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7 posts from December 2008

December 17, 2008

Ask Patty gets an "O"vation

OprahA quick congrats to gal pal Jody Devere for getting an article into "O" magazine this month. I'll have to go out and pick up a copy this weekend, the winter tips will help me as I head back to Michigan for Christmas.

How did she do it? By just being Jody and working hard at making Ask Pattya meaningful site for women and car dealers who want to do a better job serving us. She didn't pitch Oprah or her media crew in fact it was quite the opposite, they found Jody online.

I had called Jody to thank her for listing In Women We Trust on her top 10 Women Empowerment blogs list (kisses!) when she gave me the news.   

Since I'm heading back to motor mecca, I had to ask how things were going in her auto world. She reported that times are tough for car dealers as a species, they went from 21,000+ to 19,000 ish this past year, but she's making sure that the surviving dealers know that those who put their time into serving women better will come out of the recession ok.

I can echo that. Listen up dealers, soft skills are just as important as quoting MPG stats.

Congratulations Jody - I hope you become a regular feature.

December 14, 2008

Durable Memories, the gift the keeps on giving...

Cookie tinWhile we greenies look for more durable goods to put our money into these days, it made me think about what makes a memory durable? What did I do 50 or so years ago that I still remember vividly? When it came to the holidays, it wasn't the gifts that perked up, it was the cookies!

My Grandma Bredernitz was the keeper of the magic tin, the one kept in the behind the stairwell door kept shut to keep the unheated upstairs from entering the room. Anytime you stopped by in December, before you sat down for a chat, you opened the door, got hit with the cold, musty air of an unused upstairs and opened the tin which always rested on the right side of the wooden step.

Inside - the usual mixture of peanut butter cookies with the Hershey's kiss in the middle (the winner of the PIllsbury backoff), ginger snaps, springles and an unending supply of frosted sugar cookies. My personal fav was the tree with the green frosting and the cinnamon ornaments. For some reason there was always one left. I swear she was restocking the tin the entire month of December.

With cookie in hand, we'd head for the livingroom which had room for three chairs. Grandma always stood behind her stuffed chair and graciously offer it to her guests. Even if there were only three of us, she still would keep her chair open. After years of observing her good manners, I asked why she didn't sit down with everyone else? 

Her answer? "I just like to stand next to the heater."

I can honestly say I don't recall one gift that my Grandmother gave me, but the memory of her cookies and talking and seeing her standing behind her chair hold fast. 

This post is part of the Green Mom Christmas Carnival graciously hosted by Jennifer Taggert over on www.thesmartmama.com/bg.

Women, the Connective Tissue for a Green Culture.

I know I'm going to get blow-back for this, but I'm going to say it anyway - when the world turns a deep shade of green it will be because of the women-who talk-to-women-who-link-with-other-women's- groups-who-will-grease-the-skids-of-progress.

For the first time, we will have a true co-creation of a new economy based on sound buyer/seller principles and expedited by the soft skills that women bring to the education table. I saw examples of of that replaying over and over at the Green School Summit this past week in Anaheim.

Green schools At the Summit, teachers, administrators, facility managers and procurement all came together to explore how to make their buildings more energy efficient, less toxic and create a culture and mindset of sustainability that will last for generations. At a time when Wall Street is melting, Detroit is smelting and no one trusts anyone, schools are creating atmosphere of innovation and creative action.

The event served primarily the base of LA Unified Schools District with 80,000 employees and hundreds of thousands of K-12 kids, but it also spoke to the emerging facilities being created by LA Community College which covers 226,000 students yearly. Between the two of them, loosely coupled with the Bay area, the California school system has everything this economy wants. i.e. money and approved construction integrated with green education and by extension educating homeowners as well.

Where are the  women in this mix? Everywhere!

  • Green School Education and Action
  • Consultant for Green Initiatives
  • Energy efficiency consultant and loan facilitator
  • Owner Watersaving landscape
  • California School Boards Association
  • LAUSD Procurement
  • Green Media
  • Green Women Bloggers

    I didn't go out of my way to talk only to women, but when you enter a room of strangers and one of them gives you a welcoming smile, you tend to gravitate towards them. That's how I met Joan Edelstein, DrPH, RN with the California School Boards Association. She and I shared a table at an all day session on "Sustainable Operations & Maintenance and Cultivating a Healthy Learning Environment."

    The point of the workshop was how to tune up your existing facilities to lower energy costs, lower toxin exposure, and increase test scores by simply providing more natural lighting, etc.  Deborah Moore, the Executive Director for the Green Schools Initiative lead off, she started her company when she noticed that what kids were being taught wasn't being reflected in their learning environment.

    Alicia Culver, owner of the Green Purchasing Institute followed her, focusing in on toxins and green cleaning options that keep students and custodians healthy. Mark Spencer of StopWaste.org wasn't able to make it, but Alison Gangl of TAC Energy Solutions filled in with information on how to swap the money currently used to purchased outdated and expensive energy to buy new equipment. The money saved on lower bills pays for the equipment. The net cost is a wash until the loan is paid off and then it becomes a permanent cost savings. Katharine Rednyk of Monrovia Growers wrapped up the day with very low water landscaping plants to soften the buildings and create a tranquil space, but not drain your water bill.

    That night I met another women during cocktails who does purchasing for a school system. We met for the same reason, she smiled and was welcoming. Later I chatted again with Alicia from the day's workshop.

    The next day I gave my feet a rest in the exhibitor's lounge and met up with Nancy Miller, the organizer of this event and three other "Summits." She's part of www.green-technology.org. Nancy introduced me to women in the LAUSD administration office who then introduced me to the women in charge of contract management for LAUSD.

    I was at the Summit to represent Green Building Pages, a resource for filtering out sustainable building products and materials which originated through the work of another women, Marilyn Farmer.  My job was to inform exhibitors of LACCD's 50 LEED Certified buildings that need green products and materials.

  • The Summit's expo  was filled with companies that would like to have their products used in public schools and colleges. It also had many educational booths such as Project Learning Tree, with training seminars and materials. While the manufacturing booths were 50/50 men to women, in the educational booths I saw had only women behind the desks.

  • The crossover from business to citizen.

    I'm involved with a very dynamic group of green women bloggers. Our #1 issue is toxins - we want them OUT of toys, homes and classrooms. 

    We take our shade of green very seriously. In September we held our own Back-to-School Green carnival. Since that day, some have written books on green parenting and home toxin management, one managed to get Britta to take back their filter, another had her post on a 12-year-old burger read in 180 other countries and another helped us form our own twitter room.                                        

    Now think what would happen if all these women working on greening their schools joined forces with all the women blogging about the same topics? That's real connective tissue at work. We may not be the majority builders of green machines, but we represent the majority stakeholders who can talk up the best products and services and bring this market around faster. That's a culture we all can live with.

  • December 08, 2008

    Green Women's Prevention Agenda

    Have you been to www.change.govyet? It's Obama's site for weekly video chats and also where anyone can post a suggestion on how to make things better. Just having that illusion of direct access to the President's ear makes me feel better. I like thinking that someone is listening, it's like writing to Santa, you may not get what you want, but that doesn't stop you from believing that he's reading every letter.

    Diane MacEachern is stacking the Prevention Agenda letter deck this week by submitting many ideas on the subject for the Green Mom Carnival. Read them before Obama does at:  Diane's Big Green Purse.

    December 02, 2008

    Too many cloth shopping bags?

    I have about 20 cloth shopping bags in my closet. I love them. Besides cutting back on the plastic footprint of the planet, they hold a lot more than the plastic bags. I can carry two fully loaded on each shoulder and then two to three more in my hands - that's seven bags and me going up the stairs. Who needs a stairmaster?

    Bagbiners The problem I had with all these mixed bags is what to do with them while shopping?  I solved that by clicking them to the side of my cart.

    I know, it's such a little annoyance, but it became a bigger one every time I shopped, they took up space, the groceries were always on top of them and when it came time to use them, I couldn't dig them out fast enough before the bag boy had everything thrown into a plastic bag. Sighhhh.

    Since I started clicking them to the side, my shopping life is easier and many women have stopped me and asked where I got the clip. Since there wasn't a place, I started a website for bagbiners.  Go here and get your own personalized clip. Or get a stack of them straight from the factory and hand them out for stocking stuffers. Let me know how they work for you.

    Heather & Renee Talk Late Night Trash

    If you have a serious case of green fatigue and don't think you can recycle one more thing, check out Heather and Renee's informative spot on Nightline. My thanks to Lynn Miller for reminding us that it's worth the 7:44 minutes of inspiration they provide. (I agree!) 


    You'll want to go directly to their Enviromom site to view the show as they've added all the links you need want below the video.  

    Why this works to change our green ways:

    • Heather and Renee are the real deal.
    • They use a pragmatic approach vs. idealism.
    • They offer the best advice for a lasting difference, create the bins first.
    • They prove that even a busy family can recycle.
    • Nightline gave it 7:44 minutes which allows for a full story, not a soundbite. (thanks Nightline) 

    My thanks to Heather and Renee for doing, teaching and training others to recycle. If you need more motivation, go rent Wall-E or view the 20 minute video www.storyofstuff.com.

    December 01, 2008

    Diane's Pollution Prevention Challenge

    Green glove Diane has thrown the green gauntlet to us at the Green Moms Carnival which will post on Dec. 7 on her blog Diane's Big Green Purse. Instead of focusing on how to FIX pollution that is broken, she is asking us for ideas on how can we PREVENT it from happening to begin with. She's established a Prevention Agenda forum for discussions and also asked that we add our own letters to send to President-Elect Obama. 

    Diane's Big Green Purse has been a big proponent of buying green vs. brown products in hopes of pushing the market in the right direction. Now she's asking for larger ideas and bigger steps that she can gift wrap and send to the new administration.


    Dear President-Elect Obama,

    Please put Accountability and Transparency into the green market by invoking sustainable product standards - consumers demand it, investors need it and manufacturers will take the easy way out if you leave it up to them (which is what they are doing right now).

    The Credit Crisis has destroyed our faith in the markets and each other. The Green/Sustainable product movement is awash in greenwash.The ONLY thing that corporations (the financial machine) understand are numbers and competition. The good hearted people working in the corporations are beholding to those numbers, they can't fight the machine from inside as peer pressure and the need to keep a job is restrictive to progessive change. The only thing that keeps those numbers accountable is transparency of operations.

    How do we know if a product is toxin free and pushes the economy to renewable resources at the same time? Do we, as the consumer, have to choose between clean water or clean air? How can the commercial market that creates tipping points of commerce with it's massive buys align with the green consumer objectives? Will the new products created for green buildings hit a wall of consumer resistance when they cross the line into our homes? How can we transform the ENTIRE market if commercial products aren't working in conjunction with what the consumer market wants?

    Laws and bills won't do the job. They take too long and lobbyists will hold up progress forever. California managed to get through a no-PVC in packaging law. How long would that take to get passed through the Federal government - maybe never. Meanwhile, PVC's are allowed in the products themselves, such as carpeting. On top of toxic carpets you have killer couches with fire retardants in the foam and fabric that becomes part of our home and questionable food additives.  The most toxic food that can't be regulated, only "prevented" is breast milk. 

    The solution to safe furnishings, food, toys, etc. lies is the same thing that's makes baseball a game that can be played in any country - rules - not big, complicated rules, but simple requirements that anyone can interpret. And like baseball the sustainability game needs referees to call the ins and the outs, third party auditors who can look over all the evidence of sustainable product claims and make a ruling using ISO Life Cycle Assessment practices that will fly on a global scale.

    We don't need more laws which are usually levied after the fact and effective only inside the country they are created, we need standards and systems that follow a product's entire supply chain and disposal. Even Barbie, the goddess of perpetual consumption has parts and accessories made in multiple countries.

    While this is a consumer driven, the solution must start in industry. Our consumering piece-meal buying habits is greater than industries at over 70% of the gross domestic product, but without huge blocks of procurement setting the manufacturing direction, change will be slow especially now that our consumer cash is evaporating.

    We've been waiting for the building industry to take a stand, but they have elected not to. That leaves the decision on which sustainable standards we can support in the average citizen's hands and yours.

    With the failing of global markets, there is no doubt that all nations meet at the bank and that we all must work together to co-create a sustainable economy and world. Transformational products formed under sustainable product standard guidelines will not only eliminate market greenwashing, but create safe products, support renewable energy and put a new level of trust back into the market.