14 posts categorized "One less thing to recycle"

March 02, 2010

One woman, One message, JUST SAY NO, TO PLASTIC

I get asked all the time 'What can I blog about"?  Each time I use Beth Terry as an example, she's passionate about what she does and it's inspiring the world to take note and follow her lead - consume less plastic.

When I watch the National Geographic channel and see how many organic items (hair, bones, seeds) can be found thousands of years later by archaeologists, it makes Beth's message even more powerful. As my husband and I watched this ABC segment on Beth, we are re-motivated to further tighten up our own consumption. Even If you don't believe in climate change, the least we can all do is commit to pollution change. 

October 20, 2009

A Mindful Momma is more than "Practically Green"...

... She's practically everyone's Grandma. (sorry Micaela, but you gave me a flashback)

In her new book, Practically Green, Micaela Preston embodies women of another age who understood how to make their own cleaning supplies, create their own fun and COOK!  Practically Green provides all the tips that you'd normally get from working side-by-side a sage woman of the house, but with a green twist. It won't take you a lifetime to learn however, Micaela takes the learning curve done to a month or less. 

Picture 12 Micaela, who also authors the Mindful Momma blog, created this delightful book that's a joy to read and hold in your hand. At 5-1/2 by 7 inches, its small size makes it easy to carry in your purse for a reference while shopping. 

Like many of the how-to-be-green books it's jammed with ideas and fun facts for keeping your family toxin-free. What makes it different is the tone. Facts come at you in small bites with lots of pictures that draw you through the book. 

It would make a perfect stocking stuffer, but it might be more fun to follow Micaela's instructions for making lip balm or fizzy bath balls from scratch and give green gifts this year. Or, instead of making a fruit cake you might want to bring Very Veggie Loaf to the holiday open houses. Why not? At least the Very Veggie Loaf will be eaten.

This isn't green for the sustainable die hards, it's green for the rest of us who just want to live our lives a bit better, but don't know where to start or how to stay motivated. The book will keep you busy trying its recipes and crafts and also give you tips for getting food and glue out of clothing. Or, dump the clothes and try the vanilla sugar body scrub.

Start inserting these practical changes into your family and your grandchildren will remember who taught them what to do. 

September 22, 2009

First do no harm... Conserve!

Dedicated to this month's Green Mom Carnival on resource conservation. You'll find it hosted over on Mindful Momma who has a new book coming out soon. A big welcome to the newest members of the carnival!

What if we all took the eco-version of the hippocratic oath and then put some action behind it. 

  • Eat less, but real food that comes in it's own little skin. 
  • Use less energy (and buy cleaner energy).
  • Use less water, but without giving up showers, cooking or gardening. 
  • Less wine, but the really good stuff when I do splurge...

Conservation doesn't mean doing without, just doing better with what we have.

Here in OC, conservation of water and energy has become a reality, especially after millions and MILLIONS of gallons of water were dumped on the recent fire that has yet to be contained. 

I've switched out my shower head and after seeing how many gallons still filled the tub - started taking shorter showers. 

Our energy bill is so low that it's laughable by my friends back in winters-coming-on Minnesota- $30 for utilities doesn't seem fair to those with bills in the $300 range. And yet, I bet I could find more places to cut back and not miss any fun by doing so. 

My biggest switch to a less-is-more lifestyle came with the Farmer's Market. By buying fruits and veggies that I had to carry in many bags by myself I became more selective and mindful. Did I really need a bag of apples or would 7 (one a day) be good for the week? I found when I bought only what I knew I would eat in 7 days made me buy less and the food never spoiled - it was always gone by the following week. Of course I always carry my reusable bags.

This summer I put in drought tolerate plants in the front planters. Not only do I save on water, but I save on replacing the not-so-tolerant plants that always ended up dead if I missed a day. Happy plants mean a happier me and less work. 

Changing these little things didn't do me any harm and in each case saved me cash. 

March 23, 2009

The weeding out of plastic purchases

Cultivate It's spring somewhere, time to cultivate a new way of living.

Beth Terry over on Fake Plastic Fish wants plastic to go away. Little by little she's eliminated the need for it in her life. She's hosting this month's Green Mom Carnival and wants to know what we think about this pervasive material.

I'm all for less plastic in my life. It doesn't do anything for my soul. I believe we should stop making the killer plastics such as PVC and polystyrene and start replacing them (even food grade plastics) with more inert and reusable solutions.

Fortunately, the State of California is in tandem with this. The state government has banned PVC and also used their buying power to STOP buying polystyrene in food situations. When the State of California's budget power unites with the power of women consumers, there is no telling how fast we can switch the market to a greener, leaner version of itself.

Bob Tetz, the manager of the Environmentally Preferred Products program noted at last week's Green Summit meeting in Sacramento that we skipped right over REDUCE and REUSE and went straight to RECYCLE. He wants the state and the people of California to use their first two options first before they finally put objects in the recycle bin.

Having a slow market has been good news for our nation's landfills. Another speaker at the conference said that landfills were getting 30% less stuff since the economic slowdown. That proves that it is possible for all of us to get by on a bit less.

Those who are in favor of plastics "because it's recyclable" should pick up this month's National Geographic and check out the Frito Lay supplement. According to the graph, it looks like 30+million tons of plastic goes into the landfills and only 2 million tons is actually recycled. It you want to recycle your liter pop bottle, fill it water and putting in our toilet tank. You just recycled a plastic bottle and created a lo-flow toilet for free

The best way to cultivate a new plastic free culture, however, is to not purchase the them to begin with.  What's your position on plastic - thumbs up or down?

December 02, 2008

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.

August 01, 2008

Get rid of the bottle and take back the filter

I'm inspired by Beth Terry's list of plastics that she has eliminated from her life. I don't know if I can do it, but I'm willing to give it a try. I'll start with the water issue and the two plastics that surround it, i.e. the bottle and the filter.

I don't think we need bottled water in places where we have tap water. I don't care if a bottle is made of petroleum based plastic or made of corn, it's still overkill for what we need in the average US town. Plus, only 10% of bottles, plastic or corn are recycled. Corn-made-plastic bottles may not be as harmful, but it 's still and that's what we need to cut back on first.

Let's say you do have questionable tap water. Brita makes a find product to give you gallons of great tasting water at a fraction of the cost of bottled water. In Europe, according to Beth, Brita has a program to take back the plastic filter. She's lobbying that they do the same thing in the U.S. If you think it's a great idea and are a buyer/user of the filters, then send your filter to takebackthefilter.org.

July 02, 2008

Heidi Sanborn: Pay now, or Pay later in a throw away world

SanbornI slid into the the Zero Waste conference last week, just in time to hear Heidi Sanborn talk about the Product Stewardship Council. She gave a terrific presentation on the growing problem and cost of household waste and who is responsible, the manufacturers who make the throw away stuff or the taxpayers who must manage the thrown-away stuff?

I couldn't take notes fast enough. The WHOLE presentation is on http://www.caproductstewardship.org/. If you scroll down, you'll see it at the bottom of the page where you can download the whole thing. It puts climate change pollution into a whole new light. Even if you don't think Global Warming is real, our massive waste problem sure is.

Per_capital_waste_2 But that's just the beginning of the problem. The bigger problem is that WE pay for it on the front end as consumers AND the backend as taxpayers - and that system could bankrupt most communities.

Heidi believes that putting the burden of creating a safe and recyclable product on the manufacturer's shoulders is the answer. But if you were a manufacturer, where do you start and how do you do it and stay competitive with someone else who carried the same product line?

The more I know, the more I'm impressed with how the SMaRT Sustainable Product Standard works to solve pollution problems in air, water, earth and the atmosphere, BEFORE it hits the landfill.

Heidi, with 17 years in integrated waste management, has seen all the solutions come and go.  Check out her presentation. If you weren't motivated to buy less, or buy sustainably before, you will be after you see it. The section on pharmaceuticals is especially eye opening.   


June 18, 2008

Stephanie Barger is Zeroing in on Zero Waste

Barger_2Meet Stephanie Barger, the Founder, Treasurer and Executive Director for Earth Resource. She's also a nonprofit Consultant and Mortgage banker. On June 26, you can add Event Planner as she and many other concerned business professionals are coming together at the Irvine Ford Plant to learn how to create a zero waste producing business.

That's no small feat. Imagine what you would look like if you had to carry ALL the waste you generate every day in a bag tied to your belt. How long could you function? Now imagine trying to eliminate that "bag" for a whole company.

ZeroCity planners, big and small business, manufacturers and facility managers will all be there. It's open to the public. If you're in Orange Country next week, you may want to drop by.

June 26, 2008 - 8 am to 5:30 pm at the Ford Motor Company, 1 Premier Place, Irvine, CA 92618.

For more information or to register go here.

May 10, 2008

Adding their Best to Best Buy

In 2006, I interviewed Julie Gilbert of Best Buy. At that time they had 120,000 employees, today they top 140,000. Then, Julie was a Vice President of WOLF (Women's Leadership Forum) and Entrepreneurial Initiatives; now she's a Senior Vice President of Retail Training, Learning and Innovation, Winning With Women, and WOLF. On top of all that, she also has taken on Sustainability issues, turning Best Buy into a woman-friendly, earth-friendly corporation. My kind of woman.

According to a recent profile, "Through her leadership in WOLF, Best Buy increased female market share by more than $3.6 billion, increased the number of female job applicants by 37 percent, and reduced female employee turnover by 5.7 percent." Hummm.... Best Buy has 20,000 women employees, that means 1140 stayed at Best Buy because of the WOLF program. Cool.

GilbertApparently Julie wants to do better than 5.7%. On Wednesday this week, she was in town (Anaheim, CA) with about 1000 other "blue-shirters" and WOLF Omegas (women who are not part of Best Buy). The Blue Shirts and the Omegas formed one, big brainstorm to continue exploring why employees and customers stayed with Best Buy and why others left.

Fortunately, the conference was only about 5 minutes from my place, so I was able to join Julie and other manager and Omega types for happy hour at the Hilton. Since this conference was all about making women happy, I took with me a request from Eco-Mom, Kimberly Pinkson. She wanted Best Buy to, Take back the e-waste [recycle] and show her what they are doing with it. "I don't want my old computer to end up over in Africa polluting the landscape for the kids over there," Kimberly told me.

Kimberly will be happy to know that Best Buy is working on the beginning of that wish list. According to Julie, they are doing a test in three stores located in Minneapolis, Baltimore and San Francisco. People can take any kind of e-waste to the store regardless of where they bought it. Currently at all Best Buy stores you can recycle print cartridges, batteries and cell phones. They are also greening up the buildings as well adding solar panels.

When it comes to the "show me" part. Kimberly isn't alone e-waste disposal, over at Envio Mom they addressed the same concern. Trust, but verify! No one wants to recycle only to find out that we messed up some other country's back yard. I have two old computers sitting under my desk for that very reason. I don't trust where they'll end up if I take them to a recycling center. That picture in the National Geographic of E-waste in third world countries is too vivid. I'll be the first one to champion Best Buy's program when they are able to show and tell the full story.

TaihaI also visited with Omega consumer, mom and small business owner Taiha Wagner. She was there, traveling with her incognito sister to answer questions from Best Buy employees. Taiha was encouraged by Best Buy not to hold back (she didn't) and wasn't given any advice on what to say before she came. (Taiha's the one with the white shirt)

So why would you love a company as an employee and customer?

Over on Best of Mother Earth, Karen Hanrahan explores why she stays with her company. It started with products that she could trust as a consumer of eco-safe cleaners. Years ago she had to switch to a chemical-free lifestyle as cleaning agents bothered her health. When she found products that allowed her a way to not only live safely, but also make a living she was hooked and never left. "They just fit who I am as a person," Karen told me. "I've always been told I'm a mother earth sort, and these products let me live that life."

The more I read blogs and pay attention to what women want, it always comes down the same thing, give them something they can believe in - oh, and prove it.

February 11, 2008

February is Clear Your Space and Mind Month

Michele_skaly_doilneyCollected, calm, centered... that's what struck me about Michelle when I met her at the Sundance Film Festival. How did she do it? She was off the charts cool in the middle of cameras flashing and everyone being a bit crazed, including myself.


"When the student is ready the teacher will appear"


In her packet (and on her site) were 9 Feng Shui Projects. Before you roll your eyes, go to her site and read the list. Maybe I was ready and master showed herself, whatever the reason, as I implement her clutter free ideas, I feel better. Try it. Let me know if it's also working for you.


I could stop here, but I wanted you all to meet Michelle as well and learn how she arrived at this place.


MARY: Were you always a neat freak or did Feng Shui transform you?


MICHELLE: As a small girl, I lost my favorite Babar the Elephant book in a pile of toys as tall as me. Since then, I’ve been aware of how my environment can make my day a good or challenging one! Feng Shui has given me the language and tools to understand and use my environment to mindfully create a better day, and a better life. Feng Shui is the art and science of designing or adjusting an environment both indoors and outdoors for optimum comfort, balance, and use, given the purpose and occupants.


Feng_shuiMARY: Is it hard to keep it up?


MICHELLE: As Goethe said, “Begin”! We all have days of clutter and chaos – including me, and those of us who look organized on the surface but have the junk drawer, the “keep it closed” closet or hidden mystery boxes in the garage. I find that it is harder to let things go, let papers pile up, laundry multiply and the junk drawer to spread to the whole cabinet than it is to finish each use by putting things back where they belong. This plan starts with having a place for each thing, something you can start NOW.


How many of us keep buying rolls of tape because the last 10 rolls disappeared? Saving money from avoiding duplicates is just another bonus to being moderately organized. On a deeper level, Feng Shui is not just about being organized, but about keeping only that which you love or use. And, Feng Shui is about using your space wisely and comfortably and fitting your space to your needs and likes. This part is not hard to keep up at all, once you feel the difference between dreading your home and looking forward to being at home at the end of a long day.


MARY: What's the biggest thing you've noticed that's changed in your life now that you apply the principles?


MICHELLE: I have more clarity and peace in my daily life as I interact with others or think about what needs to be done. It is true – clutter in environment creates clutter in our minds…


MARY: We talked about the LEED project when we met. Do you see Feng Shui and integration with LEED or no connection?


MICHELLE: Feng Shui and LEED standards, as well as other “green” standards, are ‘naturally’ connected. Both LEED and Feng Shui teach us that our environment impacts our daily life and the lives of those people, neighborhoods, plants, and animals around us. Rather than home, work place, shops, and leisure as separate places, ideally these places collectively form our neighborhood.


Place organization using LEED-ND standards is like space organization in a home with Feng Shui effort. And... Feng Shui can be used hand-in-hand with LEED-ND standards in designing neighborhoods. We need to see how everything in life is intertwined and affects everything else. We have a choice – the choice to make a better life for us, for others and for the future based on how we see and plan our different environments now. Both LEED and Feng Shui are about mindfulness in our environment, and how we can make the best choices for us and others.


More information about Practical Feng Shui and about Newpark Hotel/the Newpark Development (LEED-ND is in process) are on Michelle's website: