Make life a little more earth-friendly without going to extremes.

November 2008 Archives

idealbite.jpgOne of my green-watching co-workers forwarded me Ideal Bite's tip e-mails.
Ideal Bite offers themselves up as "a sassier shade of green." They're a site that offers green tips, sells green stuff, etc.
I learned about it last year but found myself a little irritated for some reason.
Now that I've gone back there, I'm not sure what I didn't like in the first place.
Perhaps my tolerance to "sassy" greenness is up after too many hours of Planet Green.
Either way, hop on over, consider signing up for e-mailed tips relevant to what's going on.
You can sign up for regular tips, Chicago-specific tips, mother tips, etc.

Tallgrass Beef Jerky
I can't eat most regular beef jerky anymore, because most of it has enough hidden MSG to leave me hurting.
This situation isn't one that leaves me happy. I loved beef jerky before I developed an MSG sensitivity.
Enter the FamilyFarmed.org expo last weekend in Chicago. Tallgrass Beef Company had representatives there. More importantly, Tallgrass had 2-ounce packages of beef jerky there.
Tallgrass, which was founded by newsman Bill Kurtis, raises beef in such a way that you don't have to feel guilty about tearing into a steak.

I have to have a plastic shower curtain. I splash to much to make do with canvas.
I have a white, cotton curtain that can be easily laundered and never goes out of style.
Beneath it, lies the problem.
The inside curtain is the standard off-gassing PVC curtain.
I hate breathing in the fumes from new ones. I hate throwing the old ones in landfills when they get so gross that they have to go. I hate the idea of putting tons of chemicals into the water to get the grimies off of the plastic to keep using the curtain.
The solution: My trusty washer.
I read somewhere that you can wash plastic shower curtains.
I decided to risk it. I popped it into my HE washer with a bit of eco-friendly laundry soap and a few towels (so they'd rub against it, helping it along.)
One wash cycle later, I pulled out a clean curtain and clean towels.
Now, I don't have to endure new-curtain VOCs, I don't throw plastic in the landfill and I don't buy more petroleum-based products.
Life is good.
Has anyone else tried this? Or do you have a sure-fire green solution? Or -- I wait with anticipation -- something better than the PVC nightmare?

One day left to visit expo!

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The weather outside if frightful, but the FamilyFarmed.Org Expo is delightful!
I went to the exp today in Chicago and my head is happily whirling.
To quote my husband when we left, "I'm full of hope."
Sunday is your last chance to go to this Disneyland for adults (but kids can go, too!) at the Cultural Center in Chicago.
In the coming weeks, I'll be profiling a lot of the companies and people I met today, and including a ton of photos of them from the event. (We don't have th pics uploaded yet.)
Fun reasons you should go:


  • You'll make up the ticket price in coupons and samples.

  • Never tried sustainable mead? This is your day, my man.

  • This is going to be the largest group of nice people you've ever seen in one city.


Serious reasons you should go:

  • You can support family-owned farms and organizations, the people who aren't the big businesses that ran everything into the ground and demanded bailouts.

  • You can find local sources for food, from liquor to cheese. The less gas it takes to get your food to you, the less gas we're using and more gas prices plummet.

  • You're going to create a connection with organic and sustainable foods. How much more does your food mean to you when you know that the meat was pasture-raised AND you met the guy who works there? Eating is personal again.


We are just so delighted with what we learned. We'll be buying for these people, learning more about them and generally leading better lives because of this. Laugh all you want, but this was a wonderful, great day.
We got there a little late so we only had about four hours there. Sunday's programs seem to be even more consumer-oriented (including how to do this local and organic eating on the cheap), so this is a great day to go.
Plan for parking, bring a notebook for jotting down recipes and notes, and bring a bag for samples, fliers and whatnot.
Click on the Family Farmed.org Expo link about for details about hour, how to get there, etc. This is worth it. You'll have a lot more to give thanks for on Thursday when you know about the good work people are doing.

My recent praise of Arm&Hammer baking soda prompted some questions from two of my favorite people who hadn't seen my rejection of shampoo or wanted updates.
If you missed what's going on: I stopped using shampoo, probably about six months ago.
Instead, I use baking soda to clean my hair and apple cider vinegar to condition it.

Q: Do you smell like a salad?
A: Nope, you rinse everything out. Vinegar loses its smell when it's dry anyway.
Q: Baking soda isn't soap. What gives?
A: I'm rapidly understanding the view that we're not supposed to be using harsh soaps that leave our hair and skin dry and brittle. No harsh soaps, no needs for gooey conditioners and chemical lotions.
Q: You're not washing your hair. That's gross.
A: That's not a question. And it's not gross. If you ran your fingers through my hair, you little flirt you, you wouldn't know I'm doing anything different, except my hair feels healthy.

Reward green high-schoolers

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Does your local high school have a great recycling club?
Nominate them for an award here.

Thumbnail image for Mint Creek Farm_small.jpgPhoto courtesy of Mint Creek Farm
This turkey is still a little bit too lively for the Thanksgiving table, but that's because he's been living the good life at Mint Creek Farm in Stelle. The farm will sell turkeys, lamb, duck, goose and other holiday meats this weekend at the Family Farmed Expo, just in time for Thanksgiving.

It's nearly Thanksgiving. And it's been a bit of a crappy year, but we can definitely give thanks that it hasn't been worse.
The picture above may have you screaming, "It's not green to eat our feathered friends."
Or it may have you saying, "Man, gravy would be really good right now."
Either way, you have to give props to Mint Creek Farm in Stelle. The grand turkey above is one of theirs.
It looks so happy because it's pasture-raised and organically-fed. They're living on a family-owned farm here in the heartland. That's right. That turkey's living the good life. I bet you don't eat all organic or get to spend much time in a pasture. Course, you'll also be around after Thanksgiving so I'm not going to knock 'em too much.
Point is, there are options for people looking for healthier holiday food, but aren't willing to go vegetarian just yet.
Where can you get a Mint Creek Farm turkey, lamb or other holiday animal to grace your table?
The FamilyFarmed.org Expo this weekend in Chicago. The weekend highlights local, organic food from family farms. Mint Creek Farm certainly fits the bill. It's open Friday through Sunday and has events for everyone from big-business owners looking for green options to lowly consumers, like you and me.
Click on the link for more info and ticket options.

Baking soda
Arm & Hammer
Sure, you normally grab Arm & Hammer when you need baking soda. It pretty much dominates the market. But baking soda is baking soda, right?
Maybe not.
As readers know, I've ditched shampoo and conditioner in favorite of the more earth-friendly and me-friendly baking soda and apple cider vinegar.
I was using up the baking soda in a box my mother-in-law gave me that was a drug store brand. It worked fine.
I finally ran out of that one and busted into my four-pound Arm & Hammer baking soda.
Holy cow. I felt like I was in a shampoo commercial. My hair actually felt silkier while I rubbed in the baking soda solution. By the time I was trying my hair, I was tossing it around like a Pantene model.
I'd figured that my hair wasn't going to be exactly the same with baking soda as it was with shampoo. Turns out I was just using the wrong baking soda.
Ninety-nine percent of the time, I advocate store brands or small business brands. But I think Arm & Hammer has the market for a reason.
With baking soda such a wonderful nontoxic cleaning resource (for your home and body), having the right brand can make a difference in giving you something effective enough that you stick with it in lieu of more harmful commercial products.
Pop over here to sign up for a coupon and here to get more ideas about how to use baking soda at home.

I saw the e-mail in my inbox. It had "bottled water" in the subject line. Surely this was another person that agrees with my horror over bottled water. (It puts thousands of plastic bottles in landfills everyday, exposes people to BPA and is held to less stringent standards than our tap water.)
Nope.
The subject line: Campaign Targets Unfair Political Assault on Bottled Water
That would be the unfair assault I support.
The sender, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, believes "individuals are best helped not by government intervention, but by making their own choices in a free marketplace," according to their Web site.
They're campaigning to make sure government doesn't tax bottled water or limit it's use over, presumably, silly concerns about turning our entire country into a landfill of plastic bottles that will never go away.
The e-mail says:
Banning bottled water would hurt people, the group, says including:


  • "immuno-compromised individuals following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to drink bottled water" ... who apparently can't work a Brita filter.

  • s"ports and health enthusiasts who use bottled water to keep hydrated" .. and presumably aren't fit enough to bring along a reusable bottle

  • "anyone who simply enjoys convenience and portability of bottled water" ... Ah, convenience. Isn't that how we got into this landfill mess in the first place?


You know how there are kids starving and people losing their homes and refugees without a place to live?
They're not important when "some health clubs are considering forcing their clients to drink tap water."
Yeah, freaking tragic. I'm unmoved by your e-mail pleas, Competitive Enterprise Institute.

If your property were surrounded by a four-sided box that let in sunlight but little else, how long could you last?
Would you run out of food when your cupboard became bare of store-bought food or do you grow vegetables in your yard?
Would you carefully conserve your remaining water and put out containers to harvest rain water, realizing what a valuable commodity water is?
Would you decide not to use what was left of the gas to mow the lawn since you'd have to keep breathing in the fumes?
Could you make do with no electricity?
Would you hesitate to put out pesticides and herbicides since the poisons would stay in your air and water?
How many items that you would have "thrown away" before would you now find ways to reuse?

What if the box were around your town?
Would there be enough farmers to provide you with food and meat or do the strip malls rule the land?
Could you get around on bikes and by walking when the gas ran out?
Would the town ban landscaping that needs more water than the sky provides?
Would composting, reusing and recycling become law so your entire boxed-in town wasn't a landfill within two or three years?

What if the box were around the state?
Would we insist that Lake Michigan's water be doled out more carefully so we didn't run out so soon?
Would we stop people from burning the remaining coal so we didn't fill what was left of our remaining airspace with smoke?
Would our farmers provide enough variety that we could still get our needed nutrition? Or have they already given up on growing items that can be imported more cheaply?

What if there were a box around our planet?
Would we pollute the land, water and air?
Would we use water with abandon to support non-native plants in deserts? Would we become a throw-away society that tosses things into the landfill with no thought?
Would we genetically modify our foods and spray them with poisons?

When is it too late for us to realize our planet is in a box, its own atmosphere, and that we can't drive to the next planet and start over? The decisions you made for your boxed-in yard need to be replicated in every home in every country. We can't rely on the neighbors to be responsible, another country to be responsible. We're in this box together.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from November 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

October 2008 is the previous archive.

December 2008 is the next archive.

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