All posts by Sara Exler

Green Living is for EVERY Body

I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years. I recycle, garden, worked at a farm, and am an advocate for greener living; I’m also fat. There is a perception that the ecofriendly community looks a certain way, lives a certain life, votes a certain way, and fits into a neat category of people… except they don’t. Ecofriendly people are old and young, democrat or republican, all races, all socioeconomic levels, and all sizes. Some people are surprised when they meet me that I’d rather chomp on turnip than cheese hamburger, or that I am a strong worker who can be in the farm dirt all day long. I am an advocate for Health at Every Size (HAES) which supports actions to make bodies healthier rather than just focus on weight loss. Here’s a link for more information http://www.haescommunity.org/

 

We cannot judge how people live, or what choices they make just by looking at them, or assuming that if they fall into one category, they are automatically excluded from another. Oftentimes my body makes me an outsider to many traditionally ecofriendly avenues. When we go to Greenfest (or other conscious style shopping places) I know that there will probably be no clothing that fits me. Oftentimes various organizations that promote vegetarianism or veganism use weight as a way to persuade people into a vegetarian lifestyle; in fact many times a fat body is shamed to promote vegetarianism including this advertisement by PCRS which uses both sexism, ageism and body shaming to promote veganism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIzngoAUoNM&list=PL-s1fMMoG8xVt7vMKGzskiAiRBtQ-GSqp&index=1 In order for a greener movement to be possible, we cannot continue to exclude people based on things like looks. ALL people matter and ALL actions are important.

The truth is that any step a person makes, whether a person does meatless Mondays occasionally, uses reusable bags at the grocery store, carpools, recycles, buys used, or ANY activity to make less footprint is imperative to creating a sustainable community: we are all neighbors on Earth. There is no way to know a person’s choices just by looking at them. Instead of assuming a person lives a certain way based on how they look, or who they vote for, understand that people who make earth friendly choices may not just be your hippie aunt with dreadlocks drinking kombucha but maybe your republican boss, the bodybuilder at your gym, your shy neighbor, or your heavy writer at TheMindfulConsumer.com.

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Drying Clothes on a Clothesline

 

Hanging Clothes on the Line

My towels hanging on the line
My towels hanging on the line

About two months ago I decided to spring for a clothesline.I wondered why we continued to use the old dryer in our rental when it has been so hot in the summer heat outside it felt like stepping into a dryer. Surprisingly, at one of those big home improvement stores I was able to find an inexpensive umbrella-style clothesline that was easy to install along with extra clothes pins. My mother used to hang clothes out on the line when I was growing up, so a few tips somehow stayed with me all these years. I will share with you a few reasons why you should try it, and a few tips on successful line drying.

Why Hang Clothes on the Line?

1. Energy savings. The sun is free and the dryer is a hog. I’ve found that in the 1 ½- 2 hours it took our dryer to dry a big load of towels, a warm sunny day dried them in the same amount of time.

2. Easy. Is it really easy to hang things on the line? It is. Truly. I find it relaxing and it only takes a few minutes to hang an entire load. A few free minutes of outdoor time can be relaxing. The way they look as they blow on the line is beautiful. I like to sneak between the damp clothes for a moment and pretend I am in a fort where no energy bill can get me.

3. Revolutionary. Instead of buying the newest, energy star product (hey, I love energy star appliances) this technique is ancient, free, and makes a statement that you don’t need to rely on energy to do everything.

4. Smell. Clothes on the line smell amazing. The way they look as they blow in the wind, and the fresh, clean, beautiful feeling is unmatchable. I dried my bed sheets and quilt on the line today and can’t wait to get in to my fresh, nice bed.

 

Tips on Line Hanging Success

1. Pin the clothes, towels, etc. with a tiny about of overhang on the line so you don’t get clothespins marks.

2. Most items of clothing hang better “upside down”, like pants, (hang them by the ankles instead of the waistband) or shirts (so you don’t get weird little marks on your shoulders from where the clothespins were). If you decide to hang your undergarments on the line, you can hang them on the inside so the neighbors don’t see.

3. Check the weather forecast. Enough said.

4. Hang things with space between them for air, and hang all things without an overlap so they dry faster.

5.Some things get kinda “crunchy” on the line, like towels. I feel like they give me extra exfoliation after my shower, and are super absorbent. If you don’t want the extra texture, some vinegar in the rise cycle is said to help alleviate the crunch and won’t smell after the clothes are dry. I have found that if you watch them, and take them down as soon as they dry, the likelihood of crunch is lower. Also, on a breezy day there is less likely to be roughness.

6. Some of the best and easiest things to hang on the line are towels and sheets. Even reducing a few loads of laundry a month is still so significant.

7. Check your homeowner’s association about whether or not they allow clotheslines. Ours (I kid you not) allow us to hang on a clothesline every day but Sunday (no, this isn’t the town from Footloose or a strange Puritan recreation village; that’s just what it says.) If you don’t have a yard, there are lots of indoor ways to hang clothes, too. From indoor clotheslines to foldaway racks. The benefit of hanging clothes indoors in the winter is that is also boosts the humidity in the house when it can get so dry.

 

I have really enjoyed the Zen-like activity of hanging clothes on the line. I also enjoy finding an activity that can cut down on utility costs, connect me to the past, and also become a statement of how I choose to use my energy. Instead of shoveling my wash into the dryer, I spend a few minutes outside, more observant of my surroundings. It forces me to pay attention to the wind, the air, the weather, and it rewards me with fresh smelling laundry that was dried for free.

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What’s Growing? Urban Container Gardening

photo (11)
My container garden bursting with delicious vegetables- only a 5×13 foot space 
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A deer cruising my backyard, wondering where the deer salad bar (aka my garden) is.

It is June, and we have been enjoying all our fresh vegetables from our local CSA  and lots growing in our garden. I am doing a container garden this year, as our backyard is a major deer thoroughfare, and I have yet to build the maximum security garden cages needed to protect my precious harvest from becoming a deer salad bar. Right now I am growing tomatoes, carrots, celery, plum, peas, basil, lavender, oregano, mint, Meyer lemon, lettuce, lemongrass, raspberry, strawberry; all in urban garden style containers on my patio in a 5 foot x 13 foot patio space. There is even a little fountain in there that adds pretty sounds and a nice visual effect. I am also growing 30 corn plants out in the “deer zone” and am hoping the netting will keep them away until I can put something more permanent. I was thinking of doing a “three sisters” garden out there where you plant corn, let it grow about a foot, plant beans and let them use the corn as a trellis, and plant squash. The beans give the corn nitrogen (corn is a heavy nitrogen feeder) and the squash leaves help retain moisture. It is an indigenous American gardening technique. Sounds like I need to get to the seed store!

Corn growing in preparation for my "three sisters" garden bed
Corn growing in preparation for my “three sisters” garden bed

So besides the corn, my entire garden is in containers- I use a “big bag bed” on a shipping crate, and various pots and containers to grow everything. I use my hanging plants above other plants, so as they drain, the plants below can get the water. For the gardener who may neglect their gardens, mine on the patio means I walk by it every time I go in the house, so I can keep an eye on it and remember to water, check for pests, and harvest anything that looks ready before the wildlife gets to it. Container gardens are also easier to weed, and it means less time bending over, and more control over the soil.  Although I am far from an expert gardener, through trial and error, a sense of whimsy, I’ve been able to grow some of my own food. My biggest advice for gardeners just starting out is to plant more than you think you’ll need (like the old timey farmer adage: one for the blackbird, one for the crow, one to wash away, and one to grow). The other tip is to have fun, enjoy yourself, and even one small pot with one tomato plant still has the spirit of a thousand gardens.

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Moving Day

Moving can be green!

Ron and I have had to move every year for the last three years and I think I’ve become quite an expert at it. We are always trying to find more eco-friendly ways to move, so here are a few ways we saved money, and practiced sustainable ideas at the same time.

1. Packing supplies. Besides using our old newspapers, we also used some of the things we move as padding! Things like towels, blankets, and other things we need to move helped as padding for the packages- its free and it saves space. If you use a moving service, watch out for the ones that wrap everything in that non-reusable plastic wrap. Not only is it a hidden extra cost, it is not needed and gets thrown out immediately after you unpack.

2. Boxes. There are some really cool companies that rent plastic boxes, deliver them to your home, and pick them up at the new place. I would have loved to try one of these services, but I started packing a month before the move, so this wasn’t a viable option for me. There are lots of places to get free boxes, from Craigslist and Freecycle, to recycling bins behind shopping centers, to grocery and liquor stores. Some of my favorite size boxes are wine boxes from the liquor store, and I usually get quite a few good, free, used boxes from there. It may look to my neighbors that I am quite the party animal, as I carry wine box after wine box in the house, but I’m just being green! When you are done with your boxes, recycle them, or even better- pass them on to someone else who is moving.

3. Paring down. You will save your back, your space, and your sanity by using moving time as a way to get rid of stuff you don’t need or want. I consider trash as the last option for something I don’t want, but first I see if I can sell it, donate it, give it away, or recycle it. Someone is usually looking for exactly what I don’t want any more, and instead of stuff going in to the landfill, we can actually make a transfer of goods fairly easily.

4. Buying furniture. While looking for a new couch, a furniture salesman explained to us that the leather used in a couch was “green” because it was just the hyde from the cows that are used for meat. While Ron and I don’t eat meat, and thought that was a strange definition of green, there are ways to get more eco friendly furniture. Many companies are now specializing in more eco friendly materials, but my favorite eco-friendly furniture by far is used! I found two beautiful 1920’s wooden chairs at the thrift store (2 for $30) that, when looking up the maker’s mark, are beautiful American made furniture that sells for a pretty penny in the antique market- not even Ikea can beat those prices! You don’t need to go to an expensive antique store to get good furniture, often times I find it at second-hand shops. Check consignment shops, thrift shops, antique shops. By buying used you can save money, and there is zero carbon footprint for already produced items, and oftentimes furniture was made better years ago.

So beautiful, so green, so cheap!

While moving can be a pain, you can make it green by making some small changes in your actions. Move on!

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We Love Composting

 

There are many websites explaining the basics of composting, but we wanted to add our personal experience with it. While I am more of the gardener, and Ron is more of the maintenance/yard work guy, and we are both the chefs in the kitchen so composting is something that we can both do and benefit from together.

Composting is a great way to reduce the waste that goes in landfills, add beautiful dirt or mulch for your garden, and once you get it set up the price is minimal. Instead of buying those $10 bags of dirt from your local nursery, you are making nutrient rich stuff yourself. When we moved from an apartment to a townhome we were really able to take advantage of composting for two reasons: we actually had yard waste and grass clippings to add, and the space available to really compost the way we wanted. Our county gave free composting bins, it was an adjustable plastic wall that you curved in to a tubular container and added your compost. When we started composting I noticed that a lot of my kitchen waste was now able to go in to the compost bin:

Our first composter- simple design, and held a lot of compost. Inside you can see leaves, grass, food scraps, papershreddings, etc.

 

Stuff from the house:

veggie/fruit peels, cores, rotten bits

paper shreddings

egg shells

hair

paper towels

coffee grounds

nut shells

dead flower arrangements

really every organic thing in the kitchen besides that on the “no” list.

Things you do not add from this category are meat, fat, oil, or dairy.

 

We were also adding stuff from the yard: grass clippings, leaves, animal bedding, tree clippings, hay, farm animal manure (horse, cow, chicken).

The things you do not add from this category are: dog/cat/people waste, weeds that have gone to seed, chemicals, metal, plastic.

 

 

We used this cylinder composter through fall, winter, and spring. We quickly realized we needed something to collect the kitchen scraps, and bought a cute little pail with a lid that we throw scraps in to carry to the compost pile. It fills up every few days, depending on what I am doing in the kitchen.

This container sits on our counter and collects the scraps to be carried outside to the composter. The lid has a filter, so it does not smell or attract fruit flies. This little tool is vital for becoming accustomed to composting.

So now we are coming around to spring and are realizing a few things.

 

One. We make a lot of compost a week and with our recycling and composting, our trash creation is shrinking exponentially.

Two. At some point, you need to stop adding to the pile so that way everything can break down. We had one compost bin, and we added to it every week.

Three. With an open top, all sorts of furry animals may become interested in the compost. We had a squirrel invasion. We bought cayenne pepper in bulk, and it seemed to deter the little guys from it.

 

 

After these three lessons were learned, we decided to invest in a dual tumbler. The county got us hooked on composting, and now we needed to upgrade from the entry level to the luxury edition composter.


This dual tumbler would fix all three of our realizations: lots of room for compost, two bins- so while one is finishing, we can add to the other, and three, no little squirrels could get in it. I will spare you the agonizing details of building a seemingly easy apparatus, but 6 hours later, we had something I was so proud of, I hardly wanted to fill it with rotten stuff. The greatest benefit to date, is both getting that beautiful black gold to put in my garden, and the major reduction of trash for the trash man each week. 

We love composting because it reduces landfills, adds to the garden, and it is just plain neat to watch your trash turn in to treasure. Happy composting!

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Benefits of Buying Local: Our Weekend Away

Ron and I went on a weekend away in Harrisonburg, Virginia after original plans went askew. Although we did not plan it this way, we sure did a lot of local buying on our mini weekend getaway. We stayed at a privately owned cabin (The Dry River Cabin http://www.vrbo.com/391297 ) and instead of talking with a woman behind the counter of a corporately owned hotel, we were greeted by the owner of the cabin, who had already gotten the fire in the fireplace started, and wanted to make sure we had a nice weekend. It was also so much cheaper than some hotel somewhere… or rather, the hotel would could have gotten for the price of the cabin would not be the type of hotel we’d WANT to relax in. Our cabin was comfy, one of a kind, and just the beginning of supporting local spending.

Our cabin had a full kitchen, and so we headed off to the farmer’s market to get a few things (http://harrisonburgfarmersmarket.com/ ). We were both surprised that in January, in Virginia, the farmer’s market was bustling with good stuff. Locally made raw-milk cheeses (my favorite), vegan lentil soup, and all those good earthy vegetables like radish, carrots, potatoes, and onions abound. I love Farmers Markets because you can ask questions (“What’s a kohlrabi? How do you cook it?”) straight to the farmers and producers. These farmers were bundled up on this frosty day, but there was loads of different things to buy, and everyone seemed to be in a great mood. Sometimes living in the Washington D.C. Area can get a person a little entitled, believing their particular area is where progress of the nation is, but I’ve got to say- their farmer’s market in January sure beat anything local in my area! After picking up the cheese, and soup, we also took home some sprouted grain bread, a sinful pecan bar, free range eggs, blackberry jam, potatoes, carrots, and onions. By buying these things locally, we were able to give the money straight to the producer of the goods, and getting the food local means fresher, healthier, and better food. Plus, it’s just plain old more fun than the grocery store. The local restaurant co-op that we only had the pleasure of one meal at had many items on the menu from local farms, plus a great vegetarian menu that made us both wish we could have had more meals there (http://littlegrillcollective.com/ ). A restaurant co-op means those who work in the restaurant own it, and the giant tip jar on the counter means the money is shared with everyone.

Later we stumbled upon a historical mill (http://silverlakemill.com/ )which had a gift shop with local artisan work. I brought home a rug made on a hand-loom from an 86 year old local woman who has been weaving since she was a child. The kicker is that it really wasn’t too much more expensive than its over-seas mass produced counterpart. I have to admit that I am an antique junkie and hardly a shop passed without at least a browse while we were there. The items I have in my house that always get the most comments are the antiques that I’ve found either at antique, or thrift shops. Antiques are great because they hold nostalgia, can be inexpensive depending on your fancy, create no carbon footprint as they are already produced, and its like a treasure hunt finding them. I walked in to The Pottery Barn the other day and could not believe the items that were meant to look like antiques that were more expensive than the actual antique, produced in China, and anyone could pick one up! Antique shops are independently owned, and your money goes straight to the seller. We stopped by a local winery (the third oldest in the state) (www.shentel.net/shenvine/) and it ended a perfect weekend of mindful spending.

A vacation (even a weekend away) is an opportunity to vote with your wallet. Instead of chain restaurants and grocery stores, we chose the farmers market, and individually owned restaurants and hotels. Instead of major retailers, we bought our souvenirs from local artists and antique shops. Shopping local makes sense for the economy, and it makes sense for the purchaser: many options were cheaper than their counterpart, and the money supported what we believed in. A few hundred dollars spent in corporations means little, but a few hundred dollars in to the local economy is truly tangible to the people who live there. Remember that every dollar spent is vote towards what we as consumers agree with.

 

*none of these places payed us to write about them in this article, nor is this really meant to be a commercial to any place in particular, I just included them because I enjoyed them. Local, wonderful shops with these values are everywhere, you just need to seek them out.

 

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Raised Bed Gardening: The Good, the Bad and the Buggly

Raised Bed Gardening: The good, the bad, and the buggly- Sara’s first foray in to raised bed gardening

In fall, most gardeners are happy to end their gardens for the season. Tomato plants are winding down, squashes giving their final fruits before the frost, and pumpkins are sitting patiently. Of course, when gardeners are winding down, I am getting started in trying to push through a small harvest of fall veggies before the winter comes. We recently moved to a place with a yard big enough to grow more food, and I could not resist getting something in the ground, even though it was September. Cool brasilica plants, like cabbage, lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts have a fall harvest, so off to the store I went to get things ready for my first raised bed garden.

We bought a ceder raised bed from home depot for about $30 bucks. It is 4×4 and was fairly easy to build, with help from Ron’s drill.

The raised bed constructed, but not installed. Thanks Ron for your handiwork!

 

When deciding what to fill the bed with, I discovered this really neat compost called leafgro, created by the Maryland Environmental Service from composted leaf and grass clippings. We mixed that with dirt, vermiculite, and planted our plants. Here’s a photo of me filthy dirty, and smiling wide at my first raised garden.

A good smile for a job well done

 

 

 

The plants were growing well, and I prematurely started bragging about all the brussel sprouts everyone was going to eat in a month or so. As I sat outside and watched the beauty of my garden, I also small small white butterflies dancing around the plants. How beautiful, I thought. How wrong I was. Soon my plants started looking like swiss cheese and within days, the crop was almost ruined. Cabbage worms had invaded in full force, and although I hand picked every one I saw, these little buggers had an appetite like none other.

Oh the humanity! The left over cabbage after the cabbage worm invasion.

 

I had used EcoSmart http://www.ecosmart.com/ bug spray for inside the house at this summer’s ant invasion with positive results, but even with deliberate and often applications to the cabbage worms who were feasting on my garden did not stop. As I watched my hard work go up in worms, I thought about the mass spreading of pesticides in large farming. I was going to do it the natural way, or not do it at all. I googled other natural ways to stop cabbage worms, and discovered that many use flour, which the worms eat, bloat and die. So I took my flour to the garden and sprinkled it over everything. Either the worms were done feasting on my garden, or the flour worked, because the invasion seems to have ended. The holey remains of my garden and still left, with many plants chewed beyond recognition. I am going to remove the plants who made food for bugs rather than humans, and plant my next crop, garlic, to harvest for next summer.

 

I made a few big mistakes when I did this: I saw a few holes in the leaves and wasn’t proactive enough at the first sight of this problem. I planted a bunch of plants together all in the same family, which not only takes one nutrient out of the earth, but also made a smorgasbord for an incest that eats that type of plant. My mother is a great gardener, and she reminds me about my many ancestors who were great farmers. Did they ever fail at something like this? You bet. You can’t learn without losing a few brussel sprouts, and you can’t grow food if you don’t try.

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The American Dream: Is Renting the New Buying?

The American Dream: Is Renting the New Buying?

Ron and I are getting ready for a move to a place with a little more room. Although I have succeeded at micro-gardening off the 3rd floor balcony, our chihuahua would like a small yard, and I would like a little dirt of my own to start growing more food. We are currently renters, and are going to rent again. I own a house across the country, that is worth much less than I owe: thankfully I am able to rent it out. Purchasing homes used to seem like the responsible, sound investment for stability in the future but as we look at the staggering statistics of foreclosure, unemployment, inflated home prices and economic fluctuation- is buying truly the American dream still?
Discussing simplistic living, and mindful consumption, Ron and I were discussing homeownership. Without thought when he asked why I’d like to own a home, I stated that I wanted something stable, something that is simplistic, something of my own. It made me realize that the idealization of homeownership is oftentimes not the fact (like the first time the roof leaks in your new home, and you really wish that the landlord who has to fix it is wasn’t you). Statistics say that unless you plan on living in your home for 6 or more years, renting can be more cost effective. There is also incredible flexibility- if the neighborhood changes around you in your rental, you can just wait for your lease, and find something else. As far as wanting “something of my own”, the honest truth is that for all the people who have dealt with foreclosure, the something that they owned, was really something that the bank owned.
The negative perceptions about renting is changing in this climate where more people are renting for one reason or another. Known for his bravado antics, wide-receiver Chad Ochocinco, recently acquired by the New England Patriots, has decided to rent a place in New England instead of buying.
Does this mean that we shouldn’t own homes anymore? Of course not; in fact, I plan on becoming a homeowner again in the future. The prices can now allow many people to buy when that was never an option before. Homeowners supposedly make better neighbors (although, my experience is that good neighbors make good neighbors). What I am going to change is my perception of renting vs. buying, and the knowledge that simplicity, stability, and mindfulness can come from many different sources.
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The Benefits of a CSA

There is nothing better than getting fresh produce from the farm straight to your table

What is a CSA?

CSA (community supported agriculture) is a really neat way to support local farmers, get amazing fresh food, and provides many benefits. The basics of a CSA, depending on the farm, would be that you would join the CSA and once a week you’d be able to get a fresh box of veggies and fruits straight from the farm. Some farms you never have to set foot in the field, others give you that option in case you want to “play farmer” for a little while. Some CSAs also have eggs, dairy, and meat too.  The nuances depend on the CSA but the benefits are all the same.

 

 

What are the benefits?

1. Food in Season.  Joining a CSA gives you food that is much fresher and helps you connect to eating with the seasons. It isn’t a coincidence that strawberries taste their best in summer, and squash and pumpkins abound in fall: these are the natural seasons for these foods and it should be the season you eat them. There is NO vegetable that tastes better than the one that only had to travel in your backseat from the farm to your kitchen. Store bought produce will never taste as good. Go ahead, be a veggie connoisseur.

2. Support your local farmers. It doesn’t make much sense to buy an apple that has been shipped 2,000 miles when your local farmer is growing the same apple 3 miles away. Farming is a hard job and supporting local farmers helps boost the economy. Let’s be honest, it makes you feel good. What we spend our money on is a powerful tool and we show ourselves as mindful consumers when we make smart choices about where our money goes.

3. Teach your family. Showing children where their food comes from will help them have a whole new understanding of what they eat. Not only does joining a CSA let you get a little “time on the farm”, but your kids may eat more veggies knowing where they came from and how special they are.

4. New Recipes. Sometimes I get in a shopping rut and I buy the same things every time I go to the store. I have the same basic meals I prepare most nights. Being in a CSA exposes you to fruits and veggies you may not have tried before, and opens you up to new recipes, new cooking, and new tastes. Although you may not like everything, there are some veggies I’ve discovered that I now cannot live without.

CSA tips

Contact the CSA you are interested in to find out all the details about price, procedure, their crops, and how long the season lasts. Join a CSA that is going to work for you.

Join with a friend (or work group, or social group, or your Uncle… whoever would be interested) and share the trips to the farm by taking turns going to pick up the weekly shares.

Be open to the experience. A CSA is not for everyone but most that join really enjoy the benefits and do it again each year.

Find a local CSA at http://www.localharvest.org/csa/

 

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Eco-Conscious Dog Ownership: Why Toys, Fetch, and Rescue Matter

Barley enjoying his Simply Fido tug toy

In May of 2010 Ron and I rescued a small chihuahua mix named Barley with an incredibly lovable and happy-go-luck personality (yes, I agree, not usually a chihuahua trait). Now we not only need to try and make eco-conscious choices in our lives, but also in the life of the four-legged member of the household.

The organic, holistic, raw-food, gluten-free, all natural choices of dog food is staggering. Does Barley care about grain-fed beef, or organic lamb? What about his toys? According to thebark.com, a site about modern dog culture, toys are not just fun luxuries for dogs- they are necessities for a healthy dog. They satisfy the instinctual need to chew, chase, fetch, baby, and destroy.

Consumeraffairs.com notes that there is currently NO regulatory control of pet toys in the United States. Problems regarding latex, lead, cadmium, chromium, and other toxic chemicals continue to surface and resurface in dog toys, sometimes with deadly results before they can be discovered.

Barley enjoys his reindeer tug toy from simplyfido.com , a company that makes organic, naturally dyed products and although the website is not incredibly informative, I loved the recycled packaging, organic materials, and Barley enjoys trying to engage anyone with a game of fetch or tug-of-war (did I tell you he is no ordinary chihuahua?)

Although Barley has not tried it, westpawdesign.com is another company that boasts eco-friendly, American made, and organic pet products. There are also green pet product stores like olivegreendog.com and local favorite barknatural.com that have lots of goodies for your pet that is healthier for your dog and your earth.

It is important to supervise play and be realistic about your shopping choices (just because your Fido doesn’t eat an organic food doesn’t mean he may not enjoy a few organic toys in his toy box).

The most important thing you can do to help an animal is rescue. Sites like petfinder.com have millions of different dogs (or cats, rabbits, horses, birds, pigs). It is a huge myth that the only way to find a purebred dog is through a breeder- spend 30 seconds on the Petfinder Web site and see that any type, age, size, temperament, and personality of dog is there- from purebred dogs to mutts, and puppies to seniors; more often with a much smaller adoption fee than the purchase price from a breeder. Rescue is common sense, and you will have a companion that will never forget that you saved his or her life: and that is mindful consumption.

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