Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Cove - Now in Video

Ccccold morning. At least the skies are clear (ish).

The Cove, the movie, the eco-thriller, the winner of 20 film awards and now best 2009 documentary is finally out. It is one of those life changing movies, really. You can buy the video, watch it, share it or give it to your library for all to see.

The Cove has several layers to it. The most obvious being the stomach churning slaughter of dolphins. The next is the mercury issue which Japan neatly hides but is also a world wide serious environmental horror story. Lastly, the movie's over all theme of our lack of respect for the ocean, its eco-system and how it is about to collapse.

Ric O'Barry is the hero and if we all had a fraction of his passion, the world would be a better place. If you need inspiration, Ric will give you what you need.

So here you go - buy it here: The Cove Video

Thursday, December 10, 2009

BPA Continues To Do Harm

Clearing skies and finally looks like winter.

I find today's headlines out of Canada very disturbing: "Chemical BPA May Harm Developing Fetus". And, yes, it was a small experiment. But the authors seem very convinced that the BPA killed placenta cells and were bold enough to suggest that BPA (and other gender bending chemicals) could, or is probably, responsible for the high percentage of unexplained miscarriages that occur in our, what should be, healthy, wealthy society.

Remember, Canada is our cautious cousin to the north (thank God) who had the courage to declare that BPA was hazardous to human health 2 years ago and ban it from baby bottles. But based on this study, that ban might be too little too late.

These studies have big implications because now it comes down to what is going on in the adult (presumably) pregnant mother and her level of BPA and other toxins. This is clearly, and has been for a long time, an adult issue since, since last I knew, that's where babies come from.

Luckily Canada seems to be more forthright in exactly where BPA comes from, including "the filmy plastic lining in the shallow boxes of frozen-food dinners". Next year, Canada is hosting an international meeting of health experts to discuss BPA in food packaging.

That's next year, another year to go by before BPA is even discussed. If this isn't a good example of why thoroughly testing chemicals before they are released into the market place is so important, I don't know what is. We've done this all backwards for sure.

Meanwhile, BPA continues to be everywhere. Companies continue to sell pretty aluminum water bottle knock-offs that contain high levels of BPA and publicize that the levels are well within the FDA limits (so they can sell the huge inventory they are now stuck with). Consumer Reports just published an article after testing canned foods for BPA and their conclusion is also alarming. One serving of canned green beans had BPA 80 times higher than the experts recommended.

Jeez. I'm speechless.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Natural Latex Rubber - Needs to be Fair Trade

An unseasonably warm, sunny morning; brown haze horizon.

While at the September "Natural" Products Expo, I had a quick conversation with a natural rubber yoga mat maker. The eco qualities of the 100% natural latex rubber yoga mat seemed perfect - PVC free (imagine making a yoga mat with PVC, now there's an oxymoron), 100% rubber, eco dyes, and biodegradable. "Was it Fair Trade?" The shocked (weird?) look I got followed by "No" changed the tone of the conversation. He knew it was from Vietnam but didn't know much more than that; after all, he bought his rubber in bulk which might have included many sources. Given the defensive posturing, we knew it was time to go.

So here was a leading rubber yoga mat maker, well poised in the green world, surrounded by the Fair Trade mantra, and he wasn't sure of his sourcing. I find that fascinating.

Not only are yoga mats a potential source of natural latex and rubber, but pillows, mattresses and toppers are an enormous industry, offering safe, green bedroom alternatives.

Rubber trees originally came from Brazil but were quickly seeded in the colonial Asia territories and Liberia where labor was guaranteed, well, cheap, at least. This is from where most of the world's rubber still comes. In fact, there are campaigns to stop Firestone's destructive practices in Liberia. Goodyear also ranks right up there in abuses. In Asia, forests are being cut down for rubber tree plantations, but some of this is a front in order to continue logging. Horrible labor conditions and wages seem to be the norm but have yet to get the world's attention.

Searching for Fair Trade natural rubber doesn't get you far. There are just a handful of eco sites, but darn few. Most are based in England.

There was one company at Expo East that hopefully will make folks stop and think about sourcing of "natural" products. Flip flops made by Feelgoodz uses 100% rubber but their mission is what makes them so special. (okay, so they are the most comfortable flops ever) They hope to become the first Fair Trade certified rubber product in America, in addition to their triple bottom line commitment.

So many other "natural" products such as food, fabrics, fibers and woods are Fair Trade or at least have SA 8000 certifications. How did rubber slip under the radar?

So, who harvests the rubber trees for your yoga mat? What about your flip flops? Or your latex pillow or mattress? If you have any of these products, I urge you to make a phone call. Ask the company if their rubber is Fair Trade. Ask if they have visited the plantations. Ask what country their rubber comes from. Ask if they know any thing about the sourcing of their rubber. The answers may shock you.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leonid Meteor Shower, Tonight, Nov. 17th - Perfect Conditions

Clear morning with wind picking up; still unseasonably warm.

I'm so excited. Tonight begins the best night for the Leonid Meteor Shower and it is forecast to be clear with a new(ish) moon. How fantastic is that? The last few meteor showers were clouded out so this clear forecast has me jumpin. If you are in the North East of the U.S.A., you're in luck as they predict the strong viewing to be spectacular, while the rest of the country will still be pretty darn good.

The spectacle begins slowly but 3:30 AM EST is the magic time to rise and check it out. Best viewing is between 3:30 and 5:30 AM East Coast Time. So get to bed early and set your alarm.

To find out details about the weather in your area, go to and plug in your zip code. For more scientific details about the whole event go to:

Remember to turn out all the lights for the best viewing of the Leonid Meteor Shower. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Is Your Halloween Chocolate Happy? List of Certifide Fair Trade and Organic Chocolate

Quiet cloudy day, turkeys roaming in the field.

At least two times a year we find the excuse to give, receive and enjoy chocolate; Valentine's Day and Halloween. The making of cacao has/had developed into a greedy, nasty, chop-down-the-trees, slave oriented business until relatively recently. To combat this awful type of trade, we now have some civilized guarantees with Certified Fair Trade and Certified Organic Chocolate. You would think this is a no brainer, right? Well, with deep regret, I'm here to tell you, we and the chocolate industry have a long way to go.

I say we because most people are not committed to purchasing double certified chocolate, meaning certified both organic and fair trade. I know certifications can be expensive, and for some small companies like Grenada who are committed to not using pesticides, they still lack the certification. While this particular company "does it right", the only way to know at the check out counter (metaphor for impulse buy) if a chocolate bar is both organic and has good labor practices is through certification. I am surprised that more people do not consider these both in unison.

And the chocolate industry... this is voting with your dollars at its best. If you think the chocolate industry is suddenly going to go warm and fuzzy for humanity and the environment, then I have a mountain with a lake and ocean view on it to sell you. They will not change unless their is money to be made or consumers demand it. That means back to you babe.

So how do you vote with your dollars? By buying only double Certified Organic and Fair Trade chocolate. This is not as easy as you think. There are many chocolates that you think are double certified and they are not. For instance Newman's is organic, not Fair Trade. Divine chocolate is Fair Trade but not organic. Trader Joe's cocoa is Fair trade but not organic and their chocolate bar is organic but not fair trade. Green and Black's is very sneaky; their marketing gives the impression they are both organic and fair trade but only their Maya Gold offering is both. Dagoba is another one - all organic but only one of their bars is certified fair trade. A cynic would say these companies purposely have one line of fair trade which then gives the impression that all of their chocolate is. (are you the cynic?) Rapunzel is also marketed as Fair Trade but they only devote a small paragraph on their website to fair trade and use the word "primarily" when they talk about sourcing. This is a good reason why certification guarantees you get what you are expecting.

Need help? Well, here's a list double Certified Organic and Fair trade chocolate bar companies (the whole company, not just one bar). Notice there are only 11 companies devoted to all of their products being double certified, in the world. If I've missed any, please let me know. It would be nice to have an ongoing list.

Alter Eco
Art Bar
Cocoa Camino
Equal Exchange
Health by Chocolate

Shaman Chocolates
Sjaak's Chocolates
Sweet Earth Chocolates
Terra Nostra
Theo Chocolate
Vital Choice

Some people might say that these companies are not considered the best tasting chocolate, that they have sacrificed flavor for their certifications. I ask you, is sacrificing the environment and our fellow human beings worth a little flavor? You can probably guess my answer.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 2009 - Clothes Drying Racks Make a Difference

Calm, quiet morning.

So today is Blog Action Day 2009 for Climate Change and Global Warming. Much is written about what you can do to take action. You know the usual drill: Change your light bulbs, change your car, change your eating, change your heating or change your cooling, change your garden or your landscape and change your laundry.

Yes that's right, your laundry. How many of you are still not hanging your clothes up to dry? I'm not an energy user expert, but by the looks of the list above, not using your dryer would make a bigger impact than many of the changes listed. People are still making up excuses: I have no room, I have no time, I don't like wrinkles, I don't like the crunchies, I don't, I don't I don't...

Enough already with the excuses. And if your final excuse is where you live won't allow it? Well, try a little civil disobedience. What's the worst that could happen?

So start using a clothes drying rack or clothesline today, like most of the rest of the world. You can do it, really. And then ask 10 friends to join you.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Eco Oxymorons - Green Washing or Green Wishing?

Clear sunny morning; flaming trees scattered near and far.

Every once in awhile I come across something and say to myself, or any one who will listen, "Now there's an oxymoron". Most of them have to do with the green world, so let's just call them eco oxymorons. Many are related to green washing within an advertisement, description, title or label. You know, adding those little key words that makes something appear greener than it is. I think sometimes green washing is a company's way of green wishing, a way to muscle into the market place. The biggest green washing (and abuse) going on today is the use of the word "natural". But that's another blog coming, a rant and rave for sure, so stay tuned.

Back to the eco oxymoron... So below is a list of gathered green oxymorons. Some are short, some are long, some are funny, or serious or stupid. Many simply a play on words. Most importantly, none of which I made up. If you would like to add to the list, please comment with your own eco oxymoron. Here we go:

Clean Coal
Chemical Free
Organic Junk Food
Melted Ice
Melted Glacier
Natural Make-Up
Clean Diesel
Dry Lake
Sustainable Mining
Plastic Glass
Safe Plastic
Monsanto's Crop Protection
Green Golf Course
Level Population Growth
Veggie Meatballs
Safe GMO's
Eco Tourism
Eco Friendly Plastic Bags
Green Shopping Mall
99% Pure
PVC Fitness Ball
Plastic Silverware
Free Water
Green Parking garage
Silver Lining Organic Underwear
Clean Camping
Environmental Road Trip
Forest Management
Non Toxic Bug Killer
Plastic Wood
Healthy Ice Cream
Meatless Meat
Biodegradable Plastic
Artificial Grass
Artificial Snow
Carefree Garden
Safe PVC
Green Cars
Sustainable Development
All Natural Artificial Flavoring
Sustainable Luxury
Green Skyscraper
Safe Pesticides
Greener Hummer

And my all time favorite . . . Safe SIGG.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Greening of Southie - Boston at Its Best

Clear crisp morning with low clouds moving quickly. Classic fall morning.

Last night I watched The Greening of Southie (South Boston) at our local, very hip Red River Theatre. It wasn't another downer environmental film (which I love by the way), it was a very enjoyable, interesting movie which I highly recommend. The movie was followed by a panel discussion by our local geek from the Jordan Institute, an architect and NH's most experienced green builder. The sell out crowd asked great green questions too.

The movie was about Boston building its first Gold LEED certified building at a time when the city didn't know how to spell LEED. You might think a movie about building a building sounds pretty boring, but the director did an excellent job mixing in the colorful workers (who couldn't spell green) with the dynamics of this state of the art green building invading the traditional neighborhood of South Boston. That was a take home message in and of itself - The new high income green wannabees displacing families who could no longer afford the upscale coming digs. This part actually left me unsettled. Is that progress?

Back to The Greening of Southie - I did enjoy the workers who were chosen for their hesitant embracing of "this green stuff". That was quite heart warming and the entertaining part of the movie. (otherwise it would be boring) The movie walked you through the LEED certification process and the different points you got for the green options you used. They were shooting for the Gold standard which meant getting 39 points.

The LEED certificatioin is not a perfect system, but it's a start. I was impressed at the steel being able to be 95% recycled content coming down from Maine. Why can't that be done everywhere? (that's why recycling your food cans and junk cars is so important) I was a little disappointed that more emphasis is not placed on insulation. After all , that is the most important part of energy saving. - which is at the core of carbon neutral buildings. They used recycled cotton batting instead of fiber glass but it looked like it was going into traditional 4 inch walls which seems like no big deal when you're sitting on a windy cold harbor. Apparently their operating energy costs were down by 50% compared to traditional buildings. So something worked. Could it have been even better? Probably.

Like all good movies they stumbled and there were moments of doubt and catastrophes (ripping up almost all the bamboo flooring because the adhesive didn't do its job would be catastrophe to me). But they prevailed in the end like most movies do.

I highly recommend this movie for all to see. Why traditional building continues is beyond me when green options can be the same price and the cost of operation is lower. Sounds like a no brainer to me. This would be a great movie for every town to have in their library.

So, if you're looking for some good to do today, purchase the DVD (if you can find it used, great). Then pass The Greening of Southie around to friends and after that, donate it to your town's or City's library.

Trailer - The Greening of Southie from Wicked Delicate Films on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Safe Cosmetics Video - And Things You Can Do

Watching a pair of kestrels lying in wait.

Safe Cosmetics, founded by health and environmental groups, has started a new campaign via video to get their message out. They've asked for help so I'm just doing my bit here.

They interview regular folks off the street about their knowledge about personal care products, which turns out to be pretty weak. If you're up on the subject, there isn't really anything new, but the point is so few, it must be a minuscule amount, people know much about the subject, as you'll see in the video. The point is to get the subject of safe cosmetics on people's radar.

So you might ask why? If you look at the list of endorsing organizations for safe cosmetics it gives you an idea of where the concerns are coming from: physicians, women's groups, children's groups, autistic organizations, environmental groups, right to know organizations and cancer groups. That's because the thousands of chemicals that have not even been tested, that are in our daily lives through "things or stuff" we put in or on our body may have serious consequences to our health, our children's health, the environment and other critters.

Just out today from Newsweek is an article about how chemicals may be causing obesity, even in newborns because there is no other explanation as to why this is occurring. The article titled "Why Chemicals Called Obesogens May Make You Fat" explores the new theory about chemical exposure and how it tweaks our ability to regulate our fat cells. Back to the long standing gender bender issue. (wasn't that the whole thing about BPA and SIGG etc.?)

The long list of questionable chemicals that go into our cosmetics is huge, some say 80,000 chemicals, most of which have never been tested, most of concern are petroleum in base. So what can you do? (or tell a friend to do) Glad you asked. Here are some things you can do to help the Safe Cosmetic Campaign, for yourself, others and the environment (our future):

1 - Watch the video and send to friends by email using this link

2 - Sign the petition for Safe Cosmetics

3 - Use low chemical profile products - less is more (better)

4 - Use certified organic products to lessen chemical exposure

5 - Make your own products, DYI cosmetic recipes are available

6 - Know your ingredients - daunting task but using the Skin Deep cosmetic safety data base is a great place to start

7 - Start learning, begin with Treehugger's excellent article: 7 Common Cosmetic Ingredients You Need to Avoid

8 - And ... Watch the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics Video

Monday, September 7, 2009

SIGG - Just Another Plastic Water Bottle

Mist rolling in; feels like being in the clouds.

In case you have been on some remote island or in deep in the jungle without any contact to the human world for the last 3 weeks, you missed the SIGG scandal and their admission that they had not been forthcoming about their lining indeed containing BPA. So while Sigg was selling their "BPA-Free" bottles (not) to confident sucking pregnant women, SIGG was pretending to be an environmental company and laughing all the way to the bank.

I won't bother to rehash all the facts and comments that have come before this, a lot of which has been discussed in previous blogs (you can do a search in upper left corner) but I do want to point out some irony.

The SIGG lining, the old BPA containing lining and the new "eco-care", (what ever that means, they won't say) are made from types of epoxies, a polymer made from resins. Just google epoxy and there are many definitions. But guess what? It's a plastic. SIGG (and Laken) can spin all the eco words they want, but the bottom line is, their lining is plastic, always was and will be.

"... plastics. any of a group of synthetic or natural organic materials that may be shaped when soft and then hardened, including many types of resins, resinoids, polymers, cellulose derivatives, casein materials, and proteins: used in place of other materials, as glass, wood, and metals, in construction and decoration, for making many articles, as coatings, and, drawn into filaments, for weaving."

SIGG is willing to exchange their old bottle for their new one but do you really want to be drinking from an unknown plastic? Yes it beats using disposable water bottles but by now (since you were not deep in the jungle) you know there are many alternatives to SIGG. Have you seen the SIGG bottle that says "I'M NOT PLASTIC?" Kind of ironic.

I am fascinated by the blog and twitter discussions of folks willingly replacing their old SIGG bottle with another SIGG, no questions asked. Is it me or are they missing something?

So I guess that squeezey inexpensive #4 plastic (low-density polyethylene or LDPE) plastic water bottle isn't so bad after all. I'm not a fan of plastic but it beats throwing away single use water bottles. They, #4 bottles, are inexpensive, have a relatively low environmental cost (impact) of manufacturing and can be recycled. (virgin aluminum is many more times environmentally costly compared to steel, glass and plastic) Plastics #2, #4, and #5 have a strong food safety record, so they say.

SIGG (and Laken) claim they are "an environmental company". What is so environmental about using virgin aluminum which is 6 times more "costly" than the next type of container and then lining it with an unknown plastic that you refuse to be transparent about? (oh, must be that 1% planet donation thing they do) It seems to me that drinking from a SIGG is just liking drinking from any other plastic water water bottle, only worse.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Colleges Going Green - They Need to Do Better

Sunny clear day, with fall clearly in the air.

I had the very mixed emotions of bringing my daughter (my baby) to college on Saturday. Having been raised in a "college town", I love visiting campuses for that academic, young spirited, high energy rush. I also now enjoy visiting colleges with a green eye perspective to see how colleges are going green. At the end of the day, I left with some pleasant surprises and, unfortunately, some disappointments.

Colleges going green get a lot of media attention, especially since there seems to be some competition to be listed in the top what ever for being green. I think it's a good thing to go after such a status; certainly better than the party school category.

The college my daughter is attending is no where to be found on "the list"of green colleges, but their website still boasts a tab for "green living". The initiatives are impressive, with the ever present, well documented, school's "commitment" to going green. Looks great on paper (not literal, it's online) but visiting proved to be another story.

When we first drove up to the dorm entrance I was surprised and pleased that my daughter was handed her room keys along with a stainless steel water bottle. (thank God it wasn't a SIGG) It was a no-name brand but the message was more important than the product - use reusable water bottles. This was a great start.

Once in the room, there was a standard size paper posted on the back of the door with instructions for recycling, but no encouragement to Reduce and Reuse before you Recycle, like using the water bottle they were just given. It was the basic list of items to recycle but what was seriously lacking were containers to put all this. It would have been nice to have 2 waste containers, one clearly labeled for recycling, so student were constantly reminded of what was expected of them. Some schools hand out bags clearly marked so they can easily carry them to where they need to go. It is a waste of a perfectly good bag, but they probably have a much higher participation rate.

My other daughter happens to be doing a semester exchange out in Northern California which she likens to Burlington, Vermont on steroids. In her dorm room there are 2 baskets, one trash and one recycling for students. Each trash can on campus is buddied with a recycling bin. All dumpsters have a big sign on it: "WAIT - Can you recycle it?" Sounds like a pretty easy enough thing to do. Why can't all schools do this? And towns and cities for that matter.

Back to the dorm room. Also on the sheet of paper were reminders to turn off the lights when leaving the room and any other electrical "things" not needed (I suppose that is the "reduce part"). It mentioned using CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs) and said to dispose of them properly in a plastic bag and give them to a janitor. I'm not sure how many students will actually do this, I hope all. It very casually mentioned that they contained mercury but I would have liked to see them really push the proper disposal and to not put it in the regular trash. Maybe they didn't want to sound alarming or have some parent freak out about the mercury but I think they could have heightened the instructions a bit.

I did find something quite disturbing and totally unacceptable - the instructions, in the event that a CFL broke, actually said to look it up online as to how to take care of it. ?^$%?? By then it's too late and the likelihood of everyone looking up the directions online seem pretty remote. I would have like to have seen in big print, bigger than everything else, about opening windows and getting out of the room asap, in addition to the "be careful about picking up the glass" etc. This is a very serious over site on the college's part.

There were no other do's or don't like using a smart strip or at the very least turning of the surge protector to power down phantom load.

Once the furniture was rearranged and the bed made, off to the student union we went. They had coffee for the parents (yes I brought my thermos) and, EEK, handed out free water in disposable bottles. Why didn't they have big containers of water like the coffee so students could use those stainless steel bottles they were just given? Doesn't anyone use a water fountain anymore?

There was a table set up by an environmental group showing green cleaning products, reusable water bottles, a Brita filter that did not say BPA-Free and some paper items with recycled content. I asked them if they were encouraging students to hang dry their clothes and they mumbled something about trying to figure out where to hang a line outside. I suggested some racks inside might work too but they thought the lack of "air" might not let the clothes dry. I shared my thoughts about how once the heat comes on, the air is usually pretty dry and the clothes should have no problem drying. My daughter was mortified.

In the afternoon we went to the Welcoming Event by the President and Deans held in their big auditorium. Before it started, one of Deans handed out, EEK, bottled water. This really struck me. How is it that the students were given reusable water bottles but the staff was not setting an example? What's good for the goslings is good for the geese. As I sat and listened, I wondered what would this scene would have been like 30 years ago. They would not have handed out bottled water, people didn't drink water like they do today. If someone needed water,they would have brought their own glass or the school would have provided a pitcher of water and small glass for all. I think that anyone can manage to get through 1 hour without the need to drink water and this obsession with drinking water is, well, an obsession.

Overall the day was lovely, the school is wonderful and my daughter is sure to flourish. But I did leave very surprised at how un-progessive the school was with regard to environmental awareness and behaviors. After reviewing their website, which seems quite thorough, it doesn't seem the school is really walking the walk. There's talk about renewable energy, there are a few solar panels on one building, they do carbon-offsets and have a green building policy. These are all really big wonderful top-down initiatives to be applauded for sure but equally important are the small things, done by each person everyday for the bottom up approach.

Colleges, at least some, should perhaps review their green policies, update them, and put all the do's and don'ts that might be on their website into real action. I think it is wonderful that there is so much emphasis on colleges going green, that institutions have sustainability policies and being environmentally conscious is "in". Colleges have such a precious opportunity to teach young people about our role in the future of the environment, to create lasting habits and to have them appreciate all that surrounds them. I love that colleges are going green - but they need to do better.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Treehugger's Responsibility to Get It Right

Finally a cool morning; mist deep in the valleys.

Treehugger's Lloyd Alter is not only "for real" but also the latest "come back kid". After a licking from readers, myself included, Lloyd kicked out a descent article about alternative choices for safe water bottles. And it didn't include SIGG, Laken or any BPA lined aluminum knock-off. In case you missed the biggest BPA scandal drama over the weekend, it began with Treehugger responding to the news about SIGG admitting to the world that their old bottles did indeed have BPA in their "water based epoxy". (SIGG says their new bottles are BPA-Free but still won't say what exactly the ingredients are; it's that damn secret again)

Lloyd's first (of 4) article began with an over view of SIGG's confession but did end with a note of disgust at SIGG's lack of transparency about what the heck is in this liner anyway followed by many comments, including mine and SNEWS'. The next day followed with Lloyd noting the angry responses and an article headlined "Did We Get it Right?". Some comments, mine included, continued the outrage at the entire sham and Lloyd "hailing" SIGG and Laken and their educating the public about their BPA linings. I'm not sure "educating" is the right word because since then SIGG is sticking to their 0% leaching mantra and continuing business as usual without a hint of conciliation. Later that day, Lloyd followed with an article "Should I Dump My Old SIGG... " which concluded that SIGGs were safe, but the company was not transparent.

Well I guess I cracked and wrote a scathing comment, and then ended up blogging about it which apparently got Lloyd's attention. Lloyd kindly commented on this blog and we had a friendly back and forth "discussion". Lloyd Alter's fourth article reviewed safe drinking alternatives to SIGG as a culmination to the drama. Oh, I almost forgot the most important part - Lloyd mentioned moi in his opening paragraph (thanks Lloyd!). I guess that damn old squeaky wheel can still get some attention.

So besides this being the biggest eco scam scandal everrrrr, with the Twitterers and Bookers going round the clock, what happens now? Where do we go from here? I do have several thoughts and points to make as a follow up. (ya, okay, I never say die, but I gots passion)

First, I think what Treehugger has accomplished in 5 years is absolutely amazing. Treehugger is the first go-to source for all things green, with nearly 40 posts per day, over 50 writers and millions of monthly visitors from around the world. They have expanded by leaps and bounds to different medias, partners and...advertisers. I hope Treehugger can continue to bring us fresh, informative and honest information. Honest to the point that there will never be a conflict of interest so that their first obligation remains to the readers and not their advertisers. I'm not the only one concerned about this. Several comments on their posts felt that Treehugger wasn't being hard enough on SIGG's big business deception and referred to ties with advertisers. That is the problem with "getting" paid, either through advertising or accepting products or money for writing. The twitter comments are pretty darn angry but Lloyd really never slammed SIGG like so many of us were hoping. Could be Lloyd is just a mellow guy. Or could be Treehugger gets (did?) mucho advertising dollars from SIGG and other big "green" companies who produce the knock-offs (from China with BPA, either knowingly or didn't bother to ask). I hope Treehugger doesn't go "lite" on us and can be true to good green "tell it like it is" writing, and doesn't succumb to that subtle conflict of interest.

So why is this important? I think it is important because this isn't the end of the BPA scandal. I think it is actually just the beginning. It's important to watch how SIGG has handled all of this. It's important to read the article by the sleuthing Milwaukee duo BPA Industry Fights Back. One scary quote, "The industry has launched an unprecedented public relations blitz that uses many of the same tactics - and people - the tobacco industry used in its decades-long fight against regulation. This time, the industry's arsenal includes state-of-the-art technology. Their modern-day Trojan horses: blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and YouTube.... the Society of the Plastics Industry - has launched a $10 million campaign to sell the benefits of plastic to people ages 18 to 28 who are the likeliest to be buying baby products in the next decade. The association has committed $400,000 to the effort and hopes to raise the rest in the next few years." Taking a look at SIGG's Facebook sites, you'll quickly see the same deceptive "speak" over and over. "A lie told often enough becomes the truth". (Thanks Lenin) SIGG's deception wreaks of really big business - big like the plastics and tobacco industry. "...chemical makers launched their own Web site, It features nine videos, all posted on YouTube and intended to debunk worries about BPA." SIGG's mantra continues... 0% leaching, 100% Safe.

My daughter reminded me last night that 2 1/2 years ago I wouldn't let her get a SIGG (it was cool and pretty) because I said their was something "sketchy" about it. Call it mother's intuition - If it looks and smells like a rat, it must be a rat.

And so this brings me back to Treehugger. If this is just the beginning of the BPA Industry's fight for plastic, we environmentalists need to watch out and be prepared. And that includes Treehugger taking a hard, first to the punch, a knock out punch, approach. The BPA/Plastic propaganda will be everywhere; it is every where and will cast doubt to many. This is why we all have to keep our passion and do what's right. As Lloyd said, BPA is in everything. Plastic surrounds us, with little hope of improvement, if we don't stand up to this big incoming wave of deception, tactics and really big money. We readers, bloggers, moms and ordinary people look to Treehugger for guidance, to show us the way, to give us the umph to fight the environmental fight. Sometimes when you're big you lose site of just how important you are, like the third grader who hangs on her teacher's every word.

Treehugger and its writers have created big shoes that must stay filled. They need to continue to "do their homework" and keep up the good work they've started. So when a company has spent millions creating a slick eco image, dumped big bucks into their website and seductive marketing tactics, used celebrities for pop appeal, paid for lab results hoping to show their stainless steel competitors would seriously leach metals (which they didn't) and then flaunt the weak results on their SIGG websites, all the while deceiving their devoted customers, then they, SIGG, deserve to be publicly slammed, run out of the eco -world and told to take their "0%", their certifications and their new eco-secret liner and shove it. (are you listening Mr. Laken?) Shame on SIGG for doing this. Shame on us if we let it happen again. This is why Treehugger has a responsibility to "get it right".

Saturday, August 22, 2009

SIGG and BPA - Treehugger Got Hoodwinked

Full rainbow and just spectacular.

SIGG's confession about BPA, bisphenol-A, being in their water bottle lining has shocked the eco world. Almost equally as shocking has been Treehugger's un-in depth reporting about SIGG's containing or leaching BPA issue, which began over a year ago, with their loose endorsement of SIGG's BPA-Free claim. (Could it have anything to do with SIGG and other big green companies who also sell SIGG and their own aluminum water bottles that contain BPA being big time advertisers on Treehugger?) Treehugger's last posting as of this writing ends with "Safe (SIGG)? Yes." Did Treehugger get hoodwinked and can't admit it?

Really? Lloyd Alter, after 4 postings and an ambush of comments still comes to the conclusion that SIGGs are safe? Is he for real? I'm not going to take the absolute position that they are unsafe but I do question those who claim "safe". That is a pretty tall (high on yourself?) order to make. Treehugger even quoted SNEWS, which was tougher on SIGG, and then wimped out in the end. So you're telling me that all pregnant moms and and little beings are perfectly safe sucking on SIGG bottles knowing that we don't know whether they leach below 2 PPB (because it has never been tested) , knowing that we do know (now) they contain BPA in the lining, that we do not know what the ingredients are in the new secret eco-care liner and knowing that Canada, States and Cities have taken the precautionary approach and have banned BPA products for under age 3 because for safety concerns? That's interesting that an entire Country bans BPA due to safety concerns while Lloyd Alter (who's out of Canada) concludes SIGG is safe. WOW.

To continue to make the claim of safety based on such little fact is irresponsible. We don't have the facts in about the safety of BPA since that is ongoing as we speak. We do know that BPA in very small amounts, PPT, is causing fetal and developmental damage. Scientists are working on this now. It is inconclusive for humans, (for some though very conclusive),but not looking good, which is why bans are continuing for precautionary reasons. This is why it is shocking that Lloyd Alter continues to say SIGG is safe.

But media attention is good, right? Even negative media attention is better than no attention at all. Unfortunately it rewards the liars, in this case SIGG. And that stinks.

And still no one is talking about the leaching of aluminum. The OKO Testing done in 2004 showed SIGG leaching aluminum. (you can find it on SIGG's competitor's site, Laken, but conveniently omitted from their own website.) But SIGG on their website says "ensure 0.0% leaching" of aluminum. Hmm, not adding up here either. Let's also be clear about these results. The level of testing was done at standards that are acceptable for drinking water purposes. These levels are high, otherwise most public water systems would fail. SIGG did leach aluminum but below these standards. OKO gave a very good rating for any water bottle that came in below these standards but very good does not mean no leaching. (this is deja vu, right?) This is the same BPA scenario all over again. SIGG then went out of their way to test stainless steel bottles so they could post it on their website to convince their customers of the dangers of stainless steel.

Let's face it, SIGG has cashed in on the water bottle craze using sleazy big corporate marketing tactics. It reminds me of Monsanto claiming on their website how happy their Indian farmers are using their GMO seeds back in 2002 and 2006 but omitting the recent update that these farmers are now committing suicide in the hundreds due to farming debt. Oops, sorry, minor detail omitted.

I've blogged in depth about SIGG and BPA before (see headlines on the right of this blog), and also about SIGG's "greenness". My first blog was over year ago when I didn't buy the BPA-free claim SIGG and Treehugger were making. I've said it before and I'll say it again...consumers have the right to know the ingredients of the products they purchase. Hiding behind "it's a proprietary secret" is deceptive, not transparent and definitely not real "green". Is this where I get to say "I told you so?"

SIGG led us to believe that SIGG was "BPA-Free". They refused to answer direct questions about the ingredients of their lining. They didn't directly lie but they sure danced around in order to satisfy the majority. This is the height of corporate deception. They have confessed that their old lining had BPA. They now claim their new eco-care liner is BPA-Free. Their certifications and testing are on their website and are pretty impressive. I am glad to see they meet Japan's standards since they are the highest in the world. SIGG's new lining sounds legitimately free of BPA and many other nasties. BUT Sigg's new lining is a proprietary secret. Doesn't this take us back to where we were before? That's like the shampoo bottles that list all the ingredients they don't have and then you look on the back only to find the word fragrance.

So my new questions for SIGG (are you may borrow for sure) are:

What are the ingredients in the new lining? (there might be a new gender bender that I would want to know about)

Will you be selling this wonderful new lining formula (and make millions to offset your development research) to the canned food industry so we may all benefit, including babies needing safe formula cans?

What long-term studies have been done on the new formula ingredient to insure safety?

May we have full access to these studies?

If a company can not answer these questions in an honest way, (it's okay to say I don't know) they don't deserve to be considered a "green" company. This is , in my opinion, the largest green washing, eco-deceptive, big business scam event ever. Shame on SIGG for giving false pretense to parents, pregnant mothers, children and the rest with regard to their lining and BPA.

Monday, August 17, 2009

How Green Is Camping? - Behind the Smoke Screen

Muggy, no view, dank air coming in the windows.

I just completed my annual camping vacation, which I try to include a green camping perspective. It was the first time in a long time that we did not have to fight the rain. It was a glorious time; good friends and good food. No electronics; just fresh air, babbling water and mountains. Oh, and a visiting bear.

We try to do the environmentally friendly camping bit. You know, "take only pictures, leave only footprints". We bring organic food (the wine isn't always organic), we recycle, and avoid disposable products. But I did get to thinking, just how green is camping?

There were 2 main areas that got my attention this year. Our at the core of camping camp fire and the biodegradable soap.

Biodegradable soap sounds pretty green, right? I mean, it biodegrades into nothingness, no harm done, right? Well, after some research, not exactly. First, there are no "laws" when it comes to labeling biodegradable soap, just guidelines by the FTC. Second, in order for soap to biodegrade, it needs the bacteria from the soil (not water) and can take more time than you think but hopefully by 6 months. (no, not 6 hours like I was hoping) Third, DDT eventually biodegrades too under ideal conditions but in the mean time, it's not cool.

So what's a sweaty, 3 day old, greasy-haired green camper suppose to do? Wilderness and environmental guidelines all say the same things... keep all biodegradable soap for dishes and hygiene at least 200 feet from a water source (about 70 paces). Yikes. I guess that means washing in the river is out of the question. Apparently, biodegradable soap does not biodegrade in the water. It just floats downstream in dirty soap form. And if you think about it, you wouldn't want to be downstream of someone washing and filling your water bottle. It needs the soil to filter the soap and provide the necessary bacteria to break down the soap to natural elements. So, grab a basin, fill it with water and walk 70 paces away from the water's edge and enjoy the green cleaning opportunity.

And now for the really touchy subject... the camp fire. Just how green is a camp fire? Well, not very, really. But there are some tricks to help it be greener. but first...

Why did I even want to think about this subject? The camp fire is the very essence of camping. But if the wind blows the wrong way, the smoke really stings the eyes and makes me cough because the tough to swallow reality is there's a lot of crap in that smoke.

Wood burning smoke is polluting; very polluting. Canada makes a big deal out of burning wood from wood stoves because it causes major winter smog. And that's from wood stoves which are usually cleaner than open air burning. The EPA has its own guidelines and statements about the small participles reaching deep into the lungs and causing respiratory problems. The Lung Association isn't too keen on it either. This definitely is not very green, is it? So what's a singing, smore making, camp fire lover suppose to do?

The guidelines for the least polluting green camp fire begin with no wood. That's right, use gas instead. If you don't want to go there (I won't either) and have to have the wood experience or must out of necessity, then avoiding the nasty smoke is the priority here. Start with very dry wood and good kindling that you have brought with you. (no gathering remember) Create a hot fire as quickly as you can. If you notice, a hot fire does not smoke and that's the key, keep it hot. Do not put trash or anything else in the fire.

It was a little unsettling to think that my camping wasn't really very green considering the washing up issues (I at least chose to stay greasy) and the smokey camp fire realization. It didn't exactly put a damper on things (sorry about that) but it did get me thinking and I've come away from all this having a greater respect for the outdoors. And yes, if we extend our camping days next year, it's basin and walk 70 paces time.

And the bear? A big black one at 4 A.M.

So, how green is your camping?

Friday, July 31, 2009

14 Green Things to Bring to College

Overcast, quiet and still.

With the recent list of the Top 15 Green Colleges (UNH number 2 right now, yahoo) I was reminded that my baby is soon venturing off to college. Since colleges seem to be the greenest communities right now, I think she should be prepared to show up with some pretty darn green things herself.

So, I have compiled a Checklist for College Students of 14 Green Things to Bring with you:

1 - Stainless Steel Water Bottle - You know the reason by now, right?
2 - Crank/Solar Flashlights - never need batteries again
3 - Reusable Canvas Bag - for books and shopping
4 - Organic Sheets and Blankets - No toxins, soft
5 - Safe Laundry Soap - Charlie's is concentrated, inexpensive and works
6- 100% PCW Copy Paper - that's post consumer waste
7 - Low Chemical Profile Personal Care Items
8 - Ladies! - Reusable Menstrual Cup - get over the "ick" factor
9 - Smart Strip Energy Saver
10 - Safe Mulit-Purpose Green Cleaning Product
11 - Mini Happy Light - low wattage, good for SAD
12 - Spork - you never know when you'll need one
13 - Drying Rack - using a dryer is not cool
14 - Hemp Writing Cards - just in case they might write you

These are good investments, for your child and the environment. Besides, he or she will be the coolest green college students on campus.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Town Bans Bottled Water - Tips for Surviving Bottle Free

Beautiful sunny morning. Nice hawk over head.

So a remote Australian town, the first in the world to take this action, had the chutzpa to ban bottled water. That's right; no more plastic water bottles for sale in that town. It wasn't even a close vote either with only one nay for reasons of questioning all plastic bottles.

So what the heck is the town going to do? What would any of us do without bottled water?

I was in a local radio station getting ready to go on the air and the host and I were talking about the ban. She conceded to the waste bottled water produces and understands the importance of reusable containers (she does use a Klean Kanteen but only in situations where she knows she won't lose it, other wise she reaches for the bottled water - no comment). In the office was a wall stacked with cases of bottled water which she referred to as a necessity for guests and hygiene. After all, "What would we do without bottled water? There is no way we could offer people water in this setting without them."

Really? I've been so struck by that comment ever since. All I can think of is, what did we do 50 years ago? We didn't have bottled water back then. So what did folks do?

Maybe, back then, a radio station had some soda (in reusable glass bottles). Maybe they had their own mugs or tea cups and even, hm, a glass that they filled from the tap. Maybe that's why we have a morning and afternoon "coffee" break to get fluids because folks didn't carry around water bottles back then. That must mean humanity has survived all this time, up until the last 30 years, without bottled water. Gosh, how did they do it? And do we even need to drink so much water in the first place? (Humans have seemed to survive this long without 8 glasses per day)

Now I'm not talking in rural areas where "Don't drink the water" still applies. I'm talking about communities that have tap water that's been tested for safety, the same tap water that fills a lot of the bottled water too. I think there is sometimes a snobbishness against our own tap water; that ordinary people are left to drink that water, while others can afford to buy it bottled. But the irony is that, because of no regulation or supervision, you really don't know what is in the bottled water because up until now they haven't had to be tested like municipal water supplies. The FDA has recently added some regulation so by December 2009, "bottle companies must eliminate E.coli in their products". So does that mean there can be E.coli in bottled water now?

So back to the water dilemma that this radio station faces, and perhaps other work places face where guests might come and go. What is a company to do? What did they do 50 years ago? Can we go back to the reusable mug era? Could a work place have an array of mugs for clients to fill from the...tap? And someone would be designated to clean out the mugs? Would hygiene freaks and germ phobics freak out? What is the liability for all this? (now that's pathetic) Does a work place only offer something hot that has been boiled? (and only because of our litigious society)

So in the event that you, your work place, town or city is exploring banning water bottles yourself, here are some tips to deal with a bottled water ban:

1 - Encourage everyone to use reusable water bottles

2 - A work place or businesses can sell reusable water bottles

3- Offer clean mugs and glasses so people can use tap water.

4 - Take turns cleaning out the mugs/glasses or use a dishwasher.

5 - Offer safe filtered water from either counter top filters or attached faucet filters.

6 - Offer a water bubbler (in glass not polycarbonate) and if all else fails, small compostable cups or cups from recycled paper

7 - Offer hot coffee or tea as an alternative to water.

8 - Larger companies and municipalities need to have public water fountains, again.

See, it's not so hard. We humans just hate change, and hate being told what to do, and hate maybe even a little perceived inconvenience. The ban on bottled water was about sustainability; how our current lifestyle of waste and the use of plastic and petroleum is not good for any of us or the environment in the long run. The ban was about reducing this silly, unnecessary "habit" of bottled water (and all the outrageous stats that go with it) and getting back to basics.

This inconvenience of a bottle ban far out ways the coming inconvenience if we don't think about being more sustainable. Wasn't there a movie about that?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Stainless Steel Ice Cube Trays - Tips for Making Ice

Beautiful clear day, windy,cool. Only slight brown horizon.

Stainless steel ice cube trays were the original metal ice cube tray invented over 75 years ago in 1933 by Guy Tinkham. (yes they had refrigerators back then, even though people still used block ice cut from the winter, hence the name "ice box") The 1933 ice cube tray model was thin enough to flex causing the dividers to crack and dislodge the ice. There definitely is a knack needed for getting the whole cube in the end; hence the tips for making ice later. But safe to say - the crack is back.

It seems the aluminum tray with the lever, the one some of us fondly remember, didn't appear until 1950, even though aluminum was widely used for cookware. Pulling the lever seemed to be an improvement over having to flex a cold tray and hoping for the best. The aluminum ice cube tray is still around but may be going out of favor with the concern for leaching aluminum.

Aluminum toxicity
is of concern for some and even the American Academy of Pediatrics has a policy statement about it. Aluminum is not an essential trace mineral and can be excreted by the kidneys but the concern is that the brain has a tough time excreting it. The half life appears to be 7 years for the brain. So a lot of concerned parents are looking for safe ice cube trays, not only for their ice, but for purees and baby food.

And so here we are witnessing the come back kid - the stainless steel ice cube tray. It's not plastic or aluminum, or silicon, which is suppose to be safe (but then they add all sorts of colors and other stuff). Stainless steel has a high recycled content (minimum50%) and can easily be recycled again (after the car drives over it?) and so is considered a more earth friendly alternative. Food grade Stainless does not leach any highly toxic minerals (at least tested in parts per million) and may leach some iron or nickel, both of which are essential in our diet (if you don't want nickel, here's a huge list of foods to avoid)

In case you are new to using a metal ice cube tray, here are some tips for making ice:

1 - Do not over flow the tray with water as this makes cracking and releasing the ice cubes more difficult.
2 - When the ice is ready, the "slow method" takes, well a little bit more time. Just pull the tray out and set it on the counter for 5 minutes. This allows a little melting so the cubes will release in more cube like fashion. And probably will extend the life of the lever.
3 - The "quickie" is to run the tray, top and bottom, under water to, again, melt the contact between the metal and ice.
4 - After either method, anchor the tray with one hand (might need a tea towel if it is cold) and gently pull up the lever enough to crack the cubes and dislodge the ice. Both of these methods should result in more whole cubes.
5 - For more of a crushed ice result, don't bother with the slow or quickie method. Just pull the lever and crush.
6 - What ever method you used, you may gently shake or wiggle the divider out of the tray; most of the ice remains in the tray.
7 - If you don't use all of the ice, just put the tray back in the freezer and grab it as needed. Wash and store the divider until you make ice again.

I'm not sure what is used to hold the ice in automatic ice makers inside refrigerators. Is it plastic or metal? And what kind? Maybe that's why there seems to be a growing trend, especially among moms, toward the stainless steel ice cube tray.

See what I mean? The crack is back.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oi! You Gotta Try Oikos - Organic Greek Yogurt

Drizzle - for 40 days already.

I remember when Oikos first came out. I figured it was just another good yogurt product by Stonyfield Yogurt to add to their variety. You know how manufacturers need to keep adding things. I've been eating yogurt since it went mainstream in the 70's and even made my own. Most yogurts have a similarity to them - but some are a little out there and resemble some gelatin fake pink "pudding", for lack of a better word. Still, there is a thread of taste and consistency that makes them,well, yogurt.

Until now.

Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt
is in a class by itself. This isn't just a yogurt. Well at least it doesn't even come close to anything I have tasted before. I'm not sure what the heck Stonyfield did to make this very different animal called Oikos yogurt, or what new magical cultures they are using, but believe me, this is different and it is not just good, its better than's outstanding.

Since I am not a food connoisseur, I can't really tell you why it is so different and so good. It is thicker, creamier, almost like a sour cream. In fact, this is the perfect replacement for sour cream on potatoes or in guacamole. (I never did buy into the yogurt on potatoes) It is just delicious. Not sure I can even go back to regular yogurt.

Okay, enough already. You'll just have to try it yourself. You can get coupons for a free Oikos by going here:

And in case you are wondering, I was not paid to do this. But I did use some free coupons!

Let me know what you think. Was I right? Is Oikos the most amazing, unique yogurt you have ever tasted? Oi, enjoy.

("Oi" is a British term used when saying "Hey")

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Recycling - There's Always Room for Improvement

Beautiful still morning with a hot air balloon on the horizon coming towards me.

"But I recycle", "My recycling bin is full", and "I recycle everything". Sound familiar? Myself included - there's always room for improvement.

I had the luxury of a gourmet birthday dinner last night with a friend who is on the fringe of recycling. The City of Concord is switching to "Pay as You Throw" and many are kicking and screaming to the curb, including my friend. After P&Ming about having to pay for "those purple bags", I assured her that there was indeed room for improvement and I would prove it to her when I came over for dinner. Not only would I show her how to recycle more, it would also mean she would save money.

So after fig and goat cheese bruschetta, layered Mediterranean salad, marinated/grilled natural chicken with asparagus and whole wheat gnocchi, I went trash can diving before dessert.

What I didn't expect was all the plastic in the trash can. It turns out she had no idea what the triangle meant, never mind what the numbers mean. Easy for her, Concord accepts 1-7. So out comes 4 plastic bottles from the small kitchen trash can. In her favor, she had saved the plastic containers the fruit came in to ask me; they had the number 1 on them, which I had to point out.(yes extremely small so get the glasses out) Kudos for her effort.

What I also found in the trash can of my friend who says she recycles everything, was paper, lots of it, from envelopes, junk mail and toilet paper rolls. "What's this?" I said. "Oh, I usually only do the big stuff." And "Here's a baggie you can rinse out and reuse, looks perfectly good."

Since she was being a pretty good sport thus far, I decided to go for the kill...the refrigerator. Opening the door revealed what is probably pretty typical in many households. Lots of containers, many plastic, covered with a clingy kind of plastic wrap or aluminum foil. I gently (I knew I was beginning to over do it) pointed out that containers with their own lids will save on waste (plastic wrap) or recycling (aluminum) and her lots of money. I also mentioned that the only thing that probably could not be recycled from the fridge were the cartons, but she had to check because they actually might even take those. (which means I'll have to check)

I really was shocked that there seemed to be no knowledge of the triangle number rating on the plastic. Now these are educated folks, activists, old fringe hippies. This is a great example of why "Pay as You Throw" is a good idea. There is still too much going to the landfills or incinerators and we need to "encourage" folks to recycle more. My friend, bless her cotton pickin soul, is a prime example.

Seventh Generation has a great posting on the plastic numbers and what they mean and some tips for plastic use safety. This just takes things one step further. And, yes, I did send it to my friend.

And after all that, we sat down to fresh black raspberries, red raspberries and blue berries, drizzled with smooth ricotta and almond, and a chocolate covered biscotti for dipping. I think she forgave me.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Tips for Getting the Public to Use Recycle Containers

Cloudy day waiting for some rain to spin through.

Getting the public to use recycling containers may sound like a boring or futile subject but it definitely has some merit. I was at the Shaker Village in Canterbury yesterday, all day in one of their glorious barns. I had saturated a napkin with strawberry juice and headed to the trash can to dispose of it. I saw lots of recyclable items in the trash and I wondered why the Shaker village didn't recycle. My goodness, of all cultures, the Shakers would have been leading the recycling movement, had they not believed in celibacy.

I asked one of the volunteers if the Shaker Village recycled and she didn't know. (So far, this wasn't going very well with lots of room for improvement.) I asked the person in charge of the event, and she didn't know either nor had she planned for it even with the outdoor food offerings. I asked if Canterbury had "Pay as You Throw" and the answer was "yes". So what's wrong with this picture so far? Shaker Village doesn't appear to recycle and they have to pay for their trash based on weight. So much room for improvement.

On my way out, I stopped in the Museum Shop (beautiful shaker items) and asked if they recycled. "Oh yes, we have 2 bins at the front of the property." That's it? (I said that to myself) A couple of acres of property, over 10 buildings to stroll through, a museum, a restaurant, a shop and they have only 2 recycle bins? Then she went on to say that it wasn't very successful because people throw their trash in it and the staff has to sort through it. I asked if there was a trash can next to it, and the answer was no. There in lies the problem.

Last summer the City of Concord had 20 recycle containers at their annual Market Days event for the first time. They were randomly placed by the waste management team and the results were interesting, and important. When ever the recycle containers were buddied with a trash container, people did the right thing and there was almost zero contamination in the recycling bin and very little recyclables made it in the trash. However, when the containers were only 6 feet apart, people didn't bother to look around, they trashed what ever they had, recycling bin or not.

Back to Shaker Village... and this is true for any new place, when all you see is a trash can, most people assume that the facility does not recycle. Some people might look around for a recycling container, and only fanatics would hold on to their recyclable items for proper recycling. The take home message is, the lone trash can sends the message that there is no recycling.

So here are some tips for getting people to use recycling containers.

1 - Always buddy your recycling container with a trash can to prevent contamination.
2 - Clearly display what is considered acceptable recycled plastic? metal? paper?
3 - If only a trash can, have a sign directing people to a recycling container. (for folks who want to do the right thing)
4 - Never have a recycling container alone - it will definitely be used for trash.
5 - If you do not have single stream, have a bin for each category clearly marked with words and graphics. (little kids can recycle but might not be able to read)
5 - Thank people for helping to keep waste to minimum.

If you adopt these tips, I predict you will have a very successful recycling program.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Canvas Bags Is the Only Answer to Paper or Plastic

Clouds and fog beginning to lift. I think I see sun.

Canvas Bags by Tim Minchin is one of those You Tubes that will bring a smile to your face. Sometimes I think we're finally catching on about bringing canvas bags when we go shopping. And then other times, at the check out counter, when all 22 lanes are loaded with loaded plastic bags, I get a sick feeling in my stomach. We clearly still have a long ways to go. Collective ugh.

So despite knowing that the Pacific garbage patch continues to grow beyond the size if India, that only 1% of plastic bags are recycled (I don't even want to gander what happens to the other 99%) and 500 billion (that's with a "b") are used per year, there is hope based on the enthusiasm and passion behind this video.

So enjoy, giggle and ...pass it on.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Food Inc. the Movie - You'll be Hungry for Change After This

Just a perfect June day.

The movie Food Inc. hasn't even shown yet but the mud slinging has begun. Most of the mud is coming from Monsanto who has a full page response tearing apart the movie. Sort of like the naysayers of Inconvenient Truth. And yes, you'll be hungry for change after you see this.

Either way, you'll want to make up your own see the movie. Videos of factory farming don't lie and whether these farms are few (and they are not) is irrelevant since the not even one should be aloud to function or exist. It's like Monsanto saying GMO's can co-exist, which it can't, (how do you stop seeds blowing to another field) and a factory animal farm saying it's a practical alternative to grazing. Practical? For whom? Cruel? Absolutely.

We as a decent society need to know where our food and all products come from, who makes them, and how they are made in order to have compassion for our earth and all who inhabit it. It's called knowing the supply chain.

We are the food we eat. Our children grow from the food they eat. The movie Food Inc. has a campaign to help improve the food in schools. (remember those awful lunches?) Food inc. supports healthy choices in schools. You can too by going to the website and signing on.

We are judged by how we treat the people who depend upon us.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Congress Investigates BPA Thanks to Digging Duo

Soft clouds, cool and slight breeze - I'll take it.

This is a follow up to the previous rant on BPA and the Corporates, behind closed doors, trying to rework its tainted image. Meg Kissinger and Susanne Rust of the Journal Sentinel have been relentless about investigating BPA and we owe our future to them. They have brought the science to the headlines for all to see and exposed the deal making that can happen in DC and elsewhere. Because of their article, Congress has a committee now investigating the FDA and its position on BPA.

Here for you to read : HOUSE PANEL WANTS REVIEW OF BPA
sanne rust
Thank you , merci, gracias.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

BPA Industry Seeking to Clean Up Image - Are They Serious?

Beautiful still morning, birds chirping away.

Fair warning, this is a rant..I couldn't believe the headlines today - BPA Industry Seeks to Polish Image. I thought maybe it was a joke or some silly reporter trying to use a clever title. But this is one of those articles that I read with my jaw hanging down nearly the whole time, in between some expletives and a sips of coffee (Larry's Beans).

My imagination has these corporate guys sitting around in a smoke filled room trying to figure out how to manipulate the public (they did meet in a private DC club) to thinking that BPA isn't so bad. They concluded that their own paid for "science" results weren't working and perhaps more drastic measures needed to be taken.

So they picked on pregnant women to start. These geniuses actually have a vision of a pregnant spokeswoman touting the benefits of all the products with BPA, including canned formula. Mama will also ask you if you want your baby to no longer have access to food. (are you scared yet?) Maybe they'll stick a cigarette in her hand and a beer in the other as her toddler sucks on a polycarbonate bottle. Are these guys fore real?

The poor is the other prey. Tell the world that the poor, Hispanics and Blacks will starve without canned foods. (this is where city gardens come in) Oh, and while they're at it, they'll (the chemical industry) tell the world that cans without BPA will spoil faster and so you may get sick, very,very sick, and maybe die from bacteria. (nail biting, eh?)

Wait, there are more folks they intend to target - Union workers. If Connecticut passes the BPA ban, the gloves are off and you'll be hearing how factory workers will lose their American dream job.

If you've been in the wings about this issue and still consider BPA controversial, then the chemical industry has been doing its job. The science is darn clear about BPA. (see previous blogs about BPA) It is because of the powerful plastics and food industry that it has been able to stay in the "controversial" category. (Fast Company wrote an amazing briefing on BPA) But because of good, independent science, people are making up their own minds, including politicians who are taking steps to protect citizens because the chemical industry is only concerned about making money. And these companies don't like it.

And some of the heavy hitters at this meeting were: "Coca-Cola Co., Alcoa Inc., Crown Holdings Inc., the North American Metal Packaging Alliance Inc., the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Del Monte Corp. and the American Chemistry Council". Need I say more?

You think I'm exaggerating? No, really. I'm not. Read the article: BPA Industry Seeks to Polish Image. We all owe a special thanks to consumer activist reporters who seek this information about what goes on behind the scenes. Without them, we'd all be sucking on cigarettes and downing martinis in our 8th month of pregnancy.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Where Does E-Waste Go? 60 Minutes Tells Us Where

Lovely cool spring morning, clear sky.

E-Waste, short for electronic waste, includes our every day gadgets, which most of us find now necessary, such as cell phones, ipods,and computers. I suppose most anything electric beyond the simple toaster. In case you are having a hard time imagining what does happen to your E-Waste, 60 Minutes came to the rescue with a graphic depiction of e-waste reality. And yes, it is graphic, appalling and disgusting.

60 Minutes - Electronic Waste

It's like most things - what's under the hood? What's behind the scenes? What's in the ingredients? These are questions we do not ask often enough, nor do we take the time to search for the answers. Because sometimes we don't want to know the answer.

Electronics are usually filled with lots of toxic chemicals that come with fairly substantial carbon footprints to boot. Apple is at the forefront of tackling this huge problem. This topic is for another blog. Watching this 60 Minutes video will give you the basics of the toxic ticking chemicals that makes things work.

Spring cleaning is often used by many as a time to purge their homes, get ready for yard sales or clean out closets. During this time of setting yourself free, please remember that your "stuff" doesn't just "go away", vaporize or head to Pluto. Something happens to it. Right now there are 2 options - your e-waste gets truly recycled and the toxic chemicals are reused or disposed of properly or... it goes to places like China or Africa where it is dumped, burned and leaches into the water ways (and remember, that all goes down stream eventually into our oceans and circulates around the world)

So please be responsible about your e-waste. Ask the questions and investigate the facilities. Search for a recycling center near you. You can also make do with what you have, repair it or... go without? Okay, maybe too drastic for some of you. But...
Please watch the video... Electronic Waste

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Earth Clock - Time to Wake Up

Nice gentle rain.

The Earth Clock is pretty darn neat. And pretty creepy at the same time. Maybe the stats aren't perfect but they are apparently from reputable up-to-date sources. Even if they were to vary a little, one still gulps while watching the digits go by. The Earth Clock is a good wake up call.

THE EARTH CLOCK go ahead and click, very cool.

If after watching Earth Clock you're a little down, there is hope at another website:


And yes we can solve it...but time is ticking.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day - I Think

Very windy morning, after a tremendous storm.

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers and to the mother of all mothers - Earth.

My favorite thing to do on Mother's Day is to clean my garden. It's true! I do the cleaning and pruning and the kids cart away my mess to the compost pile. I will also pick most of my daffodils that are left and make large bouquets of lilacs. The house will smell divine.

While picking the lilacs is a wonderful thing, it does leave me unsettled. You see when I was growing up, okay so back in the 60's and 70's, I picked lilacs for my birthday which is at the end of the month. Lilacs were considered the Memorial Day Flower. This year I picked my first bouquet on May 2nd. Ouch.

Only 30 years later, lilac blooming is a steady 2 weeks earlier, at least from my unscientific stand point. And this new schedule is not a fluke, it's been pretty steady now. I have science to back me up too. UNH has studied the blooming of plants and confirms a new "natural Spring". Scary stuff.

To add to my unsettledness today is the after math of an unusually violent storm that ripped through here last evening. Since we aren't Kansas, we just are not used to these quick severe storms passing through. Not in May at least. That's more like July or August. Hmm.

So today, despite my wondering concerns, I will go about day, enjoying my children and my garden. (and a cooked meal with no clean up!) What could be better?

Happy Mother's Day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Green Mother's Day - 2 for 1

Rain just finished, sun coming out. Beautiful.

This Sunday, May 10th is Mother's Day. There is lots of advice for what to do for your chosen Mom. From a green perspective, you might consider gifts that are organic and/or fair trade or gifts that might jump start more green behavior - like a compost pail.

Part of the green movement is to not over consume so when it comes to gift giving time, people are often more considerate in their choices. Practical green products seem to do very well, soaps for instance or nice foods one might not normally buy for themselves - like chocolate, fancy nuts or olive oil. (organic and fair trade natch)

What's nice is when considering greener gifts , you happen to be having a lesser impact on the earth as well. A 2 for 1 if you will. And why not? I see it as a win-win for all. I think considering Mother Earth all the time is a great idea; the original giver of life.

Other ideas are the gift of time, maybe an I.O.U. For me? I've ask for help outside in the garden and flower beds. I love to do all the pulling and cleaning and have someone else cart it away to the compost area. Oh, and a home cooked meal and clean up at the end of the day too.

It's pretty easy to come up with a green Mother's Day. Why consider any thing else?