Natural Pest Control:

Keep Mice Away Without Cruelty

mouseinpants.jpgby VaLerie K

Got mice?  If, like me, you are not happy with the idea of killing or maiming mice to get them to vacate the premises, or if you are more callous and just don’t like the risk of them dying in your walls and stinking up the joint, I am thrilled to tell you that there is another way. 

Peppermint oil – an essential oil, meaning it contains the essence of peppermint leaves – is reputed to be utterly repugnant to mice.  Lore has it that in the essential oil form, it is too powerful for their sensitive noses.  Whatever the case, there are loads of testimonials out there from people who claim to have used this method with great success in garages, kitchens, basements and boudoirs, so I was eager to give it a try. 

Though I have not found an actual scientific article on using peppermint oil to repel mice, when I went to buy peppermint oil from my local natural foods store, and mentioned somewhat sheepishly why I was buying it, the saleswoman said, “Oh we sell more of it for that reason than anything else!”  And peppermint oil does garner a list of health benefit claims as well as the breath-freshening qualities we have all come to know.



Quick Tip: Make Your Own ‘Enhanced Water’  by VaLerie K


Now that it’s summer where I live and the sun’s rays are steeper so we sweat and lose fluids, it’s more important than ever to drink plenty of water each day.  There is really no substitute, all the sugar and added ingredients in enhanced waters do NOT provide extra benefits that you can’t get from basic H2O (and you know soda is a terrible thing to drink, regular or diet, right?  If not, click HERE and HERE). 

Plus you can probably save yourself some cash (water may not be free, but it’s still relatively cheap, especially if you filter your own water at home).

But wait, I have a confession to make.  I drink a lot of the stuff, but even to me, sometimes water seems kinda boring.  Maybe these tricks I’m about to share will help you discover a latent love for the liquid of life, or like me you will enjoy the variety and have renewed zest for drinking good ole WATER.


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Reduce Your Staple Use  By VaLerie K


Staples – so tiny, so innocuous, so ubiquitous.  Who would think they are a big planetary pollution culprit?  But they are. 

According to Practical Environmentalist website, common office staples “gobble up energy at every step of their production and use”.  The ore to make the galvanized steel has to be mined, transported, smelted to form staples one at a time, the staples are re-heated and coated with a layer of zinc, cooled and assembled into stacks, packaged, transported again to be sold in stores, many are thrown out during use (I don’t know about you, but for every successful staple, I often blow through a couple that don’t work out), and on top of all that they put a strain on the paper recycling stream by jamming machinery and necessitating industrial magnets and screening filters to get the little buggers outta there, and after they are removed they are too tiny to recycle so they end up in a landfill anyhow.  SHEESH!


There are commercial ‘staple free staples’ out there, which punch a hole through the pages and fold back the punched-out bit at the same time – a brilliant idea.  But I’ll do you one better.  I learned a ridiculously simple technique when I was little (I must have had a hippie teacher way ahead of her time).

1.  Fold back the corner of your stack of papers to form a triangle, like so:




Inspired by Earth Day? Start riding your bike.

Worried about flat tires? There’s a great tip in this video

by BiG TeA PaRtY

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Recycling Tip: T.P. Rolls are Recyclable!

or: Sometimes it’s good to sweat the small stuff

by VaLerie K

I have noticed a peculiar thing when I’m visiting friends’ houses and I use their bathrooms.  I keep seeing the empty toilet paper roll in the trash.  And these are environmentally conscious people, who recycle, try to conserve water, seal their windows in the winter… all that good stuff. 

I’m guessing it’s a slight case of recycling burn-out, mixed with a subconscious yen for the bathroom to be the last bastion of convenience and comfort.  Somehow, when you’re sitting on the can and it’s time to unwrap a new roll and remove the old roll,  it just seems like a little bit too much effort to put aside the empty roll to take downstairs to the recycling bin.  You recycle everything else, what’s a little squashable roll of thin cardboard matter?  I get it.  Every now and then, we all get tired of being so diligent.  Suddenly, something so easy feels like way too much to bother with.

3_7_08_toilet_paper.jpgBut think about it.  I myself go through almost a roll per week, so let’s round that off to 50 per year.  There are about 20 houses on my block, so the whole block probably uses up at least 1,000 rolls a year, probably more because houses with families would use more, and that’s just one block.  I don’t know how many households there are in Philadelphia, but you can see where I’m going with this.  Try imagining how high the rolls from Pennsylvania alone would go if you placed them end to end – to the moon?  to the sun?  Ok, ok, I have no idea, but just imagining a pile of 1,000 + rolls at the end of my block is enough of a deterrent for me

So that’s it, that’s my big little tip: put your empty T.P. rolls in the recycling bin, it really does add up.



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Elizabeth Fiend with urban farming pioneer Mary Seton Corby of GreensGrow Farm. Photo by Rob Kates


Sustainable means that the needs of the present are met without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Key values of sustainability are:

Universal responsibility


And the health and wellness of not just people, but our culture and our planet.

Use BiG TeA PaRtY’s articles, videos and tips to make your life more sustainable!

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Energy Saving Tips: Keep Your Refrigerator Full! [+ more!]
by VaLerie K

This energy-saving tip is so simple I can’t believe I never thought of it myself. 


Your refrigerator uses energy to keep the space inside it cool.  If there is not much in there, then it’s busy cooling empty space.  The energy saving tip?  If you keep your fridge as full as possible at all times, it will have less work to do because food items once cooled stay cold better than air does.

So whenever you buy food items that say “refrigerate after opening”, like juice, spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, a jar of pickles, etc etc, why not put them directly in the fridge?  Why take up cabinet or pantry space when you could be saving energy with these jars and bottles before you even open them?

This is such a great energy saver, that one website even recommends refrigerating containers of water to fill up empty space.  In between food-shopping trips, you could fill jugs or pitchers with drinking water, or even tap water that you will use to water plants or something later on.

Now for more refrigerator energy-saving tips…….

Appliances account for about 20 percent of a household’s annual electricity use and one of the biggest users of electricity is the refrigerator.  The following tips are compiled from a few different sources, listed at the bottom.

~ You can make any refrigerator more efficient by making make sure it has a few inches of space behind it to keep air circulating around the condenser coils.

~ Vacuuming your coils also can improve circulation.

~ Don’t keep the refrigerator door open any longer than you need to. Close it to keep the cold air inside!


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Plate aids diabetes, weight loss
posted by Elizabeth Fiend


Using a simple portion control dinner plate can help people with type 2 diabetes lose weight and decrease reliance on medication, research shows.

Canadian researchers put people with type 2 diabetes on a calorie-controlled diet for six months.

They found 17% of those who used a calibrated diet plate lost more than 5% of their body weight, compared with just 4.5% who did not.

The study appears in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

Provides measured, sectioned or calibrated areas for the various types of food, such as protein, starchy carbohydrates, vegetables, dairy and fat. Once the meal is measured, it is moved to one side of the plate and then the remaining space is filled with fresh salad or vegetables.


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[Panama Canal, Photo by: Elizabeth Fiend]
Massive amounts of goods are transported around the world contributing to global warming.
$ $ $
For your holiday shopping (and everyday purchases) support small and local businesses.
They’re your neighbors!
When you invest your money in local businesses you’re investing money in your own community.
$ $ $
Support the arts by shopping at craft sales.
$ $ $
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The Green Lifestyle

It’s about how you get to school or work each morning;
What you eat for lunch and not eating your dinner out of a bucket;
Treating the environment with respect;
Having a good home life — which basically means learning that mass consumption isn’t going to make you happy;
Being aware of your own community as well as the world around you;
Giving back to others and self education.
It’s also about the power of one — you. You can control these things as an individual, you aren’t dependant on others to achieve a happy, green lifestyle!

You can make it happen!

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