Thursday, August 28, 2008

Green, Red, White & Blue

No weekender this week. Sorry folks. It's a holiday weekend. You're stuck with a few witty (or not) words from GD Meg.

I have been watching some of the Democratic National Convention every night this week and of course, every time I turn on my computer there is an unavoidable stream of news about this unity love fest.

Most people know, I was a Hillary gal, but it NEVER occurred to me to NOT vote for Obama. This is such a bizarre thought pattern to me. Anyway, I think Hillary and Hubby Bill did an awesome job. But, frankly, everyone I've seen seems to be on their 'A' game. I've only really seen a few of the hundreds of speakers, but I was quite impressed with Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana. He was very animated in his pitch about why we need to break our addiction to oil and how vitally important it is that we develop alternative energy sources.

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)

GD Meg

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Sustainable Alternative to Plastic Baggies for Lunches this School Season

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!

GD Meg

Friday, August 22, 2008

Week-Ender: Sustainable News Highlights

Celebs Going Green . . .

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?
Scientific American

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

GD Meg

Friday, August 15, 2008

Week-Ender: Sustainable Living News Highlights

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 (

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 - Bright Green Laptop Bag Made from Recycled Bottles

Green Diva Product Review
Act2 GreenSmart
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.

GD Meg

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Week-Ender: Sustainable Living News Roundup

I'm going to try and do these every week . . . we'll see how it goes . . .

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

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sustainable Summer Picnic-Ware

Product Review

I’ve posted here about Wheatware, a company that makes biodegradable plastic alternative products, including disposable flatware, but Verterra’s got the disposable plate, bowl and platter thing down!

I brought some samples of Verterra’s thoroughly sustainable and thoughtfully produced plates and bowls to my office to give them a rough test drive. I’m a salad girl and I love to use a lot of dressing and mix up all kinds of mushy stuff with my green mess, so this seemed to be a perfect way to see how these products held up.

These simple, but amazing plates are like a sustainable fantasy product - ethically sourced, fair-trade made, 100% compostable, non-toxic, bleach-free, non-leaching, made from 100% renewable plant materials, microwavable AND dishwasher safe, reusable and made by wonderful green pixies . . . okay, that last one was me getting carried away. But wait! There’s more!

Seriously, after making an effort to abuse these plates and bowls, I have to say, there is absolutely nothing negative I can report. They held up well with moisture - no getting soggy or absorbing stuff you don’t necessarily want to taste next time you use the plate. They are generally attractive, although not necessarily uniform and consistent in color, which I happen to appreciate so that doesn’t count as a negative in my check list, but perhaps in someone els’s. They wash quite easily, although I’ve only washed each piece once so far. Not really sure at what point they begin the biodegrading process, but I’ll keep you posted. I'm told you can actually cook up to 350 degrees for up to 45 minutes! I haven't tried this yet (don't try this at home - kind of thing).

Did I mention these plates are made from leaves? Leaves that have fallen to the ground and would otherwise be burned or disposed of! No trees are harmed in the process of manufacturing these plates. A process of steaming, high-pressure spraying and UV sterilizing (while recapturing at least 80% of the water), makes this happen almost by magic without the use of glues or other toxic binders and chemical varnishes, etc.

Aside from the extremely ethical eco-production, these make stylish sustainable summer sustenance serving stuff. How about that for alliteration!

Eat. Blog. Be Merry!

GD Meg