Wednesday, March 28, 2007

San Francisco bans plastic bags!

San Francisco's board of supervisors passed the plastic bag ban in a 10-1 vote on Tuesday, March 27th. The ban will take effect in 6 months for grocery stores and 1 year for pharmacies. It will require business to offer paper bags, compostable/biodegradable bags, or reusable bags. This is the first such legislation passed in the US and is generating quite a buzz. Check out the full story HERE. Hopefully other cities will follow suit, and in fact I heard that Madison, WI (home to our Green Girl Laura) may be the next city to follow suit. You can check out that story HERE.

Sunday, March 25, 2007


Now you can share your love for the Green Girl's Guide and show your pride in green. Order your Green Girl gear here!!!! Check out our store at Cafe Press - proceeds will contribute to making this site better and better for you!

Green Girl's SHOP!

We are working on making this site better already - which is why our posting has been a bit sparse lately! Look forward for more to come!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Is there an answer?

I am reading Garbage Land and I've got to say so far it's a bit dismal. Is there no answer to the question of what to do about our mounting garbage problem? Our garbage is just piling up everywhere creating all kinds of problems. It is unlikely that we can count on the majority of the public to take up composting their own materials and it isn't cost effective for municipalities to do it so that's not likely to happen. I'm still excited about my Green Cone and the prospect of doing my small part, but this book is making me frustrated about the big picture. I'm not done w/ the book yet and am awaiting her big answer / solution to the problem - though I doubt she has one. I think the real answer is for each of us to be more conscious about our decisions and how the impact the whole. We can't eliminate our garbage, but we can decrease it. Don't buy individually packaged products, buy bulk where we can... to coin a marketing term for the recycling campaigns... reduce, recycle, reuse!

One solution that is being discussed in the book are Anaerobic food digesters. These are enclosed vertical tanks that take up far less space than a landfill. The tanks are hooked up to dewatering and gas collection systems. Food and waste is 'cooked' in the cylinder until it is about 90% decomposed then it is moved to an aerobic system (I believe just in open air) for it to be converted to compost. This compost is made up of about 40 percent carbon dioxide and 60 percent methane. This can then be converted to energy.

Nantucket, Mass. came up against some real problems with their unlined landfill in the late 80s and was in the position to make a change. They hired Waste Options to implement an anaerobic food digester and have been able to divert about 86 percent of their garbage from the landfill into the digester and are going a step further and taking the old landfill and putting it in the digester to convert it to compost. You can check HERE for the full story!

I'm not sure that this is the answer for ALL locations, but it shows a great amount of promise. Now I need to research to see if others are looking into this as an option... surely the success of Nantucket's operation is no secret! I read about it..

So I think the NOW answer is for each of us to REDUCE, recycle and reuse wherever we can... while the long term answer is being worked on. I know there are bigger things we can do ... like lobby our local governments etc... the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

San Francisco to ban plastic bags?

Mayor Gavin Newsom is backing the proposed ban on plastic bags. The city tried to impose a 17-cent per bag tax in 2005, which resulted in a voluntary agreement to use less bags, thereby avoiding the tax. Now the SF environmental council wants to ban bags altogether, charging the grocery stores have not done enough to reduce plastic bag use. The Environmental Council proposes offering recyclable paper, compostable plastic, or reusable cloth bags instead. If the ordinance passes, stores that do $2 million and up in sales would be affected. Grocery store chains are (of course) against the ban. Peter Larkin, president of the grocers association, has this to say: "Compelling more than 50 grocery stores to make the switch would also cause more environmental harm as baffled consumers mix biodegradable bags with regular plastic bags in recycling bins, contaminating recycled plastic, Larkin argued.
"You would end up with a situation where non-grocery stores are using regular plastic bags and the consumers will never be able to tell the difference or segregate the waste stream," he said. "We think it is going to confuse consumers and do damage to our efforts to recycle more." (

Ok...let me get this straight. They think that people won't be smart enough to tell the difference between a recyclable/compostable bag and a regular plastic bag, thereby jeopardizing the TINY portion of plastic grocery bags that are currently recycled? Oy. Personally, I am all for getting rid of plastic bags. I think that people who take the time to bring their bags back to the store will know the difference AND since SF has a curbside food compost program, consumers could even use the compostable grocery bags to store food until pick-up. Although San Francisco may be the first US city to propose such a (radical) thing, bans on plastic grocery bags are already in effect in other parts of the world.

Go San Francisco! Go Mayor Newsom!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Vegetable Ragu

What's this got to do w/ the environment? Well, in line with the discussion about vegetarianism I've been looking for good recipes and found this one and thought it would be fun to share some recipes as I go... try if you wish!

This particular recipe is modified from Rachel Ray's 2,4,6,8 Great Meals for Couples or Crowds.

Polenta w/ Vegetable Ragu
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
3 T EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
Salt and Pepper
6 cups vegetable stock
1 large fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 red bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup raisins
1 head of escarole, washed and coarsely chopped (they didn't have this so I used mustard greens)
Parmigiano-reggiano cheese
Polenta (I used the kind that comes in a tube that you slice and prepare according to package directions)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Arrange cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle generously with EVOO, then season with salt and pepper, tossing around to coat. Roast the cauliflower for 15 minutes, or until it is lightly browned and tender.

Place large skillet over medium-high heat with 3 tablespoons of EVOO. Add the fennel, onions, garlic, bell peppers and red pepper flakes and season with a little salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until the veggies are approaching being tender. Add 2 cups of veggie stock and bring up to a simmer, then continue cooking for 4 - 5 minutes.

While that is cooking slice your polenta and either pan fry it or bake it for about 15 minutes. (follow the directions on the package for desired results.)

Add the roasted cauliflower, greens (mustard, chard, escarole or whatever you prefer) and the raisins to the skillet of veggies, toss to combine and continue to cook for about 4 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half.

To serve place 2 or 3 slices of polenta in a bowl and cover with the veggie ragu then sprinkle with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Serves about 6.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Okay… so I’m 31 now.. (ouch) and you know we are always supposed to listen to our mom b/c ‘mommy knows best’, but we also know that deep down inside we want to disagree w/ mom… just because. Well, MY mom has been selling Shaklee products for some time now and I’ve always kind of let it all go in one ear and out the other… 1. Not a big fan of cleaning so any cleaning talk was useless to me (ha) and 2. I’m my own woman and didn’t need my mom telling me how to do things…. Ha ha

Fast forward: I’m a wife, mom, home owner and let’s face it I’ve got to start cleaning this house!!! I’ll summarize the story as to how I got to using Shaklee products. Post birth of my babies my skin was a wreck… even more of a wreck than it had been previously… now in addition to my lovely acne I had I now had a not so attractive RIDUCULOUSLY dry patch on my face. Mom and I traveled together and she went on and on about Shaklee and finally I said, “okay.. I’ll try your stuff while we’re on this trip.” (in my mind thinking this SO isn’t going to work) Well, IT DID! The dry spot cleared up in less than a week and I was sold. Mom had talked about the environmental aspects of Shaklee all along, but I hadn’t done the research on my own. Now that I was going to order my own Enfuselle (another post to be done in the future RE: skin care, but if you are looking for info now click here to be directed to the website.) I was going to do my own research. WOW Shaklee is one environmentally conscious operation. This led me to look into their cleaning products.. Mom had sung their praises as well, but I was leary about the shipping cost. After what I read about Shaklee and their environmentally conscious business practices I felt it might be worth it. Not only is it worth it… it’s cost effective because the products are so concentrated. I’m not paying for them to ship a bunch of water. I don’t’ have to have a bunch of different cleaners. Basic H works on almost everything.

They have named their cleaning product campaign Get Clean – meaning not only get your house clean, but get our planet clean.

The products are safe for you to use.. no harmful chemicals and therefore no horrible odors… no more having to turn on the fan in the bathroom just to do the job. No more rubber gloves or worrying about your kids being close by or following behind and touching before everything has dried and gassed off.

Quoted from the Shaklee website: “Go to your cupboard right now. Pick a cleaner, any cleaner. Does it contain chlorine, phenol, ammonia, or formaldehyde? These—and more—may be toxic. Toxic as in dangerous, as in hurtful, as in not very clean at all.”

Shaklee cleaning products have:

* No napthalene
* No kerosene
* No formaldehyde
* No phenol
* No cresol
* No lye
* No hydrochloric acid
* No sulfuric acid
* No petroleum distillates
* No benzene
* No ammonia
* No paradichlorobenzene
* No sodium hydroxide
* No butyl cellosolve
* No phosphoric acid

There products are also good for the planet.

Quoted from the Shalkee website: “Get Clean™ products use biodegradable cleaning agents, which means they break down easily instead of hanging out in the ground for hundreds of years. They also have no phosphates, borates, nitrates, or other stuff the planet doesn't appreciate. And by making them superconcentrated, we leave you to add water so we can subtract waste. This has tons of implications. Literally. Less weight to ship. Less product to use. Less packaging to throw away. So you can get that clean feeling about your house, knowing you're keeping the planet clean, too.”

Shaklee cleaning products have:

* Sustainably sourced natural ingredients
* Biodegradable
* No chlorine
* No phosphates
* No nitrates
* No borates
* No animal testing
* Recyclable packaging
* Recyclable wipes
* Recyclable dryer sheets

Some statistics from the website convinced me that purchasing the products on line and paying to have them shipped was worth the cost – and was actually a wash – because it helped me to achieve some of my personal goals for 2007: decreasing the amount of waste the I send to the landfill and decrease my environmental footprint. Here are the statistics that I found astonishing:

“108lbs of packaging waste stays out of landfills when you buy the Get Clean Starter Kit versus conventional ready-to-use cleaners.”

“248 pounds of greenhouse gas are eliminated when you buy the Get Clean Starter Kit versus conventional ready-to-use cleaners.”

I ordered the starter kit and I’ve gotta say I LOVE IT! Not only is it well packaged – hey come on .. I know it’s just cleaning stuff, but the fact that it looks good makes me feel good.. I don’t know why – it gets the job done and only drops of it are needed to perform hard tasks. Basic H rocks my cleaning world. You mix it in different degrees to clean different things… like windows vs. bathroom (all-purpose cleaners). I got my stuff in mid October and am no where near going through the Laundry detergent, Basic H, dish soap, hand soap, Nature Bright, fabric softener or scour off paste (love this stuff for hard to clean stuff... the sink, caked on cooked on stuff on pots and pans) . I did order more dish detergent, but for some reason we run the dishwasher a lot.. how does a family of 2 (+ 2 9 month olds) go through so many dishes?

I will stop going on and just direct you to the place to go for all info about Getting Clean and staying Green!!!! It even comes w/ a cute little caddy and cleaning rags… LOVE IT! Click HERE.

So here I am saying it for the world to see... Mom, you were RIGHT! AGAIN!

Friday, March 9, 2007

The Hundred-Year Lie

The first time I tried to read this book, I got so depressed I had to put it down. But, the with the library due date looming, I decided to give it another shot. Randall Fitzgerald writes a book detailing the history of the food and drug industry and the rise of health care costs and diseases. His argument, while a bit alarmist (which is why I had to put it down the first time) seems sound, and even though there was a lot of technical information, it was easy for the layperson (me) to read. Here are some excerpts from his book:

"Did you know that there are over 100,000 chemicals in use today? Most of them have not been tested for toxicity in humans, either alone or in combination with other chemicals.
What's even more disturbing is that in order to test all existing chemicals for synergistic effects on human health, it would take nearly 200 million different experiments which, with current technology, would take up to 1,000 years to complete. Safety is a of many myths exposed in The Hundred-Year Lie."

"Some general and common sense truths emerged in this book:
NOT all synthetics, at least as far as we know, are toxic to us.
NOT all naturally occurring substances from Nature are benign.
However, broadly speaking, the evidence indicates that most naturally occurring foods and medicines are healthy for us, as they have been for our species for thousands of years, while many if not most synthetic chemicals in foods and medicines pose some health risk."

Doctors and scientists seem to treat synthetic chemicals as innocent until proven guilty - take the Vioxx example. Vioxx was prescribed for arthritis and was finally taken off the market in 2004 after thousands of people experienced heart attacks and strokes as a result of taking the drug. The FDA had evidence 4 years earlier that the drug caused major problems based on the negative results of twenty-nine clinical trials.

A common theme that Fitzgerald touches on is the synergistic effects of synthetic chemicals in our bodies. Doctors and Scientists have no idea what the chemical load that we all carry around may be doing to our bodies. Scary! The book does end well, as the author tells us that it is up to us to do something about it. That means limit our exposure to chemicals and processed foods. Eat organic, fast often, and eat a raw foods diet that includes wheat grass juice as often as you can. Try alternative medicine (Ayurvedic, Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture, etc.) for general wellness, as those tend to focus on prevention of illness rather that just treatment of illness after the fact.

We can take control of our toxicity and we cannot rely on the FDA and drug manufacturers to tell us what is good for us. After all, the FDA relies on the drug companies to test their own products for safety and efficacy. In other words, the drug companies are left to police themselves. Hmmm...

I do recommend this book. It is very enlightening, well researched and well written. Ultimately I feel better after reading this book and knowing what I know, because now I can make informed decisions and take steps to become healthier for myself and my family.

Check out The Hundred-Year Lie blog HERE.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Organic flower delivery

If you are like me, you probably never thought about where your bouquet of flowers came from. I had no idea until I discovered organic flower delievery. It made me think - if these flowers were organic, what about all those other flowers? This is what I learned. The flowers in question were most likely imported from Columbia or Ecuador (over 70% of our imported flowers come from Latin America), where farm workers (many of them children) worked for very low wages in a pesticide ridden environment, and suffered from health issues including pesticide related poisoning. "In Ecuador, nearly 60 percent of floral workers surveyed showed poisoning symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, hand-trembling and blurred vision." (Environmental Health Perspectives 2002). Gerald Prolman, founder of is addressing this issue by working directly with farmers to protect the workers and the environment. "Organic Bouquet offers the finest floral gifts sourced from growers that are committed to the highest social and environmental standards. Our flowers are grown and harvested using practices that aim to improve the quality of farm working conditions, minimize damage to ecosystems, conserve biodiversity, and enhance environmental quality for future generations." ( website). The standards that OrganicBouquet uses for the farms and flowers are Organic, Veraflora, Biodynamic, Fair Trade, and Transitional. I highly recommend checking them out. They also offer organic chocolates, organic flowering teas, gift baskets, and all their packaging is 100% recyclable or biodegradable. This would make a wonderful gift for anyone, and, by buying from this company you are not only receiving beautiful, pesticide-free flowers and gifts, but you are also showing your support for fair trade and better labor conditions for thousands in Latin America. Happy flower shopping!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Another reason to choose natural and organic bath and body products!

A recent study finds the presence of 1,4-Dioxane in various children's bath products like Hello Kitty Bubble Bath, Huggies Baby Wash, Johnson’s Baby Wash, Scooby-Doo Bubble Bath and Sesame Street Bubble Bath. It has also been found in adult personal care products. Here is what the EPA says about 1,4 Dioxane:

1,4-Dioxane is a petroleum-derived contaminant considered a probable human carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a clear-cut
animal carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program...Because
it is a contaminant produced during manufacturing, the FDA does not require it to be listed as an ingredient on product labels.

Check out the full article HERE

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

I recently read The Hundred-Year Lie (book review coming soon) and it really opened my eyes to the levels of chemicals pervading our everyday lives. Synthetic chemicals are in everything - shampoo, conditioner, lotion, deodorant, toothpaste, cosmetics, household cleaners, medicine, food, etc. After running out of my favorite make-up, Bare Escentuals, I decided to do a little research before buying anymore. Bare Escentuals is supposed to be so pure that you can sleep in it, and "Made with pure, crushed minerals from the earth" (taken from the Bare Escentuals website). I checked the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep database and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics for the facts on the ingredients listed on my BE Mineral Veil powder foundation: Zea Mays (corn) Starch, Aluminum Starch Octenylsuccinate, Magnesium Stearate, Zinc Stearate, Methylparaben, Proplyparaben, MAY CONTAIN: Iron Oxides (CI 77499). EWG Skin Deep database gives each ingredient a rating of Green (low concern) Yellow (moderate concern) or Red (higher concern). All of the ingredients EXCEPT Aluminum Starch Ocyenylsuccinate, Methylparaben and Proplyparaben received the green rating. The 3 afore mentioned ingredients received a yellow rating, and this is what I found out about Parabens from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website:

Parabens are a group of compounds widely used as anti-microbial preservatives
in food, pharmaceutical and cosmetics products, including underarm
deodorants. Parabens are absorbed through intact skin and from the
gastrointestinal tract and blood. U.K. researchers found measurable
concentrations of six different parabens in 20 human breast tumors. The
study highlights the need for more research on the potential link between
products containing parabens and increased breast cancer risk.

Many companies, including Compact signers, have begun phasing out parabens
from their lines by marking their products as “paraben-free.” Parabens are
commonly listed on product ingredient labels as methylparaben,
propylparaben, ethylparaben and butylparaben.

In a nutshell, recent research links Parabens to cancer as they are a hormone disruptor and mimic estrogen. Personally, that is enough reason for me to seek out Paraben-free products, and unfortunately that means that my Bare Escentuals has to go! The Skin Deep database lists many companies who get a completely green rating, and I chose two cosmetics companies - Afterglow and The Alchemist's Apprentice. Both make a powder mineral foundation like BE, and both are paraben-free. I was able to order samples of both, so now am awaiting (eagerly, as I don't have any more BE to use even if I was desperate!) their arrival. I will give you all an update as soon as I can.

Thankfully, there are many brands of safe cosmetics out there. I encourage people to do the research and make informed decisions about product choices. This post is not meant to be alarmist, or meant to discourage. Personally I am choosing to take this information and make better decisions about the products that I bring into my home, products that I can feel good about, products that I can actually read and understand the labels. My next search is for a great body lotion/cream made without the use of any synthetic chemicals or compounds, and I will keep you updated on all my product testing!

Thank you...

Thank you to everyone that has responded via comments and sent emails to both Karen and myself with both ideas and encouragement. We are both very excited about this. It would be an understatement to say that my head is spinning with ideas of what to share here. I've got some great stuff from a lot of you!

Sorry for the minor glitch ... we are trying to drop the 'blogspot' from our name and use just our domain name of greengirlsguide and I guess I did something wrong. We are back on with blogspot for now, but will hopefully get it all worked out. If you set up RSS feeds don't worry they will still work after we get moved.

Go Green,

Thursday, March 1, 2007


So I lay in bed last night contemplating the whole vegetarian thing and felt I left you hanging out there with my last post. I have eaten vegetarian in my past - for non-environmental reasons, but have since left that life behind. Current info has me considering vegetarianism again, but I wouldn't make that extreme choice lightly. We were designed to be omnivores... I am built to eat meat - granted I don't think humans were built to eat the VOLUME of meat that we eat. Is going veg the best all around taking into consideration both the environment and my health? Do I need to be so extreme to make a difference in our planet? Is just cutting back on the amount I eat enough? I think the answer is probably yes, but know that I AM looking into this and will report back any findings!