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.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Broken Record

Well here I am again about to blow your mind with some awesome words of wisdom, don't litter!  I know I must sound like a very simple out dated broken record by now, but it is true don't litter, and you can stop litter by reading this post (oh listen to me).  To me I always thought that littering was weird,  because throwing something on the ground just never occurred as option when going through my normal thought processes.  But still it happens, and sometimes it happens unintentionally, at it is those times that I am actually referencing.  Well OK you got me, this is post is not just about littering, but rather the ways we can cut back to prevent littering from even having a chance to happen (see broken record, there is such an obvious theme on this blog).  OK let me make a clear thought here.  Recently came home from a trip.  On this trip we visited an aquarium.  At the aquarium we heard a talk about an albatross, during the talk the speaker referenced the amount of plastic that pollutes the oceans where these birds hunt and how much has been found inside the birds that researchers have recovered.  It is sort of the license plate in a shark scenario.  Anyway long story short they asked all those in the audience who used their own shopping bags, and a good amount raised their hands. Felt good, lots of planet saving people in the mix.  Then they asked who used those shopping bags for more than grocery shopping and the number of hands got smaller (mine was still up, fear not I am that dork that raises her hand proudly might even offer a little wave in the hand and ooohoooh).  Then they asked how many people used reusable straws.  Well at this point I think it was my proud hand an one other.  That was bitter sweet (love being able to raise my hand  just wish more hands had been up).  I have been told that my words, ideas, actions whatever I write about are not enough to be considered a real or valuable part of helping create sustainable choices.  Well here is where I disagree.  Any action that you do to protect your planet and the life on it counts, and will add up fast if enough people start practicing.  There are so many who decide to do nothing.  Nothing is easy, I get that trust me.  But small actions do help, and they are an easy way to start doing something over nothing.  No one on this blog is asking you to live in the tree tops foraging for nuts and berries only.  So for those who scoff at me, go right on ahead.  Maybe I will not convince anyone to get rid of electricity (I still have it) or even buy a reusable straw, but guess what you don't need one.  Maybe what I may help with is convincing people just not to take those plastic straws offered in the first place.  Because really that is all it is, just thinking about your actions.  Those actions always have outcomes, good or bad.  So yes I get that going out to eat is not environmentally friendly, but there are ways to help cut down on negative factors.  Watch this going to loop back to the littering (intentional and unintentional) thing now like magic (or maybe just really bad writing).  So when you do not take that straw, or that styrofoam container, or that plastic shopping bag, you will not have to throw it away, which means it will not fly off the back of the garbage truck, and then it will not end up in a water system, which means a bird, fish, or any other type of animal will not eat or get tangled up in it.  So do not litter, say no to those straws and bags.  Save yourself the energy of having to dispose of something that could end up as littler, and feel better that you helped a bird and your planet.  Your conscious and your Mother (i know cheesey Earth reference) will thank you.  Think about all that trash that is created and where it goes, on purpose and on accident.  Then when you say no to a straw, at least you can say you did something rather than nothing.  So please don't suck, say no to straws.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

5 Tips to Reduce Toxic Chemicals in Your Child's Life

I would like to take a moment here to say how important I think guests posts are to the blogging community.  I know that even I get tired of reading myself sometimes, even though I always agree with me :).  That is why I feel it is important to hear other perspectives and ideas.  I also wanted to make this blog more of a community rather than a soapbox for me to preach from all the time.  So with all that said I would like to introduce someone who has been a great help to me in more ways than one, Shane Shirley Smith, the author of the guest post below (  Enjoy!

Want More Help Protecting Your Children from Toxic Chemicals?
These days, thanks to the efforts of green bloggers like Charlotte and organizations I work with like Safer Chemicals Healthy Families, parents are getting a much needed wake up call about the toxic chemicals in their children's lives.  Parents are starting to understand the fact that harmful, toxic chemicals are lurking in the consumer products they purchase and use every single day.

Fortunately, it is becoming common knowledge to moms and dads alike that 80,000 potentially harmful chemicals are used in their consumer goods in the United States, while only a handful of those chemicals have ever been tested by our government for safety.   

Feeling Confused And Wonder How to Protect Your Kids from Toxic Chemicals? 
Although parent's are more aware of the toxic dangers lurking in their children's lives than ever before, many are still confused as to exactly how to reduce their children's exposure.  Right now, without the government's protection, it is up to us to get informed and get the information we need to keep our kids safe from the chemicals in the products we buy. To help sort through the confusion, here are 5 tips to reduce toxic chemicals in your child's life.

5 Tips to Protect Your Children From Toxic Chemicals  
Even though it is impossible to eliminate all of the toxic chemicals and their resulting health risks from your children's lives, this July and beyond, you can declare your child's independence from toxic chemicals by following these 5 tips.
  1. Reduce Your Children's Exposure to Bisphenol-A (BPA) - BPA, found in many plastics and consumer products, is one of the most widely used chemicals of all time.  It is probably circulating through your body right now as it was found to be present in 93% of 2,517 Americans age 6 and over, tested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and it is found in the cord blood of newborns.  Researchers have linked developmental exposure to BPA to reproductive harm, increased cancer susceptibility, and abnormalities in brain development and fat metabolism.  A 2011 study in Environmental Health Perspectives says that even some consumer products listed as BPA free, still leach hormone like chemicals so to protect your children, choose as many stainless steel and glass containers as possible.  Try also to reduce their intake of canned foods and drinks as BPA is still used in the lining of many cans. Since BPA is also prevalent in many cash register receipts made from thermal paper, never let your children handle them.
  2. Buy Organic as Much as Possible - When we talk about foods, organic refers to the way that agricultural products are grown and processed.  In addition to meeting other strict requirements, organic foods are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides and petroleum-based fertilizers which have been linked to cancer, immune system suppression, miscarriages, Parkisnson's disease and neurological illness -  not to mention massive pollution and environmental decay.  Please also remember that it is not only organic foods that you should strive to purchase.  Look for organics in every area of your consumer purchases.  For example, non-organic personal care, products like shampoo and dental floss, may contain Perfluorinated Compounds (PFC's ) which have been linked to cancer.  And non-organic mattresses, baby products like car seats and furniture may contain toxic flame retardants (PBDEs) which have been linked to neurological and thyroid damage and may cause birth defects. 
  3. Keep an Eye On Toy Recalls - Believe it or not, heavy metals like lead are still being found in children's toys, jewelry, art supplies, clothing, shoes and even candy.  Lead exposure causes health problems, especially for young children.  Lead exposure can affect children's  developing brains and nervous systems making them suffer from shorter attention spans and making it more difficult for them to learn and read than their unaffected peers. It is important to keep an eye out for the latest recalls due to lead on the Consumer Product Safety Commissions (CPSC) website.  You can even sign up for recall updates to be sent directly to your inbox. 
  4. Get Rid of Indoor Air Fresheners - Amazingly enough, even though they cost a small fortune, the use of indoor air fresheners is on the rise.  Unfortunately though, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "household products like air fresheners, release pollutants more or less continuously."  Plus many air fresheners,  including those advertised as “all natural” or “unscented", contain phthalates which are hazardous, endcrine disrupting chemicals known to cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects, and reproductive problems. A 2010 report by the President's Cancer Panel [] acknowledged that low doses of endocrine disruptors have health effects that contribute to the development of cancer.  NRDC’s (Natural resources Defense Council) independent testing of 14 common air fresheners, none of which listed phthalates as an ingredient, uncovered these chemicals in 86 percent (12 of 14) of the products tested.
  5. Take a Stand and Call on Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act - If this list makes you nervous, it i time to do more than reduce exposure and worry.  There is more that you can do to protect not only your children but children throughout the country.  Contact your Senators and let them know that it is time for a new Federal law to protect American children and their families from toxic chemicals.  Safer Chemicals Healthy Families makes it really easy and it literally takes less than 2 minutes to make a difference to help change the future health of American families.  Do it now and continue to check back in to Safer Chemicals Healthy Families for updates on how close we are to making this important change for the health of our future.
Our future depends on our knowledge and actions. What choices will you make today that will change your health and the health of our world tomorrow? Together we CAN find the path that will lead us to a greener, healthier future. - Shane D. Shirley-Smith

P.S.- People always ask me where I get my organic food and personal care products and I love to tell them about The Green PolkaDot Box! Backed by the Organic Consumer's Association and, you can easily buy NonGMO organic groceries, including Harvest Fresh Organic produce, at wholesale pricing online.  It's like a Sam's club but focused on products for green, healthy living! You can even shop by dietary restrictions like gluten free, vegan or diabetic and it all comes right to your front door. Enjoy!

Safer Chemicals Healthy Families
Organic Trade Association

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Waste, yuck!

First off I would like to apologize for having been away.  Unfortunately I have no exciting excuse for my absence, nothing fun to report just been very uninspired in the writing department (and I am sure the world sighs a collective sigh of relief, wow burn :)).  It is just that the voices in my head that tell me what to do have been quite dormant, and therefore my life and writing has been quite dull.  As I am sure everyone's is when the voices in their head stop telling them what to do.  Oh that is just me, ok whatever.  Well the voices are back, and they are screaming right now.  They are screaming about waste.  There is nothing nice about that word, waste it is just horrible.  I must admit I am not exempt from being forced to use that word in my own vocabulary about my own actions.  Waste has come to the forefront of my attention because I noticed that in my own house it was happening quite a lot.  Mostly when it came to food.  I think I have mentioned this before, but everyone in this particular household is very picky regarding food.  The only ones who are not are the dogs (we have so much to learn from our tiny four legged friends).  Anyway it is food waste in particular that made me look into the compost, trash, disposal question that I had been pondering for so long (I mean we are talking hours here).  And just as I suspected my hypothesis was correct, I am a scientific genius, composting is the best way to dispose of organic food waste.
Now let me be clear on two things here.  1, I am not condoning waste, especially food waste and using composting as my scapegoat.  Trust me when I say that I am working on ways to reduce the amount of waste that happens in this house.  Not an easy task, but is one that is manageable.  2, my composting skills were diminishing since we moved we lost our composting bin.  But alas I discovered that a structure is not necessary when composting.  A pile of organic material works just fine (
So anyway to make a long story short, I am back and composting at full force.  We are making food portions smaller on the plates or certain ones that were not always able to finish.  As always were are saving leftovers.  But mostly we are trying to be more aware of our actions, especially around food.  It is easy to forget just how precious food is and there should never be any excuse to waste it.
Now just quickly back to the trash vs. disposal issue.  I was did some light research and found that food waste going to the landfill is a big contributor of green house gas emissions.  I also found that putting food waste down a disposal in the sink creates more work for your local water treatment plant.  Which also has an environmental price (great article  So bottom line do not waste food.  Buy and eat only what you need.  Better yet if you can, grow as much as you able, then buy, and then eat what you need.  Every little bit helps.  And side note my tomatoes are way better than the ones from the store, just saying.  But if you do have any organic material leftover compost it rather than tossing it.  And if you can't compost feed the birds with some of it and look up to see if your home city has a way to compost.  Oh and if they don't maybe start one.  No I am not being bossy I just planting little ideas, because that is what the voices are telling me.
Second side note, there have been two things happen to me recently that did make me feel good, at least on the taking less plastic/styrofoam front.  One incident happened at a local Greek fest that we went to.  I will say the festival is a lot of fun, but the real pull for me is the food.  Beside the super delicious baklava, there are these little doughnuts call loukoumades.  Basically they are like crack, because they are so good that you cannot eat just one, but there is no way in Hades (hope that is Greek and not Roman) that they are good for you.  Anyway they were serving these doughnuts in styrofoam, but I asked the people behind the counter if I could  have my order placed in my own reusable container, and instead of getting the  strange looks or just the big fat NO's that I normally get, they were super happy to oblige.  I was thrilled.  Then later on in the week I was in the drug store that our family frequents, and the lady behind the counter remembered me and remembered that I prefer to put the items in my own bag rather than a plastic one.  Anyway these are pretty small actions but they made a huge difference to me.  It is ok to say no to plastic, to take your own container.  People may look funny at you know but I guarantee one day it will be the norm, or maybe even mandatory.  You can still enjoy yourself and reduce your impact at the same time.  They do not have to be separate.  In fact it should be encouraged.  That should do it for me today.  Hope everyone is well.