Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Happy Earth Day!

In the past few weeks, I've encountered more and more green new stories, magazine articles, radio spots, TV commercials, etc. All of it lead up to today, a storm of greenwashing larger than any I remember.

It could just be that I'm now more aware of it than before, or that more companies are actually developing a sense of social responsibility. But it seems to me, and forgive me if this seems trite, that Earth Day is being marketed as another reason for thoughtless consumerism.

So, to bastardize a phrase heard at Christmastime, Let's Keep the Earth in Earth Day.

Here's my suggestion. Since Earth Day is our one and only "green" holiday, let's treat it as a Green New Year. A chance to look back on your last year, and make resolutions for the year ahead.

I'll put myself out there first; here are my green resolutions for the year ahead:

Stop Wasting Food. I am terrible about knowing what's in the back of my fridge. Many a green pepper and bowl of leftovers have met their demise back there. To do this I'll need to plan the weekly meals to best use the food we buy, and remember to take those leftovers for lunches.

Cut Down on Unnecessary Driving. That means no more trips across town just because I "feel like going to Target." Now that the weather is nicer, when I get cooped up, I should go outside instead of clearance shopping.

Instill My MSG Values in My Daughter. At her age, that comes down to showing her the beauty of nature (lots of time outside), and the rewarding feeling of doing something for yourself (baking bread for example).

Just like on January First, the challenge here will be to remember these resolutions, and not let them fall to the wayside by mid-May.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

What do YOU think?

Should the news of "food chain destruction" make us want to live greener faster, or is it too late? Is this just another scare tactic, or something we should really be worried about? I found this article a few minutes ago and couldn't help posting it:

Why Flowers Have Lost Their Scent

It's not too in-depth, but it makes you think about both sides of the story. Should we believe in our country's research teams, or should we believe news that comes from other countries (while considering our own media)?

I personally found the comment section to be very worthwhile...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Cat Litter Chronicles Part II

Read Part I of the Series here.

While reading up on alternative cat litters online, I was excited to find several that were touted as flushable, including Feline Pine and World's Best Cat Litter. The idea made sense to me - no litter in the landfill, no stinky cat box garbage can.

At the pet store, I read the packaging of a box of World's Best, and found a warning saying that the state of California prohibits flushing cat feces. I was confused by this. The best guess I could venture was that since California has such a tight water usage, flushing litter was a waste of water.

A few weeks later, I came upon this article on Feline Pine's website. Basically, it states that the parasite Toxoplasmosis Gondii that some cats carry (the reason pregnant women shouldn't change cat litter) can survive sewage treatment and make its way to the ocean. Once there, it is harmful to marine life, most notably the sea otter. According to the site:

While Feline Pine & other alternative cat litter varieties are flushable, and while that aspect may seem convenient to cat owners, we at Nature's Earth strongly urge our customers to dispose of their cat's feces in the garbage - especially if you live in a coastal community.

I take away two lessons from this discovery. First, the seemingly environmentally-friendly choice may not always be so. Second, every action we take has some impact on our world. It's our responsibility to weigh those impacts and choose our actions wisely.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Mainstream Green Does Kids' Birthday Parties

My daughter recently turned two. Here's how I made it Mainstream Green, and suggestions to help you do the same for your next party:


Use things you already have. My girl's party was teddy bear themed, so we put groups of her teddy bears on the tables and an over sized bear to greet the guests.

Find natural rubber balloons, which are biodegradable. (Remember to closely supervise young children playing with balloons, and take away any that pop.)

Use beach balls instead of balloons. These cute ones would be great for a tropical theme (maybe next year). They would also make nice take home favors.

Skip the crepe paper and paper table cloth. No one really remembers those, anyway.

Make the snacks double-duty. Find snacks that go with the theme, and put them out in bowls. We used Teddy Grahams and gummy bears. Colored Goldfish crackers would be great for that tropical theme mentioned above.


Let's NOT do lunch - or dinner. A morning or afternoon party with snacks, cake and drinks is just fine. Since my daughter naps in the afternoon, we planned a light brunch.

If you can, Enlist help for the food. We are fortunate to have three sets of grandparents all willing to help with their granddaughter's party. If you can get help, use it!

Keep the menu simple to prepare, and more healthful, too. In my experiences, fresh fruit or a plain fruit salad goes over better than any whipped cream or marshmallow fluff concoction. And it's easier to prepare, too. Just keep an eye out for what's in season, as fruit can be pricey.

Location, Location, Location

Hold the party somewhere centralized. Both my husband's family and my family live about 30 miles from us. It made more sense for us to drive that distance than to have everyone come to us. In green terms, we had one vehicle driving 30 miles instead of six vehicles.


Use the phone. I have graphic design experience, so this was a difficult decision for me. But in the name of all things green, I skipped the paper invites and picked up the telephone. Just be sure the guests know that the call is the official invite.

If you must do paper invitations, use postcards. You'll save on postage and use less paper, too.

The typical birthday party leaves parents with an empty wallet and a bag of trash. Concentrate on what's really important (for me, celebrating with all sides of my family) and cut the unnecessary. By thinking outside of what is "expected" for a kid's party, you can save cash and be a little greener.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Get a Free Shopping Tote from Earthbound Farm!

Take Earthbound Farm's Conservation Quiz, score at least 9 out of 10 and they'll send you a free shopping tote! The questions are fairly easy if you have some knowledge about environmental issues, and if you get stuck there are links to articles with the answers.

Here's the fine print from the website:

Offer good for US and Canadian residents only, while supplies last. Quiz must be completed before Midnight PDT, April 30, 2008. One bag per mailing address. Bags will be shipped to recipients in June, 2008

More and more grocery stores are offering discounts if you bring your own bags (Festival gives me a nickel a bag!), so this is a gift that keeps on giving!