Tuesday, June 9, 2009

If It's Good Enough for the Obamas

Leading the country by example the Obama family cleared way for the return of a vegetable garden on the White House grounds. Local food that you can be sure it's history. (no scary food recalls) Healthy food that doesn't need pesticides. (healthier food = less trips to the doctor's office= more money in your pocket)

Sadly, Eleanor Roosevelt was the last first lady to grow her own veggies at the White House. After World War II more and more people followed the trail of convenience. Thus changing our diets more radically in the last fifty years than had been changed in the thousands of years before.

This spring, the Gruppie family set off to change our little corner of the world with a vegetable garden of our own!

With ground is as hard as a rock (thanks to my builders for striping away all of the nutrient rich soil), raised beds were the only option. Go vertical!

Two raised beds twenty inches high and made of untreated wood. Creating the raised beds was Hubby and Little Guy's favorite part. What is it with boys and wood? giggle Next, we lined the raised beds with newspapers to kill any weeds or grass that may grow. Then, we lined the beds with leaves from last fall that I, ummm, liberated from a neighbor's yard. The entire mix was watered well to start the decomposing process.

Finally, came the endless wheelbarrows full of compost. Up the hill. Down the hill. No matter how many trips I took, the pile magically never shrunk!

Tune in tomorrow for starting seeds.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Kindergarten Trends

Now that Memorial Day has come and past, people everywhere are talking about new summer trends. I generally ignore the summer trends and follow the sit on my butt with my toes in the sand trend.

Speaking of trends, Little Guy has been loving life in Kindergarten. Lots of new buddies, learning new things and of course snack time. Lots of new peer trends to follow.

When I sent Little Guy off to kindergarten I knew that he would pick-up a few new ideas from the other kids. I was thinking more along the lines of violent movies and nasty new words. Oh no, Little Guy has picked-up some ideas worse than pretending that he is a character in Star Wars. Little Guy and his friends talk about hair care.

Conditioner to make their hair lay flatter. Gel to keep their style even through a sweaty recess. The little boys in the class compare their hair routines and share tips.

After my initial shock wore off, I decided to indulge this new Kindergarten fad and search for an organic gel, free from plastics and other nastys for Little Guy to goop on to his strawberry head.
The Skin Deep Comsmetics Safety Database is always my first step when looking for a new product for my family's skin or hair. Lots of products will say "natural" or "safe" and it equals a load of greenwashing. The facts need to be checked out.

Trends will come and go. Here's to the first grade trends include reading and math. Is that too wishful on my part?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What's Old is New Again

Cruising through the aisles of the food store I stumbled upon an amazing new product. Waxed paper bags!

Since waxed paper easily breaks down in the compost bin, I use it (and then compost it) often. Waxed paper wraps sandwiches and covers the tops of food in a pinch. So when I found waxed paper folded into bags I was happy as a freegan in a fresh dumpster.

The my mummy popped my bubble.

Apparently waxed paper bags have been around since somewhere in the vicinity of forever. Mummy's lunch included waxed paper bags back in the 1950's.

Gardens, reusing, line drying and waxed paper bags. I guess that all that is old is new again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Turn It On

Last August I blogged about my adventures in attending the Antiques Roadshow in Hartford. It was a once in a lifetime experience that would have been amazing if any of my treasured antiques were worth any real money.

Part 1 of the Antiques Roadhshow Hartford series is on PBS tonight. If you are looking for me in the background, I am the one in my 30's. I was also behind the woman in the full-length fur coat with Mickey Mouse heads all over it. (Where does one buy a coat like that?)

Spoiler Alert! I personally heard a person freak out over a table that was valued in the $300,ooo range. If that was me, I would be blogging remotely from a hut in Bali with my personal cabana boy. Ah to dream...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Who Cut the Mustard?

After posting a few months ago about the dangers of high fructose corn syrup I seemed to find that nasty, liver-stressing, diabetes-causing ingredient almost everywhere. Even in the innocent looking jar of honey mustard in my refrigerator.

Since my kids are huge honey mustard fans, I set out to find a jar of honey mustard that contained just that; honey and mustard. Period. Like everything else in my life, that was easier said than done.

My local food store carried only one brand of honey mustard free of high fructose corn syrup. Mustard, honey and a few extras. This brand of honey mustard created a new problem. Foam. When I washed out the empty container the water came out seriously foamy. No, I didn't add any soap. So why did the nearly empty container foam?

After thinking that I was losing my mind with a foamy container, I purchased yet another identical container of honey mustard. Again with the foam. So now my kids were no longer eating HFC, but not they were eating some kind of foaming agent. Disgusting!

Finally the light bulb over my head (a LED bulb of course) turned on. Why not make my own honey mustard? That way I could be completely sure of the ingredients.

A little natural mustard mixed with some local honey and I got the yummiest sandwich topping. I mixed the sandwich topping right it in an old glass mustard jar (less waste) and voila a sandwich topping that my kids beg for that is safe too.

In my busy life I realize that not all of us (including me) can be 100% free from processed food. Still, this experience was a wake-up call letting me know that we can never be sure of exactly what's in our processed food.

Friday, May 1, 2009

New Arrival!

It seems like everyone around me is having adorable little babies. Photos of these new sweeties are arriving in my inbox daily. Oh no, don't jump to any conclusions. I will not go down that route again in my lifetime. Still, I somehow can't feel a little jealous that they get to show off their new precious arrivals.

Now it's my turn to show off my new arrival.

Isn't she cute?

Yes, my compost bin is a she. Who else but a girl could take a bunch of junk and turn it into rich soil?

After a long winter of pouring kettles of boiling water on the compost pile to make room. I thought it was time for a sibling.

My girls are getting along famously!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Dear Mummy Earth,

Best wishes for a green Earth Day! Hoping that your residents are treading lightly you.

Today the kids and I have pledged not to use the car. That means four round trips to school for me; morning, afternoon kindergarten, volunteering in the library and finally pick-up at the end of the day.

Why then are hale, thunder and rain are predicted for later today? As of right now I'm thinking that I am hardy enough to push through the weather. That will change in a hurry if I start to get pelted by chunks of ice.

It's OK. Still love you anyway.


This photo was taken last year on a sunny Earth Day. My flag is no longer wrinkled. I would describe it more as soggy and limp.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Just 3 More Shopping Days

Today's Sunday newspaper is crammed with store circulars as usual. What is unusual about today's advertisements is all of the "green" stuff they are hawking.

Water filters, recycled paper notebooks, garden soil, cleaning products, books, TVs, toothpaste...I could go on and on.

Looks like Earth Day has gone the way of Valentine's Day, Christmas and my birthday. Just another reason to get out there and shop.

Happy Earth Day week to all of the Gruppies out there. Let's give each other the gift of simplicity this week and stay out of the stores. No more stuff. No more in our landfills. No more spending. No more!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Green Museum

Yesterday marked the last day of the kid's April vacation. Sniff! Sniff! Mummy and I decided to take the kids to the Boston Children's Museum.

I have fond childhood memories of the museum. Driving through the tunnel to get there, climbing down into the kid-sized manhole, working on a assembly line to create spinning tops. All fun stuff.

It looks like the Boston Children's Museum is even more fun in 2009! They have lept into the 21st century while riding the green wave.

The museum building is Gold LEED certified. Built with lots of recycled materials and full height windows for less reliance on artificial light. Green, living roofs were installed to help collect grey water for the toilets and irrigation. The living green roofs also keeps dangerous storm run off from entering and polluting the waters of Boston.

Traveling with my mummy meant that I fully examined all of the bathrooms (twice!). Dual flush toilets (up for liquids and down for solids) were well marked.

I wanted to take a photo of the dual flush toilets, but I was afraid that I would freak out the other museum patrons. Sorry!

My museum map was in perfect condition. Great to know it will be reused or recycled.

We will be back soon. Thank you Boston Children's Museum!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Naturally Easter

Some childhood memories make me shake my head with amazement. After regularly playing in the back of a moving station wagon and exploring the neighborhood until all hours as a little gruppie, I am happy that I made it out relatively unscathed. The memories of dying Easter eggs have now moved into that head shaking category.

Little did I know back then that those same food dyes that I was touching with my little hands and were seeping into my hard boiled eggs were so toxic. How can something that is wrapped up in such a cutesie package be so dangerous?

Artificial food dyes have been shown to cause hyperactivity, allergies, tumors and even cancer. Scary when you stop to think about how often artificial dyes can be found in the foods we eat. Scary when you know that the EU has stepped-up to begin banning food dyes from the foods their citizens eat and the US is not following suit.

This Easter my family made our own safe eggs dyes. OK, I know what you are thinking. Gruppie is trying to channel Brie and Martha again. You naysayers would be wrong. Dying hard boiled eggs couldn't be easier.

A quick Google search will turn up recipes for specific colors. Since I don't have the attention span or stove size for such rules. I winged it.

A can of blueberries and a slosh of water simmered on the stove top for 30 minutes or so. A splash of vinegar. Let it cool and your eggs will become the most beautiful shade of blue.

Left over red wine (it was a slow week) and a slosh of water simmered on the stove top. Add some vinegar and allow to cool. Your eggs will turn a beautiful shade of...ummm...dirty egg.

OK, so I don't recommend using red wine to dye Easter eggs. But it does help with the process if you are drinking red wine while you are dying the eggs.

Next year the kids want to try using boiled carrots and a whatever we have in the spice rack.

The completed eggs. Minus the one that rolled away...
Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Spring Cleaning

I don't usually open forwarded emails. Maybe it's because I have heard enough about the signs of a stroke, about conspiracy theories and the truth about UFOs But one forwarded email caught my eye enough for me to hit the open button. This email had a warning about a certain brand of cleaning product.

Apparently, a popular cleaning product that is used on the floors makes dogs sick when they lick the product off of their paws.

"Duh!" ~ 8 year old Gruppie

Big companies who hawk their so-called cleaning products have brainwashed us to think that our homes need to have an artificial smell in order to be clean. We need to stop willingly giving money to companies who combine a host of potentially lethal, fragrances ingredients into a pretty little bottle and call it a cleaner. Many of these products do just the opposite of clean. These products can pollute our indoor air quality and have lasting health affects on the people who live in our homes.

Years ago I read that housewives (who marries a house?) are 55% more likely to be diagnose cancer than their counterparts who work outside the home. It only makes sense. A person who is at home is probably going to perform most of the cleaning tasks. Closed windows + Toxic fumes = health problems.

What should clean smell like? Nothing.

What should clean look like? Nothing.

What should clean taste like? Nothing. Strange I know. But your cleaning products should be safe enough to eat.

Baking soda is my go-to product. Marker on the counter, erased. Scuff markers on the floor, erased. Stains on the fridge, erased. All with a cheap product that is so safe that you will find it in your recipe book.

Combine baking soda with water or lemon juice to make a gentle paste.

Combine baking soda with phosphate-free laundry detergent for a strong, tub cleaner.

Combine baking soda with vinegar to make a tough drain cleaner.

Use baking soda alone to absorb odor and dampness from carpets and mattresses.

All for 50 cents a box!

Happy spring cleaning!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It's Phone Book Season

The melting snow has ushered in a new round of phone book deliveries. This time it was three phone books all wrapped up in two shocking orange plastic bags. Paper waste wrapped in plastic waste. Ugh!!

My theory is that magical, computer illiterate beings blanket the entire town with plastic bagged phone books while us innocent villagers sleep at night. No matter how hard I try to find the magically culprits, they are as elusive as Santa Clause on Christmas Day.

The wonderful town I live in allows phone book companies to distribute as many phone books as they wish, yet they do not accept those same phone books for curbside recycling. And opting out didn't seem to work either.
The solution? Hide a tiny blue barrel behind a nondescript phone company building on the other side of town and label it "phone book recycling". Yeah, that's going to keep all of those phone books out of the waste stream...
Today I did notice that a new phone book collection bin was added to my side of town. Ugly as all get out, but it's there never the less.

Peeking through the slot, I noticed that my phone books were the only books in the bin. No friends for my lonely phone books.

These bins are bandaids at best. I've opted out of phone books and chased down mysterious phone book vomiting vans. What can I do to stop the hundreds of repetitive (useless in my house) phone books from being delivered to my neighborhood every year? Why don't I have the right to decide what is delivered in my driveway?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Lost My Way

Lately, I've been steaming mad at the world. My mummy is sick again and it's the world's fault.

Mummy and myself have both been cleaning our houses naturally, eating organically, gardening without pesticides and generally being as green as we possibly can. I am the first to admit that our reasons for being green were purely selfish. Making green choices is the only way we knew to keep our family and friends healthy.

It was all futile.

All of these feelings of anger have kept me from a lot of things that I loved doing. Specifically, writing about my personal journey.

Thank you to everyone who has helped pull me out of my gloomy hole. Thank you to Alicia for forcing me to talk when when I really wanted to do was talk about her sweet baby girl. Thank you to Marisa and Petra for sincerely offering to take my kids at anytime so I can hold my mummy's hand whenever I need to. Thank you to Hubby for supporting me when I needed to watch endless hours of reality TV while eating endless pints of Ben and Jerry's. Thank you to Andrea for cleaning my plate without a second thought. Thank you to Kim for listening to every detail. Thank you to the kids of the children's museum where I work for bringing amazing amounts of innocent energy to my class.

It's tough to be mad at the world when my mummy is feeling hopeful and ready to fight. It's tough to be made when I have a great group of friends who are supportive. I think that it's time for me to get back in the saddle. (reusable cork leather saddle...of course)

A few weeks ago I was fearful that this post was going to praise the virtues of Round Up and toxic air fresheners. Now, I can truly say that I lost my way for a little while and now I'm ready to continue writing for me. Writing about my journey is good for my soul. In the immortal words of Sheryl Crow," if it makes you happy. It can't be that bad."

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?

People are spending less. The economy has fallen in the low-flow toilet. School budgets are being squeezed to the point of no return. No news there.

We now hold a greater responsibility as to where we chose to spend our money. We can drive our cars over to the the big chain store to save a few cents. But are we really saving?

When we shop at a locally owned store and spend $100; $45 of our money will go back onto the local economy. Keeping our money close to home is good for all of us.

On the flip side, when shopping remotely or shopping at a nationally-owned chain, the numbers are very different. Spend that same $100 at the chain store and only $14 of your purchase will go back into the local economy. Is that worth the few pennies you saved at the register?

Speak with your wallet. Take a walk down to the mom and pop pharmacy to buy your cotton balls and band aids. Visit the small grocer that you have been meaning to check out and pick-up the ingredients for tonight's dinner. Even better, look for food products that have been made in your home state. Go ahead and patronize the small restaurant down the street instead of visiting that same chain.

I live in a small Connecticut village with quite a few stores and a couple of restaurants. Again and again I hear people talk about the downtown businesses and how they've never patronized these businesses. Yes, everyone has great intentions. It's time to follow through on those intentions and support our neighbors.

Bob from Sesame Street best summed up my thoughts with this song. It was a favorite of mine as a kid and I sing it to my kids (When did the kids learn to roll their eyes?). Enjoy!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Big Girl Bed

I'm a dork. Seriously. Why else would I be so excited about getting my own big girl bed?

You may remember the meanie company that asked me to try their Zero VOC paint and never came through. Those meanies used me for pictures of my horribly decorated bedroom. I'm still having nightmares about the red circles.

While that whole experience made me a bit more leery about strange paint ladies, it also pushed me to do a little decorating in my own bedroom.

Adults are supposed to own bed frames complete with headboards and foot boards. Since people keep telling me that I am now an adult too, I guess that it was time to act like it. Goodbye to the dorm chic look.

After months of waiting....my new Big Girl Bed is here!!

P.S. The old bed frame went to a nice family on Freecycle.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Do It Yourself

In my naive Gruppie brain I like to believe that every cloud has a silver lining. Million of greeting cards can't be wrong. The dark recession cloud of today has a silvery green lining. People are discovering that being green and saving money can go hand and hand.

The Gruppie family has been attempting to do more for ourselves. We are becoming do-it-yourselfers.

Take this weekend for example. We hosted a basketball team party that got a little out of control. Apparently the cute little b-ballers grabbed as many items from my garage as they could and proceeded to break them. In years past these broken items would have gone into the trash without another thought. Today's greener version of myself whipped out the super glue and repaired the sprinkler in a single leap. Today's greener version of myself discovered that the local hardware store sells replacement broom handles. A few twists, saw it down to size, add some leftover paint and the broom is as good as new.

In years past whenever the car would clang or sputter I would drive the two towns over to the dealership to get it fixed. Pollution and high costs. Now that the family station wagon is getting on in years, the shaking and knocking is a daily occurrence. Hubby has sprung to the rescue by talking to handy friends and reading up on automotive repair. He has fixed up the old wagon (mostly) by himself.

Hubby has also found a new trade to fall back on. He has become a master at cutting Little Guy's hair. A stool in the garage with some cheap clippers and Little Guy is done for a month. Honestly, he does a better job than the salon that we used to take him to and I don't have to listen to the salon gossip.

My Gruppie family of 2009 has come to terms with the fact that we are fairly helpless. We realize that we don't know how to do much on our own. We don't create our own energy, grow our own food, make our own clothing or even make our own entertainment. But we are trying! Is there anyone is suburbia who can truly take care of themselves without the help of others?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lock The Window

There are three stories on my narrow house. The windows on the bottom two floors have always been securely locked at all times while I never payed much attention to the windows on the third stories. Why notice them? Meanies could only get to those windows if they had a fire truck or maybe the ability to fly.

Recently I was walking by one of my unlocked third story windows when I noticed a strong, cold draft. (damn you New England winters!) The window was shut, so what was the problem? I tugged, pulled and pushed on the window. Nothing. Then, I simply locked the window and the draft disappeared.

Ding, Ding. Ding. There was that light bulb over my head!

The window lock helps to keep the windows completely sealed. In the immortal words of my eight year-old Gruppie self, "duh!"

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Green Library

American libraries were not originally founded on green ideals. Still I cannot think of another group, located in nearly every small town and big city, that is quite so environmentally friendly.

Borrowing magazines and books instead of buying them is the obvious first thing that springs to mind when I think of the ways in which libraries are green. Less trash, less paper, less ink. But, the libraries of today are so much more. Video games, toys, CD players, games, DVDs and downloadable books are now commonplace. Items that may have been watched or played with maybe twice after being privately purchased can now be used by many residents.

Museum passes are one of my favorite green library perks. Back when the family first moved to Connecticut, I had no clue what to do around town. Consequently I spent my weekends traveling far and wide. Since I discovered my library's free museum passes, my traveling has been far more local. Less pollution and my money is being spent locally.

Over December vacation (AKA cold and trapped at home for two weeks), the kids and I grabbed a library pass and headed over to Hartford. We discovered the Harriet Beecher Stowe House. Lots of new and interesting facts were learned during our free kids tour. For example, did you know that Harriet's son was Andy Samberg's doppelganger?

In my spare time, the library has proved to be a great place for me to do a little guerrilla greening. My passive aggressive self just loves to tack notes to the bulletin board outlining how to dispose of CFL bulbs or discussing the importance of composting. It is also a great place for me to strategically place my pre-read magazines like Mothering, the natural family magazine. (Shhh...don't tell the librarians it's me)

The librarians of the past in their cardigan sweaters and pointy glasses may not have planned to show love for the earth and your pocketbook through their libraries. Let's hope that in the era of budget cuts and zero growth, our librarians of today (in their seasonal sweaters and bright skirts) will be able to continue with their missions and change with the times.

Have you hugged your librarian today?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Spread the Love

In my gruppie opinion, Valentine's Day is a holiday for kids in school. It's the one day every year when each kid is guarenteed to receive 20 Valentine's (mostly filled with candy). Valentine's Day may be one of the most exciting of all of the 180 school days. After the sixth grade, the day begins to loose it's luster.

Consumerism and the pressure to act romantic puts Valentine's Day near the bottom of my favorite holiday list. Sorry Tweed Day! My bitterness really peaked that year in college when I decided to dump my boyfriend on Valentine's Day. (Gosh that was a good decision)

Crafty Girlie created her own Valentine's Day mailbox using an old soda box and some scrap paper.

For all of those with love in the hearts and their wallets firmly stashed in the top drawer. Enjoy this day!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Water Woes

My yard is covered in melting snow. Water is dripping off of the roof. Tiny rivers are running down the street. Winter (dreaming of spring) in Connecticut is here. That means water!

It's easy to forget just how serious our global water situation is. Dire would be a great word. Australia is on fire. Kids are dying of thirst and dysentery in Africa. Water shortages are abound. We each need to do our part to lessen our fresh water usage.

I was dreaming in green last Christmas. As all good little Gruppies do, I wrote a letter to Santa. In my letter I asked Santa for solar roof panels and a low-flow shower head with a pause button. (You know, for those soapy moments when you really aren't standing under the shower and all of that clean water is just falling down the drain.) Seeing that I had been extra good I thought that I was sure to score with my gifts.

Well, the solar panels must not have fit in Santa's sack, because the Waterpik showerhead was one of my only gifts under the tree. Maybe I wasn't as good as I thought...

On Christmas day I immediately ran to the shower and installed my new low-flow showerhead (because I'm crafty like that) and proceeded to take a shower. I'll keep this all PG, but when it was time to soap up I slid the pause button only to have the water slow. As all five year olds know, pause means stop. Like stop completely. Who are these Waterpik packaging writers who believe that pause means "just slow down a little"?

In addition to the annoying false advertising, the water stream was amazingly narrow. I found myself talking longer showers just to make-up for the lack of water covering my body. I began to think that my fancy new low-flow shower head was costing me money and wasting more water.

Long story short, I paused my dream of easily conserving water in the shower for now. When I soap up, I turn off the water completely. It's a pain, but it will have to do. As for the new shower head, I did what any frugal parent would do...made the kids use it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Five Questions

I get great questions from my readers all of the time. Cheree over at The Verbosery was sweet enough to keep the five questions for a blogger train going.

Here we go...


OK.. I kept the questions mostly about "living green". I thought this would be an excellent way for you to talk more about things you maybe haven't talked about yet, and some of the harder parts. You make it look so easy, sometimes (well, like WORK, but easy) (Cheree, I'm the one who feels like a mess!), so those of us who already feel like we're chasing after our lives sometimes feel a little bit intimidated. :) And NO BENCH QUESTIONS! :) I hope you enjoy them!

1. Is Mr. Gruppie (or would that Gruppie Boy?) as fanatical about living green as you are?

Gruppie Boy or "Hubby" as I like to call him when the tights come off, has worked really hard to move closer to green. I would say that I initiated things, but Hubby is sharing the reigns and running with it.

Hubby is a talker by profession, so he easily slides green speak into his conversations. Once he even started a conversation with a client about the benefits of cloth diapers.

You would never peg either of us as granola if you walked by us on the street. Us gruppies are cleverly disguised as yuppies. (apparently one of us also wears tights)

2. What was the hardest change for you to make, in terms of giving up something you enjoyed or having to find a better alternative?

Like all of my readers, my time is precious. Since I've really focused on cleaning up my life, I've had to give up a lot of convenience.

Now I can't just run to the drugstore to buy something like make-up or sunscreen when I know that it will harm both my family and the planet. I need to plan ahead tons more.

3. Do you have one secret, guilty non-"green" pleasure that you allow yourself occasionally?

Cover your eyes. This is super secret and super naughty.

Sometimes I like to eat at McDonald's. :(

4. Of the things you do to live a more earth-friendly life, what do you find is the most time and/or energy consuming?

Food! Making food from scratch, learning how to grow my own food, researching CSAs and even eating in season has been the biggest time eater (punny) for me. It probably doesn't help that I detest cooking.

Life would be tons easier if I just grabbed watermelons in the winter or ate all prepackaged foods. But I have to think ahead as to how those decisions affect all of us.

5. What's your favorite just-for-you special "green" treat or extravagance?

I buy expensive organically grown fair trade chocolate and don't share it with a soul. Third drawer down, under my socks. Don't tell.

ChereeRandom & Capricious

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Everyday Plastic

Hi, my name is Gruppie and my kids like to eat lunch meat.

Hi Gruppie.

OK, so I buy the antibiotic-free lunch meat. Still, it's loaded with nitrates and other yuckies...I know. One of the worst features of lunch meat is all of the plastic that it comes wrapped in.

The other day Hubby was off to the local food store when he mentioned that the kids wanted lunch meat and sliced cheese. "Oooohh, perfect!" I had been meaning to bring my reusable glass containers to the deli, but kept forgetting. Now Hubby could be the perfect guinea pig.

The brave hunter gatherer came back from the store with two reusable glass containers filled with turkey and cheese. "They looked at me funny" was all that Hubby said.

What do all of you other plastic-haters do with the deli price sticker? Do you allow the friendly meat cutters to stick it onto the glass container only so you can spend the first ten minutes after you arrive home picking at it? Or do you do something entirely more intelligent?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Plastic Cap Dilemma

Usually I'm fairly shy. I like to pretend that I'm outgoing, but I'm really not much of a small talker. But one day last fall, the planets must have been aligned perfectly. I walked into the Aveda store and began chatting with the friendly sales associate. I noticed a special anniversary bottle and she shared that it was made out of recycled plastic caps. First, Aveda began recycling its employees caps. Then, they tried opening the recycling program up to their customers. Now, the program has gone nation wide!

A store who takes responsibility for what they sell and actually takes it back? Fingers crossed that this is the newest trend of the (near) future.

Plastic caps cannot be left on plastic bottles when they are recycled. Local towns don't stress that point enough. Municipalities need to step-up and educate their residents more fully. (that's a whole different post) Walking around my neighborhood on a Sunday night, you would notice that most of my neighbors add their plastic caps in their recycling bins. Mistakenly believing that these caps can be recycled.

Plastic caps cannot be left on plastic bottles when they are recycled! (that point was important enough to say twice.)

Put on your science thinking caps kids...All plastic has different melting points. So if a plastic recycler was to melt down #1 plastic for recycling and a few caps with a different melting point found their way into the batch, the entire batch may become contaminated.

Plastic caps have also shown to clog up recycling systems and even become dangerous projectiles in the recycling facilities. Pinnggg....

What to do? What to do?

The Aveda Corporation realized that poor defenseless caps were being tossed away to forever live in the landfills. They also realized that the plastic used to make caps can be worth more money that regular old plastic bottle plastic. The friendly people at Aveda have devised a way to recycle rigid, plastic caps into new plastic bottles.

Aveda accepts clean, rigid plastic caps for recycling at most of their store locations. Also, if you have a school or group that collects these caps, they will send you free mailing labels to return the caps. Easy smeeshy.

My kid's school has welcomed the Aveda cap recycling program. Collection boxes can be found in the school hallways, the cafeteria and in the staff room. And boy are these boxes filling-up fast!

The cap recycling was easy to start. I just sent Aveda and email, asked the friendly principal (report cards are coming soon) for permission and tossed some labeled boxes liberated from the lunch room out in the halls. A quick emailed note (not to waste paper) went out to the parents. So easy that even you could do this at your school, office, church, restaurant or dance studio (Thanks Amy!). Hint Hint

It makes me smile on this dark, frigid day to know that there are a few less caps in the landfill today than there were yesterday.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Ode To My Slippers

Ode To My Slippers
By Gruppie Girl

For years I denied you.
Returning you back to the store after Christmas.

"I'm too young!"
"I'm not a grandma!"
Slippers weren't for me.

The I got a little greener
and my thermostat got a little lower.

Then I slipped down the stairs
Three times, maybe four.

I finally gave in and went to that store.
That store with elastic wasted pants and suspenders.
That store with the big selection of grandma slippers.

My new slippers keep me warm and snug.
They keep me from bruising my patootie (again).

I wear them all day.
At night they sadly slip off.

I truly love my grandma slippers.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Those Phone Books!

Last summer I posted about the never ending parade of phone books that arrive in my driveway and the stress they bring me. When I was 4 the Boston phone book was the perfect boost for my tiny bottom (some things never change) at Grandma Dot's dining room table. Now that I'm older I see these books in terms of tress and toxic inks.

In my town, phonebooks aren't accepted into recycling. The town expects it's residents to drive fifteen minutes (each way from my house) to the other side of town to deposit my used phone books in the parking lot of a nondescript phone company building. Not going to happen in today's busy world. In my informal poll of neighbors and friends, not one person actually drives their phone books to the designated drop spot. No one even knew about this spot.

After numerous phone calls and emails I was convinced that the 8 to 10 phone books I receive per year were never going to go away. Until now.

Yellow Pages Goes Green is a nonprofit group that is helping local governments establish ordinances that will not allow yellow and white page phone directories to be delivered to residents who do not want them. No more hearing that ominous thud on the driveway. We are now gaining the power to say what is and what is not to be left in our driveways and on our doorsteps.

The YellowPagesGoesGreen.org site includes an area to sign-up to be removed from phone book distribution lists. Because, come on, don't you just Google information anyways?

The YPGG site also shares some startling statistics about phone books. Did you now that 500 million phone books were printed int he US last year? 19 MILLION trees had to be harvested to create those phone books! 268,000 cubic feet of landfill space will be used when those same phonebooks are trashed.!

Why are we paying for this landfill space? Why are we paying to trash our air quality? Why are we paying for something that we didn't ask for?

Please take a minute to opt out of unsolicited phone book deliveries. You will never have to chase down a sketchy van in your jammies again. (true story)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Pin Drop

Today I dropped Little Guy off at school precisely at noon like I usually do. Only today the elementary school was amazingly quiet. None of the usually running in the halls, fooling in the bathrooms, laughing in the classrooms type of noises were heard. The school was simply quiet.

The kids were all busy watching Presidents Obama's (that feels nice to type) inauguration. There were TVs in the cafeteria, TVs in the library, TVs in the halls, TVs in the classrooms. All 300 sets of little eyes were glued to the action.

I wonder how many of those 300 little brains understand just how important today really was in the course of history? I wonder if my little brain understands how important today was?

No matter how your political alliances lean, you have to agree that today is a day that will go down in the history books. Today we all were given a front row seat to that history. A major shift in our country is happening. Only time will prove just how historical today was.

Today was so moving and historic that I had to I redo my mascara twice! Thanks a lot President Obama!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Aww Snap!

A few months ago I received an email from a friendly person who own a Zero VOC paint company. She wanted to know if I wanted to try her paint in exchange for a review.

"Yes", I told her. This was my perfect excuse to finally paint my bedroom.

In my adult life (I'm an adult already. Right?) I have never decorated my bedroom in any way. No paint. No art. Not even a headboard. All of my time, effort and money has gone into the kid's rooms and the common areas of the house. Woe is me....I'm always last.

With the prospect of a fresh coat of paint I spent an entire week choosing the perfect big-girl bed for Hubby and myself. (With my track record, it will be with use well-past our 60th wedding anniversary) Tall and simple. Sturdy and rich. Perfect.

The seemingly friendly paint people offered to give me color suggestions for my upcoming project. "Just send us photos." Simple sounding.

After not hearing from the paint people for months, an email appeared in my inbox. Apparently they had blogged about my disastrous decorating. The photos of my bedroom had been posted for all the world to see! In the style of a sorority horror film, these friendly people took out their red pens and circled the particularly heinous areas of the room!

In the immortal words of Hannah Montana, "Aww Snap!" They got me.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Give Back Filters and Number 5

I missed the date. I missed the date when Brita began accepting their filters back for recycling. I missed January 12th.

I'm not really surprised. In the past, I have prided myself on my extreme promptness. 2009 is solidly turning into my 10 minutes late year. Bummer.

Now back to the good news!

Forward thinking bloggers, led by Beth from Fake Plastic Fish pushed Brita to take back their plastic water filters for recycling. Brita was running commercials claiming the filters were environmentally friendly. "Not so" said Beth. Brita was recycling their filters in the EU while they claimed the filters couldn't be recycled in the US. "Foul" cried Beth.

With lots of blogger pressure, Brita finally struck a deal with one of my favorite companies, Preserve to recycle their filters into usable products. Whole Foods then stepped in and agreed to collect the filters and #5 plastics. That's right kids, all of that yucky #5 plastic can now be dropped-off at most Whole Foods locations for recycling.

For all of you out there who drink filtered water (there isn't anyone left who drinks bottled water...is there?) You can mail your used filters directly to the "Preserve Gimme" location listed on the Brita site or you can drop them off at your local Whole Foods.

Problem solved. Thank you for stepping-up and finding a solution to another plastic problem Beth!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back to the Coal Mine

Vacation is over. The new year has begun. I'm fired-up to get back into my routines.

For once I have the drive to wash the floors (with Dr. Bronner's of course), return my emails, send thank you notes, fold the laundry, take a daily shower. You know, all of those things that tend to loose their luster as the year goes on.

I want to get back into the coal mines. That's a clean coal mine of course. (wink! wink!)

Mother nature is not granting my wish. After nearly two weeks of school vacation, Mother Nature brought a delayed school opening on Monday. Then, today she cancelled school entirely.

Looks like today will bring hours of Wii bowling. Bowls of air popped popcorn. Baking the leftover box of organic ginerbread cookie. Lots of neighbor kids. And certainly no shower or make-up today.

Come on Mother Nature...can't you cut a fellow mummy a break?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Goodbye Chirstmas Tree

One of my favorite post-Christmas sights is on the dunes of Cape Cod. Locals line the sand dunes with their Christmas trees in hopes of slowing the winter beach erosion. Beautiful and resourceful.
In my neck of the woods, the only sand I see in the winter is the road sand that gets tracked throughout my house. In my neck of the woods Christmas trees get chipped into mulch for spring gardens. Thumbs up to my town officials for great reusing and recycling.

Just the other day I hauled my old tree out to the curb (I've got the sap on my hands to prove it) in anticipation for the town's pick 'n' chip. Soon after I took the tree outside it magically disappeared. Or so I thought...

Through the neighborhood pipeline I heard about a mystery Christmas tree placed in a neighbor's yard. Surprisingly this tree was festively decorated with bras and panties. Shocking to the friendly residents. (they had to have snickered a little)
Now I can't confirm or deny my involvement in this Christmas Tree caper. All I know is that if the bras are cute and in a size 36C, can someone send them this way? You can keep the panties.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Hang Up Your Coat

Recycling is more than tossing your cans and jars in a curbside recycling bin. There are lots of opportunities to recycle and reuse (therefore reducing..wink...wink) in your very own neighborhood.

Take dry cleaning for example.

Dry cleaning your clothes isn't a very environmentally friendly option for cleaning your clothes. Tons of nasty chemicals are used in the process. These chemicals find their way into our water and air casuing birth defects and cancers. Beating your dirty clothes on a rock while using a phosphate-free soap would be a better option. (Does anyone have a spare rock?)

To be realistic, sometimes dry cleaning is a necessary evil in my family. Take the fact that I've got a hubby who occasionally has to wear a suit and pair that with my complete inability to figure out how to clean those suits. Mix them together and that equals a trip to the neighborhood dry cleaner now and then.

My dry cleaner is similar to others who might be in your neighborhood. While not outwardly green, they are making small steps iu the right direction. Most cleaners will happily accept your used wire hangers and plastic bags back for reuse. My local company will even pay it's customers $2 for every package of hangers they return. Oh, how I love saving money!

Next time you must use the dry cleaners, grab your hangers and plastic bags to return to the store. Keep additional trash out of the landfills and help your neighborhood dry cleaning company save money. You've got to love a win-win situation!