Thursday, January 28, 2010

World's Worst Product Goes to....

When it comes to needless pointless most wasteful product ever, I can't see much beyond the Colgate Wisp. (Copyright-patent-registration-trademark-whatever stuff inserted here.)

 Here's a great quote directly from their website:

Q: "Can I use it more than once?"
A: "No, it is not recommended. Colgate WISP is designed for a single use. Keep in mind, each pack comes with four brushes, so you can freshen up multiple times a day."

(Oh... all those bolds and italics and colors are theirs. Not mine.)

OH GOODY!!!! So not only are these designed to be used ONCE then thrown away, they are encouraging me to use MULTIPLE ONES per DAY!!! WOW! Think of all the packaging I'm going through on TOP of that! That's so cool!!!!

Yeah, no it's not.

It's discreet! It doesn't need water! It's plastic!!!

This product actually horrifies me. I completely fail to see the point. Someone once told me it's great for travelers in other countries because sometimes the water is sketchy and it's nice to brush with these. OK... MAYBE that's a TINY remote pass on these things; but, really, we've managed without them for centuries, so I'm gonna say no. Too evil for the good of the planet.

Besides, they market these things to the cool peeps out in clubs. "Oh my gosh, I need fresh breath NOW!!!" Ever hear of gum? Mints?? Mouthwash????? Even those breathstrips are less of a waste of plastic than these things! During my braces phase a few years back, I had serious yuk-mouth a lot. I took to carrying around a small travel-glass bottle of mouthwash. It did the trick, and I just refilled it when needed.

I'm just sayin'. The less waste, the better. Yes, mints come in containers that get thrown away. But think about the ratio of product to packaging, and pick according to that. I'll say it again and again: if we reject these products, if we DO NOT BUY them, the companies will get the hint and stop making them and no other competitors will come out with their own version.

Stop. Think. Shop... smarter.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Medicine... Anytime, Anywhere!

To even begin talking about the new crop of single-serving super-convenient no-muss-no-fuss on-the-run go-anywhere over-the-counter medicines, I have to put aside the logical thinking that, if you are or beginning to feel sick, you can just take something on the go and continue working/shopping/hiking/whatever. It's hard for me to put logic aside. If we were all ruled a bit more by logic, we'd be a lot better off. To me, logic dictates that you get yourself the hell home and in bed if you feel you are coming down with something. Society would rather we pop some meds and keep going, keep being productive, keep running the rat race. I cry out, WHY????

So, yeah, I have to choke all that back down and stuff it back into my brain where logic lives but doesn't get out to exercise much anymore... to focus on the other point: needless plastic waste. Feel a cough coming on? No worries! It's OK that you don't have insurance and can't make it to the doctor, or that you have to stay at work because the economy sucks and you have to hold onto your job through sickness (it's OK to spread the germs, too, because we have products to kill germs too and antibacterial hand stuff in more little plastic containers) (but I digress), because you can just whip out the little plastic spoon with the perfect dose in it, and then throw the little plastic spoon away and wait til you need the next dose. It's far too messy and cumbersome to carry an entire BOTTLE of stuff anywhere, since you HAVE to keep going with your life, rather than take a needed day of rest keeping your germs to yourself (how foolhardy is THAT??). This is one of those times I have to ask, do we NEED this product? This is when I say, REJECT what these companies are trying to sell. If we do not buy into these so-called conveniences they are peddling, they won't make more. This isn't a necessity. It's some marketing scheme someone came up with in a desperate attempt to keep their job and seem cool and cutting-edge and somehow get above other companies. We need to tell them this is not the way, and we do not want it. We realize we don't need this kind of waste in the world. We can send this message.

Concious consumerism. If we don't stand up to reject these things, they will never stop. It's up to us.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

To Floss or Not to Floss - That is NOT the Question

I never used to floss. See, I hated my teeth. Hated. I was a tetracycline baby. When I was born, I was very sick, and they stuffed me full of the common antibiotic, tetracycline. They don't give that to babies anymore, because it has an effect on developing bones and teeth. I and many many other people therefore have "tetracycline-stained" teeth. They aren't really "stained" because it's IN the tooth, but our teeth are grey or brown or look like marble or like we smoke 10 packs a day with tea and coffee. So my teeth looked dingy, and I hated them, and there was nothing I could do short of re-doing my whole mouth with lots and lots of money. I didn't care if they fell right out of my head. I brushed them, but that was it. Dentists warned, but I didn't care. I didn't pay any attention to dental floss.

But now, I have a mouth full of pearly-whites. Well, porcelain whites. Every single tooth I have is covered in a beautiful little snug jacket of porcelain. And I love them. I love them so much and I want to protect them. They are pretty pretty pretty and they were EXPENSIVE. So now, I floss! I never had a lot of practice at it, and maybe I'm not that good; but, darn it, I am not the idiot that apparently most of us are when it comes to using floss.

Oh, we've all seen the commercials. I'm talking about FLOSS PICKS here. You know, those little plastic prong-fork-handle thingies with a tiny bit of floss threaded on them? SO handy! SO helpful! SO EASY TO USE!!! Screw regular floss! That's far too hard to use! We can't be bothered by that! We've become too stupid to possibly handle using regular floss!!

Come on, they didn't really say that. Did they? Yes, they pretty much did. We have to simplify floss because we are now at risk of getting tangled up in it if we try to use it. We're just that dumb... and in they came. I have friends who swear by those things. I see people using them ALL the time. Well it's just so darned convenient! We might not think of flossing in public, but gosh dang it these are really just fancy toothpicks and those are publically accepted, right? Um, eww! And then I see them discarded on streets and sidewalks... little plastic grossities with tooth-junk on them. I feel the same as if I saw a discarded condom.

This is yet another example of how we simply adopt a so-called convenience without really thinking of the environmental consequences. Do we NEED these floss picks? No. We DO NOT. We can go into the bathroom after lunch and do a proper flossing with regular floss that, sure, comes in a plastic container, but is really much much less plastic over the life of the product. There are natural flosses out there... my good friends at Radius Toothbrush have a delightful floss, and their company is very green. There is nothing good or redeeming or necessary about plastic floss picks. They need to go away.

There is ONE company I saw while researching... among the Oral-B and Crest products, there is a pick made by Den-Tek that is a compostable material made from starch, NOT plastic. That's better. Not the best, but much better. There are still problems to be addressed with the starch products, in that they can be mistaken for plastic and ruin a batch of recycling. But it's a step anyway. Maybe if you cannot figure out how to use real floss, you can try those instead of the plastic ones. Just please dispose of them properly. It's really gross when they are just laying there on the ground.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

2) Twice the Plastic for Twice the Freshness... and Garbage

Remember when buying lunch meat meant going to the butcher counter, pointing to your slab o' meat of choice, and receiving a package neatly wrapped in butcher paper? And you made sure to eat it before it had a chance to go bad, because otherwise that was a waste of money. And even when it might have started to go a little south, no worries, just fry it up! Not so now. We don't have time for those kinds of shenanigans. Nope... we need our lunch meats in pre-packaged plastic containers and if we don't eat it in time, just throw it away.

What price do we pay for convenience? In my weekly coupon search, I noticed Hillshire Farms is touting that their lunch meat is "Sealed Twice for Fresh Taste." Well, that sounds great, right? I have to wonder how many people buy that product and actually re-use the container. Those actually ARE containers that can be re-used many times. That would at least be something positive. I'm not sure that happens much, though. But on top of that, the product is sealed in an inner pouch. There's nothing to do with that except throw it away. There's not a lot of meat in these packages. How much are we buying in new containers and sealed pouches? Again, we wouldn't want it going bad before we had a chance to eat it all. And sealing it so much is actually a way to trick people into thinking it doesn't have all the crap in it that it really has. "Hmm, look at all that sealing, must mean it is so fresh and wonderful that it has to be extra-protected. It MUST be good for us!"

Uh-uh. Now, I'm not advocating to not eat meat. I still eat it. I'm just saying watch the packaging. If you can avoid products like this (and you can), then you should. We don't need to put all this extra plastic into the world. Send a message to these companies that we neither expect nor want this kind of excess garbage in the environment. It's staggering to think of how many of these are sold in just one day... let's make it a little bit less.

Oh, and go visit your butchers' counter. There's pretty good stuff there, and they might be lonely. Who knows? You might actually have a real conversation. I know. It's scary. Try it anyway.

Monday, January 18, 2010

1) Individually-wrapped Produce

Most fruit already comes in its own container. If you see a banana IN another container then shrink-wrapped, RUN. Wait, no, don't run... first find anyone in charge at that store and make your concerns well-known. And point out you will not feel the need to shop there until they change their suppliers. USE YOUR DOLLARS. Make change by spending money wisely. Then run. To a different store.

My biggest pet peeve by far on this is individually-wrapped prunes. Oh... sometimes they call them dried plums. Because that has more sex appeal. Or something. Anyway. No one but NO one needs these things wrapped in their own cellophane. If you can't have your prunes touching other prunes in the package, do the planet a favor and just skip eating prunes. If your prunes just aren't staying fresh enough for you in between prune snacking, see previous suggestion. If you think your kids will eat them more readily because they seem like candy when they are individually wrapped... see previous comment. Prunes are wonderful, I love prunes, I think they are delicious and healthy. But DO NOT EVER buy those ones that are sealed in their own little plastic coffins. If we stop buying them, Sun Sweet will stop packaging them like that, and we'll all be better off!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


So, it's Sunday, and to me that means football. Wait... no... I meant coupons. Yes, part of my Sunday ritual is getting the paper and going through coupons. I used to clip a lot more. Now, I find, a lot of those products are things I've discovered I don't really need/use anymore.

I have started to look through the Sunday coupons with a much more discerning eye. Sure, that's $2 off, but do I really NEED it? A lot of times if a product has lots of extra packaging, I'll decide I don't really need to try that product. Paper towels? Don't use 'em enough to bother. Paper napkins? Nope. Shampoo??? No. Deodorant? Nope. I have greener alternatives to those products.

That got me to thinking... this week is a good week to talk about unnecessary "things" we have accepted without much thought into our lives. I'm going to look over some of these things that we use every day, and see if I can't point out some other better products, or even plant some doubt if we need the items in question at all. It's time to be wiser as consumers. If we demand better, we can get better. If we start rejecting stupid packaging, then manufacturers will stop the waste. It's the power oof our dollars. We can do this. It's up to us, and we HAVE the power to make the change. BE the change.

Stay tuned! And as always, chime in with your ideas, experiences, thoughts, etc!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Resolution Revolutions

In my recent radio show, my good friend Michelle GreenCoach Carroll came in and we chatted about New Years' resolutions. We quickly decided it should be a year and decade of Revolution instead of resolution. Maybe it was because Michelle couldn't get the word "resolution" out, but hey, we liked it and it works.

We spoke of making your goals measurable and attainable. When you can measure your success, you have more of a chance of continuing.

That's well and fine and great, and I will stick to some of those, but one goal I want to hit will be difficult to measure. I want to be more positive. I want to look around to see the good instead of the overwhelming bad that exists in this world. That's really kind of nebulous and near impossible to track my progress, but I'd like to try anyway. I get weighed down by the enormity of the tasks at hand, and by the ignorance and apathy of so many of those around me. I realize, though, that all I can really do is try my best to inform and educate. And then I have to change MY outlook. I can change myself; I cannot change others, only lead them by example and hope they can change themselves.

It's far from easy. I'm frequently far from hopeful. So, I'll try to change that. Maybe the best way to track that is to write down how many negative vs. positive thoughts I have in a given day. Maybe I can make a revolution in my head after all.

Oh... and if you missed it, check out that radio show here: We had quite a good time! And maybe you can get some ideas from us in between laughs.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Green Tips!

Ahh... the first Monday of a new year, a new decade. Do you feel fresh, renewed, hopeful? Or do you feel the same old same old, another Monday, back to work, back to the grind? I tend to be a glass-half-empty kind of person myself. I know: shocking. Greenies are supposed to be eternally sunny and hopeful. But I'm going to try harder this year to be more of the solution. There's more than enough of the problem going around.

Let's start this by some really easy suggestions on how to save water around the house. The cool thing about this tip is that it can save you money, too. Any time you save water, you save on your water BILL. These are things that certainly will not impact your quality of life, or even incovenience you in any way. Just little things that you might not have realized are a little wasteful and unecessary. These following suggestions don't even cost you anything up front, and there's nothing to install!

For instance, we all know to turn off the water while brushing our teeth. That's been said til we are all blue in the face. There's no need to keep that water running, and the gallons (yes, GALLONS) you save every week will tick off your water bill nicely and noticeably. Be the Enforcer around your home, too. Sometimes everyone needs to be reminded. Soon, it will be second nature to turn it off.

Try to cut your shower by a minute. Just one little minute! That's not hard at all! This was my big downfall. I love me my showers. I have finally been able to cut way back. If you shave a minute here and there, then maybe you can take it down even further. Either way, just that one minute off will also save you gallons over just one week.

When washing dishes by hand, keep in mind that you don't need to FILL the sink before you being washing. Use the fill-water to be rinsing what you are washing as you fill. And once the sink is full and you are rinsing on the other side, remember to not keep the water running in between rinses. It's tempting, I know. If you only have a small amount of dishes to do, consider just washing out of a bowl or pot instead of the whole sink. Pile all the things to be rinsed on the other side and do them all at once.

See? No low-flow fixtures to install, no major llife changes, no money out-of-pocket... just simple common-sense ideas. I always think these are things most people already know, and maybe you already do, but somehow, there are people out there who simply don't put the thought into it. This is a year of action for us. It has to be. Feel free to spread your knowledge and pass things around. A lot of times, what we we think is common sense or common knowledge, isn't so common.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Decade

2010 already feels better. I don't know about you, but I'm feeling a little hopeful. Hopeful that we can turn some ideas and attitudes around. Maybe we can see a little more clearly this year, this decade. Maybe we can shake off the crap that dominated last decade. We can get rid of the bad feelings and bad times and try something new and different.

That's my hope for 2010 and beyond, anyway. I'm spending my New Year's Day thinking about ways to make that happen. What's your plan?