Monday, November 14, 2011

Buy Nothing Day: An Eco-Stepper's Answer to Black Friday

Here it comes again... that day of post Thanksgiving, deal-getting, stuff-buying, early-bird-door-busting, trampling, gotta-have-it shopping.  For many of us in the United States, that day is known as Black Friday - the biggest and busiest shopping day of the year when many retailers give shoppers the "best deals" possible for the Christmas holiday season.  How can that be bad, right?  Well, our spending and consuming have reallly put us in a financial bad place.  The average American adult will rack up nearly $1000
 on his or her credit card during the Christmas shopping season.  For two adult households, that's $2000 in credit card debt.  To use Annie Leonard's terms, our Story of Stuff has now become our Story of Broke.   The good news is, each of us has control over how much we spend.  We can simply buy less.  Luckily there is an answer to Black Friday.  It's called  Buy Nothing Day

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Six Degrees of Separation: Eco-Steps Style

Just as in "six degrees of separation" we are generally only six people away from just about everyone on the planet (including Kevin Bacon).  That means that the little things (or eco-steps, even) we say and do have the potential to influence, well, everyone.  Taking it one step further, think about Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and all of the other social media out there.  We are all "friends" of friends, of friends of someone.  Arguably, we are more interconnected now than in any other time in history and that this "togetherness" brings us all more power than we realize.  I must say that I've gone back and forth on this whole social media concept.  I've loved it, I've hated it, I have activated, deactivated, then reactivated accounts just to stay "in touch" or at least semi-tethered to modern society.   Say or feel what you want about it, social media is here and becoming more entrenched in our way of life, which brings about the power and responsibility aspect.  Since we are all interconnected (one way or another) we can use these social media tools to help share ideas and raise awareness about important issues.  That's where Eco-Steps come in.  Let's look at some examples.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Organics and Non-GMO Foods Delivered To Your Doorstep-- For Less!

Join the OCA-Endorsed National Buying Club for Organic and Non-GMO Foods: The Green Polka Dot Box

Readers both near and far, please take the opportunity to check this out.  It may be the newest, best way to get organic, non-GMO food and groceries for 30-50% less than retail prices.  Definitely worth looking into to get the good stuff for less $$.
Click on the link above or below for more information:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Eco-Stepping from the Inside Out

Hi and Happy August.  Where is the summer going?  I'm not really sure, but I know that it is flying by at lightning speed.  Many of us live our lives at such a pace that we seemingly catch ourselves coming and going at the door and we don't take the opportunity to think about what is good for us.  What ever happened to the "lazy days" of summer?  (Did they ever really exist?)  Which brings me to my topic of Eco-Stepping from the inside out.  Many of my posts are about saving energy, money, and doing good things for the environment around us.  This time I am focusing more on slowing down and taking time to reflect upon the environment within us.   

Friday, July 8, 2011

Eco-Steps to Preventing Cancer

Big title?  Yep.  Come with me for a moment on a little journey of "What ifs..."

What could cure cancer?  Even better, what if you could actually PREVENT it?  That would be pretty huge, wouldn't it?  Think about what that might mean for your life, the lives of your loved ones, and generations to come.  Wow, it's pretty staggering to think about.

What if...I suggested, hinted or told you that you already have this ability?  Would you think I'm crazy?  Maybe.  But, what if I'm not? 

What if...each of us has the power to prevent cancer?

Let's explore this together.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Repost: Everything I Ever Wanted to Know About Plastics, But was Afraid to Ask

A repost from EnviroMom

I recently finished reading the book, Plastic, A Toxic Love Story, by Susan Freinkel. It was an eye opener for me. Plastic is something I've just not wanted to get into. Over the past few years, don't get me wrong, I've worked hard to eliminate many plastics from our lives. But its ubiquitousness can be exhausting. You find out on a regular basis how many far-fetched things have plastic in them. Metal food cans. Chewing gum, for crying out loud!

Plastic, A Toxic Love Story examines seven common plastic items: plastic lawn chair, comb, disposable lighter, grocery bag, IV bag, water bottle and Frisbee. And through that lens, taught me everything I want to know about plastics. I learned about the various resins, and why what works for a yogurt cup won't work for a fizzy-pop bottle. I learned that most credit and gift cards are made of PVC (boo! hiss! evil PVC!). As are IV bags. Gulp (note to self: try not to be hospitalized). I gained a grudging acceptance of the future of bioplastics. Quite simply, this book tells the interesting and engaging stories behind the lifecycles of these common plastic items, and the sometimes surprising ways humans and other animals interact with them. And accidentally become 'a little bit plastic.'

If you are like me, and don't know much about plastics, and glaze over when talk of the chemical building blocks of plastics come up, this is the book for you. Do I sound like I'm doing a third grade book report speech? I hope so. One gripe: in the chapter on the plastic 'monobloc' chair I would have liked some pictures of the earlier plastic chairs designed by Panton and Starck (Louis Ghost). They were easy enough to Google, but still. Except for the cover, this book has no pictures. Overall, I enjoyed this book, and highly recommend it if you're just getting started on your understanding of the complex business of plastics.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eco-Friendly Picnicking

With the unofficial beginning of summer almost upon us in the US, many head out for picnics, cookouts, barbeques, and outdoor gatherings galore.  It's a great time of year, for sure. 

However, there is a down side.  Most of those picnics, etc., come with a lot of disposables-- plates, cups, utensils, napkins, etc., that end up in the trash, adding up over time to billions of tons of garbage polluting our planet. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Plastic Pestilence

After doing my darndest to reduce my family's use of plastics when it comes to food storage, I must admit, I still have and use plastic food storage containers.  Call it Tupperware, plasticware, Rubbermaid, Glad lock, take-a-longs, whatever you like.  I bet most American households have some sort of plastic food storage products.  And I would even feel fairly confident in stating that most of us probably have more than just a "few" pieces. 

(In fact, I have a suspicion that this stuff magically multiplies at night when nobody's looking-- lids begetting lids, running amok never again to be matched up with their bases!)

But back to the issue at hand.  Why do we use plastic for food storage? 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where Does Your Recycling Go?

Below is a short video for those of us who wonder where our recycling goes after it's picked up from the bins we set out on the curb every week. 

I found this video encouraging in that recycling does give cardboard, cans, plastic and glass new life.  Even more encouraging is that these products can have almost infinite reincarnations, keeping garbage out of the landfills.

Some recycling statistics:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

42 Ways to Not Make Trash — by No Impact Man Colin Beavan

42 Ways to Not Make Trash — by No Impact Man Colin Beavan

(A Timely Re-Post)

Together with his family, Colin Beavan—aka No Impact Man—spent a year trying to live in the middle of New York City without having a negative impact on the environment. One of his first challenges: getting through everyday life without producing trash. Below are some of his favorite tips and tricks.

No soda in cans (which means we’re probably less likely to get cancer from aspartame).
No water in plastic bottles (which means we get to keep our endocrines undisrupted).
No coffee in disposable cups (which means we don’t suffer from the morning sluggishness that comes from overnight caffeine withdrawal).
No throwaway plastic razors and blade cartridges (I’m staging the straightedge razor comeback).
Using non-disposable feminine-hygiene products that aren’t bad for women and are good for the planet.
No Indian food in throwaway takeout tubs.
No Italian food in plastic throwaway tubs.
No Chinese food in plastic throwaway tubs.
Taking our own reusable containers to takeout joints (except that now we’re eating local so this tip is out for us).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Got Sole??

No, not the fish, although that could be tasty.  What I'm talking about here are the soles on shoes.  How many shoes do you have?  How many do you need?  Arguably, most of us probably have way too many shoes in our closets.   Some we wear now and then, a few pairs of these, a couple of pairs of those in various colors, heel types, out-of-date styles, etc.  Although I did a post last year entitled Surrender your Soles about donating shoes to those who are in need, a recent stop at my local Good Will drop off location reminded me that it was probably time to take another inventory.  The receiving attendant commented that Americans have way too many shoes (based on the fact that the previous donation was over 50 pairs-- from one woman!).  Kudos to her for donating her shoes.

Here's an interesting thought:  Every year, between 100 and 300 million pairs of shoes end up in landfills.  What's worse is that these shoes take anywhere from 40 to 1000 years to break down, depending on what they're made from. 

Adding insult to injury, a quick Internet search indicates that nearly 300 million people are without shoes.  No shoes.  Period.  Think about how your daily life would be different if you didn't have any shoes to wear, or anything to protect your feet.

With Earth Day celebrating its 41st birthday on April 22nd, donating your gently used and rarely worn shoes to those in need is a great way to eco-step your way to a greener tomorrow and to help your fellow humans. What a great way to show your Earth Day spirit!

From personal experience, I can tell you that donating your shoes and spreading the word is not hard at all.  Last  year, I collected 57 pairs of shoes (from just my immediate family) and sent them to Soles 4 Souls

You can find the nearest Souls 4 Soles Drop off location here:
Below are some other excellent places to donate your shoes:
Salvation Army
Volunteers of America
I am sure there are others.  If you know of another place to donate shoes, please share.
Happy Eco-Stepping and Happy Earth Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fabric Softener or Health and Environmental Menace?

The other day I was in my local grocery store and I happened to pick up a bottle of fabric softener to check the ingredients.  I am curious like that.  While I have been known to make my own laundry soap and hang my clothes outside (or on bars over heat vents) to dry, I have to admit I like my clothes to smell nice and "clean."   But what IS the smell of clean that comes from fabric softeners?  What ingredients make up that blue, green, yellow or pink liquid that we pour into our washing machines, infuse into our clothes and then pump out into our septic systems, sewers and waterways?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Eco-Stepping with Community Supported Agriculture

"Hello, yeah, it's been a while.  Not much, how about you?" 

Okay, so now that you're in a '70's kind of mood, let's talk about Community Supported Agriculture or CSAs.  Community Supported What?

According to Wikipedia, community-supported agriculture (in Canada Community Shared Agriculture) (CSA) is a socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farming operation where the growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of food production. CSAs usually consist of a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit, in a vegetable box scheme, and sometimes includes dairy products and meat.

Still feeling the 70's or even the 60's?  Maybe even a little hippie-ish?  Let's press on with a little history. 
Community-supported agriculture began in the early 1960s in Germany, Switzerland and Japan as a response to concerns about food safety and the urbanization of agricultural land.  That may sound like long, long ago and far, far away, but recent news has indicated otherwise.