January 29, 2009

white house farmer


Here's an idea that combines a few of my favorite things - local organic farming and the new administration! Many thanks to Nancy for sending me the link.

WhiteHouseFarmer.com is a website created by the Brockmans, a farm family in central Illinois. They decided to create the forum after reading Michael Pollan’s call for a White House Farmer. The website has accepted nominations of potential farmers and is now open to voting.

The farmer will be charged with transforming “five prime south-facing acres of the White House lawn and plant[ing] in their place an organic fruit and vegetable garden” whose produce will be used by the White House Chef, and given to area food banks.

The top 3 contenders will be forwarded to the Obama staff. Hopefully with enough interest and enthusiasm we can help make this great idea a reality!

Review the list of excellent nominees from all around the country and cast your vote. Voting will close at midnight on January 31st. (One vote per IP address, hint, hint).

January 28, 2009

bio fueled airlines

Have you heard the one about the algae-fueled jet?

No, it isn't a joke. Earlier this month Continental did a 90 minute test flight with a Boeing 737 using a 50-50 blend of bio fuel and normal aircraft fuel. It seemingly went well. You can read the full article for details on the interesting process.

The airline industry has been testing alternative fuels (good idea!) This was the first such test for a US airline. Bravo!

January 26, 2009

sweet treat


Our friends visited from Seattle recently and they brought us a sweet treat from their hometown: Theo Chocolate.

Theo is the only "organic, fair-trade, bean to bar chocolate factory in the United States". And they are yummy! The flavor selections are unique and distinctive. Some flavors I fancied are Fig, Fennel & Almond Dark Chocolate and Chai Milk Chocolate. They are especially addictive for dark chocolate fanatics.

Theo buys the cacao beans directly from farmers and develops long term relationships with them. Then they produce the chocolate in an entirely ethical, sustainable fashion. Yum! You can buy it online or check their website to find them in a store near you.

January 25, 2009

safe pajamas


Over the holidays I saw a sweet little pair of pajamas for my son, but when I saw they were flame retardant I decided not to buy them. I was disappointed to have to pass on them, but if I make such an effort to keep chemicals out of their toiletries, food and bedding, why would I let them sleep in the clothing treated with such strong stuff? Yes, there are flame retardants in other areas of our life (like car seat covers and couches) but we spend so much time sleeping that pajama exposure seems like a good place to avoid the chemicals if possible.

In fact, I found a post by another green-mom blogger about this very topic. Jennifer at 5 Minutes for Going Green wrote such a comprehensive overview of pajama picking that it is worth reading it firsthand.

I was glad to learn that the pajamas I've loved buying my kids for years are a safe pick and, in my opinion, worth the cost. I have had great luck buying sleepwear (long johns) from Hanna Andersson. They aren't cheap, but they really do last for years and years. Many of our pairs have been through my 2 boys and are now being worn by little cousins and friends. Their sleepwear is not only comfortable, it is made from organic cotton and certified by Oeko-Tex Standard 100.

An informative article on Essortment says, " The most important thing that parents can do is become informed about what they are purchasing. If you do choose to buy treated pajamas, contact the company to find out what they are using. In general, garments are referred to as flame resistant if the fabric meets the CPSC guidelines without needing treatment, while the term flame retardant is normally used if a chemical has been added. "

After reading about the kinds of fabrics available for kids pajamas in that article, I'm happy to stick with the Hannas. If anything all this research has helped me appreciate their value.

January 22, 2009

compost mess


I need to improve my compost system.

I have it pretty lucky, I must say, since our city collects compost curbside. I don't have to deal with worms or all the other lovely parts of the process. All I need to do is collect our food scraps and food-soiled paper and bring it down 2 flights of stairs to the garage, where we have a large, city-provided compost bin (64 gallon size). This is my problem.

I am great at collecting the stuff. We are prolific in our food scrap collection. I just haven't been so good about regular trips down to the garage. We have a small (3 gallon) green container which the city also provided to keep in the kitchen. I line that bin with bio bags. Sometimes when it gets full or is being cleaned, I use a paper bag instead. It becomes an unwieldy mess on the floor. The nice little, green bin won't fit under our sink because our water filter is so darn huge.

I've debated trying one of the countertop compost bins, but I think I would fill it awfully quickly and I also don't want more things on my counter.

My husband thinks we should try another small garbage bin to match the one we currently have. That would be much nicer aesthetically, but my compost bags would not really fit in it (it is a 5 gallon size). The green compost bags would be too small and paper grocery bags would be too big (not that I have many of those, anyway).

Any ideas? I need something efficient and discreet.

January 21, 2009

for the love of peanut butter

I have only been partly following the FDA peanut butter recalls due to a salmonella outbreak. You see, in my house we love peanut butter. We are in major denial. In fact, just this evening my husband stood behind me eating peanut butter filled pretzels as I was reading the FDA peanut butter recall list on the computer.

Lucky for us, the products we have are not on the list—yet. They are updating it all the time.

It's just as well, really. There are plenty of other foods we should be eating instead which would be either healthier or more eco-correct.

So I remain on alert, but still a wee bit in denial. I hope my next post is not from the hospital.

January 20, 2009

president green

What an exciting day! As I gave my first grader an abbreviated overview of why today was important, he told me that if he was president he would tell people to use their cars less. He said they would only be able to drive if they "had to go to the next town or state."

Sounds too perfect coming from my kid, but I tell you—he doesn't even know I write an eco-blog (let alone know what a blog is). I think kids are growing up with a sense of protecting the environment as they hear us grown ups talking about it.

So here's to healthy future, in America and beyond!

January 18, 2009

sharing

While I was researching "borrowing" websites (which enable the sharing of items in a community), I came across this video report on many cool sites that have options for trading, renting, borrowing or giving away stuff. I was familiar with some of the sites they mentioned, but was also surprised to see many others that were new to me. The eco-ness is pretty obvious, I think. Plus, sharing is just plain nice.

January 15, 2009

fax off

I've ranted about junk faxes before. What a waste of paper and resources! After my last post on that topic I called all the opt-out numbers and it has helped quite a bit.

But last week I had an epiphany: why do I have a dedicated fax line at all? I've been paying for a separate line for years. Faxes are hardly ever used anymore (at least in my line of work), as most communications have made their way online.

I decided to do what my husband has done at his office—cancel the fax line! I will save money, and will not receive junk faxes. If I have a rare document that needs to be faxed I can simply plug the cord into my phone line for a few minutes.

January 13, 2009

homemade cleaners

The topic of green cleaning comes up many times, year round for me. I'm always trying new products or homemade recipes in my quest for effective, simple and economical solutions.

I personally am a fan of making the cleaning solutions myself. After having tried them, I believe homemade solutions can clean really well—at least on the surfaces in my house. I even did side by side tests! My issue, however, is organization: keeping the bottles where I need them, labeling them, and staying well supplied is where I need to improve my system.

Prepare yourselves for amazement, because I have found the most amazing solution and resource. I must point you to a fellow eco-mom blogger who has done something so simple yet so well and shared the how-to for you and me.

I'm inspired to make a set for the upstairs and the downstairs. Thank you to Jonah Lisa for the most brilliant idea. I love that it combines my passion for environmental products and package design! I almost made sets as holiday gifts, but then I ran out of time, as usual.

January 12, 2009

green your fragrance


For a long time I've been intending to research perfumes and fragrances. I used to love wearing a little perfume, until I heard that they can be very bad for you and contain neurotxins. I stopped wearing it but always meant to look into it further.

Can you imagine my delight when the little sidebar of my very own blog had "Green Your Fragrance" posted one day? Thanks, Green Your...!

Their post is great. It gives the scoop on why synthetic fragrances are bad, plus they list some good, safe choices (just click on the navigation at the top of the article, "facts, tips, products.") I can't wait to locate the scents on the list and take a whiff.

And yes, I know the Green Your sidebar is looking a little screwy on my blog. I'll try to fix that next.

January 11, 2009

kaia house

People often ask me for suggestions about skincare and body care products (like lotions and deodorants). I've found an online resource called Kaia House that specializes in natural, organic, eco-friendly, and vegan skincare and beauty products for man, woman, and baby.

While they carry many of the good brands I like, they don't have all of my favorites. Kaia House also has it's own line of toxin-free organic products for skin, hair, body, baby, and even pet (which I have not tried) I figured the website would be especially useful for people who don't live near a natural health foods-type shop that sells these products.

One thing I really liked on their website is a compilation of the "Most UN-Wanted List" which details dangerous product ingredients to avoid. Very handy. Plus, the folks at Kaia House are offering a 15% discount off purchases if you enter the code "blogger".

January 7, 2009

kids konserve


I am forever obsessed about packing lunches. It seems there are lots of great products available now to pack a waste-free lunch, for kids and adults.

One clever company called Kids Konserve has made it even easier. They found all the great elements needed to pack an eco-lunch, and put them all together into coordinated sets. Their website offers all the stylish, eco pieces your lunch could need in one convenient place.

If you haven't perfected your lunch system yet or need a gift for someone, take a look here.

January 6, 2009

print pattern paper


Shop Talk ©Rebecca Peragine

Going green doesn't have to be all about cleaning, eating and driving, does it? It is so refreshing to see an artist bringing an eco-sensibility to her work.

I love the prints and original art made by Rebecca at print pattern paper. They would be great for decorating a wee-one's room! She also makes great reusable bags and notecards from recycled paper. Here are some things that make her pieces extra-special:

- All of her original art pieces are made of recycled materials (wood, paper, paint).

- The cotton totes and lunch sacks are made from 100% organic or recycled cotton. The production of the bags are made locally by a company run by moms.

- She does all of her outside production and marketing with mom-owned companies, to support women who face similar challenges with juggling children/work/life.

Rebecca also works with an organization called PEACE, where she helps create product prototypes for the co-op members to produce and sell.

On January 16th she will be having an art show in Isla Mujeres where her originals and limited edition prints will be for sale at the show (they will also be available online). 50% of proceeds will be donated to the Isla Mujeres branch of PEACE. Watch her website for details!

Organic Garden ©Rebecca Peragine

January 5, 2009

canned shortcuts

While I have been making a big effort to avoid BPA, I have occasionally given in to using canned goods. Sometimes I just have to take a shortcut and open a can of beans or even tomatoes (I know, I know).

I saw a list that is being compiled by the wonderful folks at Organic Grace (which is an excellent place for eco-bedding, by the way). They have been contacting companies directly and asking about BPA usage in cans.

Now, if I must use a can on occasion I'll be better informed to try to find one that is BPA-free.

January 4, 2009

farmer humor


I saw this sign at the farmer's market this weekend and had to share it. Too funny!

Happy New Year! I'm looking forward to some blog improvements in 2009 and will keep you updated. Now that the holiday whirlwind has passed, my posts should be back on the regular schedule. I'm also catching up on all my emails and requests. I'm always glad to hear from you with comments, post ideas or questions.