By: Brandy Black
Are you up for an eco challenge? A way to reduce your footprint? An experiment? In 2009 a documentary called “No Impact Man” was released, this film was about a “guilty New York liberal, Colin Beavan [who] decided to practice what he preached for one year.” This meant he would turn off the electricity, stop making garbage, give up TV, compost and give up public transportation “all the while taking his baby daughter and caffeine loving retail-obsessed, television-addicted wife along with him.”
I saw this in the theatre and it was not only an inspiring journey but filled with many funny tender moments with this family. No Impact Man is available on DVD if you want to check it out. However this is not about the movie but a one week experiment that Colin presents to us.
Are you up for it? Check it out…
For more information or to sign up for the experiment go to No Impact Man
By: Annette Cottrell
There is so much buzz in the media these days about being green: green products, eco houses, hybrid cars. Every time you turn around there is a new chance to “do the right thing” by spending money. I think many of us are unsure about what the right thing to do is, so we plunk our money down and substitute the new green thing for the old not-as-green thing and carry on with our lives.
It’s been said that eco buying is elitist because only those of us with expendable income can afford to buy organic food and special biodegradable garbage bags. But it’s precisely those of us with expendable income who are doing the most damage to the planet. We are buying more stuff made from finite natural resources that will end up in landfills mere months later. We all need to realize and admit that We. Are. The. Problem.
Why should we care that the world’s natural forests are nearly all gone? Or that animals in the Amazon Rain Forest and indigenous peoples are becoming extinct when it’s not happening in our own backyards? Because our consumption and disposal habits are doing this. We are the problem.
And because we are the problem we need to be the solution.
Why Green Products are Not the Answer
At some point we need to take a hard look at our behaviors. Maybe merely swapping labels isn’t the answer. Green products are one of the fastest growing trends today. But do they really help? They may use fewer chemicals and toxins, although there is no requirement for “green” manufacturers to do so.
Much like the high fructose corn syrup industry, which launched an ad campaign last year claiming to be healthier than sugar because you use less of it, the “greenness” of these items may be more in the marketing message than the actual product.
Certainly green products use the same packaging, distribution channels, and disposal processes that conventional products do. So are they really that much better than?
The Lost “R”
Anyone who came of age in the eighties or later has had the credo “Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle” drilled into their heads.
What you may not remember is that in the late seventies, when this campaign began, it was originally “Refuse, Reduce, Re-Use, Recycle.” Somehow the Refuse part conveniently disappeared from the slogan.
It’s precisely the Refuse part that we need to practice and that will do the greenest good.
You’ll find several days’ worth of reading on how to reduce, re-use and recycle all over the internet so I won’t re-hash those fine and worthy tips here. Instead I’ll share my story with you and hope that it inspires you to refuse some level of consumption in your life.
A year and a half ago I read “Animal Vegetable Miracle” followed by “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and they shook my world.
I vowed not to give a single dollar to a food company or feed lot operation again.
I drew a line in the sand and have crossed it with only a few exceptions since then.
I bought a counter top grain grinder for about the same chunk of change that I had previously spent on my espresso maker. I found a local grain farmer and bought 50 pounds of wheat berries from him. I learned how to use those wheat (or spelt or emmer or rye or oat) berries and a few other ingredients that everybody has in their cupboard to make almost any non-refrigerated processed food product you could buy at the grocery store.
It’s the greenest thing I’ve ever done.
What’s in Your Garbage?
Look at your recycling and your garbage can the next time you take out your trash. If you’ve already contacted http://opt-out.cdt.org/ and you aren’t using disposable diapers on little ones it should be mostly filled with food packaging. Imagine if there were no cans, tetra packs, boxes, or plastic wrappers to throw away. What would you have left?
A Shrinking Problem
Once we had eaten down our cupboards of existing food stuff and stopped buying unnecessary household cleaners, our garbage virtually disappeared.
Suddenly I was not creating demand for the manufacturing of boxes that felled trees, cans that mined the earth, waxy tetra pack linings that required the manufacture of BPA and other toxic chemicals or plastics. I was not creating demand for food companies to create synthetic ingredients, preservatives or additives for processed foods. I was not supporting a distribution system that flew or trucked non-local -or worse -out of season foods grown in heated greenhouses half way around the world.
I was not supporting feed lot operations that were not only inhumane but destroyed watersheds and ozone layers. I was not supporting a commodities market that destroyed small and diverse farmland. And I was not supporting seed companies that threatened the survival of open pollinated, heirloom seeds with GE varieties which then required more pesticides to bring to market than heirloom, organic crops did.
I was becoming less of the problem but I knew I could do more.
I took out my lawn and planted an organic fruit and vegetable garden. I grow all of our produce and can some things, but have learned to eat seasonally since it requires no canning and less effort on my part.
Any plant parts we don’t eat go to our backyard chickens. I grow forage for the hens who eat my cover crops, scratch it up while hunting for any bugs that might destroy my crops, and till it in. They poop while tilling and thereby fertilize the garden for me. In addition to that gardening help, they give me beautiful organic, free-range eggs the likes of which you will never find at a grocery store.
Any food we don’t eat the hens eat or we compost to fertilize the garden. The garden feeds us and the hens, who feed us and the garden.
I have completely re-thought food.
Re-thinking Food Leads to Re-thinking Consumption
I’ve done lots of other things like only using cloth diapers, rechargeable batteries, and LED lightbulbs. I turn down my thermostat, turn off unnecessary appliances, carpool, wash my car less often, do not use chemicals on my lawn. These things are important too.
But something happens to you when you rethink food. It makes you rethink your whole life because food is the most fundamental thing there is. It’s the fastest way to change behavior, or build community, or create happiness.
Somehow we’ve lost the connection with food and it’s filtered through to every aspect of our lives. We are disconnected with what we eat and what we are doing to the planet.
Once you stop going to the grocery store for food you will look at every item in your cupboards. You might learn to make toothpaste from salt and baking soda, or lotion from olive oil and beeswax. You might start cleaning your house with baking soda and vinegar and feel confident doing so because those two, non-toxic items, when used in tandem, kill more germs than bleach. You just might refuse to buy all those other unnecessary products, rather than trying to swap a white-labeled product for a green labeled one. You might just refuse.
My message to you is this: rethink food and refuse. It will be the most powerful, greenest thing you will ever do. And if everyone did it we could change the world.
Annette Cottrell blogs about living sustainably in the city at www.sustainableeats.com
. [green image: flickr member Dylan 66]
By: Tanya Ward Goodman
Planning to re-decorate? Looking for the perfect stockpot? Need a love seat or a side table or a place to stash your magazines? Forget Ikea, take a pass on those fine and fancy things at DWR and hit an estate sale. If your love is mid-century, you can find original 1950s sofas. Looking for Asian antiques? They’re out there. A brass lamp shaped like a fish? It’ll probably turn up. The estate sale is not only one of the most eco-friendly ways to furnish your home; it’s also great fun.
I love touring open houses and antique stores and so it’s funny that it’s taken me so long to come around to estate sales. At an estate sale you not only get to walk through some pretty amazing houses, you get to rummage through drawers, garages and cupboards, too. The secrets that are tidied up for the Sunday open house are all on view at the estate sale.
An estate sale is different from a garage sale in that it encompasses the entire contents of a house. That means you’ll find paperback books for twenty-five cents next to original oil paintings priced at five hundred dollars and up. It means that you can find impersonal things like drapes and muffin tins along with the most intimate of souvenirs. Recently, I was at a sale in Arcadia where it seemed that everything in the house had been purchased at a department store. It was all very nice, but it didn’t tell me that much about the people who had lived there. In a bin in the kitchen, I found a little jar filled with seashells, a tin box crammed with rubber bands and a pile of cookbooks. Each of these things helped outline a delicate shape of the former owners.
Some owners leave a deeper impression. At a sale in the valley, I found a lot of what I have to call “sled dog art.” There must have been two hundred pieces in a collection that would have made Jack London proud. Shelves were crowded with paintings, drawings and statuary all depicting huskies trudging through the snow. It was amazingly specific. Though I didn’t buy anything at this particular sale, I took this detail home with me. Perhaps one day it will show up in a novel or a short story. Perhaps mention in this article is enough.
For a writer, an estate sale is fertile territory indeed. I find wonderful objects but also snippets of conversation or the sudden movement of a buyer to a true “find,” all of these, potential sparks to story. Collectors hunch over I-phones looking up the value of this piece or that, neighbors grab all the boxes of holiday decorations from the garage and often, one soft soul or another mourns over a pile of family photographs or a box of slides.
For me, it is impossible to skirt the fact that an estate sale is about an end. Often it’s death, divorce or foreclosure that releases these things back into the world. What I find heartening is that what had meaning to one person can have a different kind of meaning to someone else. The accumulation of a life can be spread out over dozens of other lives.
I am not a dealer, I don’t have a really good idea of “value,” but I know what I like. I look for things that speak to me, that seem to belong with me. I always have a few categories I’m looking to fill: side tables, garden statues, dining room chairs, but I leave myself open because some of the best things I’ve brought home I didn’t even know I was looking for.
DETAILS, INFO and ETIQUETTE
If you want to take a trip to an estate sale, consider signing up for email notification with some local estate sale companies. Hughes Estate Sales http://hughesestatesales.com/ and http://www.estatesales.net are two good listings. These sites will give you advance warning of sales in your area and they often post photos of items available.
Most sales start early. The most serious buyers are there even earlier, so plan accordingly. At a recent sale in Pasadena, there was a line to get in. On the second or third day of a sale, discounts are often given, though there often isn’t much left.
If there are price tags on items, it is customary to “pull the tag,” to claim it. Though I have seen people darting through a sale pulling tags willy-nilly and then returning them later after they’ve taken a breath and decided what they really want, this doesn’t seem very sportsmanlike.
Be sure to find out if the sale is cash only. Many dealers will take credit cards, but it’s good to be certain.
Bring your own box or bag for “smalls.” Tiny items are tricky to lug around while you browse.
Enjoy recycling, reusing and refurbishing!
Brought to you by Out With Mommy- K. Pearson Brown
New car seats for kids usually come in huge, wasteful cardboard boxes, but not the Cosco Scenera Convertible Car Seat, packaged in the first-ever eco-friendly travel and storage bag. The carry bag has eliminated over 65 tons of paperboard waste, saving an estimated 2,700-plus trees a year, and cut warehouse and transportation costs by 33 percent. The seat features a 5-point internal harness system and detachable cup holder. Fits children 5-35 lbs. rear-facing and 22-40 lbs. forward-facing. Target. $54.99.
Brought to you by Out With Mommy- K. Pearson Brown
All-natural, low-fat and dairy and allergen-free Jolly llama Sorbet offers premium frozen whole fruit in individual 3 oz. squeeze-up tubes four flavors (strawberry, blueberry, acai, and mango) naturally sweetened with pure cane sugar and averaging just 75 calories each. Ages 1+. Find stores or order online at Jollyllamasorbets.com. $1.69 each or $36 for a 24-tube case plus $12.50 shipping/handling.
Product of the day presented by Out With Mommy- K. Pearson Brown
Everyone at home can breathe easier with the energy efficient ultra-quiet Blueair Air Purifier, which continuously monitors and removes 99.97% of all airborne contaminants such as pollen, pet dander, mold spores, smoke and dust. The new E-series air purifiers come complete with a built-in digital display and remote control. Bed Bath and Beyond. Prices start at $449.95.
Product of the day presented by: Out With Mommy by Pearson Brown
Clean your clothes using less detergent and no harsh chemicals with the Robby Wash Laundry Ball by Oransi, an eco-friendly and hypoallergenic laundry detergent ball that can do the work of 75 lbs. of traditional laundry detergent and lasts up to 12 months and is safe for baby’s laundry. Safe enough for newborn laundry. Oransi.com $32.95
By: Caren Gillespie
Here at The Next Family we not only care about our families and friends but the earth we live on. We are always bouncing around ideas of how we can make MORE of a difference. Please join us and spread the word on how we can sustain our world. We would love to hear from you on what products and ideas you have adopted that you feel help us get one step closer to our goal. Who knows, we may even feature it in one of our “green earth” articles in the future!
Contain those “garden nourishing” scraps!
In Seattle, we are asked by the city to compost our food scraps. From meat to veggies, we put it all in our yard waste and the city stirs it into a garden stew for our wonderful parks or for your home garden. It’s easy with this 1 Gallon/4QT/3.8L attractive stainless steel finish that looks good on your kitchen countertop. For easy organic recycling – store peelings, egg shells, coffee grounds, greens, clippings, vegetable scraps, and other organic waste for transfer to your garden composter. Includes filter set in tight fitting lid to keep compost odorless. Sturdy stainless steel handle. It works wonderfully and we feel like we are doing our part for our city and our earth. See Compost Keeper
Make composting even easier and cleaner!
My biggest problem with the whole composting movement was having rotting food sit on my counter, taking it to the yard bin and then having to clean out the rotted leftovers out of my compost bin. Not anymore!! Now these compostable bags fit nicely into my composter and voila, no clean up!
These are made of corn and 100% biodegradable. They have all different sizes for all of your garbage needs! See Biobag
Yummy Body Products!
I recently found these in a hotel while on a trip and fell completely in love with the scent alone. I wanted to make sure I was able to smell it all day. I looked up the products online and found they were not only heaven “scent” they were also eco friendly!! Bonus!!! See Sprout Out
“A fusion of natural elements blended to personify nature and the environment; the Sprout Out® Collection features exclusive Naturally Kind™ formulations combined with certified organic extracts of rooibos, cardamom seed, yarrow and ginseng to gently care for the skin and hair. The green citrus and herbal fragrance perfectly capture the scent of a leisurely stroll through an English garden. Their formulations contain no sulfates (SLS/SLES), DMDM hydantoin, parabens, phthalates, petrol-derived ingredients, mineral oil, urea, DEA, TEA or propylene glycol.”
Round up those reusable bags in your car
This is a dream for those super organized and eco conscious people. The Tote Buddy rounds up all those loose reusable bags into one neatly folding tote. See The Tote Buddy
“It’s the world’s first reusable grocery bag organizer. The Tote Buddy neatly organizes reusable bags allowing you to keep them close at hand for all shopping trips. By using The Tote Buddy and reusable bags, we’re helping to keep hundreds of thousands of plastic bags out of our landfills and oceans.”
Lunches made Easy!
Do you ever wish there was that lunch fairy that would come in the middle of the night to make healthy and nutritious lunches for your family? Well, this is not exactly that but it does help us with that sometimes daunting task. Now I don’t have to search for all those bags and containers to pack my son’s lunch anymore. This is a great product! See Easy Lunchboxes
“Pack lunches fast with our single-lid, 3-compartment plastic food containers. Save time and money packing work or school lunches. This System pairs food-safe reusable lunch containers with roomy cooler bags. It’s the green, sack lunch alternative — sized just right for kids and adults. EasyLunchboxes.com was born out of my response to disturbingly unhealthy school lunch programs. I resolved to send my kids to school with nutritious meals, using little to no wasteful packaging! “
They’re BPA-free, SAFE and environmentally friendly, too!
Clean those babies safely!!
Both of my babies have eczema and about the time I had my little girl, the studies for sodium laurel sulfate and the effects it has on the reproductive system came out. Needless to say, I took caution with my babies’ skin. I immediately turned to a tried and trusted product from California Babies. They only contain organic and sustainably grown ingredients with No fragrance, scent masking agents, clear formula chemicals, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, or DEA. See California Baby
Nut free baby oil
“No Nuts in this Baby Oil! Really -this is 100% Free from any nut products. Our baby safe formula is made with a delicate blend of only the finest oils we could find. We have added organic jojoba, apricot and grape seed oils to help Nourish, Protect and Moisturize your baby’s precious skin. Our special blend is then enriched with soothing Calendula and Vitamin E that gently absorbs into baby’s delicate skin and leaves them soft and snuggly!! (of course we know they already are!!)” See Spoiled Mama
All of their products are free of parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, artificial colors and this company takes an uncompromising stand when it comes to the environment- they power their website by the wind (read more about this on the site) and package all of their products in recyclable jars and bottles.
The products are yummy for moms, dads and babies!