By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Apr 11, 2008 at 10:01 AM

If things look a little greener around here this April, there's a good reason. Our editorial staff is busy expanding the ideals of Earth Day into a month-long celebration of energy conservation, alternative transportation, recycling tips and about a million ways you can be a better friend to the planet. Welcome to Green Month, Milwaukee.

Make your own salad dressing. Why is this a green practice? Here are five reasons:

1. You buy the products needed to make dressings -- olive oil, vinegar, milk, etc. -- in bulk, which cuts down on wasteful, single-serving packaging.

2. You'll undoubtedly use that olive oil, vinegar and milk for other cooking needs, although you probably won't use that bottle of Kraft French for much else.

3. You can make as little or as much as you want at time, which avoids spoilage waste.

4. You can use fresh, organic herbs and sugar in the raw, rather than dehydrated vegetables and refined sugars, which don't benefit your health in any way.

5. You can wash out and re-use those commercial dressing bottles to store your homemade dressings instead of recycling them or throwing them away.

For vinaigrettes: Your base ratio is 1/4 cup of olive oil to 3 tablespoons of vinegar (you can use balsamic, cider or infused). Experiment with adding different herbs like dill, cilantro, basil or rosemary. I also like to add a little brown mustard, a dash of hot sauce and some lemon juice.

For creamy dressings: For a base I use one cup of veganaise to 1/2 cup plain soy milk, but if you're into real dairy products, go right ahead. For a thicker base, substitute silken tofu for the soy milk. Then add chives, garlic, paprika, sea salt and pepper.

Everyone's taste buds and spice tolerances vary, so I'll leave the amounts up to you. If you're unsure, start with 1/4 teaspoon of each desired spice, and move from there.


Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”