years, and this is the first Halloween that both of my kids have requested to trick-or-treat with their friends ONLY – no parents.
I’m not going to lie, there may be tears. Halloween has always been my favorite holiday with the kids. The costumes, trick-or-treating, I love it all. I would give anything to re-live those tired, crabby Halloweens of years past.
For those of you with little ones, enjoy today – soak it all in. When they throw a fit and don’t want to put on their costume, just laugh. When they take off pieces of their costume along the route, pick them up and smile. When they only make it down one block, get tired and cranky, take them home and snuggle on the couch. Enjoy it because this moment does not last long.
But the memories you have will last. And that’s a good thing.
What’s not so good, is when the decorations of year’s past last a long time too. They come back to haunt us by forever sitting in a landfill.
So when you wake up tomorrow, ready to move on from your Halloween decor, don’t just trash it. Here are some tips for composting, reusing, or recycling:
1. Pumpkins and other gourds – These items are fully biodegradable and compostable, either in your home compost bin (you may want to cut it into smaller pieces for faster biodegrading), or also in most “green waste” bins.
2. Lights – For those strands that have seen their last holiday, you can recycle them at Christmas Light Recycling Program at HolidayLEDs.com. They’ll even send you a coupon for purchasing new LED lights – that will last for many, many holidays and use 90% less power than incandescent bulbs.
3. Paper and/or cardboard wall hangings – If you have single-stream recycling (meaning one can that you toss all recyclables in) that includes metal scraps (like the steel and brass used for metal eyelets on most Halloween decorations), you can toss the whole thing right into the bin. Just pick off the tape before recycling. Same goes for streamers – peel off the tape and toss them right in.
4. Plastic pumpkins, etc. – Many plastic items may be recyclable. Check for an arrow with a number in the middle. If your waste management company accepts that number of plastic for recycling, toss it in the recycling bin. For more information on recycling all types of plastic, see my post “Plastics by the Numbers“.
4. Reuse, reuse, reuse – Purchasing high-quality decorations that last multiple seasons helps you save money and reduce waste. Just pack them away in the garage and reuse year after year.
5. Other items – Surprisingly, latex balloons and even those decorative cobwebs (those made from 100% cotton or other natural fiber) are fully compostable. Toss them in the compost bin and watch them turn into fertilizer for your yard. Cool!
The ABC Green Home premiered at the Orange County Great Park today. I got to go in with the press for a sneak peak at it before it’s open to the public.
Produced by Green Homebuilder magazine in partnership with Southern California Edison, The “ABC” in this home stands for Affordable, Buildable and Certified. This Green Home, which will receive six green certificates by four different agencies, is the first of its kind to be built by SCE, or any utility company. It is being used to educate and train builders, students, industry groups and thousands of visitors to the Great Park.
Designed by architect Manny Gonzalez and his team from the Los Angeles-based KTGY Group Inc., the ABC Green Home can be easily built by a home builder as a stand-alone custom or within a subdivision of single-family homes on any lot in the country. The affordable home has an all-inclusive price of just $300,000.
And, it’s also really pretty inside…
The ABC Green Home demonstrates how to use design, planning, engineering and science to create the ideal green home. It’s open floor plan, great design and full wheelchair accessibility make this 1700-square-foot home suitable for a wide-range of buyers.
California is seeking to make Net-Zero energy use mandatory for new construction by 2020. Net-Zero essentially means that the house generates as much or more of the energy it needs. This model home shows builders they don’t have to wait, they can achieve Net-Zero now.
Nothing used in the construction is hard to find – everything can be sourced at local builders’ supply yards. From drought-tolerant landscaping and a drip irrigation system; to solar panels; to a state-of-the-art home-energy monitoring system, this home is equipped with everything a family needs for a true Net-Zero living.
This home will be available for public viewing at the Great Park for one year, until the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2013, to take place October 3-13, 2013 at the Great Park – where this Green Home will be a key display. After that time, it will be donated to Habitat for Humanity and given to a wounded service person.
Don’t miss your opportunity to see, touch and feel what a net-zero, sustainable home looks like. Come check it out at the Great Park soon!
You can keep up with The ABC Green Home by following them on their Facebook page.