Monday, December 29, 2008
There are so many reasons to NOT use plastic or even paper bags for shopping and to adopt a few reusable bags to handle most shopping needs. There are also great reasons to buy some of these great funky stylish accessory bags that are made from recycled materials - keeping more non-biodegradable materials out of landfills.
The Eco-Bag Lady’s Picks for Best Eco-Bags of 2008
I have gotten so many bags as gifts, for review and I have even purchased a couple! It is hard to pick only a few, but these represent ones that I’ve not only tested and liked, but use frequently or regularly:
Save the Plastic Bottles - Save the World: Laptop Bag
In addition to using primarily a stainless steel water bottle these days, I did my part this year, by using a laptop bag that is made from 100% recycled plastic bottles! Act2 GreenSmart has a Bottles 2 Bags line that is awesome. Read my full review to get more details.
Eco-Bags for Style
gg2g has kept literally thousands of pounds of billboard materials out of our landfills, while creating a variety of chic bags. More on gg2g and other cool bags.
My very cool and frequently in use English Retreads purse is a social lubricant. It is as useful for carrying stuff as it is interesting to discuss. Read my full review of this great bag.
Shopping in Good Conscience
EcoBags has a series of great ‘totes’ for shopping and hauling stuff (read the review and see the awful picture of me), but they have partnered with DoSomething.org, an organization dedicated to empowering young people to take action in their communities, to create a great new bag - Yes We Can! Will! It is on sale for the holidays.
Oooooh, the Goody Green Bag is so cute! I’ve got Dottie and I love it. They fold up nice, neat and compact.
So many great bags . . . so little shopping to do!
eat. blog. be merry!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
I still can’t keep all the ‘good for me’ from ‘you DON’T want this on your skin’ ingredients straight. I start breaking out in a rash trying to pronounce the name of some of these ingredients - both natural and synthetic. So, if you are wanting a breakdown of the ingredients and what to use and what not to use, please don’t expect that kind of detail here. I’ll give you a couple of good links at the end of the post for better resources.
I do look for simple, organic ingredients that are put together with some consciousness, which perhaps is why I do well with stuff made from biodynamically grown herbs. It is easy for me - it is either clean or I break out, but I would encourage others who may have heartier skin to do additional homework on safe ingredients.
Meg’s Organic Skincare Favs for 2008
Right now and for quite a while, my one and only is Beyond Organic Skincare’s Natural Detoxifying Cleanser. It is a new experience in face washing - smooth, gentle. I always want to sigh when I’m done. They are one of the biodynamic farmer-based companies I really love, based in England.
Instead of using traditional ‘toner’ on my face, I’ve learned to use a gentle misting spray and so far, my very favorite are the Healing Hydration Mists from actress Marsha Mason’s biodynamic herb farm in New Mexico, Resting in the River. I had the opportunity to speak with Ms. Mason - read or watch the interview!
I wouldn’t have necessarily tried this on my own, but the folks at Mod Skin Labs sent it to me and I fell in love with it - Face Sculpt Serum Excalibur DMAE & Blue Green Algea. I guess I’m in denial that I may be at an age where stuff like this can be helpful! I know there are similar products out there, but I have avoided them, because there seems to be a lot of harsh synthetic materials in them. Mod Skin is very clean.
For daily use, I’ve gotten very comfortable with Beyond Organic’s Organic Moisturizing Day Cream. Leaves my face feeling like soft, silky velvet. This is one of those products that can destroy my face, but Beyond Organics is so clear, I’ll keep using this one as long as possible!
Can’t say enough good things about Shea Terra Organic’s African Lemongrass Indigenous Black Soap Elixir. Well, it is a mouthful - who needs to say more? Honestly, it is a unique and divine experience. I don’t usually use body wash, other than my wonderful handmade soap from my local bee lady, but this soap made by the Yoruba Tribe of West Africa is exotic and amazing.
Still on the Shea Terra Organics binge, their Miombo Mango Dead Sea Shea Butter Salt Scrub is going to become a regular fixture in my shower/bath.
Marsha Mason has created an amazing formula with her Healing Body butter from Resting in the River. Among the organic ingredients (including shea butter of course) is spilanthes flower, which has some amazing properties. Ms. Mason is among the few using it in her organic skincare lines.
eat. blog. be merry!
Monday, December 15, 2008
A great way to open up a dialog with kids about some of the complex issues they will inherit and be responsible for all too soon.
Share this fun message with kids of all ages!
eat. blog. be merry!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Yes. That is an image of me . . .
This bag is very simple, compact and works for basics - small wallet, some makeup, keys and cell phone. While it doesn’t have all those organizational bells, whistles and zippers on the inside, it pays off in ‘feel good’ points.
Who would’ve thought to make something so cool from stinky used tires?
In the 2 or 3 months I’ve been using this bag, I’ve had some pretty interesting conversations with strangers. WARNING: Don’t wear this bag if you don’t want to meet people! Actually, a few of my friends have already been inspired to purchase bags by English Retreads!
This particular bag - good for holiday gift perhaps?
Look for my eco-bag lady review of my favorite bags of 2008 coming later this month!
Friday, November 28, 2008
You don’t have to be an eco-fashionista to see that there is a new sustainable sub-industry evolving in the fashion world and on Madison Avenue. There are shoes made from ex-Jeep bits, a wide variety of styles of clothes made from bamboo, organic cotton and now soy fibers.
Historically, the clothing manufacturing industry has served as the poster child for bad ethical behavior and unsustainable business practices. From sweatshops and unfair trade to the questionable materials used and shipped thousands of miles before landing in Wal-Mart.
Well, we are a demanding lot. ‘We’, the collective consumers in the US primarily, want lots of clothes, we only want them for maybe a year before tossing them, and we don’t want to pay much for them either. Over the past 10 years we have developed a hankering for fast fashion. Similar to fast food, fast fashion is quick, cheap and considered virtually disposable.
Some eye-popping facts about the garment industry:
According to the USDA, cotton is responsible for 25% of all the pesticides used in the US.
Due to the high demand and highly negative environmental impact of polyester and other synthetic textile production, the EPA under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act has classified textile manufacturing facilities as ‘hazardous waste generators’.
According to the UN Commodity Trade Statistics database,
Chinese manufactured clothing accounts for 30% of the global apparel exports. I don’t have the statistics on how much of that comes to the US, but I bet it is a large percentage of that 30% and folks, that is a long carbon footprint. Not to mention that China does not have the same standards for industrial pollution we do . . . or for fair working conditions . . .
Pietra Rivoli, a professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, surmised in her book The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy, that each year Americans buy 1 billion pieces of clothing made in China – that’s almost 4 items for each American!
The US National Labor Committee reports that some Chinese garment workers earn 12 – 18 cents per hour and work in dangerous and unhealthy conditions.
There is no way in a 500-word article to report all the various resources drained, toxins unleashed and how big and bad the giant carbon footprint of the industrial method to deliver fast fashion actually is. I’ll ask that you trust me on this or suggest doing further research on the topic. I’m more interested in talking about some of the innovators helping to make a dent of change in this industrial beast.
There are solutions!
First of all, not enough can be said for the benefit of discovering your local consignment shop. My daughters and I have always been shameless used clothing lovers. Two clever moms created a booming franchise business called Milk Money, which offers used children’s clothing. It started as a way to create a solution for their own desire to share clothing with other mothers in their community and they ended up making a very chic environment within their stores that mothers and children enjoy lingering in.
Most of our clothes do a lot of travelling, which is not so good for the global carbon footprint. Whenever possible, find locally/regionally manufactured clothing. This may take a little homework, but some Internet sleuthing coupled with visits to small clothing stores may yield some interesting finds.
Know Where Your Garment Has Been
As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, there is an increased demand for more sustainable clothing and there are thousands of innovators and entrepreneurs taking up the call to create eco-chic clothing that costs less in environmental and human terms. Maybe not so much less in terms of dollars, but as with any commodity, as the supply increases to meet the demand, the pricing will come down. Meanwhile, I’d rather have fewer garments that are thoughtfully made than a closet full of fast fashion.
Two notable companies have created transparency in their manufacturing chains and offer consumers a way to track the origins of their garment and its trip to their closet or drawer. There are probably many following suit, but these are ones that I have direct experience with in terms of reviewing their product and tracing the trail of the clothes they sent me:
· Icebreakers – Icebreaker CEO Jeremy Moon says sustainability has been a non-negotiable part of the company’s core philosophy since it was founded in 1994. Since then, Icebreaker has emerged as an innovator in merino-based outdoor layering systems, claiming to be the first apparel company in the world to source merino direct from growers. Icebreaker CEO Jeremy Moon says sustainability has been a non-negotiable part of the company’s core philosophy since it was founded in 1994. Since then, Icebreaker has emerged as an innovator in merino-based outdoor layering systems, claiming to be the first apparel company in the world to source merino direct from growers. (read my review of the Icebreaker hoodie and the Baacode)
· Bernardo Green – Bernardo Fashions has developed a sustainable clothing line, called Bernardo Green, which is an eco-friendly suede collection made of biodegradable materials. One of the things Bernardo Fashion is known for is being the innovator of washable suede. Bernardo sticks primarily to outerwear. Bernardo Green offers a ‘code’ which allows trackability of the garment and its entire journey. (reach my review of the awesome Bernardo Green suede jacket)Green Standards?
As I review more and more ‘green’ products these days, I’m kind of baffled that there isn’t more of a standardized rating system. I googled ‘green product standards’ and I found the Green Seal of course, which is great for paper products and cleaners. The EPA even has a database for information on environmental products and services - if you go there and you can figure out what the standards are and actually find product lists, please let me know! It’s a little confusing.
BuyGreen.com seems to have a rating system that works. It is a flexible system and offers an opportunity to become more educated about certain types of products and their inherent characteristics in terms of their basic product life cycle. It lends itself well to clothing products.
The four main categories are designed to rate a product from ‘cradle to grave’ and represent a product’s ‘basic lifecycle’. The categories used are: source material, manufacturing, use, and disposal. Every product offered on their website uses a rating box, which has all four of these categories represented by an icon. If the product meets or exceeds that category’s requirements, it will be displayed in color. If not, it is there, but in grey.
There is also a number rating for overall green attributes 1 - not so many: 100 - lots of good green attributes.
You can see an example of this on the image [at the top of this post]. Note that this hemp blouse, has a fairly good rating.
eat. blog. be merry!
Monday, November 17, 2008
I’ve always been thoroughly fascinated with this fruit. The texture and cool demeanor of these seeds makes it almost impossible not to want to pinch them between your fingers and find ways to play with them. These complex little gems sometimes remind me of candy and other times of great colored corn kernels.
This ancient Medditeranean and Middle-Eastern fruit was the legend of Greek myths for its health benefits and Chinese medical practitioners recognize the juice for its help in promoting longevity. Western science has been catching up for the past few years with hundreds of studies on the health benefits of the pomegranate. The seeds, also known in more technical nutritional/botanical circles as ‘arils’ are packed with antioxidants.
Nutritional qualities and potential health benefits . . .
While some studies are still underway, pomegranate (or juice of) has been credited with preventing or inhibiting prostate and breast cancer; reducing several key heart disease risk factors; assisting in blood sugar challenges, including diabetes; protection against rheumatoid arthritis; and I have seen it referenced stringently at least once that it helps with erectile dysfunction. While that last one causes a few ponderous and probably silly thoughts, the most fascinating one to me is that it may inhibit the bacteria that causes dental plaque! I spend a lot of extra time with my favorite dental hygienist because I seem to have excessive plaque buildup, and if pomegranate juice can spare me even a few minutes in the chair, I’m paying attention!
Pomegranates are now being touted as one of the hot new “super foods” that both tastes good and is good for you. Nutritional research confirms that pomegranates contain minerals such as calcium, potassium, and iron, plus compounds known as phytonutrients. The powerful antioxidants in the fruit also help slow down that crazy aging process and can destroy almost twice as many free radicals as red wine and seven times as many as green tea. Here’s one benefit that along with the dental thing makes me want to eat these magical fruits every day - some researchers suggest that the crunchy seeds help flush fats from the digestive tract.
What you probably didn’t know about pomeganates . . .
pomegranates are used for natural dyeing
pomegranates are the official logo of many cities in Turkey
the pomegranate is one of the main symbols of Armenia representing fertility, marriage and abundance
the pomegranate is a powerful religious symbol showing up in Jewish, Christian and Islamic traditions
The pomegranate growers in California have a nice website loaded with facts and pomegranate recipes. Honestly, I haven’t cooked with pomegranate in long enough that I can’t pull anything out of the memory banks. I was inspired to write this post because I’ve been seeing a lot about the amazing benefits of this fruit - and it is attached to this season, although it is most certainly NOT a regional food for those of us in the north east!
After reading and researching all this, I’m going to change that. I’ll get back to you with a good Green Diva tested recipe soon.
eat. blog. be merry!
Monday, November 10, 2008
I started Farm Aid in 1985 when family farmers were being forced off their land as a result of federal policy that paved the way for industrial agriculture. This shift replaced independent family farmers with factory farms that have wreaked havoc on our communities, our environment and our public health.
There is broad agreement that our farm and food system needs to be drastically reworked…
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Bamboo is an amazing textile source. I found these bamboo towels that start out in a small, dry poker-chip sized package - add water and they become soft, versatile towels for kitchen, bathroom, travel, whatever! the Go! Towel was my first introduction to the wonders of bamboo fibers. I was and remain very impressed with the towels, but had not, until now tried any clothing.
I’ve been blessed with one of these tubeshirts and I am stunned by the softness and the hang of the fabric! I want one in every color - and maybe 2 in black. The best part may be the little reinforced (by cute polka-dotted satiny fabric) thumb holes.
The wonder of bamboo is that unlike many other synthetic fabrics it will biodegrade. This is unfortunate for me and I live in terror of this shirt biodegrading before I’m done with it. I have a tendency to love some of my non-biodegradable clothing to shreds!
Brook There is based in Maine and all their design and production is done there. Maybe that brisk, fresh northern New England air is infused in this garment. Maybe that is part of what I love about it. Perhaps it brings back the breezy memories of summers in Maine. Okay, enough about me, Brook There is all about local, sustainable and ethical practices and reassure us that no one is abused in the production of their clothing.
Other great sustainable fabrics that they use are organic cotton, soy (which is also very intriguing and I have to try that next!) and organic wool.
There is definitely a freshness and simplicity to the designs and a refreshing newness. These are clothes to feel great about.
eat. blog. be merry!
Friday, October 24, 2008
Our host, Dor had a cornucopia of mostly locally harvested foods. Walking in the kitchen door, I passed a bucket of green tomatoes on the porch. As cooking assignments were doled out, Kay and I were elected to create a green tomato salsa to go with the black-eyed peas and brown rice, hearty vegetable and chicken soup and turnip slaw.
Here’s what we came up with . . .
NOTE: we have a wonderful time preparing these meals and always say, “we should write this down so we can make sure we can share the recipe.” But, we never do. I remember what we used, but may not have all amounts entirely accurate. Luckily, this is one of those recipes that is so easy to adjust and adapt to personal preferences. Have fun with it!
3 - 4 Green Tomatoes (chopped finely)
2 - 3 Peppers (a variety of colors and ‘heats’ also depends on preference, chopped finely)
1/2 medium Red Onion (chopped finely)
2 - 3 Cloves Garlic (crushed)
1 T. Cilantro (chopped)
1 T. Parsley (chopped)
1 Lime (juice)
1/4 C. Ume Plum Vinegar
Salt & Ground Pepper to taste
Agave or Stevia to taste
If it is possible to mix all the ingredients and let it sit for at least a 1/2 hour before serving, all the wonderful flavors marinate and blend nicely.
This salsa was so delicious. Everyone was slopping spoonfuls in their soups. I enjoyed it with my black-eyed peas and rice. I’ll share those recipes as we transcribe our memories from the other night!
Found a nice article that offes some interesting facts about green tomatoes and a host of recipes - We Love Green Tomatoes.
I went home and picked all the green tomatoes clinging to my dying tomato plants! More green tomatoe salsa coming up!
eat. blog. be merry!
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
The top image is the inside of the bowl, and the bottom image is the bottom, which as you can seen was an old Rod Stewart LP!
These beautiful bowls are made from old vinyl albums. This is recycled music at its best - if someone comes up with something we can make from those ancient 8 tracks or soon to be useless cassett tapes, that might trump this. The wonderful mandala designs are painted in acrylic on recycled vinyl records then heat-sculpted to make these awesome bowls. If I could figure out how to heat sculpt these things, I would make use of the 300 albums rotting away in my garage! Of course, this would require me to be a good, creative painter/designer . . . oh well. Thanks to artist Christine Claringbold, untalented folks like me can still get their hands on these great bowls (and other items made from albums as well)!
Could make nice, colorful, interesting and green holiday gift . . . See BuyGreen.com’s sustainability rating and order one!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
There are many huge issues at stake in this particular election, but this is one I personally feel strongly about.
Whatever you do, make sure you exercise your rights and participate in this crazy flawed democracy - vote, and bring a friend or two or a hundred!
eat. blog. be merry!
Friday, October 3, 2008
Under My Skin
I’m still pretty ignorant about the various ingredients that I’m supposed to know about - which ones are okay, which ones are not, which ones are controversial. Heck, I can’t even pronounce most of them, which makes my mental retention of them and their intended uses and/or abuses almost impossible to remember. (perhaps this explains why I’m not a scientist, but a common ordinary, garden variety writer.)
Mod.Skin has a very ‘green diva meg’ friendly (which means a baboon could understand it) page about skin care ingredient knowledge, which I found helpful. They take a very holistic, simple, natural and practical approach and avoid synthetic ingredients while using nutritional-type ingredients to feed our skin. I was particularly validated in my resistance to sunscreens (even having had a wee bout of skin cancer already) and liked their philosophy, which includes staying out of the sun during peak hours and wearing hats rather than slathering on potentially harmful sunscreens on our faces.
My Experience with Mod.Skin
I was offered two products to play with - the Samurai Scrub and the Face Sculpt Serum. As I said, I was cautious and skeptical, but decided to give it a try and if I didn’t break out in the first week, I figured I would go for two and see how things progressed from there. I’ve been using these products for about a month now and I intend to keep going! The scrub has a wonderful texture and consistency. It reminds me of when you are mixing room-temperature butter with sugar. I definitely wanted to taste it - but I restrained myself. I have used the scrub a couple of times and it is very refreshing and not too harsh when used with water even for my wimpy skin. The serum I’ve been using every day and am quite addicted to it. I had been using a wonderful moisturizer made from honey from my local bee lady, but this firms things up and keeps me moist without anything else! And NO rash or breakouts!
There are many other wonderful attributes to this skin care line, including the philosophy of the founder, Raffaele Ruberto.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Over the years, I’ve devised a few meals that make for a great Sunday family feast and also can sustain at least one other meal throughout the week.
My kids are the ultimate test of any recipe’s sustainability in our household, so when I find one that is nutritious, seasonal and more local than not, AND my kids will eat it not only once, but possibly twice (or more if it can be made into other tasty dishes, which this one can), it is worth recording it.
One that has developed into our Fall and Winter favorite is roasted chicken with roasted vegetables . . .
It makes the whole house smell delicious and the leftover meat makes a great chicken salad or if I save the carcass, the base of my infamous healing chicken soup. I’m sure you have your own favorite roast chicken roast leftover recipes (unless of course you are a vegan, in which case you might appreciate the roasted veggie part of this recipe best).
organic, free-ranging, as local as you can get it chicken
whole garlic cloves
butternut squash carrots
(whatever roasting veggies you like best!)
fresh ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350° and put rack in center of oven. Rinse the little bugger inside and out (remember to thank it for its sacrifice while trying not to be too grossed out by the whole scene – my beloved Wayne takes care of this for me – thank God!) and remove neck and other icky bits in the bag. Pat it dry and place in a roasting pan. Rub butter all over the naked beast. Salt & pepper liberally. Surround the chicken with the vegetables (instructions below) not too much so they don’t cook well – don’t worry, you will be using an additional pan for more veggies too. Tent with foil (for first half hour only) and place in oven. The rule of thumb I use is 20 minutes per pound and/or when a thermometer jammed in the thick of the thigh is 175° - 180°.
NOTE: Make sure you un-tent at least a half hour before it is due to be finished and then, baste it pretty regularly to get a nice golden brown, delicious skin.
Wash, scrape and dry everything accordingly. Chop into smaller size chunks – no bigger than about 1-inch square. I usually half or quarter the mushrooms. Peel and nip off the ends of the garlic, but keep them whole so those that have an adverse reaction to these delicious treats can enjoy the flavor as it mixes with the other veggies without too much intestinal trauma. The amounts of which veggies you use is really a personal choice. But, I usually end up with 4 – 6 cups of chopped veggies in a nice large mixing bowl. Pour in some olive oil – enough to cover everything, but not too much. Salt & pepper to taste and mix it all up. Put some around and even in the chicken and get an additional pan (large glass baking pan works for me) and arrange them in almost a single layer if possible. Spray it with olive oil spray and bake along side or in rack beneath the chicken.
NOTE: Don’t leave extra veggie pan in oven for much more than 1 hour as they can get too over cooked. We usually serve this with a brown rice pilaf.
WARNING: there is never enough veggies! So, if you are able to, make another pan of them.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Jen and I would like to invite our green diva friends to jump into the blogsphere here with us. Because we still hear from so many of you and you all have such great ideas, we want to use this blog as a forum to create an ongoing conversation about how we can live the low-stress green lifestyle and have fun together doing it.
We are taking a NO-stress approach and hope you will jump in and let us know how you are, what you are up to and help us get this conversation going. Write about any aspect of sustainable or green living - and what area of our lives is NOT touched by this crazy, conscious way of being?
Be a Green Diva guest blogger, and blog about:
- food (recipes, your favorite farm market, growing it, sustainable agriculture issues, etc.)
- family (whatever shape it takes - kids both young and everlasting)
- eco-style in general
- sustainable & socially responsible business
- alternative energy
- buying local
- getting creative
- cool fuels (if you understand biodiesel, please share more with us!)
- new transportation (hybrids, electric, cars)
- musings on simply living
- politics (yes, let's not be shy about this)
Our traffic is increasing and we encourage the use of social networking media. If we get this thing cranking, we can start selling serious advertising and everyone will get a piece of that pie
Blog posts should be between 300 - 500 words. Try to include relevant links. Send one JPEG image to go with your blog. Let us know how you want your name to appear and if you want your email or website to be listed in your signature.
Write me @ email@example.com if you are interested in being a Green Diva blogger.
Eat. Blog. Be Merry!
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Farmy News . . .
Check out Farm Aid 2008!
Didn't get there this year. If you didn't either, we can watch it any time from our computers anytime!
Organic Valley Whips it Up
Organic Valley offers tubs of their awesome whipped butter. Yum! Met my local Organic Valley farmers last year - I love their butter. Who are your regional Organic Valley Farmers?
The Earth Times
News Close to Home - Mine Anyway . . .
Corzine May be First to Install Offshore Wind Turbines
The gov is ready to launch a pilot to install dozens of turbines 'down the shore'.
International Green News. . .
What do Boeing, Virgin, UOP Honeywell, The World Wildlife Fund and the NRDC all have in common?
These and other powerhouse organizations form a sustainable aviation fuel user group.
Chinese officials push for more sustainable manufacturing
News from Paris is that Japanese textile manufacturers are benefiting from the eco-fashion boom
Eat. Blog. Be Merry!
Watching an 84 year old Pete Seeger on stage singing with passion alongside Arlo Guthrie and his son-in-law or standing in the cold protesting the war, or making maple syrup at his home in the woods of NY state, or singing with a classroom of children, or cleaning up the river . . . All of it beautiful. All of it incredibly inspiring. All of it makes me feel like I should get busy - after all I’m already nearly halfway to his age. I’ve got a lot of catching up to do!
There is a movement afoot to nominate this peaceful singing activist for a Nobel Peace Prize. I would love to see his life be illuminated for more people to see how powerful one person can be without big money or glamour to spin.
You can sign the petition to nomiate Pete Seeger for a Nobel Peace Prize on NobelPrize4Pete.org and learn more about the tremendous support behind this beautiful idea.
Eat. Blog. Be Merry!
What about standards for all the wonderful eco-style stuff? What about clothing manufacturing, which by the way is traditionally a pretty harsh industry on the environment? What about other textile products, great green designed kitchen gadgets, and what about all those awesome accessories - green bags/purses, belts, jewelry, shoes!?!
I found one promising standard system . . . BuyGreen.com seems to have a rating system that works. It is a flexible system and offers an opportunity to become more educated about certain types of products and their inherent characteristics in terms of their basic product life cycle. It also seems to lend itself well across a very diverse range of products from clothing, to toys and yes, accessories! They even offer office products.
The four main categories are designed to rate a product from ‘cradle to grave’ and represent a product’s ‘basic lifecycle’. The categories used are: source material, manufacturing, use, and disposal. Every product offered on their website uses a rating box, which has all four of these categories represented by an icon. If the product meets or exceeds that categories requirements, it will be displayed in color. If not, it is there, but in grey.
There is also a number rating for overall green attributes 1 - not so many: 100 - lots of good green attributes.
You can see an example of this on the image at the top of this post. Note that this hemp blouse has a fairly good rating. The ‘use’ icon is not highlighted. Not really sure what that is about exactly. But, if you want to learn more, you can go to their extremely informative standards page and understand what their rationale is.
I’ve seen some very rudimentary attempts to rate products, but this one is by far the most detailed and perhaps most useful one I’ve come across. Go BuyGreen.com!
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Perhaps it is because I’m at an age or a place in my life where I am less self-conscious and hate to put on anything that makes me feel like I should sit up straight, suck in the gut or be careful not to raise my arms or make any sudden twists. I also am someone who hates to have stiff, scratchy, hard or inflexible clothing restricting me. I love soft, mobile clothes that really make you forget you are wearing them.
Bernardo Fashions has developed a sustainable clothing line, called Bernardo Green, which is an eco-friendly suede collection made of biodegradable materials. One of the things Bernardo Fashion is known for is being the innovator of washable suede. Bernardo sticks primarily to outerwear.
I LOVE this jacket. It is very similar to one I lost about 12 years ago and have been mourning ever since. It is soft, comfortable, flexible and features a good cut and great details.
The tags are not only biodegradable and made of recycled materials, but are embedded with poppy seeds! Also, of importance is the tracking ‘code’ used to trace the origins and manufacturing process involved in producing the garment.
All bad Spam jokes aside, it was interesting to learn about how the suede fabric was produced in the tannery in Slovenia and what makes it Eco-Vel washable material. This jacket has burned a bit of carbon in travel as the materials started in the Hormel plant in Minnesota, went to Slovenia for eco-tanning (?), then off to China for production, and finally back to US for distribution (Nordstrom’s is one retail outlet). I know it helps keep the cost down, but there’s got to be a better way.
However, all that written, I have to give them credit for being willing to open up their entire manufacturing chain. While it isn’t perfect, Bernardo Green’s efforts are a big improvement on an industry that needs to start somewhere to move towards more sustainable practices. Go Bernardo.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I was so excited to get my ‘Quantum Hood’ midweight outer layer from New Zealand. No. That is not a picture of me in the coveted hoodie. I’m not quite as intense (or young) as this svelte model here.
I couldn’t wait to meet my little merino friends who endured shearing and I suppose quite a breeze for a little while for the sake of this amazing hoodie. It was remarkably ‘high-tech’ and smooth - not what you would expect when you see the farm and pictures of the family who runs it and of course the woolly beasts themselves.
Meet my sheep!
My groovy sweatshirt came from a farm called Irishman Creek Station in South Island, New Zealand. This of course is utterly perfect as I am of Scots/Irish decent and if you read about this farm and the family that started it, you’ll see.
I was nervous because I am HIGHLY allergic to wool - IN ANY FORM. But, they convinced me their merino was amazing and smooth and non-irritating. I went with an outer layer just in case. I wore it with a short sleeved t-shirt underneath for a day and it was slightly irritating, but not so much that I took it off, which is saying a lot. Usually, I have to remove it immediately. The shape of it, the hardware, the awesome thumb-hook holes make this a very stylish and high-tech version of the good ole hoodie that after all these years is still a favorite and staple in my comfort clothing collection. I’m not ready for merino socks or undershirts yet, but for anyone that is NOT highly allergic, I am jealous. Check them out!
“Baa-ram-ewe, baa-ram-ewe.To your breed, your fleece, your clan be true.
Sheep be true. Baa-ram-ewe” Sheep, Babe (1995)
Friday, September 5, 2008
Seinfeld of the Future . . . How We Might Laugh About Global Warming
Sara Palin - Animal, Mineral, Viking, VP?
and Just a Heartattack Away from the Oval Office!
We've heard about her hard-line stances on . . . well on most things (including abortion, although as John Stewart reported, she did say regarding her daughter's decision, that it was "her choice," which does seem a bit contradictory). Guess we know where she stands on animal rights . . . or at least the fox or wolf or whatever is around her neck does!
U-Pick a Peck of Pickled Peppers . . .
Wonderful U-Pick farm in New Mexico offers alternative way to get a variety of vegetables and fruits extra fresh. Their specialty is peppers.
Eat. Blog. Be Merry!
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Of the few speeches I've watched over the last three nights, I've been thrilled to hear every single headliner talk about the importance of taking action to make significant change in our energy policies. Go green is apparently a popular theme this year . . .
This is amazing progress. Only 4 years ago, I don't remember global warming, alternative energy, or greener living being such a strong and wide plank in any one's platform. Of course, I go back 20-something years ago and think about how a small community of folks in the Berkshires spoke as passionately as the politicians today are, only our groups were smaller (like 20 people) and there were no TV cameras or pundits to trash or praise our rally cries.
The convention producers have even gone green and are using biodegradable/bioplastic disposable cutlery and plates, which of course require trash guards to help people understand what is compost and what is old fashioned garbage. They also required all their food-service vendors to buy at least 70% locally produced and organic food. This my friends is getting serious.
While clearly some of it is 'green-stumping' (I just made that up) and pandering to the celeb-status popularity of 'going green', that is okay. Whatever the reasons or motives are, it will make things happen.
There are a lot of utopian goals being charged from the podium. Let's get busy making at least some percentage of it real.
Boy, Al Gore must feel somewhat validated, if not a little bitter about being so ahead of his time, huh?
Eat. Blog. Be Merry!
(and have a great holiday weekend)
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Plum Creek Mercantile is on to something . . . I am someone who not only packs my own lunch for work everyday, but also still makes lunch (most days) for my remaining teenage daughter who is now a sophomore in high school. I have always regretted the many plastic bags I have used to get my three daughters through school. While I have tried various reusable containers, honestly . . . most of them disappeared, didn’t get into the dish washing cycle fast enough, or were just plain uncool and the kids wouldn’t use them. I’ve tried washing plastic baggies, but the sandwich ones just don’t wash well. ick. I’ve recently purchased some plastic baggies made from recycled plastic and bioplastic. better. But, I’m always looking for new items to contain and carry nutritious food for myself and my not-so-wee ones (anymore).
I’m sure there are other bags like these out there, but honestly, I haven’t run into them yet. The Feed Bags, for lunches, etc. are great for dry goods and sandwiches. They are 100% cotton and are washable. phew. They have a good velcro-style opening, and they seem strong enough to hold the food, but easy enough for little hands to open.
Bulk Food Bags
Plum Creek Mercantile’s answer to paper or plastic bags to cart bulk foods from your favorite health food store, grocery store or food coop is well thought out. Clearly the designer of this Bulk Food Bag is someone who has experience buying grains, beans, nuts and other dry goods in bulk and has wrestled with guessing the right amount, only to get home and have just a cup or so extra. ugh. These wonderful 100% cotton (some are organic cotton!) are sized to hold the proper amount for a gallon jar or quart jar. The clear window helps you see what you’ve got and the white ‘label’ area is where you can put the bin #, price or whatever is necessary for pricing at your store.
These handy dandy items are sold in a little kit - 1 large bag, 1 small bag and a grease pen for $18. And of course, they are washable. Not bad . . . The Feed Sacks are sold in a kit of 2 large bags, 2 small bags for $14.
I’m already online ordering more as I write this!
Friday, August 22, 2008
Matt Damon, Julia Roberts and Halle Berry Share Eco-Parenting Ideology
These high-profile actors talk about how they are bringing up baby green.
What's the Stir with Gwyneth Paltrow and Fur?
Seems this animal-rights activist is upsetting other animal-rights activists by being photographed for a new fur-line boots & bags from Italian company Tod's.
Various Shades of Green News . . .
Lady of Liberty Breaks Wind
Well, sort of . . . Mayor Bloomberg announced some aggressive green initiatives regarding renewable/alternative energy for New York. Some think he's tilting @ windmills, but as it turns out the Statue of Liberty already uses energy from the wind to power her light!
New York Times
Could 18th Century Predictions about Food Shortages be Happening?
In 1798, Thomas Robert Malthus famously predicted that we would run out of food . . . right about now. Despite 200 years of arguments that he didn't anticipate our technological advances, could he be right?
The Poop on Cat Litter
More than you want to know about why cat litter is a bigger environmental and health issue than you might think!
San Francisco Chronicle
Friday, August 15, 2008
Celebrities Going Green . . .
Paris Gets Green by Going Pink?
Paris decides to try riding a bicycle rather than drive - the bicycle is pink, of course.
Funniest Celebrity Green Video Clips
Watch Steven Colbert & Jon Stewart Riffs @ the 'Green Emmys'; the funny/scary janitor/environmental police on 'Scrubs, My Inconvenient Truth' episode; CBS Late Night with David Letterman's 'Chris & Jerry's Tips for Green Living'; and of course other fun stuff.
Global Green News . . .
Liberia: The World's First Sustainable Biomass Fueled Economy?
The development of a 35 megawatt (MW) biomass-fueled power plant to serve Monrovia, may just put Liberia on the global map as the first biomass-fueled economy.
Daily Observer (LiberianObserver.com)
Prince Charles' anti-Genetically Modified food Rant Could Hinder His Plans to Distribute Organic Food in India.
Bonny Prince Charles takes heat for his outspoken stance against genetically modified foods. Go PC!
Times of India
Various Shades of Green News . . .
Organic Cucumber Vodka?!?
No self-respecting alcoholic would even consider messing up vodka with vegetables, but I suppose there are a lot of teetotalers that will enjoy it.
TimeOut - Chicago
Oil Billionaire Becomes Advocate for Renewable Energy
Oilman and author T. Boone Pickens talks about how he plans to change the energy industry.
Wall Street Journal
Organic Leaders Meet with USDA to Discuss Farm Bill
The meeting, organized by the Organic Trade Association will discuss the implementation of the latest Farm Bill - pay attention folks, we need to learn about this now so we can have a voice in the next one!
Natural Products Insider
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Bottles 2 Bags
Green Shoulder/Side Laptop Bag
I really do like almost all the products I get samples of, but occasionally I get one that exceeds my expectations. This bag is one of them.
I'm not sure what I expected exactly, but from the image, I thought I would get a stiff, green shoulder/side bag that's greatest quality would be that it is made from recycled plastic bottles (rPET).
As is often the case, a lot happens (at least in my world, no doubt for the rest of the world too) between the initial communications about a review and a sample being sent out and the actual receiving of the sample. That and the fact that my memory is a little shifty sometimes creates a really fun package opening celebration. My family will ask, "Mom, what is it?" And I honestly, usually don't know, although if I look carefully at most labels, I can figure it out, but I restrain myself, because I love the mystery of not knowing as I marvel at some of the great and not-so-great green packaging people are coming up with these days.
Okay, that was a long setup, sorry . . . when this package came in yesterday, I pretended not to know what it was to enhance the thrill a bit, but when I opened up the recycled paper package, my daughter and I both squealed with delight. First of all the green color on this bag is much better in person. When I liberated it from the packaging, I was struck by how surprisingly soft and pliable the fabric was.
The general design of the bag - lines, pockets, magnet snaps, nice looking zipper tags - was quite thoughtful and not as boring as it could be. I mean, it is a computer side bag, how exciting can this be?
The lining is even softer and brighter in color than the exterior fabric.
My computer seems quite happy in there today, all snug in the padded section.
About rPET Fabrics and Why We Might Care
Act2 GreenSmart's website is a fairly good resource for information on the process of recycling plastic bottles into fabrics (and other products for that matter). There is an easy-to-follow section about the process of creating rPET fabric particularly as it relates to the fabric they are using, and they also have an informative glossary of sustainable sourcing/manufacturing terms and useful information.
A couple of things I learned from the Act2 GreenSmart website:
- PET/PETE is Polyethylene terephthalate - recycle symbol #1
- 230 bottles per person go to landfill per year (this adds up folks, according to this site they quantify it by giving us the stat that it is equivalent to filling up the Rose Bowl Stadium in California with crushed plastic bottles every two weeks!)
- These bottles are an environmental disaster - petroleum-based plastic that does NOT decompose
- Same chemical composition as polyester - so, same benefits that polyester offers, but from recycled source
- Each yard of finished fabric uses about 18—16 oz. bottles and saved 10,000 BTUs from manufacturing—enough power to light a 17 watt compact fluorescent light for 15 hours
Act2 GreenSmart's Bottles 2 Bags are made from certified 100% post-consumer PET water and soda bottles.
The Act2 GreenSmart website also has some stats on the homepage regarding the global benefits of their products based:
16 oz. PET Bottles Consumed - 431,211
BTUs Saved - 288 million (equivalent power in laptop hours - 3.3 million)
While the price point is a little high @ $69.99 (as listed on online purchasing page), there are many ways to rationalize and justify the slightly elevated cost of using materials that will help reduce some of the landfill mess and use of new petroleum-based products.
They have a range of other products well worth considering as well.
Friday, August 8, 2008
The goal is to offer a cross-section of interesting/unusual 'green' or 'sustainable living' stories that hit the news throughout the week - news from various sources around the globe (hence the sprouting globe icon above).
Please feel free to send ideas to us. We won't post entire stories, but will post headlines, brief description, source and a link.
Hope you like it!
Let There be Life: Games go Organic
Two electronic games that are appealing to the push for 'green'
Kangaroo Farming Would Cut Greenhouse Gases: Study
A pretty radical idea - to consider farming kangaroo for meat rather than sheep and cattle (at least for most Americans)
Dutch Town Tests 'Air-Purifying' Concrete
Boy, we could use some of that stuff here in northern New Jersey!
Agence France Press (AFP)
Mel Walsh: A Geezer's Guide to Green Living
Loved the title and the concept, but hopefully I'm not there yet