Organic & Green Savings: “Green” Household Cleaners

July 26th, 2008

A reader comment from a “surprised Mama” has been weighing on my mind. “Surprised Mama” wrote in regarding this post about using green cleaners (or spider webs!) as a way to get kids involved in housework.

“I just found this article today while looking for ways to get my kids involved in helping me clean the house. I did not know that there were organic cleaners and not
having a lot of money to start with I normally buy the cheaper cleaners on the market. The toxic ones. I just went and read the bottles and was just thrown.
I need to ask though. Are organic cleaners comparatively priced to the cheap ‘dollar store’ variety? I’d love to be green but I don’t have a lot of money. I technically live below the poverty line and I am a full time college student, single mom of two.”

I responded to Surprised Mama’s comment and emailed her as well, but decided that this question was important enough to warrant a post. After all, if Surprised Mama wondered about how to afford “green cleaners,” no doubt there are other Moms out there wondering the same thing.

The good news is, you can actually make non-toxic cleaning supplies for less than you’d pay for those nasty toxic ones as the Dollar Store!

All you need is some baking soda, white vinegar, a spray bottle and some rags. Here are some great “recipes” for cleaning solutions for just about anything you can think of: tubs, floors, toilet bowl, windows, drains, countertops, oven, even copper.

And if looking at a link and printing it out is too complicated, check the back of the baking soda boxes. Some, like the 365 brand from Whole Foods, even carry easy “cleaning recipes” on the label. What could be easier, cheaper, or greener?

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

Green and Organic Savings: Summer Delights

May 31st, 2008

Thankfully OrganicMania hit the grocery stores three times this week, because while one trip was a total bust (extreme overspending), the other two trips – without kids in tow – were great for finding bargains. Did you know I go just to take pix and scope out the bargains for OrganicMania? Call me crazy!

On Thursday I visited the Arlington, Virginia, Whole Foods, the first organic grocer I ever frequented, way back in its Fresh Fields days of 1994. It was there that I saw Seth Goldman, now the CEO/TEO of Honest Tea, stocking the shelves with Honest Tea. He was hard to miss – he just didn’t look like your typical supermarket stock boy! DH (then Darling Fiance) and I told him we were sure he would make it big with the organic iced tea. Ten years later and he’s got The Coca Cola Company as a major investor, we’re working together on Bethesda Green, and he’s interviewed here on OrganicMania. Small world!

The Arlington Whole Foods looked like an ode to summer. From the gorgeous organic plants filling the front of the store to the (finally) in-season organic berries, summer’s on its way!

Now’s the time to buy organic berries. Remember, strawberries are in the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen most pesticide-laden produce. But with high prices and low availability most of the year, it can be hard to swallow the normal prices of organic strawberries. Now you can enjoy a box for $4.99. That’s the best price OrganicMania has found at the DC metro My Organic Markets and Whole Foods, and it’s the word on the street too. Anyone find them for a lower price? Organic raspberries can also be had – 2 for $5.00, a great deal, since they’re normally $3.99 each. The California organic red grapes are delicious and just $2.99 a pound, a savings of $2 per pound – also a great deal since conventional imported grapes are also part of the Dirty Dozen.

OneLight(TM) “green” charcoal is on sale now for $3.49, a savings of $1.50 off the regular price. Buy now and stock up for summer! Why green? This charcoal does not require the use of lighter fluid, which emits Volatile Organic Compounds, the third biggest contributor to greenhouse gases.

Who doesn’t love Late July organic crackers? They just taste so light and fresh, plus there are no nasty GMOs with them, as with practically any conventional cracker these days. Now on sale – two boxes for $6.00. Still, for price alone, you can’t beat the 365 brand organic golden round crackers at $1.99 per box. They’re like Ritz crackers, only better. Toddlers love them!

Did you know you can pick up a case of Santa Cruz organic lemonade on sale for $15 per case, a savings of $8.38?

I’ve bemoaned the high price of fresh organic bread before but this Whole Foods sale is pretty good: 2 freshly baked whole wheat baguettes for $4, a savings of 98 cents.

Hmm…charcoal, berries, lemonade, baguettes, crackers? Picnic, anyone? Did you find any good deals this week? Leave a comment and share!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

10 Tips to Green Your Memorial Day Picnic: Green and Organic Savings Friday

May 23rd, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend is the time for traditional picnics and barbeques. This year, go green! There’s never been a better time to do it – prices on biodegradable and corn-based disposable cutlery, plates and cups are down, and organic strawberries are in season. Here’s a look at what you can expect at the stores this week-end as you stock up, along with 10 tips for greening your Memorial Day holiday.

1. Need to mow the lawn to make your yard look beautiful? Forget about conventional gas and electric mowers. Go retro with a good old fashioned push mower. Not only will you help to save the planet, you’ll get real exercise too! If you must use gas or electric, how about sharing a mower with your neighbors?

2. Running out to pick up a grill? Diane MacEachern has some great tips on solar-powered and other “green grills”at her blog here.

3. The Big Green Purse author also suggests using lump charcoal instead of briquettes, which may contain coal dust and other additives. Diane says to look for hardwood briquettes from forests certified by the Rainforest Alliance’s SmartWood program, or lumps made from coconut husks. Cow boy Charcoal, sold at Lowe’s, Trader Joe’s and under the Whole Foods 365 brand, makes chunk charcoal out of wood leftover from furniture making and construction.

4. Cleaning off the dirty lawn chairs? Remember to use green cleaners. There’s no excuse now, with prices down to $2.98 on Green Works cleaners at WalMart.

5. Planning the menu? Re-think the beef. Beef is a key contributor to global warming. Can you go veggie? There are great veggie alternatives available like delicious veggie burgers, soy-based corn dogs, and of course the old staples of potato and pasta salad.

6.My Organic Market has a great in-store display up of everything you could possibly need for a green and organic Memorial Day picnic. From Drew’s Organic and All Natural Dressing and Marinade to Walnut Acres Organic Baked Beans, Rudy’s Organic Wheat Burger Buns for $3.29 per package, Rudy’s Organic Hot Dog Buns for $2.59 per package, Tree Free Plates for $7.99 a package, Biodegradable Forks, Knives and Spoons for $2.99 per package, and Tree-Free bowls for $4.69 per package. There’s a huge selection of organic beer and wine, and for the kids, Honest Kids Juice Quenchers are on sale for $3.99 for a box of 8 pouches. They even have gourmet lump charcoal – 100% all natural hardwood. (May be a contradiction in terms if you’re buying tree-free bowls, but we’ll leave that alone!)

7. What’s for dessert? It’s strawberry season! Finally, organic strawberries have fallen in price to the $4.99 a level (seen at MOM’s). You can even make a red/white/blue dessert with organic strawberries and blueberries and vanilla ice cream. Try Julie’s Organic Ice Cream. Its to die for!

8. Time to clean up? Whip out the biodegradable plastic trash bags, now just $4.95 per package here.

9. When dusk comes, and you head inside, open the windows instead of turning on the air conditioner. You’ll save money and the environment!

10. If you’re heading back home to the big city after enjoying time at the beach, you may want to check out the local farmers markets or grocers. We pick up organic fruits when we are in smaller towns that enjoy a lower cost of living than our big city home town.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Green and Organic Savings Friday: CVS “Organic” Make-up, Late Night Specials at Whole Foods, Organic Baby Food and More!

May 16th, 2008

Last night OrganicMania discovered an advantage to waiting until the absolute last minute to pick up groceries. Never before had I heard the voice booming across Whole Foods announcing, “Two-for-one Special! Buy One, Get One Free!” Buy what? Where the heck was I? For a second, I thought I was back in Germany, where at Kaufhalle a flashing blue siren goes off before a voice announces “Sonderangebot!”

But no, it was the gorgeous sandwiches in the prepared food section that were on sale. Every night at about 9:55 p.m. you can pick up two sandwiches for the price of one. OrganicMania nabbed two gorgeous eggplant sandwiches for $3.15 each! Can’t beat that…

Well, maybe….we just tried the eggplant sandwich and sad to say, it is a bit past its prime, despite the prepared food manager’s assurances that it would taste just fine. My DH deemed it better suited to a midnight snack, and suggested we keep experimenting “in the name of research” to see if any of their sale sandwiches hold up better than the eggplant. More on that subject another week!


Isn’t it great to see all these sale signs on organic make-up? Now’s the time to try Physician’s Formula Organic Make-up with the 2 for one sale at CVS. Not only is the make-up 2 for the price of 1, but CVS offers incredible coupon savings through their CVS card program. So savvy CVS shoppers may be able to get their make-up for nothing or next to nothing!

I haven’t tried this make-up yet, but one thing I love about it is the sustainable packaging. The powder is packaged in recyclable paper instead of petroleum-based plastic. That’s one trend we should all hope that the other cosmetics makers adopt.

On the flip side, this make-up is marketed as “organic” when it has many chemical ingredients and is not certified USDA organic. The marketing of this “organic make-up” falls into that “gray area” OrganicMania discussed here with Diane MacEachern, noted environmentalist and author of the eco best seller “Big Green Purse.”

But as with so many other cosmetics lines, you need to be careful about the specific products you purchase. Check out this overview of Physicians Formula ingredients by the Environmental Working Group, and you’ll see that the safety rankings are all over the map. Best bets?

The powder and foundation are both ranked 3, or “moderate hazard” by the EWG, which is actually very good compared to most cosmetics.

OrganicMania considers the eye make-up remover pads and sunscreen “best buys” with EWG rankings of 2, or low hazard. It’s unlikely you’ll find a better choice for your money .

Now that you’re all beautified, what does that lead to? Romance! Love! Babies! Baby food! How’s that for a segue?


Safeway once again has its housebrand O Organics Baby Food 4.5 ounce baby food jars on sale, 10 jars for $7.00 or 17.5 cents per ounce, saving you 90 cents on ten. Unfortunately, that’s a whole dollar more per ten than this organic baby food sale Safeway ran about six months ago, when organic baby food was priced at a just a penny more than conventional baby food! But 10 jars for $7.00 is still a good deal with today’s rising food prices. Are you planning to keep buying organic for your baby? Leave a comment and share!

Did you find any good deals this week? Please share your tips! And check out these other savings tips here. (Warning: some green, some not so green!)

Happy shopping!


Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Green and Organic Savings Friday: Coffee, Water Bottles and Phthalate-Free Bath Toys

May 9th, 2008

Welcome back to Green and Organic Savings Friday at OrganicMania! Sorry for getting this post up a little bit later than usual this morning, but with two sickos in the house (DH and Big Boy), things are not going exactly according to plan! I’m sure all of you can relate.

Last Friday, we focused on organic tea. This week, the coffee drinkers get equal time. OrganicMania has blogged here about the fabulous biodynamic espresso beans and coffee available via mail order from Café Altura. It’s a great buy at $11 a pound, including shipping. We splurge on this coffee because DH is a coffee snob. (And I admit I’ve become one too).


But for some folks, coffee is coffee is coffee. They want Fair Trade coffee, but $11 a pound is too expensive. Well, how about $5.88 per pound? I haven’t actually tried this Sam’s Club Fair Trade coffee, but I haven’t seen a better deal. If any of you OrganicManiacs™ out there have tried it, please leave a comment and tell us what you thought! I found this on a scouting expedition the other week to check out Walmart’s organic lines, which have been getting a lot of press. (Yes, if you ever see a Mom with two kids and a Treo snapping pictures in your local store, that’s me! Say hello!) I also reviewed Walmart’s display of Clorox Green Works products during that same trip, check that out here.


Of course, there’s been a huge amount of press lately about the BPA and phthalates leaching into plastic bottles, sending Moms out to the stores in droves looking for eco-friendly green alternatives. The problem is that doing the research to replace your existing water bottles and bath toys can seem like a nearly full time job! If I can save any of you some time with these tips, it would make me very happy!

If you’re anything like my family, you had about 30 or 40 little plastic bath toys floating around your bath tub. They were so cheap, they seemed to invade the house. Well, one advantage to replacing the Cheap Plastic Crap bath toys with phthalate-free bath toys, is that they’re so much more expensive, you won’t have a boatload of them invading your house! But don’t make the same mistake OrganicMania did initially, and buy them separately for $5 to $15 a pop (ouch!) Instead, you can find reasonably priced tubes or boxes of Safari phthalate-free bath toys for around $8 to $10 for 10 to 12 bath toys. Here‘s one spot you can order them – and they’re on sale. Or, if you happen to be at the Delaware beaches, check out Big Boy’s favorite bookstore, Browseabout, which has a great selection of Safari toys – that’s where Big Boy scored his new bath toys.

And finding that perfect BPA-free water bottle? Well, I haven’t found one yet that’s priced right. So in the spirit of reduce, reuse, recycle, here’s what I’m doing….reusing a glass Honest Tea bottle.


Did you find any great deals on green and organic products this week? Leave a comment and share!

COMMENT NOTES – NEW COMMENT FORM EXPLANATION: (Sorry for caps!) I’m experimenting with a new program from Mr. Linky. If you are a blogger and want to link to this post from your blog and show a link back from OrganicMania  (which Technorati will count), please leave a comment in the box marked comments and when it asks for URL, leave your URL post where you will link to this post.

If you just wish to leave a comment without linking, leave your comment in the regular WordPress comment box.

Sorry for any confusion – first time through with new technology!


Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Green and Organic Savings Friday: Organic Milk, Bread & Tea

May 2nd, 2008

Rising food prices are all over the news these days. I was actually afraid to set foot in the store this week, nervous about just how high prices were going. Yes, I keep thinking about how blessed I am to even have the choice of organic food vs. conventional, but it still doesn’t help when you hit the check-out line.

So let’s go back to basics, and focus on some savings opportunities with organic milk, organic bread, and organic tea.

While I’ve always loved the taste of Honest Tea iced tea, I must confess I was not buying organic tea leaves for hot tea. Until the OrganicMania interview with Seth Goldman, CEO of Honest Tea, I considered organic tea “nice to do” but not a necessary organic expenditure. But when I asked Seth how he became so interested in organics, he explained that it was his interest in tea that led him to discover organics. It turns out that tea is one of the most pesticide-laden products out there, and in some countries, really nasty pesticides like atrazine are used on tea plantations. Did it ever occur to you that tea leaves are not rinsed off until they hit the hot water of your tea kettle? (You can read the OrganicMania interview with Honest Tea’s Seth Goldman here).

With some great savings opportunities this week, now’s a good time to make the switch to organic tea. Allegro organic tea is on sale at Whole Foods, 2 packs for $7.00, a significant savings off the regular price of $4.99 a pack. And the Mambo Sprouts coupon book, available at the customer service desk or the check-out registers, includes a coupon for 55 cents off Good Earth organic tea. With the coupon, Good Earth tea is $3.44 at Whole Foods. Good Earth looks like a really sustainable green company – in addition to being organic, the tea bags are unbleached, and the packaging is 100% recyclable with soy based inks. Plus the tea bags are not wrapped in plastic overwrap, as so many tea bags are.

Now that you can relax with a good cuppa tea, what about the kids’ lunch bags? Lots of school kids pack organic milk in their lunch bags. My son drinks regular white milk – not chocolate, not vanilla, not strawberry – but I could never find the money-saving bulk containers of Horizon white milk. Finally, at the Tenleytown, DC, Whole Foods, I found a carton of 18 Horizon organic milk boxes for $13.79 – or 76 cents per package. This is quite a savings over the 3-pack packages which sell for close to $4. More savings on organic milk? Check out this link where you can register for Stonyfield Farm coupons, including fifty cents off a half gallon of organic milk.

As for bread, who can resist home baked bread? I was indulging that weakness with the delicious breads at the Spring Mill Bread Company located in my local MOM’s. Yet with the price of a loaf of fresh baked organic oatmeal bread hitting nearly $5 a loaf, and many loaves well past the $5 mark, I decided it was time to call it quits on this little luxury. Instead, I picked up some basics – organic whole wheat flour, yeast, salt, and white organic flour. For about $1 a loaf, we now have freshly baked organic bread that is even better than the bakery’s bread. And it’s not at all hard to bake. More on that in another post!

Happy shopping! Do you have any great organic or green savings to share? Please leave a comment!

Carnival/Mr. Linky Update – Still working those darn MIS issues to get Mr. Linky working properly. Hopefully we’ll have everything ready to go next Friday to start our own mini-carnival on Green and Organic Savings!

In the meantime, OrganicMania is participating in the Festival of Frugality for the first time.

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

DC Area Shoppers Alert! Organic Corn on the Cob!

February 2nd, 2008

Organic corn on the cob is hard to find, which is a shame given that such a large percentage of the corn crop in the US is now genetically modified (and not labeled as GMO). I searched in vain last season for organic corn on the cob, so I was shocked when I found some yesterday at MOM’s (My Organic Market). Check it out! The ears are relatively small, and they’re priced at $1.29 per ear. They were delicious!
Bon appetit!

— Lynn

What to Buy? Organic Olive Oil?

January 14th, 2008

DH’s question was ever more insistent: “Are you sure you want the organic olive oil?”

It wasn’t until I visited Whole Foods that I realized why he was asking. Organic olive oil is $12.99 a bottle versus $7.99 for the conventional, store brand 365 Everyday Value line of olive oil. At the rate we plow through olive oil (close to two bottles per month), that’s a price premium of $120 per year for organic versus conventional olive oil. And with recent price increases pushing the price of just a half gallon of organic milk to $4.19 at our local Giant grocery store, it’s important to make sure we’re spending money on the right types of organic foods.

That’s when I was reminded of a fantastic resource: the Environmental Working Group’s list of the “dirty dozen” most pesticide-laden fruits and vegetables – the ones you should always buy organic. Olives don’t even make the broader list of 43 fruits and veggies surveyed. That made my decision easy – pass on the organic olive oil and save the money for our ever increasing organic milk bill!

Check out the “dirty dozen” and the “cleanest 12” lists here – you can download a wallet card to carry with you to the market.

— Lynn

A New Organic Market: Roots

January 2nd, 2008

The latest buzz in the DC burbs? A new organic market in Olney, Maryland. Despite 20 years in DC and its close-in suburbs, I’ve never ventured out to Olney, but after hearing my waiter at Bethesda’s Black’s Restaurant rave about Roots Organic Market, I decided it was worth the trip.

Nowadays, it’s not unusual for a family shopping for a mix of organic and conventional food and cleaning supplies to visit two or even three grocery stores to satisfy their needs. Then there are “Organic Maniacs” who frequent specialty organics grocery stores like Whole Foods, Trader Joes and MOM’s Organic Market, conventional grocery stores with organic sections such as Safeway and Giant, neighborhood health food stores a la Yes! Natural Gourmet, Balduccis gourmet grocer, the local co-op, and then top it all off with a weekly trip to a CSA.

Add Roots to the list! I felt like a jaded New Yorker given my organic shopping habits – I was just not prepared to be impressed by a store a solid 40 minutes from Northwest DC. But impressed I was.

I had barely walked in the door when I spied the hot mulled cider, free for the taking. This was just the start of more food samples than I’ve ever encountered in any grocery store. I enjoyed noshing on organic samples including pizza, apples, pears, cookies, biscotti, brownies, crackers with cheese, and chips with guacamole. And to top it all off, organic champagne!

The store is quite upscale – from its design to its product selection, which ranges from raw foodist to vegan to meat eater and seemingly everything in between. Non-food items include books, household cleaning items, make-up, and clothing. In fact, I saw products that I’ve not seen at the other (gulp) nine organic and conventional grocers I frequent. The service is as attentive as Nordstrom’s – three employees asked if they could be of assistance during my twenty minute stay in the store.

Prices are similar to Whole Foods. To help save a bit of money, take advantage of the fact that Roots heavily promotes coupon savings where products are displayed. You simply request the coupons at check-out. They also offer monthly sales circulars, which you can peruse on their website or in the store.

This store so intrigued me that I’ll be writing more about it in a future post. Let me know if you visit!

— Lynn

Organic Chocolate on Sale!

December 26th, 2007

Last month, when I wrote a post about the Best Store-Bought Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever, my cyberbuddy Sher from passed along a recommendation for Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate.

Ever faithful to the cause of ferreting out truly worthwhile organic products, I tried Green & Black’s, and just as Sher said, it’s “da bomb.” And of course, purely in the name of research, I couldn’t just stop after sampling the dark chocolate Sher recommended. No, I had to try the luscious raisin & hazelnut and the espresso flavors too.

Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate on Sale

Now I’m happy to pass along the news that Giant is offering Green & Black’s for the sale price of two bars for $5. That’s a savings of $1.19 off the regular price. But hurry, the sale ends tomorrow – December 27.