My Top 10 Tips for a “Green” Labor Day Weekend (And Don’t Forget the Laborers, esp. The Freelancers!)

September 3rd, 2010

Every year, my Labor Day post focuses on eco-friendly tips, but never before have I blogged about the real meaning of Labor Day. So this Labor Day, I’m adding a plea that you think about the many people – contract workers, freelancers, bloggers, writers, and others – who work hard but often don’t get paid for their labors.   As Crain’s New York Business reported this week, “the seemingly simple process of getting paid has emerged as the No. 1 problem facing self-employed workers.”   If you’re someone who works with self-employed people, or if you are one yourself, I urge you to read “Ugh: The Free in Freelance” and to check out the campaign run by the Freelancers Union.


So this post is a little late..because I made sure to pay the independent workers I employ before putting it up. Would be a little hypocritical otherwise, wouldn’t it?

And now…on to my top 10 Tips for a “Green” Labor Day weekend.

1. Just about the first thing people think about on Labor Day is firing up the grill. This year, skip the burgers and beef hot dogs . The production of beef is a major contributor to three of the four  global warming gases   — carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane.

2. What to grill instead? How about grilling up some wild caught salmon instead of the usual beef?  If you’re at the beach, head to your local seafood shop. If you’re in my neck of the woods – MoCo near DC – check out Whole Foods fantastic saleon Marine Stewardship Council certified salmon, now $3.50 off per pound at $13.49 per pound at the Friendship Heights Whole Foods.   (And if salmon isn’t your thing, how about pasta salad, potato salad, or organic soy-based corn dogs?    Here are some other Labor Day recipe ideas).

3. Need a new grill?  My favorite  tips on solar-powered and other “green grills”are here at Diane MacEachern’s Big Green Purse blog.   And here’s a another great grilling tip courtesy of homespace – when it’s time to clean up, use good ole baking soda, water and a wire brush. Skip the commercial cleaners with their decidely un-earthfriendly chemicals!

4. If you’re still using charcoal grills, reconsider. The prices of gas grills have dropped dramatically – I’ve seen them on sale for just $95 at KMart  – and they’re a more Earth-friendly choice than charcoal.


5. If you must use charcoal, Diane MacEachern 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.



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? (And if your little one wants to copy you, you can borrow the neighbors’ plastic mower. Yes, both mowers in this pic are borrowed! Talk about Reduce, Reuse, Refuse!)



To some folks, a party’s not a party is not a party without lights. Thankfully, there are more and more  choices for LED lights, including these patriotic red, white and blue starred LEDs I found at Strosniders Hardware.  (No, I didn’t buy them, but they’re cute, aren’t they?)

8. Consider  recycled paper plates. I found the ones pictured above  at my local Giant grocery store in Bethesda, Maryland, and I’ve also seen them at “Party City” stores. They’re priced comparable to  regular paper plates. They’re cute and an eco-friendlier choice!


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 and grocers. We pick up organic and local fruits when we are in smaller towns that enjoy a lower cost of living than our big city home town.

Have a great holiday weekend!


What to Get A Green Mom for Mothers Day (Or Any Other Time!): Top 10 Gifts for Green Moms

May 9th, 2009

Some may think posting about Mother’s Day gifts on Saturday morning is kind of late. But let’s face it – most guys put gifts off to the last minute, don’t they? So here it is – this Green Mom’s Top 10 Wish List.

In past years, I’ve taken a real minimalist view – all this Green Mom wanted was a clean car. That may still be a need, but with so many of us putting off desires this year due to the economy, I have a hunch that many of us secretly yearn to be a bit more spoiled this Mother’s Day.

1. The Gift of Time
Many Moms feel “guilty” about this. It’s Mother’s Day and (horrors!) they don’t want to spend the whole day with their kids? You mean, like they do every other day of the year? Give her some time off. Tell her to take the afternoon off. Go for a walk. See a movie. Lie in bed. Whatever. She can pretend there are no responsibilities on her plate, no to-do lists.

2. Crossing Something off Her List
For some, washing the car, running an errand, or crossing something else off her list is still a great gift. This year I’ve made peace with the messy car (and it’s not quite so bad this year!) But if I came home and found my containers brimming with plants, and my front garden weeded…wow! Would that ever make my Mother’s Day!

3. Eco-Chic
We may be green on the inside, but it’s nice to look green on the outside too! There are so many cool eco-accessories now. You can find purses and jewelry made of recycled materials, clothing from bamboo or organic cotton, shoes made of bamboo, and more… One of my favorite online sources is (who also happens to be a client of mine). If you’re in my neck of the woods and want to buy at a store, check out the gift shop at Imagination Stage in Bethesda. I was there yesterday and saw a wonderful assortment of eco-chic bracelets and earrings made of old magazines. Prices were between $15 and $30.

4. Eco-Helpers
Going green requires preparation, especially when you are on the go. How about some useful green chic gifts such as To-Go Ware(R), which is reusable cutlery packaged in cute little bamboo bags. You can stash it in a reusable bag and reduce some of that green guilt when you find yourself at a roadside restaurant or to-go place that only stocks plastic utensils. Other great options include chic reusable bags like those sold by the Chico Bag Company. In my neck of the woods? Stop by Creative Parties in Bethesda and check out their selection of reusable bags. (And while you’re there, look across the street and see the new headquarters of our local sustainability initiative, Bethesda Green, located on the second floor of the Chevy Chase bank building).

5. Donations to a Favorite Green Cause
How about a gift in her honor? Try these fave green causes: Environmental Working Group, The Nature Conservancy, or The World Wildlife Federation.

6. Eco-Dining or Fine Dining

There are organic restaurants and restaurants specializing in local foods springing up all over the place. What better day to check one out than Mother’s Day? So many parents avoid dining at nice restaurants with kids in tow. One of the great things about Mother’s Day is that the fancy-pants places that don’t typically cater to children will grudgingly do so on Mother’s Day. That’s what we’re doing on Mother’s Day! At least I know that The Blue Moon will put up with my kids on Sunday!

7. Flowers – Make them Organic!

How about a twist on the time honored tradition of a beautiful bouquet of flowers? This time, make them organic! This Mother’s Day, Organic Bouquet is running a promo with The Nature Conservancy – you save 10% and it’s donated to The Nature Conservancy!

8. Great Green Books
There are so many inspiring books available about going green. One of my faves – a real resource – is fellow Green Moms Carnival member Diane MacEachern’s The Big Green Purse. You can order it here on Amazon, or check out your local bookstore or even Whole Foods for a great selection of books about going green.

9. Yummy Greens
What better excuse than to try some organic and fair trade chocolate? And what woman doesn’t love chocolate? Some of my faves: Divine Chocolate and Green & Black’s.

10. Green Entertaining
Having friends over, or just relaxing? Get her some wonderful sustainable, organic or biodynamic wine and cheese from your local natural market.

Happy Mother’s Day! Did you find these tips helpful? Leave a comment and share!

— Lynn