Saturday, December 31, 2011

Not Fit For Human Exposure

And by that, I mean me.

It's amazing how a simple shopping stop can be so trying. I don't mind crowds, I don't mind traffic. What I mind is looking around at people in check-out lines and seeing just how much plastic is going on around me. Here I am in a not-quite-Whole-Foods-but-actually-better store, a more natural store where the more health-conscious types shop... good meats, nice produce, lots and lots of homeopathic type stuff. And yet... The woman in front of me gets everything double-bagged. This, while every single little bit of produce is in it's own plastic bag. I don't bag things like the kale I grabbed; it doesn't need to go in one. Neither does my spinach. It was all I could do to maintain a civil expression on my face. I almost asked why she didn't feel the need to put her bananas in a separate produce bag. (I didn't.)

Other checkout lines... more produce bags. More plastic bags. It's a Saturday. Were people not planning to stop at the store? Where are the reusables?

I thought we were further than this. I thought we were making progress. I thought I was in a store surrounded by educated people who cared about stuff. They have a whole section of gluten-free, for crying out loud! Are we not advanced?

I guess not. Maybe I just shouldn't go out in public anymore. maybe I just need to not look around at anything or anyone. Maybe... ah, never mind. Maybe 2012 will be better. Maybe we'll learn something. Maybe people will start to hear as well as listen.

Maybe.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Nature Made or Man Made?

Sea sponges are really cool. I've always liked them. They are kinda weird. I looked them up: "The Sea Sponge is not a coral, and is not a plant, rather it is classified as an animal which has neither brain nor central nervous system. Sea Sponges live on the ocean floor, they attach themselves permanently to a solid location under the water and they do not move around." Cool, right? They reproduce by budding or breaking off or just catching errant free-flowing sperm from one another! They fascinate me. And sponges are everywhere in our lives, but mostly the fake kind, not the real "animals".

Someone gave me a real natural sea sponge for use in the shower. I'd been using a synthetic one that was also given to me. I've used a loofah before too, but those can be really scratchy. But I like them because they are natural. As, of course, are sea sponges. I really hadn't used one before, I guess, because after trying it, I had to wonder why I don't always use them. It's the perfect blend of soft and scratchy. Mother Nature provides. But, then I got to thinking. I think a lot in the shower. Good ideas come up in there.

Sea sponges are animals. Does that mean vegans are against them? I brought the question to social media, as I have lots of vegan acquaintances. Hazard of the trade. (Little joke there.) I mean, if using worms for composting is a no-no because you are "enslaving" worms by doing that, then surely being so bold as to use a dead animal to exfoliate is a giant oops. The discussion was pretty... enlightening. I thought I would share.

It would seem loofahs are preferable because they are plants and sponges are animals and animals are a "no" even though they really have no brains or awareness... just basic functions. About as alive as a plant, right? So where's the line? Is wool a no? That comes from an animal. But no animal is killed for it. Someone said, no, sea sponges are taken from the ocean and are over-harvested. (Isn't everything?) Another respected friend said, why not use a cloth? Well... there's a sticky wicket. How eco-friendly is cotton? Not very. MASSIVE amounts of pesticide there. Organic cotton? Well, better, but... Bamboo? All these things still require processing which takes chemicals and energy. Sea sponges require... harvesting and drying. They are insanely regenerative, and if harvested responsibly and properly, they are fine. Plus, I would think, an added bonus is the desire to keep the water where they live and breed clean and free from pollutants. So, that's a good thing, right? You don't genetically modify them, you don't pump them full of chemicals or growth hormone, you just let them grow. You let them grow in a healthy ocean environment. To me, that's better than producing cotton. There is incentive to keep their home pristine. That's pretty high up there in my book.

And did I mention that they are the perfect blend of soft and scratchy?

None of the points against really washed for me. (Small pun intended.) Cloth instead? No, manufacturing cloth is probably bigger harm in the long run. Over-harvested? Not if done properly and sustainable, which is easy to do. Animal? I wear leather, I eat meat, so that's not really there for me as an argument. Loofah instead? Maybe sometimes. To me, it boils down to this: Man manufactures, but Mother Nature provides. Why not take care of her so she can continue to do so? Awareness, people. There it is.

I shall continue to use my sea sponge with my Dr. Bronner's soap. And I will thank the Mother every time. (And Dr. Bronner too, I guess.) Will I run out and buy another when this one has finished? Maybe. I'll find a place that harvests them responsibly, of course. Synthetic sponge? Nope. Natural? Yes. Do I need them for dishes, for make-up? No. There are other good things for that. But for this, Nature provides, and I'm good with that.

Good info found on: http://www.seasponges.com.au/information/sea-sponge-facts

Monday, December 26, 2011

Quickie on Chemical Smells

Yesterday was a day of vegging out on the couch with my cousin, whom I rarely see. We saw a few "Extreme Christmas Lights"-type shows, which were horrifying and we couldn't stop watching, but I digress.

It was a commercial, and my cousin's remark that got me. You know the commercial... people are blindfolded and brought into a disgusting mess of a place and asked what they smell, as the place was doused with *insert product name here you know what it is (hint hint it's pictured)* right before they came in. People swear it smells like fresh fields and flowers and everything and are then completely horrified and just plain blown away when they take off their blindfolds. I've long been irked by these commercials. I may have snorted or something. My cousin said, "I don't know what's scarier: what's in those rooms or that the chemicals cover it."

She's brilliant. She nailed it in that statement. We should be completely flabbergasted that whatever is in those cans is SO laden with CRAP that it can cover that stuff. Do you really want that in your lungs? In  your child's lungs?? Pets?

We see things so wrong.

Amazing.

Oh - and those Christmas Light shows? Just - wow. A whole other blog.

I Have Questions.

My mother tells me I was always crazy-inquisitive. I think my "why" phase is still happening. So, I have questions. They don't stop. I don't always have answers. I'm going to put a bunch of 'em down here, and work on answering them in the next few blogs. Maybe someone will answer a few for me. I tend to come up with the ones that don't *really* have answers. Not so much hypothetical, just... not so answerable.

Why don't we think ahead anymore? How'd that happen? Did we ever?

Why is it "whatever jobs, now, and damn the consequences" and not "better jobs that are better for the future"?

Why is there a new kind of mascara ever other day? Don't they all pretty much work the same? Does the mascara technology really advance that much?

Why do people use throw-away plates and utensils at home?

Why do we still use plastic when we know better?

What happened to these humans between 17-31-ish? How did they totally miss the boat on everything and why are they so clueless?

Why does anyone have more than 2 kids?

Why do people have more than 2 kids when they can't spend quality time with them or give them healthy stuff?

Why do we think chemicals smell clean?

Do vegans use sea sponges?

Why do some vegans oppose composting with worms?

What is up with vegan dental floss??

Why must omnivore restaurants offer vegan dishes but vegan places don't offer omnivore choices?

Why do pagan bookstore carry christian material but christian bookstores don't carry pagan material?

And mostly: Why do we completely ignore the evidence that is right in our face?

I guess the short answer to all these things is: It's just easier. Right? It's easier to just think of the now, easier to take the jobs that are handed over rather than demanding better ones with a healthy side of change, it's easier to throw things away and use plastic and clean with the cheap stuff that everyone else uses and well hell we just want kids and we'll figure it out later.

These and more keep my brain a-spinnin'. I'm going to be working on them for awhile. Feel free to chime in anytime.

Where Have You Been All My Life?

So I have overcome the brain-washing and the duping and have learned that a cast iron skillet does wonders for the simplest most humble grilled cheese sandwich, and everything else, too. And I have this base desire to own a whole set of Le Creuset in yellow - no, green - no, yellow... well, whatever. That will have to wait until I have my own TV show or something.

This holiday, though, found me gifted with a beautiful enameled 5 1/2 quart dutch oven. (My coworker listens to me when I talk!) We have a plain cast iron one, but you can't do just anything in those. So this was a welcome addition to my kitchen. And I did not wait long to try it.

How I feel about mine!
I'm convinced I will not have awesome pasta sauce again until I make it from my own home-grown tomatoes and I jar it for a supply over the winter (this IS the plan for next winter), but I thought, well, let's see what we can do here. Chopped my onions, chopped my garlic, got my chicken "sausage" ready. Put my onions in with a little oil. Oh, this is troubling, look, it's getting brown stuff stuck on the bottom. Well, I guess this will take some getting-used-to. Can't be great and right the first time out all the time. Garlic in. OK. Definite stickies. Sigh. I'll do better next time. Sausage, in. (Meanwhile it smells extra good, I AM noticing that.) But wait... what's this? The brown goodness stuck on the bottom came right up and off! Could it... could it be... stuff doesn't STICK to this when used properly????

The lid, so nice and heavy, is keeping all that flavor in! That iron is keeping the heat so nicely distributed! OK, so I still have a little mark on my hand because I had the heat up a LITTLE high and the bubbling sauce got over-zealous. But I am pretty sure that is the best sauce (I'm not from Jersey, it's sauce, not gravy) (and it's not "red sauce" it's just sauce) I have made while relying on those horrid jars of crap. (Yes, I do feel dirty, why do you ask?)

It's the wonderful beautiful heavy pot that made my sauce extra good, I know it. I just made chicken noodle soup in it today. My Hunny got a cold for the holiday, and what better excuse to try it out on soup from scratch? Yes, it rocks.

So where has this stuff been all my life?? Yeah, it's pricey, but with good care, it will last probably the rest of my life. Remind me again why we stopped using this stuff in favor of lighter cheaper just-plain-crappier crap? Because I cannot remember. Piece by piece, I will grow my collection. And when I make sauce from my own home-grown tomatoes with my own home-grown garlic and my own home-grown onions and herbs, it will be EPIC. :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Learning That Waste Begets Waste!

Ahh, the yearly office holiday cards. Sure, there are "eco-friendly" cards with envelopes made from recycled product... blah blah woof woof... and yeah it is a nice sentiment and people appreciate it... Sigh... and really what else do you do, it's expected, it's the "proper" thing to do, it's rude if you don't, and oh it makes people feel so nice for, what? three seconds? Maybe I'm not giving the whole thing enough credit.

Nah.

Some traditions can go away, slip away into the great night, never to be heard from again. If I can get myself past the thought of the cards themselves (which I can't anyway), then looking at the waste AROUND the waste is enough to send me over. Think about it: You got the cards. You got all the packaging the cards came in. You got the plastic that they wrap around the bundles of cards to keep them fresh. (???!) You got the boxes.

THEN... you print out the labels. Printer cartridge waste created. Then you have the empty pages of non-recyclable stuff the labels were peeled from. And then you have the strips of crap from the envelopes that cover the sticky part because, you know, who the heck wants to actually have to lick or moisten the envelope to seal it?

If we look and think just a little past, beyond... then the obvious waste is even more wasteful. Can't we re-think some of this stuff? Must we keep on in the same tracks and habits? Who is profiting? Who is gaining? Who is losing?

Where do YOU see more waste that goes below the surface of it all?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Un-learn Cards - Do You Realize?

Used to be a card-sender. Now, not so much. Here and there. And I almost never go into a drug store, and even less wander into the greeting card aisle when in a drug store. So, as I walked through that very area the other day, I was surprised at how many musical cards there are now.

They are fun. They are cute. My cousin loves to send them. They make people smile, laugh even. Happy! Good times.

Do you realize that every single one of those cute, fun, happy little things is considered e-waste?

But it's so small. So what? It's harmless. Am I really going to be this nit-picky? Well, yes. Because this is just one of those things that is a tiny useless piece of e-waste that will add up. How big of a pile is a million of these things? And because they are cards, no one thinks anything of throwing them in regular trash, when actually they are NOT regular trash. Tiny bits of chemicals... precious metals... for what? 2 seconds of "Oh ha ha how cute" then immediately forgotten? What's really the point?

Sure, it's so small it may as well be harmless. But where does it end? We aren't learning anything. We aren't changing for the better, we aren't improving, we just keep going in the wring direction. Here I was, in one aisle in one drug store in one small part of one big town in one big state, so let me think of how many times this scene is repeated. How about those that aren't sold, and just end up in a heap because they don't work anymore?

Staggering, isn't it?

Sure, they are NICE. They are pretty. They are delightful (for 5 seconds). WHAT'S the POINT? Do we need these? Can 't we enjoy a nice, full, satisfying life without these? Are you going to die thinking, "I'm so sorry I never sent or received a greeting card that played music."

I surely hope not.

This is another case of the big greeting card companies making scads of money on nothing-really-useful. And it's not like they are creating jobs. Some little factory in China surely makes these. Are they enriching our lives so much that we cannot do without them?

There are other ways to show love or spread a little smile. Better ways. They might take a little more time and effort than buying a card and sending it, but isn't that part of it? Am I being overly picky? Maybe. I'm OK with that.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Un-learning Gift Wrap


Facts
According to Hallmark research, the gift wrap industry accounts for approximately $2.9 billion a year in retail sales. (Source: Hallmark Industry Estimates, 2009)
Gift bags were introduced in 1987 and, according to Hallmark research and sales history, they have been the number one way consumers choose to present gifts since 2002.
Hallmark is credited with founding the gift wrap industry in 1917.
I almost don't feel like I need to say anything after that. But you know me. I will.

We spend perfectly good money on something that is going to be torn up and thrown away. Sure, it's pretty for a few days. But what's the point? Pretty? Pretty is the point? Ugh.

I cannot and will not understand that line of thinking anymore. There are so many ways to present presents that do not involve buying a wasteful product that will only end up as garbage. Plastic covering it before you buy it... trees felled to make the inside tubes, and the paper itself, unfriendly ink and dying processes... there's so much wrong and unnecessary about wrapping paper, and really nothing redeeming. Oh, wait, it creates jobs. I forgot. So long as we create jobs, we can do anything. Damn the consequences to the future.

You can wrap things in material, bandannas, newspaper, brown paper that can be decorated... reusable shopping bags, t-shirts... SO many different things! It might be different if there was some irreplaceable need for wrapping paper, but there is not! It is NOT a necessity! It's one of the least necessary things I can think of! $2.9 billion??? SURELY that money is better spent in other areas. No? Just me?

Someone, please, explain this to me if you would. Because, for the life of me, I can't come up with a reason for wrapping paper except that Hallmark likes money. It doesn't matter if you find it at the 99 Cent Store; it's waste and it is not needed. The only way it is good is if you have kept and re-used it for years. There are a few people who manage that, but it's still going to be waste in someone's house somewhere, some time soon.

Don't get me started on all the plastic ribbons.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Re-Learning Common Sense

The main thing we know about common sense is that it is no longer common. I don't know if we have over-protected or bred it out of ourselves of if something in the water blocks it, but it sure is scarce these days. We shouldn't need to be told to not hold hot coffee between our legs while driving, or not to text while driving, or that plastic bags are bad... yet, here we are.

And we really shouldn't need to be told to toss on a sweater instead of the heater. Isn't that something our grandparents just knew? I saw a picture posted on Facebook by one of my greener (I thought) friends of his absolutely otherwise adorable wife... in front of the heater, freezing, warming herself in front of it, while all she had on was a t-shirt and SHORTS. Oh, and warm slippers. Umm...

Frequently, I am silently horrified by such images. I refrain from commenting, because, after all, I try to get along. I try to not piss off people with whom I am normally friendly. I often pass up a chance to point certain things out, because... well... it can be off-putting. All I really wanted to say, though, was, "For frick's sake, try putting on some warmer clothes before you crank the heater and waste energy!!! Don't you KNOW that already???" Sigh. When I am chilly, I put on warmer stuff. If I am still chilly, and just on the couch or such, I add a blanket. If it is still really cold, THEN the heat. Common. Sense.

It's not about "Oh, so what, it's their heating bill." No. It's all our energy, and the distribution thereof, and the need for more and more and fracking and drilling and ALL that. There are two empty units in the building across the street from us, right up front, and they have lights on in them 24/7. It makes me crazy. It's their bill, but it is OUR energy. The whole planet's. They are getting that energy from UTAH from a coal-burning plant. Should some family in Utah suffer the health effects of coal-burning because YOU can't toss on something a little warmer or be bothered to turn off useless lights?

Didn't think so.

And to anyone who feels the snarky need to say yes to that, please pull over, put down your keys, and step off the planet. We're better without you. Thanks. You are excused.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Process of (Un?) Re-Learning

The more I look around, observe, read, learn, the more I realize the depths to which we have been led around and duped. It's so much that there will be a series of these over the next few weeks.

One such moment came up as I used our trusty, not very old but definitely favorite, cast iron skillet. We pretty much leave it on the stove all the time, since we use it SO much. I think back as to why these have been replaced in most of our lives. Cast iron pots and pans last forever. In fact, the longer you use them, the better they get. The cheap crap pans we use nowadays, the light, "non-stick" things, do not last very long at all. And you have to use plastic spoons on them. Which also need replaced all the time. Unless you use bamboo, but I don't know of a majority of people who do that. (They should, those things are great.) It's a vicious cycle, and the manufacturers, corporations (can you say DuPont? I can) prefer it that way. Am I hinting of a conspiracy theory? Not so much but yes. (LOL) I was an X Files avid viewer. Let's just say that, over time, as we know, most things we use that used to last forever have been replaced by planned obsolescence. This is not a new statement for me, you know that. But I'm really starting to laser-focus in on it now.

Like my pan, as I pondered it today, as my onions caramelized nicely... When did we move away from them? And why? What were the reasons? Let us examine:

1) Stuff sticks.
No, it really doesn't. Once that pan is properly prepared and seasoned, nothing sticks to it. And I mean nothing. DuPont just wanted to sell Teflon, so they spun it, and we fell for it.

2) They are heavy.
Yeah, they are. And we are WEAK. Heck, I lift it for a good core exercise. I realize that older or infirm people would have a hard time with them, but your average everyday homemaker should have no problem. We are weak and lazy, and that is that. Heavy shmeavy. Get a backbone.

3) They are SO hard to clean.
*Insert obnoxious buzzer sound here.* Couldn't be further from the truth. It takes a few times before the thing is properly seasoned, sure... but then, it is the biggest piece of cake to clean that thing. Oh... and no detergents or chemicals needed, so there's another incentive for the big companies to get rid of cast iron in favor of their stuff.

Some other pluses that are seen as minuses by those who want to make money off of us:

1) This thing keeps the heat very steady. I actually HAVE to use a lower flame to cook with it. Therefore, I save gas. That's bad when you want people to use MORE gas and energy.

2) Since nothing sticks, I don't have to buy stuff like Pam etc, thereby saving money and keeping chemicals out of my food. Another bad thing for those who sell all that crap. They don't make money if we aren't buying their crap.

3) It will last me the rest of my life.
Enough said.

Maybe you can't use them on those glass-top stoves. But I never liked those anyway. Restaurants use some awesome pans that are good and light and expensive and they use them til you can see through them... and that works... but you notice THEY don't use non-stick pans that we buy every few years. Those were sold to us under false pretenses and we fell for it and we are still falling for it. Let's stop, shall we? Let's UN-learn what they have spun around us and RE-learn what we used to know better.

And I have to say, I have NEVER had grilled cheese sandwiches that taste as awesome as out of this pan. I'm in love.

What are you un-learning?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Perfect Re-purpose

So Turkey Day is over. The food was great. Lots of leftovers. The stupidity of Black Friday is over. I avoided it. Now, it's the weekend and it is time to tackle the remains of that turkey. Reusing and re-purposing all over the place.

I think my post-T-day soup is what I look forward to more than the turkey itself. Well, very close. Right now, the remains are happily reducing on the stove in a big old enameled stock pot.

Making stock is the ultimate in using everything around you instead of throwing it out. You throw in the parts of the bird you would otherwise toss. You throw in tops of celery and ends of onions that you would otherwise toss. It's the old days. It's using everything because you have to and because it makes good sense and because there is no other way. That, and it kept the house warm.

Naturally, I like to chop up my soup veggies all at once ahead of time. But you have to put them in to the saute pan at different times, not all at once. This means a whole buncha' bowls or plates... kind of a pain. I sighed as I got multiple containers out. Then I thought, Hey...

Yeah, I had picked up, in a hurried situation, for a party, one of those darn veggie trays you get in the store, you know, everything all ready and cut and with the dip right there. It was convenient. Snort. But I did NOT throw out the tray. I figure I could do something with it at some point. I was right. It's perfect for separating my onions, which go in first, then my garlic, which has to go in after the onion or it'll burn... and so on. It was perfect! I love it! I shall keep it for just this purpose til it wears out.

Oh, that's right, it's plastic. It won't wear out. It might break and then become useless, but it won't wear out.

Yeah.

But, I am really enjoying this whole process. I want more. And I kinda love that my hands still smell like celery and onions!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Quick and Easy, No Purchase Necessary

File this one under Major Duh.

I've been fretting over my water bottles. They were getting grungy inside. My lovely Libre Tea bottle, as well... I just couldn't get my hand down in there to scrub them and I didn't have any bottle scrubbers. They got grungier and grungier. Surely, I would have to go buy a stupid plastic thing to get down in there. Wait,t hey make good, eco-friendly,, well-made ones too. Just have to get to that store... Nope, still getting grungy. And damn those fancy eco-scrubbers are pricey. I hate having to pay a lot for green. It's such a pet peeve of mine. But what else to do? I'm not going to buy plastic junk just because it's convenient...

Finally, I looked at my scrubby sponge and I looked at the bamboo spoon in the dish drainer. Um, wait, I can just do this. Uh huh, yeah, just stuffed the sponge into the WaterGeeks bottle I love, and smoosh it around with the handle of the spoon. Wow, that worked so well that it might just get the tea stains off the inside of my Libre. Sure enough...

I don't know what's worse: that it took me so long to come up with that, or that I even pondered buying something to scrub out my bottles. I mean come on. I'm smarter than this. I'm embarrassed for my own brain.

But happy that I have clean bottles now. Tee hee. I guess we all have a long way to go.


Friday, November 18, 2011

Viva la Via

It was doomed from the start.

Starbucks... now, I love me some Starbucks, I really do, lots of people take issue with them, but I worked there in NYC and pretty much had a good experience and they do a lot of philanthropic things and treat their employees decently and damn I love the coffee. (Which may explain that run-on sentence after a few cups this morning.)

But Starbucks came out with Instant Coffee. Do I hate instant coffee? No. I don't drink a lot of it but I have nothing really against it. Hell, I've added instant coffee to my coffee. Yeah I'm just that hooked. What I hate is that they felt the need to put their instant coffee in single serve convenient packs. Of plastic something material. So it's convenient.

With that in mind, I would never have purchased Via to try on my own. But they put a sample on their pound-bags of coffee, so that we may be hooked by its convenience. So I gave it a try, as it came on the pound-bag of coffee we bought for our French press. It's the fair thing to do.

Back to the first statement, though... it was doomed from the start. I must have had it in for myself. I spilled a little of the coffee while opening the packet. The teapot splorged boiling water everywhere when I poured it into the cup. The agave syrup splooshed everywhere and gave me the stickies the rest of the day because it got everywhere around my mug before I realized it. I splashed the coffee out just stirring it. (This was after I DID have coffee previously, so we can't blame it on that.)

While that may have had an effect on my experience, I'll attempt to be objective. Was it delicious? Sure. It was. Better than most other instants? Probably. Is it worth it? Absolutely not. Do we need pre-packaged little bits of instant coffee in ours lives? Nope. These are no better than those stupid plastic pods of coffee that are STILL all the rage (and still causing me rage).

This is definitely a to-avoid product.

Now, if you don't mind, my French press awaits...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's Still Flowing.

Documentaries are usually something I avoid. Seriously, I'm usually angry and hopeless enough without being proven right. But, I made an exception and went to see The Big Fix. (Trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bg_fpr6XBFM&feature=colike

Blurb: "The scathing documentary 'The Big Fix' investigates questions of corporate negligence and political corruption surrounding last year's Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its lingering aftereffects on the Gulf Coast." Yup. Pretty much sums it up.

Did I cry through the whole thing? Yup. Was I disgusted and despairing? Oh heck yah. I'd seen the couple who made this film before, and hearing them speak was very enlightening and uplifting. Josh and Rebecca Harrell Tickell (They made the documentary "Fuel") are two seriously cool people. This is, I am sure, not a film they wanted to have to make. It can't be in wide release soon enough. The truths that are exposed are so important to get out there.

At the risk of blowing any surprises, here goes. Think the oil was stopped? Wrong. Still leaking. Think they stopped using Corexit because it's COMPLETELY toxic and forbidden by the EPA? Wrong. Think they aren't STILL using it to hide the still-leaking thing? Wrong. Think the seafood from the Gulf is OK to eat, that the water is OK to swim in? Need I answer that?

A cool part of the screening was that a couple from the area affected, Kevin and Margaret Curole, came in from Louisiana on their own dime to speak to us. Kevin said the shrimp were coming up without eyes, with deformed tails... Margaret said (and this really got me) that the mom dolphins are bringing their babies to the docks, carrying them in on their beaks, as if to say, "Help, we don't know what else to do." I take it even further in my brain that the moms are saying to us, "Look what you did, look what you did to my baby." Miscarried dolphins have washed up in mass numbers. It breaks my heart. Margaret thinks her son, who went in early to spray Corexit, will not outlive her. Corexit is a known toxin and they are STILL carting it in and spraying it and dumping it in the Gulf under the cover of night to hide the oil stuff still flowing.

Documentaries can either inspire you or make you want to slit your wrists. I asked a friend on the way in who had seen the first showing. She said, "Oh wrist-slitting for sure." The film was excellent; the knowledge and information was horrid. Josh and Rebecca - inspiring. I know what I have to do now. I know why I am moving back to my home town. And I'll do what I have to do. When I need strength I will think of Josh and Rebecca and Margaret and Kevin.

What can YOU do? See this movie the minute it's near you. Spread the word. If the movie isn't going to be near you any time soon, educate yourself about what is still happening down there, how screwed up the ecosystem is and will be for awhile. Talk about it. Ask questions. Make other people aware.

All this Occupy stuff around... we got lots more to talk about for sure. It's all tied together. Thanks for reading.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

How Green is Green?

So this product floated across my field of vision yesterday. It's claiming to be eco-friendly because it eliminated the need for staplers and staples. Now, I don't know everything, but I really wasn't aware that staples are high on the environmental destruction list...I know you don't want 'em in the microwave. But really, never gave them that much thought. But here is a product that - well, here, I'll let the text from the site tell you:

The Eco Cat Stapler free stapler staples papers together without staples!
No kidding!
Here is how it works:
The Eco Staple Free Stapler cuts out minuscule strips of paper in the corner area of your paper files and uses these strips to "sew up" up to five pages of standard paper together.
No more metal staples (so that's good for the planet and your wallet). Safe and better for paper shredders too.
3 x 3 x 2.5 inches
Environmentally Friendly
Kid Friendly
Stitches up to 5 pages together
Creates no paper waste.

It seems like a cool idea. It super-cute too. And apparently not a new idea, but now in fun shapes and designs. But, "environmentally friendly"? How? It's plastic. There is nothing environmentally friendly about plastic. I questioned it and was told hey it'll last forever and there's no need to buy staples which are made from steel and less packaging and product over time. 

OK. But when it breaks? All things break. And when a plastic thing breaks, it is not repairable and therefore becomes landfill junk. So is that green? Friendly? I think I want my stapler of Wayback, that metal hunk that lasted and lasted and could be used as a weapon, too. 

In the meantime, I am not buying this. That's buying as in literally and intellectually. And the site I saw this on sells all kinds of kitschy plastic crap anyway, so I am doubly not sold. 

Can we all just step back and try to recognize the important? Don't sweat the petty stuff, just pet the sweaty stuff? Yes, there are LOTS of bigger issues out there in the world, and we are dealing with them, (finally) but it's also made up of all the little things, the petty things, we do every day. Wake up. Focus.

And quit buying this sh*t.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Eh, Not Convinced

I must really be a tough sell. I'm just not convinced.

A great wonderful cool Green Festival was last weekend at the LA Convention Center. Similar festivals and expos have failed, but this one was VERY good. I chose to focus on the good booths and try to ignore the greenwashing, which, thankfully, was not in abundance. A little product did catch my eye, though. Biodegradable wet wipes. Um, OK. I'll look.

Well, let's get past the plastic packaging and the little plastic container that is somehow necessary to use this product. Let me give it a try. It's a little pellet of dried "natural fiber"... a little dried thing of what she said was rayon. Yeah, I'll get back to that. she puts a few drops of water on it and POOF it's a wet wipe. Normally I am charmed by these things. I find them slightly magical. (What can I say, I am easily amused) OK. Great... I have a wipe. Great... it's biodegradable. Now what? I'm sure this is a great thing, they say it's superior because regular wipes dry out and go to waste and these start out dry.... so... Um... Yay?  Am I excited now? Do Harold Angels sing when we make these wet? No?

Yeah, not convinced. Let's re-visit that rayon thing. Rayon is "natural", sure, but are you aware of the chemicals that are involved in getting rayon fiber but it's a lot. Rayon is from cellulose, and it is a buttload of nasty stuff that it takes to make that cellulose into nice fabric. I used to love it til I knew. So unless they are making these from leftover rayon scraps and threads... yeah, no, I can't even sell myself on that one. Rayon = Not So Eco. Make them out of something else and ditch all that horrible packaging, and I MIGHT be halfway convinced that this is a valid product.

In the meantime, I surely can do without. I know, no kids, when you have kids, you NEED wet wipes. Uh huh. Go ahead with that. It's all fine. Nothing to see here. I just fail to see what is so "green" about this product. To me, it's just another piece of plastic noise that we don't need.




Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Who needs a house out in Hackensack?

Is that all you get for your money?

Thank you, Billy Joel. You've been in constant play in my car for over a month now. The words leading up to that: "Mama Leone left a note on the door, it said Sonny, move out to the country. Working too hard can give you a heart attack..." A house in the country? Is that all you get for your money? "If that's movin' up then I'm movin' out." Yeah, this gets me thinking. Moving up? What IS moving up? For what are we striving? What's the fight, here? The struggle? What is the goal?

This is something with which we all wrestle, of course. I've been thinking about it more because my husband and I are planning our Great Escape. We are done with the city, we are done with Los Angeles, and we are heading back to a simpler, quieter life. So, I've been wondering if I have failed at the "Goals", if I am turning tail and fleeing back to my hometown, if I am not a "success". So now, we must define these terms. What IS success? Chasing money so we can buy things? Or is it a nice, comfortable house with a garden outside, and time to enjoy it? Bigger house, more expensive car, more stuff??? Is that what I am supposed to want?

It's not. I WANT to dig in the Earth in the summer, I WANT to can and jar my own stuff and live where there is less traffic and especially less noise. And most of all, less people. Many less people. I'm sure it won't be perfect, and it won't be easy, but it'll be quieter. Because I just don't get it. Is it me? What do we want out of life? What IS progress? More debt, more storage more crap? Maybe I'm getting old-fashioned in my middle age, but I don't see the point to that. Wasn't technology supposed to give us the time and ease to improve OURSELVES? I don't see that happening. We're not getting smarter, that's for sure. We are not being better stewards of the planet, that's for DAMNED sure. We're working harder, that's for sure. But I don't know why. Can someone answer that? I want time to read, to write, to get dirt under my fingernails. Do you think we can turn this all around, or are we all just going to keep on the path of destroying this place we live in/on?

Yeah, I'm dropping out. And I consider THAT to be progress. I want to be in a community where I am adding something positive. I don't want to be just another rat on the wheel. I want to enjoy the simple pleasures again. My grandparents worked hard, sure they did. But they had a nice house and good values. Can we get back to that? I'm sure going to try.

What say YOU? Does this make sense at all? What do you see as progress?

My brain is in a twist these days. Love to hear what you think...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Envirosax - Some Good Words for a Change!

Let me begin by saying no, they are not paying me or bribing me. I love my Envirosax bag all on my own.

What do I love the most? (How do I love thee? Let me count the ways! LOL) Is it that it rolls up so small (They say on their site, the size of a piece of sushi!) that I can carry THREE of them in my admittedly huge purse and still have room for everything else, so that I am never without a reusable bag? Is it that it is SO strong that I have to make sure it's not too heavy for me when I pack it full of stuff? Is it that the handles are big enough to sling over my shoulder? Is it the flourish with which I unsnap and unroll it, with the beautiful colors causing people to notice, so I can look at them with a "Yeah I bring my own bags, you should too" look? Is it the admiration of the cashiers, who almost always comment on it?



I think it's the flourish. That's the part I love the most.

Envirosax (http://www.envirosax.com/faq) is a strong, sturdy, pretty bag that is HUGE but folds up SO nice and small. It's waterproof. It's made out of polyester.

Wait, what??? Yeah I know. Polyester bad. Why am I carrying this bag, then? Because I know it is going to last for YEARS. Literally, years. That's a lot of plastic bags I won't be using. It's a much more sustainable thing. And the company itself is a very environmental gig. They have other products that aren't made of polyester, and that's a good thing too. But I'm OK with my bag. It's very durable. It's easy to hand-wash it and it dries quickly. It is a move in the right direction, as they say in the FAQ's. I agree. The material is good for the bright designs and colors that make them attractive to people, so maybe they WILL use them more. The inks and dyes are eco-friendly. And if your bag has gotten past its prime, you can send it back to them and they will recycle it.

So, yeah, it's made from polyester. And I will continue to use it. And I will gift them to people. This is one of those times when convenience isn't an evil word. It is VERY convenient to toss this bag in my purse, in your backpack, your messenger bag, laptop bag, etc... it is easy to roll up, people notice and and maybe think about getting one too. I totally love the look people get on their face when such a small little thing becomes this huge bag that holds everything. I love that my husband is OK with carrying it because it isn't too girly. And I love that this company is trying to do things right.

Holidays are coming. This is a Good Green Gift alert. The company started in Australia and yes the bags are made in China... PLEASE go to their FAQ page to find out how those are good things. The link is above. Not everything made in China is completely evil, either. Expand your knowledge. It is your best arrow in your quiver.

And start your holiday shopping at Envirosax. Sure, I'm a big fan of the bags, but they have other cool stuff to check out as well. If enough of us use things like this, then we are teaching by example. When we whip out these bright bags, people will be curious and maybe even ask. If we gift them to people, they will use them instead of plastic throw-aways. (Well, we hope.)

These guys and this company and this product CAN help. So, yeah, I have some good things to say for a change. Nothing but good. And my Yuletide gifts? Guess!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why Bother?

My early-20's stepdaughter had moved in with us. She knows how greenly we try to live, but it seemed like she didn't quite know why. I feel like there is this whole age group who is just completely oblivious to certain perils in the world. I could be wrong, but it seems that 18 to about early 30-year-old's by and large do not feel the same sense of alarm, don't see the effects, don't care to do anything. Naturally, this is a generalization, but I'm just going by my experience.

Actual boxes o' stuff from the bathroom.
See, the stepdaughter moved back out but left a lot of her stuff here for awhile... I packed up her bathroom (well, because I want us to be able to use it again!), and I am alarmed. This is all from one person. It's more than my husband and I have combined. Way more. If this is all the plastic she has here in our place, how about where she is now? Does she have doubles of all this stuff? She must. All these containers, all these chemicals... it's everything I rail against on a daily basis, and here she brought it right in! And left it behind! Am I pointless? Am I useless? It kind of boggles my mind. This is the age of people who should be most concerned, because it's their children who will have a real problem, even more so that the rest of us. The young children are getting a good education about all this in elementary school. But did we miss a group? I stayed in someone's home a few months ago during a visit. The amount of STUFF in plastic containers was truly horrifying. I feel like I am in a vacuum, or I am just spoiled to hang around and talk to people who ARE aware, and that the reality is what is pictured here.  Or is it just that I have seen a few bad examples?

Is there a point to all I say and write? Is it going to help? Is anyone hearing us? Are ENOUGH people hearing us? Are we past the point of no return, is it just simply too late? Are the marketing companies and corporations winning?

I have the news on now and I see that people are nowhere near stopping the use of plastic bags. It's all over the news to cut back, and yet, nothing happens to get people to stop. I talk to people every day who have never heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. What does it take? WHAT??

Just gotta keep going, one person at a time, if necessary. Well, at least I didn't introduce an additional person into the world to have to suffer through it. As for the stepdaughter... well, I can hope a little bit spilled over.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Good Witch Gone Bad

It's so hard being surrounded by Green people. You'll undoubtedly find people greener than yourself. This is good, of course. No one is perfect. I'll be the first to admit I have a long way to go. But wow, did I get taken to task for my little shameful habit...

Gum.

I know, I know!!!! It's so bad! The wrapping, the plastic, the packaging, the plastic, the fact that it never will really go away, the plastic. But it's so small! But it's so bad!!! What's a green witch to do??

Gum.

Should I chew peppermint leaves instead? Mints? Drops?

Have you ever heard of tetracycline stains on teeth? A certain age range of you out there will know what I am talking about. I had them. I obsessed over and hated my teeth for decades. I was finally able to fix them at great expense (it's considered cosmetic so no insurance would help.) ALL of my teeth are coated, topped, capped, crowned or veneered in porcelain. I love them. I smile big for camera. The downside of a lot of dental work is that no matter how much I brush or use some kind of mouthwash (I do not use mouthwash anymore; chemicals and/or plastic bottles) or use my Water Pik (MIRACLE machine), I frequently have a super-nasty taste in my mouth. Baking soda and water works nicely but it's not something I carry in my purse. Mints, I am tempted to chew them and that is bad for my dental work and besides it takes of lot of them to conquer what one piece of gum does. Sprays? Drops? Nah. I just don't know anything that helps like poppin' a piece of gum.

So, back to the place where I got chastised. I was going to be speaking on stage, so I needed to rid myself of my gum. It was one of those events where they put out bins for everything, and you disposed of whatever accordingly. Facing all these bins, I realized my little gum could only go in the one marked "Landfill". It was a sinking feeling. Someone standing nearby definitely felt it necessary to make sure I felt the proper amount of shame for my little piece of gum. (I'll not criticize them for the supposed "Compostable" bin where people were putting plates that had CHEESE on them that is probably not great in there... but that's deflecting. I digress.)

I try to buy gum that comes in the least amount of packaging and plastic. I split sticks in half so it lasts twice as long. I do what I can. But I have not been able to give up the gum. I don't chew it obnoxiously, I don't crack it, I don't pop it, I just let it make my mouth taste better and my breath not offend.

I swear I'll try something else that would be more eco-friendly. I just haven't fully investigated it. So, in the meantime...

Gum.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Like I said...

"New studies reveal that levels of BPA are massively higher in humans than previously assumed, causing major concern for what has been downplayed by the packaging industry as a false alarm."

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/033821_BPA_chemicals.html#ixzz1aKe6rl9k

The article points to canned goods as well... which, I guess, when we were little, cans were not lined with BPA. I don't know. Maybe. We didn't really have a lot of canned goods that I recall. Some. Not a ton. Of course we never ate that canned spaghetti and ravioli crap. We MADE food. But I know. It's so convenient. And we're SO busy.

Why should we be concerned? "BPA, or Bisphenol-A, leaches into food from plastic packaging and from the linings of canned foods, causing cancerous tumors and developmental disorders, including learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, and deformations of sexual organs, especially in newborns." Um, sound like it could be a valid point, and what IS happening?

If you can't do away with it altogether, just cut back. And keep cutting back. There's no need. Soda is not anything you need every day. It's bad for you. They sell it in glass; insist on glass. We can make these companies stop using plastic. Demand it. The government will have to step in again to protect us from ourselves when it should not have to. 

I honestly don't know what it is going to take to get people to cut back on plastic. We know it's bad for us, we know it's bad for the planet, and yet we just keep at it blithely, without thought. We have to turn this around. We are the  only ones who can do it. I get sick of sounding like a broken record (wow, there's a phrase that will not be understood in the near future!), but the message is just not sinking in. At all. 

What can we do? I enjoy the comfort of my groups of green people who know this stuff, but it's far from the vast majority. What do we do? And why have kids if we aren't going to protect them from this kind of stuff? Having kids makes us too busy to care about their health and future? Is it just me that thinks that is crazy-backwards?

Thoughts?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Less Plastic is Not Better Plastic

"But it's BPA-free!"

"But it uses LESS plastic than the other bottles!"

It's still plastic, people. I could stop there, but you know me, I must continue.

Plastic is plastic. It's not going away. Even though there is less of it, it's still IT. It's still gonna float around in the ocean. It still sits in the landfills. It still breaks and then becomes useless 'cuz ya can't fix plastic and you still gotta throw it away. How about NO plastic? Can we try that for at least a little bit? Maybe just in spurts at first? Maybe?

It can be done. Sure it's not as cheap or convenient, but what is at stake here? I am quite sure I don't have a normal household. I've been to other homes and - maybe I'm overly sensitive to this kind of thing, but - I am ALARMED at the number of plastic bottles of CRAP found there! DO we even think about it?? Or do we just go about our days with nary a thought?

What can we do? What do we say? Living by example clearly doesn't work well. Do we say something? Do we point it out? Do we just continue to write and hope some of it bleeds through?

I was given a bottle of "special" water. I was in a situation to be polite, and the water was very good, and the bottle was BPA-free and made largely from RPET (recycled plastic)... but it's still a plastic bottle and it still isn't going anywhere. Just stop the madness. We need to cut way back and just get it over with. I've said it before, I'll say it again, the only way to get rid of the 5 Gyres is to stop adding to them. People are taking stuff from the Gyres and making other stuff from it, and that is a good thing, but on our end, can't we just... stop?

Stop. And now I will.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

More Chemicals for your Washer

Because, well, you know, you don't have enough already. What with your detergents and your softeners and your dryer sheets, buy this, too.

Downy has introduced a new wonderful product. Oh, don't fret, they still have you using Downy Fabric Softener... this is IN ADDITION to Downy Fabric Softener. You know, cuz we NEED even more crap sticking to our clothes and sucking into our skin.

"Use a little or a lot—you decide how much scent you want. That’s part of the fun."

Fun??? FUN???? 

You toss these in before you start the wash. They only make 2 scents right now... I'm sure they'll make more if enough suckers - er, uh, I mean consumers - buy them. Some people seemed to be griping a little at the price. I can imagine... Tide at 10-some-bucks PLUS Downy Regular Crap PLUS this stuff PLUS (I'm guessing) dryer sheets? Did I get it all? 

Do ya see a trend here? Maybe a little bit of an issue?

I'm trying to think what they can come up with next. How many different scent things do we really need on our laundry? Someone please answer me 'cause I really don't know. I know my laundry smells like nothing, but apparently detergent+bleach+softener+dryer sheets needed one more thing.

I'm out.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dishwashers

After my last post about the whole Jet-Dry crap, and subsequent washing of dishes by hand, and the comments by all yinz (getting back to my Western PA vernacular), I got to thinking a little more. I haven't had a dishwasher in YEARS. My parents have one, and I never know how to load the damn thing, and somehow there are always complaints about its performance. And manufacturers are taking the phosphate out of detergents, because it's kind of bad stuff, but then the dishes don't get very clean. You have to rinse them well and hell by then you may have as well just washed 'em by hand, right? Seems like an awful lot of extra water to me. Rinsing them off... then all the water even in your "water saver" mode... hmmm.

People say washing dishes by hand wastes more water. I say no, not necessarily. You just have to be a little conscientious and judicious when washing by hand. For instance, don't fill up the whole damn sink THEN start washing. Wash while filling. Don't rinse one thing at a time. Stack them then rinse quickly. Don't use too much soap; then you don't have to rinse as much. And most importantly, don't turn the water on full blast when you really don't need to.

SO THEN comes in the argument about TIME. My favorite.  Greenie, I don't have time to do dishes. I'm too busy. I have kids. We make a lot of dishes. Um, that's what kids are FOR... to do dishes. If you have kids and they ain't doin' dishes, you are doing something seriously wrong. They're too busy with all their activities?? YOU are doing something seriously wrong. Chores are FOR kids. Kids are for chores. We all did them. It made us better. I know a certain 22-yr-old that can't do dishes to save her life. THAT is WRONG. Kids on step-chairs to reach the sink to do dishes? THAT'S more like it. We juggled school and homework and playtime and still were expected to do our chores. Period. We earned an allowance, we didn't just get it handed to us, or get "rewarded" for behavior we were supposed to exhibit anyway. Kids should do chores. I will not back off of that opinion, no matter how many people try to say I have no idea what it's like because I don't have kids. I was a kid. I did dishes. Every day. Get over yourself and get over your kids and figure it out.

Then there's my other favorite thing: families who use paper or Styrofoam (??????!!) plates at dinner because they don't have time/can't be bothered to do dishes. See the above paragraph so I don't have to repeat myself. There is NO excuse to use anything disposable at the dinner table. Hell, I ain't even giving a pass on lunch. PLATES. Clean things when done. Repeat.

This is what we call progress, Folks. Disposable lives and no time to do BASIC things that we used to have to do, but now we don't have time because we are too busy running around and stressing out to do the most basic things in the world. Make it into family time. Catch up on the day over dishes. You're spending time together, who cares if it's a "chore"? Whatever. Just frickin' do something.

Wait, wait.. we have free time now and we're happier and oh so much more productive and life is so much easier.

Oh. Wait. No it's not. No WE are not.

Let's go back, shall we?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

UGH the commercial I just saw...

...sent me straight in to my computer.

FINISH® JET-DRY® TURBO DRY®The new Jet-Dry commercial... or whatever the heck they call that stuff now (don't have a dishwasher, son't want one), shows a chick pulling a glass out of the dishwasher and getting thoroughly disgusted by "spots." She then proceeds to THROW the GLASS in the GARBAGE CAN. (Which, by the way, is nicely lined with a black trash bag. Subliminal sales.) Oh, but don't worry: they flash the word, "Dramatization" at the beginning, and they also say "Don't try this at home" as she flips the wine glass into her nice stainless steel garbage can.

I know. Just a commercial. But what is this saying???

Nothing, Rhonda. It's not saying anything. It's just a dumb commercial trying to sell a chemical that takes spots off your glasses that wouldn't have them on there if you washed them by hand. But we're too busy. It's a pain in the ass. My hands might get dry from the detergent. I'm too busy. Dishes are germy and they have to be sanitized in the dishwasher. There's just not enough time. It's a pain in the ass to have to actually WASH dishes. Oh, wait, I repeated myself in there somewhere.

Do you even know what's IN that stuff??? I don't. What makes your glasses dry ultra-fast after they get bombarded by other chemicals? More chemicals, that much I know. Really? So that we don't have some harmless stupid spots on glasses? So that we don't have to towel-dry stuff after it goes through the dishwasher?

I've never really quite gotten on board with the whole piling chemicals on top of other chemicals to do something I'm too busy/lazy to do. Oh, wait, here's what's in it:


WaterDiluent
Trideceth-4Nonionic Surfactant
Magnesium ChlorideNone
Propylene GlycolSolvent
Alcohols AlkoxylatesNonionic Surfactant
Sodium Cumene SulfonateHydrotrope
Citric AcidComplexing/Sequestering Agent
Zinc AcetateNone
Sodium SulfateFiller
Benzophenone-3Other
Tetrasodium EDTAComplexing/Sequestering Agent
Magnesium NitrateStabilizer
Acid Blue 9Colorant
MethylchloroisothiazolinonePreservative
Magnesium ChlorideStabilizer
MethylisothiazolinonePreservative


Any questions?

I'm good.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Garbage In Garage Out Part 2

A lot of people seem to have a deep concern for the safety of their garbage. Either that or they are too nancy to deal with a little mess. When grousing against plastic bags, the inevitable question comes up... what about my garbage can?

Yes. What about it?

Well, I need a bag in there to line it.

Why?

Well... it's...

Gross?? It's garbage. Of course it's gross.

Well don't you...

Nope. I know I can rinse the wastebasket out with very little water if I need to. And ya know what else? I bet you don't have a shortage of bags from other places... chip bags, bags from frozen foods... if you have to be so dainty about what you are throwing away, why not save those for the messy times? Are we SO worried about our garbage that we have to make sure it is tied up and saved for all posterity in plastic in the landfills? Not everything you throw away is gross and messy, so why not assign those to smaller bags? Or if you MUST line your can, why not just dump the garbage out of that into the bigger can, if it's not so terrible?

Ohhh... wait, yeah that's right, I just realized. That might be inconvenient. Because, see, then you would have to bring the can out then bring it back IN to the house. You couldn't just run it out on your way to somewhere. It might take foresight, and planning, and some thinking. That just won't do. What was I thinking.

The water used to rinse out your can a little every so often (I hear the argument already) is nothing compared to the water used to make/transport the bags. So you are reusing ones from the store. How about not ever getting them from the store? The little bit of water used to rinse the can (reasonably, mind you, and I know, that too is a stretch) is nothing compared to disgusting amount of plastic floating in the ocean. And sh*t's not breakin' down in landfills, because we have to protect our garbage at all costs by confining it to plastic bags. Look, the garbage pick-up NEVER touch the stuff anymore; y'ain't protectin' THEM from anything. And the truck don't care neither.

And the title here and in the other? My dad used to write GIGO on the calendar every Thursday. We asked him why. It was to remind him to take the garbage that was in the garage in cans down to the end of the driveway. Garbage in garage out. That was before wheels on cans, when, bless his heart, he had to lug the METAL cans down one at a time. Talk about inconvenient. I feel like maybe we made less garbage in those days.

We were thinner, that's for sure.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

If the bright lights don't receive you...

When do you know that it's time to give up?

People have told me, you have to stay where you can do the most good, where you can change people, not where people already have the same beliefs as you. But isn't it nice to be around people who believe as you do, and not have to fight all the time? 

I'm done here. I'm done with the "big city". I need more quiet. I need open spaces. I need to be able to bury my hands in the warm Earth as I plant my garden. I need less horns and fewer helicopters and less entitled people. I need to be where people might hear my message and actually try to change, rather than people hearing it and knowing it but ignoring it because they are so wrapped up in themselves. Is it really "giving up", or just trying something different?

Are we running away, or running toward? I think, a little of each. It's OK to run away from noise and stank and self-absorption. It's OK to run to hard but rewarding work. 

I didn't think I would ever want to leave palm trees and mild winters. But I'm ready. Everywhere I look now, I see ugliness. I try to see the pretty stuff still, but it's falling away quickly. My tolerance is slipping. 

It's funny how priorities change as we age. I'm OK with it. 

OK, got that out, now back to the everyday stupid stuff that makes me crazy.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

White After Labor Day, Or Never?

I heard my step-daughter ask for bleach today. She wanted to do her whites. We don't have bleach in the apartment. I do not have need for it. This made me think, therefore I blog.

Contradiction.
White clothes. I have a few white tees. They don't really stay bright white very long. Because, you know, I don't use bleach. What's the purpose of white clothing? Chef's whites, painter's whites, lab coats, white gloves... does white mean clean ? Pure? I think that's funny, considering the amount of chemicals it takes to keep things bright white. White snow... freshly fallen, bespeaks of purity. Yes, white IS pure. Clean. We are dirty. Life is dirty. There is dirt and dust and grime everywhere. It just is. I'm OK with it.

What material is pure white in the first place? What do we have to do to cotton to get it pure white? I mean, I know keeping it white takes a lot. Is it worth it? Should we phase out white clothing? (In our personal lives, that is. We shouldn't need a LAW.) Do other people have the "right" to have this clean-fetish obsession with white clothes to the point of chemical-dousing the rest of us? There are other things to use to brighten clothing... Lemon, white vinegar, baking soda... how white does white have to be? I know my socks are a touch on the dingy side, because I really don't care so I don't really do the lemon or white vinegar. If someone's judging me on the whiteness of my socks, well then they are the ones with the problem. Not me.

It's pretty easy to avoid white, and then just not really care that much if your socks aren't blinding. I say we re-think the whole white clothing thing. Our priorities are skewed. They really are. You know who loves white clothes? The detergent and chemical companies. Clorox LOVES white clothing. That's about it.

Now you'll be looking around seeing all white clothing. My gift to you today. You're welcome.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Must Blog


I blog because I must. It helps me deal. Otherwise... it's the clock tower.

I go to green events. Green fairs, green gatherings, etc, blah blah... Some of them are good, some of them are chock-full of greenwashing. Most times, I pick up a ton of literature and go through it later. That's what I am doing today - going through it all. And yes, some of it I pick up, just so I can rant about it. And yes, THIS will be one of THOSE times.

I came across a card of a product I really did not remember. 100% organic cotton clothing, made in Los Angeles. Sounds good so far. I still don't remember stopping by the booth. I go to the site. Looks good. I like the clothes. I'm pretty much a dress-for-comfort kind of person. All about the slouchy soft stuff. This stuff is made from hemp and organic cotton and looks oh so comfy. OK. I'll bite. I'm pretty sure it's gonna be somewhat pricey. Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised.

I'm not. I'm actually more horrified than I thought I would be. The  least expensive thing on the site is their tank top. I love tanks. Their tanks are $68.00. (Oh, there IS one tee for $62. Yay.)

If I EVER think it's OK to spend $68 (actually over $70 when you add the lovely CA sales tax) on a tank, you have my permission to take me out. Out. As in, out of the population. Hell I don't even want to be gifted one of these things. Now, I have heard it all and I am sympathetic to certain realities, like organic cotton is expensive and if we bought more products made from it, it would go down. Things made in the US are pricier, and if we all bought more stuff made here, prices would come down. That being said, it is NOT OK for a tee to cost $74. Not in any world.

This is where the critics of Green are right. It shouldn't cost this much to have eco-friendly clothing. I realize these guys are going after the assholes with more money than sense, but seriously??? They're hurting the cause. They're contributing to the divide. Good for them making a go of it, and they do donate a percentage of their sales to stuff. But really? Is it just me? Yes, I suppose it is.

What's my point? I don't know. I give up. This stuff gets my brain in such a twist that it's kind of all I can do to keep going. Moving on. Next card. Next literature. Next possible outrage. Next proof that quantity and not quality has been in place way too long.

Garbage In Garage Out

Just as I was sitting here planning to write a blurb about garbage, a commercial came on that stopped me with my fingers over the keyboard.

Yes, never fear, no worries, your problems with your garbage are over. I know, it was scary there for a second, it was touch'n'go. But you're good now. Hefty has the answer. BLACK garbage bags. Yes. I know. It's about time. Here's their spiel from a marketing sheet: "While stainless steel is the bigger trend in appliances, black is a bigger deal in trash cans, said Lisa Smith, marketing manager for Hefty waste bags, primarily because black cans are less expensive than stainless steel or chrome. Consumers also find black bags look better with stainless steel than white ones, she said. Delving deeper, Hefty discovered trash also looks better, or at least less messy, in black bags."

Our trash looks messy. Mmm hmm. Definitely a problem. I know my whole day is just ruined when my garbage is too messy. And when my garbage bag doesn't look good with my $100 designer garbage can... well just shoot me now. I may as well not take up space on the planet if my garbage is too messy or my trash bags look bad. 

Really? Is this what we are now? From their site: "Keep your kitchen garbage out of sight and out of mind!" Some of the other quips are even worse. This is just more of the same problem: don't do anything about ANYTHING, just hide stuff. It's OK if I don't see it. One of their "customer quotes" actually says, "My kids don't see when I throw their art projects away." Really??? Sigh. I almost don't know where to go with that. That's a selling point? I'm farther gone than I originally feared, I guess. 

How about instead of hiding our garbage, we instead do something moderately constructive with our waste? How about we make an attempt to NOT make a lot of mess throw so much away? How about we compost the messy stuff instead of putting Time Capsules of Junk in landfills? Oh I know I know, we don't have TIME. We're too busy working too much and having warped priorities and running off to soccer games and ballet and way too many activities for kids who really just need to have being-a-kid time because we're trying to live our failed existences through them because we feel so unfulfilled with what we've done and therefore have to live vicariously through them so naturally we are way too busy to make sure they have a planet to actually enjoy when their kids are trying to live although it might not matter too much because with all the cancer running rampant in children we'll have much bigger problems by then so sure it's OK well and fine now to go ahead and hide that mess instead of dealing with it because we're pretty much doomed anyway.

Wow. And that was all before my second cup of coffee.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

There's many a man has more hair than wit.

This one'll cause a stir...

It's been a long time since I last colored my hair. I've colored it black (did that for awhile), I've tried the whole Sun-In thing on it back in the day (what a rip-off) and I've covered the emerging greys. Heck I tried to get it to platinum for a time. Hint: very dark hair does not go gentle into THAT good night. I burned it with bleach, I very nearly shaved it off (that was actually a very fun look - I discovered I have not one cow-lick and a very nicely-shaped head!), and since have enjoyed a very short cut. So now I don't have to blow it dry, or iron it - it was just wavy enough in this dry climate to be annoying instead of "pretty" - or condition it or use a ton of products. Suffice to say, my hair is very green. Not in color, but in upkeep. I had perms when those were all the rage. I've used everything conceivable on it. Ugh. So many chemicals, so many products, so much plastic...

Do I miss long flowing locks, my hair blowing in the breeze, my hair getting stuck under my purse strap, shaking my head and feeling my hair flow? On occasion. Mostly I just like my easy hair. I like that I do not use a lot of product. I wash it with baking soda and rinse it with apple cider vinegar. I use a little stuff in it. I enjoy every single grey hair and I wish I had more of them. I can't wait til my hair is completely white. Want. My hair is frosted by Mother Nature and kissed by Time. And I love it.

This puts me in a weird place, though. I can spot a color job a mile away. (Many times, dyed hair does not reflect light and just looks plain bad. I even have my husband seeing it.) When I see someone of an age that SHOULD have grey hair and does not, I get a little... a little... what do I get? Well, I wonder WHY, I guess. Oh Vanity. I certainly don't disparage people for coloring their hair, after all, most people I know do so, but I just... yeah, I just wonder why. What's so wrong with grey? White? Why this thing, so prevalent in society?  Brazilian Blowouts?? That's formaldehyde, people. It's TOXIC. Hair color? Chemicals. Chemicals that burn and you have to wear gloves to handle. And we willfully and joyfully put this stuff ON our SKIN. THINK about it. All for... what? Because Society has this weird notion about grey hair?

But it goes on and on for me from there... Hair is any easy thing to change when we want to do something different. That's probably grist for another post, though. I could go on and on. And, you know, it's certainly not for me to say what YOU want to do with your hair.

Or is it? People can't smoke cigarettes in places because it affects the health of others. What about this? That a whole lotta chemicals going into MY environment, not to mention the plastic... the water usage... when is it for me to say? When is what our right to say something about something? What's the line? Where's the line?

Interesting.... Looking forward to some good comments here.

Oh, and thanks to Bill Shakespeare for the title.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sophistication in Snot

It's Kleenex-bashing time again. They just make it so easy.


Kleenex has a new-ish product... it may not be VERY new, I tend to skip that aisle completely in the store, so it could have been around for awhile, but only lately have I seen a friend of mine using it. Kleenex Expressions... Yes, just their facial tissues but it a spiffy new box. Oval. Oooooo. So what's the big deal? Their description: "The oval box shape adds a little extra sophistication, and the prints and colors are inspired by trends around the world." OK. Big deal. So what? Well, see that little ring around the top of the sophisticated oval box? It's a ring of plastic. To add rigidity. Or something. There is not a similar ring around the bottom; the paper is folded in such a way to make it strong enough. But around the top, the designers at Kimberly-Clark decided there needed to be a ring of plastic. You can't re-use or refill these boxes; they are perfectly throw-away-able. One use. 'Cuz they're preeetty. There is absolutely no purpose for this piece of plastic put into the world except for people to have pretty pretty snot-rags in their home. 

It's no secret I think Kleenex products are pointless and avoidable, and that Kimberly-Clark is pretty much inherently evil, but really to buy these in particular is the pinnacle of silliness. It just goes to show that we don't pay attention at all. That it still doesn't register with people to avoid plastic. This is not getting recycled. It's just ending up in the oceans. And for what? For what??? It serves next to no purpose AT ALL. 

Our facial tissues are sophisticated. Great. 

I give up.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

No Green, Merely an Observation

It's a long way to the 2012 elections....

I have never understood when people vote for a candidate because "He tawks lahk me, I kin unnerstand him." Meaning, that candidate is not too hi-faluten' and doesn't use big $10 words that go over their head. Never understood that. Personally, I WANT my elected officials to be more intelligent than me. I WANT them to know more than me and have more education than me. I want them to know what they are doing. I want them to have a stellar vocabulary so that they can hold intelligent discourse with other best'n'brightest leaders from around the world. I want them to understand when scientists give them reports. Don't we want the head of the class to represent us, not the class clown, the least likely to succeed? Don't we want to feel we are in capable hands? I know I do.

Naturally, I am thinking about presidential candidates that "don't believe in" climate change, evolution... that think the natural disasters are "God's way" of sayin',  hey, stop yer evil ways... that CO2 is a naturally occurring thing that isn't bad... that our oceans are fine... on and on. We have a year+ of all this.

Call me silly, but I WANT to be the dumbest jamoke in the room. You know why? Because I know by the end of the day, I will have left that room learning something. I will be better for the experience.

That's all. I just needed to get that off my chest. (Brain.) Thanks for listening. (Reading.)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nothing's Fine, I'm Torn

Here's one of those times when I get all mixed up. A seemingly good thing that is really actually bad? Or what I think is a bad thing that really is good? I'm really confused. Perhaps it is that I have lost perspective. Maybe I never had any. Maybe my brain just isn't wired right.

Flipping through a magazine (I KNOW, there I go again. I was on a plane. Gimme a break. I couldn't focus on my book.), I came across a fantastic product: disposable cloth napkins! ??? Good! Wait, what? These are rolls of tear-off cotton napkins. You know, for when you want to be elegant. Sophisticated. "Less pricey than linens" they say. They last for at least 6 wash cycles, they say. You can use them once, or wash them to use them again. They say they are natural, biodegradable and recyclable for other uses. Maybe, like, cleaning cloths, I suppose? That's good, right? Cotton good... so long as it is organic cotton... But I can't tell if it is... I don't think so, or they would say so... So... um... Let's look at them: they come 15-20 to a roll, and they run $25-36/roll. How much are linen napkins? See, I don't even know because making them ourselves is so very easy.

I GUESS these are an OK alternative to paper napkins? You know, no, I can't even get that to ring true as I type it. I think, in the end, I find these unnecessary. Yes. That's it. It could be argued that they are better than paper and on the right track, but I just can't buy into the idea. They are pricey to me. They might seem too easy to throw away... cloth napkins are so easy to have and use and wash and keep that I just can't wrap my head around buying them to use them 1-6 times.

Torn, but definitely learning towards NOPE.