Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trader Noe's

All environmentalists shop at Trader Joe's, and Trader Joe's is the best place for all crunchy granola-eating sandal & socks-wearing tree-huggers to shop.


Thank you, but I'll go to another store today!
I used to LOVE Trader Joe's, before I knew better. I'd still go there if my only other choice was Whole Foods, but it would be a push. They really do have good food, they really do... and I love their alcohol prices. A lot of their prices are really quite nice and some of the products aren't terrible, but they import a hell of a lotta crap from other countries, and that's not very green. But that's not what finally got me.

What finally pushed me over the edge was a very delicious salad I had for lunch one day. It was full of extremely delightful ingredients, and it was perhaps the most perfect salad I have had in weeks. So what was wrong with it? Besides the fact that it, like so many other food items there, came packaged in a single-serving plastic container? Right there in the package, IN the package, was a completely unnecessary plastic fork. WHY??? (BTW, someone had purchased it for me. I would have passed if I had seen it in the store personally. But, damn, it was delicious.)

For some time now, I have been frustrated by TJ's packaging. Brown rice? Sure! Get in in our frozen package, single serving, all neat in plastic! So convenient! There's no need to MAKE brown rice, it's sooooo hard to make it yourself! Pasta lunch, single serving? Sure, right here in our plastic container! (Oh, and a fork, because it'll be there whether you need it or not. Oh, and you should NEVER need it. Right?) Lasagna! Ravioli!! Stuffed peppers!!! So many things so conveniently packaged so you, the one who has NO time to plan a lunch and why should you need to what with TJ's making everything so easy, YOU don't have to think EVER.

OK, yeah, whatever. We live on the go, and Trader Joe's is simply providing what our busybusybusy lives demand. But really? A fork? Can't you AT LEAST give me the option of NOT needing it? Must you make it so easy to contribute to the plastic vortices in the oceans? Can't you give me the chance to say, "No, thank you so very much, you are too kind, but I will use my OWN actual real fork today."

Mr. Trader Joe, why can't you be the store we'd like you to be? Why can't you reject this kind of mindless consumerism and take the higher road? Why do you cave to those who mindlessly pollute because they can't be bothered to plan ahead for once in their pathetic lives, and why must you drag the rest of us down with them? Your fun signs and colorful shiny happy people don't fool me anymore. You don't care. I thought you did, but you're just like the rest of them. You lied. I deserve better. But I know. I can't change you. You've tasted success at the hands of the lazy, and you don't think you need me anymore.

I'll shop elsewhere, thank you. Have a nice day. I wish you well. Oh, wait, who's this? Well, hello, Henry.... Joe Who?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Zen and the Art of Spinach Maintenance

After my radio show today, the sunny but chilly afternoon stretched luxuriously out before me. What to do? Laundry? Nah. TV? No, I want to DO something... I don't often have the chance to stay home all day, as I have to go out to work like most people, so something to do while kicking around the homestead is kind of nice. Kitchen. I can be in the kitchen and do useful things. We have all that organic spinach from Farm Fresh to You that I had better get ready to cook, or it'll go to waste. We got a whole ton of greens this week in our delivery, and I want to make sure it all gets EATEN for a change. We sometimes have a waste problem. I'm working on it.

Into my ears go my earbuds and my favorite mix of songs on my mp3 player. My sunny yellow kitchen, where I can look down and out onto the street as I do what I do. Mp3 and musings. And spinach. Well, while I'm getting the spinach out, let's clean the fridge. Yikes, waste. But less. I dream of the composter I do not yet have. My cats join me in the small room, because that's where their food is too, and they think if they hang around, they'll get some treats. They are usually correct. The kitten thinks the stems from the spinach leaves are fun, so I give her one and she plays with it for a long time at my feet. I muse. I used to work in the restaurant industry, so I know it is best to strip the stems so that you pull them mostly completely out of the leaf. I muse. Do other people know this at all? Have they ever handled actual spinach, or just the stuff from the plastic bags? I muse. I kind of go all Zen as I listen to tunes and pull stems. Yeah, it takes time. Yeah, I sorta had to talk myself into taking the time. But it's nice. Tunes, cats, sunny kitchen, spinach. I am relaxed. I know this spinach will be very good, and I am not begrudging the time it is taking to de-stem it. We have gotten away from giving time to such simple activities. I could do things like this more often...

I'm enjoying the time in the kitchen so much that I go ahead and clean the place. Without chemicals. Hell, even the toaster is clean now. And it wasn't a chore. It was purging and relaxing. My fridge is clean, stuff is put away, and now I can go back in and try my hand at some recipes I have been meaning to try. I swear I am going to make that hummus from scratch today and stop being intimidated by the thought of it, so I can stop buying it in plastic tubs. I'm going to make a nice dinner that includes spinach. Fresh, organic spinach.

That's it. I just wanted to share a simple Saturday afternoon with all y'all. I want to have more afternoons like that, but I know they will still be at a premium for now. I want more people to want afternoons like that. Can we just get some simplicity back? I swear, it would be so good for all of us.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bed, Bath, & Beyond Wastefulness

My first in a series of naming names and calling these peeps out.

The New Ad came in the mail today, and I, like many, eagerly grab it to flip through it. I love ads and circulars. They're pretty. They're full of Stuff I Must Have. I actually grabbed this flyer out of the recycling bin, exclaiming, "Oooo - Bed Bath & Beyond!"

That's actually kinda funny, because the last time I was IN one of those stores, I was mostly disgusted. It used to smell good in there to me; now it just reeks of overwhelming chemicals. Do I LOVE some of the stuff in there? Hell yeah. But, lately, it seems I cannot leave that store quickly enough. Still... here's the flyer in my hot little hands. Page 4-5: a veritable porn-worthy display of single-serve coffeemakers with single-serve little plastic cups of uselessness. That was a past post. But there they are. Disgusted, but undaunted, I go on. Page 6 forces me into the realization that we really have jumped the shark. Our world is filled useless stupid crap being shoved down our throats. Yeah yeah yeah. I know, I knew that already. But aren't we supposed to be moving the OTHER direction by now? Do we really have to sell plastic cupcake plungers?? Do we NEED to core out cupcakes and fill them with frosting, and do we really really need a plastic piece of crap to do this? I gotta say no. But there they are. Page 8: Touchless hand soap dispenser. You know, because you don't want your hands to get germy BEFORE you wash them by touching the soap dispenser. Oh - wait - hey, there's a nice product... monogrammed napkins. Yes! Now that's more like it! Ohhh... but then, boo. 30 Piece Value Pack of Monogram Paper Guest Towels. They aren't even calling them napkins. They are towels. You know, disposable. Because, by all means, let us make having guests over as CONVENIENT as possible, instead of a nice event to be celebrated.

Am I saying BB&B is an evil empire? Of course not. Is it their fault for offering this stuff? A little, but the onus is really on US to STOP BUYING IT.

I can't think of a better way to kick off the holiday season than to vow to stop buying senseless throw-away crap. Pass it on.

Next time: why I avoid Trader Joe's like the plague. Yes, Trader Joe's.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

If it says "Starter Kit"...

Bill Maher, you're safe with your "New Rules." Not that you were concerned about little ole me. But we finally came up with a name for the Good Green Witch redes: Can't We Just Agree?

First of these that comes to mind is pretty much a true and binding FACT of life: If it says "starter kit" on the package, you WILL be throwing stuff away and buying new things to use and throw away. If it says "starter kit" on the package, it is the beginning of a cycle of waste and disposable STUFF. If it says "starter kit" on the package, you WILL be spending more and more money on it, for ever, ad naseum, in infinitum... whatever. Sounds Latin. I didn't take that language in high school.

First to mind is the ever-popular but incredibly ineffective and sucky Swiffer WetJet. I have one of these. Please don't judge; I did NOT buy it, and I refuse to use it. I even found this picture that has the NERVE to use my favorite witch of all time. I'm nauseous. That's completely gross. And, OK, OK, I HAVE used it. All the better to find out how poorly it actually works. The dusters are decent enough of a product, they really do pick up dust, but in reality, they are completely unnecessary. Yes, they are simply convenient. My favorite word. How many plastic handles to these things live in the world today? I do not want to know. Everything you see pictured here must be purchased and thrown away and re-purchased, and they are NOT inexpensive, as you probably know.

Now for the WetJet, which, again, I say works much less effectively than ANY other method I have EVER used to clean a floor, I would rather slide across the floor with fluffy socks on than use this again... where was I? Oh, yes, the WetJet... with its practically-a-diaper "cloths" - you know, plastic-lined and never-going-away pad-things... its non-refillable chemical-laden horrible cleaning fluid... yeah, don't refill it, just toss it and buy a whole new plastic bottle of the toxin. Sigh.

Here's a fun quote I found: Swiffer is a line of cleaning products by Procter and Gamble. The brand uses the popular razor-and-blades business model, whereby the consumer purchases the handle assembly at a low price and must continue to purchase replacement refills and pads over the life of the product.

Uh huh. What I said. Not cool. That's how we got here in the first place. Let's get away from it. Let's find a new place.

So, to sum up. Green Witch Rede #1: If it says starter kit, don't start.

Pretty simple. I can live with that. Hopefully, we all can.

Just Once Bitten

The Good Green Witch is a fraud. Yep, I am a big old fake-a-roo. Why would I say that? Because I still wear make-up. I do. I haven't given it up. I don't plan to. What I wear is very very minimal and I try to get better at what I buy, but my big old failing that makes me cringe every time is... lip color. Yeah yeah I still use it. If you look in my purse (please don't!), you will find several - GASP! - containers of gunk in little plastic junk-tubes. I am a sucker for the ads, and I love thinking about which ones to purchase. I stand in the cosmetics aisle staring at them all, trying to not pay too much... wondering over colors... and most recently I succumbed to Revlon's latest offering. I am full of shame. This new product, Just Bitten, has wonderful ads and promises lasting color. Lipstain on one end and balm on the other and a whole lot of plastic in between. Oh, and I'm sure, plenty of petro-chemicals all through. I hang my head.

This innocent-looking little tube is pretty much pointless. The "stain" is not very stain-y. It's no better than anything else out there, it goes away easily, and it really isn't even very colorful in the shade I chose. Shame on me. And what happens when we buy one of these and find it's just not right? Well, we can return it, sure, but then what? It still gets thrown away. Boo. I am ashamed. I WILL use this until it is gone, because I have it now and I may as well, but it has become way past time to change my ways.

Onto the Internet I went. What would Beth Terry do??? (LOL I may have to use that a LOT. Someone tell her. Hah!) Surely a gal can still have her silly pretty-stuff without being all Evil Plastic Girl. I found something that I cannot wait to try - as soon as it gets here... I'm stalking the mail carrier. It's vegan (even though I am not!), it's natural, and it comes in a METAL container, which apparently I can send back for refills, or, knowing me, use for something else. I can be Queen of Re-Use when it's not some un-re-useable lipstick tube. It should be here any day, and it wasn't even expensive. I swear I'll give a report the minute I try it.

So, there ARE alternatives. We just have to look around a little. I can't (don't want to) give up my stained-lips habit. At least I can try to find a better way to have my lips and stain them too. That's all I'm really asking... that we TRY a little harder. I am. Can you?

Friday, October 22, 2010

You can never have too many shoes.

Except that... you can.

I came across this picture one day somewhere. I don't even remember what it was for. Did it instill me with envy? Wonderment? Awe? Nope. I was filled with disgust. This is not an image of a store; this is someone's home. In what world does anyone possibly need this? I know, I know, it's not about "need", it's about "want". Seriously? I look at this and think, THIS is actually a disorder. My judgement call? My humble opinion? No. This is gross. This is an abuse. This is a disease. It's not cute, it's not enviable, it's sick. Plain sick. And bad for everyone.

Unfortunately, it is a disease that we are encouraged to have every day from every side. TV, magazines, billboards, ads everywhere tell us THIS is what we want. We DESERVE it. An article I read some time ago mentioned that walk-in closets are a fairly American concept. Many "average" Europeans do well with fewer and higher quality clothes. I personally have a serious love affair with boots, but I do not own 50 pairs. In fact, I've been holding on to a gift card with plans to buy what would be my 3rd pair, replacing another pair that are more utility than dress. I can't seem to pull the trigger on purchasing them. Surely there is something else more practical I can buy! Even my husband says, nearly daily, "Did you order your boots yet? Why not?" (I love him!) While the message out there is to have more buy more trash more, I'm cool with keeping things simple.

Why the American obsession with having more more more bigger bigger better? Why the walk-in closets that are bigger than some apartments? My husband and I like to dream of our own home, so we go to open houses on the weekends in our favorite little town. Most every place we look at has huge closets. Sure, I love them, but they make me laugh, because I know how empty ours would be. Room for all the towels and linens, for sure. Then what would be in the linen closets? We laugh. And yet there has been, as you have noticed, such a growing abundance of storage rental facilities. Seriously??? No, I can see the need for those when you are moving and need to stash your stuff for a month. Tops. But keeping a storage unit for months and months and years?? I don't get it. First, our garages are too full for our cars because we have too much stuff, and now we overflow into storage units. Why? Safety in stuff? Longevity through belongings? We moved from a one-bedroom to a larger 2-bedroom, and actually, we got RID of stuff. I have empty cupboards. It's a nice problem; I like it. I feel no need to stuff them to overflowing.

Gross and unnecessary consumerism should not be written off as a personal choice for some few sick people. It's dangerous and it's a drain on everyone's resources. It affects you, it affects me. We need to make better choices, we need to stop being slaves to the whims of ad agencies and big corporations who say buy more more more or you're a loser, and we need to instill better values in the next generation. I get the feeling they are going to look back on us and say, "What were you thinking???"

We weren't. But we can start now.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hot Water on Demand

There are a lot of things I can live without. I hardly miss paper towels, I barely think twice about shampoo and conditioner, and never having to buy deodorant again is quite a pleasure. I have great substitutes for all these things. One thing I prefer to keep in my life, however, is hot showers. It's my downfall. I love me some nice hot steamy shower time. Recently, we had our old terrible dripping water heater replaced in our complex, and... let's just say the hot water wasn't greatly forthcoming after that. Turns out the whole works needed a new pump as well, and now everything is fine and dandy. Burn-worthy, actually.

This small experience gave me lots to think about, though. For a few days in there, I contemplated life under a lukewarm shower. I realized how much I took for granted the pure simple joy of hot water, and how grateful I would be when it came back. I thought how the new heater was probably so much more efficient than the last, and would save energy, but if we did not get it working right, then the gross waste of water would more than overshadow that benefit. I was so annoyed by something that people around the world don't even have.

Mostly, I thought that we really could apply this to things in everyday life everywhere. "You don't know what you got til it's gone" is more than just an AWESOME '80's song. It's true, I live in probably the most selfish and self-centered cities there is, but is it like this everywhere? Are we so used to having whatever we want that we don't really care about or respect anything? I watch people go through phones and iPods and all that stuff like it's nothing. It IS something. We really need to go back and realize what it is to live without something so we can appreciate those things again. We've really lost that somewhere along the way. Is it entitlement? I was reading some comments online after a question was posed,"Do you shower in the morning or before you go to bed?" Simple question, many answers, but I was stunned by the number of people who said, "Both!" ??! OK, if your two showers of 5 minutes or less rival my one of... well, slightly longer, but are we talking 2 full showers a day? I digress a bit, but it all falls under the same general area of not being aware of the world around us. Do we know how fortunate we are to HAVE water available to us at any time? Do we realize it might not always be that way if we aren't more careful? Do we know what a waste it is to flush clean water down the toilet, and how stupid it is? Are my future showers in jeopardy because some ass-clowns out there think they NEED and are entitled to 2 showers a day? Do these same people wash their towels and jeans after only one wearing, and do they use hot water to launder things?? So many questions. No answers.

My hot water is back. My showers were probably a touch shorter in the lukewarm days, but I try. I don't linger. I save water in other areas very well. But what's the point if not everybody is doing the same? We're in dangerous times, here. And I don't think enough people are aware of that. Sadly, they will not suffer alone or bring the crap down only on themselves; the rest of us will get pulled in too. We HAVE to get everyone's attention, and we have to do it soon.

Right vs. privilege. Time to re-learn what it is to do without sometimes.... suggestions?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

What's so "alt" about Alt-Cars?

With high hopes and expectations in hand and mind, I gamely headed over to the Alt-Car Expo in Santa Monica last weekend. Nothing against the event itself... it was a nice gathering. But it was completely bogus.

 Pictured here is what we did NOT see at the Alt-Car Expo. THAT car, the Tango, is a true alt-car. Most of what was actually AT the Expo was more of the same by all the same companies. At a place where I expected to see mind-blowing MPG's, I saw mostly hybrids with 31-51mpg. Seriously??? Shit, my 1998 Hyundai Accent (white, 4-door, all manual but I loved it) regularly got 33mpg. I know it did. I kept track religiously. It was a matter of pride. So now the major players trot out cars bragging about 30-40mpg, and I'm supposed to be impressed???  Um, NOT. Show me 150mpg. Show me a car that runs on algae. Show me an electric car that charges itself by solar. THAT'S "alt". What they had was just another car show.

There were some cool things there. I test-drove the Nissan Leaf, which, while I still wouldn't buy it, was really fun. It had impressive features, it had great pick-up, and it was whisper-quiet. I got back in my car and nearly went deaf. So it felt, anyway! So yeah it was cool, but I still want my smartcar. Electric, preferably, but that probably won't be available here in the States for awhile. Boo.

TRUE alt is the smartcar (, the think ( ), the Aptera ( Where were they? I'm not fooled. You shouldn't be either. Demand more. I was at a talk by the creators of Fuel (, and they had arrived in their Prius that they had converted. It got 150mpg, and those gallons were algae bio-fuel, not petrol. Now THAT'S "alt" for sure.

Even the electric cars, which are seriously impressive, still run off the grid. They still suck coal power and nuclear. Unless you have a total solar set-up, you're still contributing. Sorry, but it's true. Unless you are riding a bike or walking, you're pretty much still contributing. Oh, by all means, you are doing better, but we're still not THERE. We can demand to be there. We really can.

And it's up to us, cuz ain't no one gonna do it for us.