Thursday, March 28, 2013

I Can't Go On - Ultimate in Lazy

There are some products out there that still, with all I've seen, still cannot believe. Still. It's me. I need to not be surprised by stuff anymore.

Easter eggs. Fun for kids! Fun even for adults! I used to love it! With a little tiny bit of extra effort, it can even be a very natural process. And when you actually EAT the eggs... well, there ya go.

Who has time for all that?? Spending quality time with the kids before a major holiday? Hell no! There's WAY too much to do. That's not why we had kids! To spend TIME with them? Doing something as silly as coloring eggs? We have to work! We have to cook, clean, bust ass for visiting relatives! Coloring eggs? Oh would that we could do that, but it's so MESSY and we already have SO much cleaning to do already!

Never fear! Convenience is here!

For only 6 bucks, just a few bucks more than really good organic eggs, you can get them already colored, safely ensconced in plastic, no muss no fuss!

That's pretty much it. I got nuthin'. It's too ridiculous to even go on. I'm out.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Compostable Insecurities

It's another one of those things I should have been doing for a very long time but never did, and constantly kicked myself, and always meant to, but either had an excuse or just couldn't get around to it. Composting. A fairly easy no-brainer. Yet, I didn't do it.

Well, we lived in an apartment. -So? Still can get a small container. Well, where to put it? -There were places.These were merely excuses. When we moved to a house with an actual garage and yard, the excuses were going to have to stop. Sure, it's Winter. Sure, it's cold, can't really bury the waste or do anything with it, right? No - no more excuses. But... but... I don't have a container for under the sink. I have to go buy one...

Right under my sink...
It went on and on with me. With ME! We have a unique garbage situation in our small town, one that would seem to encourage not throwing things away. So, every time I continued to throw away organic waste, I yelled at myself yet again. Just DO it already. Finally, I did -  just got up and did it. We moved into a place that was previously inhabited by a cousin, and he left some things behind. I went down to the basement to see if maybe I could find a suitable container. I'd seen something I thought might work for my purpose, and sure enough, there it was by the washer & dryer. It was a plastic container that previously held moistened towels, the kind that pop up one at a time as you use them. It was perfect. Plastic, so throwing it "away" would suck, so now it's re-purposed. Fairly airtight, so it won't smell up under my sink and won't leak. Whatever was in it before may have been oh-so-toxic, but now it has a second life as wonderfulness. 

So there was my first step. But what next? It's still too cold to bury stuff, and just dumping it outside wasn't really a good solution. But having this first step out of the way got me moving to the next one.

Ideally, I would have found another container to re-purpose, but lacking that (and not using it as yet another excuse), we went ahead and purchased a very large garbage bin at the local hardware store. You know, that big kind with a big lid and wheels? It took me a few days to get around to drilling the holes in it, but I did that too. I have to stir it more frequently, and pay more attention to it when the weather gets warmer... you know, make sure it's balanced and not smelly etc... but it's finally going. It's out there. I don't have to smack myself in shame every time I peel an orange or banana or oops that spinach went bad - not just throwing it all away anymore! I did it. One of those damn things I've been meaning to do forever and ever... and it really is not hard. A lot of this stuff boils down to just-get-up-and-frickin-do-it.

I was so stuck on the thought that I couldn't do it perfectly, that I was just plain stuck. NOT doing it. Holding back. It's OK if it's not perfect. It's compost. It's pretty forgiving, actually. Starting to smell? Well, then it's a little unbalanced and needs an infusion of browns to balance the greens. No big deal. It's not with worms? Well, I'm not comfortable doing worm-composting, I wish I was, but I have this terrible fear that one day I'll come out and hundreds of worms will have died. I wish to avoid that particular guilt. Silly? Oh, for sure. But, just the same, I'll just stick to the non-worm variety. The point is, I'm not tossing that stuff in the garbage anymore. I finally put myself aside and did it.

And it wasn't in the least bit difficult. I can tackle other things now! Time, soon, to get those rainbarrels going... but... it's cold....

Monday, March 11, 2013

On a more positive note...

OK, after last week, I'm going to try to be a little more *up*. Well, we'll try. see how it goes.

Since moving into a house, after living in apartments for years and years, and now having the water bills, etc, right there in our faces, under our control, we have gotten creative. Those first bills can be a little shocking when you are used to someone else picking up that tab. Now we have our gas bill, electric, water, sewage bills... we got our baseline for the first month and pretty much said, "OK, wow, how can we bring these down?"

We brought them all down. Well, not so much the electricity  we are kind of always plugged in, but we managed to keep the house freezing to drop the gas, and we cut our water by a lot. We'll cut it even more over summer with my awesome rain barrels. But for every day usage, we made a few changes, and there it is.

Making a few small changes to save water and make your bill go down - easy stuff. This has got to be one of the easier ways to green around the house. These are things that, as mentioned in the previous post, are said again and again. I hadn't done them before because there was not really the incentive of SEEING what we actually use. It takes a bit of time for the hot water to get up to our shower. That's some water wastage. The husband found a bucket in the basement, and boom, now we run the water as it gets hot into the bucket, and use that water to flush the toilet. I was skeptical, but it's really just so easy. One of those things that becomes second nature once you do it a few times... the "why haven't I done this before" that happens. We save 3-5 gallons right off the top there. Bill immediately drops.

Some thing with the washer. We got a few 5-gallon buckets, and we simply get the water hose and fill the buckets as the washer empties. That water, of course, isn't going to be sparkling, so you have to be careful where you use it. We use soap nuts, so we can use this water for my new baby trees. That way, I won't be increasing my water bill for anything in my yard.

My rain barrels will be much more labor-intensive, what with attaching the spigots and connecting them to the downspouts... and my barrels are sitting there waiting for that... but this was almost nothing to get to do. Sure, I have to heft a few heavy buckets at times, but that's good exercise. Use the core.

So... while we're all about saying the same old thing and the same ideas over the years, let's add this on. Water-saving... how novel. I guess everything is new to those who never tried it before.

A kinder, gentler tone. How's it workin' out for you? Next time - how I overcame the composting fear.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Me. It's me, I'm the one with the apathy today.

I was looking over some articles on the green sites... "10 Ways to be Green"... "5 Ways to Go Green Without Spending Money"... "20 Things to Do to be Green".... and on and on ad nauseum. I say ad nauseum because they are pretty much all blathering on about the same old thing. And if in 2013, they are still blathering on about the same old things that SOME of us have been saying for YEARS, then we have a problem.

Here are some suggestions from these *new* articles, posted this month, March, 2013...
  • "Stop Buying Water." Really??? No shit???? And, wait, I would actually SAVE money by not buying bottled water, too??? YOU DON'T SAY!
  • "Refuse to Waste Gas." So glad you say, I never thought of more gas efficiency before.
  • "Put and End to Paper Towels." Damn, I wish I'D said something like that before now!
  • "Lighten You Laundry's Load." Don't use warm or hot water? WOW! I could have sworn that has been said for, oh, 10 years at least, but thanks for the amazing information!
And from an article about how to go green in 2013....

If you want to be kinder to the planet and save some money at the same time, here are 20 ways to go green in 2013.
  1. Buy fresh, local food this summer
  2. Bring your own bags when you shop for groceries. You can often buy reusable bags at the stores you buy groceries. 
  3. Shop at consignment stores
  4. Rip up some lawn and create new garden beds this spring, and then grow your own food this summer.
  5. Ditch those dreaded plastic sandwich bags and get some washable containers or bags.
  6. Cut down on car trips and run your errands on your bike or on foot.
  7. Pack cloth napkins instead of paper towels in school lunches.
  8. Plant a tree. 
  9. Dump your bottled water costs. You could save hundreds of dollars by buying snazzy metal water bottles for everyone in the family and a personal filter for your kitchen faucet.
  10. Organize a Halloween costume swap in September.
  11. Replace your old light bulbs with LED bulbs. They last 15 times longer and use 75 percent less energy.
  12. Expand your hand-me-down circle. Organize a clothing swap for your kids’ preschool or a group of friends. Everyone brings gently used and clean kids’ clothes to your garage and parents can take as many items as they donated. The rest goes to charity. You can also swap toys and books.
  13. Replace your showerheads with low-flow models. Low-flow showerheads can save you up to 15 percent on water heating costs and reduce your water usage by as much as 20,000 gallons a year.
  14. Save up to 30 percent on your monthly heating bills by having a home energy audit done by a professional.
  15. Give service and experience gifts this year instead of stuff. Make homemade gift certificates for services and experiences that could include tech support, dinner and a movie, yard work, pet walking or babysitting, or a day of organizing support for the clutter challenged.

And now you are asking, "Why the ire, Rhonda? These are good things! Things you yourself recommend!" Yup. Been sayin' 'em. For... years? And people been sayin' 'em for years before me. Good stuff. Damn fine ideas. What I want to know is,


Reusable bags as a suggestion in 2013? Why do we even have to say that AGAIN? Don't most people who aren't living under rocks realize that they should be bringing their own goddam bags by now?  And if not, if we have to keep saying it, what's it going to take? If people haven't gotten it yet, are they ever going to? What's the point of it all? Avoid bottled water. This is not new news. It's not even sort of new news. It's old news. Very old news. Yet, how many millions haven't gotten around to it?

So, why the ire? Maybe it's just my mood today. Maybe I'm sick of being nice. Maybe I've never liked to have to repeat myself, so realizing that there are so many deaf ears out there really gets to me. Just, just get it, people. Quit making us repeat ourselves.

It's enough to make me give up and leave everyone to their own hell. I'm having an apathetic day. Hopefully, it is fleeting. Sometimes, I do wonder why the hell I care. Days like today... maybe I just don't.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Or, Make Your Own Damn Salad

I feel like I started out this way before....

Oh, targeted commercials. How you slay me. I have a secret addiction show I watch that I'll talk about more soon - the commercials are priceless!!! Here's a good one...

Lean Cuisine Salad Additions! "Take your lettuce from drab to fab!" And of course they recommend packaged "lettuce". Probably also by Nestle. I knew I wasn't gonna be too happy about these the moment I saw the commercial. The first time. They played it enough during my secret-shame-show that it really stuck in my head.

Find it in the frozen foods aisle. Guessing you need a microwave around for the chicken etc part. If you count the packaged roughage, you got a cool 4 plastic bags for your lunch.You might even top it off by using a plastic fork. Hey, why not? May as well go balls out, you know?

Holy crap, the ingredients list on this stuff is... long. Preservatives and added sugar. Yum. You could, um, of course, MAKE your own stuff, pack it in little bowls, and have THAT for lunch. If you're at home with this.... well, you are probably way beyond my help and any hope anyway, so I pretty much have nothing to say to you at this point in time except your kids and their kids will pay piper, mine won't.

Nestle hasn't priced these very high, and with a sale and a coupon, people can really stock up. Clever, clever Nestle. AND you got them buying Fresh Express lettuce products, too. You know, while you're at it, why WASH lettuce when you can just buy it already cut up and stuff? That's so inconvenient. OH - here's a good one... since you don't want to bring that entire plastic bag to work, bring just part of it in a Ziplock, thereby increasing your plastic track up to FIVE bags!

You know, it's possible to GET this STUFF yourSELF and put a salad TOGETHER for lunch that doesn't involve so much PLASTIC. I know, I know, that takes so much TIME. This is so much EASIER. Screw the future, who cares, we're too busy to be concerned by such little insignificant things.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Are These Cool? Is It Me?

It was bad enough with those little plastic thingies with the tiny little piece of floss strung across them. I see those in the stores in packs of hundreds, and they make me despondent. I would see them tossed, discarded on the ground... so so gross. How is it OK to toss those? Of course, even in *real* garbage, they just end up out and about eventually. So needless. So unnecessary.

Apparently, those weren't enough, or stopped selling well enough, because G*U*M came out with a new one.

"For healthy gums and a great-looking smile, you’ve certainly come to the right place. GUM® Soft-Picks® are the convenient way to effectively dislodge food, remove plaque and massage gums." Whew! Good, I needed something convenient.

One-month supply?
It's important to get the crap out from between your teeth. We've all had the experience when something was STUCK-stuck between our teeth and drove us crazy til we could get it out. But, surely, this is not the answer. Not more plastic. These little things are even more insidious because they ARE so small and would be thought of as harmless, what could they possibly do? Think about it: if just half a million people can't live without this product - and that's a really low number, considering the populations of, say, Los Angeles alone - and they use 1 or two a day, not every day but even 4 days a week... OK, wow. My calculator on my phone blew up. Start over. if half a million people use even just 2 of these a week (unlikely to be that low), then that's 1 million little plastic sticks used. Multiply that by 52 weeks in a year, and just picture 52 million of these lined up end to end. Let's get even more mathematical... there are 63,360 inches in a mile (thank you, Google!). These are more than an inch long, I think, but for ease of calculation, we'll go with an inch. Divide 52 million by 63,360 and you get 820. Ugh, algebra. I think I did it right. To figure how many miles that would take is... yeah. OK. I do math good. I THINK, feel free to correct me, that this would be 820 miles. Taking my home state as example, it is only 300 or so miles from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, all the way across the state. So, in one year, with an screamingly conservative estimate, you would cross the state over 2 and a half times. With plastic. And that ends up in the oceans, being ingested by innocent mammals and fish. Because we can't possibly use a less convenient way to get crap from between our teeth.

I had braces and MAN OH MAN do I know you need little stuff to get crap out from under them. It's almost hellish, stuff stuck under your braces. Whoo. I did use the little metal version of these. Wasn't great, but at least I know that tiny little blip of metal belongs on the Earth way more than this plastic.

Why, why why.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Supply and Debate

We have a small downtown area. It's not thriving. We're trying to get it there, but it's struggling right now. A brave little bakery opened down there, and they actually are staying pretty busy, I think. We go in there quite a bit, they must put something addictive in their cupcakes.

Sometimes they run out of cupcakes. On Sundays, they say they are open til 4pm or until they have no more cupcakes. Seems fair. My husband at first thought this was a little uncool, that they run out of product, that you run the risk of not having what you want there. We talked about it a little more. Is it? Is it a bad thing to sell out, or worse to have to throw stuff out at the end of the day? Obvious answer.

At a small bakery like this, you can't always predict how a day will go. Maybe there's a run on cupcakes, but then maybe it's a slow day, so how do you gauge? Make WAY too many, stock like all the big stores do with way way too much... that's a waste of resources. Let's think about it. What IS better?

Some people will look at it from the opposite way, of course, you know they will. Because, they want what they want and they want it now. Heaven forbid the store be out of what they want when they took the time and bother to stop in. Such an inconvenience. There was a time where you couldn't have everything right at your fingertips all of the time. You learned to be the early bird, or to be smart (well THAT changed), or to do without until you got it the next time. Or planned ahead. Go figure. But some people will say, "They ran out and I went through all the trouble to be here? I'm never coming here again if they can't have enough for ME!" And the store will have lost that person's business forever. So make too much and throw it out? Or because we are in a small town and we realize that sometimes running out can happen because it's a small business, and we play the odds and forgive them, say, "Hah, I'll catch you next time!" and realize that if that's the worst thing that happens to you, your shop ran out of your favorite cupcakes, that you're doing OK.

Did we value things more when there was a risk of missing out on things? When there wasn't so much excess? When we had to think, when we had to plan, when everything wasn't so easy and accessible? I ask this over and over, I know. Because we're still doing it.

I applaud that tiny little place for running out, even if it's just 11am and WOW how many did they make anyway? I hope their business steadily grows so that if they end up making more and more, they still sell out every day. I hope we can learn to value things again.

I don't really see it happening, but I can hope. I mean, it happens to me here and there... hoping. Sometimes it hits me. Of course, then I come to my senses again.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Two, Two Wastes in One!

Oh good. SHEW. I was worried we didn't have enough microwaveable lunch products. I thought maybe we were running out. Not to worry! Barilla has come out with THEIR own version of the healthy Microwaveable Meal. Just 1 minute to prepare! 100% natural ingredients and no preservatives.

(By the by, arsenic is 100% natural. So is mercury. Just sayin'.)

Women's Health even named the Whole Grain Fusilli with Vegetable Marinara on of the "Best Packaged Foods for Women"! Yay.

Thanks to the blog I grabbed this image from. Please stop.
Naturally, because I had to share, I checked them out all over the place. They are even worse than originally believed. See, not only do you have the non-recyclable #5 bowl for the pasta, you get a SECOND smaller bowl for the sauce!

One bowl thrown into the Gyre is not enough for some people. Two is ever so much better.

We should eat these every day. They're so healthy and so... so... what's the word?

Oh yeah. Convenient.

Does it ever feel like we're taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back, or is that just me?

We can't take away all the plastic we've added to our environment. What's here is never going away. All we can do is NOT add any more! But factories in China have to keep making, we have to keep buying, and the oceans get to keep filling. Please stop. What sucks is, even if we stopped THIS SECOND, right now, while you are reading, I fear it's a long way back from the edge. Or we went over the edge. I don't know. All I know is we HAVE to STOP.

What is it going to take?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Committed - One Plastic Bottle at a Time

I cannot get over what companies will do to trot out how responsible and eco-friendly they are when their product IS ALL IN PLASTIC SINGLE-USE BOTTLES! It never ends!!!! 

A friend pointed out that they received samples of bottled water WITH their newspaper. Meaning, they really couldn't refuse it, it just came to their home. The kicker was on the back, on the BACK of the PLASTIC BOTTLE, it said, "Carbon Neutral Product." Great. I'm so relieved, here I thought there might be something environmentally inherently BAD about your product, in a single-use plastic bottle. But since it says carbon-neutral right on the label, I sure feel SO much better.

This friend did not want to out the brand. I have no such compunction, so I asked her, she told me, I'm outing them. 

And here's what they have to say about being a concerned, eco-friendly bottled water company (my comments, of course, are in parenthesis after each scintillating statement):


This commitment is evident throughout our company and every aspect of our supply chain including raw materials, energy usage and distribution of product to consumers, including all ocean shipments. (Oh DO go on...)

The Ölfus Spring is naturally replenished from mountains in the north of Iceland. Using less than .1% of the overflow to the sea of the Ölfus Spring in its bottling operation, Icleandic Glacial is a careful steward of this precious resource. As a result, Zenith International, Europe’s leading food and drinks consultancy, has declared the Ölfus Spring certifiably sustainable. (You don't say?)

Our facility is fully run on naturally green energy (hydro and geothermal). (Well, that's actually pretty cool. Go on! I'm listening.)


Our commitment to the fight against global warming is also reflected in our packaging, which is 100% recyclable. The outer case packaging of Icelandic Glacial is made from 75% recyclable packaging. Consistent with our initiatives to further reduce our carbon emissions, we have also achieved a 10% reduction in our PET preform weights since 2008. (Recyclable, you say. Please show me the percentage of your bottles that YOU are collecting as a company and thus ensuring this is happening. Just because you say it can be done doesn't mean it's getting done. You have passed that responsibility on to the consumer. The Bottled Water Association claims that in 2011, 38.6% of bottles were recycled. 1) I'm not sure I believe them, consider the source and 2) that still a hell of a lot of bottles out there. Billions, still. So please tell me again how this is OK.)

Once bottled, we utilize space on cargo vessels that would otherwise be returning to the US and Europe empty. Our low emission shipping policy allows us to get our water into your hands while leaving the smallest carbon footprint possible. (The smallest carbon footprint possible would be to NOT drink water from thousands of miles away. If we were meant to drink your water, we would already live there.)

After working with the CarbonNeutral® Company in 2007, a leading carbon emissions consultant, Icelandic Glacial was certified as CarbonNeutral® for both its product and operations – an unprecedented move in the beverage industry.

We have made a commitment to assess our CO2 emissions and reduce them wherever possible on an ongoing basis. Only once this full process has been carried out and a net-zero carbon footprint achieved, can a company carry the CarbonNeutral® Company stamp of approval. Our efforts have been rewarded with international recognition, most notably winning the 2007 Bottled Water World Design Awards for Best Sustainability Initiative presented at the Global Bottled Water Congress. (Blah... blah... blah... To me, that sounds like, let's compare which nuclear waste is better and give it awards for being less nuclear waste-y.)

Forgive me if I don't do backflips over how wonderful your product is. And tell me I'm wrong about single-use plastic bottles. And tell me again how this doesn't sit in trucks and warehouses after it was so lovingly shipped in already-coming cargo containers, in heat, only to leach something other than BPA that we don't yet know about into the water. Oh, and above all, please tell me what chemicals DO comprise your plastic bottles. You can't, can you? Because THAT'S a proprietary secret that only the plastic manufacturers know, and we won't find out there is something just as FUN as BPA still in there until... when? The truth of the matter is, once this leaves you plant, which I'm sure is wonderful, you get to pretty much wash your hands (heh little water joke there) of the whole thing and don't really have to care about what happens anymore.