Going Green with Sara Snow
TV Host, Green Living Expert, Journalist and Author
1) What are a few “money saving” ways to go green?
Out with the old. When the economy goes south, sales of used exercise equipment, kitchen appliances, designer handbags, home furnishings, and so on begin to rise. Take a look through your home and gather together all items with value that you’re not currently using. Not only will you be saving money by unplugging any rarely used appliances, but you’ll make money with every sale. Plus you’ll witness an exercise in recycling at its finest. Hold a garage sale or list your items for sale on eBay or in your local paper.
Make your own fertilizer. Composting is a method that involves little more than your kitchen scraps, yard scraps, and a bin. But the outcome is nutrient dense soil that will fertilize your gardens for free. Look for a compost bin at your local garden center or on-line. CleanAirGardening.com sells a nice variety of compost bins and other tools to get you started.
Make clothes into rags. Old tube socks cut off just above the ankle make terrific dusting mitts. Old t-shirts are excellent rags. An old bed sheet cut into squares will serve as the perfect cloth napkins for your family that you won’t worry about staining or soiling meal after meal.
Layer up. Instead of cranking up the heat in the colder months, keep your body warm by layering up with sweaters, slippers and extra blankets on the bed. If everyone in your household does this you can save money by keeping your thermostat as much as 5 degrees cooler throughout the day.
Program your thermostat. A $30 investment is all it takes to buy and install a programmable thermostat in place of your old, static one. Simply adjust your thermostat by a degree or two in the winter and in the summer and set it to avoid heating or cooling your home when you’re away or asleep. You can save around $100 every year in energy costs.
Use less disposables. All of those kitchen disposables, from paper towels to plastic wrap and single-use plastic containers, may be robbing you of more money than you realize. Use rags and washable kitchen towels in place of paper towels, cloth napkins instead of disposable ones, and your regular dishes or ceramic bowls with lids rather than disposable plastic containers. You’ll not only save money, you’ll also avoid the chemicals that could be leaching from all of that plastic into your food.
Rotate the air. Ceiling fans aren’t just for summer months. Running them in your home both in the summer and winter, can save you money on heating and air conditioning costs, but it all depends on the direction they turn: in the winter set them to go clockwise to draw hot air up to the ceiling and around the room, then in the summer switch them to run counterclockwise, creating a downdraft and moving the hot air out. An inexpensive ceiling fan often works just as well as a pricey one, so choose wisely.
Let your pantry clean your home. Commercial cleaning products are not only chemical filled and toxic, they’re expensive. Especially when you fall into the trap of buying a different product for each cleaning job. Using simple ingredients like white vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil, you can clean your house for pennies on the dollar.
2) How can people be greener in the kitchen?
Set up an easy-to-locate waste center and get the whole family in on the action. Using chalkboard paint and chalk, label old buckets or bins to make sorting recyclables from compostables from landfill waste a cinch so everyone can think twice before they toss.
Save 5,000-7,000 gallons of water each year by foregoing the pre-rinse and sticking your dishes straight into the dishwasher. And always wait to run the dishwasher until it is completely full.
Cool leftovers before you store them in the refrigerator. And for optimum efficiency, keep your fridge full but not overly stuffed.
Switch to organically grown and produced foods to reduce your daily dietary pesticide exposure exponentially. And if you’re still wondering where to start, begin with the foods that your family eats the most: bread, cereal, apples, lettuce, strawberries….whatever. But definitely choose organic meats and dairy products, as well as any produce items that fall on the EWG’s dirty dozen list.
Shop farmers markets and join CSAs for fresh and local foods that are nutrient and flavor rich, but light on the “long distance” footprint. Load up on fruits and vegetables when they’re in season then bag and freeze them so you can enjoy locally grown foods even in the dead of winter.
3) Where do you find most of your favorite recipes?
I like going to Epicurious.com (I use the Epi app on my iPhone) for quick inspiration when I’m in the grocery store or at that 4:00 pit-hour rut, trying to figure out what to make for dinner. But I rarely follow a recipe just as it is. I use it as a launching pad and then personalize it with more fresh ingredients, less cooking, making it vegetarian, or however else I feel like it.
4)Are there any apps that you would suggest that help with the going green process?
Whole Foods Market Recipes app – it gives lots of great recipes for families, kids, gluten-free and vegetarian diets, etc.
Environmental Working Group (EWG) Dirty Dozen app – it helps you determine which foods are most important to buy organic
Good Guide app – it allows you to scan the barcodes of more than 120,000 products to see if they’re healthy, green, safe and socially responsible.
Paper Karma app – you can snap a picture of the junk mail you wish to stop receiving and they do the leg work for you, cutting down on unnecessary paper waste.
5)I think your book Fresh Living is a must read and has so many amazing tips on how to adopt a greener lifestyle. For those who have not yet read your book what are your top 5 tips that people can start doing today?
Buy better food; unprocessed, free of preservatives and synthetic ingredients.
Eat fresher food; fresh, raw fruits and vegetables whenever possible.
Clean using less chemicals; stick with things you can find in your own kitchen like lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, castille soap, olive oil, and hot water.
Buy goods made from recycled materials; since simply recycling is not enough.
Live with balance; take time to sit and breathe (also called meditating) every single day.
6) Do you have some advice on going green on a budget?
Realize that going green doesn’t have to mean spending more money. In fact, it can mean saving money (see question #1) and investing in your health now can save countless dollars and hours in doctor’s bills and time in the future. It’ll be worth it. Just start small and baby step your way into living a greener life.
7) I think many people equate buying organic food with having to spend more money, is this true?
It can be true but it doesn’t have to be true, particularly if you buy directly from the farmers and the producers and buy those food items that are in season and abundant.