November 30, 2009

green holiday lights

Well, actually blue holiday lights would be a more accurate title. I bought some new "icicle" lights to decorate our front windows. These new lights are LED, and I expected them to have more of a cool blue cast to them, and they surely do!

I truthfully prefer the old lights, which sadly were no longer up to the job. I thought I was being picky about color temperature and such, but even my kids asked me why the lights were blue! We only use one strand of lights outside, but the package promises up to 76% energy savings. Every little bit helps, right? I've noticed in past years that our December energy bill is much higher, and I don't think it is from the furnace (ah, holidays in San Francisco). I know, I know, using no decorative lights at all would save even more energy. But you see, without some decorations, it really doesn't look much like Christmas in this city at all.

While I'm happy to try these LED lights outside, I don't think I could take the look of them on our tree.

November 27, 2009

beautifully inspiring : maira kalman

My posts have been less frequent. There are many reasons for that, one of which is information overload. There are green messages everywhere! And even I start to get annoyed by them sometimes.

But this is inspiring. And beautiful. So please click the link and enjoy, because it is about a topic I feel passionately about and it is well done, too. Sometimes I wish my blog could be less typing and more showing, like Maira Kalman's.

November 12, 2009

michael pollan speaks

PopTech 2009: Michael Pollan from PopTech on Vimeo.

Here's a funny story: in my other life as a designer, I am working on a presentation template for a client. I was doing some research about slide design and found a blog from one of the very best presentation design studios, Duarte. This is the studio that designed Al Gore's slides for "An Inconvenient Truth" before it was a movie. On today's blog post they linked to a video of Michael Pollan presenting at PopTech 2009 (see video above). He spoke about sustainability and food systems. Duarte designed his slide presentation—and it is really well done.

Being a fan of Michael Pollan's work, I watched the video. It is an excellent summary of all the major points he has hit upon in his books and articles. If you have never had a chance to read Omnivore's Dilemma or In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, you should definitely watch this presentation!

He gives impressive facts about the energy spent to make cheap food and why it is so important to eat quality, local organic foods.

Besides, the slides are so well done you'll truly enjoy it.

November 11, 2009

disinfectant overkill

I'm a fan of cleaning green since I started my whole green-thing. Now there is more evidence that using safer methods of cleaning is important to your health. Women's Voices for the Earth has released a report about the overuse and dangers of disinfectants. Disinfectant chemicals have a purpose and place, but should be used sparingly.

Scientific studies have shown that disinfectant chemicals have been linked to chronic health impacts like asthma, hormone imbalance, potential reduced fertility, and immune system problems. This new report by Women’s Voices for the Earth looks at the potential health hazards of five classes of antimicrobial chemicals, raises concern about the prevalent overuse of products containing these chemicals by consumers. These chemicals include chlorine bleach, ammonia, Triclosan and Triclocarban, ammonium quarternary compounds and nano-silver.

WVE executive director Erin Switalski sums it up well: “Just as you wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to kill a fly, we’re advocating for people to use disinfecting products only when the situation calls for them. Consumers need to know that the harsh chemicals found in disinfectants are simply too strong for everyday use all over the house.”

The report includes a product index with lists of products that contain these chemicals, as well as tips for non-toxic cleaning alternatives. In fact, their website is full of excellent resources including an upcoming webinar, a video on you tube, quizzes and reports to help spread the awareness. Bravo!

November 9, 2009

maclaren recall

My sister just sent me this news about a recall on ALL Maclaren strollers (yes, every model) since 1999. This topic might not be about going green, but since it is such a huge recall I figure it is sure to be of interest of Mom Go Green readers.

This email was sent via the Baby Bargains Book Blog. Their original post has the actual press release from Maclaren. Unfortunately the Maclaren website is really slow since this news was announced. Tomorrow there will be an official recall announced with Maclaren and the CPSC.

via Baby Bargains Book Blog:

Breaking news: Maclaren plans to recall 1 million strollers—all its production between 1999 and 2009---after receiving 12 reports of hinges on the stroller that amputated children's fingertips. The company will send out a cover for the hinges to all owners.

The CPSC and Maclaren will issue a press release in the recall this Tuesday; Maclaren began notifying its dealers of the recall in the past couple of days.

Here is the take-home message until the recall is official:

• Stop using all Maclaren strollers right now---yes, every model made since 1999.

• When the recall goes public on Tuesday, order a hinge cover from Maclaren's web site or phone line.

• Wait until you install the hinge cover before using the stroller again.

The Baby Bargains Book Blog will be blogging updates on this recall as they develop this week. Click here to read updates.

November 2, 2009

is it h1n1?

There is a serious virus going around my kids' school. So many kids and teachers are coming down with a cough and fever. My little guy caught the bug this weekend. Is it flu? Swine flu? Or just a bug?

I've heard so many things. Some say that it could be swine flu, that the seasonal flu hasn't hit yet. They aren't testing for swine flu unless you are admitted to a hospital. But does it even matter? I decided to look up the more serious symptoms to watch for so I would know if we were crossing into more dangerous territory than "just a bug."

Before I went to the CDC website, I stumbled upon this page which had great flu information clearly presented. It even offered phone numbers to call for advice! Too bad the website is in the UK. (Maybe that says something about health plans? OK, I'll stop. . .)

The CDC website reports:
You may have the flu if you have some or all of these symptoms:

* fever (It’s important to note that not everyone with flu will have a fever.)
* cough
* sore throat
* runny or stuffy nose
* body aches
* headache
* chills
* fatigue
* sometimes diarrhea and vomiting

More serious symptoms that would indicate that a child with swine flu would need urgent medical attention include:

* Fast breathing or trouble breathing
* Bluish or gray skin color
* Not drinking enough fluids
* Severe or persistent vomiting
* Not waking up or not interacting
* Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
* Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough

Another mom recommended using Elderberry as an anti-viral for adults and children. I might look into that. In the meantime I'm taking a daily does of homeopathic flu remedy, Oscillococcinum (which, by the way, is safe for ages 2 and up).

Hope everyone stays healthy! And I hope my little man gets over his fever without incident.