December 30, 2008

pop the cork

In anticipation of popping open the bubbly for New Year's, I thought I would give some thought to all those corks.

I was so glad my friend Pauline told me that I could compost my natural wine corks (not the plastic ones, mind you). Goodness knows I've been composting several over the holidays! Most resources I checked with agree that the natural corks are good for compost, though some websites say they can take awhile to break down.

I also had come across this display in Whole Foods which I thought was interesting:


ReCORK America
is a pilot program in California and the Pacific North West to recycle natural cork wine closures. The program is focused on obtaining used and surplus corks from winery tasting rooms, bottling lines and quality assurance laboratories. In addition, collection locations are being established with key retailers (including Whole Foods) and restaurants in larger metropolitan areas. A list of current collection locations is available on their website. This may be a good option if you live near a participating drop spot and do not compost on your own.

December 29, 2008

a little test


We finally had to buy a new dishwasher. Our old one was not that old. Just prone to repair. It loved breaking and getting repaired. I decided to replace it with one that should last a good, long time and also is energy efficient.

Around the same time, I bought a new box of dishwasher detergent since we had run out. I bought a new brand since my favorite brand was out of stock.

See where this is going? Our dishes are not looking clean. The old machine with our favorite detergent did a better job.

I have heard from people time to time about which eco-friendly detergents they like and dislike. In my experience, it really depends on the situation (your machine, your water type, etc.) What works in my machine might not be the one for yours.

So, before I go complaining to the appliance store about the new machine I want to rule out the soap issue. I decided to buy a small box of conventional soap (gasp!) because that is what the manufacturer recommended. I'll be able to see the performance of the machine under these conditions. From there I can go back to my preferred brand of detergent (Seventh Generation) and see if the dishes are cleaning well.

I don't intend to use the conventional soap forever. It sure felt strange buying it - like I was breaking all the rules. I hope the experiment will point to either needing a switch in soap or a problem with the new machine (but please, please don't be a problem machine!)

December 23, 2008

colors, naturally




I have been swept up in the holiday merriment and apologize for less-frequent posting. The irony is that I have loads of things I want to write about, but time is short. So, I'll make this one sweet.

I splurged last week on some natural food dyes for our annual Christmas cookie decorating extravaganza. I always knew that conventional food dyes are full of artificial colors but I never knew how to substitute them for something better. I had learned how to use natural dyes for Easter eggs, but wasn't sure how to translate that to sugar icing.

The India Tree dyes which I bought are similar to the conventional ones in that you can drop the colors into your recipe and mix custom colors. The kit comes with the primaries—red, blue and yellow. They are made from natural vegetable ingredients. The colors are a little more muted, but quite beautiful.

I personally thought the price was worth it because I have been reading about artificially dyes being linked with ADHD in children. I'm glad there is an easy, natural option.

Wishing you a peaceful and healthy holiday!

December 18, 2008

listen to this

Maybe it is fortuitous that I never got to write a post last night. I was extra busy with many projects preparing for holidays and didn't get a chance to research the topic I had planned.

Yet this morning I saw something so timely and appropriate for the MGG readers.

Michael Pollan is on NPR's Morning Edition today speaking about the new appointment for Secretary of Agriculture. Let's just say it wasn't what agents of change were hoping for. The new secretary is former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack. Perception is that because of his ties to corn, we cannot expect much change or improvement in the food system, especially in regards to local, small family farms and organics.

Pollan had recently written a letter to President-Elect Obama, which was printed in the New York Times Magazine calling for change that would improve the food system in our country.

You can listen on the radio or the web to Pollan's comments (the recording is under 5 minutes).

December 16, 2008

hot, flat and crowded



Faithful readers of MGG will know that I'm typically a little behind on my pile of inspiring books to read. I'm just finishing Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, which I've just loved—only a year or so later than most people!

I am so glad my father suggested a new book which he just finished reading called, Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman. It promises to be full of astonishing information and inspiring ideas. The book should be incredibly relevant and timely for our country to read as we transition to new policies.

I've picked up my copy from the local book store and plan to dig into it asap!

December 15, 2008

holiday catalogs

The past few weeks my mailbox has been piling up with holiday catalogs! I suppose some do come from places where I've placed an order, but many are unsolicited. It isn't a surprise, really. I just feel overwhelmed at the prospect of trying to cancel all these new mailings.

I've made several efforts in the past to halt catalog and junk mail delivery to my home. For the most part it has worked out really well. I think maybe my subscription to GreenDimes has lapsed. Renewing it could be my gift to myself!

In the meantime, I am signing up with Catalog Choice, which I've written about before and is a free service. I've bookmarked the website, so as soon as unwanted catalogs arrive I can log them in and make them stop.

December 14, 2008

candy canes


We decorated our tree this weekend. One of the things the kids were most excited about was putting the candy canes on. They've actually been eying the box of candy canes since I bought them last week.

I was so glad to stumble upon some "better" candy canes at the store. I didn't know they were an option and would have bought the usual kind if I had not seen these.

Pure Fun makes these organic candy canes and I found them at Whole Foods. They do not contain pesticides, GMO's, artificial colors, gluten, synthetic FD&C colors, or titanium dioxide. I was glad they did not have corn syrup in them.

The kids have already sampled them and approved with smiles.

December 11, 2008

brushing up again


My family has been very happy since we switched to natural toothpaste and mouthwash. I'm glad to not be using the dangerous ingredients in some of the mainstream products. One issue we still have, however, is that we can't all agree on our favorite flavors and brands.

As you can imagine, I was excited to receive some samples from The Natural Dentist. We tried their toothpaste and the mouthwash. We all liked it! I am thrilled to have a product line we can all agree on.

The Natural Dentist uses only natural ingredients—herbal extracts and natural flavors, sweeteners and colors. They do not contain alcohol or SLS. They do have the ADA seal for cavity prevention and are PETA certified cruelty-free.

If you'll remember, one of my pet peeves in the dental-care aisle is wasteful, unrecyclable packaging. The Natural Dentist products passed my test because they print with soy inks, use #1 plastic bottles (almost everywhere accepts those), and also sell toothpaste without a box to reduce packaging. Plus, the products are manufactured in the USA.

My teeth are sparkling green!

December 10, 2008

school lunch revolutionary

I just watched this video the CHOW website and loved it.

The synopsis from CHOW:

"Ann Cooper was a celebrity chef before she wrote a book, Bitter Harvest, that got her thinking about the connection between food and health. She has spent the past five years as head lunch lady for the Berkeley, California, school system, writing another book, Lunch Lessons, along the way. Ann’s mission? To make sure every kid gets the healthy breakfast and lunch he or she needs."


It isn't too long. Take a peek.

December 9, 2008

cocktail napkins

The holidays have really forced me to confront my lack of paper napkins! When I was setting out appetizers on Thanksgiving, I realized I had no little napkins to go with them. This isn't the first time that has happened. I usually call my neighbor in a panic and beg to borrow some of her paper napkin supply.

So now with Christmas fast approaching, I think it is time I break out my sewing machine and get to work. I've been collecting fabric from various stores and sales so that I can produce some napkins. I'm a novice sewer, so even this seems intimidating, but I think it will be a great project to practice my skills.

I'm sure you can also find resources to buy them online, but I think it will be fun to use fabrics that I really love. Reprotdepot and Etsy have lots of gorgeous ones to choose from.

December 8, 2008

emagineGreen


illustration from emagineGreen.com

Here's a website that might be a good resource or an intriguing career path for you.

EmagineGreen is a direct sales company with ‘greenCoaches’ who host ecoParties to help women and moms green their lives. (Think environmental Tupperware party.)

The company was started by a team of women who were concerned about the environment and wanted to make a difference.

"The purpose of emagineGreen is to turn curiosity about what is happening in our environment into positive action. We simplify the ‘going green’ process for millions of people who want a healthier home and environment. Together, we hope to bring about a change in how our culture interacts with our environment and precious natural resources by… • Reducing our ecoFootprint • Being green role models for our families and communities • Voting with our consumer dollar for a more sustainable way of life"

Take a look at their website to find a green coach in your area or to shop their catalog.

illustration from emagineGreen.com

December 7, 2008

food declaration


"The movement to create a healthier food and agriculture policy in the US has been slowly and steadily gaining ground for well over a decade."

If you've been reading the popular books and articles over the past several years exposing the shortfalls of industrial food, then you know that how we produce food is directly linked to our land, environment, and our health. Many people are starting to catch on by shopping at farmer's markets or CSAs and sourcing foods that are sustainably produced and processed as little as possible.

But how do we make changes on a big level? A Food Declaration, that's how! A non profit group called Roots of Change gathered esteemed experts who would represent all facets of the challenge: animal welfare to health and ecology, and farming to labor and social justice. These experts worked together to draft a document calling for change in the food system. You can read the Declaration and give your endorsement of it on the website.

The Declaration is meant to provide:
1. A clear statement of what kind of policy is needed now, endorsed by a broad base of organizations and individuals with a long-established commitment to a healthier food and agriculture.
2. An invitation to all Americans to join in the improvement effort by taking action in their own lives and communities and by offering them a way to call on policymakers to support comprehensive change.
3. A set of principles from which policy makers can craft policy that will lead to a healthier system.

The Declaration begins like this:
"We, the undersigned, believe that a healthy food system is necessary to meet the urgent challenges of our time. Behind us stands a half-century of industrial food production, underwritten by cheap fossil fuels, abundant land and water resources, and a drive to maximize the global harvest of cheap calories. Ahead lie rising energy and food costs, a changing climate, declining water supplies, a growing population, and the paradox of widespread hunger and obesity. These realities call for a radically different approach to food and agriculture."

Click here to read more and give your endorsement.

December 4, 2008

handmade holidays

Many people are trying to be more mindful with their holiday shopping this year. I personally was glad our family decided to cut back on the adult present exchange. But you don't have to eliminate gift giving altogether. In fact, this season more than ever, people are turning to handmade gifts.

A post on the craftivisim blog summed it up well:

"With the economy in the tank, you might be finding yourself in a situation where you need to make your holiday gifts instead of buy. A situation that you may not have been in since the 3rd grade. . . ."

The post continues with amazing links to inspiring sites full of simple homemade craft and gift ideas.

If you aren't feeling so handy, or are as strapped for time as you are for cash, then you might want to take a peek over at etsy. There are so many amazing handmade items on that site by independent artisans who can make the crafts for you.

Just look at this

a book of how to make your own lunchbags!

and this

Now, get busy.

December 3, 2008

rms beauty


I've always wanted to do a post about make up. From everything I've learned about sunscreens, I could only imagine what kind of dangerous chemicals might be in makeup. I've heard about some lipsticks with lead and some mascaras with mercury (yikes!) so I can only imagine all the toxins and metals that might be within a complete makeup routine.

One source I trust when it comes to cosmetics is Rose Marie Swift, of Beauty Truth. She is an industry veteran, having been a makeup artist for many top celebrities and publications. Rose Marie learned the hard way about the dangerous ingredients she was working with when her health was severely compromised. Her experience led her to become an expert on safe ingredients. She shares much of her knowledge on her website and now has just launched her very own line of makeup.

As you might imagine, her standards are incredibly high for purity and safety. Plus, as a makeup artist she knows what is needed for an effective product. Her line, called RMS Beauty, includes lip and skin balm, cover up, lip 2 cheek, eye shadow and luminizer. The products are ultra-pure and organic. The philosophy of the line is not to simply create makeup that is non-toxic, but to make a product that heals and nourishes the skin. The line has just been released a few weeks ago, so is in limited stores right now. You can purchase directly from her website or email for more information.

I personally would love to see the products in person. They sound very easy to use and convenient for a no-fuss mom like me.

December 2, 2008

candle imposters

I usually buy candles at the farmer's market. There is a local vendor there who sells them in gorgeous colors. I like to have candles on the table for dinner (even for hot dogs and macaroni) because it helps the kids focus on mealtime and demands a little bit of reverence. They like sitting still until it is time to blow them out!

I was sad to learn that the candles I like to buy are not even made from beeswax. AND, they are imported from Europe! They aren't extravagant or anything, I gather that the local vendor specializes in the other sizes and not the tapers.

I know beeswax candles are a much more environmentally sound choice. Other candles (like the ones on my table) are made from paraffin. Paraffin is made from the sludge at the bottom of a barrel of crude oil. It has to be cleaned and bleached with benzene, solvents, and other chemicals to prepare it for use in candles. Paraffin candles emit gases and soot when burned, releasing dangerous toxins, two of which are carcinogenic. Both paraffin and synthetic fragrance oils are a major cause of indoor air pollution. In fact, the American Lung Association has warned consumers about the danger of unhealthy air quality from burning paraffin candles.

I looked online and found many resources for beeswax tapers which are all natural and very clean burning. From what I can tell they are almost always natural in color (honey colored!) I think I'll have to give those a try next time I need more.

December 1, 2008

go for the green


I'm always a sucker for a trivia game, so you can imagine how excited I was to see Planet Green's new eco-trivia game online. It's called the Go for the Green, hosted by Tom Green. The online game is a sidekick to the TV series which premiered on the Discovery Channel in November. I haven't made the online high score list yet, but it isn't for lack of trying.

And I've learned some good facts in the process! Give it a try and let me know if you make the high score. I'd be so proud.

November 30, 2008

green christmas


Thanksgiving is over and the holiday season is ramping up quickly. There are so many considerations about "greening Christmas". I think this year in particular it will be easier to be mindful of such choices because they will also help with limited holiday budgets. Many of us are approaching the holidays with more prudent spending. In many ways, greening Christmas goes hand-in-hand with less spending.

A fantastic resource for having an eco-friendly holiday season is a new book aptly called, Green Christmas, by Jennifer Basye Sander and Peter Sander with Anne Basye. The book covers all the bases: why to green Christmas, the holiday environment, decorating, entertaining, gift giving, etc. It is chock-full of info, much of which can also be applied year-round.

"Did you know that between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Americans produce an extra 2 billion pounds of garbage per week?!" There are many simple things we can do to decrease the holiday excess without feeling like a Scrouge.

One of my favorite pages is the chart comparing real trees and artificial trees. The authors agree with me that real trees are better than the PVC trees which are made in and shipped from China. I also appreciated the green-gifting section since I need ideas this year for our family exchange and the kid's teachers.

While I thought I knew a fair amount already about buying less and recycling more, the book had many ideas which I never knew or had ever considered. Pick up a copy of Green Christmas and you'll have good ideas that can last year round.

November 25, 2008

eco discoveries cleans green


Are you are looking to clean more greenly, but not quite ready to jump into the vinegar? I've found a safe and effective line of enzyme and plant-based liquid cleaners cleaners that you can feel good about using. EcoDiscoveries has a complete line of products that are fragrance-free, chlorine-free, dye-free, and petroleum-free. They are fully biodegradable and have even been recognized by the EPA for their commitment to development of eco-safe products.

To give you an idea of the array of products: "Moldzyme penetrates to remove mold at the source, eliminating stains and odors; Bathroom solution for a chlorine-free bathroom; AirZyme fragrance free spray eliminates odor and protects indoor air quality; Tub & Tile organic salts remove soap scum and scrub grout without chlorine; Multizyme, the only safe and effective multipurpose solution on the market; Glass for ammonia free, fragrance free, and streak free windows and mirrors; Kitchen is safe around food and family; Nursery is especially effective, gentle, innovative, and odorless."

EcoDiscoveries was very generous in sending me samples of their products to try. I found they cleaned well, similarly to how my homemade cleaners work. But whenever I had an urgent spill to clean I found myself reaching for the EcoDiscoveries products first. They are convenient and effective.

To be sure that I could give a fair review I had my neighbor try them, too. She thought they cleaned fine but that there were almost too many products to choose from. I suppose you could choose one of the cleansers and use it in several places (does Bathroom only get to be used in the bathroom?) She also favors a little bit of fragrance in her cleaning products and missed that.

I like the peace of mind of knowing the EcoDiscovery products are really safe to use. While I personally feel comfortable using my simple, homemade cleaners I know there are others who will never want to make that leap. This line would be a great fit. You can find a store near you that sells them by checking the EcoDiscoveries website. You can also buy them directly online.

November 24, 2008

pvc guide

The Center for Health, Environment, and Justice (CHEJ) has just released an incredibly comprehensive overview of PVC, called Pass Up the Poison Plastic. It is a PDF document full of information regarding all aspects of PVC.

In addition to the expected summaries of why PVC is bad and how to avoid, it the overview includes a list of PVC-free options in a wide array of product categories—from food wrap to shower curtains, baby toys and construction materials.

I know I always appreciate a summary of such big topics and am glad I'll be able to refer to this handy resource.

November 23, 2008

pile of pants

I have a huge pile of pants with ripped knees, courtesy of 2 busy young fellas. Originally I thought I would save the damaged pants and use the fabric for some other purpose.

I don't think the pants are able to withstand much patching (not to mention sewing isn't really my forte). Knees being knees, I am not sure how long such a patch would last anyway.

From what I can tell online, most charities do not want damaged clothes. Even the large charities which give unusable clothes to textile recyclers don't want the damaged ones as much as they'd prefer items good enough to sell.

Is freecycle my only option? The pile is multiplying faster than I can dream of ways to repurpose the fabric.

Anyone care to venture a guess of how many people from freecycle might want to collect my supply of ripped-knee pants?

November 20, 2008

hero bags


It is truly possible that I am obsessed with packing lunches. I just spotted these amazing Hero lunch bags and had to share.

Not only are they stylish, they are smart and clever. The bags are made from certified organic cotton grown in Texas and are produced in the USA in a fair labor factory.

They are designed by the founder of Hero Bags, who is a mom as well. She couldn't find a product that had all the features she wanted, so she designed one herself. The bags have nifty features like a zipper top (so lunch doesn't fall out), a flat bottom (so it can stand where it lands), a sewn cotton handle and a cool name tag.

Parents will appreciate that this bag is lead free, vinyl free, no toxic insulating or plastic. Plus it is sized to fit your reusable water bottle inside. They are machine washable, too, which is always a good feature when it comes to kids and food.

The best part is that Hero Bags is having a holiday sale right now. In addition to these lunch totes, Hero makes reusable bags in other sizes as well (groceries, anyone?) Seems like a great idea for holiday gifts to me.

Did I mention that Hero Bags are a local San Francisco company? Gotta love that.

November 19, 2008

heritage turkeys

With Thanksgiving around the corner I've been giving lots of thought to our holiday meal. A few weeks ago while I was at the farmer's market I saw a sign for "Heritage Turkeys." I wasn't sure what that was exactly, or how it might compare to all the other meat adjectives like, free range, organic, pastured, etc.

In a brilliant coincidence, a few days ago as I was reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, I came to a section about—you guessed it—heritage turkeys! I think it is destiny that I should try one this year.

I learned on Local Harvest that a heritage turkey is "prized for their rich flavor and beautiful plumage, heritage turkeys are the ancestors of the common Broad-breasted White industrial breed of turkey that comprises 99.99% of the supermarket turkeys sold today. But the Heritage Breeds still exist and are making a comeback."

Kingsolver writes about these special turkeys because she chose to raise some on her family's small farm. She mentions that the Slow Food movement encouraged people to seek out heritage breeds in its 2003 Ark of Taste turkey project. Kingslover credits that campaign with initiating a new demand for these heirloom breeds. Hence, more farmers have begun to raise them.

Many of these breeds were familiar to farmers a century ago, before the industrialized food system took over. My sources say heritage turkeys are more moist and flavorful. I plan to give it a try if it isn't too late to order one.

Local Harvest has a link where you can find a heritage turkey source near you, or you can order one from them online.

November 17, 2008

coffee sleeves


Last month we took a quick trip to Seattle to visit some good friends. While riding on the ferry to their house, I spotted a woman with a very unique coffee cozy. It was made of fabric and was pretty cute. Of course the environmental genius was not lost on me. If you can't always have a reusable cup with you, at least you can keep a spare coffee wrap/holder in your purse!

The woman on the boat let me take a photo of her cup and told me she bought it from somewhere in Minneapolis. I can't find the shop she mentioned, but did find so many resources online with a big variety of styles. People call them many different names (coffee cozies, collars, wraps, sleeves), some have ribbons to tighten the fit, some are knitted, some are plain fabric, some are quilted. Etsy, the homemade-crafting-wonder-shop, is a great place to start looking.

It seems as many ways to go about making one yourself as there are free patterns and tutorials online.

What a great gift idea! (Hint hint, wink wink). Remember, it's always best to bring your own mug. But if you forget, have your own cozy handy.

**update: I think the cozy in the photo is from The Cozy Corset Cuff.

November 16, 2008

matisse & jack's bake-at-home snacks


Lately I haven't been buying too many packaged snacks—some for sure—but mostly I've been trying to eat and serve more 'real food'. I was intrigued (but a teeny bit skeptical) when I saw the snack mixes from Matisse & Jack's. They are offering wholesome "bake at home snacks" in super-cute packages. Since they are made by a small San Francisco company I decided to give them a try.

The first thing I did was look over the ingredient list. Everything looked really straightforward. The mixes contain basically the same simple ingredients that I would use in my kitchen. I did notice that 2 of the mix flavors list "natural flavorings" which is often a red flag for me. I contacted the company and they assured me that

"all of the ingredients are from the US, and most of the grain ingredients are local to the western United States. We use chocolate chips from specialty chocolate producer Guittard which is local to the San Francisco Bay area. All the ingredients are 100% natural and non-genetically modified. There is no msg in the product. The natural flavors just consist of powdered vanilla flavor from all natural sources, and the in the Cocoa Squares we use chocolate flavor, also 100% natural. We use premium Indonesian cinnamon as well."


As soon as my kids saw the boxes in our house they wanted to make some right away. Not only was the process simple, it was fast. I love that you can improvise on the mixes. In fact, they encourage it by running contest for recipes! We made the Chocolate Chip Power Snacks. I didn't have applesauce in the house, so I used some plain yogurt instead. I also swapped melted butter for the vegetable oil (don't have that either). They tasted great and the kids liked them so much they asked for the bars to be put them in their lunch the next day.

I think the mixes fill a great need for when you really must whip something up in minutes. Or perhaps if you want to do some baking but have a few small children causing a bit of chaos and distraction at your feet. They are like fresh, delicious and homemade energy bars.

You can order the products on their website (order 6 boxes and you get free shipping). If you are in San Francisco you can find the mixes at Rainbow Grocery. They are also carried in Northern California Whole Foods and national Super Target stores.

November 13, 2008

green can be rough

I feel a cold coming on—my first of the season. It is forcing me to look at the issue of tissues when I really had hoped to avoid it altogether.

I try to use as little paper product as possible in the house. We buy recycled content toilet paper and occasional boxes of recycled content tissues (mostly for guests). The thing is, when you are fighting a cold both these options can be really rough on your poor little nose! It almost makes me dream of indulging in a box of Puffs. . . .

Maybe I should look more at a classic handkerchief solution. I even read about one of the Enviromoms who is washing and reusing Kirkland baby wipes for family tissues. Apparently they are made partially with fabric and are incredibly soft.

If all this sneezing keeps up, it may just well break me down into new eco-territory. Stay tuned!

November 12, 2008

mom goes facebook


You can now show your love for mom go green by becoming a fan of the blog on Facebook! I hope as I become more versed with the tools I'll be able to offer even more fun tidbits in that venue. I think I'll even be able to send special updates to fans via Facebook—very cool.

See you there!

November 11, 2008

one small step


I am obsessed with the task of packing lunches. I've written about how I try to keep the kid's lunches waste-free and full of nourishing food. Some days I do better than others.

I am so glad a friend pointed me to the company called One Small Step. It was started by a mom who needed to pack waste-free lunches for her child (as per school requirement). She found it surprisingly hard to locate the gear she needed to make that happen. So, like many smart moms she started a company which sells all the elements of a waste free lunch. They have many formats and options. I have my eye on the new, colorful and small kleen kanteens.

While the site doesn't support online shopping yet (they take email and phone orders) they give an impressive amount of their profits to charity. They also are available to make waste-free lunch presentations to local schools. Love that!

It is a great resource all-around.

November 10, 2008

wrapped up

Two weeks ago I finished up a roll of plastic wrap in the kitchen. Over the past several months I had really been working on weaning myself from using it. So when the roll was empty I decided to see if I could get by without buying another.

There are a few times when I think I might miss it, but I am hopeful that I will find alternate methods of wrapping things up. The only times I really used it was to wrap cheese, to wrap a large portion of melon (like a huge hunk of watermelon), or to cover a pan of meat marinating in the fridge.

I want to stop using the plastic wrap mainly because it is made form petroleum and goes into landfill. Some brands of plastic wrap may contain PVC, which is so toxic. I had made sure the brand I had purchased was PVC free by calling the company.

Two weeks down. Let's see how long I can go! Hopefully, forever.

November 9, 2008

new scrub brush needed


When I have to wash pots and pans I need to use something that will really scrub them clean. For regular dish washing I like using my natural, compostable sponges. They aren't very effective with stuck-on messes, though.

About a year ago I bought a scrub brush. It has been wonderful at doing the job, but I have always wondered about the big plastic handle and synthetic bristles. It doesn't say recyclable on it anywhere. Boo! Granted, it has been used for a very long time. I'd rather find a solution that is more environmentally friendly. Does one exist? Maybe I'll try one of those natural scrub sponges from Twist.

November 6, 2008

my farm



You know eating local is good. Eating organic and fresh is good. Growing your own food would be super-good. But if you're like me, you're either too busy or completely uneducated in the ways of growing food.

Here is San Francisco there is an option. You can hire My Farm to plant an organic vegetable garden in your yard and maintain it for you. My Farm has been getting lots of national press for good reason. It is a clever idea!

Essentially, it is a decentralized urban farm. They grow vegetables in backyard gardens throughout the city. Each week they maintain your garden and harvest the produce in its peak. They leave the produce for you and sometimes combine the selections with other local My Farm plots for a larger variety. If you don't have a yard (and it needn't be big) you can join their CSA.

They use a method of gardening called permaculture, which is pretty cool.

"Permaculture is a set of sustainable design principles stressing the harmonious interrelationship of humans, plants, animals and the earth. Permaculture in your backyard looks like: organic techniques, heirloom vegetables, seed saving, water conservation, native plants, a model for the 21st century."

November 5, 2008

disney go green

The Center for Health, Environment and Justice has an ongoing effort to persuade Disney World to use green cleaners. The Disney Go Green! campaign is fighting to get green cleaning products in Disney parks, hotels, and restaurants, where children and workers face a great deal of exposure to toxics.

Apparently, the only Disney facility that uses green cleaners is the Animal Kingdom. It is wonderful that Disney wants to protect the animals from toxins, but shouldn't that visiting children and company employees deserve the same level of consideration?

You can visit the CHEJ website for lots of information about the campaign, including a list of the kinds of dangers the cleaning products pose. I don't know how many other types of resorts or tourist attractions can boast using green cleaners, but I suppose Disney is a symbolic target to initiate change. It would make a great PR story for Disney, wouldn't it?

There are many ways you can help make Disney switch to green cleaning products and procedures and becoming a leader in the hotel and tourism industries.

November 4, 2008

100% PCW paper


It took me a long, long time, but I finally needed to reorder office paper for my home studio. I am glad to know that not only are there many recycled sheets to choose from these days—there are also some which are made from 100% post consumer waste. Excellent!

I ordered a box from Give Something Back. They are an online office supply retailer which gives their profits to charity. Since they began they've donated nearly $4 million to charitable causes. They are also a green business.

I'm not sure why, but their website says this particular paper is only available in California.

I also found another 100% PCW office paper at The Green Office. I've written before (almost a year to date!) about how they provide sustainable office products at great prices.

The more people choose these types of products, the more companies will see the demand and ultimately more eco-friendly options will become available. Keep them in mind for the next time you need office paper.

November 3, 2008

canned tuna


Apologies for the blurry images taken with my camera phone of the bottom shelf

I decided to make a favorite recipe this week. It includes a can of tuna. I know it is a good idea to limit consumption of tuna, but I figured this recipe calls for such a small amount that it would be okay.

I wasn't really sure which kind to buy at the store, though. One can was the store brand of solid white albacore tuna packed in spring water. The label said the tuna was from Thailand.

Another can I saw was from a local company near the Bay Area (in Santa Cruz). It was also albacore tuna in water. However, it was line caught locally.

The store brand was $1.49. The local tuna was $7.99 per can.

I have a feeling that choosing the local can of tuna would be the most environmentally friendly choice. I just couldn't do it! No doubt it is hypocritical of me, since I am always touting the importance of supporting local foods and farmers. What would you have done?

October 29, 2008

boo boo ewe


My kids are already 6 and 4—but I've only just found this item! I've always wondered how to improve our "boo boo kitty" ice pack. It has some kind of vinyl (pvc?) insert full of blue gel substance.

Little did I know that a more natural option is a cherry stone soother. They are so incredible because that they can be warmed in the oven or chilled in the freezer! A great option for soothing all kinds of owies, boo-boos and aches.

There are 2 very cute ones sold online at Nova Natural Toys and Crafts. This may be one of my new favorite baby gifts.

October 28, 2008

running green

Runner's World featured an article about the environmental impacts of running in the November 2008 issue. It was interesting to consider, since on the surface running seems like a sport that would have little impact on the environment.

The issue looks at elements such as the fabrication and distribution of running shoes and apparel, as well as the transportation involved to get to training runs and races.

It was really cool to see how running shoes are produced and the complex journey they make before they land on our feet. But I wonder if this would be true for most sport shoes? And if all "sport shoes" have a big carbon footprint, is running still not a good sport to choose?

One thing I was glad to read about was alternative materials for running clothes. I personally like all the dri-fit types of synthetic wicking for my sweaty runs. I know the shirts I buy are synthetic and not a green choice. Runner's World has a review of alternative 'green' shorts, tops and gear, which you can even read on their website.

The magazine also had a spread on how races are going green by making race shirts with alternative materials, reducing the amount of paper used, utilizing solar generators, recycling and composting waste, etc. The magazine also lists the top 10 greenest races (not surprisingly, 3 of them are in Oregon)!

I think running is still a fairly green sport. Sure, we can all make improvements. Runner's World has plenty of tips to make it easy to do so.

October 27, 2008

melamine in the wrong places

You've likely heard about how melamine was used in pet food and baby formula with disastrous consequences. And now there is yet another warning about melamine used in chocolate foil-wrapped coins. The candy company says the incident only concerns chocolate coins imported to Canada and that supplies in the US are not affected.

Just recently news reports announced that melamine is appearing in fresh eggs from China (sold in Hong Kong). They think the chickens were fed melamine.

Just what is melamine? Most of us know it as a kind of plastic used often for baby plates and cups (which is supposed to be safe to use, but is not recyclable).

I did some searching on the web and found that "Melamine is an organic compound that is often combined with formaldehyde to produce melamine resin, a synthetic polymer which is fire resistant and heat tolerant. Melamine resin is a very versatile material with a highly stable structure. Uses for melamine include whiteboards, floor tiles, kitchenware, fire retardant fabrics, and commercial filters. Melamine can be easily molded while warm, but will set into a fixed form. This property makes it ideally suited to certain industrial applications."

It has many practical industrial uses, but it sure does not belong in food products. Ingesting it causes renal failure. Wikipedia declares that "Melamine by itself is nontoxic in low doses" and it is "harmful if swallowed, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Chronic exposure may cause cancer or reproductive damage. Eye, skin and respiratory irritant.” However, the toxic dose is on a par with common table salt with an LD50 of more than 3 grams per kilogram of body weight."

Who knows where it will turn up next. Standards and ethics, please!

October 26, 2008

catch and release

I have a cool eco-tip from my neighbor which I think is really impressive. She uses a bucket to catch water in the shower while it is warming up. She then uses the bucket to water her apple tree in her backyard. So simple, yet so clever.

October 23, 2008

eco diapers and cooking local (but not together)

Usually I like to write about topics that I research because of some question or encounter I've had in my life. Other times I just see an article that is spot-on helpful, and I'd want to share them in their complete detail.

One article I saw on Grist was a review of eco-friendly disposable diapers. Since I don't have kids in diapers anymore, I feel this is an area that I haven't really covered in depth on the blog. The author reviews several brands by using them on her baby and researching the manufacturing. Definitely worth a read if you've got babies!

The other great article I saw (also on Grist) was about cooking with local foods from the farmer's market. I really responded to everything she was saying about how to make foods that are local and in season. Yum, yum, YUM!

Hope you like the articles as much as I did.

October 22, 2008

eco contrast?

Here's a quick little question that I've often pondered:

Is it hypocritical for a Prius driver to smoke cigarettes in their car? Does anyone else find this amusing when they see it?

October 21, 2008

bottled water exposed


A sign at the water fountain in the new California Academy of Sciences

As you may have seen, the Environmental Working Group has unveiled new report on bottled water. They studied various bottled brands for over two years and compared their contents to municipal tap water.

I think most greenies already know that buying bottles of water is a waste of resources and energy due to the production and distribution of the bottles. Most people know it is better to carry your own reusable water bottle, right? But what many people may not realize is that the water in the plastic bottles is often no safer or purer than tap water. In some cases, it could even be worse.

EWG conducted tests and found that "10 popular brands of bottled water, purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in 9 states and the District of Columbia, contained 38 chemical pollutants altogether, with an average of 8 contaminants in each brand. More than one-third of the chemicals found are not regulated in bottled water. In the Sam's Choice and Acadia brands levels of some chemicals exceeded legal limits in California as well as industry-sponsored voluntary safety standards. Four brands were also contaminated with bacteria."

Some of the brands had the same makeup of trace chemicals that tap water has. The study said the only difference between those bottles of water and tap water is the price. That may not shock everyone, as savvy consumers may note that the sources of bottled water do vary. I personally don't expect the water to always be from a mountain spring, but I did think the water was at least filtered. The contaminants they found would indicate otherwise in some cases.

In fact, some of the findings were so shocking that the EWG is filing suit against the companies in California.

Walmart’s bottled water was polluted with disinfection byproducts called trihalomethanes at levels that exceed the state’s legal limit for bottled water. These byproducts are linked to cancer and reproductive problems and form when disinfectants react with residual pollution in the water. Also in Walmart’s water is a cancer-causing chemical called bromodichloromethane at levels that exceed safety standards. EWG is filing suit and Walmart posts a warning on bottles as required by law: “WARNING: This product contains a chemical known to the State of California to cause cancer."

The thing is, tap water is regulated. Bottled water is not. EWG says, "unlike public water utilities, bottled water companies are not required to notify their customers of the occurrence of contaminants in the water, or, in most states, to tell their customers where the water comes from, how and if it is purified, and if it is merely bottled tap water."

EWG also conducted a survey of 228 brands of bottled water and found that fewer than half describe the water source (i.e., municipal or natural) or provide any information on whether or how the water is treated. "In the absence of complete disclosure on the label, consumers are left in the dark, making it difficult for shoppers to know if they are getting what they expect for the price."

As a result of the study EWG is hoping to improve disclosure of bottling methods and increase the standards the water is held to. They are also advocating improvement and protection of ground water sources which supply municipal tap water. They acknowledge that not all tap water is safe (though some cities have suburb quality). Their advice is for consumers to drink filtered tap water.

I'll have to review water filters in another post. I personally use one that is incredibly thorough from Radiant Life.

October 20, 2008

eco slogan onesies


I saw a new line of baby clothes at the Gap which used eco-slogans on organic cotton onesies. I'm not typically a big fan of slogans on baby clothes, but somehow I liked the humor of saving energy by taking a nap.

Everything else I can think to say is probably too cynical, so I'll just leave it at that.

October 16, 2008

organic essence


It is so gratifying to encounter a company that considers many levels of environmental responsibility. I am so glad to have discovered Organic Essence body products. They make amazing, highly concentrated, organic shea butter hand and body creams (as well as soaps and lotion).

To start, their products are of excellent quality. Their products are actually certified USDA Organic because it is the definitive organic standard which requires the products to adhere to strict food-quality organic standards. On site inspections and certifying approval on every formula guarantees the highest quality available for the consumer. No synthetic preservatives are used. That includes parabens and grapefruit seed extract which are a growing concern. Also, not allowed are fragrances, GMOs detergents like sodium laureth sulfate (SLS) or petrochemicals.

The main ingredient is pure organic shea cream, which is a natural cold pressed oil from the african karite nut. It is well known for promoting capillary circulation and is considered to be a superior healer and rejuvenator for troubled, dry or aging skin. Organic Essence's Shea Cream is fairly traded and produced by a community of over 600 women in Ghana. The product is incredibly pure and safe for use on babies.

The shea creams are also available with essential oil varieties, such as grapefruit, lavender, lemongrass and mint, and vanilla orange. I have the lemongrass mint and like it.

But one of the most exciting things about this line is that it is packaged in new biodegradable jars. The company was not satisfied with the packaging options available and decided to make their own.

"Based on a paper tube, this organic jar defines a new level of environmental responsibility - even the label is biodegradable - it’s made of soy inks printed on 100% PCW recycled paper with an organic adhesive and glaze. You could actually plant the entire container in your garden. Whether or not you have a garden, this container will actively help the environment."

And to top it off, they are not even patenting the jar in the hopes that other manufacturers will copy it and do something good for the earth.

It is so rare to find a product that is so completely eco-thoughtful. I would imagine it should be considered for cradle to cradle certification. Bravo!

October 15, 2008

safe bottles and formula

In my recent interview, I mentioned that choosing safer bottles and formula is important if you are not able to breastfeed your baby. I realize I may not have given much information on how to do that.

Since there is a sweet new baby (my niece) in the family, I thought I'd share this handy link from the Environmental Working Group. It tells you what to choose and what to avoid when feeding formula to your wee one.

October 14, 2008

do not mail registry


Nobody wants junk mail, do they? According to ForestEthics, a recent Zogby poll found that nearly 90% of respondents supported the creation of a Do Not Mail Registry to make it easier to opt out of unsolicited mail.

ForestEthics recently launched a national Do Not Mail Campaign to give Americans the choice to stop receiving unwanted and wasteful junk mail. It is similar in concept to the Do Not Call list. And who doesn't love that? We all know junk mail is wasteful and a pain. ForestEthics also tells us how junk mail contributes to climate change.

This Halloween, ForestEthics supporters around the country will be trick-or-treating and talking to their neighbors about the environmental impacts of junk mail and how, together, a national solution is well within reach. You can join this family and neighborhood-friendly event by going trick-or-treating or collecting petition signatures and informing parents who come to your house this Halloween.

Just sign the simple petition on their website and then you can download the Do Not Mail Bag of Tricks. Inside the Bag of Tricks, you'll find:
  • A step-by-step guide to Trick-or-Treating for a national Do Not Mail Registry to stop junk mail.
  • A sample media advisory to generate press coverage of your local Halloween event.
  • Costume ideas for you or your kids!
  • Stencil designs for carving Do Not Mail jack-o-lanterns!

Here are some compelling facts why I am considering dressing up like a junk mail monster and heading out with my petition:

MYTH: The paper industry is replanting trees, so what’s the problem?
FACT: Replanting trees is not the same as preserving forests. The paper industry is creating tree plantations—row after row of largely non-native (and sometimes genetically engineered) trees. Plantations don’t store nearly as much carbon as intact forests. And in 25-40 years, what little
carbon is stored will be released again when the trees are cut down to make more junk mail.

MYTH: Everyone’s recycling their junk mail anyway.
FACT: 34% of all Americans—about 100 million people—don’t even have access to curbside recycling. So it’s no surprise that approximately 44% of junk mail goes to landfills unopened.

MYTH: “Direct mail is not trees, it is printed communication.”
(from the Mail Moves America website)
FACT: This one comes straight from the junk mail industry’s coalition, Mail Moves America, and frankly, we’re not sure what it means. But since it takes more than 100 million trees to produce U.S. junk mail, we’re pretty sure it’s a lie.

meet a green mum

I haven't posted in a few days because I was visiting my sister and new niece. I had hoped to be able to write some posts from the road, but was so busy helping with her new baby that the blog needed to rest.

I have lots of interesting content to catch up on. One thing I wanted to share was an interview I did with Jenin at The Green Baby Spot. She is doing a series called "Meet a Green Mum" (she's in the UK). Check it out!

October 7, 2008

soles united


Love 'em or hate 'em, a lot of people have crocs. I have to say, they are a pretty convenient and comfortable shoe, especially for kids.

When I first started this blog, one of my initial questions was to find out if crocs were "eco friendly." What I determined was that most shoes of any kind are not (except for the rare recycled material pair). So I let the question go unanswered.

The other day I was at a local sporting goods store and saw a sign about a program to recycle old crocs. As if that doesn't sound good enough, I learned that the program, Soles United, actually is able to use the material to create new shoes for people in need.

Check out this video and look at their website for more info and locations where you can drop of your crocs.

October 5, 2008

tagless burns

You know those printed labels on clothes these days? The kind that are right on the back inside of the t-shirt rather than on a label?

Apparently, some of these labels are printed with less-than desirable inks and in some cases are causing bad skin reactions.

Zrecommends has been covering the story and doing a great job of trying to get information from the companies producing the garments. The biggest concern seems to be around a certain batch of baby/children's clothes from Carter's.

Take a look at the full story. I think if you do not see a rash or burn on your child you should be fine. It doesn't seem practical to me at this point to insist on only clothes with old-fashioned labels. However, if you do notice symptoms as they describe, definitely contact the manufacturer and stop wearing the garment.

October 1, 2008

green conferences

I've noticed a bunch of green conferences happening recently. If you're looking for an immersion into eco-friendly inspiration and information, check out one of these options:

The West Coast Green conference just happened, but you can purchase audio, video or Power Point highlights. It looked really good, with different tracks for all kinds of interests. Speakers included Al Gore and Ed Beagly, among others.


The Natural Living Conference
is taking place on October 8th in Mahwah, NJ. It is run by the Holistic Moms Network and will provide lots of good information to the natural mom-crowd on topics like Homeschooling, Eco-Action Plans, Stress and Health, and Nonviolent Communication.

San Francisco is hosting a local eco-fair, called the Big Blue Bucket on October 11th. It is a free event which provides lots of useful information to reisdents about green living here in San Francisco.

For the first time, the Weston A. Price Foundation is hosting it's annual conference on the west coast. Wise Traditions 2008 is a a showcase for delicious traditional food. I noticed Debra Lynn Dadd, author of Really Green and Home Safe Home is on the list of speakers. I refer to her books all the time.


The Green Business Conference (presented by Co-op America) is on November 12-13 in San Francisco. It looks like they will have lots of information about the green marketplace. If you're looking to buy or sell eco products, this is the place to be.

I'm sure there are more great events out there. These are just a few that had caught my eye.

September 30, 2008

mad men


I've been hopelessly addicted to watching Mad Men (I download it from iTunes). One of the things I like about the show is the glimpse it provides into the era of the early 1960's.

Some of the little details are frightening and amusing, like the pregnant women who are drinking and smoking. The show presents it as the reality that it was, not as a comedy, but you can't help but gasp when you see it.

One scene that threw me for a loop was in an episode where the family goes for an afternoon picnic by a roadside. After they finished they just shook all their garbage off the picnic blanket, got in the car and left.

hello?!?!?!?!?!

Now, I know things were different then (pregnant women drinking and smoking—bad, bad, bad) but did people really just litter with such brazen disregard?

Maybe we have come a long way, indeed.

September 28, 2008

green depression?

With all the recent news about financial crisis, my mind has been wandering into a world of what if. Of course I hope and trust that now things are on a good course. While my mind was thinking about all kinds of scenarios, I got to thinking about how I could make do if we had a depression.

I don't know much detail about how people survived during the Great Depression, but I suspect there are many green living lessons to be learned from then. Thinking about it made the popular blogger challenge, 30 Days of Nothing, seem quite reasonable (whereas a few weeks ago I had thought it was unfathomable).

I wondered if maybe I should learn to preserve more summer foods while I have the chance. I wondered how close our city life could become to homesteading, if circumstances warranted.

For me, the scenarios were a new twist on how to look at things. I don't expect our situation to get THAT desperate, but it does offer another perspective on green living, doesn't it?

September 25, 2008

green your...


I am very excited about this website because it is a great resource on its own, PLUS they made a cool widget that I could place in my blog sidebar so that we can always look up things quickly.

GreenYour.com
is an online guide about how to green all kinds of things: your home, office, lifestyle, body, transportation, etc. When I am researching topics I tend to check lots of sources, so I am glad to have another in my arsenal.

You know how I always say that going green needs to be fun or no one will want to do it? Well, GreenYour.com makes it look fun with a simple, cheerful style and they make it easy with quick, functional tools.

Go ahead. Type something in that new little section to the right of this post. Green your...kitchen? school? laundry? husband?

I typed in camping, thinking I might stump them, but there were loads of brilliant ideas. Have fun!

September 24, 2008

energy saving community


I heard about a website which is focused on providing extensive advice on working as a community to save energy. Energy Saving Community has lots of inspiring ideas—some big, some small.

I was immediately interested in the sections on setting up a community swap store (kind of like free consignment, I think) as well as establishing community composting.

Excellent ideas to ponder! The site is out of the UK, but I'm sure the ideas would translate well to many regions. See if something would be applicable for your community.

September 23, 2008

nature table


Nature tables are not a new idea, but they are a wonderful way to bring a bit of the outdoors in. Kids love looking for beautiful treasures while out on walks and saving them for the table.
Having a nature table is also a nice way to mark the seasons of the year. We have some beautiful things out on ours that we found on a camping trip last weekend (except for the mini pumpkin, which was grown by our neighbors).

You can see nature tables on many blogs, including one of my favorites, Salt and Chocolate. They are also mentioned in a fantastic book called The Creative Family, by blogger and author Amanda Blake Soule.

I'm not always so good about changing the table with the seasons. Thankfully the kids are really into it and keep it evolving. In the winter I add some white wool and felt gnomes. In the spring, some flowers and painted eggs.

September 22, 2008

galaxy granola


Sometimes we eat granola and yogurt for either a snack or breakfast. At first I would just buy granola in the bulk bins at the natural market, not really aware of the many differences between brands. Then I found this brand of granola locally and am really loving it.

Galaxy Granola
is great for many reasons. It got my attention because I tastes really good. In addition, it is hand made with all organic ingredients. They use a mix of whole grains, including barley, spelt, and oats. Spelt is power-packed with fiber, B vitamins and protein. One thing that really sets them apart is that Galaxy Granola is not made with oil. I'm not a fan of canola oil, and finding a brand without it is challenging. Galaxy Granola bakes the grains with organic apples instead of oil. As a result, Galaxy Granola is low in fat and calories, especially when compared to other granolas.

Besides all those yummy facts, Galaxy Granola is a member of “1% For The Planet”, an association of companies that donate 1% of revenue to environmental groups. You can find the granola at many stores nationwide and some farmer's markets in the Bay Area. They also will ship to you from their website. I love the Vanilla Almond Munch. Yum!

September 21, 2008

shaving


Reader Cari asked me if I knew anything about eco-friendly shaving. I have to say it is one thing I hadn't looked into myself because I buy razors so infrequently. I do shave frequently, the razors just seem to last a long time.

I thought it was a great idea to see what I could do to improve my shaving routine. I found a nifty razor from Recycline and think it is pretty cool. I've written about the Recycline toothbrush before, and the razor is similar in that they carefully consider the materials used to make the product as well as how they can be easily recycled when finished. Here are some cool things I like about this razor:

• the razor has "triple" blades that you can replace, enabling the handle to be used for a very long time.

• the handle design (patent pending) is one piece, reducing resources consumed in manufacturing.

• the handle design is made from 100% recycled plastics, with at least 65% from Stonyfield yogurt cups.

• the handle is also completely recyclable in communities with #5 plastic recycling, or through Recycline's postage paid mail-back program.

• the razor's packaging is a reusable travel case made from renewable wood sources.

The company obviously puts an incredible amount of thought into the products and how they can be made with as minimal impact on resources as possible. Plus, the designs are cool and fun to use - and that always makes going green a lot easier to enjoy.

September 18, 2008

coastal cleanup day


This Saturday, September 20, from 9 a.m. to noon is the 24th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day. It is an impressive effort!

The official website tells me that this is "the premier volunteer event focused on the marine environment in the country. In 2007, more than 60,000 volunteers worked together to collect more than 900,000 pounds of trash and recyclables from our beaches, lakes, and waterways. California Coastal Cleanup Day has been hailed by the Guinness Book of World Records as "the largest garbage collection" (1993). Since the program started in 1985, over 800,000 Californians have removed more than 12 million pounds of debris from our state's shorelines and coast. When combined with the International Coastal Cleanup, organized by The Ocean Conservancy and taking place on the same day, California Coastal Cleanup Day becomes part of one of the largest volunteer events of the year."

The website also has some incredible pictures from last year's cleanup.

To find out how to participate call (800) COAST-4U or check their website. You can preregister for certain sites or drop-in at others. Not in California? Google to see if there is a coastal cleanup effort in your region.


September 16, 2008

stay away from bpa

This weekend I was trying to explain to a friend why I had been trying to avoid canned food since I had learned that BPA levels where high in the lining of cans. As I heard myself talking, I wondered if I had really turned into a crazy, eco-obsessed person. Maybe I had become too compulsive?

Before I had a chance to even give it much thought, I saw an article in today's issue of USA Today. It confirmed and validated my inclinations to avoid BPA wherever it may be.

This article was noteworthy for a few reasons:

- For the first time, a large, population-based study links BPA to heart disease and diabetes in humans.

- Some scientists are saying the study shows that BPA "is too dangerous to allow in consumer products, especially those used by babies and pregnant women." Not surprisingly the FDA still claim it is safe.

- However, the National Toxicology Program expressed concern that BPA alters behavior, the brain and prostate gland in children, both before and after birth.

- Most studies regarding BPA risks used animals or cells to test safety. This new study measured people's levels and found connections to heart disease and diabetes.

The article is an easy read, so definitely check it out. I especially loved the last part:

"BPA is so ubiquitous — used in everything from "carbonless" paper receipts to water pipes — that consumers can't shop their way around it, Myer says. The only way to protect vulnerable children, he says, is for industry to stop using the chemical. "It's mind-boggling," Myers says. "We can't ask moms to be chemical engineers when shopping for their kids, and that is what the current system forces them to be."

September 15, 2008

props to method


Are you like me? Do you know all the right things to do to clean green (vinegar and water on the windows! borax in the tub!) but don't always take the time to implement them? Sure, I'm really trying to make an effort but sometimes I just think, "it shouldn't be this hard...or no one will do it."

The sentiment is the same from the founders of Method cleaning products. There was a great interview with them on Grist and I found I have new respect for them. I always liked their products and witty ads, but was skeptical of their greeness because they did not disclose ingredients. I learned that they are now posting the ingredients on their website. They also are using 100% recycled plastic to make their bottles.

The interview with the founders was refreshing and totally respect their goal: not to change people who are already green (self-proclaimed treehuggers) but rather to switch mainstream people away from traditional toxic cleaners and to put pressure on traditional companies to make more sustainable, eco-friendly products.

September 11, 2008

asbestos

I was contacted recently by the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center. They wanted to share information about the dangers of asbestos exposure in your homes, offices and schools. Below is an article they wrote for mom go green which gives valuble information on the dangers and how to stay safe.

Asbestos wasn't really on my "green" radar, so I am very thankful to them for reaching out. It is quite pertinent.

The following is written and provided by the Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center

As homeowners and parents, we find ourselves worrying about all sorts of issues that may negatively affect our health, our children’s health, and our environment. It seems that there is always a “new” issue to consider: do I only purchase organic food? Do I switch to all-natural cleaning products? The questions are endless and keep coming, but in the midst of the many new concerns and issues, it is also important to understand the health implications of a longstanding issue, one that many people do not even consider – the dangers associated with asbestos exposure. Previous exposure to asbestos is the only conclusive cause of pleural mesothelioma, a fatal type of cancer.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that also happens to be highly toxic. Naturally found in mines, asbestos was popular because of its excellent insulating capabilities and was found in a variety of construction materials including insulation, acoustical plaster, drywall compound, roofing tiles, floor tiles, and even in certain brands of duct tape. Despite a ban on asbestos use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the early 1980s, asbestos-containing products may still be found in over 35 million U.S. residences, as well as inside commercial buildings, older automobiles, and our children’s schools. In fact, it is safe to assume that any structure or vehicle constructed prior to 1980 contains asbestos.

What’s so dangerous about asbestos? If disturbed or damaged during a home renovation project or as a result of fire or flood, asbestos-containing products can release tiny asbestos fibers into the air, putting individuals who are present in the area at risk of inhalation. If inhaled, the claw-like structure of asbestos fibers allows them to potentially cling to the pleural lining of the lungs for decades before an individual may begin to experience mesothelioma cancer symptoms, including fluid in the lung cavity and a chronic, hoarse cough. What is most disturbing about this disease is that the latent period for mesothelioma is between 20 and 50 years, so a child that is exposed at age 8 may not experience any symptoms until they are well into adulthood. Mesothelioma sufferers do have treatment options, but less than 1% of patients will survive.

If you live in a home that was built before 1980, it is advisable to consult with a certified home inspector to determine whether or not your family may be at risk of asbestos exposure. Do not attempt any asbestos removal on your own; hiring a professional will ensure that the toxin is handled properly and disposed of safely. Parents should speak with school officials and ask to see their asbestos testing records in an effort to ensure their child’s safety while at school.

The Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center features important information related to asbestos exposure and related health implications. Please visit the MAA Center website for additional information.

September 10, 2008

tiffin container


It is only the second week of school and we are already changing things up in the lunch basket. I got a new lunch container to try from Healthy Kitchenware.

It is a two-tiered stainless steel container with lid and handle, also know as a tiffin carrier. You can find them many places, but this one in particular is really well made. I thought it was a great way to send both a hearty snack and main course, since this year I have to pack both for my son.

The size of this particular tiffin is perfect for him, since it holds more than his thermos did yet still fits into his lunch basket, where I put his napkin, utensil and water bottle. Maybe someone makes a tiffin sack or bag for that purpose? Healthy Kitchenware also has a 3-tiered version, which might be of interest if one wanted to do 3 courses (a salad, fruit and a sandwich?)

And hey, the container has helped my guy be more excited about his lunch. That in itself is a good thing!

September 9, 2008

stopping the free paper


One of my biggest pet peeves is the local free paper that cannot be stopped. All over the city, thousands of these papers are placed on doorsteps each morning—in plastic bags. I see them piled up all around. On a windy day I counted 6 papers in the middle of the road on my block alone. Why should I have to separate and recycle the paper? Why should the city have to pick up all that waste?

It wouldn't be so bad if one could simply ask the paper to stop, but in my experience many papers actually ignore requests to cancel the free delivery.

Help is on the way, people, because now you can use a new website to stop your local free paper. The folks at stopmylocalpaper.org will submit your information to the circulation director so they know you wish to opt out of their publication. They say, "Millions of newspapers go out everday that get thrown away, recycled, or become eye sores left at the end of the driveway. This site was designed to raise awareness of how much wasted paper is created."

Good luck!