Green Things YOU can do ...

I have wanted to put this page up for some time.  We live in St. Petersburg, FL and have found some great green stuff to do for the environment that also save us a LOT of money! Some can be used in sunny states only, but others are good for almost all of us.

FLEA and other PEST CONTROL

One day while on the Weather.com site, I found a reference to NEMATODES for flea control.  We have 4 pets here and the cost of flea and tick control is outrageous, aside from the fact that we are poisoning our pets.

Nematodes are microscopic worms that live in all soils, but some are better at controlling pests than others.  I did some research and found that there are 2 types of pest controlling nematodes.  The soil has to be moist enough to keep them alive, but they will live as long as the soil doesn't freeze.

If you call the people here and tell them what your predominant pest is, they will make you a custom mix:  http://www.hydro-gardens.com/guardian_gnat_patrol_nematodes.htm

If you have other neighbors or friends who might like to use them, pitch in and save on shipping - the nematodes weigh nothing, but the cooling packs make shipping expensive.  So save fuel and buy together.

MAKE YOUR OWN SODA/SELZER

I was ecstatic!  The NY Times featured this wonderful company that makes large CO2 canisters with a reasonably inexpensive dispenser to make your own soda and selzer.  http://sodaclub.com  Their special 1-liter polycarb bottles are free of BPA's and PCB's and last for years.

We drink 2-4 liters of carbonated water daily and were always having to run to the store.  Aside from this, the BOTTLE ACCUMULATION was horrendous!  We now make our own and found that a cannister which is $20 when you exchange them lasts 3.5 to 4 months!

I do NOT advise using tap water to make soda/selzer - it tastes nasty because of the chlorine.  I even tried using Aquaquel to remove, ammonia, chlorine and chloramines, but if you use a good filter for your water it might work.  Since we  drink only DISTILLED water to begin with, we had another problem ...

DISTILL YOUR OWN WATER USING THE SUN

Many years ago, I wanted to figure out if there was a way to get clean water from the air.  I read about some great innovations developed for people in a severely arid part of the Andes mountains where they used nets to trap water condensation from daily fog and stored it in a cistern.  I looked at all kind of countertop distillers, etc.

Then I found the El Paso Solar Energy Association website where they had plans for building a solar still.  The complicated and expensive part of the still is the food grade silicone that lines the still and I thought for sure, that this was something I would definitely screw up and I didn't do it.

So a couple of years ago, I was pleased to find a solar still (half the size) that was already made and that you could order and included shipping.  http://solaqua.com  From 1995 to 2006 I was getting 5 gal. bottles of distilled water delivered.  As the cost rose to $7.95 per bottle plus a $2 fuel surcharge, this got ridiculous.  We stopped delivery and started buying those 2.5 gal dispensing bottles from the grocery.  But what to do with all THOSE plastic bottles... 

I finally went back to solaqua.com and ordered a distiller.  The 550 Rainmaker is making about 1.5 gallons a day or 45 gallons a month - enough for cooking, drinking water and our soda consumption.  At $479.00, combined with the sodaclub machine, it takes about 6 months to reach the break-even point. 

When we go out, we fill our thermal covered water bottles with fresh distilled water to carry!  If we want soda, we kept some old bottles that can handle the pressure and fill those.

HEATING WATER

No, this is not a solar hot water heater!  It's much simpler than that.  Are you heating water 24 hours a day while you are away or sleeping?  Why?  There is a little "gray" box that connects to your electrical panel that you set like one of those timers that turns your lights on and off automatically. 

You can get them at Home Depot for $40 - the Intermatic 40 Amp 125/208/240/277 Volt AC Water Heater Time Switch Model WH40D89.  We heat water just before we get up in the morning and just before dinner time for cooking or washing up.  There is a manual switch, so that if you need water at some other time, you can just turn it on and then off when you are done.  It only takes us about 15 minutes to heat the entire tank.

REUSABLE SHOPPING BAGS

Five or six years ago, I found some net bags on the internet.  I don't remember where I got them from, but they are organic (made out of hemp), expandable and hold 40 lbs each.  There are plenty at http://reusablebags.com.   You might not be aware, but over 1000 people in India drowned in floods because of those nasty plastic bags that clogged storm drains.  Heaven help us here in St. Petersburg if our storm drains got plugged by bags during a hurricane. 

California with the cooperation of all the drugstores and grocery stores has a proposition on the ballot to begin charging a hefty price for all plastic and paper bags if customers don't bring their own.  India outlawed plastic bags after the incident mentioned above.  Besides, why should we continue to give China all our oil to make the damn things...?  Our grocery stores just started selling nice constructed bags for about $1.50 each that hold a LOT - buy some and keep them in your car all the time.

BUY LOCAL PRODUCE

Our grocery stores often go to local markets to buy produce which they then mark up to outrageous prices.  If you have local farmers' markets, use them whenever possible.  You might just find a lot of organic produce cheaper than the other stuff at your grocers.

QUIT BUYING SO MUCH PREPARED FOOD - STAY GREEN, HEALTHY AND SAVE MONEY

Prepared food not only has a bunch of "stuff" in it that if you really read the ingredients would shock you, but it uses a lot of unfriendly packaging.

I bought some store bakery cinnamon cake once and we really liked it - I thought they made it there.  But NOOOOO - and when I went to buy some more and read the ingredients, I found that they had ethylene glycol (antifreeze) listed.  I marched up to the bakery manager and demanded to know why there was antifreeze in my food.  He didn't know and never got back to me.  So I looked it up on the net - seems that it is used as a food color preservative and is approved by the FDA!  Since cinnamon has it's own natural color, why did they need food coloring?  So my attitude is "DON'T COLOR MY FOOD if you are going to put that garbage in it!"  I do ALL of our baking now using organic ingredients except for chocolate, nuts and sugar and it tastes GREAT!

We have actually found that we can eat great meals for about $25 a week - and when I say great, I mean things like steak, chicken piccata or marsala, lean pork, seafood, good lunchmeat, wonderful organic breads and produce, etc.  Make enough for leftovers so that you don't have to spend so much time in the kitchen.  Remember that farmers use CARROTS AND POTATOES TO CLEAR FIELDS OF PESTICIDES and only buy organic.  We also recommend drinking only organic milk.

KEEP PETS HEALTHY - MAKE THEIR FOOD YOURSELF

Our beloved beagle is getting on in years and suddenly started having skin problems.  We went to the local feed store where people bring pets to the vet every couple of weeks and I noticed a lot of other dogs with the same problem.

Aside from allergies to the environment, your pet may be allergic to wheat or garbage by-products normally used by pet food companies.  Also after the death of so many pets this year due to the Chinese ingredient fiasco, a lot of people don't trust pet food manufacturers very much anyway.

So, once again I started doing some research.  Someone told me about HALO pet products made here in Tampa.  While it is pricey, I don't mind paying a little more for dry food, but their canned products are really steep.  However, in the nature of trying to help us all, they have some great recipes for dog and cat food on their site:  http://halopets.com.  Our dog has given us so much pleasure over the years that she deserves to live out her days as comfortably and healthy as possible. 

I started making the recipe for Bravo's Bodacious Hearty Burger Stew.  I substituted organic barley for millet (both are very high in protein and B vitamins) and you can use vegetables other than spinach (organic spinach is fairly expensive).  For my 31 pound dog, the recipe makes about 3.5 quarts - enough for 9 or 10 days and if you buy inexpensive roasts when on sale, you can grind your own meat and make dog food for about the same price as Pedigree.  I also buy boneless, skinless chicken breasts on sale and grind those as well.  The food smells so good while cooking, that you want to eat it yourself - and YOU CAN - it's not really dog food!

One of the side benefits:  As an older female dog, she was starting to get those fatty tumors.  Lean meat, great vegetables and carbs has caused all but the largest tumor to disappear!  She has lost a little weight (she was never really very heavy) and her coat is beautiful!

Link for a comprehensive list of common contraindications of Essential Oils.

I hope that this information has helped some of you.  If you have some other ideas, please feel free to send them so that I can post them here.

Sasha Friedman - WebNests Web Hosting