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.
July 27th, 2015

My Brush with the Big Screen: Being an Extra on Equity

When I was in the fourth grade something so truly bizarre happened, I actually would be sure I imagined it if there were not other witnesses.

I grew up in a super quiet suburb outside Philadelphia. Hours could go by without a car passing. But one morning in 4th grade I woke up to see a bunch of people and cameras directly in front of my house. I went outside to inquire and was told they were filming a Pepsi commercial. Why? Because my front yard had a good hill for skateboarding.

The premise of the commercial was that an 11-year-old girl bets her brother she can get a Pepsi before him (or something like that). Then there is some adventure to try to obtain it, involving said skateboard. This was a real commercial with real actors – a 4-year-old with a professional headshot and a sound guy who let me and my friends use our bikes to capture “bike sound.”

The fact that this happened in Huntingdon Valley, PA is still completely unexplainable and, despite exhaustive searching, I am quite sure it never aired.

That was my closest brush with Hollywood.

Sure, I have been on television. Mostly local TV where I play “myself,” or more accurately, play a possessed Martha Stewart-like caricature of myself.

Alas the big screen seemed far from my reality.

So it sounded like a pretty cool once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be an extra in my friend’s film.

I got to know Alysia Reiner before she became uber famous as “Fig” in “Orange is the New Black.” She contributed to my book as a “celebrity eco-mom” and we have been friends ever since. I was thrilled to learn that her new production film was shooting its first film in Philadelphia, a female-driven Wall Street story called “Equity.”

She was happy to let me be an extra, but warned me that it would be a long day’s work. I figured it would be a cool experience – and how bad could it be?

With "Equity" star and producer (and "Orange is the New Black" star) Alysia Reiner

With “Equity” star and producer (and “Orange is the New Black” star) Alysia Reiner

Turns out being in a film is really hard work – and being an extra is that much harder! Extras can spend hours perfecting their “pantomime” while the director makes sure the set is absolutely perfect – and that is before they even bring the real actors on to the set! Then once the real actors are ready to roll, there can be a dozen takes to just get ONE of the angles correct. Hurry up and wait because then everything starts over to shoot from several different perspectives. A 30-second scene can take HOURS.

I was fortunate enough to get amazing placement, seated between Alysia and leading actress Anna Gunn (“Breaking Bad”) for a pivotal scene where Anna gives a killer monologue. It would be pretty hard to cut me out of that scene, so expect some possibly frightening close-ups of me sweating under the bright lights when this thing hits the big screen.

With Anna Gunn, star of Equity and "Breaking Bad"

With Anna Gunn, star of “Equity” and “Breaking Bad”

Meanwhile, follow the amazing work Broad Street Pictures is doing bringing women-driven, produced, and directed films to Hollywood…and Philly!

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Delicious Post to MySpace Send Gmail Post to Digg Post to StumbleUpon

July 20th, 2015

Finance Your Life Through #Unshopping with Yerdle

I talk a lot about the sharing economy and all the fun, interactive ways to be a part of it. One of my favorite things has been bringing the Buy Nothing Project to Philadelphia and watching it blossom and grow!

But my latest obsession is a place to turn when you can’t find the free items you need in your neighborhood, or there isn’t a match for something you have to give – YERDLE!

yerdle

Yerdle is an app that allows you to give and receive using a point system. Items are – however arbitrarily – assigned a point value. The more you give, the more you can get! You just have to pay for shipping the items you receive, unless you can pick them up locally or they are small enough to fit in a thin envelope.

For me, things like Yerdle, Poshmark, and the Buy Nothing Project are partly about financing the life I have using items from the life I used to have. Or, in some cases, the life I thought I had, where I would regularly use a tool designed specifically for squeezing limes.

I'm sorry, you can squeeze lemons OR limes.

I’m sorry, you can squeeze lemons OR limes.

In my new life, a barely-used garlic press yields two pairs of uniform pants for my kindergartener. My dog’s old puppy clothes earned me the points to purchase a cute Calvin Klein dress and a bunch of cute toddler shoes.

It’s all about taking all the crap you bought when you were single/childless/thinner/heavier/still eating gluten and using it to purchase the things you now genuinely need.

 

One day's Yerdle Haul: Two pairs of toddler shoes, toddler jumper, toy phone, bath toy organizer, 8 kids books, and 3 jars of homemade jam

One day’s Yerdle Haul: Two pairs of toddler shoes, toddler jumper,  toy phone,
bath toy organizer, 8 kids books, and 3 jars of homemade jam

Frugal, thrifty, eco-conscious, and clever!

Sign up for 10 bonus Yerdle Dollars here!

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.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Delicious Post to MySpace Send Gmail Post to Digg Post to StumbleUpon

July 13th, 2015

Blue Mountain PA Spartan Sprint Review

My mid-life (OK mid-30s) fitness journey has taken me some places I never thought I’d be: completing The Broad Street Run, entering CrossFit Competitions, hiking backwards up a mountain. I’ve been crossing things off the Bucket List left and right.

So a Spartan Sprint seemed like a highly achievable goal. I’d done the Merrell Down and Dirty Obstacle Race which was a 40-minute cakewalk. The obstacles were things like stepping on some tires and crawling through the equivalent of my kids’ play tunnel.

Don’t get me wrong – I knew the Spartan would be harder. I knew I would be doing 30-burpee-penalties several times. I can’t throw a spear to a target or traverse Ninja-style rings. But it’s advertised as a three mile beginner’s course. The average sprint takes an hour and a half. No sweat.

Fast forward to the starting line where the announcer states, “by the way, this is like a 5 mile race and it’s pretty much a Super so good luck.”

Now, before I take you on this journey, let’s note that it is 11:45 a.m. and about 90 degrees. I am with my husband, Mike, who has one Tough Mudder under his belt, and our friend, Danielle, who has never done a mud run but is an avid Crossfitter.

We begin by sprinting up a hill with around a 70 degree incline. Halfway up the hill, every single person started walking. This was the beginning of a hike that would take us up 1700 feet. For perspective, the top of the Empire State Building is 1,250 feet. Also bare in mind that this is some rocky, unkept terrain that is not regularly hiked by humans.

From another reviewer, “Norm, the course designer, had full access to the terrain and would send runners through parts of the terrain that no skier or person had probably been on for years. We crossed more hiking trails than actually used them.” 

I later learn that “Norm” is known as the most hardcore Spartan Course designer and is so revered/reviled that he has his own Facebook page called “#EFFNORM.”

Along the way we climbed over some pretty high cargo nets, where I was very pleased with myself for coming down without panicking (I generally don’t like to go down stairs without a railing). I hoist myself over some walls and have my husband push my ass over the higher walls. We make it to the top of the summit exhausted and incredibly thankful we listened to a friend who suggested we bring a hydration pack as there is no water for a good 1.5 miles – and we are only moving about one mile per hour. (I bought this cheap Teton Hydration Pack on Amazon and it was perfect).

Then the obstacles start to come hard and heavy. The monkey bars were wide both in grip and space, so that was a fail (30 burpees). The spear throw was an expected fail for most people (30 burpees). Fortunately we were permitted to help each other on obstacles like the Hercules Hoist (not too terrible for the women but apparently awful for the men); the Tyrolean (rope) Traverse (I felt like I was pretty good at this, but can’t say for certain, as Danielle was cradling me the whole time); and the Z-Wall (If I had like 20 tries I could have nailed this. But I had one so Mike held me up against the wall).

At one point we saw what must have been a 20-foot-high blue metal wall in the distance. Everyone panicked. But as we got closer we realized it was not an obstacle – it was a random hunk of metal that probably had something to do with the ski slope.

The mud trenches are a necessary evil at these things, but these smelled worse than any I have experienced. Truly like trudging through sewers. And at the very end, you are forced to go completely under the muddy water to go under a wall. Which is an awesome way to get flesh eating bacteria. Fortunately my skin is still in tact.

Then there were the “carries.” First the Sand Bag carry, which at first felt like an easy 20 pounds, considering I am regularly made to run with a 20 pound slam ball in CrossFit. And this was like a comfy pillow! But try carrying it downhill for about 300 meters and then back UP a hill so steep it would be difficult to walk it empty-handed.

sanbag carry by Lola Seidl

Here is a small taste of that

There was also the Bucket Brigade where women were asked to fill a bucket with more than 70 pounds of rocks, carry it down another long hill, and then back up the steep ass hill. You weren’t permitted to carry on your shoulder, which would have been easier but hazardous, so you had to find some way to cradle it. This was the only point in the race where I said out loud, “I don’t think I can do this.” Of course, because it is Spartan and awesome, some random dude said, “Yes you can!” So I did.

 

photo by lejandro Lozada

Those people with the buckets on their shoulders are about to get yelled at.

I was really looking forward to the rope climb, a skill I have perfected through CrossFit. However, when a rope is soaking wet and covered with mud, it is almost impossible to get a foot grip. Here is where I saw plenty of ripped dudes taking their 30 burpee penalty along with me.

And then there was the part that everyone said would be the worst: The Barbed Wire Crawl. Rolling makes me totally dizzy and nauseous, and I know I am not the only one. So after a couple of rolls I had to find other ways to get through this roughly 300 meters of hell. Using my knees was out of the question because they were already jacked up and burning. So I did sort of a crab-walk-limbo. Toward the end of the muddy uphill climb, grown men were just lying there, waiting for someone to kick them so they were forced to move forward.

11692700_10153435045105140_4610355462769706105_n

Roll, baby, roll

Once I came out of that I finally hit a mental wall. This had to be close to finished. And thankfully it was. Just 30 more burpees for the ninja rings, a submersion in muddy water, and a jump over the fire to the finish (I was initially really worried about the fire, but it was by far the easiest thing I did all day).

At the end, we had absolutely how long we had been gone. And we were shocked to find that it had taken us almost four hours!! Our team time was 3:53, which was not great – like 79th percentile. I was pretty surprised because we definitely saw plenty of people stopping for full-on picnics.

But if I’m being honest, we weren’t exactly racing for time – we were just trying to get through the damn thing. There was not more than about 100 feet where you could actually run with any sense of self-preservation. We stopped so Danielle could pee and then stopped so Mike could have a snack. My teammates waited while I spent 15 minutes trying to climb the rope before I accepted defeat and took my burpees.

I’m further content with our time after seeing a bunch of posts on social media about how many people truly cheated – perfectly capable people skipping obstacles and not doing the burpees. While I applaud anyone who wants to try the race and simply can not finish, it sucks that their times count against people who followed all of the insane rules.

At the end of the day, I will say this: that bitch was no sprint. When it comes to the Blue Mountain Spartan, the Sprint was a Super, the Super was a Beast, and if they had a Beast it would be some unnamed act of Satan. Mike said it was just as bad, if not worse, than Tough Mudder.

And now, for better or worse, I know I’ll have to eventually give the Super a try at a different location. Because after that race I know I can rock at least 2/3 of the Trifecta. Aroo!

spartan

A couple quick points of advice:

1. Groupon often offers great deals on Spartan Races but they are only for the afternoon heat. They are strict about your start times and they will check. So if you want to be sure you start before noon, skip the Groupon and search for another coupon code.

2. I forgot to wear high socks and they were sold out at the merchandise booth. They would have been helpful with the ropes. Buy yourself a nice, cheesy pair.

3. I accidentally checked my gloves with my bag and almost cried when I realized that at the start line. But in retrospect I’m not sure how helpful they would have been. But if you want your best fighting shot at those monkey bars, try a pair.

4. Wear sneakers with grips – no minimalist shoes. This is not a CrossFit WOD – it is a hike. If you don’t have an old pair of sneakers with treads that you never want to see again, check Craigslist, Yerdle, or your local Buy Nothing Group, which is where I got mine.

5. Bring a hydration pack! If you are lucky enough to have a partner you can use as a sherpa, make them wear it (husbands are excellent for this). One is enough for the whole team since you can refill them at the water stations.

Thanks to the good folks on the Spartans of the Northeast page for some of these images!

 

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.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Delicious Post to MySpace Send Gmail Post to Digg Post to StumbleUpon

July 9th, 2015

Asbestos in Crayons: How I Salvaged My Recycled Crayon Project

moonstone

Now this is the kind of stuff that makes me want to write a second book:

For months, my 5-year-old Sam and I have been planning a very special project to share with his preschool friends. The school agreed to set aside a time for me to come do a short presentation on “upcycling” with a fun hands-on project – recycling broken, old crayons into new fun-shaped crayons!

What a treat it would be to teach the kids a great way to recycle and make a cool craft at the same time! For weeks we collected broken crayons from families and Sam spread the word that “Thursday was going to be a special project with my mommy!” Even the blackboard in the preschool entrance read, “Thursday is Crayon Day!” We were stoked.

Wednesday afternoon, just after I packed up everything I would need for the following day, I opened my laptop to see a steady stream of THIS on my Facebook Feed:

asbestos in crayons

asbestos in crayons

Awesome.

And this is not some urban-legend stuff. These are legitimate studies done by trusted organization Environmental Working Group. This was covered by CNN. This is a very real thing.

Now, reading these reports, I am naturally appalled – but sadly not surprised – that crayons could contain actual poison. And though this information is frightening, I would still probably let my kids color with whatever crayons were given to them in a restaurant and keep the ones in their goody bags (typically one of the only goody bag items I don’t throw out).

But I am about to present a project to a classroom of children in which we literally COOK ASBESTOS. And then go home to tell their parents how they would like to do this on a regular basis.

You see, the crayons have already been collected and there’s a good chance some of them would test positive for asbestos. So it seemed like melting them couldn’t be a great idea. Turns out, I’m right.

“Toxic substances embedded in wax as in encaustics sticks or crayons are often deemed safe. But if encaustics are fused by heating or using torches, or if crayons are melted to make into candles (a common project), the wax converts into toxic airborne emissions and toxic pigments can fume into the air.” – Alternet

So what do I do now that I’ve promised a bunch of children I would essentially turn their art room/lunchroom into a meth lab?

First: panic. Then cry. Then ask everyone on the Internet what they would do.

Some suggest scrapping the project altogether. Some suggest saying “screw it” and teaching the kids how to burn poison over an open flame. But the most rational minds helped me to find a solution better than trying to create an incredibly lame project where we just glue broken crayons to paper and call it a mosaic.

1. Sort through the collected crayons and cherry-pick only those that can be identified as Crayola, a made-in-the-USA brand that does not contain asbestos. Sadly this means I also have to discard any “naked crayons.”

2. Ask the school if I can send a note home in the children’s cubbies about what we did, how to replicate the project, and why they should only use Crayola!

Fortunately everyone was receptive to crayon sorting and accepting this new information along with the learning experience. For any children who asked, I simply explained that some crayons don’t melt well – which is also entirely true.

Overall “Crayon Day” was a great success!

kids3

IMG_5029

 

 

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.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Delicious Post to MySpace Send Gmail Post to Digg Post to StumbleUpon

July 1st, 2015

True Down to Earth Decadence with Juniper Seed Mercantile

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 9.37.38 AM

Juniper Seed Mercantile is proof that luxurious, effective, organic beauty does not have to be expensive. Their motto is “Down To Earth Decadence” allowing you to  take care of your skin and the environment at the same time, without spending a fortune!

With it’s best availability on Etsy, Juniper Seed Mercantile is grassroots enough to keep you on budget, but savvy enough to package with polish. And that’s why their Etsy shop is blowing up!

At only $11, the Soft Whipped Facial Creme Soap with Ground Walnut Shells and Tea Tree Oil is everything I’ve ever wanted in a face wash. I use tea tree oil all the time to soothe skin redness but I also love the exfoliation of walnut shells. And I love even more that it comes already whipped to perfection, unlike many cleansing grains meant to be mixed with water – leading to a serious mess in my bathroom sink.

The Cucumber Eye Cream is rich with cucumber and calendula oil, and great for super sensitive skin around the eyes. And the Cucumber Rose Facial Toner is a skin-softening, hydrating cleanser for all skin types.

One of their coolest products – and one of my 2015 Best of Natural Beauty Winners – is their lip balms – 100% plastic-free and compostable! The waste-hater in me is simply giddy with these compostable paper tube lip balms, which are double the size of a typical plastic tube so they last even longer! My favorite is the Chai Spice blend, sweetened with stevia and scented with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper and other spices – completely natural and perfect for anyone with sensitivities to artificial flavors. It’s also beeswax free for the vegan crowd.

Plus each order usually arrives with a sample item which you can even pick out yourself!

Joan and Tiffany are the incredibly sweet mother-daughter team that makes up Juniperseed Mercantile. They are passionate about using earth-friendly ingredients, responsible packaging, and ship all of their orders using reclaimed materials and paper tape. Many of their ingredients are organic, and they source their palm oil from Brazil to protect the Orangutan habitat in Indonesia. They are hardcore eco in the best way possible! :)

Check out their Etsy shop and stock up at https://www.etsy.com/shop/JuniperseedMerc. (p.s. Did you know Ebates now gives back 1% on Etsy purchases?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received samples of these products for review as well as monetary compensation. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

 

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.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Delicious Post to MySpace Send Gmail Post to Digg Post to StumbleUpon

June 22nd, 2015

Best Natural Beauty Products 2015 – 4th Edition

beauty

It’s time for my annual round-up of the best natural beauty products, gleaned from trying and testing almost every brand around!

After spending another year trying out some of the best organic luxury beauty products on the market, I have a few new favorites to share and a few that have stood the test of time. Others have been removed from the list because of purity of ingredients, annoying repackaging, or simply finding something that worked better.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 1.07.28 PM

Moom Organic Hair Removal System

Just admit it – you have always wanted to wax your own bikini line. I know it’s been a long time dream of mine, fulfilling both type-A hair plucking fantasies as well as saving time and money. I googled “natural waxing” and remained totally skeptical when I ordered Moom Organic Hair Removal system. But O-M-G it works! And the pain is far less than I remember feeling at the waxing salons. Probably my favorite product of the year (even though it’s possibly been around for ages).

Also, a tip for the eco and budget savvy – don’t waste money buying more fabric strips! You can tear up old sheets and pillowcases – I even used a stained tuxedo shirt!

 

Juniper Seed Mercantile Chai Spice Lip Balm

What’s better than a delicious all natural lip balm? One that is 100% plastic-free and compostable! The waste-hater in me is simply giddy with these compostable paper tube lip balms, which are double the size of a typical plastic tube so they last even longer! The Chai Spice blend is sweetened with stevia and scented with cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper and other spices – completely natural and perfect for anyone with sensitivities to artificial flavors. It’s also beeswax free for the vegan crowd.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 1.18.37 PM

Board and Batten Glowing Solution

I had the opportunity to work with this brand this year and this product was the favorite of all our celebrity testers. It’s a lightweight, concentrated blend of oils and extracts that saturates your skin with omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. I wear it day and night.

Acorelle Perfumes

My love for these natural perfumes warranted its own post earlier this year. 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!

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 1.13.49 PM

Deep Steep Body Wash

I love everything about this rosemary mint bodywash apart from the fact that the container tends to leak, leaving me constantly needing to buy more. The scent and texture is perfect and I like to stock up majorly when it is on sale.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 1.21.59 PM

Miessence Purifying Skin Conditioner
My friend Erin has been selling this Australian brand for a while and raving about how natural and effective the formulas were. After trying a few for ourselves, both my husband and I were hooked. This skin toner is one of my favorites, especially for breakout problem areas

Nutiva Organic Virgin Coconut Oil

I’m not the first to tell you about the wonders of coconut oil. In fact, I am probably late to the party. But I love this stuff! I use it straight from the jar to moisturize and heal, and mixed with essential oils for all sorts of remedies. I also use it to make everything I cook taste five times more delicious!

 

 

Tried and True: These rock star products have remained on my list and have yet to be replaceable.

Piperwai Natural Deodorant
I met these two girls at a Philly flea market and couldn’t believe how amazing this natural deodorant is. The scent is totally pleasant, fresh, and unisex, and activated charcoal is the special ingredient to make it last through your toughest summer workouts. I like to credit myself for turning this into a cult fave!

Stinky Girl Beauty Company Hair Powder + Dry Shampoo
Also made locally in Philadelphia, this product has made it possible for me to only wash my hair 2-3 times per week while doing CrossFit four times per week. And it comes in a salt shaker!

Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub
I like my facial scrubs gritty, and Acure Organics Argan Stem Cell + Chlorella Growth Factor Brightening Facial Scrub leaves your skin feeling super clean and polished. Organic Sea Kelp, Organic Lemon, and Organic Cocoa Powder gently exfoliate your skin while French Green Clay and removes impurities from your pores.

Goddess Garden Natural Sunscreen
This is the absolute best natural sunscreen I have found. It comes in an easy to apply spray – but not a traditional aerosol spray. It’s closer to a liquid that goes on sheer unlike most natural sunscreens that leave a thick white film. And it has worked great on my super pale child.

Vapour Organic Beauty Siren Lipstick in Coquette
Ever since I found this perfect color it is pretty much all I wear. Sometimes I wear it with no other makeup just to wake up my face and I always get compliments. I have also found that it looks amazing on every complexion.

Kure Bazaar Nail Lacquer in Stiletto
I usually only wear polish on my toes but this brand is the best non-toxic polish I’ve ever tried. The unique formula is made from up to 85% of natural origin based on wood pulp, wheat, cotton, potatoes and corn – and still maintains top notch glamour.

Kjaer Weis Mascara
The ingredients in Kjaer Weis Mascara contain nourishing properties, with 99.8% sourced from organic farming. It glides on easily, with a sleek wand that adds the perfect amount of product, delivers great definition, and adds layers to eyelashes.

W3LL PEOPLE Elitist Mineral Shadow
Pure pigments in a beautiful finish. Perfect for easy shading, highlighting, contouring and lining.

Chocolate Sun Sunless Tanning Cream
The answer to streak-free, toxin-free, sun-ray-free beautifully tanned skin! And it smells delicious.

Yarok Shampoo and Conditioner
I have tried it all for my big mess of hair, and this is my favorite.

RMS Beauty Living Luminizer
Brings you back when you look like death warmed over.

Vapour Organic Beauty Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation
So light and luminous – like silk.

Have you tried these products? What do you think?

 

Disclosure: Some of these brands are past or present clients and some have sent me free samples. But most are simply items I have purchased, loved, and bought again and again! Regardless, my opinions are honest.See my full disclosure here. 

 

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.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Delicious Post to MySpace Send Gmail Post to Digg Post to StumbleUpon

June 17th, 2015

Stonyfield and Late July Easy Party Chip and Dip

Summer feels like never-ending snack time with Bar-B-Qs, beach days, and birthday parties. I’m trying to keep the snacks for my two-year-old’s birthday party relatively healthy, to mitigate the requisite pizza and too-lazy-to-bake-it-myself store bought cake.

Fortunately I received some treats and tips from my friends at Stonyfield Yogurt and Late July Snacks, two of my favorite organic food brands. Late July’s tasty tortilla chips are a perfect swap out for potato chips and Tostitos, and pair wonderfully with simple yogurt-based dips.

july

We’re fans of the Late July Organic Sea Salt by the Seashore Multigrain Tortilla Chips as well as the Sub-Lime flavor!

yogurt

I modified the already super easy Creamy Dill Greek Yogurt Dip recipe on Stonyfield’s Web site by simply using yogurt, dill, and lemon with a pinch of garlic and red wine vinegar. This is a favorite dressing for meat and veggies as well.

Easy peasy – and gone in minutes!

Disclosure: This post was created in partnership with Stonyfield. Regardless, my opinions are honest. See my full disclosure here. 

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Delicious Post to MySpace Send Gmail Post to Digg Post to StumbleUpon

June 15th, 2015

Health and Environmental Things My Parents Actually Did Right

Throughout my book, blog, and daily life I have been notorious for giving my parents a hard time for their fridge full of margarine and carrying Sweet & Low packets everywhere they go. (Yes, I have tried introducing them to organic stevia drops and real butter. It’s hopeless). While I still can’t get them to wrap their head around the fact that those aren’t real blueberries in their Nutri-System muffins, I’ve realized I should give them credit for some things they did right, back before healthy living was more than Jane Fonda workout tapes and Snackwells.

1) Growing up we always had a small salad before dinner. True, it was mostly iceberg lettuce with Wishbone dressing, but research out of Penn State shows that eating a first-course salad can reduce overall calorie intake at a meal by up to 12 percent. My husband and I often start our meals with a salad course, but for our children that usually just means a side of carrots with their mac and cheese.

2) There was a time when I, like most children, begged for the Count Chocula cereal I saw in commercials. I’m so glad that my mother put her foot down and didn’t allow us any cereal that was made predominantly of chocolate marshmallows. Sure, there were occasional Lucky Charms, but we mostly stuck to a steady diet of Cheerios and Special K.

3) I remember learning about the red and blue bins for recycling back in elementary school. Of course, back then no one took that particularly seriously, least of all me. But my mother remained steadfast in her sorting and continues to recycle to this day – even if it means picking out all the items my father still throws in the garbage.

4) I was one of the few kids who wasn’t allowed chocolate milk at snack time, and didn’t mind at all. Whole milk in elementary and skim in high school. Of course, now I don’t really drink dairy at all, but I don’t think almond milk even existed in the ’80s.

5) While the containers may have once been filled with I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, at least those plastic containers always got repurposed. The stockpile of empty margarine containers at my house was legendary, and now their container of choice is an empty pill bottle. Sure, they fill it with Coffee-mate and it looks like they are transporting cocaine, but at least they are upcycling!

Whenever my parents visit they bring a ziplock bag with a small water bottle, a K-cup, Sweet&Low, and a pill bottle filled with Coffeemate non-dairy  creamer

Whenever my parents visit they bring a ziplock bag with a small water bottle, a K-cup, Sweet&Low, and a pill bottle filled with Coffeemate non-dairy creamer.

Did your parents instill any eco-values, even if they were accidental? Have you been able to get your parents on board with small green changes?

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Delicious Post to MySpace Send Gmail Post to Digg Post to StumbleUpon

June 3rd, 2015

Buy Nothing Project Group Update

Since I started Philadelphia’s first Buy Nothing Project, the group has exploded locally (as well as globally, headed by their dedicated admin team). The local launch picked up publicity in Philadelphia Magazine and quickly grew to more than 400 members!

Additional groups formed in Fishtown, Northern Liberties, Fairmount, and even the burbs! And our Bella Vista/Washington Square/Queen Village group is working on breaking off the South Philly and Graduate Hospital members into their own groups to create more walkable neighborhood community groups.

I’m encouraging the split for a couple reasons. Mainly, a puzzle or a jar of jam is far less appealing when you realize you’d have to walk 3 miles to get it. And this group is about fostering small neighborhood communities – no one should have to travel more than a mile, and driving all around the city picking up odds and ends is not really the idea. People interested in casting a wider net for giving and receiving can also join groups like Free Your Stuff Philadelphia.

Meanwhile, I have met so many lovely people, some of whom have lived just down the street for me for years but we had never connected. I’ve seen TONS of items put to good use throughout our community and kept out of the landfills – not to mention saving money and consumption on new items!

In just six months, here are the items I have personally gifted and received:

Gifted:

  • An assortment of binders, folders, and other office supplies
  • Outgrown baby clothes and toys
  • A carseat and stroller
  • A collection of matchbooks
  • A small space heater
  • A broken plate (for mosaic-ing)
  • A portable DVD player
  • An old record player
  • A pillow and comforter

    Pillow and comforter in their new home

    Pillow and comforter in their new home. Photo courtesy of @avrankin

  • G-Diaper liners
  • Assorted K-cups
  • Old iPhone charger
  • A make-your-own beer kit

Received:

    • A wrought iron decoration for my patio
Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 1.27.40 PM

Painted by me

      • Fleece-lined leather gloves
      • An unopened jar of yeast for bread machines
      • Two pairs of toddler shoes
      • A toddler bike helmet
      • Teaspoons, knives, and a vegetable peeler
      • A fold up baseball game toy
      • Kids’ hat and gloves
      • A tip that saved me $200 at Home Depot
      • Two batches of homemade cookies

Since I first posted about this project, there is an even better chance that you can find a group near you no matter where you live! And if they don’t have one yet, start one! You can also follow some of the inspiring Buy Nothing stories from around the world on their Facebook page.

Another great way to give and receive free items is through the Yerdle App – you just have to pay for shipping if the pick up isn’t local. Use my link for free “Yerdle Dollars!”

Have you used a Buy Nothing Group or similar in your community?

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Delicious Post to MySpace Send Gmail Post to Digg Post to StumbleUpon

June 1st, 2015

How To Use Social Media for Business – Or Social Media 101

socialmedia

Many of my readers might not realize that long before Spit That Out, I started my own eco-conscious public relations firm focused on sustainable brands. Back in 2002, Paige Wolf Media & Public Relations did not begin with a grain of eco-consciousness, but over the years it progressed into a PR firm that only works with sustainable and/or mission-driven businesses.

Focussing more on media relations, I don’t typically take over social media for my clients. Rather, I advise them, hoping they can pick up the skills to manage their own social media (if they can’t, we outsource to some great social media managers). But if one more extremely intelligent, savvy, creative business owner tells me that they “aren’t good at the Internet” or “don’t know how to tweet,” I might scream. If you are able to send me an e-mail, you are more than able to use social media.

So here is a Social Media 101 FAQ, free to use and share! And if you would like more hands-on help with building your brand through media relations, social media, and additional communications tools, please reach out to me for a Coffee Consultation!

1) I have a Facebook account where I wish people “Happy Birthday” and share pictures of my cats. So I’m all set, right?

No. If you have any kind of business, whether it’s selling homemade cat treats or financial advising, you need a Facebook Business Page. A “page” is not the same as a “group” or a “personal page,” and it can be set up in about two minutes.

2) But I heard that people don’t even see Facebook posts anymore so it’s pointless.

Yes, it’s true that Facebook has made it so that unless something you post is so engaging that it goes viral in its own right, you’ll be lucky if 10% of your fans see your post. You still need to post. You can also pay a few bucks to boost posts to specific audiences, which is sometimes useful. And Facebook can be automatically linked to Twitter to create minimal effort on this platform. Here is a helpful post on increasing your Facebook Engagement

3) What’s the point of Twitter?

I have found Twitter to be one of the best ways to engage my business. Those 140 characters can go a long way, especially with so many journalists and business leaders using Twitter as their preferred platform. More on using Twitter for business.

4) How do I get people to follow me on Twitter?

Start by following the people you want to know – journalists, industry insiders and networks, even your competitors. Also follow your ideal consumers, searching around for relevant hashtags (more on that to come). The laziest way to use Twitter is to sync your Facebook and Instagram updates. But DO check in to Twitter directly at least once per day to respond to anyone who messages you or replies to you with an “@.” And make a point of “retweeting” interesting posts. Best of all, send actual replies to the posts that interest you! For example, “@JournalistQ What a great story about apples! Our company is also working to make apples the #1 fruit! Would love to connect”

5) What is a hashtag?

A hashtag, which looks like #, turns any phrase that follows it into a searchable link. Hashtags instantly link your social media post to a group of others with the same topic. As a small business owner, using appropriate hashtags can help drive your brand recognition and boost the reach of your advertising campaigns. You can also create your own hashtag for marketing campaigns, Twitter chats, and more! Learn more about hashtags here.

6) Do I really need to use Instagram?

Yes – especially if you want to reach an audience of teens and 20-somethings, who have all deleted their Facebook accounts because they don’t want their grandmothers to see what they are posting. They are all on Instagram posting selfies. So get ready to start posting and hashtagging some visually engaging content – but know that no matter how hard you try, you will never have more followers than your 14-year-old niece. You can also make your life easier by linking your Instagram posts directly to your Twitter. Currently you can not link your Instagram to your business Facebook page. More on using Instagram for business.

5) What about Pinterest?

You may think your product isn’y visual enough for Pinterest. But just about anything can be turned into a visually engaging pin, even if it’s just illustrating the title of a blog post (see mine above made in three minutes with a free app called PicCollage). And Pinterest is surprisingly important and effective – almost 80% of my blog traffic comes from Pinterest! Here is a great post on using Pinterest to grow your business.

6) People I’ve never met keep trying to connect with me on Linked In. What’s up with that?

Well, it could be potentially useful contacts. It could also be realtors and financial advisors sending out blanket new client pitches to everyone in their zip code. Use a bit of discrimination when accepting people so you won’t be flooded with pitches. LinkedIn is a great place to host your “virtual resume” and keep up with your contacts as they change jobs and companies. I am admittedly not as active on this platform as I could be. But I’ve read a lot about its usefulness and creative ways to engage. At the very least, keep your profile current.

7) Seriously, Google+ too?

Eh. Maybe. A few months ago I would have insisted on it because of search engine optimization through Google. But now I hear that Google may be scrapping the platform altogether. If I were you. I’d just claim my business name, update some basic info, and then spend my time elsewhere.

Now that you are all set up, please follow and engage with me!

Spit That Out on Facebook

Paige Wolf Media & Public Relations on Facebook

Paige on Twitter

Paige on Instagram

Paige on Pinterest

Paige on Google+

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.

Post to Twitter Post to Facebook Post to Delicious Post to MySpace Send Gmail Post to Digg Post to StumbleUpon