Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Unspillable Snacks. This is Where We Are.

Sometimes, I am flipping through a magazine, and I see things that pretty much make my head fly off. This was one of those times. I retrieved my head and thought I would blog about this new cutting-edge snacking food miracle product. It's snacks... in individual cups... with a membrane over it that kids can reach through and springs back into place - well, here it is:

"Magic, Less-Mess Munchcup! Our sweet and savoury nutritious finger foods are all served in the unique anti-spill, MUNCHCUP – which means your child embarks on an adventure in independent eating every time they tuck in... and there’s less mess for you to clean up! LESS MESS ON CAR SEATS, PUSHCHAIRS AND CARPETS!

"Healthy, convenient and less mess...... now there’s a helping hand for busy parents."

This is a British product, and I am hoping it does not make the trip over here anytime soon. The magazine blurb assures me we WILL see it soon. In fact, their quote is "similar snacking tech." Snacking tech? We need tech in snacking? Oh... I see... I get it. We're very busy. Kids are messy. Our minivans and SUV's get trashed because we would rather use "snacking tech" than actually attempt to encourage our kids to be neater or have to spend time cleaning up after kids we knew would be messy when we had them. I don't really recall this being a problem in the backseat of our metallic green Plymouth Duster. We were fairly neat. We also didn't always have to keep snacks around at every moment of every trip to keep us happy and behaving. We actually knew we were supposed to behave automatically. Shocking, I know. Unheard of. It's so much more convenient to use plastic upon plastic to keep our lives clean. Kids? Vacuum? Unheard of!

KIDS ARE MESSY! Sometimes it's cute, sometimes it's not, but it IS a certainty in life. If you are so anti-mess, perhaps you should re-think the whole reproducing thing. Seriously. It's part of having kids. Maybe... you know, just maybe they don't need snacks at EVERY moment of every day on every trip anywhere. Maybe they can NOT have to be quieted with snacks, maybe instead of giving them snacks every time they whine, maybe we can watch Supernanny instead. I don't know. I of course don't have kids (because they're messy, see?), so naturally I have no idea what I'm talking about. Kids are hard. Shut up, GG, you'd want convenient snacks too if YOU were a mom.

Uh huh.

Blame TV

Which came first: the problem or the commercial?

I watch a fair amount of TV. Always have. I love TV. I credit Hodge Podge Lodge with giving me my first awareness of Mother Nature. I watch it very closely. And it makes me wonder... is it influencing our decisions or mirroring our habits? I'm guessing a good part of both.

Take commercials... toothpaste ads glob on the stuff... no one needs that much toothpaste on the brush. We all know that. Or, um, do we? How ARE we supposed to know that, if every time we see a commercial or ad, they have that much stuff on it? Oh sure, it SAYS on the package to only use a pea-sized amount. But I know their game. They are counting on people not being a voracious label-reader like me. So what does the average consumer do? Why, they do what they see, of course. What they see over and over and over again. It's drummed into their heads, not even remotely subconsciously. Blatantly. So this is on purpose, for sure. You'll use more than you need and have to buy more product than if you used it the way it is supposed to be used. You know, according to the tiny print on the package no one reads. They ain't dumb. They're out for a buck. Your buck.

On commercials and TV show, they run the water while brushing teeth. Always. Why? I was watching a sitcom where, not only did they have one scene where the couple very obviously ran the water the whole time they conversed over their tooth-brushing, but in another scene, the same woman used a tissue to wipe a little makeup off her face and then flushed the tissue instead of throwing it away. It was made obvious because it was part of a joke set-up: the toilet clogged. I'm wondering what the writers of this show have against water. I'm not sure why they feel the need to run water like that. Is it because we do it, or do we do it because we keep seeing THAT? Why can't the writers be a tiny bit more aware and responsible? And does it affect the toothpaste commercial if they DON'T run the water the whole damn time? And might we subconsciously pick up the message to turn off our water?

I know. Here I go again with the little things. "Oh, GG. You're so... picky." Yeah. I am.

Then, there's that Glad Trash Bag commercial that just sets me off every farkin' time. Those two boys on their oh-ha-ha-cute-funny pretend news show where they talk about Mom and the slipping garbage bag as she throws away the meatloaf-oh-yuck that no one ate. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? WHY is it OK to talk about/validate SO much waste of food??? In what world?? And it's supposed to be CUTE and funny?? Can we stop already?

So I ask... do they have commercials like that because they think they have us pegged and are reflecting OUR waste and stupidity, or do we think it is OK to waste and be stupid because of THEM? Hmmmm....

Yup. Just another thing that makes me crazy. Heck, I'll never run out of material. No worries there.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Meat Monologues Part 3: Hug a Vegetable

Lest it come across like I am vegan-bashing today, let me just get this part out. I'm an omnivore. I still eat meat. I'm going to have hot dogs in an hour, actually. I have cut back on my meat intake. Are vegans and vegetarians greener eaters than I? Yes, of course. Over and above, no question. I fully freely admit that. (I would question some of your items for their packaging, but that something else for another time.) I give it up to them. And generally my posts are not aimed at vegans because they are already doing good stuff for the species. If I lash out sometimes, it's against the militant ones, not the ones I personally know and like lots. And in these recent posts, I was just getting stuff out of my head that had been rumbling around in there.

But I do have one question that whispers when I look at vegan food. What's UP with all the imitation food??? Fake meat, fake bacon, fake cheese, fake burgers... if I didn't know better, I'd say you were envious of "our" food. Your magazine industry recently took a hit for using real meat products in their photos, to look all appetizing etc. The vegan I most respect is a raw food vegan, John McCabe. He has written several books on the topic (http://www.amazon.com/John-McCabe/e/B001K81LGI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1306797776&sr=8-1), and they are good. He doesn't go for all that fake, processed, maybe-I'm-meat stuff. He goes for real actual food. If I did it, I think I would do it like that.

Why you gotta copy our stuff? Do you miss it that much? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery... nuh-uh. If you don't want to eat bacon, why you gotta eat something that tries to taste like bacon? If you don't wanna eat cow, why you try so hard to make it seem like cow? Chicken? Whatever? If you are so into non-meat, why not just eat what isn't meat or near-meat or wannabe-meat?

I understand John. I don't understand the other part. He's the greenest eater I know, with the other raw food vegans. Will I do it? I don't know. Not now and not in the foreseeable future. But is that the way I would do it? I think so. If I'm gonna not eat meat, I'm not going to tease myself with not-meat-but-sure-trying-to-be processed FOODSTUFFS. I would be a consumer of fruits and vegetables and grains and nuts and whatever wasn't meat or anything like meat.

Just sayin'. Just another one of those things that makes me wonder. Now, where's that BBQ?

Meat Monologues Part 2: I'll Show Ya Suffering

It's an old argument between those who think hunting is cruel, and those who love venison. I bet you can guess which group I'm in, huh? Yup. I love me some venison. It has been forever since I've had it. Pretty common in the towns I lived in back in PA, not so common in Los Angeles. Where I come from, men hunt. And then we eat what they hunt. Seems pretty straightforward. No "sport hunting" I knew of. We were also known to go fishing for food too. One of my favorite meals ever was fresh-caught river trout, hard-won, pan-fried when we got home. YUM. This was a great way to get food. I've even cooked bunnies into a lovely stew. You hunt, you kill, you eat. It's the equation with which I grew up. Someone I knew even had a great relationship with the local game warden, and when a poacher was caught, that guy got the deer. You see, the poacher couldn't keep it, but something had to be done with it... and it got ate, believe you me.

OK, wait, where was I? Oh yeah, the argument. "Hunting is so cruel" versus "If we don't hunt the deer, they'll overpopulate." Allow me to REALLY break this down for all y'all. This is the reality in which we live. This is how it is. Feel free to debate, but... well, I'm right. Deer populate certain areas. Those areas used to have their predators to keep their numbers in check, but because we humans have encroached so much, we tend to knock out the deer's predator because the predator poses a "threat" to us and our way of living, too. So, with Nature's control gone, deer are free to roam and proliferate. Which they do. So then THEY get out of control and eat stuff we don't want them to eat, like OUR crops. So now we have to control their numbers, as we have interfered with Nature and her control. We hunt them. We eat them. It's a controlled hunt; we don't go all out and slaughter them, but we keep their numbers manageable. I'm OK with this, because, as stated, I love me some venison. Cruel?

Yeah, you say. Cruel. I'll TELL you what "cruel" is. We stop hunting altogether and abruptly, because hunting is "cruel". But no: cruel is a bunch of deer, untouched by hunters, protected and free to do as they please, suddenly populating as they would anyway, suddenly faced with a major shortage of food. They are starving in the woods. They raid our fields and gardens. That's not cool, but what to do? Higher fences? Snort. They compete with all those cows we just set free because it was cruel to keep them. Now everyone's starving and SUFFERING and dying. Dying because they are starving. Because we thought it kinder and happier to let them be. SUFFERING. Think about the starving animals. I'll wait.

Sure, sure, the population will eventually balance, if we just left well enough alone. But when, how long? Plus, necessarily, we would see an increase of the predators as Nature tries desperately to balance her creatures. Now there are more predators killing our cats and dogs and cows and horses and chickens, not to mention our children playing in the back yard. What happens to them? We can't be cruel, so we can't kill them either. So I ask, how much starvation and death and stalking predators equals the sudden compassion and "civility" of not hunting anymore? How many years of waiting for that cycle to correct what we humans have effed up in the first place? What is the acceptable, palatable number here?

I'll wait. Go ahead and think on it.

And as you finish reading this and think, "Hm, what's green about THIS topic, GG? Do you have BBQ on the brain today, or something? This isn't your usual green fare," I say this: Green living to me means living WITH Nature, according to Nature, respecting the rules of Nature. Those rules are pretty clear. All other creatures on this planet live with Nature, by her rules. We do not. So now there are too many people and too many dogs and too many cats and too many deer and too many people (yeah I know) and not enough predators and the equation is skewed... and we hunt. And we can't just plain stop. THAT would be cruel.

I just want people to think beyond their own noses for a change. There are consequences to things.

Go ahead. I'll wait.

Meat Monologues Part 1: Zuckerberg Method

Vegan Monologues was already taken. I'm not talking about meat here. I'm talking about vegans, and I'll probably get some flak. Oh well.

So the news that shook up the food world this past week was that Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, revealed that "he is currently only eating meat from animals he has personally killed himself." To that, I say, good for him. That takes some huevos. Vegans, however, are horrified. How can he??? That's BARBARIC!!! How is it different from eating an animal someone else killed? Well, let's see, shall we? For one, he is living an understanding of where his food comes from and is appreciating it more, and is cutting back, and is living much more sustainably. I wish we could all live in such a way that we got rid of factory farming and were much more in touch with our food. (Oh yeah - we could, if we weren't hell-bent on such needless useless rampant over-population. Oops, separate post. I digress.)  It's funny to me how an admitted omnivore makes a mooooove (SORRY! I really couldn't resist. I did try.) towards healthier, more sustainable, more of a vegetarian-based diet, and all the vegans can do is be all horrified and condemn him instead of applauding him.

I'm not saying I will never be a vegan or a vegetarian. I have cut back on the meat, but I have yet to even think about wanting to give it up. I try to be responsible about where it came from. Mr. Z doesn't eat meat in restaurants, just vegetarian foods. Why can't this be a good thing? How about we moooove (didn't even try this time) some of that ire and outrage back to Go-Daddy founder what's-his-name, for needlessly killing elephants? (I could look up his name, but I refuse to give him that much thought. Please look it up. THAT'S bad.) Here, we have someone trying to raise his own awareness, and we have to turn it into a bad thing. OK, not "we"... "they". Yes, I will put up that wall right here. 

Aw hell, I just think it's funny they are lamenting this ON Facebook. Now That's irony. Thoughts?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Nothing Special

We have so much these days. Of everything. Right at our fingertips. Whatever we want, when we want it. This is progress. This is moving forward. This is making sure it's better than it's ever been. Better off than past generations. We got it better than our parents, grandparents, on and on.

Here's the rub: In a world of plenty, nothing is special.

Used to be, growing up in the Northeast, that we waited for certain things. As in, when something wasn't in season, like, say, cucumbers, we did not have them. Sure, we could buy them at the store if we wanted them, but they were coming from far away and so they were a little more expensive and so we did not buy them. They didn't taste as good anyway, grown in some sterile hothouse. We waited. And when they were in season and plentiful, we had them. My first bite of cucumber (likely from our own or a neighbor's garden) was the sure, unmistakable, wonderful sign that Summer was here. That first bite of cucumber-y goodness was Something Special. Exploding taste. So pure, so clean. That went for corn, for watermelon, etc. Yes, sure, I can get anything anytime now, but I feel maybe I can't appreciate the little things like I used to. The specialness is somehow diminished.

We don't wait for anything anymore. Our demand for everything, right now, has left us... kind of empty. We don't value things. We don't treasure the simple pleasures. Our demand for things like beautiful flowers for purchase all the time every day has left us with huge gorgeous roses... that don't smell. I'm not sure what the point of it all is if you see a vase of roses and you go over and stick your face in them and take a deep inhale and get rewarded with... nothing. It's like a big fat lie to me. I once asked someone in the flower business why roses don't have fragrance anymore. He said, because the same thing that makes them smell good also makes them not last as long. So in order to get them to last, to get your money's worth, I guess? is to sacrifice one of the things that made them worthwhile to me in the first place. What IS the point of a great big vase of roses if they are only half there? I feel cheated. I am disappointed. But we want them all the time, we want them to last forever, and so we don't care anymore. They aren't special anymore. They are an empty sham. Would it not be better to maybe not have them so ready, so right there, but be WHOLE again? And maybe, just maybe, appreciate them more?

Is it possible to go back? Is it remotely possible to "give up" and "sacrifice" some things, not have everything right there right now instant gratification, to make things special again? Is that really even a sacrifice? And why is it so important, to go back? I'll tell you why. Because we are losing our appreciation for everything. We become jaded. Nothing means anything. Look at this younger generation. What do they value? Cell phones? So what if they lose it or break it or whatever. Just go get a new one. Food? there's nothing special there. They never had to wait, anticipate. It's all right there in the grocery store. Go get it, what's the big deal? Everything is new and now and nothing is special. Nothing is appreciated because it's all just part of the same noise.

We're losing something here. I don't know, maybe it is where I live now. Maybe I'm just not seeing it. Maybe I need to live somewhere else. But I don't think so. I think we're in danger, if not already past the point of no return. If we just go back to that, we can look around and see that we're in real trouble here, and maybe we see the planet again, what it is, what it gives, what we're doing to it. How WE are in trouble.

What do we need to do to get back to appreciation? How do we make the good things special again?

It's a symptom. I promise so much would be helped if we returned to that. Appreciate the small stuff. 'Cuz it's all small stuff.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Something Vegan This Way Comes

And I liked it.

I know. Don't go into shock.

This past weekend was World Fest LA, a vegan gathering that was open to us omnivores, as well. I did not sample much of the food. And actually, I'll be writing more about vegan food in another post. This post is for praise. I got a goodie bag, and in it were these tiny little samples of some energy bars. I usually find vegan, gluten-free stuff extremely mealy, bland, weirdly textured, etc. So I did no open the Bearded Brothers Colossal Coconut Mango Energy Bar sample with very much enthusiasm. But you know what? For once, I was pleasantly surprised! This tasted very good!

I'm not all anti-everything-vegan, I'm really not. (Just seems that way most times.) But I don't expect much in the way of taste when I look at packaged so-called vegan anything. These raw bars have good texture and taste wonderful and really do make me want to try more. "100% organic snack food company. Handmade with love and joy, in Austin, Texas." Austin is actually intriguing me lately. I hear it's great. These guys are intriguing me. I think I'll hit them up. Sure, they are a little pricey for what I think, but then again, I don't know much about vegan food products. They could be very reasonable. And I'm... frugal. (almost said cheap. which could be true.) But, yes, I am intrigued. Downright yummy. I applaud them. I was ready to go off on the packaging, but I think I will save that for the vegan-food rant I have cooking in my head. (cooking - with bacon grease heh heh heh.) I'm just going to simply like these guys for awhile.

Here's their site: http://www.beardedbros.com/ It's not what you'd call high on information, but it's simple and straightforward, perhaps, as I suspect, they themselves are. Um, straightforward; I don't want to call them "simple." Hah. Yikes, almost got in trouble on that one.

So, there it is. Take it for what it's worth. I won't be this nice in the next one, you can say that twice and mean it.

Screw the Planet, Save Ourselves

There is an article that has been making its rounds of Facebook pages, as many do. This one has me a little torn. You may have seen it; it's in greenbiz.com. The gist of it is... well, here's a paragraph:

 Suzanne Shelton, president and CEO of Shelton Group, also responded to the NYT piece as well as a more recent article by GreenBiz Executive Editor Joel Makower, who declared green marketing dead. While Shelton acknowledged that marketing products with an "it'll save the planet" message is dead, she added: "Very few Americans have ever bought stuff because they want to save the planet. As I've hammered home in this blog countless times, people buy green products for a host of other reasons -- to feel more comfortable, to gain peace of mind, to limit the chemicals their families are exposed to ..."

My first reaction to what many were saying, "Wow, good article," was to get a little pissed. (Naturally. I mean, it's me, remember?) I got in a little bit of a snit that people are so damn selfish and don't care to ever think about the effect on the planet. But, so what? Doesn't the end justify the means? Who cares about their reasoning so long as they buy the good stuff? Right? Even my tag line is, "Saving the Species, Not the Planet". So... why so snitty?
Image from article. Heels? Really?
Good question. I may or may not have figured this one out. We'll see. Together. I think I just feel like it should all be one in the same, you know? Why do we have to make a distinction? How about, "I buy this because I care about my kids. But I also care about other people's kids. I care about the health of my home, and my home IS the planet." Is it just THIS tiny little thing that is bugging me? What IS it that makes me give a crap about why people do what they do? They're still buying the good stuff. Take what ya get, shut up, and get on with it.

But now comes my AHA moment. I think. Yes, yes, this could be it. Making this shade of a distinction speaks of the bigger problem to me. That problem is that we do not have a "global concern." We still don't care about what our neighbor is doing, so long as in OUR little household, WE'RE buying cleaners etc. that are healthy for OUR kids. I must really, really be reading WAY too much into this. Something. This shouldn't bug me this much. But, OK, heck yah I'm going to read into it.  See, it's a dangerous attitude. No, not mine. The attitude of which I speak is this pervasive subversive idea that all I care about is me and mine. I just see it too much everywhere about so many things. "I got my healthcare, screw everyone else." "My kid goes to a good school, screw anyone else's kids." "I got mine, that's their problem." This... circling of wagons into tiny little groups alarms me to no end. And this seems like more of it. It makes me think things don't end well for anyone.

At this point, I fail to know if I am making any sense. I like to think I am. Something just troubles me about the way this is stated, that's all. Yay for people buying green products for whatever reason. Boo me for thinking anything untoward about the whole thing. It's all good, we're fine, everyone's fine, nothing to see here, no worries.

And yet....

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

But I Need Garbage Bags


This is pretty straight-forward to me. There is no need for these bags. Do not get them at the grocery store, the drug store, Wal-Mart, Target, anywhere. We do not need them. Period. They become garbage that never ever ever goes away.

Ah - wait - garbage. This seems to be the biggest argument I hit when discussing plastic bags. "I need them to line my garbage can. I'm re-using them, what's the big deal? Isn't that the point? Re-using? I'm not just throwing them away."

Well, let's stop to think about this. Why do you need to line your garbage can at all? Why are your protecting and bundling your garbage? Are you trying to make garbage a neat, tidy, compact little thing? How can garbage ever break down if it's all tied neatly in plastic bags? Don't we want garbage to break down? Are we saving it for posterity's sake, so aliens who visit our (dead) planet in the future can see what we threw away?

"Garbage is messy, the garbage can will get messy and gross if I don't line it." Here's some news for you: You can actually clean out a garbage can. Yes, it's true. We stopped using bags to line the can some time last year. Two years ago? I'm thinking you have to be a serious prima donna if you can't deal with your own garbage. Really. I mean that. Otherwise, think of it this way: some of your garbage IS messy, yes, we all get that. But, aren't there other things you get that come in plastic bags anyway? Bread, cat food, dog food, potatoes, those kind of things... are you just contributing those to your garbage? Why not save THOSE smaller bags, and put messy things in those but keep the can unlined? It's easy. Because not ALL your garbage is messy, right? Just some of the stuff. If you want to say, "Doesn't having to wash the can waste water?" then I say, no, not if you aren't going crazy with the washing. You don't have to. There's no need for bleach and Lysol. (Why do you think your garabge is that bad? What the heck are you throwing away? Medical waste?) And when you think of the water that goes into the manufacturing of the bags in the first place... well there ya go.

Let's come to terms with our garbage, shall we? What happens to things when you throw them in the can that makes them untouchable in mere seconds? Why are we so dainty? Why can't we own up to our own garbage anymore?

At least, at the VERY LEAST, if you still just HAVE to line the can... do NOT take the whole bag out if there is no "mess". At least try to re-re-use it when you can. At least, that. It's kind of funny, really. We're becoming such a society of feeling entitled to get something for free, that we wouldn't couldn't dare think of actually BUYING other bags for garbage can liners (remember buying bags?) or the biodegradable bags for dog poop etc... no, we have to have our bags free and clear from the grocery store. In fact, double-bag it, please. I need more bags. It is owed to me. (That's something that stymies me too - bag manufacturers making bags so thin we have to double-bag everything. Why does THAT make sense???)

Just... stop. Stop selling out the future just because we've forgotten how to handle anything that might be remotely messy. Stop.

Pure Chicken-y Goodness, Individually.

"Perdue Introduces Chicken That's Perfect For Everyone"

Really? How so? Perfect, because your chickens are mass-farmed? Given growth hormones for more attractive breasts? Given antibiotics? Is that what makes this chicken perfect?

"Each piece of chicken breast cooks quickly and evenly, in only 10 minutes. Additionally, each portion is individually wrapped making it extra convenient to cook the desired amount and easily store the remainder in a reclosable bag for later use."

Ooooohh.... THAT'S why it's perfect. Look - right up there - my favorite word. "Convenient." So... chicken, wrapped in plastic, wrapped in MORE plastic. Um, why, exactly? Let me guess: so we don't have to break them apart. Because we don't have time to mess with separating stuff. Because there's no good reason to prepare more food to have leftovers for lunches or another dinner. Um... wait, I'm still trying... Oh, because everyone is so picky that we have to fix different things. Because, umm... because.... I got this, I swear I do... nope. I got nuthin'. I can really truly seriously not think of one really good really valid reason that we "need" this and what makes it perfect and why anyone would buy it. Admittedly, I avoid Perdue. I eat chicken, I love chicken, chicken yummy. But I prefer mine from small, local, sustainable farms. (It tastes far better, too.) I'm pretty sure most everyone should avoid Perdue. But definitely really, REALLY avoid this. There is no reason for this. The best thing is to get this out of the marketplace as soon as possible. In fact, feel free to express your displeasure directly:

By Phone:1-800-4-PERDUE® (1-800-473-7383)
Monday - Friday, 9:30 am to 6 pm EST
By Post:Perdue Farms
P.O. Box 1656
Horsham, PA 19044-6656

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Famous for Nothing, Richer Anyway

I'm not a shoe-whore. Oh, I love me my boots and suffer a lot of boot envy, and I'm not turned OFF, per se, by shoes... I just don't feel the need to have a whole ton of them. I don't faint in DSW or Off Broadway. I like to go in, but generally it's just when I need to replace a pair that has worn out. Because of this general attitude, I was not paying much attention to ShoeDazzle.com. This is a site by one of the oh-so-famous for no-reason-whatsoever Kardashian sisters. I guess it's been around for a few years. It JUST got a major investment infusion of 4 million dollars. For those of you good, cool people who aren't aware of this stupid company, here's the nutshell... apparently, you sign up, handing a credit card over before you even see pictures of shoes, and you are given a "personal selection" from someone who tailors the choices right to you (uh huh), and for this $40/month you get a pair of shoes that you pick from that selection.

Why should I care? So what if people buy shoes? $40 for a pair of shoes may not be bad. Unless they are super-cheaply made crap shoes. I'll tell you why I care. Because I suspect they ARE cheap pieces of crap, from the looking-around I did, and they break easily so they'll just get tossed, and they are mostly made in China, who knows if by exploited workers or what. I care, because aren't we supposed to be stopping this kind of thing, rather than throwing money at it? Aren't we supposed to be moving towards fair trade and quality? Did I miss a point?

(I think all I missed was greed. I generally miss that.)

I hesitated to even talk about this, because, you know, I hate to publicize things that suck... but then the whole needing-to-make-good-people-aware-of-the-bad always overrules. MY PEEPS! Call to action! WHAT can we do in the face of this line of crap?? Cuz I'm at a loss. All I can think to do is write about it. And not use the site myself, of course, but my not sending $40 isn't going to do much in the face of the 4 million dollars. Karma? Anyone? Anyone???

Guess we just sit back and continue to be annoyed by this stuff. Geez, I gotta get famous so I can fight on a level field.

Hee hee.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Big Oil and Big Corp Out of My Life

Big oil is all over our lives in ways we rarely realize. Petroleum products abound in the most subversive places. Just look in your shower: petroleum in your shampoo bottles AND your shampoo. Big corporations that care nothing for the environment make your liquid soap in more plastic bottles. Disposable razors. Scrubbie poufs of plastic. That little tiny area in your bathroom is full of the worst of it, when you stop to think about it. Forget the rest of that room; the shower has enough horrors. Right down to the toxic chemical cleaners you use to clean it, the detergents on your towels, the frequency with which you wash said towels... (Seriously, anyone who uses a towel ONCE and puts it in the wash needs to leave the planet. Seriously. If you know someone like this, please feel free to push them off during the next rotation.)

I feel pretty good about my shower area. I've done away with shampoo and conditioner, having replaced them with baking soda and apple cider vinegar, neither of which come in plastic containers. I will NOT use liquid bath soap. I'm not sure why this particular product is so incredibly popular.  (Please tell me if you know!) Full of petroleum products and other chemicals. And fake fragrances. I've thought about it, and really I can't see why bar soap is not just plain good enough. It's surely cheaper. We do pay a little more for ours, because we just love Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap in bar form, especially in tea tree or peppermint. We are OK paying a little more for this all-natural soap because, frankly, we are saving so much not buying shampoo that it's basically a wash. (HAH! No pun intended.)  I make sure to use a razor that only replaces the head. I use them forever, and I've had the same handle for, I think, 4 years now. That comes out to be cheaper than the disposables, too. I use a natural loofah instead of a scrubbie-pouf. Those bug me. They work great with liquid soap, I suppose, but, see above. And I've done away with moisturizers in plastic containers with suspect ingredients: I have a little container in my shower with a bit of olive oil. I put some on my face after washing it, and the remaining time in the shower lets it sink in SO nicely. Turns out I really don't need to spend $20+ on something that only sort of works. Thank you, Mother Nature. Hugs.

So, I feel pretty good. I am not giving money to companies like SC Johnson and Dow; instead supporting the smaller companies. I am not throwing away countless plastic bottles every year. And I am not using petroleum on my hair and body. What can you do?

It's the little victories. And they add up.

***Aside anecdote: I have a few little hotel bottles on the sill of my shower window for just-in-case times. (And because I prefer to eventually slowly use them than throw them out!) I recently had surgery, and one of those very same just-in-case times came up: I dropped the soap, and could not bend over to pick it up! Ack! No worries - I used the liquid soap from the little sill-bottle. HOLY CRAP did that stuff dry out my never-dry skin. I love being given irrefutable evidence that I am doing the right thing. Nice reinforcement. But luckily I can bend over again, in case I drop my Dr. Bronners again. Shew.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why Do I? Do you?

I'll say this one right up top here: Our demand for ease and convenience is killing our future generations. I'll warn you, too: there won't be much funny or snarky here. Small departure this time around.

It's well-known I don't have children, so maybe I'm out of the loop. So let's say I am going from a place of casual observation in what is all over our youth: increased asthma rates, cancer of all kinds, ADHD, autism, disorders of the brain, cancer... yeah I said that twice. It's that alarming.

How many people know a kid with cancer? In high school, we had one classmate who had cancer, and she died before we graduated. One, out of hundreds of kids. And that was tragic. Now? I almost can't think of it. Pediatric wards are FILLED with LITTLE KIDS with cancer. How is this even remotely not making every single one of us run around screaming and pulling our hair out? How has this become part of our reality? How do we just... accept it? "Well, no, G-Dub, we aren't accepting it, we hate it too." Then why do we persist in our ways? Because it's OK if it happens to other people's kids, but not ours? I don't have kids and it's not OK to me. I want the terrible nasties that make our kids sick to go away. That's why I do what I do. Just because I loved my eggs too much to fertilize them doesn't mean I don't care about the future. I'm a paradox. I accept this. (Ok, a little snark in this one.)  I am by no means saying I'm the only one that gives a shit, I know I'm not, but damn it, why aren't we all giving more of a shit??? Pardon my English!

The problem is that people are NOT looking around and realizing that their chemicals and products and things they MUST have to make their lives oh-so-much easier are KILLING us all. We spray chemicals all over our homes. Febreze here, Lysol there, Glade over here... and our demand for more and more power dumps more toxins and mercury and crap into the environment, causing how many developmental disorders? Autism: misdiagnosed for decades or crazy-on-the-rise? And why would these things be on the rise? What has changed in the last 40 years or so?

That's kind of a rhetorical question. I know what's changed. Maybe your kids are fine. Great, that's a blessing and you should be grateful. What about their kids? Do you want to see your grandkids suffer and die before they hit 11? Is it worth it to you to step away from the plastic bottles to see your grandkids healthy? Is it so hard to remember your reuseable bags that you spent a buck on, to know that your kids won't have to suffer through suffering of their kids? Can you slow down and go back to cooking real and healthy foods, for the sake of the future generations? Can you swear off plastic diapers, plastic pudding cups, plastic straws... fake fragranced sprays and detergents... paper/disposable everything? Can we think ahead, see what is happening, make it slow down?

If not, why?

How Can Fruit be Bad?

I'll be frank. (Well, that's my dad, actually.) These things confuse me. I think they are delicious, and they're fresh good healthy fruit, right? There can't be anything wrong with that, can there?

I'm talking about Edible Arrangements. A great and novel alternative to sending boring old flowers. Nice! But then, I see all the silly plastic sticks we have to throw away. So, um, good healthy fresh fruit, dozens and dozens of plastic sticks. I'm so torn!!! What to think? Good, but bad. Can the company take the sticks back to re-use them? Is that illegal because of some health code? Would people largely not return them anyway? Why can't they use something else, like bamboo? It's not like the fruit is meant to stay on the skewers for very long. Is there a splinter issue? Is the plastic just plain cheaper? Have they tried other things? Is it a focus group thing?

It's kind of sad how a fun delicious little gift can cause such angst in my life. Pathetic, actually. It doesn't help that I know certain fruit juices can leech chemicals out of the plastic, not that they are on there very long, but still.

It seems like a good idea and a good company, if they would only ditch the plastic sticks. I mean, I could make a helluva green smoothie after receiving one of these, especially if they use kale for accent. And those chocolate-covered bananas? SOOO yummy. But then the guilt of all those sticks. Sure, I can find some good way to re-use them, but what about everyone else out there who doesn't?

I want to give this two brooms' up, but I think it has to get thrown in the cauldron as a fail. What say you? Too harsh? Simmer down? I'd feel better if there was some kind of exchange program. You know, return the sticks, get a discount on your next delivery...

No, I stand by the bad. Fruit good. Fruit on plastic sticks bad. Easy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Keep Yer Grubby Mitts Outta My Trash

Ah, the garbage ritual on my street. I've touched on it before. The dance of the trucks... it's quite magical, actually. Watching the ebb and flow and organization of it all...

Were we thinner then?
My street is lined with fairly sizable apartment complexes. Each building has two or more giant dumpster bins. We all have gated garages; the garbage trucks of course do not go in there. The bins have to come out. That's where this almost-insect-like ballet of cooperation begins. First, the Little Red Trucks come around. They zip into the gated garages and bring out the bins to leave them there on the street for the Big Trucks. BUT WAIT! Before the Big Trucks can come lumbering down the street... here are the Little White Trucks. What are these? These are trucks with little men in them who park their trucks and jump right into the dumpsters to go through them to salvage anything that might be worth anything.

I LOVE these guys. The back of their trucks are full of trash/treasure. Others look down on them and think it's disgusting that they do this; I admire them. I'll say it (cuz it's my blog, after all), they are of a majority Mexican. You know, because we sure couldn't expect "real" Americans to get all dirty like that, right? Gross. Climbing in a dumpster? Should be ashamed. Nope, I think they are awesome. They are pulling stuff out of there that would likely end up in the landfills, and they are DOING something with it. Reselling it for scrap... it will be recycled/re-used/re-purposed. Energy will be saved. Resources will be saved. I love these guys. Finally the Big Trucks come by, and the ritual is concluded for our street.

Which brings to mind an anecdote... we were wandering a lovely farmers' market on Sunday, and they had helpful nice local policemen there to answer community questions. Nice community close to the ocean... nice people. Over comes this nice resident of the nice community to talk to the nice police. He looked fit and ready to spend the afternoon yachting. He wanted to know why the police wouldn't do anything about the homeless people who went through his recycling bins after he put them out to his curb for collection the next day. Those darn homeless people had the nerve, nay, audacity to rummage through HIS good garbage. That was HIS garbage and he paid GOOD MONEY for that garbage collection. He pays his taxes, darn it. He shouldn't have to tolerate some unworthy person sucking off the teat of society using his good garbage to make a tiny bit of money.

I really wanted to say something. And I think the cops were trying their best to be respectful to Mr. Tax Payer, too, but they sure seemed to want to point something obvious out to him. I don't know. Why should this encounter have bothered me so, stuck with me so? Why was I irritated? I LIKE that there are people who go through the recycling bins, you know why? Because then I am really sure that stuff will GET to a recycling center. And the CRV is going to (somewhat) good use. You know what, Yacht Guy, Mr. Tax Payer? Why don't YOU care as much about your recycling as those less-than-desirables in society? That guy and also that lady that goes up my favorite hiking spot to pull bottles out of the garbage cans up there? Hell, they're getting a work-out AND doing good by the Earth. GOOD for them. You've thrown it away, why do you care what happens to it now? And would YOU climb in that dumpster? No: you've already thrown that item away and missed it's value that someone else recognizes. Leave them alone. No - admire them. They earn it.

I salute you, O Dancers of the Dumpsters. And I thank you. Moreover, I really, really respect you. Does that mean anyting to you?

Meh. Prob'ly not. Oh well.

Better Than An Apple

Here I go again. Trashing an otherwise perfectly respectable, pretty much good-for-you product. What is WITH me?

I recently attended the Natural Products Expo. It is a super cool event, filled (really filled, that event is HUGE!) with so much natural stuff one hardly knows where to turn. However, from the first second hitting the floor, I had to remind myself this was a "natural products" gig and NOT a green event, per se. The two ought to go hand in hand, yes I agree, but this is not the case. And that's that... you can't quite call it greenwashing here... Oh I wanted to... but you can't quite.

Case in point: the first display I saw. VitaTops. Apparently these things are great for losing weight and are wonderfully healthy and oh so delicious. Everyone loves them, they have all kinds of seals of approval... GREAT. Super. Wonderful. What stopped me dead in my tracks was this huge sign on their display that said, "Better than an apple!" Dead serious. My immediate reaction was, "In what world??? Plasticland???" While these delicious little morsels are the perfect size and calorie count, they are all perfectly wrapped in individual perfect plastic pouches. Yes, that IS much better than an apple. Not. What's the dead giveaway? What's the phrase that jumps out in a warning? The very first thing they say under the VitaTop's product page is: "VitaTops. Deliciously Convenient."

"No time for your vitamin-fortified cereal this morning? Tired of chewing yet another nutritional bar, but still want your vitamins and minerals and 4-9g fiber with very little fat?" Really? This is what we've come to? Yeah, I know, I'm not really surprised either. (Nutritional bars are hard to chew??) How lazy are we. No, that is not a question. I know we are. Chewing is hard work. So is exercise and eating right. Hard hard work. Convenience is definitely the key to losing weight.

So, anyway, this is a good and quality product. I'm sure it is. I'm totally overreacting. Come on. Is there no other way to package it? None? No? Then it has to go in the "reject" pile. Because this is not cool. You cannot recycle these wrappers. They just end up in the ocean. And why? What for? Because eating right is just too plain hard and inconvenient, and we are all too fat and have to lose weight, and damn the consequences to our children's children?

That's what I thought.

You Got Your Garbage in My Almond Butter!

Just one more example of sliding backwards. One step forward, two steps back. I would be wholeheartedly for this product. In fact, I'm sure it's an awesome healthy thing. Almond butter instead of peanut butter. Yum, good, fine, wonderful. Whatev's. But please sell it in a wonderful glass jar, you know, the way peanut butter used to be sold before greed and convenience really caught hold?

But, alas, no. We need even more convenience than plastic jars. We need on-the-go, super-spiffy wonderfully convenient, single-serve SQUEEZE packs. I wish I was kidding. Can someone please explain this to me? Can someone let me know why this is even a product we "need" in our lives? Is it so much to have to think ahead and pack a little cup of this stuff from the larger jar at home? Are we so far gone we can't think around THIS? Do we really need to add this kind of trash to the mounds out there? Do we need to applaud the amount of resources it takes to manufacture and fill these stupid little things? Do we have to be able to whip our almond butter out of a cute little pocket? Do we need to teach our kids to get used to these things?


I got nuthin' for this one. Just... and I know, I am the one introducing them to y'all... boo for me, I really did wrestle with that one, but I feel the evils of the world need to be seen so we can recognize them for what they are. "It's just a little thing.. no big deal, G-Dub." (my new nick-name!) But, these are ALL little things that add up in a big way. But back to the "just..." Just DON'T buy them. And when you see these things, maybe take some names and maybe spend a few minutes a week tossing off an e-mail to these companies, saying, "We don't care for these irresponsible products." It could help.

Maybe not. Sometimes, I think we are too far gone. Give me some hope, someone. I'm fresh out and they don't put that in a super-slick squeezee-pouch.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Friends Don't Let Friends be Un-Green

I have a lot of green friends, 'natch. Well, acquaintances. My circle of "friends" is really small... you know, those people who visit you after surgery or that chick you can call to hit the mall with you or some peeps to grab drinks with after work... those people? Not so much around me. I'm a loner. Ask anyone: I don't really like "people". It's true. Which is weird, because quite honestly, I am unfailingly gosh-darn pleasant to everyone. It's kind of sick how nice I am in person. Sick. Nauseating. But I digress.

Back to it: I am lucky to know so many green and aware and awake people. VERY lucky, and I treasure them all. But what about if you have a friend who doesn't so much share your brand of awareness? You may have them in your life... those who just will NOT stop using plastic bags or single-use bottles... those maybe even in your family who think you're a little cray-cray and don't listen to anything you say because they already wrote you off as a tree-hugging Birkenstock-wearing Patchouli-smelling non-showering non-flushing hippie, even though you're really not? Hell, you don't even own a pair of Birkenstocks. Do you keep patient and keep trying? Do you shut down and shut up (funny how those are two such different things, isn't it? LOL)? Do you just not see those people anymore, gently excise them from your life?

Or, let's go even a step further, since we ALL know people who think we're a little over-the-top. Say you have a friend who has a job or business that is completely non-green. Like... bottled-water delivery. Plastic diaper seller. A catering business that uses plastic utensils and Styrofoam. A salon that goes through crazy chemicals or - gods forbid - Brazilian blowouts. What do you do? This is their money, their success, their livelihood... what to do? Stop being friends with them, because they can't/won't change, and you simply can't associate with them any longer? Or do you gently urge them to mend their ways? Or do you nag them enough that they finally shut YOU out?

Some people that know me will actually be afraid to do things around me or will hide something from me that they know I will frown upon. And, you know, I'll take that... because at least they are thinking about it. They are more aware. But, again, I don't have a lot of people like that in my life, because... well, I guess I just don't. Do you? I'm really curious about this one. There can't just be "Us" and "Them". There has to be a "We", right? Apparently, I am the one people just humor if they don't share my concerns. Or they tune me out. That's disheartening. But I know it's true. I can only hope to just be like that tiny, irritating little piece of sand in the oyster, and maybe pearls will follow.

It's all I got.

What say you?

So, My Steamer Breaks...

...no big deal, right? It's just a steamer. They're relatively cheap; I can get another one.
After all, clothing steamers are great. Easier than ironing, keeps clothes from needing to be dry-cleaned as often... and heck, it lasted a few years. Great.

No, not great. It's a GIANT hunk'a'plastic that is now good for NOTHING. A few years??? C'mon!! And I know what's wrong with it - it's not boiling water anymore! This is a quick fix, right?? WRONG! These days, stuff is made so damn cheap that it's far easier - AND less expensive, even - to just junk it and get a new one. I can't even figure out what to do to repurpose it!

Well, woo-hoo, that's good for the economy, right? WRONG! It's good for some 3rd world economy somewhere (not even, really) where the stupid things are made. Cuz they ain't made here in the US. So please tell me what economy we are helping. Bed Bath & Beyond's CEO's personal economy? Here's an idea: how about jobs we used to have, you know, actually FIXING stuff?? Appliances lasted a long time. Decades, even. And if something twitched in them, we took them to the local guy who could fix pretty much anything. Toasters, sewing machines, mixers, vacuums... or when the bigger things went down, he came to the house to fix it. And we kept it. Now, you don't even keep a microwave. Too cheap and easy to get another one. Hand mixers? Like Kleenex. Blenders? Pfft.

 We cry out about jobs all the time. So someone please explain to me how this Planned Obsolescence things is good for our economy. I don't think it's working so well. Could be just me. Can't we just go back to making quality products, and to fixing them and keeping them around? Isn't that better?

In the meantime, forgive my wrinkled clothes. My steamer broke and I haven't been out to replace it with another. Maybe I'll buy two for when the next one breaks. Yeah. That's it.

Just doing my share for the economy.