Green Reviews, Green Tips, Maybe Saving the World, Nature, New Green Economy, Saving the World

Green Cleaning Products That Work

So which green cleaning products actually work?  Straight from a friend in San Francisco, who’s had a housecleaning business for over 10 years and has extensively field-tested them all, here are the best green cleaning products for cleaning your house, toxic-chemical-free:

Mrs. Meyers' dishwashing detergent

Method shower cleaner

Mrs Meyers basil all purpose

Bona hardwood floor cleaner & mop

Hope’s perfect glass

I found most of these at the local supermarket.

I bought Mrs. Meyer’s countertop cleaner (lavendar) and it works great.  Also bought the dish washing liquid (basil), it also works great.

But the real revelation was Mrs. Meyer’s dishwasher detergent.

Mrs. Meyer’s automatic dishwasher detergent consists of little packets the size of two thumbs, full of white powder.  (They look illegal.)  You put one in the dishwasher compartment.  It works as well as — if not better than — Cascade with all the rinse chemical-fixins.

I did not expect that:  never thought something “green” could actually work.  It’s brilliant.  It’s all I use now.

More choices for green cleaning products For other green cleaning products, here’s a great link from outside of Seattle containing a list of non-toxic versions of everything from air fresheners to upholstery cleaners to pipe-unclogger to slug stopper (?! really).  Only thing is, “non-toxic” doesn’t necessarily mean chemical-free, so while these lists are helpful, they don’t absolve any of us from research and label-reading.

Still, a helpful place to start:

Non-toxic alternatives (City of Tacoma, Washington)

If you have favorite ‘greeners’ that are time tested and you really believe in them, please post them below.  I’ll try anything, especially if it won’t kill my new, young, growing ash tree that lives near the “outgoing” drainage pipe at my place.  (Also, my dog eats things off surfaces she shouldn’t, so I’d like to keep it real for her too.)  Green cheers to all.

Environmental Regulations, Green Reviews, Green Tips, Health, Nature, New England, New Green Economy, Saving the World, travel

Jen White, Kathleen Hurley join Mountain Spirit Institute as advisors

Jennifer White of New London, NH and Kathleen Hurley of Portsmouth, NH, have been recently named “Advisors” to Mountain Spirit Institute (MSI).  MSI is a non-profit educational organization based in Sunapee, NH.

Mount Washington, White Mountains, New Hampshire, USA

MSI programs have been compared to Outward Bound ventures insofar as both strive to engender self reliance, compassion, service, centeredness, physical fitness and interpersonal community-building while developing sensibilities towards stewardship and understanding of the natural environment.  MSI programs aim to endow participants of all ages with a greater appreciation and understanding of their own resources and of the people around them — as well as a better sense of their place in the world.

MSI is based in New England.  Summer 2011 programs cater to New Englanders or people prepared to visit the New Hampshire / Vermont region.

Hurley and White as MSI advisors

In the newly created advisory role, both Hurley and White will contribute expertise and advice to the organization based on their respective fields of experience.

Mountain Spirit Institute, founded in 1998, runs wilderness based programs both domestically and internationally, as well as a wide variety of workshops and retreats. The newly created advisory role broadens the scope of the institute while providing support to the board of directors. The role also engages those individuals in the community who are interested in, and have strong skill-sets and knowledge related to, MSI’s mission.


Kathleen Hurley brings a wealth of corporate and online communications skills plus enthusiasm, writing and publishing acumen and keen business management experience to MSI’s advisory board. Kathleen has been a contributing writer to various New England magazines, and a director-level Marketing and Communications executive for almost a decade. Hurley was also a founding member of the steering committee for the successful Sunapee SunFest, a holistic health, alternative energy, music, arts, and sustainability festival which Mountain Spirit Institute created and ran for a number of years in mid 2000’s.  Hurley currently serves as the Director of Corporate Communications for Actio Corp, Boston, MA.


Jennifer White brings a purpose-driven, holistic approach to sustainability education at MSI. White has been an educator for over fifteen years in a wide variety of academic and community settings, and has a multidisciplinary background in physics, psychology, systems science, permaculture design, and sustainability. She served as the Executive Director of a national nonprofit called the Simplicity Forum, and was the Co-Founder and Director of Education for the Green Heart Institute which was created to help people “understand the global impact of their choices, connect with their values and live sustainably from the heart.”

White has a long history of dedicated volunteerism, but she is perhaps best known for appearing on A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor.   However, her extensive volunteering with community based organizations includes being a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Earth Institute and Transition Town Lyons, both in Colorado.   She is currently the Sustainability Coordinator and an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH.

Fun, educational ways to get involved

If you or someone you know might benefit from travel (some local travel, some international) with intent to heal – please see MSI’s Programs Page or contact Randy Richards at the email provided below.

In June 2011, a MSI group will be going to Vermont for a weekend for an in-depth retreat centered around wilderness and sustainable gardening.  Check it out here:  Spots are limited so MSI advises interested parties to contact MSI as soon as possible to express interest.

Release date: April 16, 2011
Contact: Randy Richards TEL: (603) 763-2668,

This post may serve as a news release; content may be redistributed without consent of the author.  Happy blogging everyone!

Green Reviews, Green Tips, Health, Science

Chemicals and Food Dyes

Lately some big stories about chemicals in food coloring have been published.  “Nobody ever said that chemicals that bring the Pow Orange to spray cheese were a health food,” said Environmental Leader.

The Chicago Tribune noted studies indicating that some chemical compounds in food colorings cause hyperactivity and allergy symptoms in children.

Adding Food Coloring to Children may cause ADHD
Children and chemicals in cake frosting: can they mix?

Warning: the color additives in foods containing the following dyes may cause hyperactivity and behavior problems in some children.
•    Blue 1
•    Blue 2
•    Green 3
•    Orange B
•    Red 3
•    Red 40
•    Yellow 5
•    Yellow 6

For instance, check out this profile of blue food coloring, from

For a backgrounder of food dyes in the U.S. (historically), it does not get much better than this FDA treatise.  For a good list of food additive chemicals to avoid, complete with explanation, see this food dyes page from CSPI.   And, lastly, here is everything the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knows about chemicals in food & packaging.

Green dye in guacamole, blue dye in blueberries

The Daily Green, a consumer site out of Maryland, reported the following: “European regulation, according to CSPI, are already more strict: ‘For instance, the syrup in a strawberry sundae from a McDonald’s in the U.K. gets its red color from strawberries; in the U.S., the red color comes from synthetic Red 40.

Synthetic food dyes are common in “fun”-colored foods popular with children:  breakfast cereals, candies, snack foods and soft drinks.

But it may be surprising to some that synthetic colors are also used to make fruits or vegetables more appealing.  Kraft’s “Guacamole Dip” gets its green color not from avocados but from Yellow 5, Yellow 6, and Blue 1.  CSPI notes that the “artificially flavored blueberry bits” in Aunt Jemima Blueberry Waffles are blue thanks to Red 40 and Blue 2, not blueberries.

Be wily: just because it says “strawberry ice cream” in big letters does not mean the food is actually colored with red strawberry juice.  Read the small print.  Of all the major brands, typically Breyers ice cream is the most natural one.  But always read the labels to check for yourself.

From saffron to spray cheese: intelligent life or…?

This quote is irresistible and sums up the food coloring situation, from Environmental Leader:

Using additives to make food more appealing goes back to ancient times when people would salt meat to preserve it. Later, herbs like saffron were added to rice to make it, besides more nutritious, a pleasing shade of yellow.

Many believe that from an evolutionary perspective it was just a matter of time before someone created bright orange spray cheese. – EL

If the food is packaged — from unholy guacamole, easy-cheesy pizza topping to bright blue lollipops — we should think before putting in our mouths or giving it to our children.  Hopefully this article provides good tips and good reference for you to find out more.

The upshot is: keep it natural.

Green Reviews

Review: Harmony, with Charles, Prince of Wales

This is a review of Harmony, the TV Show that NBC aired last Friday, November 20, 2010.

Summary: it was hard to watch/listen to.   Compared to Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, it was about a third as good.

Green snooze

To be fair, to see Inconvenient Truth we got off our butts and went to a movie theater.  We paid money, got popcorn, and sat down with a crowd of like-minded people.  You could call that ‘receptive state of mind.’  For Prince Charles’ Harmony – which aired in U.S. living rooms at 10PM on a Friday night – I for one was quite horizontal, sleepy, popcornless, probably hungry, and had Facebook going.

A strong TV show can usually distract me from Facebook.  Even The Office reruns, even Family Guy, and definitely Frontline are more interesting than who had what for dinner, streaming live on social media.

But Prince Charles is hard to listen to.  He reminded me of George Bush.  Not in point of view, obviously, but in an eerie way that’s hard to put a finger on.  Yet now that I’ve pointed it out you’ll think of George Bush every time you see a Prince Charles interview.

Charles seems stiff, bound and perhaps erotically frustrated.  Like there are invisible ropes around the guy – not like a puppet but like a masochist.  He can’t quite relax, can’t quite release himself, and he doesn’t mind.

Charles – like Bush – seems to have something to escape from rather than something to say.  Either or both of those men may in fact have a brilliant message, but all you hear is “wah wah wah” like Peanuts parents.

It’s like when a singer is self-conscious and not really delivering the song but giving up a lot of personality.  A few with loads of charisma can get away with that – but very few.  Some said George W had that charisma in person, but obviously not on TV.

My guess is Charles has abundant charisma in person.  Which throws off filmmakers – because they don’t realize until late in the editing stage that they really, objectively, got nothing.

You want to say to Charles or George W:  Now, enough about you.  No one cares about you personally – give us the info and just stamp it Certified by you but keep yourself out of it.  Could say the same thing to Bono (Africa) and Sarah Palin (Alaska).

Suggestion to Prince Charles: have the Frontline producers do your next film.  And have someone else narrate it.  You may appear in brief interviews.  British directors/editors are not allowed to touch the production (just trust me on this).

New York Times put it gently by saying, “And while ‘Harmony’ is serious-minded and the prince’s dedication is quite admirable, there is something a bit stagy and embarrassing to his presentation. ….  He speaks passionately, but with a slow, plummy emphasis on even ordinary words that is distracting to an American ear.” – Nice review by Alessandra Stanley

The film’s co-producer Stuart Sender told Reuters, “A lot of the things that are very close to the prince’s heart, and have been at the center of his work for a long time, are featured in the movie.”  Yes.  And?

“In a lot of ways people are going to meet [Charles] for the first time,” Sender said.  “People are really going to be amazed and surprised to meet the prince in a way they never have met him before.”

And that is true.  For that, it’s worth watching the show if you have a chance.

Suggestion: have your Facebook page loaded, popcorn buttered, and have some friends over for support.

photo credit: Porcupine napping, from

Green Reviews, Nature, Science

A Short Video That Will Change Your Life

This is one of those videos that make you love NASA all over again.  And love the Hubble Telescope, perhaps for the first time.  And make you feel really weird about getting upset about not having done the dishes….   Puts things in perspective.  Do share it!

Review: thumbs up (if space aliens have thumbs).

“What happens when you point the Hubble Space Telescope to a seemingly blank patch of sky? A view that takes you to the edge of the universe.”  View more…