Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sure I'll defend my family, country, and...food?!?

The book "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollen truly is a must read for anyone who eats while living in the United States. Unlike "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Saffron Foer, there are no gory scenes or disgusting details (more on "Eating Animals" in a future post), but a few simple ideas that would help our population learn to balance what to eat, how to eat it, and with whom. The tagline, and major theme of the book is simple: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

What a novel concept! Notice it doesn't say "don't eat meat" or "become a farmer" or even "deprive yourself", it simply expands upon three reasonable, intuitive, and easy to follow rules. The first, "Eat food" sounds simple enough. After all, unless you're like my 11 month old son who is willing to eat paper, food is the only thing we DO eat. Except that's not true. Not according to the expanded (and truthfully realistic) definition Pollen describes. My favorite of his rules regarding eat food, are to not eat anything that has more than five ingredients in it, and don't eat anything with an ingredient you can't recognize. This doesn't mean you have to know specifically what a turnip looks like before you can consume it, it means if the ingredient sounds more like it was created in a lab than in a field, skip it. Some people may feel like this limits their diets, but in fact, it truly expands our diets, and our palates, by reintroducing a great number of foods that have fallen out of popularity in favor of "food science" created concoctions. This way of eating may even be a bit pricier (a pound of apples does in fact cost more than a pound of refined white sugar), but the environmental, physical, and societal implications save much more than money in the long run.

Some might argue that we need to be able to have convenience foods because of our fast paced society, and that plays directly into the "not too much" category. Pollen spends a good amount of time discussing our societal problems with food. And they are problems. The book explains that a majority of Americans consume well over 20% of their calories in the car. To be honest, I don't even know how that is possible, but I suppose the Starbucks' white mocha I had on my way to Whole Foods had double the amount of calories as my entire breakfast. He writes about the "French paradox" and how it really isn't a paradox at all. The French culture appreciates food. Dinner isn't consumed as quickly as humanly possible. TV isn't on in the background, and children eat with their parents. Dinner is an affair. A daily event. In our culture, that is the way it is supposed to be, children learning social norms, manners, and the art of conversation at the dinner table, teh family gathering for a beautiful meal. More often than not though, this isn't what we do, or if it is, we consume our dinner's so quickly there is no way to know when we are full. Pollen writes of a poll where people were asked how they know when they are done with their meals. The majority of French responders said "when I feel full" where as the majority of Americans said "when my food is gone." This is because it takes a full 20 minutes for fullness to register. If you've finished your entire meal in 10, how will you know you're full until you've eaten past that point already? Pollen encourages us to eat at a table (and "no, a desk is not a table"), and to eat thoughtfully and slowly. By eating food rather than commodities, we will be more able to eat slowly and appreciate the different tastes and how the food was prepared.

Finally, "mostly plants" may seem like a call for vegetarianism, but it is quite the opposite. He encourages us to eat meat, but the right types of meat. Instead of our meals comprising of 70% meat, Pollen says to, in the words of Jefferson "make meat a condiment to the rest of your meal". Pollen also calls us to know what we are purchasing, and when possible, purchase meat that is not factory farmed. Alongside of the less meat argument is the mostly plants argument. It is from different plants that we actually gain the most vitamins, nutrients (minor and macro as it turns out), and minerals from. If we eat too narrow of a diet, we will become deficient in many areas of our health. This can cause problems from feeling sluggish, to actual bone density loss.

After reading this book, I handed it over to my father, so he can read the information. It is a quick read, available in paperback so it is not too expensive, and well worth the hour or two that it takes to finish. I highly recommend this book to everyone. If the strategies listed are implimented, the reader will likely lose weight, become healthier, and enjoy dinner more. Off to read "Omnivore's Dilemma" next....

Monday, March 29, 2010

Saving the planet while reducing clutter? yes please!

I've always been distrustful of technology. I am like an old person in that way - it takes me a long time to warm up to the newest ideas, and even longer to start using them, even after they've been mainstream. I still don't use twitter (nor have I ever checked it out), despite the fact that my Dad mastered it a full year ago. My digital pictures are backed up more times, than as Phil says "Career Education Corporation's entire system of servers". I literally downloaded them to my desktop, uploaded them to shutterfly, printed many of them into paper copies, have started compiling them onto an external hard drive, and save them on the memory cards themselves. I just buy a new memory card rather than delete the old pictures. I still don't feel completely comfortable that they won't be lost, but at some point it stops being a rational system and starts becoming an obsession.

That is why, when Phil suggested we go look at the Sony e-reader I was very hesitant. I love going to book stores and just browsing. I probably read a book every week when I have the time, and at a minimum a book every month during times like Christmas. I don't want to lose the information in my books and more often than not, read non-fiction. Being a history major, I have come to view non-fiction books as an excellent resource to understand our world. In much the same way I don't want to lose my digital photographs, having books in a digital format seems like risky business.

There's also the issue of sorting my books. When I have them in print, I can organize them by subject and look over my collection to easily find a book I want to reference or re read. Because I consider books to be reference materials, I generally mark any sections I deem particularly important. Despite the vast number of books that I have, I can easily find most of the passages I'm looking for within 15 minutes.

Which brings me to the e-reader. Why would I want one of these crazy new machines? I am terrified of the technology, and it is hardly mainstream yet, which means all of the kinks have not been worked out at all. BUT a little voice inside my head kept reminding me that an e-reader would be far more eco friendly. No trees would need to be chopped down. I would have more space and less book clutter. I could still organize my books by section in my digital library and because the digital library exists not only on my computer but in cyberspace, it would be protected should my computer crash. The e-reader even has ways to bookmark passages that I wish to reference later.

I realized, that at a conservative estimate, if I read 14 books a year, each having approximately 250 pages, I would be using 3500 pieces of paper PER year, and that doesn't include the covers, title pages, or tables of contents. So in an effort to be slightly more eco friendly I allowed him to convince me, despite having some serious reservations.

I have only had the ereader for the weekend. We bought it last Thursday and Friday I bought my first book ("Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollen), and I have already torn through 150 pages of that book, as well as 50 pages of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". I absolutely love it. In one of my college courses I had learned that reading information on your computer versus in print reduces comprehension by 30%. I feared that would be the case with the e-reader, but because it is made to actually look like the page of the book, I have not experienced that yet, and seriously doubt that I will. It is very compact so I can actually bring my reading with me to a great number of places that I would have hesitated to do so before, due to size. The downloading is quick, easy, and painless. I feel quite spoiled that I get to save the environment by owning such a quaint little device.

Who knew being eco friendly would be so wonderful??

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hotslings - the carrier of the week

This wasn't my first carrier, that honor goes to "The Ultimate Baby Wrap" stretchy wrap, but this was my first carrier I used all the time. A "Hotsling" is a pouch style carrier, meaning you fold the fabric into a pouch the baby will sit in, and it slings across your shoulder. There are some definite issues with a one shouldered baby carrier - mainly that it only distributes the baby's weight on which ever shoulder you have slung it across. There is also the issue that this carrier is not good for babies between four and seven months because there is no convenient way to carry them. It is also a front or hip carrier, so chores such as cooking are not recommended, because the baby cannot sit safely on your back. It is a sized carrier, so it isn't easily swapped between two different sized parents, meaning a family needs to purchase two if both parents plan to babywear. Finally, whichever shoulder has the sling across it, is generally constricted, so while you may have two free hands, you don't necessarily have two free arms.

All of that being said, I would recommend this sling to any new mom who was looking for a good, easy carrier to use. It is one piece of fabric, so you just fold, slip it on, put baby in and go. There's no wrapping, knots, or tying involved. It's incredibly compact so it easily fits into any diaper bag or can remain in the car inconspicuously. Newborns can be held in a cradle carry, which is the position where they are laying down horizontally across mama's chest (or papa's depending on who is wearing the carrier). Supposedly moms can nurse in it, which I never tried, but I can believe it would work well. It is quality made, so the fabric doesn't pull as the baby grows. Around 3 or 4 months, the baby can sit kangaroo style, where they are sitting up in the cradle position and able to look out and hide in mom's chest. At about 6 or 7 months, the baby will be able to sit in a hip side carry, where the carrier holds the baby on mom or dad's hip. This is convenient for babies who are on the go and wanting to be picked up and put down frequently, or for a parent who is grocery shopping. The sling allows plenty of arm movement, despite one of the shoulders being restricted, so shopping, running errands, and visiting people is a breeze. Because the baby is so close to the parent, it thwarts the efforts of random strangers who reach out to touch the baby (hand sanitizer please!), and it comes in plenty of different colors.

I've spoken with a lot of different moms and many of them find this carrier to be too complex. It honestly isn't, but it's intimidating LOOKING. If the carrier comes with a DVD (as hotslings does), I recommend watching it, if not, youtube has many videos that instruct how to use the pouch style carriers. It doesn't matter if you have a "Peanut Shell", "Amy Coe", or "Hotslings" brand - the videos are interchangeable because it is in the same category of sling. I highly recommend practicing around the house until you get the hang of any carrier. Put the baby in the pouch over the couch or bed, so you don't risk dropping him/her on the floor. Then, walk around for a bit, see how it feels. Check out the Baby Wearer Forums where you can see videos, post pictures, and ask for advice if you still need help. Some mom's claim their baby hates the sling, and while that is sometimes true, it's not true nearly as often as many moms claim. Baby's don't like anything new, but if you keep moving and soothing your baby, within a few minutes he or she will love the sling. It has the additional benefit of swaddling the baby tightly because it is fitted.

In the world of slings, this one is quite affordable running about $50 (many other types of slings are upwards of $100-200 for a quality, lasting carrier). It is definitely possible to find a used one for even cheaper.

I distinctly remember when James was about six or seven weeks old. We had just bought the Hotsling, and I was just getting the hang of it. I was doing laundry as dinner was cooking, and baby was sleeping peacefully in the sling. At the time, we hadn't realized he was allergic to dairy, so it was hard to get him to sleep peacefully without a lot of screaming. As I folded the laundry, I remember thinking "wow, I'm getting the hang of this 'mom thing' a little bit. With this sling, I can actually do the bare minimum housework i need to do without sacrificing my baby's comfort or happiness" - and that was a big deal to me. My baby never had to sit alone in a swing while I cleaned because he was securely sleeping in my pouch carrier (of course, we definitely allowed him time in the swing - all things in balance). I did have to be careful as to what cleaners I sprayed because with him up against my body, any toxic cleaners would inevitably be within his breathing range. That of course led to two observations on my part:
1. Cleaning wipes such as clorox, windex, or murphy's oil soap, etc. are wonderful inventions.
2. Going green and getting rid of toxic cleaners is even more wonderful. Not only does one avoid the spray as with the wipes, but the fumes as well. Just one more reason to be a Hippie Earth Mama.

Basically, i would say that if you can get two baby carriers, this would definitely be one of the two I would recommend. There are solutions to almost every problem, and many resources to help people learn to use the sling while keeping baby comfy!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Turn those Lenten Fridays into Meatless Mondays!

Lent is a time of year, where many Christians observe 40 days of strict guidelines. For many, it is a time of year to forego something particularly significant, or add a new habit that will last at least the 40 days. Starting Ash Wednesday, and every Friday until Easter, those observing Lent give up meat. It used to be that the entire 40 days were meat free, but just as the fasting for the 40 days was amended, this period of no meat turned into meatless Fridays.

As I think of this no meat time, it occurs to me, that one of the challenges of going meatless, is finding healthy, non repetitive vegetarian recipes. But yet, if one picks up a copy of "Cooking Light" a magazine full of relatively healthy recipes, or reads "In Defense of Food" or "Eating Animals", if one turns on the T.V. and watches several interviews, or listens to the latest diatery guidelines, that person will find that having at least one meatless day per week is the newest suggestion. Perhaps it is a fad, just as the low carb craze or sugar free twinkies was, but I'm disinclined to believe so. Our anscestors never had the access to meat we have, and even our closest older relatives didn't require pounds of meat per meal. We have more access to meat than any other group of humans in history (even than others in some parts of the world), yet we have the highest rate of diseases.

Can meat be blamed for all of societies problems? I believe it would be silly to suggest that. I do, however, believe that choosing a day of the week - "meatless Mondays" is the typical suggestion, to cut meat out of all meals, may be a very wise decision. First and foremost, it forces us to look beyond the scope of steak, baked chicken, and pork chops. It requires a type of cooking that can't be microwaved, and a certain level of knowledge of how to spice dishes up with herbs, seasonings, and citruses. It also significantly helps our wallets. If a family of four, spends $10 for the chicken breasts that are picked up for dinner, not buying those chicken breasts 52 times per year adds up to $520 savings. Some families spend more and some less, but the point is that no matter how much your family spends, there will be some savings involved. Meatless meals can also be high in the same proteins and nutrients that meals that include meat have. For example, combining rice with beans and guacamole, in some type of vegetarian, Mexican inspired dish, would provide the same amount of protien(if not more), healthy fat, and vitamins as a dish with meat.

Of course, if we decide going meatless one night per week means having a cheese pizza every Monday, then the health benefits are fewer, but the monetary value remains the same. It also will contribute to the health of the soil, animals, and plants that are involved in the industry by sending a clear message that meat that has been pumped with hormones, soil that has been fertilized with only 3 elements versus the wide variety necessary, and plants being under utilized to make room for more soy and corn are not what we need or want. We need and want to be able to choose from a wide selection of healthy foods at the supermarket. If every family gave up meat for one day a week, I am fairly confident (though blindly guessing) that the impact of lost revenue would wake the industrial farming industry up. It may send a clear message that we are going back to our roots, and eating the way we know we should be, verus the way they have demanded of us. And when that message gets sent, and the industry cleans up, we'll keep our Meatless Mondays, because we will have built such a wonderful library of vegetarian choices, but we will also invest back into the meat trade, choosing our 6 other dinners every week based on how honestly and healthfully our meat is raised.

So, I challenge you, can you turn your Lenten meatless Friday into a Meatless Monday? What can and will you learn from doing so? And how much better do your pants fit now??

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Let me begin this post acknowledging that breastfeeding is not for everyone. Some women have medical problems that prohibit breastfeeding, others have emotional issues that prevent them from having a successful time breastfeeding. Still others are just uncomfortable with it, and that is absolutely fine - a happy mom, lovingly feeding her baby a bottle is far more emotionally important than a mom who is sending uncomfortable and unhappy signals while breastfeeding. So, please, upon reading this, realize I am not passing judgement on those who have chosen not to or cannot breastfeed - this is purely a post based on my point of view as a mother who has chosen to breastfeed for the first year.

Breastfeeding is one of those things that is viewed as uncomfortable in our society. A woman nursing in public, depending on where she lives, can be arrested for indecent exposure. Many people think nothing of sending dirty looks towards a mother who has chosen to feed her child while out and about. Other mothers get comments from their in laws, families of origin, or friends about "why don't you just use formula, it would be easier". In a society where the women on the cover of "Maxim" or the swim suit edition of "Sports Illustrated" pose in far more revealing ways, this absolutely confounds me. Surely, in a society where Mardi Gras is most famous for the beads given to topless women, it can't feel all that offensive to see a woman nursing in public.

It seems to me that nursing in public certainly takes some common sense from everyone involved. The mother ought to be aware of her surroundings. If she is in the middle of a restaurant, or perhaps at a place such as a baseball game, it would probably be prudent to use a nursing cover. However, if she is at a mom's only group, or her pediatrician's office, it would probably be okay to bare all if she desires. The people around her ought to also consider the circumstances. If a woman has a nursing cover on, and she is feeding her child - there is no need for dirty looks - does that person honestly prefer there be a screaming, and starving baby in the venue? Or if a mom is nursing in the back of her car, and a pedestrian peers into the car, there is no need to be offended - that pedestrian chose to look in the car.

But nursing in public isn't the only reason that people should be more comfortable with breastfeeding. For a society that is so largely image based, people neglect to remember that for some women, breastfeeding actually helps them lose weight because of the calories required to keep up a milk supply. A woman who nurses her child is actually less at risk for developing breast cancer than a mother who never has. Considering the expodential rate of cancers in our society - that seems to me to be reason enough to give it a try. While bonding with the baby is one of the perks, it a minor one because formula fed babies bond with their mothers just as well, but in different ways. It is also much easier in the first several months to be able to nurse the baby in the middle of the night than to have to make a bottle. Breastfeeding is virtually free compared to the costs of formula, bottles, and other accessories. The baby gets even more benefits - all of the immunities and antibodies that the mother's system creates gets passed along to the child. The hungry baby never has to wait for his meal or for a bottle to be the right temperature.

Mothers choose to nurse for different lengths of time. For some, the first week is enough, others stop at the 3, 6, 9, or 12 month mark or anywhere in between. Still others choose to do what is called "extended breast feeding" which is breastfeeding past the first year. Some mother's can take this to an extreme, while others go a little over a year to all the weaning period to be mutually desired by mom and baby. As a matter of fact, in many other countries, it is the cultural norm to breastfeed for at least two years, most probably because those cultures do not have very good formulas for, well, formula.

Breastfeeding poses many challenges as well. A baby may be allergic to a different number of things, from milk and soy to peanuts and citrus. Mothers must choose at that point whether it is more important to be able to consume those items themselves or if they will abstain from the allergins and continue breastfeeding. Breastfed babies are often vitamin D deficient because the mothers are. Babies who are breastfed may also have trouble keeping their stores of iron up if the mother is anemic. These problems are easily solved by giving the child a daily vitamin with iron. Supply is an issue for some women and it is best to contact a lactation consultant who can point you to the right suppliments and instruct the proper ways to increase supply. Breastfeeding moms and babies can contract a yeast infection called thrush, and it may take a perscription strength cream to clear it up. Finally, breastfeeding hurts for the first several weeks. Everyone says it is so natural, but the truth is, that while mom and baby are both learning, the mom is likely to be uncomfortable. Again, in that case, I highly recommend seeing a lactation consultant to find advice on how to survive those painful moments.

Why a post on breastfeeding you may wonder? Well, breastfeeding falls under the hippie, earth, and mama concept of my blog. It also is a misunderstood nutrition system in our country. But the reason it has been on my mind 11 months after having my baby is that recently I was taking medication that prevented me from breastfeeding. I had to pump and dump my milk while my husband had to feed the baby bottles. It was only at that point that we truly understood the wonders of breastfeeding. The entire household was disrupted for the midnight feedings where I would have to rock the baby until the bottle was made by a completely sleep deprived and dazed dad. The baby had to try to adjust to a new system of feeding, and mom had to spend 20 minutes every few hours pumping instead of spending time with the family. While I dare say it was during this time that my hubby truly started to understand the incredible toll sleep deprivation takes on me, having finally experienced it for himself, it was also during this time that I realized that soon, the baby will be weaning himself, and all of these benefits will no longer be conferred upon us.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

It's Saint Patrick's Day!!! Whether you are Irish or not, St. Patrick's Day is a day full of fun - whether the leprechauns come and dye your milk green, you drink green beer, or you eat your yearly dose of corned beef - most people in the U.S. find a way to celebrate. Being from Chicagoland, one of the time honored traditions for Saint Patrick's Day is the green dying of the Chicago River. After the river gets its yearly pigment, the parade kicks off, and for those of us who enjoy running, the Shamrock Shuffle snakes through downtown the following weekend.

But these traditions, as quaint and fun as they are, come at a price. Perhaps in our festive moods, we have forgotten the original reason that the river gets its green bath every year. Before I was born, and certainly before I could say "top o' the morning to you", Chicago was an industrial city. Not only were there "The Jungle" type food processing places, but workers created a plethora of materials. And the companies needed somewhere to put their waste. The Chicago River, which feeds into Lake Michigan conveniently wound through the city, and big business did not hesitate to dump their waste into it. So much so, that at one point, the river was so saturated with junk, that it caught on fire. The river became so polluted that it was no longer a topic to be avoided - people could literally see the filth floating in the river. The city needed a solution, but telling its revenue generating companies to stop dumping wasn't on the agenda. Due, in part, to a large Irish population, the city decided to dye the river green. It hid some of the worst parts of the pollution, and created a fun festival the city could be proud of.

Now, we still dye the river green, both out of tradition, and because of the Irish population in our city. But those parades celebrating the dying of the river attract crowds. The Shamrock Shuffle (one of the largest 8Ks in the country) brings 36,000 runners from all over the country. And these people don't leave only footprints. Confetti, lost mittens, thrown aside water glasses all line the streets as their owners ignore the trash they are leaving behind. Drunks leave beer cans. Smokers leave cigarette butts. Runners leave empty Gu packs. Children leave lollipop sticks, and on it goes. And that litter is dealt with in one of two ways. The first option is the amazingly speedy and precise clean up crews come through and collect it all, and put it in a dumpster where it goes to a landfill. There it may or may not biodegrade, but will definitely leave its carbon footprint in our environment. The second option is that it will be overlooked, or outside of the clean up crew's jurisdiction. At that point, it becomes an eyesore, litter literally lining our streets, and on our street corners it will either biodegrade or not.

So while we all celebrate this holiday, that I for one, absolutely love, let's keep in mind that celebrating is fun, littering and pollution are not. Make yourself a promise that you won't litter - at parades OR during the work week. Make yourself a promise that when you find out a company is dumping their waste, you are one of the outspoken critics. And then make yourself the promise that you will eat as many servings of corned beef as it takes to make yourself full :)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Clean 15, Dirty Dozen, and what we should do about it

How I wish the "Dirty Dozen" was simply a film to be studied. It would make eating that much less of a strategic game, trying to balance cost versus the health of entire families. Unfortunately, it's not. The Dirty Dozen is a serious list put out by the FDA and Environmental Working Group (EWG) of the twelve foods that are most likely to have pesticide residue on them. Keep in mind the "most likely" part of that sentence. It in no ways guarantees that if one buys organic fruits and vegetables that are on that list, but buys regular produce otherwise the person will be protected from ingesting chemicals. It only suggests that the best bet is to at least eat those twelve foods organically grown, if not all foods. In fact, it's extraordinarily sad that there is a list at all. I once heard a great idea that it shouldn't be "organic apples" or "organic cotton" it should be "apples" and "cotton" and then those mainstream items would be labeled "apples sprayed with these toxins" or "cotton treated with these pesticides" - I'm willing to bet we'd see the prices of organics go down quickly and we'd see the industrial farm industry change its habits fairly quickly.

But unfortunately, we still live in a world where we need to follow a list of foods that WILL contain toxins if we do not purchase organic, and have to hedge our bets on the rest of our produce. No wonder convenience foods haven't lost their appeal after the recent health movement - at least those list what crap is going into their customers, whereas in produce, it's completely unknown.

The list, which includes mostly foods that consumers will eat with the skins on is as follows:
1. Peaches
2. Apples
3. Bell Peppers
4. Celery
5. Cherries
6. Nectarines
7. Strawberries
8. Kale
9. Lettuce
10. Imported Grapes (yet another reason the local farmer's market is so appealing)
11. Carrots
12. Pears

In conjunction with the "dirty dozen" list, there is also a "clean fifteen" list that appeared at the same time. These are the 15 produce items "least" likely to contain pesticides - but again, notice the language. There are no guarantees - even in the "best choice" scenarios, the language still requires the word "least". The clean fifteen are as follows:
1. Onion
2. Avocado
3. Sweet Corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mango
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet Peas
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Papaya
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomato
15. Sweet Potato

Not surprisingly, the list includes mostly produce that has a thick skin that will be peeled off. I recently read an article that said that even potatoes, which one would think would be less likely to contain pesticides, can contain immense amounts of pesticides, and the toxins can even penetrate up to 1/4 inch below the skin. The article recommended buying organic, or peeling off the skin and soaking in cold water before boiling. Makes enjoying a baked potato a little harder, doesn't it?

Sadly, it seems to me that the best solution is in 4 parts. First, if you can find a local farm, purchase all of your produce, beef, eggs, and milk from them. Many small, local farms follow all of the organic standards (actually, most far exceed the minimal standards set forth by the government) but do not have the funds to get the certification. The beauty part of a local farm is that you can actually speak with the farmer - ask about what methods are used. If you are friendly enough, they might even take a request for a certain crop from you. It is also a bonus to be able to see where your food comes from without having to worry what is going on behind closed doors so to speak. If no local farm is available, I would suggest step two - go the the local farmer's markets. There you will be able to find many local (or more local than not) farmers with a great variety. Typically, the people manning the tables are employees of the farm and can answer any and all questions. The third option would be to eat all organic foods from the grocery store. This, of course is the least desirable because the costs will be the highest - both in your wallet, and in the amount of waste created by shipping the food to the market. However, this is still a good option if you cannot find anything locally. Finally, the fourth suggestion would be to contact everyone you can. Write to your local grocery store that you would like to see more organic and local produce. Write to your local farmers that you would like to see a bigger presence at the farmer's market. Write your the person in charge of events in your town and present ideas to expand your farmer's market, or create one if none exists. Write to your senators and representatives - both state and federal - requesting that they represent YOU, their constituents, rather than the industrial farming companies when they vote for stricter laws on what our food is allowed to be exposed to. Write to your family, your friends, your children, your church, and help spread the word about what is in our food. It's an uphill battle, but we have the man power to get to the top - it just takes a little effort from all of us.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Me versus Clutter - the 100 Year War

Clutter. It is such a nasty word, full of negative connotations. Surely if you asked someone to identify the clutter in her home, she would point to the stack of mail that's grown over the months, that never seems to be gotten to. Or perhaps she would point to the bin of mismatched socks that have neither been turned into dust rags nor found their mates. But what about the other clutter that isn't so apparant? What about the kitchen cabinet that houses a panini maker, a quesadilla maker, and a bread maker - all of which only get used once a year and other pots and pans would substitue for them just fine? What about the emotional clutter people carry around with them? That ugly painting Aunt Betty gave to the household? The memories that haunt and return every so often?

It may seem that clutter doesn't belong in the categories of hippie, earthy, or mama, but yet, it actually falls into all three. As a hippie, I have the goal of reducing as much waste as possible. Maybe not as much as a zen monk, but enough that I am not collecting junk in my closets rather than in the landfill (as both are bad). As an earth lover, it's important that I reuse my clutter that I can, and recycle what I cannot. And finally, as a mama, it's absolutely necessary for me to reduce my clutter. Not only will it make for a cleaner environment for my child, but it will also create a cleaner emotional environment for him as well. Not to mention that as a mom, my first job is to lead by example.

The process of decluttering is always hard. Even the "simple" steps recommended by every article, specialist, and magazine one might come across can be difficult. One of the best, most useful pieces of advice for decluttering is to get rid of anything that hasn't been used in the past 6 months. That's great advice, and it seems completely logical and simple. That is, until I put it into practice. What about my prepregnacy clothes? It's been over a year since I've worn them, but prior to my pregnancy, I had many of them for 5+ years. Eventually I will be that size again, and do I really want to have to go out and buy all new clothes because I was in a decluttering mood? Then again, the specialists will tell you, "understandably you don't want to buy new clothes, but if you keep clothes too big, you're giving yourself permission to stop with healthy habits, and if you keep clothes that are too small, you aren't accepting yourself for who you are at the current moment." Great - I want to accept myself, but I don't want to go bankrupt trying to buy clothes in every size! Or what about seasonal items? I don't mean decorations, which can easily be boxed up and put into storage in an organized, non cluttered way. But what about those items that don't quite make it into the seasonal bins, but yet are taking up space? For example, fake fruit to be kept in a bowl on the countertop. It only goes out during the spring and summer, because there are different motifs for the winter and fall, yet if it was packed with the Easter decorations, it might come out too early or too late.

I think the best answer to this dilemma is to de clutter everything else around the item in question and see if there is storage capacity for it afterwards. After getting rid of the panini maker, I might actually have a spot for the fake fruit. If I don't, then I can evaluate if the fake fruit is important enough to create a space for, or if it might be easier to let the item go and replace it with something that serves more than one function (in this case, real fruit that can be enjoyed throughout the week).

Another problem I always face is the emotional attachment to my clutter. "Oh but my mom bought me those pants that don't fit" or "my dad gave me this pen that has no ink" is a common issue I face in the challenge of decluttering. I recently read a great article that says that just because you are getting rid of the item, doesn't mean you are getting rid of the memory of that person, or ignoring their thoughtfulness. The article advises us to acknowledge the memory attached to the item, and say out loud "this item is not the person who gave it to me", allowing us to seperate the person and relationship from the possession itself.

Two areas that always tie me up in my decluttering journey are the kitchen and bathroom. Ideally, I recognize that it is important to keep only the items that will be used within three months. Especially in rooms such as the kitchen and bathroom, it is incredibly important to be minimalistic because the capacity for germs to grow are amplified in both of these rooms. No one wants to drip defrosted meat across their silverware or accidentally throw a used q-tip into their toothbrush holder. But yet, these two places also have the highest incidence of the "what if" items. "What if I get a cold, and need saline solution for my nose?" "What if company is coming and request a freshly baked cake, 4 pounds of tomato sauce, and maybe some croutons?" Besides the "what if" issue, there is the issue of cost. Buying in bulk is cheaper, especially when dealing with food and hygene products. I think that in this case, as we declutter our spaces, we will find more room for the bulk items because there won't be as many unnecessary items taking up space. The "what if" items need to be inventoried and seriously considered. Maybe saline solution is important to have on hand, but is it important to have 3 of them? Maybe tylenol is good to keep, but that doesn't mean that there need to be 5 opened bottles throughout the house. Streamlining these products not only saves space, but it also eases the pressure of looking for these items.

Maybe at this point, it seems as though throwing away all of these things is not as eco friendly as we would like. Don't get the wrong picture - when I say throw away, I actually mean find a way to reuse the product first. Can the item be given to Good Will? Can you give the extra vitamins and travel sized shampoo to a local homeless shelter? Do you have two bottles of a favorite lotion that your friend or sister might enjoy using? If so, give her one. Reusing is also important in things like used toilet paper rolls. Do you have a toddler who would enjoy the end being taped off, the tube be filled with rice, and sealed at the opposite end for an instant musical instrument? Can your carton from your milk be reused to make a bird house?

Once we've exhausted all of the ways to reuse an item, recycling comes NEXT. Why not recycle everything first? Well primarily, because not all items are recyclable. But secondarily, because recycling still uses immense amounts of energy and resources. It is far better than using all new materials, don't get me wrong, but ideally, if we can find uses for things to make them useable rather than laying in a pile of clutter, we will not be using any extra resources. Only after having tried reducing, reusing, and recylcling should an item be considered for the trash can.

As I try to de-clutter my house, I realize more and more how much I need to reduce, reuse, and recycle my items. I take my piles of used undershirts and mismatched socks and create cleaning rags out of them. I give away my clothes that are still in good condition, or donate them somewhere. I recycle the things that are no longer useable. Despite my efforts, my house tends to be cluttered no matter what I do. As long as I am battling clutter, my house will never stay clean the way I want it to, because clutter does not have a designated space. It isn't a sudden thing, but it creeps up on us when we least expect it. This clutter battle will not end quickly, but I am bound and determined to be victorious over my clutter in the end!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Babywearing has been around as long as women have been having babies, but yet, in our culture, it is rarely utilized. It is such a wonderful art - there are literally thousands of brands and types of carriers. Within each brand there are hundreds of designs that can be chosen to meet the personality of the mom and baby. It's entirely easy to make your own carrier, which, if you have the skills, can be far cheaper. It is important to make sure that the design you choose is a safe one. There are also some carriers that are simply unsafe and constructed poorly. Unfortunately, that's how most people hear about babywearing - a baby gets hurt or worse in an unsafe carrier and it makes the news. Suddenly there are warnings on every news venue out there, and it scares people away from experiencing the beauty of sharing the closeness with their children. Even when there isn't frantic news coverage, the most popular mainstream carriers are brands such as Bjorn which are incredibly bad for both mom (or dad) and baby. The way that the baby sits in the carrier, it can potentially hurt his spine and it does hurt his posture. Having the baby face outwards means that the baby has no way to turn his head away from the action when he is overwhelmed. Also, the Bjorn type carriers hurt the parent's shoulders, so they are more likely to stop using the carrier more quickly. Another problem is that men using these carriers is less common here in the U.S. than in Europe, so a fantasic carrier that could be used for 90% of trips gets used only when the mom is feeling up to using it.

A good designed carrier will last until the baby is 35-40 pounds, and last comfortably! There are tons of benefits. Primarily, it allows a frazzled mom or dad to put the baby in a sling or carrier and get things done around the house. I'm fairly certain I wouldn't have been able to eat during the first 3 months of James' life if I hadn't had a pouch sling to let him sleep in! The slings allow the parent to hold the baby close, while being hands free, and allows the baby to feel as though they are being held at all times. Scientifically, babies have fewer cases of apnea and their heartbeat stays in synch with the parent's - keeping the breath and heartbeats steady and strong. There are many different positions to carry the baby in, both in front, on the hip, or on the back, so there is a way to carry him no matter what you are doing. The carriers are much less bulky than the stroller alternative, and the baby can nuzzle up in mom or dad's shoulder if he feels overwhelmed. They come in many types of fabrics, so it is entirely possible to have a light weight option for summer, and a heavier type for winter. Also, for those of us northerners who had to buy maternity coats during our pregnancies - we will get at least one more winter out of the coats, because the maternity coat will zip up around the baby comfortably.

There are many different types of carriers, and once a week, I will be reviewing a different type (this would be beyond lengthy if I chose to do it all in one post). There are many used carriers for sale in excellent condition if a new one is out of budget. There are also local babywearing groups that have monthly meetings. Many of them have sling libraries so you can borrow a sling for the month to try it out before purchasing one. The groups also help each other learn how to properly wear a well constructed carrier. Online, there are several fabulous resources. My favorite is thebabywearer.com - there is a ton of information on there, and the forums are a great place to ask questions and get practical advice. I would also recommend the babycenter babywearing forum.

One only needs to look at pictures from women in all parts of the world to recognize the practicality and closeness these carriers confer upon the parents. I love the amazing photographs of women in Africa, Latin America, and all over the world - each carrying their babies on their backs while going about their life. I love when Phil puts on his sling and carries James around - and better yet, James loves it! I still use my carriers, even as James is now almost 11 months, to get work done around the house or carry him safely around places such as the county fair. I look forward to a time when babywearing is one hundred percent common place, and people are using the safest carriers!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil

I have found the most wonderful, all purpose item!!! I was on a forum on babycenter.com about a month ago, and I read a thread where someone recommended "EVCO" for diaper rashes. I thought she just mistyped "EVOO" since Rachael Ray had popularized the term in her cooking shows. It seemed to me that olive oil might soften but probably wouldn't do terribly much to heal. Then I saw the recommendation for "EVCO" for a hair moisturizer, at this point, I thought "either EVCO is something else, or these ladies all mistype EVOO every time it comes up." After more research, I found out that the substance is called Extra virgin coconut oil. I've read that regular coconut oil is just as effective and cheaper, but I went with the extra virgin just to be sure.

What are the many purposes of coconut oil? Well for one, you can cook with it. It has a very high burn point, so it can withstand a ton of heat. But even if you have a jar to cook with, I highly recommend getting a second jar to keep in your bathroom. It clears up diaper rashes with one or two applications (if you use cloth diapers, be sure to lay down a flannel scrap or cloth wipe down to avoid getting a grease stain on the diaper). It is hands down, the single best moisturizer I have ever used. It's wonderful on the body, and works on the face as well. It doesn't cause break outs and works on all types of skin. Added bonus - coconut oil has a natural SPF of 15, so if you're running errands but not going to be in the sun long enough to need a heavy hitter sun block - it will be just the right amount of protection. It is great for cradle cap, and also as a conditioner for all hair types. It can be used as a cuticle softener, or put on a patch of mild excema.

Extra virgin coconut oil comes in a jar and is typically in solid form. It melts instantly against skin and will spread very easily despite it's solidness when taking it out of the container. It's also easy to just run the jar under hot water for a few minutes (its melting point is 76 degrees) to soften it up. As we still have cold weather and our heat turned on, I keep mine over the vent in the bathroom to keep it in oil form. It runs between $7.00-$12.00 a jar, and will last a very long time. I recommend checking in the food section before looking in the health and beauty section. The exact same bottle might be a few dollars cheaper in the food aisles for no real reason. Coconuts are actually seeds, not nuts, so allergies are basically non existant to the oil.

I can't encourage people enough to go out and try this miracle cream! The only ingredient is coconut oil, unlike so many moisturizers we expose our skin to. It's baby safe, mom safe, and even has a pleasant, faint, coconut smell to it! Most wonderfully of all, it's cheap!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Household cleaners get cleaned and cleared up from toxins

In an effort to remove as many toxins from my home, I've begun making the switch to homemade cleaning supplies. The essential oils I use, can end up being a bit pricey, but in the long run, making my own cleaners is far more cost effective, and I don't need to worry about James accidentally getting poisoned some how. Another perk is that I don't have 50 cleaners for one specific job each, but I have a general all purpose spray. If I want to switch from cleaning the floor to cleaning the counter, I only need to switch cloths, not cleaners!

First, I went to Target and bought empty spray bottles - 2 large, 2 small, and 1 travel size. The three smallest were for wipes solution to use with my cloth wipes for diaper changes, and the two large were for my homemade cleaning solutions. I really liked the idea of making a homemade wipes solution - that way I know exactly what is being put against my baby's skin, and I don't end up throwing a million wipes in the garbage to end up wasting away in a landfill. I cut up 4 flannel receiving blankets into squares, and set them aside. I've since learned that it is a very smart idea to hem the sides prior to using and washing, or else the sides will fray! I am going to actually be hemming mine in the next week or two so they don't fray down to nothing, because the damage has already begun. Then I made my wipes solution. It was incredibly simple - 4 parts water, 1 part witch hazel, 1-2 squirts of baby soap (I use California Baby or Dr. Bronners), and if desired a few drops of essential oil. Easy as pie, then I just squirt the solution onto my super soft cloth wipe and use as necessary. I feel much better knowing where all of the ingredients come from and not having to worry about harsh chemicals being used.

Of course, as cute as James' butt is, his wipes solution wasn't the only homemade cleaner I focused on. I also put together an all purpose spray and a disinfectant spray. The all purpose spray is simply a mixture of half water, half white vinegar, and 20 drops of essential oil (I chose grapefruit). My mom has always cleaned with vinegar and we used to complain that the house smelled like we were dying Easter eggs, so to me, the essential oil is, well, essential! I'm able to use the all purpose spray to clean my hardwood and tile floors, counter tops, stainless steel, and windows.

The disinfectant spray is just as easy - it's water, 2 tablespoons of liquid soap (I use Dr. Bronner's Tea Tree oil soap), 30 drops of tea tree essential oil. Again, while this is a wonderful disinfectant - I have no worries about James being poisoned while using it!

Now, making these solutions is more than just about safety, it's also about reducing the number of toxins we have in our homes and in our Earth - after all, we're just borrowing the Earth. Have you ever lent someone something and had it returned destroyed? Were you incredibly angry and hurt? I imagine that's what mother nature and God feel like watching the way we treat our borrowed treasure of the Earth. Because of that, I would feel ridiculous bothering to make these solutions and then using paper towels. Thankfully, old undershirts are the PERFECT wipes! They don't fray at all, and at least in my house, we always have plenty of old ones. When I'm doing the laundry, I pull out any of Phil's old undershirts with holes in them (despite his protests) and cut them up and keep them in a drawer under the sink. Socks, and other ripped clothing works well too! The vinegar is actually a natural fabric softener, so I don't even have to worry about them scratching my furniture because they soften themselves!

Those are just my spray cleaners! I also am able to use lemons for a variety of purposes. I cut one in half and use it to clean my wooden cutting boards in the kitchen, or to remove stains from the counter tops (let the counter soak for a few minutes before wiping). It's important to note, do not use this method on granite or marble counters, because the acid can be too corrosive. Combine half the lemon with coarse salt to wipe off the bottom of pans or remove hard sticking stains. When you're done with the lemon - throw it down the garbage disposal for a clean smelling sink! Here's the best use for a lemon - add a quarter cup of it into the rinse cycle while doing laundry, and your clothes will be instantly brighter, softer, and smell better!

The same vinegar used for the all purpose spray, is truly all purpose! In the bathroom it effectively cleans soap scum, hard water stains, and grout. Soaking mildew in vinegar for 30 minutes and washing with warm water removes the mildew from your tub. Your toilet can be cleaned by pouring 1 cup into the bowl and leaving for several hours. It will deodorize, kill germs, and make the stains easier to remove. microwave a cup of half vinegar, half water for a few minutes and it will not only remove any left over smells, but also loosen any stuck food. A half cup of vinegar added to the laundry rinse cycle will break down the laundry detergent and make your laundry softer, and remove any soap build up.

Tea tree oil, can not only be used as a disinfectant, but also help prevent bacterial and fungal infections of soiled clothes such as cloth diapers or dirty towels by adding 1 teaspoon to each load of laundry. This will come up again when I post about my eco friendly beauty routines, but tea tree oil is also a very effective dandruff relief product!

Finally, baking soda! It removes marks from the floors, by sprinkling it on and either cleaning with a warm mop or vacuuming up after 10 minutes. When combined with water (1 part water to 3 parts baking soda), it will make a paste you can use to scour things like dishes, sinks, and tubs. Poured at the bottom of your trash can, left open in your refrigerator, or cupboards it will instantly neutralize odors. Pouring this wonderful product on dishes and soaking for an hour or two will make cleaning up dishes with burnt or cooked on foods easy. Keeping it on hand in the kitchen has the added perk that it will put out grease fires! Finally, you can add a half cup of baking soda to your laundry to help remove dirt and grease.

I think the last Hippie Earth Mama tip I have for the category of home cleaning is not to use scented candles or air fresheners. These both release chemicals into the air and cause health problems. If you are looking for something to make your house smell great, I suggest one of two things. The first, is to bake something. Nothing smells better than coming home to the scent of fresh baked brownies! However, if you're like me, you probably lack the time to be baking all of the time, in which case, all natural incense is a wonderful alternative. Personally, I love several scents, but in particular I love Jasmine, Lavender, or sandalwood. While I have yet to try this, I've also read that you can take a few drops of those essential oils (lavender or grapefruit would be my top two choices depending on if I wanted a perk up or something to calm me down) and put them in a mister or humidifier. The smell will permeate the room without using laboratory made ingredients!!

Thankfully, this seemingly long list of cleaners is just the tip of the iceberg, and as we continue on our journey to remove toxins and treat the Earth better, we will be able to add to this list. Eventually, I hope to remove all chemicals from everything I do!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Starting small - our herb garden

Being half Italian means I was brought by a mom who loved to cook. She made everything from scratch (my dad helped of course!), and taught me the basic ways to make things from spaghetti sauce to baked chicken. These basic dishes always had fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, or thyme in them. We never had an "Italian seasoning mix" because we just added our own herbs to taste as we desired. When I was growing up, she had even created an herb garden in a circle - designed to look like a clock. Every "number" was a different herb, and a sun dial was sitting in the middle to complete the theme. It was beautiful and functional.

Now, these many years later, I am reading my "Natural Home" magazine, and they're writing about edible landscaping. Edible landscaping is the concept of creating your vegetable and herb gardens in the same creative way you might lay out a flower garden - to be astheticly pleasing. But more importantly, it will be functional, and because of the beauty, you will be even more likely to spend time out there collecting your crops. My mom has always said she was ahead of her time, and this is just another thing she did way before it became popularized. I've had the ultimate mentor in my edible landscaping, and I've started thinking of which veggies I will want to grow when I move.

Unfortunately, right now, we live in a townhome, and do not have a yard. That makes edible landscaping quite impossible, and while some might let that deter them from having a garden at all, we won't! We have a faux balcony which is just wide enough to fit a small planting box outside. We chose a 6 foot long one to grow our herbs in. Herbs seemed to be the best option for us to grow, since they don't need especially deep soil, nor do they need to be able to climb up a vine or anything. While choosing my herbs, I thought about what I largely cook. We had to have cilantro, because we eat salsa like it's going out of style in the summer. But what else? I thought back to those homemade Italian dishes my mom had instructed me on, all those years ago, and we decided to add basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. We also got a small window pot to grow a one time crop of strawberries.

We started our seeds off in these jiffy pot type things, that can be planted once the seeds have been germinated. We'll be transferring them into the window box this weekend (14 days later), and keeping it inside until the dangers of frost are gone. I'm extremely excited - not only to have fresh herbs, but to know exactly where they've been, how they were grown, and to know there were no eco costs of travel to get them to our table! I'll post pictures of the herbs as they grow. It's nice to benefit from fresh tastes while being eco friendly! :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cloth Diapers - the newest accessory

When I first heard cloth diapering, I pictured those cheap white ones everyone uses as burp clothes. To be fair, for years, that's what a cloth diaper was. I read statistic after statistic about how many diapers (that will never biodegrade) will end up in a landfill for one average baby (3,000 pounds worth or 8,000 diaper changes), but I didn't want to stick my child with pins, or *gasp* have poop in the same place I put my clothes. Plus, at least the disposible diapers had cute designs.

Of course, disposible diapering wasn't without it's own problems. When we had used Pampers, we had a special name for when the poop came out of the diaper - a "poopsplosion" which happened very nearly once a day. When we switched to Huggies, the problem of poopsplosions slowed down, but there were the other problems of running out, constantly worrying about which size he should be in, and knowing I was putting harsh materials against my son's very sensitive spots. I had heard several friends raving about cloth diapering for the first ten months of my baby's life, and finally got around to trying them. I went to CC BUMS on facebook - a wonderful mama who works from home making cloth diapers. She was recommended to me by my good friend Angie, and was a huge help. She custom created 3 "All in ones", the cloth equivalent of a disposible - just put it on the baby (it snaps closed) and go. She also made 2 one size diapers with a fleece liner for waterproofing. They were adorable, comfortabe, and had no leaks. I was excited, but I wasn't entirely sure I was ready to try cloth diapering over night yet. Afterall, we share our bed with our baby, and any leaks would not only negatively impact the poor Bubba, but us as well!

I then heard about a store one town over, in Naperville, called Comfy Bummy. Phil and I took a trip over there, and found all sorts of wonderful things. We picked up 7 all in one diapers made by Bum Genius. They're extremely cool - there's a pocket you can stuff with extra pads to make the diaper more absorbant. They have velcro rather than snaps, and they're one size - the one diaper will last through potty training. Of course, over time, the leg elastic might start to wear out, or the velcro might get pilly -but in that case, you contact the company, and they replace the defective part, or the entire diaper, and you go on your merry way. Plus, all of my research indicated these diapers will NOT leak. And, oh boy, let me tell you - they don't! Plus we found biodegradable liners for the diapers. That means that when he goes number two, we can just lift the entire liner out, flush it down the toilet, and it will break down - genius!

We also found a soap called "soap nuts" and I absolutely LOVE it!!!! It's made the nuts in a tree, and it's completely all natural. They have natural sudsing agents and natural fabric softeners so the clothes and diapers come out incredibly soft and clean - plus when you're done with them, you can compost them if you feel so inclined. It was about $13 for 85 loads which is actually CHEAPER than my tide which is $15 for 64 loads.

So now, I've got my cloth diapers and I love them. They are so wonderful, eco friendly, and soft on the baby's bottom. I love the designs that are out there to choose from and I love the fact that I can make a small difference by doing this. But I better watch out - this may become my newest obsession - making sure James' butt looks fashionable at all times!!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The money grubbing "green" movement

Well, I hate to start this blog with a vent, but I think that's exactly what I'm going to do....

I have to say, that I really hate this whole "green movement" we're seeing in the world. Not that I hate the education that's taking place, or that other people are starting to care about the planet - I love that part of it. What I really hate is the corporations who are trying to fit into the green movement. They aren't making changes in the things they do (many of them), but finding new, un-green ways to make a buck off of people trying to do the right thing for ourselves and our environment. It makes me sick!

For example, I went into Caribou Coffee the other day. Surely, brewing a cup of coffee at home would probably have been cheaper for me, and ultimately the environment (think of all the energy it takes to keep the store running, keep hot, fresh coffee brewed at all times, even when people won't drink it), but I like to treat myself occassionally. And Caribou tends to lean towards making a difference. Long before it was in style, they had Rain Forest Alliance certified coffees, and fair trade options - and those things are absolutely important. But, I walk in, and they have reuseable sleeves (the cardboard things that go around the outside of your cup). I think to myself, what a great idea! Let's be honest, if I'm out and about, I don't always take the whole cup and sleeve back to my house to recycle it, even though it's made out of recycled paper, and belongs in my recycling bin. I grab two of them, one for me and one for Phil. Of course, it seems at the time, that the whole thing is silly, because the BEST option is to buy a reusable mug, and bring it in - they'll even give you ten cents off for doing so, but I'm more comfortable spending the $3.50 for the sleeve than $30 for a good mug. They hand it to me - in a paper bag. I could have carried it, with no bag, but what the heck, it's paper - I can recycle it. I get home, I tell Phil about my wonderful new eco friendly sleeve, and he starts making the point about the recycling of the sleeves is hardly the worst thing we do. Meanwhile, I'm about to make the argument about the energy it takes to recycle, and I notice the tag on the sleeve. It was made in China!!! Talk about the energy it takes to make things - not only did a factory probably release tons of toxins in the air while creating it, but I don't even want to think about the emissions from flying the merchandise (or shipping), and then the in country shipping via trucks. So much for being green - that little sleeve probably ended up emitting more carbon than I had ever wanted!

Or take for example, Clorox. They now have a green line of cleaners. Um, what? Why do you have an entirely seperate line of cleaners for the green movement. Is there a reason that Clorox doesn't fix its practices and original cleaners? Seriously, if the company truly cared about the environment, all of their products would be becoming green and there would be no need for a seperate label. Instead, they are catering to a growing market rather than trying to make a difference.

I could go on and on about all of the things I've noticed corporations doing, to appear "green" to increase their sales bases, meanwhile not changing any practices that matter, but I think the point has been made. It really fries my fritters that despite all of the evidence about the damage that we, as humans, are doing, money is still the number one priority for these corporations. I hope our children's generation will fix this culture of greed and indifference!