Friday, March 6, 2009

reflections on expo west (or... how to eat your way through a tradeshow less than gracefully)

ok... i know... who the hell likes going to a tradeshow...? ANY tradeshow...? lots of blah, blah, blah-ing... sore feet and, generally, some sort of cold by the end of it... ....

oddly enough, i tend to agree... but there is one exception... i LOVE the natural products expos...

ok... so, expo west really IS better than east... although i DID miss the hot guy in boston who, dressed in a gladiator outfit, handed out free greek yogurt... as well as my roomie, hatchetface... sigh... :)... anyway...

i dig this show because i love, love, love seeing what’s happening in the natural products space... from shiny new things from familiar faces such as cascade, lightlife and the great guys at livity (and, why, yes, i AM in the market for a spring hat :)... to bitchin’ finds, including to-go ware, david rio, juniper ridge (SO love), sapothecary, popchips and purevia... it’s just so cool... really... proof that ecology and economics are NOT enemies! :)

of course, the main reason for attending was business... and i think i made some good connections... that, hopefully, will turn into something down the road... BUT, really? the BEST reason for being there... the food!....

aloo gobi, rotelli with arrabiata, soba with miso... oodles of cheeses... you name it, i ate it... ok... well, as long as it didn’t formerly have a face, i ate it... (and, btw, i am increasingly impressed by the meat alternatives out there... not only are the getting tastier, but a lot of companies are reducing the amount of processing... yay!)...

anyhoo, the highlight of my day? delallo... and its AMAZING array of sauces... not to mention the olives... oh, my holy hell... check this out...

and, yes, i ate my way across the booth... and the winner? no... not the kalamatas, although they were yums...

... spicy green olives stuffed w/gorgonzola... oh my... oh my... oh.... my... DOG!!!!..

i... ummmmm....


simply... amazing... i’m not one for loitering at booths... but i think i spent 20 minutes there... completely lost... ahhhhhhh...

but, as a smoke was out of the question, i ran to the green & black's booth and tried every, single one of their organic chocolates... the maya gold dark... to DIE for!!!!!....

food... joy... coma...

Friday, April 25, 2008

mixing it up

as i've mentioned before, sink faucets can unload gallons of water per minute, especially when you have little ones who opt to splash around, rather than actually wash their hands, as you requested 20 minutes earlier. simply installing aerators, which mix air with the water as it leaves the spout, reduce both the flow rate and splashing (child-induced splashing not included, however), while increasing wetting efficiency.

faucet aerators offer flow rates from 0.5 to 2.75 gallons per minute (gpm). even a 2.75 gpm aerator can reduce faucet flow by 5.5 percent or more. of course, you still want some water pressure, right?so a flow rate of 1 gpm is probably the lowest acceptable flow rate for bathroom sink use, and a flow rate of 2.5 gpm will work for the kitchen. also, with a price tag of $3 to $10 each and potential savings of 100 gallons of water per year, per faucet, these make great economic sense.

Friday, March 21, 2008

dish doodie

it’s more a matter of habit than anything. we clear the table, rinse the dishes and plop them into the dishwasher. isn’t that akin to hosing ourselves down before we get into the shower? fact is, unless your dishwasher is ancient, rinsing dishes, glasses and utensils is unnecessary, not to mention wasteful. simply scrape off any particles with a wet sponge and load away!

next best: If you must rinse your dishes (either because you had a particularly messy meal or you run your washer infrequently), you can fill the sink with water once and give your dishes a quick dip, rather than running the faucet.

also, you know that sprayer do-hickey that tends to sit idly by while you rinse your dishes with water from the faucet? give it go! Like a showerhead, kitchen sprayers break the water stream into tiny droplets. according to the EPA, spray taps use 50 percent to 90 percent less water to rinse than when using the faucet.

the other thing to consider is that the hours following dinner tend to be high-demand, energy-usage times. you can cut energy costs by running the dishwasher later in the evening, perhaps before you turn in for the night. also, half-full dish loads are a huge waste of water and energy, as your dishwasher uses the same amount no matter how much is in it. so be sure to load it up before you hit “start” and don’t forget to put the dry setting to “energy-saver.” every penny counts!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

chill out

believe it or not, the summer months are edging nearer, and, if you’re lucky enough to have an air conditioner (i, unfortunately, am not), you need to remember that -- just like your furnace -- it needs some yearly tlc.

be sure check out your unit’s air filters once a month and clean or replace filters, as necessary. keeping your filters clean can cut energy consumption 5 to 15 percent. also, make sure that the drain channels and coils on outdoor units are not clogged.

to keep cooling costs down, run the forced-air system's fan -- not the air conditioner -- to maintain a comfortable temperature. simply flip the thermostat to "fan only" to recycle air throughout the house.

also, while i can only guess (pout) how tempting it must be to crank the a/c when it’s 90-plus degrees outside, keep the thermostat at 78 degrees when you home. when no one will be there, set the thermostat at 85 degrees. that way, you reduce the need for air conditioning and save energy, as well as have extra cash on hand for your labor day barbecue.

last, if you have ceiling fans or other fans, turn them on. the blowing air can make you feel 5 degrees cooler, without running the air conditioner. not to mention, that fans use a lot less electricity than air conditioners! btw... check out today's daily danny (by the extremely FAB danny seo) on this very topic!

Friday, February 1, 2008

ahhhh... l'amour...

yup, once again, it's time to dole out beaucoup buck-a-roos to show your true love that your intentions are pure and to make up for whatever things you have - or haven't - done for her lately (ok, so i'm a little cranky today... :). while you're at it, why not be a little... you know... responsible while kissing her darling derriere and look for these labels on this year's stock of yummy chocos and fragrant flora? (thanks to for this info!)

sustainable chocolate

chocolate is produced without most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers or genetic modification. growers also emphasize the use of renewable resources and conserving soil and water to enhance environmental quality. search for “organic chocolate” online or look for options at natural and gourmet grocery stores.

fair trade chocolate is produced by farmers and workers in developing nations who receive a “fair” price for their product. Trade is done directly between farmer-owned cooperatives and buyers. crops are grown using soil and water conservation measures that restrict the use of harmful pesticides. To find ftc products, visit transfair usa.

rainforest alliance chocolate is grown using integrated pest-management systems that limit the use of pesticides and fertilizers. crops are grown using water-, soil- and wildlife-habitat conservation measures. farm laborers are paid salaries and benefits equal to or greater than the legal minimum wage of their countries. for a product directory, visit the rainforest alliance.

sustainable flowers

organic flowers are grown without most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers or genetic modification. growers also emphasize the use of renewable resources and conserving soil and water to enhance environmental quality. to find organic flowers, visit organic bouquet, california organic flowers or diamond organics.

flowers are grown using water-, soil-, and habitat-conservation measures. the use of pesticides and fertilizers is also restricted. farm laborers are compensated and protected according to international, national or locally recognized standards. for a list of products and to learn more about this label, visit veriflora.

fair trade flowers are produced by farmers and workers in developing nations who receive a “fair” price for their product. trade is done directly between farmer-owned cooperatives and buyers. crops are grown using soil and water conservation measures that restrict the use of harmful pesticides. To find fct flowers, visit

biodynamic flowers are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, genetic engineering or animal by-products. additionally, flowers may not be grown in areas subject to strong electromagnetic fields. to find biodynamic flowers, visit organic bouquet or harms vineyard and lavender fields.

local flowers.
Particularly if you live in a temperate area, buying local flowers, which may or may not be certified, is another option. To find out if there’s a seller near you, check local harvest, a searchable database of local agricultural products.

to learn more about these labels, visit's eco-labels center.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

keep the cold -- where it belongs


it’s amazing how many ways heat manages to escape your house... and, when those flurries gat a'blowin (ok. who am i kidding? i live in southern california... still, we *do* get that chilly marine layer... so there!)... here are a few areas that may need a little extra attention.

santa ain't the only one who uses the chimney

while there are few things nicer than a cozy fire in winter, leaving an open fireplace damper when not in use can let 8 percent of your home’s heat escape. if you have a fireplace, be sure to close the damper when you’re not using it. and, once spring has sprung, don’t forget to close it up for the season. an open fireplace damper acts just like an open window, letting cool air find its way to the great outdoors (assuming your one of those lucky dogs with A/C!).

fill in the gaps

air leaks constitute up to 10 percent of your energy bill and are easily fixed. simply take a tour of the house and mark all the windows, heating vents and outside doors. then, take a ribbon and hold it up to the edges of doors, windows, air ducts and other sources of air leaks (get the kids in on it, too!). if the ribbon blows, you've found a leak! a date with a caulking gun and some weather stripping will make a huge difference.

shades of green

you know, those lovely curtains or shades you put up do more than just keep the sun from reflecting off your television screen. they can actually help regulate the temperature inside your house in all types of weather (kind of like those neat hot/cold mugs... kooky, eh?). so, before you head out into the chilly world be sure to close them up, as they add another layer of insulation.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

so, how'd i do?

welp, it's that time... when i have to run down my list of '07 resolutions and give myself a final grade... ugh.... here goes...

--purchase produce that is grown locally.

did it... love it... and will continue to do so whenever possible... actually, my sunday morning trip to my farmers market is one of the highlights of the week... (is that cool or just pathetic?)... not only am i getting great prices and am supporting my local economy, but i know *exactly* where my produce was grown and by whom. on top of it, there's a weird sort of kinship that forms when you talk to the same growers week after week... and i love when they've got something extra special to share with me... :)

if you're in the LA area, check out the harbor area farmers market web site. if not, search around. i'm sure you'll find something nearby!

--replace one major appliance with a more energy-efficient model by the end of 07.

ok. this one just didn't happen. i'm bummed, as i really wanted a new washer/dryer.... BUT, thanks to our old gas-guzzling suv finally giving up on us, we went out and got ourselves a bitchin' new prius... (which i loooooooovvveeee)... sooooooooo, we did ok, i think.

--get power strips for the kitchen appliances and tv, etc. and remember to shut em off when not in use!

check! and it's been great (except, of course, when i forgot to switch em off... which doesn't happen too often, but often enough to annoy myself ;)

--replace outdoor garden lighting with solar-powered lighting.

ring-a-ding-ding! i admit the light from these do-hickeys takes some getting used to, but it's been great to be able permanently unplug at least one thing!

overall, i give myself a b... maybe even a b-plus... so i guess it's time to look to what i'd like to accomplish in '08... and i've got two days to figure it out... suggestions are welcome!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

baby it's cold outside

and who doesn't want to keep that cold where it belongs... outside?!

the furnace is one of those oft-neglected things -- at least until winter hits and your heating costs leave you reeling. besides doing something really simple, like putting on a sweater, keeping your furnace in tip-top form will help put a serious dent in that exorbitant utility bill.

start with your filter. it’s amazing how crudded-up it gets -- and, the more clogged it is, the harder the furnace has to work to keep you cuddly warm. to check the filter, turn off the furnace’s power source, remove the filter, and hold it up to a light and see if the light shines through. if it’s anything like mine, chances are, it doesn’t (blech!).

the good news is that filters are cheap, only costing about 50 cents, and they’re easy to replace. just be sure to measure your old filter before you run out, all gung-ho, to the hardware store just to get home and realize that what you just bought doesn’t fit. also, because best practices say that filters should be replaced every three months, you might as well throw caution to the wind and plop down an extra buck or two so you have replacements on hand.

phew! now that you’re furnace is heating properly, throw on a sweater and get over to that thermostat!

in cold weather, keep your thermostat set to 68 degrees or lower during your waking hours. when you go to bed, turn the thermostat even lower to 55 degrees (or, if you’re hardier than i am, just turn it off). also, when you head off for that ski weekend adventure, put the thermostat to the nightime setting. as a general rule, every degree you lower a thermostat's set temperature in the winter will save 3 percent of energy costs over a 24-hour period, and setting the thermostat properly in winter can save from 5 percent to 20 percent on your heating costs. if that doesn’t warm you up, i don’t know what will!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

on the flip side

as much as i try to go paperless, between my home and office, i print a lot. and, most of the time, it’s just for my reference or for a project (like a book, maybe?) i’m working on. once i’m done, off to the recycling bin it goes. but, wait a minute. there’s a whole other side of pristine, white paper that’s just begging to be used! (can you hear the begging?)

while printing on the backside of paper can be difficult in an office setting (nothing like a perturbed co-worker who goes to the printer, only to find his client presentation is on the back of a google map -- oops!), it’s not so tough at home. so, unless you’re prepping for a business meeting or plan on handing out your print-outs, simply flip it over and put it back into your printer! it’s a two-for-one deal!

the other thing is, once-used printer paper serves as great scratch paper for your little darlings’ “art projects.” i promise, while you’re busy trying to figure out if the drawing is of a cow or a dump truck (come to think of it, is there a difference?), they’ll quickly move onto the next sheet.

last, if you aren’t already inundated by realtors’ scratch pads, it’s really simple to save up a small pile of sheets, bulk cut them into quarters and staple them. voila! Instant scratch pad! (and you don’t have to stare at your local agent’s face every time you make a grocery list -- bonus!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

dad... please don't read this...

ok... just when you thought there were some things that you just... well... couldn't recycle... along comes (no pun intended)

yes, folks, once your trusty love rabbit has given you your last thrill, you can help the environment by NOT burying it in newspaper and stuffing it into the bottom of your trash can!

all you need to do is is contact the company here, and these nice folks will send you a pouch in which you can return your well-loved products (apparently, you can also find them at your local "gift" store, but i can't vouch for that). i'm not going to go into the recycling process (you can check that out for yourself here, as even i am a bit disturbed). one thing, they do ask that you wash them first (gagging a little)...

also, i'm not sure whether or not this is an incentive or just an "ewww," but for every misfit toy you send back, you get a $5 voucher toward the purchase of any ... uh.. product... in their recycled line (once they get the online store up... oh, man, i'm so going to hell... sorry, dad!)

and you thought you'd seen everything, right?

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

more than just a drop in the bucket

first off... dang! i was all ready to post this yesterday for blog action day... but i got caught up in that little thing called "life" and spaced it... sigh... some role model i'd make!

anyhoo, on with the show...

most high water bills are caused by leaking toilets and can waste up to 200 gallons of water a day (ouch!). while many leaks can be spotted, some are silently draining your wallet. the culprit may be a bad flapper valve, flapper valve seat, a bad ballcock valve, an improperly positioned float arm or a defective overflow tube.

“great,” you say. “i don’t know what any of that means or what to do about it. now what”? don’t worry. take a trip down to the hardware store, act as clueless as i do when i’m in one of these stores and find a kindly person in the plumbing department. hopefully, they’ll take mercy on you and help you find your way.

also, many cities offer free home water audit kits; but, even if yours does not, a quick trip to see that compassionate soul at the hardware store should take care of that. these kits include non-toxic dye tablets. take one tablet, drop it in the tank and stir slightly, but do not flush. (note that it goes in the tank, not the bowl. you may think this obvious, but few things are funnier than walking into the bathroom, seeing a bright blue bowl, panicking because you think there’s a blow-hole-size leak in the john, and then finding out that your dear hubby dropped the tablet into the wrong place.) sfter that, simply leave the toilet alone for 15 to 20 minutes. when you check back, look for color in the bowl. if there is any color, sorry, but you’ve got yourself a leak. ok. one more trip.

just as bad are those annoying dripping faucets, which can waste 20 gallons of water each day. fortunately, faucet leaks are easy to detect. if it drips or, worse, continues to run after you shut it off, it needs to be fixed quickly. and, if the dripping water is hot, the need to repair is even more urgent, as it is also wasting energy used to heat the water.

in addition, a dripping or running showerhead is usually caused by a bad washer or seal. be sure to check for leaks from the tub faucet when a tub shower is on, as this defeats the purpose of a low-flow showerhead, as the water you save with a low-flow shower is heading down drain.

problems with plumbing fixtures are usually due to old age and corrosion or wear and tear, and replacement or repair parts can be purchased at a local hardware store or plumbing supply store. dave yourself some money in the long-term by making these repairs as soon as possible. by the way, if you’re a do-it-yourself, get your little ones involved. not only will you be teaching them about water conservation, but they’ll have fun “helping out,” while learning how to make home repairs like a big kid!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

saving the world... one flush at a time...

yes, I’m back to the potty. but, placate me for a moment and think about how much water your toilet uses. older toilets can use 3 to 7 gallons of water for each flush and can account for up to 50 percent of indoor water use. and, if you toss in the number of goldfish burials you’ve performed since having kids, reducing the amount of water that goes down the pipe makes sense.

while low-flush toilets are great (they only use about 1.6 gallons of water per flush and save 8,000 or more gallons of water per household per year), they can be pricey.

sooooo... if you're not in the market for a new latrine and the policy of "if it's yellow, let it mellow. if it's brown, flush it down" makes you weak in the knees (and, no, that policy is NOT in effect when we have company!), economic alternatives include toilet dams, water-filled containers or a 1.6-gallon flapper.

toilet dams help make your tank “smaller” by using plastic barriers to prevent water from running out when you flush, while filling small, plastic containers with water and putting them in the tank will keep the water level high enough to flush well, but reduces the amount of water that actually flushes. the low-flow flappers simply shut more quickly, thereby reducing the amount of water in the tank. these devices displace water and can reduce outflow by up to 25 percent. any of these provide a low-cost, eco-effective way to deal with... well... you know...

happy flushing!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

can you spare a square?

no doubt, we need toilet paper (although crunchy chicken's latest challenge to move to cloth is interesting). but how much do we really need to use every time we “retire” to the latrine?

i know, this isn’t one of those pleasant topics; but, just as the title of that great children’s book says -- “everybody poops” ... and you could make a few dozen mummy movies from the amount of TP my daughter goes through in a given week (granted, i’m not all that much better... i guess it's a girl thing?).

of course, in ancient china, where TP was first introduced, each square was two-feet by three-feet... so, in comparison, i guess i'm doin' pretty ok.... regardless...

and... yes... sheryl crow got a bunch of flak when she proposed this (which is probably why i've left this idea tucked away for a while)... BUT, i’m not proposing that you get all militant about this (no need to stand outside the bathroom door and count off sheets), but -- as a family/household -- choose a realistic number of sheets to be used for various… uh… duties that everyone can live with and pledge to stick to it (no pun intended).

you'll be surprised how simple this is once you get into the habit... even better? you’ll be cutting down on the amount of paper that ends up in our sewers and save money, too!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

see full image here

i know this is rather off-topic, but i stumbled across this image the other day… and it's just stayed with me… and made me think of so many things…

… about when i was young, playing in my backyard (when i was still allowed to play in the mud!) and all the wonders i discovered, like watching a tadpole turn into a frog…

… about when i was scared or nervous and my first reaction would be to stare down at my hands in shame or embarrassment… and how i still do that, even though i wish i wouldn't…

…about when clare was a newborn… how, when i held her, her hands seemed so tiny, with paper-thin fingernails that looked so delicate, but would scratch her up if i didn't stay on top of the scary nail clipping that i hated to do for fear of hurting her…

… about how those little hands that used to desperately cling to mine are growing… and starting to let go to so she can discover her own path… about how much that scares me, but – more so – about how proud i am of her…

…of my grandfather… and how gigantic and safe his hands seemed when i was little.. and how, in the last few months of his life, when i didn't think the doctors could possibly stick any more needles into that fragile skin… how he still smiled… brave and wonderful… always…

… about my hubby… whose hands shield me, protect me and comfort me… when he takes my hand, no one can hurt me… and i love him for it…

… of my dear friend sylvia… whose hand i miss holding and can't wait to again…

… about all the blessed creatures i've been so lucky to have in my life… furry (and some not much) companions who, simply by petting or holding or talking to, have made my life happier…

…about the beautiful peace i find when i meditate… my hands folded in my lap… and how the world just makes a lot more sense… i need to do that more often…

…about my own hands… stronger than i ever thought they'd be… but now the signs of aging are increasing, almost imperceptibly, year by year… and about how i'm accepting and trying to embrace the rigors and infinite delicacy of life… as well as my mortality…

… about how hands can communicate a million different things with a simple gesture… honor, disrespect, love, hate, pride, shame… it's all there… you just have to pay attention...

…about how different we all are… yet how very much alike… we all want a hand to hold, a hand to comfort, a hand to help us realize our full potential…a hand to reach out to us…

who have you reached out to lately?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

hanky panky

it happens all the time (especially now that the school year has started!). our darling, little germ sponges drag some nasty cold home from school, and tissues start flying around faster than throwing death stars in a martial arts b-movie. after you dig yourself out from underneath the pile of used snot holders, take a cue from our forefathers and invest in cloth hankies for the whole family. not only will this keep oodles of tissue paper out of the cycle, but -- believe it or not -- cloth is much softer on raw, little noses.

but, if the possibility of little jenny using a hankie formerly employed by little michael (even if washed... cooties, you know) creates too much of an “ew” factor, i suggest personalizing each family member’s respective snot rag. and this is where they can get into the act, as most craft stores carry cloth pens and such, so let everyone go to town to create their own unique pieces of art!


Sunday, September 9, 2007

turn-(off) signals

i know... i've been slacking the last few weeks... sorry, but between a work jaunt to china, still working my way through my irritation with earthpak and the oppressive heat in so cal last week, the motivation just wasn't there...

anyhoo... i digress...

i know water conservation isn’t top-of-mind first thing in the morning. it easily falls by the wayside in favor of packing lunches, getting ready for the workday, trying to motivate seriously sleepy children to get the heck out of bed and finding that school notice (that was dated two weeks ago) that you’re in charge of baking six dozen cookies by the next day (don’t you just love that? ahem.) but what I do love is the idea of putting little signs up in the bathroom to remind everyone to turn off the faucet while brushing teeth and shaving.

it may seem like a little thing, but if you consider that 5 percent (can be more than 2,500 gallons per year, according to the epa) of a home’s water consumption goes from the bathroom faucet -- at a rate of up to five gallons a minute -- and pretty much heads straight to the sewer, a quick shut-off makes good double-eco (economic and eco-effective) sense!

so back to the signs: while a post-it is fine, i’ve found that -- after a few weeks (who am I kidding? days!) -- i tend to glaze over them and i just, plain forget. here’s where your kids and their wild creativity come in! once a month (or every other month) have the kids make new signs for the bathroom mirror. encourage humor, as you know if they’re cracking themselves up every time they brush their teeth, it means they’re actually seeing the sign!

another easy way to save water while is to half-fill a cup with water and use it for rinsing. now, before you gross out at the notion of one cup for all, the idea is that everyone in the house has their own cup. even better, each family member can decorate their own! go fancy and hit your local color me mine, or keep it low-key and grab some durable cups and paint pens at the nearest arts/crafts store. this might sound simple but that’s what this is all about -- simplicity!

last, my husband, the shaver in the family (at least until I hit menopause), borrowed a nifty idea from “m*a*s*h.” (and who said tv wasn’t educational?). he has a specially designated cup for rinsing his razor so he hardly turns the sink faucet on at all. too bad the logistics for that method when shaving my legs aren’t all that appealing. my balance is good, but not that good.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

earthpak: great idea, crappy company

so… a few months ago, i mentioned what I believed to be a cool company, earthpak. this little texas operation deals in bags/backpacks/etc. made from recycled soda bottles. cool, eh? so about a month ago, i went for it and ordered a number of items, including the messenger laptop bag I’d been ogling and a new backpack and lunchbag for my daughter and i waited…

and waited…

and waited…

i started to get really concerned about two weeks ago, when i realized that i really needed the laptop bag for biz trip i’m taking in a few days. So i called…

and called…

and emailed…

and called…


it wasn’t until i filed a claim with paypal that someone finally answered the phone (odd coincidence)… no one could seem to help me, nor tell me when my order would be delivered… so i asked to speak with the owner, scott figueiredo, who i’d been emailing for weeks. he wouldn’t come to the phone, but the “customer service” gal PROMISED me that the laptop bag would be sent out by last friday or else she’d overnight it monday.

fast forward to yesterday, when – huge surprise – nothing’s arrived. i called three times and finally got someone on the line. imagine my surprise when she (natalie, i believe) tells me that, no, my order still sitting in limbo land. ARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!

so i ask for my money to back… this gal has no clue and claims to have just started working there. So i ask for someone else… another woman “shauna” (sp?) comes on, puts me on hold three or four times… and then forgets about me. natalie comes back on and i ask to speak with shauna, who “tries” to connect me with the owner by holding his cell phone up to her landline phone. f-in brilliant (and, silly me, i used to wonder how in the world G-dumb got elected… TWICE!).

finally i just tell her i want my $207. 96 back… she tells me that only scott can take care of this… so i respond that if it’s not refunded w/in 24 hours, i’m hitting small claims court… it’s no longer about the dang money… i wasted HOURS trying to help keep them in business…

by late last night, earthpak had refunded $206 of the $207.96 i gave them…any idea how much i want to go after them for that remaining $1.96? brreaaaaattthhhheeee…

honestly, this was the WORST online retail experience i’ve ever had… and it’s just a dang shame because legitimate companies working hard to do the right thing are getting screwed because of people like these guys… nice job, earthpak!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

pcw. pcf. fsc. wtf? oh... and i'm not a virgin...

ok. i'm quite sure that pretty much ya'll are recycling your paper (you are, right? RIGHT??? :). now it’s time to close the loop. this is a vital step in the lifecycle process, as there must be demand for paper product companies to offer recycled options. makes sense, right?

sweet! now for the confusing part: the mysterious acronyms… the cryptic symbols…they’re enough to give you a massive migraine and make even the huggiest of treehuggers say “fahhgettabbouttit!” but never fear, they aren’t as perplexing as they might seem at first glance.

post-consumer waste (pcw)

also called “post-consumer content” (pcc), post-consumer waste refers to used material collected though household, office and drop-off recycling programs. this is different than “recycled” paper, which is made from pre-consumer content such as paper trimmings from the paper mill and printer and printed materials that never reach the consumer (that's peachy and all, but i have faith that we can all do better, si?).

sooooo, try shopping for paper products (printer paper, facial tissues, paper towels, etc) with the highest pcc percentage (30 percent is optimal). look for packaging that displays the chasing arrows within a circle. this indicates that the product contains recycled content. and, if there’s a percentage in the middle, that indicates the amount of recycled materials in the product. the symbol is often confused with the chasing arrows symbol, which simply indicates that a product may be recycled.



it'll cost you a bit more (then again, try buying in bulk from amazon or ebay... you can find some great deals!)... but, by purchasing paper products with a high PCC, you are not only closing the lifecycle loop, but you are sending a message that will encourage manufacturers to continue the reclamation and use of recycled materials (translation: if there's money to be made, they'll make it!... ahhh.. capitalism!).

processed chlorine free (pcf)

in order to make paper white, paper fibers are bleached (yuck!), even though chlorine-free paper quality is optimal. the only difference is that has not been subjected to a boatload of nasty chemicals. also, the more unbleached paper purchased, the fewer toxins end up polluting our water (whee! everyone wins!). the term "pcf" means that the bleaching process uses no chlorine or chlorine derivatives, thereby eliminating toxic by-products associated with chlorine, such as dioxins.

forest stewardship council (fsc)

the forest stewardship council is an international organization that promotes responsible stewardship of the world’s forests (and, no, no kool-aid is involved). one of the ways it achieves this is through its certification program. besides certifying forest management, it also offers a chain of custody certificate, which provides a guarantee regarding the steps taken from the forest to the consumer, including processing, manufacturing and distribution. by looking for the fsc label on all your paper products, you are contributing to the preservation and responsible management of our forests

btw... serious "bitchin disco!" to for its efforts to provide the graphic design industry (and those it so beautifully illustrates) tools to embrace sustainability. i don't know ya'll... but you rock!

that's it for tonight folks. if you still haven't figured out acronyms like lmirl, tdtm, iwsn or nifoc (ewwww... ), try google. that aint my job.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

(sort of) mid-year check-in

yup... like many folks, i made some new year's resolutions a few months ago... and, in an attempt to be accountable for my actions (and lack thereof), i thought it appropriate to -- as my friend joe says -- to "sit down with my bad self" and see where i'm at, as well as where i'm going...

resolution 1: purchase produce that is grown locally (start working my way toward the 100-mile diet).

--i'm actually doing pretty well on this one... my sunday-morning trips to the local farmer's market have actually become a bit of an addiction! (BTW, if you're not checking out your farmer's market, you're missing out on some SUPERB fruits and veggies... yum!). in addition, my little organic garden is bearing fruit, and i'm up to my eyeballs in tomatoes... yay! my only major failure has been regarding one thing -- bananas. not a whole lot of banana farmers here in so cal, so i'm rationalizing this by buying organic. all in all, i give myself a solid 9 on this one.

resolution 2: replace one major appliance with a more energy-efficient model by the end of 07.

--sadly, i'm getting a 1 in this area. sure, i've window shopped, but plunking down a few grand for the washer and dryer of my dreams is a bit more difficult than i'd planned. thankfully, i have a few months left before '08 comes knockin' on my door.

resolution 3: get power strips for the kitchen appliances and tv, etc. and remember to shut em off when not in use!

--check! it's amazing how much electricity we've saved by doing this... and i'm actually doing *darn* well at remembering to shut em off. i'll go with an 8 for this sucker.

resolution 4: replace outdoor garden lighting with solar-powered lighting.

--ding! man, i'm feeling much better now (the whole appliance thing was making me feel bad!). the solar lights work great, although i admit the lighting is a bit different. but we've gotten used to it.

last, but not least.. my sorta resolution 5: clean up and get rid of all my crap.
--ehhhhh... can we go back and reflect on my successes? :)

anyhoo, i'd love to hear how ya'll are doing on your green resolutions... hit me up!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

guys... skip this one...

okey dokey gentlemen... this posting isn't for the faint of heart... so, if you "eww-out" too easily, you may want to skip this puppy cuz it's about... you know... "that time of the month"...

good, now that they're all gone, we can chat...

while perusing crunchy chicken -- the latest blog i've come to adore -- i came across a posting about how wasteful (not to mention down-right gross) all those tampons and pads that get tossed by each of us every month are... to be honest, it hadn't occurred to me that there were alternatives, other than the "healthier" products offered by seventh generation and natracare. man, was i wrong!

while i haven't tried glad rags, luna pads or hag rags (which are just funky as all hell... LOVE all the design choices), i MUST sing the praises of... (drum roll, please)... the diva cup!

i admit, i was a bit apprehensive, but -- good golly -- if this isn't the most efficient, no-brainer way to get through the lamest 5 days of the month, i don't know what is! simple to use, comfortable, easy to clean and maintain, and NO waste... PLUS, no more tossing a ziploc bag full of tampons into your backpack any time you go on a trip "just in case" (wooo hoo!) ... and no "errant strings" to embarrass you (ok... i think i went too far... ewwww....)

i am SOOOOOO a diva girl!

yes, you all know waaay too much about me now... now snap out of it!

oh, and any ideas on what i can do with costco-size boxes full of tampons are most welcome! (i'm thinking about some sort of progressive artwork, but am open to ideas!)

Friday, July 6, 2007

smell ya later

as i'm packing my bags, getting ready for a week of YMCA summer camp with 150-ish stinky kiddos baking beneath the southern california sun, i'm thinking... man, i hate it when i stink. at the same time, i don’t relish the idea of slathering my tender underarms with icky chemicals. oddly enough (and contrary to popular belief), sweat is odorless. it’s the nasty bacteria that gather on the skin and break down the sweat that cause the big smell-o-rama. (more than you really wanted to know, right? yeah, me, too.)

all antiperspirants (and I mean all -- if you find one that doesn’t, let me know!) contain aluminum, which has generated greater debate than an inside pitch at my daughter’s softball game. aluminum has been linked to cancer and alzheimer's disease. especially at risk -- according to a 2004 u.k. study at university of reading, as well as subsequent studies -- are women who shave and immediately apply antiperspirant (don’t try to tell me you don’t. i know better!). also present are parabens -- synthetic preservatives found in many personal care products -- which are linked to various cancers.

deodorants, on the other hand, neutralize smells and provide antiseptic action against bacteria. so, if you can deal, why not try a natural deodorant ? whether or not this these links to disease are true, it seems to me that anytime one can replace a chemical cosmetic with a natural one, so much the better.

there are abundant choices out there. and, while i’m not sold on the rock deodorants, there are some good alternatives offered by companies such as alba botanica, avalon organics and jason natural cosmetics, among others. test some out and see what works for you.... and if you have any other suggestions, let em rip...

on that note, i'm outta here until the 15th... smell ya later!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

dirty deeds

washing machines account for about 20% of the total volume of water consumed in residences. toss kids’ clothes into the mix, and i’d be willing to bet it’s even higher than that! but there are many ways you can lower your water usage -- even if you’re like me and don’t have a new, energy-efficient washer.

most machines allow you to adjust the water level to fit the size of the each load. Simply adjusting the water level to match to the load size can save as much as 12 gallons per week. of course, waiting to wash a load until the pile is large enough (but not so large that you’re overloading, as that’s a whole other problem) is a better way to go.

now, if you happen to be in the market for a new washer, it’s worth noting that front-loading machines use between 20 and 33 gallons of water per cycle, while top-loading machines may use 35 to 55 gallons. in fact, on the most common setting, a front-loader will use about half the water, half the hot water, and one third of the detergent of a top-loader. man, I want one of these! (some women dream of a sparkly bauble -- i dream of a major appliance. yes, there is definitely something wrong with me!)

also, many of today's detergents clean just as well in warm or cold water as they do in hot, so washing clothes in warm or cold water will save you some cash in energy costs. and, because hot water is really tough on fabric, lower temperatures will extend the life of your clothes.

last (and this is something we’re all guilty of, me especially), how many times have you tossed a perfectly fine item of clothing into the hamper (or, in your child’s case, on the floor), simply because it was easier to do that than actually fold it up and put it away? taking that extra minute or two to really make sure it needs to go into the wash and, if not, put it away can save water, energy and clothing wear and tear!

any other ideas? i'd love to hear them!

Monday, June 25, 2007

green police?

ok… i’ve been a HUGE police fan since… well, forever… and was thrilled when sting, stewart and andy decided to get back together for this tour! i even happily doled out a few hundred dollars, per ticket, so i could fulfill my dream of seeing these three, incredibly talented, influential, iconoclastic musicians take the stage together one more time.

so the day finally arrived and, on saturday, as i’m walking into dodger stadium feeling like i’m 12 years old again, i thought there was nothing that could put a blemish on this moment (not even LA's horrific traffic) i’ve been waiting for more than half my life… sadly, i was wrong.

don’t misunderstand me. the concert was amazing (although I would have given my left eye to hear “tea in the sahara,” “one world (not three), "be my girl - sally," "hole in my life," or “lowlife,” among others… oh, and if I never hear “every breath you take” again, i’ll be quite content, thank you)… anyhoo, i’d seen sting solo quite a few times, so it was simply incredible to see/hear andy and stewart LIVE! not to mention that the foo fighters were ON! but i digress…

what bummed out this little ol’ green gal was two-fold. first off, there were NO recycling containers at the event, which meant the place was littered with plastic cups and other such wholly recyclable materials (and, btw, the clean-up crew wasn’t separating anything, either… grrrr)… and, second, when i approached the merchandise stand and asked to check out the t-shirts, not only were they not made of organic cotton but they were manufactured in nicaragua.

while i know the t-shirt issue was a bit too much to hope for, i was aghast at the lack of recycling! i really expected more from the police, who are performing at the u.s live earth concert in just 10 days. and I certainly expected far more from sting, who has vocalized his concern for the environment for decades. really, guys. there are plenty of “green tours” being run out there by innovative organizations such as reverb, and if you can’t convince a venue to behave ethically… who can?

simply enough, gentlemen, you ignored a prime opportunity to step up... and that made me a sad monkey girl :(

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

a bounty of waste

how many paper towels do you use in a day? i was using too many to count, which got me thinking (ouch!) -- how many trees are chopped down so I can perform such noble tasks as cleaning the pile of cat barf off my carpet?

well, think of it this way: according to my heroes over at the natural resources defense council, if everyone in the u.s. replaced one roll of virgin fiber paper towels (70 sheets) with 100% recycled, we could save 544,000 trees. think about what the difference would be if we replaced a majority of our paper towels with washable, reusable dishcloths and dishrags?

believe me, i’m not suggesting you get rid of all your paper towels, as i think there are just some clean-up jobs (meow!) that require a paper towel, but -- you know as well as i do -- most do not. this is where the cloths come in handy. making these your primary cleaning tools (along with sponges) will save you money, as well as a few trees. nifty!

(as a side note, when you notice that your sink sponge is getting a bit, you know, funky, just water it down and pop it in the microwave for about 20-30 seconds. instant disinfectant!)

and, while you’re at it, you can cut down the number of dinner napkins you use by digging out those cloth napkins that you got ages ago. seriously, when's the last time you had a formal dinner party, anyway?

now... if i can only teach matisse, my feline friend, to use the potty...

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

green daddy

yup, father’s day is right around the corner and i, for one, am usually at a loss as to what to get my pa-pa so here are a few ideas that pops will like (and are kind to the earth, to boot).

for the golfer

eco golf balls – while I can make no guarantees regarding the performance of these puppies, the idea of water-soluble golf balls just makes me giggle… find dad an beautiful ocean cliff and let him wile away an afternoon smacking these puppies into the surf.

for the gadget guy

solio offers a kick-butt line of portable solar chargers that will keep dad’s mobile electronics running smooth no matter where he is. (I just dig this!).

for the sunday couch potato

if pops’ idea of a perfect day is watching sports and barbecuing, try some organic beer (wolaver's and peak are two of an ever-growing number of brands) and some grass-fed meat ( has links to a variety of natural farmers).

for just about any dad

earthpak – backpacks, duffel bags and computer bags made from recycled soda bottles. they’re decently priced and perfectly rugged (and if anyone wants ideas for what to get me for my b-day, the transpecos is right up my alley … dark green or black… hint… hint… :). NOTE: check out my change of heart regarding this company. DON'T order from them!