August 25, 2009

toilets are not trashcans

I just discovered that our water department has a great blog. In the latest post they have a handy link about what NOT to put in the toilet, as well as all kinds of great environmental information. Those flushable wipes? A big no no!

August 21, 2009

the sigg truth

This week has been full of stories about big companies letting me down. Perhaps you've heard about this one, and you're really pissed about it, too. I can't say I'm completely surprised, just really disappointed.

Sigg came out with a press release recently saying they have reformulated their bottle liners to be BPA-free. All this time, people have been buying Siggs thinking they are a safer alternative than plastic bottles.

You can see the difference between the old and new liner here. The switch occurred about a year ago, in August 2008 (so bottles manufactured since then are BPA-free).

The company clarifies that they had always claimed their proprietary (secret) liner did not leach BPA. I had written about it, and Sigg had even sent me a report by a third party showing that the liners were safe. I also had heard conflicting accounts from friends of friends who worked at other bottle companies and had done their own testing which found BPA in Sigg liners.

So, like I said, I'm not surprised since the whole proprietary nature of the secret liner only fed my skepticism. And it may be true that the old liners, while they contained BPA, didn't leach much BPA.

BUT, I feel really mislead and disappointed. This post on Treehugger sums my feelings really well.

What to do? We've mostly been using our Kleen Kanteen and Earthlust bottles lately since my kids are older now and like to drink out of a larger opening with the top off. Should I toss our old Siggs? Can old Siggs go in recycling since they are aluminum?

August 18, 2009

one block off the grid

I just learned about an organization that is making solar power even more accessible to home owners. I've wanted to get solar for awhile, but since we're on a economy budget at the moment, it hasn't been feasible. Such a shame, because right when there are great incentives and rebates, we can't afford the system!

But One Block Off the Grid has a few options to help with that. They group people in a neighborhood together for a group purchase, bringing bulk discounts. They also have payment plans!

Here's some info from their website:

"1BOG (One Block Off the Grid) organizes big groups of people together who want to get solar energy, and gets them a discount.
Homeowners looking to buy solar panels face a few problems:
  • It’s expensive
  • It’s complicated
  • They don’t know which installer they should trust.
1BOG organizes people in a community to go through the process together. This approach has several benefits:
  • An organized community can buy solar in bulk, so 1BOG negotiates with installers to get impressive discounts for each homeowner in the collective.
  • We make the process much more simple and painless, as well as use our deep solar energy expertise to educate consumers throughout the process.
  • We offer safety in numbers, and unlike the installers themselves, our interests are always aligned with yours."

I'm going to call for more information. I know others in my neighborhood are looking at them too, so I might as well see what the estimate is. Maybe they can make my dream come true!

August 17, 2009

PACT undies

This is one of those stories layered with eco-goodness.

PACT underwear
was launched today. It is an eco-friendly, responsible product which supports good causes. From the materials, processes and distribution to make the undies, to the labor practices of all involved companies along the way, and ultimately to the 10% donation to charitable causes, PACT is making powerful underwear.

Reading the whole story on their website gives plenty of detail to the story. Here is some info from the PACT website:

"PACT's motto is CHANGE STARTS WITH YOUR UNDERWEAR. The purchase of PACT underwear is participation in a social movement: when you buy PACT underwear, you are supporting and encouraging organic cotton farmers, responsible labor practices, and businesses that form partnerships with nonprofit organizations dedicated to positive change in our world".

The 3 amazing social causes supported by PACT are ForestEthics, 826 National, and Oceana. Each organization has their own specially designed pattern of undies, and each pattern comes in a variety of styles. Seriously, undies have never been so meaningful.

August 4, 2009

clean eating

Waiting in line at the grocery check-out the other day I spotted a new magazine (new to me, that is). I did my usual quick flip through the pages. My personal rule is that if I see at least 3 recipes I would make, then I buy the magazine.

Clean Eating passed the test and I've really enjoyed reading the issue. It seems to bridge a few of my interests: eating healthful, real food, all while balancing a budget and time constraints.

The magazine purports that "The soul of clean eating is consuming food in its most natural state, or as close to it as possible. It is not a diet; it is a lifestyle approach to food and its preparation, leading to an improved life...."

That really spoke to my desire to avoid processed foods as much as possible and cook healthy, nutrient dense meals with local, organic foods. I've been having a hard time achieving those goals because of time and money (like most families, I'm sure!)

This issue even has a 2 week menu planner for all 3 meals a day (42 meals!) and an article with yummy looking dinner recipes which feed a family of 4 for $10 or less. And the food looks so good!

I'm going to try a bunch of the recipes and also experiment some things that I haven't before, like teff seeds.

There are a few recommendations in the magazine that I question (like the thumbs up for the Mashups by Revolution Foods), but for the most part the ideas seem refreshing and just the kind of kick-in-the-pants I needed right now.

There may be a connection with the magazine and the author of the Eat Clean Diet book series, which I don't know much about. From my perspective, the magazine is interesting and relevant to people even if they are not on that diet or know nothing about it (like me).

August 3, 2009

green camp

Around here it is common to send your kids to a few summer camps. They are typically week-long sessions of day camp programs with varying themes.

I was really pleased to see bits of green inspiration in their experiences.

One camp which my kids attended was a science and art program. I knew the kids were going to learn about building a water system, but was kind of amazed at the enthusiasm for (and retention of) the curriculum. My 7 year-old was telling me about how we need to catch rain water from our roof and even drew me a diagram of how we could!

He also made a fun water filter experiment with 3 increasing levels of filtration.

My 5 year-old made a model of a "green cabin"—with insulation and solar heating.

They also attended another camp which I knew would be more obviously eco-focused since it is a farm-based program. The kids help with all the farm jobs and at the end of the week they host a farmers market. What I didn't expect and was excited to see was that the camp shirts were from an organic cotton company and produced in the US.

It's nice to find inspiration in unexpected places.