Monday, June 25, 2012

Who the @#*&*$^ Serves Pasta on Paper????

Do YOU serve spaghetti on paper plates? I know I don't. Because THAT would be STUPID. 

Dixie Ultra... "No Soak Through." "Look, mom, no mess, Even with extra sauce." You know what else has no soak-through? Real plates. Who sets their mother-flippin' SUPPER table with all paper/disposable products? Here's the thing: I KNOW there are people that do. I will just never ever ever ever ever understand why. Look: there is NO reason for that. At all. Throw any "reason" at me; I will refute it. 

"Set an attractive table with a full line of coordinating products including plates strong enough for even your heaviest, messiest meals, soft and absorbent napkins and fun, festive cups. All available in a variety of counts." They forgot to mention the plastic forks and spoons and knives. How is a table full of land-fill-fodder an attractive table? Because it has pretty colors on the plates and napkins? 

Can we just get back to Sense? I know it's asking a lot, but really, it is time. Can we get out of this mentality that disposable is OK, because it is not. It is not necessary, it is not OK, it is merely a little convenient, and where has that gotten us? Can we wake up? Will we? Ever? Before it's too late?

This is about more than the stupid enduring paper plates. This is about attitudes toward the world and toward life in general. It's about what we teach our kids. Values. Respect. Respect for the Earth, respect for each other. THAT is sorely lacking in today's society. Is it because we have becomes more concerned about ease and convenience than with actual concern for our surroundings? 

With this pervading attitude, PEOPLE have become disposable. We should all be very, very concerned about that. And we should look around. And we should SEE for a change.  

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Nothing But Soap

Still buying cleaners from the store, with dubious ingredients, from companies that have been purchased by larger corporations that make other bad products? Still believe the corporate line that you need a million different bottles of cleaners for each room of the house? I have an alternative. I have many, actually, but this is the one I will talk about today!

I "met" Amber Perks as we meet so many people these days - on Facebook. Amber-Nothing-But-Soap, she goes by. ( What's the deal on this? I'd always meant to check out her products, but one day she said she'd love to send samples to anyone who wanted to review her products. I hit her up for that immediately! I actually do like to talkabout good stuff, every once in awhile. That stuff exists. May not seem like it from my usual talk...

But here it is. Amber sent some laundry detergent and Lemon Cleaning Scrub. Now of course I am an avowed Soap Nuts aficionado, but I will try other things so that I can let other people know about them! My husband kept beating me to the laundry (oh darn), and he is all about soap nuts and would not stray, but I can say that when I finally got to use the Grapefruit Laundry Soap that Amber sent, it was quite nice. She lists all ingredients right there on her site and on the label. And just the tiniest hint of essential oils. Or even unscented if you prefer. She makes a variety of scents for whatever you may like. I highly recommend trying them for yourself.

But the Lemon Scrub!!! I am HOOKED!!! Again, she lists the natural ingredients right there for you: Sodium Bicarbonate, Sodium Borate, Lemon Juice (!!), Vinegar, and Lemon Essential Oils. Um... that's awesome! If I ever made my own, that's what I would use! But I don't have to because Amber does! And look at the packaging! That's not a plastic bottle. She sent a little sample bag, and we need to use so little that I still have plenty left. It goes a long way. And before you look at her price and think that it sound like a lot, stop to think about the number of different cleaners you have for the kitchen and the bathroom. You can use this one product in the kitchen sinks, your cutting boards, the bathtub, bathroom sink, toilet... I shudder to think of the gawd-awful chemicals we flush when we clean toilets. Did I mention that you don't have to hold your breath while using this scrub, and run out of the room to breathe again? Really, if you have to do that, there is something seriously wrong. My white enamel kitchen sink has really never looked better. I noticed the shiny difference immediately. The husband had beaten me to that too (OK, he gets to work from home, I don't, he SHOULD be doing that LOL), and one look in the sink had me saying, is this from the lemon scrub?? Yup.

Amber has made the perfect blends. If you are like me and just don't get around to *making* your own, let Amber do it. She makes them all herself... from her home to yours. You can support small business AND have a really clean home without harsh chemicals, or you can keep on buying Mrs. Meyer's that isn't even Mrs. Meyer's anymore. I know what I plan to do.

Here's your link: Go for it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

SO Last Century

Per Swiffer, broom and dustpan are SO last century. Yes, that is an ad I caught for them one day on TV. Broom and dustpan. Old technology. We've progressed beyond such old-fashioned things. Brooms. Mops. Snort. We can't possibly expect to get our hands near water or have to bend over or work in any way, shape, or form. Swiffer and its ilk are easy. Convenient. And the chemicals in the cleaner do the tough stuff for you.

You know what else is so last century?? Lower rates of obesity. Lower occurrence of childhood cancer. Less plastic in the ocean. Less trash in the landfills.

But by all means, let us choose the method of cleaning that keeps us lazy and fat, and puts chemicals in the environment, and plastic into the oceans. Get those newfangled wet-jet disposable things for every aspect of your cleaning regimen, and gleefully throw away cleaning pads that last for one small room before you need to get a new cleaning-product-soaked plastic-backed thing for the next room. Never mind that steam cleans great, no chemicals needed. Don't give it a second thought that sometimes a good "old-fashioned" hands-and-knees cleaning is just what was needed. Pay no attention to the fact that these things really do not clean all that well, and you find you get crap building up in corners that you have to hit on hands and knees anyway, and that your pets and children get that chemical assault right in their faces all day long after you "cleaned".

Don't worry about that. Convenience is key. You go ahead and be easy like Sunday Morning.

I like my steam clean and I don't mind the hands and knees method (works a LOT better) and I don't mind getting my hands wet or dirty. Heck, I use cleaning as core exercises. Ever throw your core into vacuuming? It's amazing. Beats paying for a gym membership any day. We used to be thinner when housework was not so easy and convenient.


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Look Around

Look around your kitchen. How much plastic surrounds you? I can't help but look around my kitchen and wonder what I can replace with something that's NOT plastic. Some things are easier than others. Some things maybe only came into being with plastic. What did we use before we HAD plastic stuff to use? Let's think about it.

Toaster... plastic. Let me get a metal one next time. I'm so tired of buying a cheap plastic thing, only for it to break after just a few years. Give me a sturdy toaster that will last decades, with someone to repair it, too, when it does break. Hand beater? Plastic crap! They are terrible. I mix by hand when I can, and maybe a big old KitchenAid mixer is the way to go... with counter space, of course. Those things used to last forever. Pay a little more? It lasts longer and you aren't laying out the money all over again in 2 years. Didn't vacuum cleaners used to be metal? And repairable? Now they are all plastic pieces of crap, and when something breaks, go get a new one. 'Cuz plastic can't be repaired.

Sure, those are the big things. What I really meant to get into was all those little things that add up. I'm slowly but surely coming out of my plastic ways and replacing with better materials. Big spoons, stirring spoons and spatulas etc? We do NOT need plastic. For cast iron, a metal spatula is great. For enameled wares, bamboo is perfect. For how much sauce I cook? Bamboo doesn't stain! Repeat that: Bamboo does not stain. And it's durable. And inexpensive. And biodegradable. And it grows plentifully and without pesticides. Measuring cups? Why are those plastic? Metal, for sure. And Pyrex. Measuring spoons? Metal. Why did we start buying these things as plastic? Cheaper? Fun colors? I don't know. These are things we can keep around the kitchen for a LONG time; there is no need to go cheap plastic. Plastic stains. Plastic holds odors. Plastic melts. Case in point: you have a turkey baster in there, don't you? Most of us do. What do you squeeze all up into that? Boiling hot oils, right? What do we know about plastic now? Hot liquids leach chemicals out of it. We've been serving our gravies with chemicals. How do you feel about that? Did you know you can find inexpensive glass basters? Of course the squeeze past is still silicone or rubber, but the tube is much better. Scared of glass in your kitchen? Get out. Now. Remember those metal ice cube trays? Remember they were kind of a giant pain in the ass? But remember we still used them? And we survived, and we still had ice, and we didn't die? Many people have ice makers on the fridge anyway, but really, those plastic trays? They break, they get to smelling... they are convenient but not necessary. Pause for a moment to think how many of them have ended up in the trash over the years...

We're phasing out all our plastic containers and replacing them with Pyrex. Or jars that I save. I can't wait to have a big old pantry just filled with jars. I can't wait to have no more plastic in my kitchen where there is a better product to use. Salt & pepper shakers.... pepper mill... all these little things... they add up. What can you phase out of your kitchen to make it a better, healthier room?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A Wee Bit O' the Greenwash

I'm still wading through vegan products I received at various shows. The most recent one I tried is a "cruelty free and vegan" body wash, Papaya, by Nature's Gate. I'm strictly a Dr. Bronner's bar soap kind of gal, but I thought I would branch out to give this a try. Why not?

Nature's Gate Papaya Velvet Moisture Body Wash says it Brightens Dull Skin, is Paraben Free, and has 7 Natural Moisture Boosters. OK. I open the sample and wonder how much I really need on my sponge. Hmm. Soapy. It smells WONDERFUL. Good so far. Turns our I used way too much, but that happens. I feel pretty silky. But then, it doesn't rinse off my skin as well as my Dr. Bronner's. That bothers me because I feel I am using more water than I would like. Then there is my sponge. It takes forever to get it all out of my poor little natural sponge (use not approved by hard-line vegans). There goes more wasted water than usual.

OK, so good smell but too much water. Let's look a little deeper. The company itself is a really good one... concerned about sustainable products, trying to be all responsible with the packaging, supporting clean water initiatives... they say this product is, besides paraben free, also sulfate free, phthalate free, and biodegradable with no EDTA. Let's look into this. Paraben: bad. So we have to make a big deal of that, I get it. Phthalates and sufates, also bad. EDTA is a "persistent organic pollutant." OK, also bad, let's stick that on the label. What does it actually have in it? Is it all-natural in its vegan-ness? I have to say no, as the first "natural" ingredient, papaya, doesn't actually appear until #8. In fact, it has lots of big chemical names that I cannot pronounce without a few good tries. I gotta copy this right from Wikipedia because, well, otherwise that's a lot of typing. Hah. The first ingredient after water: Cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine (CAHS) is a synthetic amphoteric surfactant from the hydroxysultaine group. It is found in many personal care products (soaps, shampoos, lotions etc.). It has uses as a foam booster, viscosity builder, and an antistatic agent. It is a cheap and very effective foaming agent. Um. That's not very natural. I won't bore you with the rest of the dozen or so other unpronounceables interspersed with natural oils. Suffice it to say that this product is more laboratory than Nature. My Dr. Bronner's? More Nature than lab. Also cruelty-free. Perfectly safe for grey-water systems. No fancy labels.

Oh, you know what else? My Dr. Bronner's soap comes in a paper wrapping. These products come in plastic bottles. They say, of course, that they are recyclable, of course, and post-consumer content, or course, but, of course, it's still plastic, as I, of course, always say.

Nature's Gate: you are a nice enough company, I am sure you mean well, but I have to pass. Your labels aren't fooling me. I think you greenwash vegans with your labels. Thanks for the samples, but it's a no-go for me. Lemme know when you have fewer chemicals in your life. And less plastic. I stick to my castille soap, thanks. Maybe someday, people will stop falling for half-truths on labels, quit seeing what they want to see and hearing what they want to hear.

Oh, but then, about whatever shall I rant??? :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Better Bottle? Nope - Still Plastic

BPA-Free. Part plant material. LESS plastic than our competitors.

No, it's still toxic.
This has been discussed here before. Of course, nothing has really changed. Oh, wait, yes, it has. Now the cool kids have bottles without BPA. You know what? They are still plastic bottles. I don't get it. It's like, "Oh, we fixed it, plastic's all better now, you can safely use it!" - until they figure out which OTHER chemical in plastic is leaching out into everything, now that they took the BPA out. Why are we so easily fooled? Lulled back into our little cocoon?

IT'S STILL PLASTIC, PEOPLE! It still does not get recycled (rarely), it still does not break down (ever), it still ends up in the oceans. It will still be here for your grandchildren's children to see. Are we that easily distracted from the real issues? It's still made from petroleum. It's still harmful. Remember not so long ago when BPA was EPA approved? What next? What lovely little chemical will come out of plastic next? How about we just ditch the single-use plastic altogether? Will society fail? Will we lose progress? Will we revert to cave men?

I think we're safe.

There's that new ultra-slippery stuff out of MIT they are now talking about putting in ketchup and mayonnaise bottles, that lets everything slip right out. That has all EPA-approved things in it. Um, see above. I can't wait to see what we say about that stuff in 5 years. It might not matter so much in 10, when we are so caught up in how much cancer and behavioral/developmental issues are all over our kids.

Go ahead and ask why, in 10 years. Why do our kids have cancer? Why are our kids dying? Why are our oceans dying? Or, we could think about it now and try to keep it from happening (as fast).

I know. It wouldn't be convenient to do that. Carry on.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Harmful by Degrees

I recently attended a big vegan event. Yeah, I know, call it a momentary lapse of reason. (Just kidding.) (Mostly.) It's amazing how I'm not good enough as an eco-warrior because I am not "one of them". (It should be "all of us.")

It was a really hot day. We were in a hot tent. We were screening a really great movie, "The Big Fix", about BP's Deepwater Horizon, a movie that is not readily available to see yet. And yet, there was very little interest by the festival attendees to come in to see it. I get it; I avoid a lot of documentaries because they bring me down, man. Was that it, it was too a heavy topic for a day that was more about being kind to animals? That can't be it, many of the booths were heavy in topic. And this affected a LOT of animals. Those other booths were about animals. Could it be that, at this event, it's more about animals than the planet? Could that be true? Dare I make a generalization that the people at that event cared more about animals and themselves and showing how noble and *sacrificy* they are, and being seen as "oh look how much I care about dogs!"? Am I being unfair? These are the random thoughts that I had.

But still affecting them
More thoughts came later. It was a weekend of events where I was sure to come up with products aimed at vegans and vegetarians. I'm all for them, really I am. I don't want products to be tested on animals. I don't have to be a vegan to want that. They don't have the corner market on love for animals, just because they don't eat them. These products seem all well and fine by people. They are good products, I surely am taking nothing away from the intention. Um. Anyway. I get to wondering.

Not tested on animals. Great. Good for you. Nice start. Then... then what? What does your product do now? Does it have chemicals in it? If so, are they safe for the planet, or are they harmful? If they aren't all natural, how can you say they aren't harmful? Are there chemicals in this product that were made in a lab and not by Nature? And what about the packaging? Are you putting your wonderful expensive lotions and shampoos and creams in glass? Hmm, I see you are using plastic. How does that figure into this world of not harming animals? Plastic harms us all. Is it OK to start out not harming them, but then harm them once you throw away the container? Oh, yes yes I know I know, you're RECYCLING it. Mm hmm. We know how effective THAT is. Do we absolve the plastic waste because we cared SO much up front? Or, so long as we aren't testing on animals, it's OK to be bad to human-kind. Cute bunnies shouldn't get testing, but fish can swim in a plastic soup, no worries?

Where's the line? Are you better than am I because you are soooo careful about what you use, but then you don't think about it afterwards, and I do?

Look, just sayin', don't get all high and mighty on me unless you are PERFECT. I know I'm not. I got miles and miles to go. You may think you're ahead of me. You are not. So please walk beside me. We'll talk awhile, shall we?

Stewards of the Earth...