This blog was started, and is intended to illustrate that environmentalism happens through small acts, is not difficult, and that it does not always have to be some big life changing event that forces you to live in the tree tops with no electricity. All that being said, one of my small acts was to start this blog to gain some friends to help me save the world.

Monday, December 12, 2011

who did it?

Well hopefully I was not alone today, as it was the super fun trash pick up day.  Yay!!!  We were pretty successful on our hunt.  In this case though success is not a good thing.  But we did pick up a full grocery bag worth of liter.  At least half was recyclable, which at the end was recycled.  I also found money, ok it was a quarter but it still counts.  And we were able to donate that quarter to the bell ringer for the Salvation Army.  So all in all I would call this challenge a success and complete, at least on this end.  Now looking at the big picture still think we have some work to do.  But I am confident we will be successful and complete all other challenges that threaten our survival, because in the end I want to live, I want to live (dramatic sobbing).

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Who will join me?

So I wanted to see if we (yeah when I say WE I mean, that's right, the whole world) could start a little tradition?  I wanted to see if we (uh huh the world, not the planet but the peeps on it, oh yeah I just dropped peeps into the entry) could set aside 30 minutes on Monday (December 12th) to  go outside and walk around your neighborhood or where ever (I am not picky) and pick up some liter.  I was walking to the store the other day and there was so much trash everywhere.  Normally I will pick stuff up, but this was too much without a proper bag.  So anyway I thought it could be a fun green challenge or tradition, however you want to look at it, to pick up some liter.  Doesn't have to be at any specific time on the 12th.  Just try to slice 30 or so minutes (could be less or more) out of your day and go clean up a bit.  Recycle what you can and just put the rest in the right place, which is not on the road or the pavement, but in a bin.  Anyway I will do it.  Hope there is someone out there that will join me.
Thanks bunches

Not sure what to call this little blurb

I hope this link makes other people as happy as it makes me.  A great song, a great message, and awesome hair (don't judge).  Maybe I am a product of my environment (I grew up with this song) or maybe I am just getting older and nostalgic, either way I thought it was worthwhile message to share and hopefully it brings a little joy to someones day.  So if you celebrate Christmas, Happy Christmas,  if you do not then Happy normal day to you!  I know that when we all work together we will find peace and new awesome ways to save the world in 2012.

Friday, December 2, 2011

That was quick

Yikes, I was reading again, and I know, not good for anyone, but this little tid bit really freaked me out.  It has only been 12 years for humans to add another BILLION people to planet.  1999 the human population reached the 6 billion mark and just a short 12 years later we made it to the 7 billion mark.  That was quick, a little too quick.  At that rate we could destroy the planet even faster than I thought.  In an awesome book that I have referenced a few times, The View from Lazy Point, by Carl Safina, the author makes the point that the population is growing, but makes the very relevant point that guess what the "Planet Earth cannot grow" (105).  We have what we have, and what we have can and will run out.  We cannot grow another healthy rain forest in my life time, we cannot take all the pollution out of the oceans over night.  And woops, I think we need all those forests and oceans to live.  Ruh roh.  A lot of our ideas and ideals are old.  Being old is great, but being gone is not so great.  Our planet cannot support all the life at the rate of growth, because humans seem to trample all the other life.  What, there is more alive on this planet than humans, crazy.  But without all the other living things there are no humans.  So you may think it is ok that some random lizard went extinct, but is the reason it went extinct because we killed its habitat, and were we (humans) dependent upon that habitat for something?  Yikes, I hope not.  So we all know were baby's come from and no one really wants to talk about that.  But it looks like we have to, or no one will be talking, you know since we will have destroyed ourselves.  Education is cool, because we do not want to have 20 kids, and I think their are certain TV families that illustrate that point (you know who you are).  Got to break some old habits in order to make room for, well survival.  Doesn't matter what you believe in, we (myself included) have to remember we are not the center, there is more.  All life is precious, but lets work to keep ALL life alive.  I know this may be old news to some and maybe a bit too preachy for others, but seriously I need help.  Yes it is all about me, and I do need lots of help.  Lets say the help of I don't know 6,999,999,999 other people.  That is how desperate I am (insert obvious laughter here).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Something else that I thought was worthwhile

I've got great news! President Obama just announced new standards to nearly double the fuel efficiency of cars in the U.S.—from 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016 to 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
The new standards will help reduce pollution, free us from our dependence on oil and save us money at the pump. This is a great step toward declaring our independence from oil.
Will you join me in signing a thank-you message to President Obama?
Just click here to sign:

Still here

OK so it has been a little hectic recently and carving out a few minutes, you know to impress everyone with my awesome words, has become difficult.  Anyway I do have some awesome, ok well mediocre, words coming soon.  But in the meantime I wanted to share some links that some wonderful people have been shared with me recently.  One relates to ongoing job of saving the planet .  And the other relates to helping out someone in need
Thanks so much.  And be ready words, awesome or not, will be coming soon.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Well this post will be short, as really it is just a small addendum to a previous post.  The one on murder (and not sensationalism), I am sure you remember.  Anyway I was reading the other day and came across a point that I thought would drive my point home even more about not killing snakes.  The point is that of mimicking.  In nature some animals have created a defense against predators by looking like something poisonous or deadly.  Snakes also do this.  "Predators of snakes who normally avoid preying upon poisonous species also avoid the nonpoisonous varieties that mimic the dangerous types"  (Shermer, The Believing Brain, 74).  So there it is, if actual predators that rely on snakes as food cannot even tell the difference, what the heck makes you think that you can.  Humans are horrible predators because they offer no discrimination (where it counts).  So lets just stop for a while.  Try and preserve what little remains around us.  Unless you like being over run with mice and rats, well then keep killing the snakes.  But if you don't please stop.

Monday, November 7, 2011

worth sharing

Still on this Leftover Love thing

Hopefully this should be a good laugh for someone, reading me trying to act all businessy (I know that is not a word but it works here). Anyway I am still working on this Leftover Love initiative and I created a business case. Not sure you can actually call it that (I do not know how to use business words like quantify or metrics correctly, but it is funny to watch me try) but it sort of mimics a business case. Anyway I just wanted to put it out there, one so you could have a good laugh, two so you may be enticed to take your own container out to eat if you are not already doing so, and three for a good laugh, oh wait did I say that already. Plus it saves anyone from having to read my original rant that I was planning on being greedy, no one wants to read that on a Monday. Anyway enough said here is my very professional (cough cough choke giggle giggle) attempt a business case. If anyone wants to use it to try and get restaurants to jump on board feel free. Or if you are too embarrassed maybe just spruce it up and make it look even businessier (I think I like this non word better that businessy).

Leftover Love Business Case

Problem Statement

The problem that the Leftover Love initiative is trying to address is the use of outdated materials, such as styrofoam, for take take home containers in restaurants. Plain and simple the environment, restaurants, and the patrons of such restaurants are all affected negatively by the on going costs of using styrofoam. The issue remains that styrofoam is non-biodegradable material that pollutes, as well as adding monetary costs that are then absorbed by both restaurants and patrons. The problem, the use of styrofoam containers, is encountered at any restaurant that continues to use styrofoam boxes. The impact of continued use remains as negative environmental pressures and the additional monetary costs of using outdated materials.

Business Case Summary

Speaking from a strict business sense the reasons should be obvious as to why one would want to solve this issue, the solution costs nothing and the solution also adds a savings to ones bottom line. The solution is creating an incentive program, called Leftover Love, that entices patrons to bring in their own reusable containers for any leftovers rather than using the styrofoam (or non styrofoam) boxes provided by the restaurant. Any reduction in materials,styrofoam or not, offers great environmental benefits. The impacts should be minimal or none to all parties, and to the overall business objective, as the initiative requires very little effort from the restaurant, as advertising would be the main requirement. Advertising can be done via word of mouth through waiters and waitresses or on white boards/chalk boards that advertise daily specials. The promotion could be continuous on a daily basis or once a week. The patrons are then rewarded with a free dessert, or drink, or small percentage off their bill for bringing in their own reusable containers. The potential benefits derived from this initiative are strong cost savings for the restaurant as they should be able to reduce their budgets for purchasing the styrofoam (or any other disposable material) containers. The initiative also offers an obvious huge step forward for the environment. And lastly their are benefits in the form of community recognition for driving such a forward thinking initiative. If implemented correctly there should be little to no cost to start the initiative, and the monetary rewards would be the potential saving on buy disposable containers. The return on investment is a savings on buying disposable containers, a stronger or more loyal customer base, a progressive environmental move, and recognition from local community. The benefits of the program are quantified through the cost savings on buying containers and the increased income from the initiative program.

Scope / Impacts / Constraints / Assumptions / Dependencies

The process we are addressing is the process in which restaurant patrons take home any food leftovers. Not within scope at the moment is any fast food or take away situations, this is strictly for patrons dining in the restaurant. As stated above the constraints should be minimal to none. If this effort is enacted correctly it will save waiters/waitresses as well as patrons time at the end of having to wait on the box, it will save money buying disposable containers, the cost of the actual box, and it saves the environment, as it is less non-biodegradable waste going into the landfill.

Goal Statement / Metrics

The primary metric is the reduction of styrofoam or disposable materials in restaurants being used as take home containers. If the initiative could create the reduction of just a handful of styrofoam containers then the initiative would be considered a success. The goal of tangible benefits is the actual reduction of styrofoam. The intangible benefits are the aide to the environment, increased loyalty in customer base, and recognition from local institutions. Overall this program is a win/win for all parties involved.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Leave it alone (if you read you will see why this title is cute)

Not sure what the weather is like where you are, but here where I am it is getting cool and the leaves on the trees are falling.  Time to start raking all those pesky leaves up I suppose.  But here is an idea, instead of bagging those leaves up in plastic bags and throwing them away why don't you use them.  The main thing here for me is to stop using/wasting plastic and putting it into the landfill for no reason.  The other reason is because it is actually easier to not bag up leaves and they are beneficial to your garden.  I have been saying this since I have been able to talk, ok well not that long, but for a long time nonetheless.  And I heard on the radio the other day about alternative uses for your fall leaves other than bagging them up. You can mulch them and use them as a sort of fertilizer for your yard, you can add them to your natural areas, or if you want to get rid of them  just put them directly in your trash bin without the plastic.  Most recycling centers also have a mulch section that you can donate all your fall leaves to as well.  The point here is, I was right and that hardly ever happens, intelligent people who actually work with trees and leaves agree with me, don't bag them up.  Well that should do it for me for today, hope all is well out there in the world outside of my head.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My post of shame

Well here it is, my first public post of shame (or maybe my fifth or sixth, really I lost count along time ago).  After putting my baby, Leftover Love, out there to my local newspaper, they reward me with a hard smack in the face and nice hot glass of rejection (insert loud sobbing here).  OK so there was no actual hitting or hot drinks for that matter, but I was rejected and it stings.  Anyway I will not let this get me down.  Apparently they think this idea needs some actual people and restaurants involved before they can write about it.  Crazy I know.  Anyway so just to recap her is my idea.  As I am sure you already know, it is simple, take your own doggie bag with you so you are not forced to use the disgusting styrofoam boxes so many restaurants hand out.  I had wanted to expand a bit on that idea and get some local restaurants involved by creating an incentive sort of program in which the patron is rewarded for bringing in their own container say with a percentage off the bill, or a free dessert, or maybe even a card that you have punched on the 5th time coming in with your own container you get a free meal.  Anything really would work, but apparently for the newspaper to write about this they want someone else other than all the voices in my head involved.  Well I will not let this rejection get to me, I am no even more determined to get someone that actually owns a business to fall in love with this idea.  I mean they are already doing this in different parts of the US so it is not like it doesn't work.  We just need to catch up with the rest of the forward thinking restaurants.  I mean it would save them (the restaurant) money, right, and it may bring in a new customer base or a more loyal customer base, it could gain them recognition for being the first ones in the area to do it or recognition from the local newspaper of local environmental groups.  Come on restaurants this is my desperate plea, be cool try my idea lets see if together we can't make it work.  Anyway so for anyone that was looking for an article about this idea you can stop looking for the time being (insert even louder sobbing here) but fear not as I will not quit.  Thanks for all the support that I have received.  Best wishes.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Give it up

Well this post may be a short entry or a really long one.  But I was thinking last night, what can I give up, do I need so much stuff (from here on out referred to as stuff) around.  How can I simplify?  Getting rid of clutter just seems smart, and in my mind a way to organize.  Stuff can really start to weigh you down, I mean how much stuff do we actually need?  But we need to get rid of stuff in the right way, an environmentally friendly way.  Because where is all this stuff coming from and where does it go when we are finished with it that is what we need to keep in mind here.  Then I started thinking what could everyone give up that may help or benefit the planet, animals, or human animals in some way.  I guess the point is, similar to the very subtle (yeah right) underlying theme of this blog, is it is the little things that count and that add up quickly if we all start doing them, but we have to start doing.  Doing nothing does not seem right, and trust me when I say that I get we all cannot go out and stop factories from polluting or a million other large scale atrocities that happen every day, but we can still do something.  I would also like to add before I continue that I get it, I am not perfect I have stuff, I have a lot of stuff.   Does that mean I need it?  No, I can donate, I can go without, sure I could I am weak human no different than other humans.  So I guess that is really who I am talking to here and now, is me.  I need a good slap in the face every once in a while to remember that I can be better.  Not trying to sell some extremist philosophy here, not asking myself, or anyone else for that matter, to give up everything and live in a hole in a tree and eat nuts and dirt for the rest of their lives (although that does sound delicious, just in case anyone eats that).  But there have to be areas in my life, or your life, where we can cut back.  So what can we give up?  Can we give up trash?  I mean for just one day could we figure out ways to avoid putting stuff in a trash bin.  It will make you think about where stuff goes, and maybe how much stuff we actually throw away.  Multiply your trash by 6.5 billion and you get, crunching the numbers here... a lot of trash.  So could we give it up for a day?  What about water bottles, could we give up buying those annoying water bottles?  Maybe use the one that we used the other day and refill it with tap water, could we do that?  I mean it saves some money and no one would know.  Could you give up plastic bags at shops, not just grocery shops but any shops?  Could we say I don't need a bag, thanks or I have my own bag?  I mean how many plastic bags do we need at home anyway.  Could we give that up?  What about the doggie bags could we do that, could we say,  "I will give up styrofaom doggie bags", even if you just make the decision to do it once, could you do it.  Could we give up meat, just for one day?  If you figure out how much money you save by giving up meat at least once a week you may end up giving it up twice a weak.  Could you donate some food or clothing to a friend or charity?  Let me say again, I am not perfect.  I mean look at my constant struggle to give up paper towels (oh please,  know right,, but if I could give up paper towels think how much paper just my family alone would save, just typing that sounds awesome and is providing some extra motivation), I work on it every day.  And the thing is, even in a moment of weakness if I do use one, I still think about what I am doing.  And even that thinking is doing something.  I guess sometimes, me and we, have to remember there is more than stuff.  There is life, people, and a planet to remember, all of which is bigger than me.  Lets save the world, yay!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Few discussion items

1.  Vinegar.  I have always loved vinegar, malt vinegar is yummy.  I like it on lots of foods, mostly English chips aka french fries.  But I have recently discovered how great other vinegar, like white vinegar, is for cleaning.  It is awesome.  It is cheap, it cleans very well, gets rid of any weird smells you may have in your house (don't ask), and did I mention it is cheap.  It is awesome in the laundry (we use it on the cloth diapers for the baby) and I am always using it in the kitchen now.  It is also a very environmentally friendly alternative to other household chemicals.  Just saying I love it.  And if you make a batch of chips (I mean french fries) you can pour it (the malt kind that is) on and you have dinner.  Just thought this was worth a mention.
2. Adverts and commercials.  I am not sure what is going on with me these days, but commercials are really starting to annoy me.  How stupid do these people think we are at the other end of the tv, radio, or magazine.  I mean seriously.  I heard one advert the other day say that they could defy gravity with their face cream.  Really? Are you floating in space while you put on this cream?  Just wondering.  I think that if someone had really found the answer to wrinkles we would know about it, and none of us would be able to afford it so it probably wouldn't matter.  Actually when I think about it, the commercials that annoy me the most are the cosmetic ads.  I mean don't get me wrong all advertising is annoying, especially when you just want to watch your program, listen to music, or find the article in magazine without flipping through 800 million pages of ads. But these cosmetic ones are super annoying.  Just think about it, if any of the crap they were trying to sell you worked...  Again just thought it was worth a mention.
3.  Snakes.  OK please please don't make me say this again, STOP KILLING SNAKES.  I was out for another run today and saw another tiny snake murdered by the side of the road.  The little guy was no bigger than a pencil.  DO NOT KILL SNAKES EVER.  It is really not hard, and if you are a big snake killer it many actually save you some time so you can do something else, anything else really, other than killing.  I do not want to hear that you only kill the venomous ones, that is a load of crap.  Most people could not identify a poisonous snake from a non-poisonous one.  And if you think it is venomous, here is an idea, leave it the frick alone, and don't risk the trip to the doctor.  If you are in real danger move away and call a professional.  But killing a snake will never be the right answer.  As much ass you may not like them, we still need them.  Sorry just saying.
4.  Ammonia Gas.  I know for many this is old news, and even for me it is not new, but I was reading an old New York Times article the other day about Beef Products Inc., and their use of ammonia gas in the ground beef product they make from the fatty deposits that would normally be used in pet food.  I do not eat hamburger (or any meat for that matter) so this is not a big one for me.  But for those who do, in case you did not know (look at me pretending that people read the blog, aaawww denial, not just a river in Egypt hehehe, so cute) they do not list the ammonia as an ingredient and it is in most fast food and grocery chains ground beef.  A little gross and disturbing, but again just thought it was worth mentioning.
5.  World Peace.  Just wanted to put this out there to see if anyone had some awesome world peace ideas.  I really think now is a great time to start working in it, and if you want to use this blog as a forum to promote your peaceful ideas feel free.  How cool would it be if we could create world peace, so awesome.   Bet you are wondering where this is coming from, saw the quote "peace begins with a smile", by Mother Teresa, and I liked it and just thought it would be nice to bring about peace and solve all the issues that humans have created.  So easy right, I think we can knock this out in about an hour.  I guess I was hoping to get some great ideas from some other great people out there and start to expand.  I mean we need a great reason to save the planet.  Saving it for fighting kind of blows.  I hope this was worth mentioning

So yes I have gone from vinegar to world peace, a totally normal list of discussion items.  Hope all is well, and pass along a smile.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Want to lose weight?

OK really this entry has nothing to do at all with weight, but rather just getting rid of stuff (but you know in an environmentally friendly way).  Anyway I know I have been a little inconsistent with the blog lately, and that honestly has to do with the move.  I have been a total stresscase and not had much time to sit at the computer and share all my awesome ideas (oh brother at  least we know I am still totally lame, even stress can't kill my lameness, ha), but I think I can see the dust settling and hopefully I can get back to the blog a bit more and ideas and work that is bigger and more important than me.  Plus I thought of this really great way to start this entry, but because I have not been on the computer in some time I lost it, and now you have to deal with my cheese ball opener.  Anyway to the point here.  So recently I was involved in a community yard sale.  It was great (minus waking up early), you get to chat with people, you may find a bargain, or better yet if you have something to sell you may get to add a few extra bucks into your wallet.  Because of this move we did have a few pieces (mostly furniture) to add to the yard sale.  And while I was haggling over how much one of our old dressers (and second hand purchase to start with) should cost I realized, this is a really great way to recycle.  Woohoo reduce, reuse, and recycle.  When I thought about it I discovered that my family has been recycling furniture for a while.  There are very few pieces in our house that have not  come from parents or grandparents.  And honestly I like it better that way.  First off new furniture is expensive (secondhand is either cheap or if you are related to the one donating sometimes it is free, and I love free.  Or it could be valuable, antiques are awesome).  Secondly new furniture has a pretty big impact on the environment, so not buying it saves a lot of trees, water, chemicals, and energy.  And thirdly there are memories attached to most of the furniture, and that is priceless (yuck that was lame).  Anyway it just makes a lot of good sense.  Save some money find your local second hand shop (which are usually connected to a charity of some sort and that is also good), search through parents basements and attics, I bet you may find something you like, could use, or may even need.  All of that is so much better than buying something new.  As always this is just a thought.  I am sure there are those who would disagree, but then again they probably do not understand that conservation is survival and all your actions, negative or positive, count.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Just a few things

Well I have been away for a while, but I am here to say I am back.  Yay I am sure that is what everyone is saying (deflating my fat head now).  Anyway I hope all has been well with the world.  I have been busy moving, traveling around a bit, and just being super busy.  
As I mentioned we recently moved,  so I had to make sure to sign up to take our new house of the junk mail list.  If you want to reduce the amount of junk mail you receive this is a great site  It really helped at the last house and I hope it cuts down on all that extra paper we receive.  The amount of paper, water, and energy it takes to make and deliver junk mail is gross so I won't scare you with that data, just know it is bad.  If you do not believe you can research it.
Not much happening on the Leftover Love front.  But now that the dust is settling a bit I should be able to regain my focus and my aggressive (aka annoying) position on trying to make something happen.  I will say that I was out last night and the waiter (super nice guy) complimented me on using my own container.  I knew it was cool.  
I would like to mention one last thing before I go and start thinking of the many other awesome blog entries I plan to write in the near future.  I am a walker.  Not an actual metal walker with tennis balls on the feet, but someone who is now able to walk to the grocery shop and a few other shops around me.  OMG it is awesome.   The problem is that the grocery shop at  the top pf our street does not have a plastic bag recycling bin yet and I have so much plastic that needs to  be recycled (I guess they don't really get me yet).  So my goal is to try and get that set up for them soon.  Since the town we are living in at the moment makes it very difficult to be able to recycle plastic bags.  Haha that will change soon my friends, oh yes it will change.
Anyway have a great October 6th.  Much love to all.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Oh man oh man I am so proud

So as normal I do not want to bore anyone with the blahblah details of my life, but I have been away because I am in the middle of a move.  Sort of hard to type all the interesting stuff  I type with no internet.  But anyway I just had to brag for a second, because I really am so proud of myself.  After unpacking, cleaning, and lifting and whatever else you do during a move, I have only had one small bag of non-recyclable objects.  Everything else has been donated or recycled, it is awesome.  And honestly it was not that hard.  Trust me I say I will give no advice on how to move or pack or any of that junk, because I am a horrible mental case when it comes to it all, but to have done as much as we have and to have thrown away as little as we have I really am so proud.  Once you break the habit of throwing away it really does become easy, and makes you feel better.  Anyway so if anyone is up for it I will pose the no trash for a day challenge.  Just see if you can avoid throwing away stuff.  Recycling, composting, and donating are all acceptable.  It really is so easy you can do it.  If you saw how small my trash bag was for a move then on a regular day you can definitely do it.  OK I am out.  Talk to you soon.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Good Friends = Good Information

A friend of mine just passed along another great site that I thought was worth passing along.  Check out 

Thanks Heather!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Public Service Announcement

Did you know (see I do sound like a public service announcement, the title did not lie) that you can recycle more than just your plastic grocery bags (we all get a one by accident every once in a while, don't hide you can admit it) in the recycling bins at the grocery shops.  To be perfectly honest I did not know and so that is why I am passing along this very valuable information.  The more you know (second cheese ball attempt at being a PSA).  Anyway found this great website that lists out a bunch of other plastics that you can recycle in your local grocery store recycling bins.  Just to list a few:  dry cleaning bags, bread bags, and the plastic from bulk toilet paper or paper towel packages (OMG I already feel better about this, since I am not going to lie I had been throwing that sort of stuff away, my conscious has been eased). 
A quick jump here, and I promise I try not to bore you, but about 7 years ago I tried to start a recycling program with the clothing store where I worked.  I was in the back sorting through all the clothes that were delivered on a daily basis.  Anyway all the plastic I had to throw away was disgraceful.  I had done some research, and at that time in the town I was living in there was no where to recycle those bags (similar to dry cleaning bags).  Now you can at the grocery store.  So just in case anyone works in a clothing shop that does not recycle those bags, ask if you can take them home yourself to recycle.  There are so many ways that we can help save the world.  I see smoke coming out of my ears, which means there may be a new project on the horizon for me (watch out clothing stores that do not recycle) once Leftover Love really takes off (please no breath holding, need to keep all friends alive).
Well that should do it for today, hope all is well out there in the world.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just thought this needed to be said

Quick warning, this entry is not funny (not that any of my attempts at humor actually are) but I feel like I needed to say it.  I have been reluctant to write this entry because I can never think of a way to end it, but maybe it is not suppose to have an ending, maybe I am hoping to see a positive ending in my lifetime and didn't want to be a downer by jumping the gun.  Anyway I know that I write about the effects of humans on the planet and simple ways to reduce negative effects.  Such as going out to eat and taking your own container or saying no to plastic straws.  These are serious issues that need to be, and can be addressed, but not by everyone.  There are many (probably the majority) of the planet that do not have the issue of reducing the use styrofoam containers or plastic straws because they do not have the ability to eat out or maybe even eat.  Food for them is a matter of survival, as it should be for everyone.  To avoid getting too upset here, and to avoid trying to address all social issues facing humans, I will just bring this back to the environment as quickly as possible.  People that do not have the luxury of restaurant food, or food, still feel the effects of harm or damage all people cause to the environment.  We must remember that the planet and all life on it is completely connected and all our actions, no matter where you are, affect and influence someone else.  Lets try to make more positive influences rather than negative.  Taking your own container may seem silly to someone, may seem like a dream to others.  Money may solve some issues, but not all of them.  So sometimes it comes down to actions, such as not using styrofoam or saying no to plastic straws, that can be your way of contributing, not only to the aide of the planet but to the aide of all life on the planet.  Sorry if this was a bit too much, but it is important.  We need to appreciate what we have, respect those who struggle for what they have, try and help those who do not have or are struggling, and remember that the environment can be (and will be if we do not change) the great leveler and destroy us all regardless of where we come from and how much we have.  Be kind to each other and the planet so that maybe we can try and bring about some peace in a small way.  There has to be more than one way to save this world, just give it a try. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Please Don't Suck

As we all know I am weak.  Thus far I have been unable to live my life completely plastic free, but I am trying to reduce the amount of plastic that I come in contact with on a daily basis.   My latest venture: straws.  Why?  because they totally suck, ahahaha I have a million of them folks.  OK but seriously, I had heard the other day, from a very reliable source (hi Mum) that had seen a news story (and the news never lies) that plastic straws cannot be recycled.  I have been unable to find anything online about this, as I had always been told that plastic straws and the plastic lids on to go cups can be recycled.  Either way my new goal is to just stop using them.  This should be easy.  I like easy tasks, they make me special, yay for me.  So instead of sucking (hehe see I told you I had a million of them) just say no to the straw (be strong, you can do it).  By saying no you are reducing the use of plastic, reducing the use of paper (as straws are generally wrapped in something (although I will miss blowing the paper in peoples faces but I will get over it and maybe finally act my age (I cannot even type that with a straight face)), and you will also be reducing the need for those plastic lids, because you can't use those if you don't have your straw (another win for the environment).  And while you skip home from the restaurant singing a pleasant song to the birds and nature you will know you have done your small part to help save the world.  If you do happen to get either item (straw or lid) please be sure to recycle them.  My very limited research found nothing about them not being able to be recycled, so just go ahead and chuck them in the recycling bin.  And anyone that even mentions using straws to prevent their teeth from staining or whatever other vain excuse you may have, drink water and forget about it (and the money you just saved on ordering the soda you can send to me :) ).  Well that is all I have for today.  It is nice and easy and you can do it unless you totally suck (chuckle chuckle chuckle, pun was intended).

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Update on: Just the one for me

So there is really no much to report here, I passed this challenge.  I guess it was not fair because I already do this, so it may be considered cheating, but whatever I don't care.  I felt good and continue to feel good about. 
Also I am working on my new approach for the leftover love challenge. Really this new approach is the same as the old one, bug the crap out of people, it is just now I have picked different people to bug.  What can go wrong with this tactic (no comments on how well it has worked in the past, bugging people just happens to be what I am good at).  So once again stay tuned and maybe, just maybe if we wish really hard, something will actually happen.

Not the environment, but still stuff I find interesting

Metaphor and gender in business media discourse:
A critical cognitive study.
Veronika Koller.
Hampshire, England: Palgrave Macmillan. 2004. pp. 256.
Reviewed by Charlotte White

Metaphor and Gender in Business Media Discourse: A critical cognitive study
addresses the metaphors that dominate business media discourse and argues
that they create an aggressive and gender-biased working climate. Koller organizes
the book into six chapters that demonstrate, respectively, how metaphors
carry a gender bias, the cognitive effects of metaphors, her research methods,
the prevalence of metaphors on war and evolutionary struggle (or ‘fighting’),
and her conclusion, which analyzes the negative effects of these metaphors and
suggests more positive alternatives. Throughout the book Koller investigates
how metaphors create and perpetuate gender bias by exploiting aggressive
language in business media texts. Another strong aspect of the book is the
author’s analysis of socio-cultural and ideological functions of metaphors.
Koller claims that by achieving a better understanding of aggressive metaphors
we can improve or eliminate the hostile working climate they create as well as
promote equality and partnership.
Throughout the book Koller argues that metaphors are used in the media
as a way to make indirect reference to topics that are not openly discussed.
Metaphors are effectively used to gain consumers’ attention because they use
imagery to provide explanations and thus a clearer understanding of complex
ideas. In addition to using metaphors as explanatory devices, journalists
use them to distance themselves from controversial statements and to avoid
criticism. In short, metaphors allow journalists to avoid direct responsibility
for their words. Koller draws examples from popular print media, such
as The Economist, Business Week, The Financial Times, and Fortune. These
sources allow the author to identify patterns in metaphor use, including the
prevalence of war metaphors in business marketing texts and metaphors of
evolutionary struggle in mergers and acquisitions texts. Koller claims that
these sorts of aggressive metaphors provide a conceptual frame to the reader
and therefore a particular understanding of issues.
In Chapter 1, Koller establishes the concept of ‘masculinized metaphors’ and
briefly explains their use and what they accomplish. The reader is introduced
to the ideational function of metaphor in media and, jointly, learns how this
function shapes the aggressive and competitive mindset inherent to a free
market society. Koller’s hypothesis is that ‘business media discourse is characterized
by coherent metaphor clusters centering around the war metaphor,
and this metaphor helps to ‘masculinize’ both that discourse and related social
practices’ (5). In addition to introducing the reader to the ‘business is war’
metaphor, Koller demonstrates the aggression and male bias that accompany
it. She explains that because both war and business have historically been maledominated,
business media tends to link the two through the use of imagery in
metaphors, and in turn perpetuates the notion that business is predominantly
a male or masculine affair.
Next, Koller provides a detailed outline of contemporary theories of metaphor,
beginning with classical cognitive metaphor theory. This theory asserts,
metaphor is a conceptual phenomenon that is realized at the surface level of
language’ (9). Koller explains the importance of blending theory and neural
theory, which the author integrates within a critical approach to language.
Koller then describes the use of primary and complex metaphors to illustrate
how ‘cognition informs ideology in the form of (metaphoric) mental models
which are drawn on in discourse production’ (42). This cyclical process allows
metaphors to continue to produce ideologies that are socially accepted, as is
illustrated by the use of metaphoric expressions in the media, and specifically,
in business publishing.
In Chapter 3, Koller introduces the reader to the methods she used to collect
and analyze metaphoric data in business media texts. Koller refrains from
analyzing culture-specific phenomena, textual genres, and journalists’ gender
identities because a more narrow approach allows her to focus solely on the
frequency of metaphors and metaphoric clusters in business texts. Koller’s
methods include locating metaphors in the texts and compiling words into
lexical fields by categories based upon word classes. Koller focuses specifically
on the linguistic concepts of transitivity and nominalization, in other words, she
explores how aspects of words, such as tense, help to carry ideologies and how,
in turn, words and ideologies serve to conceptualize metaphors. She argues
that tense is ‘important as it promises to provide insights into how dynamic or
static the model in fact is that is assumed to underlie the attested metaphoric
expression’ (62).
In Chapters 4 and 5, Koller presents the results of her analysis. Chapter 4
investigates metaphors of war, sport, game, and romance used in marketing
texts. Chapter 5 analyzes metaphors of evolutionary struggle (fighting) and
dancing employed in print media relating to mergers and acquisitions.
Chapter 4 illustrates that the socio-economic framework of capitalism in
marketing is paralleled by a war and military framework in the ‘fight’ for
consumers. As Koller states, ‘the mind of the consumer forms the territory on
which the battle is waged’ by the marketer (109). Koller also handily shows the
reader that sports metaphors are linked to aggressive competition and war.
Boxing and football are presented as examples of sports that not only exhibit
war-like behavior, but are also described in military terms, illustrated by the
use of ‘battlefield’ to describe the playing field. Koller argues that metaphoric
expressions of war and sports used in marketing continue to create a gender
bias. What the author leaves unclear, however, is why only male aggression
is linked to fighting, and specifically the supposed exclusion of women from
non-military fighting is never addressed. Finally, Koller argues that the lack
of romantic metaphors in marketing publications shows that they target male
Evolutionary struggle metaphors, such as hostile takeovers, are addressed in
Chapter 5 in an analysis of texts dealing with mergers and acquisitions. Koller
defines ‘evolutionary struggle’ as primarily encompassing fighting, feeding,
and mating. The author suggests that expressions of fighting are dominant
in evolutionary struggle metaphors and that females are deemed powerless
objects of male aggression. This pattern is exemplified by language that casts
the buyer in an acquisition as a dominant male figure and the bought entity
as a powerless female figure. Similarly, ‘feeding’ metaphors used to describe
mergers and acquisitions usually depict the ‘feeder’ as male and the ‘food’ as
female. Violent mating metaphors serve to camouflage sexual violence against
women and ‘sustain a patriarchal order’ (169), Koller argues.
Koller concludes by arguing for our need to find gender-neutral metaphors
that are less aggressive. She claims that the ‘media plays a pivotal role in shaping
the expectations about people’s behaviors’ and places a large portion of the
responsibility on journalists, stating that they ‘should rise to the challenge of at
least proposing non-violent metaphors’ (178). Solutions include reducing the
use of aggressive metaphors and the reinvention of old metaphors. The Internet
is presented as the new ‘driving force behind changing metaphoric concepts
of marketing’ (112). Furthermore, Koller notes that alternative metaphors do
130 Gender and Language
not have to be completely new to be revolutionary, as old metaphors can be
formulated to have positive influences.
Koller believes that these changes could lead to a more humane understanding
of business leadership and competition, and potentially decrease the
unnecessary stress that exists in the corporate world. The author explains that
although capitalism is based upon competition, it does not need to spur metaphors
of ‘excessive aggression’. Competition can instead be illustrated through
non-violent metaphoric forms, such as a racing, which valorizes a competitive
edge, but illustrates it in a positive light. Koller offers hope that the hostility and
gender bias that have been learned through the use of business metaphors can
essentially be ‘unlearned’ by changing aggressive, male-dominated metaphors.
The ‘market economy and its inherent competition need not be conceptualized
in terms of excessive aggression and antagonism’ as there are alternative
metaphoric expressions that offer a strong sense of competition in a non-violent
way (175). Unfortunately, such a cognitive shift may be more difficult to achieve
than Koller describes. In the current political climate it becomes apparent that
not only is business war in metaphoric terms, but war itself has become an
actual business, and it is perhaps therein that our most pressing struggle lies.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Another Awesome Oldie but a Goldie

Cat Stevens Where do the Children Play?

Well I think it's fine, building jumbo planes.
Or taking a ride on a cosmic train.
Switch on summer from a slot machine.
Yes, get what you want to if you want, 'cause you can get anything.

I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
so tell me, where do the children play?

Well you roll on roads over fresh green grass.
For your lorry loads pumping petrol gas.
And you make them long, and you make them tough.
But they just go on and on, and it seems that you can't get off.

Oh, I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
so tell me, where do the children play?

Well you've cracked the sky, scrapers fill the air.
But will you keep on building higher
'til there's no more room up there?
Will you make us laugh, will you make us cry?
Will you tell us when to live, will you tell us when to die?

I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?

Yay it is post a comment day!!

If you have something to say today is the day to say it. Why?, because it is the official (not really, only according to me) post a comment day. It is said that more heads are better than one, and I would love to hear what you have to say. China, England, Zambia, US, or Mars (well now that would be cool) I don't care where you are from, just want to hear what you are thinking. It can be about how easy it is to save the environment or anything at all. Anyway hope to hear from you. Many thanks.

Monday, August 22, 2011

New Green Challenge: Just the one for me

So here is today's challenge.  See if it is possible to use just one glass and just one plate (per person)throughout the course of a day.  Rinse off as needed but try to avoid using a lot of water to clean, as that would defy the purpose, at least until the end of the day.  This is a pretty easy challenge.  And honestly at the end of it you have saved yourself doing a bunch of dishes.  And reducing dishes saves water and it also saves you the cost of water and whatever dish soap you may use.  So once again it is a win win for all.  Yay for winning.
Also I thought it was worth mentioning that I was out to eat the other day, courtesy of my mother,  and the restaurant had reusable take home containers,  How cool is that.  Don't worry I had my own, the only reason I know is because someone else at the table needed a container.  But I was still impressed and excited.  So lets hope this movement (because that is what it is folks, a movement) keeps spreading.
Thanks bunches.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Big Fat F

I will keep this update re: the no plastic challenge short.  Why?  Because I am pathetic and weak and I failed.  Not fun to read a real downer post so I figured I will keep it short (watch this be the longest one ever, no no no no).  Anyway I ended up bringing two new pieces of plastic into the house, a shampoo and sunscreen bottle.  So weak.  And I thought since they were all this healthy stuff that they might be made out of recycled plastic.  Not that that was part of this challenge, but looking for any loop hole here to make myself feel better.  But the sunscreen was 10% post consumer used plastic, or whatever the terminology is, and that was it (but neither have animal products or were tested on animals, yay for animals).  Now just a few other areas were I failed (happy reading huh).  All of these examples are times I needed to try and find alternatives to using plastic and I couldn't.  I wore shoes, doh!  I turned on a light with plastic switch, doh!  I used a pen, I read a book that had a plastic cover, I poured milk from a plastic container, I brushed my teeth and combed my hair, aaaaahhhhh!  And that is when I knew this challenge had beaten me.  Weak sauce Charlotte.  I want to reduce how much I use plastic, but I do not see that happening any time soon. Guess I should take some more vitamins to get strong enough to battle this problem.  If anyone has any helpful suggestions please share.  Thanks.

Monday, August 15, 2011

New challenge of the day: No Plastic

Well I guess I need to start this entry off with an apology.  I (meaning because of everyone else and not because of me, I kid I kid here, this is all me) have not been holding true to my promise of working on the leftover love challenge very diligently.  Life has a way of becoming a bit hectic at times, and little old me tends to let it overwhelm me instead of punching it in the face (but in the nice way).  So anyway I am renewing my promise and hope to have some actual (meaning real) good  news for you soon. 
Now that that is out of the way I would like to present a new challenge to myself and anyone else out there who may be interested.  Can you go one day without using plastic?  I know I have discussed this before, but I have just got to try.  I am already realising how difficult this will be for me, as I am weak and pitiful (but in the good way).  Guess we need to set up some guidelines here for this challenge.  Number one I am not asking anyone to throw away any major appliances or expensive equipment like TV's or fridges or anything else.  Guess that is really the only big guideline.  I mean the objective of this challenge is to venture through your day without using and especially throwing away any plastic.  Of course recycling is always alright.  But I guess the point is to see how much plastic we touch and use.  So, here it is no new plastic for 24 hours may enter the house and all items that I use that are plastic I must see if there are alternatives before using them.  Oh man I know this is going to kill me and I am already thinking of loop holes.  I guess the upside to all of this is I now have a new addiction to focus on rather than the paper towels.  Anyway good luck to all.  I will let you know how I do, if  I survive.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Have a Nice Day

Being nice to people is always fun and makes you feel better.  So I hope everyone is extra nice to all the persons they encounter today.  And I am wishing everyone a nice day. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This never applies to me

Since I am always right and everything I write is also correct this does not apply to me, just thought it was interesting.

Have a good one.

I'm so pretty oh so pretty

This post may be my most obvious one yet (and that is actually very hard to do since I am captain obvious) but I thought it worth mentioning that cosmetics are caca.  The cosmetic industry spends more than any other major industry in the US on advertising to make you feel old, fat, ugly and to let you know that they have the solutions for you.  Oh dear, I am here to say that they do not.  No need to throw away money on junk that does not work.  Again don't think that I have never spent money on some sort of miracle cream only to find out that I still look exactly like I did before hand (still trying to see if I can get my money back on that one).  The best way to take care of yourself if to eat healthy and maybe throw in a bit of exercise in there.  I really have no idea what I am talking about here since healthy food and exercise always sound like punishments, just trying to say don't be sucked in to the advertising of those cosmetic companies.  You look just fine.  And if you do need something, like creams, or soaps, or shampoos always look for items that have not been tested on animals and stuff that is safe for you and for the drain.  Because all the poison they try to sell you is absorbed by your skin and by the drain which then effects the water.  Oh that circle of life.  Anyway I will keep this short so as to not look like a preachy fanatic.  But save your money and/or spend it on better, healthier, more environmentally friendly products that you may need or better yet make your own (there are some pretty easy options out there just search the internet).  And I will bet you look stunning at the end. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Playing a bit of catch up here

I have been away from my blog for a while and I have missed it, and now all I want to do is write on it.  So here is what I want to say right now, why are we so slow.  No short bus jokes here please that is not pc and insensitive.  What I mean is, why are actions so slow to catch up to our thoughts and ideas?  Why does everything have to be so easy, why are we obsessed with convenience (dur I know that sounds stupid, but it is true), and why can't we make conservation easier?  There has got to be a better, wait what I meant to say is faster, way to save the world.  Come on people we are in the middle of a world wide recession and if you think the environment is not completely linked to all this and the way we use and abuse it, well then you need to crawl out from under your rock and wake up.  Lets get on this people.  Thanks I will shut up now.  Talk to you again soon.

A little dirt don't hurt

So if I have not mentioned this before I am a bit of a clean freak (which used to explain my addiction to paper towels).  But I try to be a green clean freak.  And this is what I have discovered over the last couple of years, I just have to get over myself (trust me, not easy I am a large lump that is sometimes hard to get over hehehe yeah I am here all night folks).  Don't get me wrong I like things clean and I know I always will but I don't have to be a fanatic anymore.  Here is the example I am using today.  Towels.  No not paper towels, don't worry I will not bore you with that anymore (and by you I mean me :) ).  I am talking about bath towels.  No need to wash after every use.  Get over yourself people.  I recently read an article that said if it is only you using the towel you can go a whole week without washing it.  If you share towels with roommates or other people in the house you do have to wash a little more often.  So here is a thought, shell out a few bucks get your own towel and reduce your laundry and omg you will save on water and detergent and energy and lalala you are doing your part to save the world and then you can skip to work holding hands and singing.  OK that may be a bit of a stretch but you know it does help.  And even more than reducing how many times you wash your towels is how many times you wash yourself.  Water ain't cheap folks, and it is limited.  So if you don't stink too bad maybe hold off on the shower, and bam you just saved more water and energy and stretched out that load of laundry even more.  There was another article I read that said how many gallons of water an individual American used compared to the average African family and let me just tell you (even though I do not remember exact numbers) the difference was disgusting.  If you live in the US just go through your day and count the number of times you use and encounter water, it is a lot.  Flushing the toilet, getting a drink, taking a shower, watering plants, washing hands, cooking.  Water is just always there, but not for everyone.  I mean even in the US southwest water is running out.  So then just think about people that have to walk miles just to get some water for their families to use for the day.  It helps me realize I am not that stinky (no comments from people with noses) and I do not have to wash that towel after every use.  Because I can get over myself.  I sort of have to if I want to do my part and dare I say it, SAVE THE WORLD.  Have a good one all, and if you have a water tap anywhere in your house be so thankful and turn in off.

I Just Blacked Out

Well not really blacked out, but we did experience a major power outage the other day for a couple of hours.  It was actually pretty strange since I have not had to experience a real power outage like that in a couple of years.  The good thing was it was at night so the heat of the day was cooling down and I just went to bed so honestly I hardly noticed it.  But it did get me thinking about how much money and energy was saved from having no power.  And then I thought I wonder if there is a way to schedule power outages as a way to conserve energy.  I know there are probably some security risks involved in all that, like banks and hospitals probably can't be without power.  But if there was a way to shut down power just for 15 minutes or so every night in residential neighborhoods it could wind up being a huge savings.  It is just a thought.  I mean you would have to keep it random and just circulate through a city, but gee that has got to be a lot of energy and pollution being conserved.  Or maybe if there is not a way to schedule power outages a switch could be designed that lets you turn off off outlets.  Similar to a light switch but a way to control every outlet in the house.  I mean I have no idea how all this stuff works so these ideas could be totally ridiculous, but it is just something to think about. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

I guess I am not that green

So I am still getting over my shredded paper and paint can issue with the city's poor recycling program, and then I discover I am really not that green.  Well maybe what I should say is I am not that patient.  Is there a difference, I am not sure?  Here is the situation.  I was in the car with a very dear and beloved family member, my father, when I found myself ready to pull out every hair on my head.  Why you may ask?  Because he was driving like -15 miles per hour.  He called it hypermiling or supermiling or something like that.  Basically what it is is ways that you stretch out your cars mpg.  Example you coast and cruise whenever you can to reduce the amount of times you need to use the brake pedal, which ultimately saves the amount of fuel you use.  This apparently is very good for the environment (dur Charlotte).  I mean better tactics would be to walk or ride a bike (and trust me when I say that is probably faster).  But when you can't I guess go ahead and try this hypermiling stuff.  And even though I am pure evil and normally would be honking the horn like mad for someone going -15 mph, in the future I will try to refrain.  For the environment and also for my father.  Please forgive me mother Earth and also my dad.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Love It

Been too long

OK normally I do not write about anything personal, mainly because my life is very dull and I am not cruel enough to bore anyone with it.  I mean if I cannot fall asleep I tell myself the story of my life and I am out pretty darn fast.  But anyway I have to get personal to let you know why I have not been writing.  At the moment I am in the middle of a move.  And I would like to just get this out of the way and tell everyone I hate moving.  I hate packing and I am not fond of lifting or figuring out what to do with stuff, not a big fan of scrubbing, I could go on but I won't.  But it does make you think about the environment, how much stuff you have, and how much of an impact that has on the world.  Material possessions are cool, until you have to pack them and then they really blow, but that is capitalism for you (different post different rant).  Right now I wished I had not even a quarter of the stuff I have (I know I know there is an easy solution to that, but we have already discovered I am weak, especially when it comes to pretty shiny things).  I always felt as though I used or had a purpose for everything I owned until I had to pack, and I find I had stuff I did not even know about, so what is the purpose of that.  The answer is nothing.  But getting to the point here, when purging your household, I mean packing, you tend to get rid of a lot of stuff.  After my gasoline and match idea was rejected by others (mainly those who cannot think out of the box like me), I started donating and recycling a lot.  So this is the issue.  First off all some of the stuff that I donated was rejected. WHAT IS UP WITH THAT!!!  It was an old 13 inch TV in working order that could have been sold or recycled, but instead was rejected by the receiving company.  And then here is the worst part.  After several trips to the recycling center, our regular recycling service which comes every two weeks did not pick up our bin.  We were too full, because we were the only ones on the block that were skipped over.  Like I needed more reasons to hate moving.  But seriously WHAT IS UP WITH THAT!!!  Why is it still so difficult to do the bear minimum to be green.  How green is it to keep driving back and forth to the recycling center when you have a service that comes to you and then they say you are too full and some of the stuff in there is not recyclable.  So here it is city in which I live, get with the program.  Shredded paper, recyclable!  Metal shower curtain rods, recyclable!  Card board boxes, recyclable!  Please catch up with the rest of the world city.  Do you job recycling program, and recycle stuff.  Geez.  And paint cans, oh yeah they are also recyclable (actually they do have to be empty, or the paint needs to be dried, or the other option is to take the cans to your local hardware store and see if they are able to reuse any of the paint, but the cans themselves are 100% recyclable).  I don't mind that being green or environmentally friendly  or whatever you want to call it offers challenges to "normal" social life sometimes, but this is ridiculous.  And when I am trying to minimize my impact, especially when moving (which challenges the environment in its own ways), and I am hit head on with these issues, well then it just annoys me.  And if anyone out there has any suggestions as to what to do please share.  I would also just like to mention that if this post seems to be lacking compared to the wonderful literature that I normally produce, I do apologize, but it has taken me 4 days just to piece this together, because have I mentioned I hate moving and now I hate it even more because more stuff needs to be accepted as recycling.  Not everything is trash people.  Our resources are running out so lets use what we got.  Shutting up now.  Hope no one else is having to move and you are all having a great week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Very Special Treat

So I am really not sure what the etiquette is for introducing a guest writer on a blog, so I will do it my way (even if it is wrong).
We have an actual writer in our midst, who has taken some time to create a superb post for us today.  That being said, below please enjoy the words of the fabulously green Ellen Keane Graham.  (Thank you Ellen).

When Charlotte asked me to do a guest post for her blog, I thought it best to try to tie in and combine the thoughts of my own blog with those I have when I read hers (which I do religiously, of course). My blog ( is about my son, Knox, and how much I love him and his daddy (not nearly as upstanding as this blog), but I write about how thankful I am for the time I have with him and how much I have learned since becoming a mother.  However, something that I haven’t yet written about is our lifestyle and the choices that we make in order to make sure that our son will be able to enjoy the beauty of this planet for the rest of his life.
Like most families, we do recycle, but we’ve tried our best to go beyond that and take some extra steps to do our part in protecting the environment from further damage. We try to compost as much as possible, reuse and reduce our waste when we can, but I thought it would be appropriate to address some of the specific ways that we address the environmental issues we face as parents and to offer some information that I’ve discovered in my journey to a greener, more eco-friendly home.
So many of us are so unaware that there are even other options available aside from the societal norms that are marketed so well. The parenting world is a disposable one. Most of the products made for children are disposable, plastic, filled with toxic chemicals and produced irresponsibly and without consideration of society, the economy or the environment. My husband and I have tried to do our best to avoid these things as much as possible, although I know we could (and should) do better. By no means do I think we are model “green” citizens, but I’d like to share a few changes and choices that we were able to easily make. These are things that anyone could (and should) do with a small amount of effort and consideration.

1. Cloth Diapers
When most parents or parents-to-be see these two words, they start to squirm with disgust. But, having changed a lot of diapers before I ever had my own child, I was never that grossed out by poop and figured I could handle cloth diapering easily because of that. My husband, on the other hand, was not so sure. When I showed him our first set of cloth diapers, he vowed he would never change one, EVER. He said it was a terrible idea and he would support me in it but would not participate in the actual act of diaper changing. I’m happy to report that our son just turned one and my husband is now a cloth diaper changing pro and possibly even an advocate, if you can believe that.
The first thing you should know if you’ve never looked into cloth diapers is that modern cloth diapering is much different than the old “thick cotton pads with safety pins and rubber pants method”. There are so many new options and you just have to try a few to figure out what works best for you. This website ( carries all different kinds of diapers – from prefolds and covers (which are similar to the old school method) to All-in-ones (also known as AIOs, which function exactly like, or even better than, disposables). If you do a little research, I think you’ll find that modern cloth diapering will not only help save the environment by keeping all of those diapers out of the landfills, but it will also save you tons of money (I’m talking thousands, people).
Next, you need to know that cleaning the diapers is NOT THAT BAD (yes, even the messy diapers). You just spray the residue into the toilet and throw the diapers in the washer. I would say I do one full load of diapers every other day in hot water with a free & clear detergent. You can dry them in the dryer or line dry (they do take a little longer to dry than regular clothes because of their absorbency, but not so much longer that you would notice it in your electric bill).
You can also go one step further with this and purchase used or locally-made cloth diapers. I have purchased used diapers before (I know it sounds gross, but just trust me, it’s not), however, I’m constantly finding things to make myself feel guilty about, and the “made in china” tag on Knox’s cloth diapers constantly begs me to make the change to buying diapers made here. A friend shared this website ( with me recently and it is a great resource that sells cloth diapers made by work at home moms. This is a switch I WILL be making in the very near future.
This option IS available and completely doable. It WILL save you money. It IS better for the environment (people who say that the extra water usage for cleaning them is equally as bad for the environment do not know what they are talking about). It IS better for your baby (chlorine and other chemical-filled disposables are not good for babies’ skin – the less chemicals you can expose your child to, the better!). It IS better for the economy (by purchasing cloth you are supporting smaller businesses). With all of those positives, it’s hard to say no, right?! Unfortunately, the convenience factor weighs much more heavily with most parents than any of these factors do, but it is becoming an increasingly popular choice, which gives me hope.

2. Buy Organic/Free Trade
I often get the long silence or strange look whenever people find out that I buy organic. I’m not sure where the judgment comes from, but there does seem to be a stigma attached to the label “organic.” What I think that most people don’t understand about buying organic is that it is not just about preventing your child from consuming massive amount of pesticides and other chemicals and preservatives. It is also about considering the environment and the economy. By buying organic you are supporting smaller, more environmentally, socially and economically responsible businesses.  Buying organic can be more expensive, I know, but that’s what “voting with your wallet” is all about.
When most people hear the term “organic,” they think of food, mainly produce, I believe. But, spending your money on organically made cosmetics, toiletries, clothes and other packaged goods is a great way to be environmentally responsible while also benefitting your body by choosing not to expose it to unnecessary chemicals.
Again, take it one step further and buy locally-made organic/free trade goods whenever possible.

3. Avoid Plastics
A few months ago, I went on a crazy streak and starting getting rid of all of our plastic containers – mainly the stuff we used for storage. I was trying to be responsible by reusing things like yogurt containers to store leftovers, but then it suddenly hit me that those containers are not BPA-free, so I freaked out and recycled all of them and decided we would only store things in glass from that point forward. Well, that didn’t work out so well because glass jars turned out not to be the best size/shape for most storage needs. So, I purchased a large set of BPA-free Tupperware and I try to re-use yogurt containers for other purposes whenever possible (i.e. storage for non-edible sundry items).
My point is, it is VERY hard to avoid plastics. Plastics are one of the biggest contributors to environmental pollution; yet, they’ve become so engrained into our everyday lives that they are like an addiction - especially where kids are involved. Try this if you are a parent: look around at all of your child’s belongings. I guarantee you that at least 90% of them are made of plastic and at least 10% are disposable. There are even plastic food and drink containers called “Take & Toss,” which are BPA-free and there is no reason they cannot be cleaned and reused, but they are marketed to encourage you to “toss” them…because it’s just easier, right? There are tons of products like this out there.
As parents (heck, as PEOPLE), it is impossible to avoid plastics altogether, so my suggestion here is to purchase as little plastic as possible (packaging, new toys/accessories, bags) and repurpose the plastics you do purchase. Consider whether you really NEED things before you buy them. Plastic is necessary for modern life, I am not suggesting that it is evil – it saves lives every day and makes modern life possible. I am simply suggesting that limiting your personal usage of plastics is the responsible thing to do.
Here is one switch I am hoping to make soon so that I no longer contribute Ziploc baggies to the landfills. You should, too. The initial investment may seem high, but, in the long run you are sure to save lots of money AND the environmental damage.
Again, buying locally-made (in the USA) plastic products from small businesses in an extra step you can take to do your part.

4. Buy Used and/or Local
As parents, we are constantly seeking ways to save money and buying (or accepting!) used items is another thing we can do to save money and the environment at the same time. The majority of Knox’s clothes, toys and even furniture and baby gear are hand-me-downs from generous friends and family. I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never purchased anything new for him, but I do try my best to purchase used clothing and toys whenever I can. Consignment stores/sales, goodwill, craigslist, ebay, antique stores and garage/yard sales are all great places to find better prices than you would on the discount rack at the mall. If you think about all of the materials and work that goes into making just a single item and then consider how fast children outgrow not only clothes but toys and other gear, it makes sense that these items should have multiple owners and get as much use out of them as possible. By buying used goods, you are decreasing the demand for new ones which decreases the demand for the use (and abuse) of our natural resources (conventional cotton farming is terrible for the environment in many ways).
Another great reason to buy used clothing for your children is that it is better for their bodies to wear something that has already been washed multiple times (the more times, the better!). The toxic chemical dyes, inks and pesticides (from farming the cotton) that remain on clothing long after it’s made decreases with every wash, so your child’s skin is not absorbing the harmful toxins.
I mentioned that buying organic products was good for the environment, but buying local goods (whether organic or not) is another way to stay green and clean. And, no, I don’t mean shopping at your local Wal-Mart. I mean buying products that are made locally, and, by locally, I mean - the closer the better. I understand that you simply cannot purchase everything you need from vendors within 20 miles of your house, but purchasing American-made products from companies that are environmentally, socially and economically responsible is the best possible alternative when truly local products aren’t available. By choosing farmers markets over grocery stores (although some groceries offer local produce), and local boutiques and shops over chain distributors and department stores, by supporting local small businesses of all kinds whenever possible (after researching them first, because not all small local businesses are environmentally responsible and you don’t want to support a business that is irresponsible in any way, right?) we are being conscious and respectful of this planet from which we take so much.

5. Pass the Baton
The best way you can protect the environment as a parent is to make sure that future generations appreciate it and take care of it. Modeling all of the behaviors listed above are, in and of themselves, ways to show your children how to be respectful of the planet, but make sure you talk to them about it as they grow. Ensure that they understand that the choices we make are conscious ones and every action we take affects not only the people around us, but the world around us.
Get your children outdoors and show them how to enjoy their surroundings. Explain how the ecosystem works and why it is so important to be very careful as to what we introduce into that delicate system. Teach them (and show them) to be thankful, respectful and thoughtful when it comes to the Earth.

As I slowly step down from my soapbox, I’d like to share a couple of resources that I’ve found to be helpful in my journey to a greener lifestyle.

This website is one of my favorites. ( I have learned a lot from this site and if you’re interested in learning how you can make ANY aspect of your life greener, then I suggest you check it out. You simply type in ANYTHING on the search bar at the top of the page and it will produce not only a list of greener ways to live with that search item, but it will also give you tons of information about why the conventional ways of doing things harm the environment and how changing your habits in regards to that search item can have a positive impact on the planet. The research is fully backed by reliable sources and very, very thorough.
This book ( belongs on every bookshelf in every home across the country. It is a very well researched guide to shopping for pretty much anything and everything you ever need. From electronics to toiletries, this book ranks brands and companies based on their business practices. If you never buy another book again, buy this one. It will change the way you think about spending money forever.

I hope this post, although whiny, preachy and nagging, has been helpful to someone somewhere. I hope it makes you think, if nothing else. Charlotte is doing a great thing by dedicating her time to raising awareness, and I hope this helps her in her gallant quest to save the world. J