Sprout Watch Review

ImageA few years ago, I wanted a watch, and I wanted it to be eco-friendly.  I ordered a Sprout watch made of biodegradable corn resin.  It had a beautiful face with an image of a tree, and I LOVED it.  Unfortunately, after a short time, the band broke.  When I had the broken link removed, that very same day the band broke in another spot.  Multiple watch shops said they could not replace the band due to the design of the watch.  Sprout offered to send me replacement links (that was very considerate), however I didn’t think that would be worth it.

Instead of writing off Sprout, I decided to give them another try.  This time I ordered a watch with a biodegradableImage corn resin case, organic cotton strap, and a bamboo dial.  It’s not as pretty as the first one, however it still looks stylish and I think the strap will be much more reliable.  They had an option with a green cotton strap and the tree face, however I didn’t think the green strap would look as professional as the white strap.  

Overall, I greatly appreciate that Sprout is bringing options to those desiring an environmentally friendly watch.  Another benefit of both watches was the minimal packaging made with 80% post-consumer recycled fibers.  Sprout had many fashionable options, and every day when I put on my watch, I am happy to know that I am also making a statement about my dedication to sustainability.

A no-brainer green change

Based on an awesome suggestion (thanks Paul!), I added the Belkin Conserve Switch power strip to my Christmas list, and I am so 

Imagehappy that my Uncle Dave got it for me.  This power strip comes with a remote control which makes it super easy to flip off the power before you leave the house or when you

Imageare going to bed.  I use mine for the internet router and modem.  Those little things use a surprising amount of energy and they are ALWAYS ON.  What’s the point of leaving the internet on while you’re at work all day?  

Everyone should consider trying this product or a similar one.  Ours came with a wall mount for the remote so it is just like a light switch but for our internet.  We put it right by the front door so when we leave we turn off the lights and the internet.  It’s so easy that even Greg does it!

Beyond week 52

Wow! I really did it.  I completed the Green Challenge successfully by making 52 green changes in 52 weeks.  Now that I’m done, I’ve taken some time to reflect and also some time to look forward.  The Green Challenge was a very good experience, and I thoroughly enjoyed making the changes throughout the year. Writing this blog during the Green Challenge motivated me to actually make changes in my life.  The Challenge also forced me to try new things which I wouldn’t have considered otherwise.  I’m very glad that my friends inspired me to create the blog and initiate my personal Green Challenge.

As much as I enjoyed the Green Challenge, I am not going to sign up for a 2nd round.  It was difficult enough to think of 52 distinct green changes!  This doesn’t mean that I’m going to start burning Styrofoam and throwing six-pack rings into ocean pools filled with small turtles.  Living an eco-conscious lifestyle is an irreversible part of my character (now more than ever), so I will continue with a majority of the changes I made in the past year.  And I’m always looking for new ways to live more sustainably.

Thanks for reading my posts throughout the Green Challenge!  I’m still going to keep this blog and use it for green-themed posts, however the posts will be less frequent.  The Green Challenge was just the start of my journey to sustainability and I’m excited to start the next chapter.  For any curious readers, here is a re-cap of my 52 green changes:

Keepers (37):going green footprint
Start a green blog
Buy green hand soap
Do eco-laundry
Take the stairs
Sign up with Freecycle
Reduce speeding
Stop buying things that contain palm oil
Use my own containers
Take Navy showers
Eat less meat
Reuse cereal bags as wax paper
Cut off the bottom of toothpaste tubes
Stop junk mail
Buy organic body lotion
Unplug router and TV when not in use
Buy more organic food
Ask for no straw
Post recycleable items in my kitchen
Wind-up flashlight
Drink soy milk with cereal
Worm bin
Reuse/ recycle magazines
Get ice cream in cones
Only use 1 glass per day
No more plastic fruit bags
Bring my own to-go container
The organic cotton duvet
Use socks instead of paper towels
Take less on airplanes
Delete spam and old e-mails
Ask for gifts from thrift stores
Eco-friendly funeral
Buy organic hard liquor
Stop using small wastebasket at work
Eating locally
Eco-wrap presents
Turn off lights in conference rooms and laundry rooms

Maybe (10):
Recycle our Christmas tree
Walk to the library
Learn about environmental issues
Check tire pressure regularly
Always carpool to Pretty Lake
Use Green cleaning supplies
Carpool at least once a week to work
Get more houseplants
Turn on faucet less than full speed
Fix my leaky faucet

Not keepers (5):
Use Goodsearch instead of Google
Volunteer with a green organization
Carbon offset things
Put a thermometer in my fridge

Week 52 – Go vegan

A vegan is a person who refrains from using any animal product whether for food, clothing, or any other purpose.  For the last week of the Green Challenge, I decided to go vegan.  Why is going vegan good for the environment?  Even if we just use the animal’s products (eggs, milk, honey), we still have to invest all the energy, space, food, and water to raise the animals.

I must admit, I was a vegan-lite.  I made sure that I ate vegan meals when I cooked for myself.  The catch is that I didn’t want to hassle anyone else, so during all of the holiday parties, I lifted my vegan restrictions.  Still, even avoiding cheese for a few meals was difficult!  I had pasta with red sauce, pasta with veggie sauce, rice with veggies, veggie soup (twice), a veggie burrito, and cereal with soy milk (as usual) but I didn’t eat the Marshmallow Oaties cereal since it has gelatin in the marshmallows.  Gelatin is made by boiling the leftover body parts from slaughterhouses– bones, skin, and tissue. GROSS!

Here are a few other things that I learned about vegan-eating.  Refined white sugar is processed with animal products (and therefore NOT vegan),  and some wines and beers are made using isinglass from the swim bladders of fish (Miller products are safe).  Greg also learned some things about being vegan, “Want me to make you an egg?” “No thanks, eggs come from an animal”.  In addition to eating vegan, I also used my vegan wax-less floss which I’ve had for a few months.  Overall, this was a VERY difficult week in the challenge because animal products are EVERYWHERE!  But, I’m glad I found out about vegan-eating, and I’m glad I tried it out for a week.


This is the last change for the Green Challenge.  I’ll write a reflection on the year, and I plan to keep this blog, however I won’t be doing another Green Challenge.  Thanks for reading :)

Week 51 – Turn off lights in public places (when appropriate)

ImageTurning off the lights is a simple task that can sometimes get overlooked because people don’t think one little light bulb has a noticeable environmental impact.  According to this calculation, if you have 1 light bulb on for 12 hours a day, that requires 357 pounds of coal per year.  Imagine if we actually had to shovel and handle that coal personally.  That’s a lot of coal for just one light bulb!  Of course some light bulbs are better than others just as some power plants are better than others, however who has just 1 light bulb?  In our society there is light everywhere, and that means there are light bulbs everywhere.  All in all, about 12% of our nation’s electricity bill is spent on lighting according to this source.

Taking that into consideration, this week I started paying more attention to lights that don’t belong to me.  Of course I always turn off the lights in my apartment, and I even brush my teeth/ shower in the dark (it’s very calming).  However, now I started to turn off the lights in my apartment’s laundry room, unused conference rooms at work, and empty public bathrooms.  This is a great way for me to spread my green habits even farther than my own apartment.

Week 50 – Wrap presents with re-usable/ recycled materials

With the holidays coming up, I have a handful of gifts to give, and this year I’m going to make sure that all my gifts are eco-wrapped.  In order to accomplish this, I’ve employed a few methods:

There's 2 types of fabric wrapping "paper", lots of re-used gift bags, the calendar wrapped gift, the re-usable wrapped box, and cards made from last year's cards.

There’s 2 types of fabric wrapping “paper”, lots of re-used gift bags, the calendar wrapped gift, the re-usable wrapped box, and cards made from last year’s cards.

1)  I expanded my cloth wrapping “paper” selection by buying some red pillow cases at Goodwill.  With a few carefully placed safety pins, the fabric wrapping looks great!
2)   Instead of wrapping things with disposable wrapping paper, I re-used a large variety of gift bags (and re-used tissue paper).  I only had a few Christmas bags, so one of my gifts went into a Packers bag.  Go Pack go!
3)  I re-used the front of last year’s cards.
4)  I wrapped a small gift using an old calendar page.
5)  One of my gifts is in a box that is wrapped with normal wrapping paper, but it’s wrapped such that it can be opened without tearing the paper.   This way, the same wrapped box can be used multiple times.

All of these things help to reduce the carbon footprint of gift giving.  This year I haven’t used any newspaper or brown paper, but of course those are also good options for sustainable wrapping.  For those people who use disposable wrapping paper, it can be recycled in many areas, which is something that often gets forgotten in the turmoil of opening gifts.  At my Christmas gatherings this year (and the birthday party that I went to today), I’ll politely remind the host that wrapping paper is recyclable.  Between the eco-wrapping and the increased recycling, I’ll be sure to have a green Christmas.

Week 49 – Eat local foods

Eating foods grown/ made locally has many benefits (less need for preservatives, promotes the local economy, supports small farmers, encourages biodiversity), but the reason I will focus on is the reduction of pollution due to food transportation.  A few sources (Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture) mention that “the average meal travels about 1500 miles to get from farm to plate.”  That’s more than halfway across the United States, and that’s just an average value! whole foods local Think of the tropical fruits that we import or the pasta that proudly to advertises “imported from Italy”.  Italy is 4,700 miles from Wisconsin.  Something tells me that the Italians are not the only ones capable of producing pasta.

Starting this week, I will eat more local foods.  I will eat 1 meal a week that is 100% local plus I will preference local foods if there is a comparable local version from which to choose.  These are the awesome local foods that I was excited to find this week: Three sisters cereal from Minneapolis MN, Sassy Cow organic milk from Columbus WI, mushrooms grown in WI, Natures Legacy pasta from Hudson MI, and Di Salvo’s pasta sauce from Stoughton WI.  I will define “local” the same way as Whole Foods: anything from Wisconsin or a state touching Wisconsin.  Also, a thanks to Whole Foods for conveniently labeling the locally produced foods!