Spit That Out!

The Overly Informed Parent's Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt by Paige Wolf

Blogging about green guilt, eco-anxiety, and finding practical, reasonable ways to keep our families safe and healthy.
January 26th, 2015

BookMentors Connects Students and Teachers with Needed Books

With budget cuts to public and charter schools throughout the country, new and relevant books have become a valuable and scarce commodity in classrooms and libraries. Connecting teachers, librarians, and students in need of books with donors supporting literacy, reading, and education, BookMentors uses micropatronage to solve book access problems in high-poverty schools.

A space for anyone passionate about the power of books, the Web site enables readers, writers, publishers, and teachers to connect and share information about children’s and YA literature. BookMentors allows teachers to ask for the particular book or books they really need, not just any donated old books that won’t meet the needs and preferences of individual students or teaching curriculum.

Lack of access to books constrains the literacy development of students in lower income communities. While e-books may be trending across some schools, most can not afford to provide e-readers for each student. Additionally, there has been increasing research suggesting students have better comprehension, attention span, and even sleep patterns with print books.

And, of course, I’m always curious about the green factor. The jury is still out on the sustainability of print versus e-reading, and in most of these cases, e-books are simply not a reasonable or plausible replacement.

Learn more and see how easy it is to participate at www.bookmentors.org.

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January 20th, 2015

Connect with Top Media at One Day NYC Event for Health, Beauty, + Wellness Brands

Facebook ImageI’m so excited to be co-producing Healthy Brand Showcase: Spring 2015. This event gets bigger and better every year, and we are excited to welcome 15 brands for this exclusive event that draws top media and celebrities!

Knowing that most health and wellness product brands only have the time (and budget) for one media trip to New York each year, Healthy Brand Showcase  brings the press directly to you for the day!  We connect health, wellness, beauty and fitness brands with national magazines, talks show producers, newspaper reporters, bloggers, trades and freelance writers who write on-going feature and product stories.  We will also have several guest experts on-site throughout the day to assist with broadcast and print interviews.  

We are only accepting about 15 brands and only a couple in each category. We keep it small and intimate and, unlike a large trade show, you really have time with the attendees! 

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Some of the amazing brands who have showcased in the past include Revolution Foods, Happy Family Brands, PiperWai, Board & Batten, La Bella Figura Beauty, Boiron, Stur, Motto, Goddess Garden, Acorelle, Bitsy’s Brainfood, and more! It’s been amazing to watch the event directly result in fantastic press hits and celebrity endorsements for the participating brands!

If you know a brand that might be a good fit, visit www.healthybrandshowcase.com and contact me for more details.

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January 12th, 2015

Acorelle: Beautiful, Organic Perfume That Won’t Give You a Migraine

Perfume. Parfum. Fragrance.

I have been diligently trained to avoid those ingredients on all labels as they generally refer to a cocktail of synthetic chemicals immediately sets my olfactory sense into overdrive. Not only do I know what lurks in most fragrance formulations, avoiding them for years has sensitized me to the point where I’m leery to hug a friend dosed in eau de toilette.

I remember the years when I adored Coco Mademoiselle, but now a whiff of it sets me up for a migraine. I learned to embrace essential oils and seek out the few truly natural perfumes that didn’t smell like an old hippie.

But now I have fallen completely in love with Acorelle, a line of French-made organic perfumes now available in the U.S.

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All Acorelle perfumes are paraben-free, phthalate-free, and 100% natural, made from concentrated active essential oils. In addition, they are carried in an alcohol base that is made from organically grown wheat – not from denatured cellulosic alcohol. No synthetic ingredients are used in Acorelle, such as chemical fixers or synthetic musks, and there are no animal ingredients.Acorelle’s base is derived from organically grown wheat and is not denaturated by DEP (diethyl phthalate), a chemical compound commonly used by the cosmetic industry, and a suspected carcinogen. The products are certified by Ecocert/Cosmebio, the international agency that provides organic certifications for personal care products.

Acorelle divides their nine individual scents into three different families of fragrances:  Energizing, Balancing, and Soothing. Each fragrance is a unique blend of citrus fruits, woody plants, flowers, bark and other natural ingredients. Acorelle has four variations of fragrant product: Perfumes (8% fragrance), the lighter Eau Fraiche (3% fragrance) or Body Mists (2% fragrance), and the concentrated essential oil blends (100% fragrance oils).

My personal favorites are Divine Orchid, R of Rose, and Absolu Tiare. So, if you are like one of my many friends who swears she can’t give up her beloved perfume, I urge you to give these a whiff!

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Disclosure: I received samples of these products for review. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

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January 2nd, 2015

Get Better Sleep in The New Year with Confident Parenting

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Just when you think you can rest easy again, babies and young children surprise you with night-waking, bedtime fears, and new sleep struggles. I’m personally dealing with sleep regression in my 18-month-old while my 5-year-old likes to rise with the roosters.

Enter Erica Desper of Confident Parenting, a certified baby and child sleep coach offering private counseling for families in the greater Philadelphia area. 

Confident Parenting‘s mission is to educate parents about the science of sleep and walk them through the process of improving their baby or child’s sleep habits. Erica has been a lifeline for frustrated parents who can stay connected to her through text, e-mail, and Skype. She even hosts “Slumber Parties,” group Skype calls with fellow exhausted parents as an affordable option to make support available to more families.

It is never too late to change sleep habits and fortunately now frazzled and frustrated parents don’t have to feel alienated and exasperated! Learn more about her services online.

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December 28th, 2014

My Bucket List – A Five Year Check-In

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Back in January 2010, I decided to create a personal “Bucket List.” The goals had no expiration date – apart from death, of course. But I thought it would be interesting to check in five years later to see what I was able to cross off my list and how my goals for the future have changed.

The following goals from my original bucket list have been completed:

  • Swim with Dolphins (√ – APRIL 2010)
  • Publish a book ( – NOVEMBER 2010)
  • Weigh under 145 pounds (without losing a limb or breast, as I am not taking chances for cruel irony) (√ – JANUARY 2012)
  • Take a family cruise (√– FEBRUARY 2013)
  • Give Sam a sibling (√ – JUNE 2013)

Uncompleted goals (with my new addendums):

  • Spend at least a two-week stretch of time in London
  • Be in the audience of The Graham Norton Show
  • Go to France
    • I would like to condense the above three goals to the following: Spend any amount of time in London, preferably without the children, for a trip that includes being in the audience of the Graham Norton Show. Ideally the couch would include Jo Brand, Jennifer Saunders, Margaret Cho, and musical guest Kate Bush who comes out of retirement for one more show. This trip can also include a quick trip to Paris on the Eurostar, thereby killing three goals in one brief trip.
  • Perform a really good Karaoke duet, preferably “Candy” by Iggy Pop and Kate Pierson or “Stop Dragging my Heart Around” by Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty
    • This is literally the easiest one but I have made no progress in five years. If I don’t check this off at my next five year check in I have clearly not tried very hard. I think the problem thus far has been that this would probably require staying up past 9 p.m.
  • Drive Cross Country
  • Visit major U.S. cities I haven’t seen including Chicago, Atlanta, Houston or Dallas, and New Orleans (√ Chicago August 2013, Atlanta July 2014 – halfway to goal!)
  • Have a proper conversation with Kathy Griffin and/or Margaret Cho
    • I am currently in possession of tickets to see Margaret at a very small venue with an “in” to meet her so fingers crossed on making this happen soon!)
  • Kiss Christopher Atkins (has-been 80s actor I am still strangely obsessed with)
    • This is becoming less and less realistic as this obscure actor lives cross-country and is well into his fifties. It’s also really, really weird and I should probably delete it, but won’t.
  • Go to IsraelCall me a bad Jew, but I am sort of over this one.
  • Get a “mommy lift” (As of November 2014 – even after another childbirth and regularly self-shaming my belly – I no longer want this!! )

MET GOALS that I never even imagined having five years ago:

  • Ran a 10K 
  • Competed in several CrossFit competitions 
  • Did a 5K mud run/obstacle course 
  • Can do pull ups, climb a rope, and do at least 20 consecutive double unders 
  • Spoke at amazing conferences advocating for my passions! 
  • Opportunities to appear on TV to share fun ideas for greener living 

BRAND NEW GOALS:

  • Broad Street Run – 10 miles!
  • Spartan Race/Unite Fitness Decathalon/ or similar
  • Renovate top floor to include bathroom, therefore finally not having to share a bathroom with my children. (First world problem, but bare with me)
  • Publish a revised version of Spit That Out! – with the addendum that I will only do this with proper backing from a publisher OR after waiting another 15 years when everything I have said will be completely obsolete.

Do you have a bucket list? What life adventures did I forget to add to mine?

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December 11th, 2014

A Skeptic’s Venture Into Essential Oils

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Readers know I straddle the line between crunchy green mom and conventional parent. My green colleagues and I chat endlessly about organic tampons and whether to scrub out peanut butter jars so they can be recycled. But when the conversation turns to essential oils I pretty much tune out.

It probably doesn’t help the well-meaning essential oil consultants that a few have gone around professing that their oils can cure Ebola, inciting an FDA crackdown. But when it comes to sinus congestion, back pain, or even a great stain remover, I am perfectly open to exploring unconventional methods.

I finally decided to see what all the hype was about and entrusted my friend Stephanie with Good Girl Gone Green for a personalized tutorial and test drive.

She sent me a variety of pure essential oils (plant-derived extracts) as well as some custom-blends meant for specific uses.

I started with a simple and incontrovertible use – making things smell good. I had been meaning to add essential oils to my dryer balls for a while, and Stephanie recommended Purification, a blend of oils including citronella, lemongrass, tea tree, and rosemary. It made a big difference in my laundry and having a truly natural pleasant scent really is uplifting. It was also an easy fix to put a few dabs on cotton balls to place in diaper bins and rooms that get stale when sealed up for the winter.

Stephanie also had me mix a few drops of thieves oil in a spritzer with witch hazel and water to use as a disinfectant. I sprayed this on the kids’ toys, the remote, the phones – everything that desperately needed it since the kids’ noses haven’t stopped running since October.

The medicinal uses were trial and error, with nothing but some very loose anecdotal evidence to share.

When I came home from Thanksgiving dinner of course my belly was a bit sore. And randomly my asthma had been acting up. Before bed I applied Digize to my belly and a prescribed blend of raven, copaiba, and dorado azul  to my chest. To be perfectly honest, I had no expectation beyond my husband yelling at me that I smelled like a hippie. But I have to say, my symptoms began to feel better with no additional medication. This could have been coincidence or maybe the oils really worked some magic!

But it wasn’t always immediate success. I put a few drops of thieves and oregano on my husband’s chest to try to alleviate a hacking cough that was possibly bothering me more than it was bothering him. His cough did not subside but it was also possible that either one dose was not enough or I had used the entirely wrong oils.

A couple days later I had a massage appointment at a decidedly non-eco spa (I had a Groupon.) When I saw the two-gallon vat of generic “massage oil” he had by the table I was glad I had brought my own blend of avocado oil and Pan Away, a pain remedy with wintergreen, clove, and peppermint. It was one of the best massages I’ve ever had.

But the most remarkable use I found was for my occasional – but wicked – sinus pain. I put peppermint on my temples and it truly made a difference almost immediately.

After a couple weeks of playing with the oils I was actually compelled to buy a full starter set with a diffuser. And, yes, my husband thought I was insane to spend $150 on a bunch of oils. But here is my thinking: if using these oils can help my family cut back on my use of over-the-counter medications even a little, it will be worth it. And I know I will be saving money on cleaning products by making more of my own formulas. There are literally thousands of uses for these oils – some that I know are foolproof like grease-cutting, air freshening, and mood lifting. The rest run the spectrum from “Wow, this is really helping” “Can’t hurt” to “I’ll stick with antibiotics for strep throat.” 

Most of the established essential oil companies work through a multi-level-marketing model, something I am admittedly not a big fan of. However, purchasing as a “wholesale buyer” – which automatically makes you a distributer – saves you a significant amount of money. So technically, now I am a distributer. And these are affiliate links. You will not see me doing any essential oil hard sells, but if you’d like to try these out for yourself, please feel free to use my link!

And please let me know what your experience is. Did you find any miracle cures? A great way to tackle dirty floors? A scent to keep away creepy dudes on the subway? Please share!

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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December 8th, 2014

Join the Buy Nothing Project to Freely Give and Receive

Have you heard of the Buy Nothing Project? A collection of independent Facebook groups popping up across the country, this project sets itself apart from Craigslist and Freecycle by asking members to join only one Buy Nothing group and ask and give where they live. The idea is to facilitate local gift economies around the world, communities that take care of their local members while conserving the carbon footprint of our giving.

When I heard about the Buy Nothing Project I was so excited to find one in my area. But, alas, there was nothing remotely near Philadelphia – though there were plenty in Allentown and Cleveland! So, naturally, because I am ME, I had to find out how to start my own!

It took a few days to get permission from Buy Nothing Headquarters, who worked with me to narrow down my hyperlocal area to essentially my zipcode. The members poured in – more than 100 in less than 24 hours! I just had to deal with the issue of weeding out folks who truly weren’t local enough and encourage them to start their own group!

The idea is to give your real-life neighbors the opportunity to help build a sustainable gift economy by giving locally. When you have something to share, select a real-life neighbor of yours as the recipient, someone who also lives in the region your local group is devoted to. Take the time to get to know a bit about the people you’re giving to and asking from. If you see someone who needs help finding their local home group, help them out with a link to that group and words of encouragement and support.

We would like to show the world that gift economy magic is global, accessible to any group of people who are willing to connect with their real-world neighbors by giving freely and sharing creatively. You can help make this happen by joining your own local group and model giving, requesting, and gratitude.

So what kinds of things might you post on a Buy Nothing group?

  • You have a bumper crop of basil and can’t possibly make anymore pesto
  • You bought the wrong salad dressing/diapers/paint color
  • You have an unsellable stroller with a missing wheel that a handy parent could probably use
  • You have a case of coffee mugs with your old company logo
  • You would like to borrow a powerwasher/drill/ladder/other random appliance
  • You are in search of empty egg crates/milk jugs/wire hangers for a school art project
  • You’re refrigerator broke and you have three pounds of potato salad that must be eaten immediately

The possibilities are endless! Give, Lend, and Join the Sharing Economy!

Looking for a group near you? Visit the website for a list of all our hyper-local gift economies or learn how to start your own!

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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December 5th, 2014

What Happens When We All Can’t Breathe?

It’s 9:15 am on a Friday morning and I’m on a SEPTA bus heading to West Philly. I’ve been up off and on since 2 a.m. when my 18-month-old started screaming. When I finally fell back asleep around 4, my 5-year-old came into my room freaking out because he couldn’t figure out how to change out of his wet pajama pants – because he was trying to pull a shirt over his legs. My children have been dressed and fed and walked to school in the freezing wind, and I have headed back in the opposite direction to catch the bus.

I tried to explain to my five-year-old son why I couldn’t stick around school a little longer at drop off and why it was important for me to go to this protest. I told him that people wanted to build factories that would pollute the air and water because they thought it would make them money. He asked if they were going to jail. I said no. He told me he doesn’t want to drink brown water. I told him that was why I had to go. He asked me who else was going. I told him I had no idea. It was 9 a.m. on a Friday and most people had to be at offices or taking care of their children. It didn’t matter that I had mountains of work to do for my own business, mountains of laundry, or that it was “team day” at the gym. I had to be there for everyone else who couldn’t go – or simply wouldn’t go.

The crowd was diverse outside the Drexel University conference where investors and politicians were meeting to strategize on the best way to build new natural gas pipelines rather than fix the antiquated, leaking ones that already exist beneath our feet. Ways to convince the public that natural gas was the path to “energy independence,” even though much of that gas would be exported overseas. Ways to exaggerate the economic impact, dispute the health and environmental impacts, and ignore the fact that investing in renewable energy would create significantly more jobs and create a safe, sustainable infrastructure.

There were students, grandmothers, and activists who had traveled more than two hours from their rural communities already devastated by the effects of fracking. The crowd was white, black, Indian, and Asian. There were rabbis and doctors and business owners.

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Doctors took the microphone to point out the very real statistics on cancer clusters, birth defects, and the fact that more than 25% of the children in Philadelphia already have asthma (in my experience, an underestimate). Executives in blue suits and politicians with their handlers walked past us into the conference unfazed. After all, there were only 150 of us. Most people are still in the dark – or simply can not miss work to stand outside a West Philly campus with a sign.

The final speaker, who spoke on behalf of the faith groups, talked about the topic that has overtaken the media for weeks now: Black Lives Matter. It’s worth noting that fracking, oil pipelines, and refinery pollution disproportionately effect low income neighborhoods, and, yes, minorities. The asthma rates alone among black people are astonishing. These black lives matter too. ALL LIVES MATTER.

Some people held signs that said “I Can’t Breathe,” the final words of Eric Garner when he was held in a chokehold by a police officer. I didn’t know how I felt about those signs. Should we be co-opting the mantra of another important movement? Was this inappropriate or completely relevant?

I certainly don’t want to take anything away from the current movement against racial inequality. But it is important for people to understand that pollution is also an issue of racial inequality (p.s. don’t miss the pro-fracking commercial in advance of this clip!) Truth: minorities suffer the most from industrial pollution.

There were 150 of us protesting the pollution of air and water for 1.5 million Philadelphians. Yet thousands across the country have marched day after day in protest to the racial inequality invoked by corrupt police. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be pissed off about Ferguson. And you should definitely be pissed off about Eric Garner. We want to avenge this man whose breath was unjustly taken by a chokehold. But we should also want to avenge all of our breaths taken by the chokehold of these corporations and politicians.

Today I had the opportunity to speak to brilliant, motivated people. We networked and brainstormed about ways to spread the word and get the truth out there. After all, the truth is what pushes us forward and sets us apart.

A few people, assuming I was there as publicist for a participating nonprofit, asked me who I was there representing. I simply said, “My children. All children.”

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P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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December 1st, 2014

Easy Apple Cranberry Crisp Recipe with a Healthy Topping Twist

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Greek yogurt is better than ice cream.

OK, nothing is better than chocolate Haagen Dazs, but Stonyfield Organic Vanilla Greek Yogurt and Cafe Latte Greek Yogurt are definitely a satisfying healthy swaps for most lame store bought ice cream.

It’s easy to make that swap at 3 p.m. on a Tuesday, but how about as a dessert topping? I tried it on my favorite holiday (and everyday) dessert recipe featuring simple seasonal ingredients.

Apple Cranberry Crisp

1. Preheat oven to 325

2. Use some coconut oil to grease up a glass baking dish

3. Peel and slice about 3 cups of apples and pour into pan with 2 cups cranberries, a cup of sugar, and a dash of lemon juice.

4. In a separate bowl, use your (clean) hands to blend together 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup oats, 1 cup brown sugar, and about 5 tablespoons of softened butter.

5. Toss the little crumbles you made on top of the fruit and then bake for about an hour.

This is a dish I enjoy both piping hot and cold out of the fridge. But either way, add a few tablespoons – or a whole container – of the Stonyfield Greek yogurt of your choice and let me know what you think!

This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. All opinions are my own.

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November 24th, 2014

The Best Apps to Make Urban Parenting Easier – Plus Promo Codes!

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I’ve said before that there is no way I could accomplish half of what I do without modern technology. I seriously don’t even know how working mothers did it just ten years ago. Who has time to constantly shop for groceries and diapers? And how can you possibly do that when you are living in the city with limited or no access to a car?

I am super thankful for these smartphone apps and wanted to share with you my favorites with some lovely referral codes that will get you some amazing savings – and, in full disclosure, some kickbacks to me! :)

Here is the honest scoop and the best codes around!

FRESH DIRECT
This grocery service has been an absolute game changer, saving us from hour-long shopping trips at least once per week. Fresh Direct has a very good organic selection and the meats and fish are always fresh. I’ve been super happy with the service and quality. There are still a few random items they don’t have in stock that we have to buy from other places, like Sunbutter and dark chocolate chips. But they cover about 90% of what we need on a weekly basis – and even allow you to buy baskets from our local CSA!
Use this link to get $100 off your first two orders!

POSTMATES
This is a brand new God-sent app which allows you to place deliveries from literally anywhere. You know how for some reason no Vietnamese restaurants use Grubhub? Or how you wish there was a way to have someone bring you tissues and orange juice when you are sick in bed with two kids in front of the TV? Now there is!
Use code qmxg for a $10 delivery credit

INSTACART
This service is similar to Postmates but narrows your shop selection to Whole Foods, BJ’s Warehouse, and a few other shops unique to your coverage area (ours covers Reading Terminal Market which is pretty awesome!) The big plus here is getting items from warehouse stores without needing a membership.
Use this link for $10 in free groceries!

UBER
UBER offers carseats – as in you don’t even need to shlep your own! There is a fee, of course, but what easier way to get to the airport with children?Avoid parking at Frozen on Ice! I also just discovered the UBERX option and found that it is just as nice as the black car service! Apparently, the only difference is the color of the car and the dress code for the driver. Cheaper than a cab and they almost always offer you snacks.

Use code paigew20 for a free ride up to $20

P.S. If you live in Philly and just need a cab, be sure to download the 215GETACAB app which will make that task substantially easier.

DIAPERS.COM
Diapers.com has an app so that you can place that order for diapers, wipes, or a new sippy cup the second you think of it. There is an extensive selection of eco-friendly brands and delivery is free and insanely fast – usually overnight. And since Diapers.com has so many offshoots like Vine, Soap, and Wag, you can add anything to your free order, from toothpaste to dog food.
Use code STOBOOK which applies to the whole line of Diapers.com stores, including Soap.com and Vine.com.

ZULILY
This flash sale site for moms also offers grown-up clothes, accessories, and even home goods. There is a pretty good selection of eco-friendly brands to keep your eye on, and you can tag your favorite brands to get sale alerts. Just beware the shipping drag – it can take weeks to receive your order so don’t order anything you need right away!

AMAZON
An obvious one, I know. But here are a couple tips: They offer a free month of Amazon Prime membership at least once per year so be sure to take advantage. There are also some really cool kids shows on there. Plus they are rolling out a new grocery delivery service, so I’m sure there will be some specials and promotions offered as this growing market starts competing for new customers!

ARTKIVE
My kids bring home a TON of artwork from school. This handy app allows you to take a picture of their work, save it to your online “artkive,” and even print a book after you’ve accrued some faves! I just need to get better about letting go of all the hard copies after I’ve saved them virtually! They usually give a print credit with signup and occasionally email other offers.

BERRYCART
This is a new app for savings on organic and healthy grocery brands. The downside is you really need a hard copy receipt to use it (i.e. not compatible with Fresh Direct), but if you buy a few key things here and there you can make a few bucks!

EBATES
Last but not least, do not attempt any online shopping without clicking through Ebates first! I have been using this site for 10 years and have accrued $1800 in cash back. It’s no joke – especially around the holiday shopping season when they amp up the bonuses!

Do you have any other apps you use to make life easier?

P.S. If you liked this post you might enjoy my monthly newsletter. Receive green living news, discounts, giveaways, and events delivered right to your inbox! Sign up HERE.

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