Thursday, July 29, 2010

Healthy kids should mean healthy planet, too

Waterlicious® is the first vitamin- and fiber-enhanced fruit-flavored water specially formulated for growing kids, both in terms of nutrition as well as taste.

Waterlicious. Making water delicious? Clever. Good for kids and better than sugary juices and sodas? Absolutely. No high-fructose corn syrup? Yay. Natural and all-around good stuff. Hooray. 12-oz throw-away plastic bottles? BOOOOOO. Fail.

I know, I know, I KNOW again. It's convenient. It's good on-the-go. It helps make life EASIER. Giving kids something like this instead of enduring their screaming makes parenting EASIER. I completely grant that this is a better product to give kids than some of the alternatives. What I refuse to grant is why it must come packaged like this. I would be 100% behind this product if it were in glass bottles, in big sizes, so that you can keep it conveniently in your fridge and dole it out into reusable bottles when needed. But this product is not in glass. It is in light, cheap plastic that will be here long after your childrens' children are gone. Yes. The plastic bottle you are using to pacify your child when it really isn't necessary will be here still when your child... well, you get it. Is that what you want? I don't. I believe in the premise behind this drink, but I do not feel it is necessary and I do not agree with keeping cases of it in the home. Heck, why not make some mix that parents can add at home? (Oh yeah, like already exist?) And 25 bucks for 18 bottles? No.

Let's look at it. What is it? Well, it's flavored water. That doesn't seem outrageously novel to me. With the tiniest bit more effort, I'm pretty sure we have the technology to flavor water at home and take it on trips to the park. Seriously. People think I am being a little harsh on these products aimed right squarely at children. Scratch that. At parents. THAT is why I am against these products. They are NOT in the best interest of children. They are create solely for parents who need convenience and do not make the time to make an alternative for their kids. PERIOD! These are quick easy fixes to something that really isn't a problem. TAKE a few minutes and create some kind of flavored water yourself at home with your own water from your own tap. It is NOT that hard. Get the kids involved. The ONLY thing these products do is teach toddlers that it's perfectly OK to use these disposable bottles and that everything should be quick and easy and convenient and store-bought instead of made at home.

Parents are busy. They are hassled. They don't have time for their kids. They work a lot. They're tired. I get it. But I cannot, will not stand by and watch the planet get trashed. I will speak out. I will declare these products are irresponsible and unnecessary. And I will go one step further and say that if parents are not prepared to take a few extra moments out of their day to avoid these oil- and resource-consumptive products, then perhaps they should rethink the number of kids they plan to have... seriously. Kids deserve time and care. Why else have them??? It's all well and good but the rest of us live here too, and THAT is why I speak out. We cannot just go on doing whatever we please to the Earth, because some of us actually want there to BE a future for these kids.

We have a bazillion reasons why bottled water is not good for adults. Why should we think it's OK for kids???

It's really not.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Trick Kids Into Drinking More Water!

Yes, absolutely, let us get kids to drink more water! I agree completely! But do we really need to do it by making them their own special single-use-bottle bottled water? Apparently.

Today's spotlight for bottled-water aimed exclusively at kids is "Wat-aah". Yes, that is their logo. Because yes, by all means, let's encourage that behavior in our children. Isn't screaming cute? They at Wat-aah pull out all the stops and employ every tactic in the book... childhood obesity is up - buy our water! Your kids make this face haha - buy our water. Sugary drinks and soda are bad - buy our water! Oh, and and it has all kinds of good stuff in it like electrolytes and... um...  one of them has oxygen in it (??? I guess kids don't breathe enough?)... BUT it tastes just like pure water! Wow! I guess you have to have children to understand THAT selling point.

Let's just be honest... yes, everything they are using to scare you into buying their water is true. Childhood obesity is way alarming. I think a little fresh air and exercise would help that more than a bottle of water, personally, and a better diet... Yes, you should not be giving kids sugary sodas or stuff like that. (Somehow, back in the day, we found good old Kool-Aid to be just fine, and we did not have a problem with obesity.) I understand wanting kids to drink healthier, and I applaud any effort to get off the soda etc. But I simply do not get this whole "kids don't like water" thing. The "We have to make it appealing" thing. The "They'll scream if they don't get to drink what they want" thing. The "Let them go to the fridge and make their own choice" thing. NO. Kids don't know. YOU have to teach them. I drink coffee. I drink a lot of coffee. I love coffee. I grew up with happy memories that wrapped around the smell of coffee and the sound of a metal spoon stirring in a ceramic mug and the clink of that spoon on the counter. Guess what? Kids absorb what they see. So if you are constantly drinking from a throw-away bottle (I'm seriously going to stop glorifying them with the "recyclable" label), they will want to do it too. If you give them this over-priced whatever water when they are little, they will carry that habit into adulthood. STOP falling for this crap of catering to kids. This product isn't aimed at kids, it's aimed at their parents. Let's call a spade a spade. It's aimed at parents who are, quite frankly, failing as parents.

I have this vision. I see children of today growing up (hopefully, it's a little doubtful some times) and hitting their late teens and early twenties and looking around. I see them looking around at the planet, then looking at their parents and saying to them, "But you knew. You knew. All the knowledge was there, you were told over and over how bad this stuff was, and you still kept using it. You knowingly trashed MY future. Why would you do that?" What answer is there to that? Do YOU want to your child to ask you that question? Or would you rather they knew you did everything you could?

Meh. I could be wrong. Evidence to the contrary hits me in the face every damn day. But I'll keep trying. I promise. At least I'LL be able to look the kids in the eye.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Get 'em started young...

You may think I am going to talk about getting children on the green path. Would that I were. I'm actually going to point out several companies that would have your child happily getting hooked on single-use bottles right out of the crib. I can hardly think of anything more irresponsible, and rather than discuss them all in one posting, I'm going to give each of them the full attention and criticism they deserve. Yes, thank you, thank you, hold the applause. Haha!

First on my list: a little product/company called Nourish. They make bottled water for babies and toddlers. Oh, goody. My cauldron is already bubbling over! Here's their tagline: "We nourish our most precious resources. Our children, our time, our health, our world." Um. Please tell me how encouraging the use of "recyclable" disposable bottles nourishes our health or our world?? We've been over the recycle thing and we KNOW, we know, we know that a very small percentage of these bottles actually GET recycled. So, what... just keep using them and hope someday that will change? I think not.

But I digress. Let's get a little more into this product. First, we can buy "nourish baby". "Clean Water. Clean Bottle. Happy Baby." OK. Let us read on, shall we? "Just add formula, shake, serve, and recycle." Oh, here we go again with the recycle thing. I won't insult your intelligence by re-hashing it yet again. What this is, is a "recyclable" BPA-free bottle, filled with enough "spring" water to mix in formula, "specially designed to make feeding in a pinch a total cinch." Cinch? Since when does that word EVER apply to babies? If having a baby was a "cinch" - oh never mind on that one. They say, "No more washing out dirty bottles in public restrooms. No more stopping at fast food restaurants to ask for water." I never actually HAD a kid, so... maybe I don't know what it takes to juggle a kid and some sort of social life where I NEED to be out shopping instead of keeping my baby on a regular schedule (I seemed to hear once that that was important in raising a child, but I guess I'm wrong?), but this all seems a little TOO... too... uh... steeped in CONVENIENCE for me. Again, I could be way off. You know, I've always felt that if you can't change YOUR life around having a child, then maybe you shouldn't have one. Children require sacrifice. I'm sorry if that doesn't revolve around your idea of needing to be at Starbucks and interrupting your baby's nap time for your "needs", but I'm pretty sure our moms raised us JUST fine without the NEED to have to dash into a McDonald's to beg for water. I'm pretty sure they planned a little better than that. All this product says to me is, Go ahead, do what you need to do, don't put your baby's needs first, we make it convenient for you to do whatever you please. Actual mothers can tell me I'm incorrect, but if you have babies on a set feeding schedule and plan ahead a little for it, you don't need to be washing bottles in a gas-station hole-in-the-wall toilet.

Yeah yeah yeah. I know. It's just that this product, this company, seems to feed into the mind-set of this generation: it's OK, don't worry about it now, let's just make everything as easy as possible. Why should you be inconvenienced or have to work at anything? Here. Have this bottle, then throw it away. Oh, and don't forget the plastic forks and spoons and throw-away plates for the toddler years!

On to "nourish toddler". "Perfect for declarations of MINE." Oh good. Let's already abandon any hope of teaching our children to share, and let's start early. THAT point aside... "There's a better way to quench your toddler's thirst." Really? A 10oz single-use bottle of "spring" water is the better way? In what world? (Oh, yeah, in the "convenient" world. I forgot. Sorry.) "So long, sippy-cup power struggles." Uh huh. Good. I can't really see anything special or remarkable or novel about this product. It's bottled water, in a smaller bottle, with a lot more plastic on the sippy-lid. Yay.

This product line is all based on the (correct?) assumption that parents cannot control their children, that children rule the world of the adults and adults must bend to the whim of children's desires. What happened to being told "NO"? Here's the rest of their pitch: "Pleasing thirsty, hungry little ones on the go can be stressful. [??? So don't be on the go so much?] There's the juggling, the grabbing, the bargaining - and the spilling. Been there. Done that." I see. Instead of teaching children manners, and sharing, and to LISTEN, we just bend over to whatever, because it's EASIER, and pollute the planet with so-called recyclables because we are too lazy to be parents. I KNOW children are willful and can be difficult. I watch Supernanny. I also notice she insists the adults taking the lead role, not just giving in because it's easier. If you want easier, get a fish. Oh, no, wait, that requires changing water every so often. Get a plant. There are convenient ways around having to water it all the time, so bothersome.

I know! Get a farkin' rock. I hear they don't talk back at all.

Oh... and by the way, I must point out these things are a complete and total ghastly rip-off at $3.50 a bottle, and FORTY dollars a case.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Not a Smart Start

I must have been asleep at the wheel. It's the only explanation I have. Sometime, somewhere, when I wasn't paying attention, cereal got spiffy. And convenient. (And you know how much I hate that word...)

Way back when, someone realized it would be cool to sell cereal in little boxes. Hm. Convenient. Easy single-servings. Just toss a box to the kid. It was fun and fine to just eat it right straight from the box, minus the milk. A fun snack. If you wanted it the "traditional" way, you still had to seek out the milk and get a bowl all dirty.

But that wasn't good enough. Soon, we came up with this fancy way to specially open said little box and use the liner as a holder of milk, in conjunction with said box. I never tried it myself, but I suspect it proved too darn difficult for the average human. And for the kids?? Who needs an origami project when all you want is to give them some cereal with cow-juice?

So that wasn't good enough either. Never fear! Plastic is here! The cereal comes in its own perfect plastic bowl, you just throw the whole works away when you are finished! In fact, it would be nearly criminal to simply open these to snack on the stuff dry. I mean, you have the perfect container for the wet part. I can't hardly believe they don't come with a throw-away spoon. Let's make it a complete no-brainer no-clean-up. Who dropped the ball on that one?? And you still have to hunt down milk. What-up with that? Can't we make this even more convenient? Please?

If you break it down, I would suspect they become more expensive than a box of cereal. So what's the point? Buy a FULL box and put some in your own little sealed reusable bowl or cup or container. Milk has to be sought out anyway, so why not take the extra step?

Oh... wait... I know why. Because you might actually have to WASH something out after using it, and think about getting it back home or wherever. That's such a kill-joy. Besides, these containers get recycled anyway, right?


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SO Unnecessary

There are some seriously unnecessary products out there. Unnecessary as in there is something other than this plastic piece of crap that you can use!!! But people like to create things and sell them to others who think they need them... and there ya go. Here are some products the Good Green Witch loves to hate...

3M's Scotch-Brite Cleaners. There's a whole variety. You know, because we need different handles for every single cleaning application in our lives. Right from the site: "Does your stainless steel refrigerator look like your child’s hand print drawings? The Scotch-Brite Stainless Steel Cleaner is a quick and easy way to keep those stainless steel surfaces shiny and smudge free: Pop a disposable pre-moistened pad onto the uniquely handled applicator and you’re seconds away from scratch-free, fingerprint-resistant shine." Hm. Where to begin. Let me point out that they make a cook top scrubber, tub scrubber, sink scrubber, a nook and cranny scrubber, and a grout scrubber. I'm sure I am missing a few. Sigh. And these are necessary because...???? Because a simple microfiber cloth obtained at the 99 Cent Store CAN'T handle most of those surfaces then be tossed in the laundry to be used again and again? I'm really at a loss. Unnecessary.

I want to hate this one more than I do, but at least it has a reusable microfiber cloth on it. "Clean your windows without twisting or contorting your body!" I do like the idea, but we really do not need another cheap plastic handle out there in the world. Again, you can find your microfiber cloth and make yourself something like this out of crap you already have lying around your home or garage. Plus, they come with spray bottles for the water. Really, not necessary. So, yay on the idea and the actual NON-disposable cloths involved, but come on. Unnecessary.

Woo hoo! Good doggie exercise! I find these completely unnecessary. How many end up in the landfill for no good reason? The only people that get a pass on using these are older people who still want to get their dog to run and play, but maybe have arthritis or a bad back or some such. But for everyone else... NO. Unnecessary. Oh sure, it may fling the ball super-far, but really, just throw the darn thing yourself. And if your excuse for having this is because "eeeewwww, the ball is all soggy from dog spit and it gets all muddy and eeewww...." NO. You HAVE a DOG. Dog spit was part of the deal. You don't like touching dog spit, don't have a dog. And if you are too lazy to bend over and pick up the ball... well then, just leave.

These at-your-desk no-need-to-refrigerate super-easy yummy meals are all over the place. Frankly, I'm horrified. It's not like anyone is keeping the strainers that come with each and every frozen or packaged meal to use for other things. How many of these grossly unnecessary pieces of plastic are getting thrown away every day in this country? I shudder to think. And yet, we don't think about it at all, we take it for granted that once thrown away in in the bin, it's somehow magically OK, but it's not.  I understand people are busy. But that's no reason to thrash the place for the rest of us who actually manage our time. How busy will we be when we've destroyed life as we know it because we couldn't make meals over the weekends and bring them to work in a sustainable manner? Not too busy, I think.

There are so many others. They can wait for another day. Unfortunately, there is no lack of subject matter. And the Good Green Witch is angry. Angry, and dismayed, and alarmed, and all other sorts of things. Why can't we just stop, think, look around at what we are doing? Why are WE, me writing this and you reading this, in such a minority? I'll keep on keeping on, and so will you, and then I guess all we can do is hope for the best, and that people will wake up before it's too late.

Unless it already is.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What a Waste is Waste

As I sit here, one of the many various trash trucks is doing it's thing on my street. It's daily. Not a day goes by that I don't see/hear trash trucks. Part of the reason for that is because these buildings have pick-up several times a week, and then you have to factor in the trash vs the recycling vs the green waste pick-up... all separate trucks... fine, whatever... but mostly, I notice the reason for this.... is....

Pretty much each building on the street has a different company getting it's trash.

Mittens from "Bolt" quote: "Now I'm concerned on a number of levels."

Los Angeles City picks up our recycling, but they do not handle our trash. Trash pick-up is contracted out to a whole mess of other companies. Since we've been here these 5 or so years, I think I have seen our trash pick-up handled by 3 different companies. This is why I cannot get green waste containers, even though I want them. LA will not give them to us, because they don't pick up our trash and therefore do not care if green waste goes in the dumpsters or not. (I know, I have asked.) I've never counted, but I am reasonably confident that at least 3 or 4 different companies handle JUST OUR BLOCK.

Yeah? So? Well, here's the deal. This would be different if these trucks were all bio-diesel or some clean-fuel trucks, but they are your average gas-guzzling yuck-trucks. If one company handled all the building, or if we had the city picking up, this would mean a much more efficient system. As it is now, trucks come all times of the week and drive past buildings on the way to another street... yeah. I find this troubling. I knows. I need a new pastime.

I don't have a solution; I'm just sharing (venting) at this point. I wonder why I am the only one that seems to see this on my street. I suppose an option would be to go to ALL the building managers on the street and talk to them, one at a time, and see if maybe they would be interested and open to change if I can get reduced pick-up rates. I may be delusional, but it seems to me that if ONE company handled an area, there COULD be lower rates, because there would be efficiency. Yeah, OK, I know, I AM delusional. What's new.

Then again, I AM Italian.... and I've watched the Sopranos. Somehow I recall they knew their way around trash business in the Mafia.... hmmmmmmm....

Thursday, July 8, 2010

"But I put them in the recycling bin!"

We've all heard that one, haven't we? "Well, sure I use plastic bags. But I recycle them." Try as I do to point out the futility of that practice, I still hear it over and over.

The futility I mention was so very clearly shown to me one day last week as I stood at my kitchen sink, looking out the window onto our street below. We have front-row accommodations to a fairly busy street, lined with apartment complexes and palm trees. I looked out as a recycling truck went by. It's hard to tell them from regular trash trucks, isn't it? That alone speaks volumes to me, but I feel rather solitary in that. (I'm sure I'm not, but apparently I don't talk to the right people enough.) So, here goes this big huge noisy truck rumbling down the street, and out from the top floats a plastic bag, serenely leaving the rest of its plastic brethren behind to become another piece of trash, attempting a dream journey to the beach, to the ocean, to join someday in the Pacific Gyre, if it is lucky enough to make it that far. Every bag's dream.

Yes. You use plastic bags because you think that putting them in your recycling bin or that collection bin at your grocery store absolves you from responsibility. You've "done your part." It's OK to use them because they are going RIGHT back into the mix, right? WRONG. It is far easier and less expensive to make new plastic bags than it is to recycle them. So while they may be collected, they are NOT likely to get recycled. They are sitting in giant warehouses and shipping containers until someone figures out what to do with them or what third world country can be scammed into taking them. They float away from their groups and get caught in trees, or float off trucks that gather them and head for the shores. Don't fool yourself. Just. Stop. Using. Them.

Just as California is poised to start charging for these bags at stores (even though it will still be 2 years before it would come into being. I'll never understand that.), out comes a report that YOUR REUSABLE BAG MIGHT KILL YOU. Yeah, we all saw the alarmist articles. I laughed it off (because it is, after all, stupid), but a dear friend pointed out that it would seem to counter the upcoming bag-charging law, and keep people wanting their throw-aways. I was stunned that my cynicism slipped to where I missed that. (What's wrong with me???!) Any person with 2 grains of sense in their head can make sure their reusable bags aren't breeding grounds of e. coli. Frankly, if someone does NOT have enough sense for that, I say leave the gene pool quietly and thank you very much for playing. But that's me.

What happened to The Bag from the Truck? It fluttered away between some buildings. I hope someone was able to catch it as it rested on its journey, and that someone would try to get it to a proper bin (of futility) again, but there are no guarantees that it will stay there either. The Bag from the Truck clearly has its destiny in mind. It wants the Gyre. It will not be contained.

Just another day in the life.