Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's STILL a Plastic Bottle!

Every day, to and from work, I am treated to billboards proclaiming Dasani Bottled water, in new PlantBottles! I get them each way. I can't miss them. Have you seen this? Yes! So exciting! Purified bottled water now in a better plastic bottle! "PlantBottle: Up to 30% made from plants. Still a 100% recyclable bottle." Oh good. Yay. Because I was worried that, since it was still a largely plastic bottle, that it might end up in the ocean, not get recycled. Oh wait... it might very likely end up in the ocean anyway.

But it's OK to use it! They are saving precious resources! They say so right on their site! They are using corn-based ethanol. I think. Yeah. There's some kind of plant material mimicking the plastic in there... mixing with the PET... so they are using less actual petroleum... so... hmm... it could be they are saving money on petroleum-based plastic with a cheaper plant-based plastic that is still plastic and looks like plastic and acts like plastic.... and feels like plastic... and floats in the Gyre like plastic... um, GREAT! It COULD be that they are just saving themselves money and trying to get the "green" angle to MAKE more money, too... naaaah. CocaCola Wouldn't do THAT.... They CARE about the PLANET... not the bottom line! Really!

TreeHugger site had an article that mentioned, "It is estimated that we have 6 times more plastic than plankton in our Oceans." Does that alarm you? It alarms me. Sure, these great terrific new bottles from our friendly friends at the Earth-friendly company of Coca Cola use less petroleum, but... that's about it. You know the old saying: "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck..." well, this looks like plastic and acts like plastic, so, therefore, ergo, et cetera.

Don't be lured into thinking this bottle is any better. It is not. TreeHugger says in the same article, "Plastic bottles always suck, even if they're being recycled. That's because the energy it takes to recycle them is mind-boggling. It's no simple task to melt down all those bottles, and the plastic is usually degraded in the process and can't be used for food-grade products again."

There is only one answer: continue to avoid these bottles at all times.

I'll stick to wine. It comes in glass.

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Under-$3 No-Plastic-Container Hummus!

I LOVE hummus. No, you don't understand. I LOVE hummus. I call it "yummus", I love it so much. I could probably eat an entire container, if I did not practice restraint. But darned if I didn't get The Guilts by getting it in those little plastic tubs. Major guilts. That, and it can be pricey, depending on where you buy it. But mostly, it's those tubs. Even re-using them a few times doesn't really assuage the guilt for me. I'm not a good assuager. (Google Chrome tells me that's not a word. I care not. Take that, Google Chrome.)

I set out to make my own hummus. Can't be that hard. Not that many ingredients, really. Garbanzo beans, garlic, tahini, lemon... OK. Well... where they heck do you find tahini? Not so easy to find. And when I did find it... yup, you guessed it, it was in a little plastic tub. Well THAT kind of defeats the purpose. Bummer. No hummus. Nummus.

Imagine my surprise and delight when I found a GLASS JAR of ORGANIC tahini at my local 99 Cents Only Store!!! OK! This is awesome! So, I have my 7oz jar of super-wonderful organic tahini in glass (regularly $7 in any other store) for 99 cents. (Actually, 99.99 cents, if you want to be exact.) I can get, like, four batches of yummus out of one jar. No, five. I got my organic garbanzo beans (yes, they are labeled organic as well), also from the 99 Cents Only store. (I know, BPA-lined can, I have to choose my battles sometimes. I'll get the can this time.) We aren't even at $1.20 yet. I have my lemon which came three in a bag from yes the same place, and my crushed garlic from Gilroy, CA, garlic capital of the world, also in a glass jar, also for 99 cents! We still haven't even hit two bucks, folks. The pricey ingredient is the olive oil, which I get on sale at Henry's Marketplace, and only use a little of in this recipe. A spin around in my Magic Bullet, and voila. Not even 10 minutes, not even $3, and I can eat the whole darn container if I wish. (I don't. It's actually kind of a lot.) Oh... sea salt and parsley don't really add to the cost much, but got those at, yes, 99COS.)

And I shall enjoy it with either baby carrots (yes, same place) or my Thin Wheat crackers. Guess where I get those. They taste better than Wheat Thins and are healthy, no trans fats, baked, etc.  I have saved LOTS of money and I have sacrificed nothing except a few plastic containers. And I hardly call that a sacrifice. I'm getting better at making it; it can be tricky and it almost never comes out the same, but it's tasty and I love it. I did once put a lethal dose of garlic in it, but I'm Italian and garlic doesn't stick on me for long. My body is used to it. :)

I feel better about this. I would rather bring this to a get-together or picnic over store-bought stuff any day. I'll someday branch out a bit and experiment with some nice oils and flavors, but for now, I'm good with it. I cross fingers that my favorite store continues to score these deals. Could be I was lucky, and this was a one-time thing, but I'll keep looking. I wish tahini kept longer. But it's OK. Someday, I will get fancy and stop using the canned beans, and use dried instead from the bulk food section at Henry's. I'll make it with zucchini instead of beans. I'll add flair. For now, I'm just going to enjoy feeling good about my hummus and enjoy eating it. What was once something I might have treated myself to on very rare occasion, I now have to my heart's content. And it's healthy. And I am not contributing to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. And it does not take long at all.

Feeling good, yes I am. No magazines for me today! Just good  food. I do, however, solemnly promise to not breathe on you after yummus-time.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why Things Cost More Now

Same magazine, different page. Yeah. I know.

"The Headlines, Explained" in the May issue of Real Simple. "Why do some staples cost more now?"

I don't really need a blurb in a magazine to explain that to me, but here we go. It'll be fun. The little 1/3 page article (not a Real Important topic, I guess) goes on about why food and clothing and energy costs more all of a sudden. According to Vera Gibbons, supermarket goods are going up 3-4% because recent crop failures and an increased demand for food in some countries has left the said demand ahead of the supply. Hmm. Um. A case of too many people on the planet? Hasn't someone I know been saying that? Why yes. Unfortunately, the only answer to this is to try to shop smarter. The writer's advice on this is to seek out discounted gift cards online. BUT WAIT! We can actually GROW our own food, too. We have that technology. We do. It's shocking, yes, but there you have it. We can get back to gardening and canning, like we never should have stopped doing in the first place. Because, and call me crazy here, I have a sneaking suspicion we're going to be in this for some time coming up.

Ms. Gibbons moves on to clothing. The last two years of cotton crops have been destroyed by bad weather. (Climate change much? No? OK.) This will lead to 20% hikes in clothing prices. She goes on to say designers will use cheaper fabrics to mitigate the costs. Her advice on this one? You're gonna love this: "Consider buying garments made of synthetic blends, like rayon or polyester, because they will be priced lower than cotton counterparts." This is about the time I am sure I need to stop reading Real Simple altogether. Seriously??? That's your advice? Buy clothing made with petroleum products and other super-chemicals. How about THIS advice instead: clothing swaps, thrift stores, NOT buying clothes you don't really need, doing a little tailoring on existing clothing. Now that sounds like good money-saving advice to me. Call me prejudiced for liking my own advice. I'm OK with that.

We round out these pearls of wisdom (snort) with energy prices. Higher gas and higher airfares etc. I bet you can't wait for this advice... Fill up at places like Costco, or a grocery store that offers discounts to shoppers through the reward cards. Uh huh. Good stuff, there. That's really helpful to people who don't have those options in their areas. And have you SEEN lines at the gas stations at Costco or Sam's? Holy crap!!! How about... and I know this is controversial... DRIVING LESS. *Gasp!* Or, I don't know, getting organized with friends and neighbors, and carpooling? Maybe a few fewer activities to drag the children to all the time?

You know what all three of these things have told me? (Yeah, besides the fact I can't respect this "writer", whoever she is. I'm sure she knows her stuff... in some universe) They have told me we need to SLOW DOWN, stop for a bit, breathe, and get back to the real things. We can do with fewer clothes. LOTS fewer clothes. We can be OK with hand-me-downs again. We can spend time gardening and growing stuff again. We can stop with the 42 activities per day for the kids and let them have a little time to themselves and, well, just be KIDS for a change. It worked for us. I loved my free time. It encouraged my creativity. Why do we have to keep kids active and occupied from dawn til dusk anyway? Slow down.

Is it irony that these things I suggest - in a complete and polar opposite from the "advice" in the article - also make for a healthier environment? Stunning.

To summarize: 1) I need to stop reading Real Simple for sure this time or my head's going to explode; 2) We need to go back to things that always worked before. You know why? Because they worked. It will help in many different areas of Life to bring these simple ideas back. Real simple.

Yeah, I know you know I know I won't stop reading it. It's much to fun to tear the stuff apart. Wherever would I get my material, elsewise?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We Just Don't Get It

No, no, it's my fault, it is, I went and read a magazine AGAIN. My bad. I should know better.

But I expect better from Real Simple. I like this magazine. It usually has sensible stuff in it. So imagine my horror when I saw a blurb under "Moneywise - how to save in May".

For a better bottom line: "Stockpile Paper Goods." (Really? Do we learn nothing??) Here's their big idea: Just before Memorial Day, many stores slash prices by up to 50% on picnic products (paper plates, plastic utensils), says Joanie Demer, a cofounder of, a coupon site. Pick up enough supplies now to see you through barbecues and birthdays for the rest of the year.

Sigh. Cofounder? More like confounder. So not only are we encouraging mindless consumerism, we are giving a giant green light to loads and loads of garbage and waste. Plastic utensils??? Are we HEARING anything out there??? Hello? Is this thing on?

It's my fault. I read a magazine. I really just should have left it at the doctor's office and been blissfully ignorant, but no, I had to go and read it. (Oh, hey - did you know that's a cool thing to do? I take magazines given to me by my mom to my doctor's office. It's my OB/GYN and he has a horrid reading selection. Mostly  parenting and baby mags. Um, some of us are there for opposite reasons. I figure people like me need a tiny bit of variety. I even brought in a Fitness just to amuse myself.) Anyway... I'm really kind of horrified that we still have this mentality. It's so last decade. How to save in May and the rest of the YEAR and beyond is to invest in some bamboo plates or some mismatched dishes from a thrift store and use them again and again. Oh, wah, boo, those need washed. Tough. Wash them. You have kids. Stop spoiling them with unspillable snacks and make them clean up something for a change.

Yeah, see? I shouldn't be given magazines. They make me snarky.