Mother’s Day Surprise

May 12th, 2008

You would not believe how many people have asked if I have a clean car today. No, I don’t.

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But I did get this beautiful hand made card and a buttercup. How sweet. I can’t remember the last time I held a buttercup. It was the best. Hope your Mother’s Day was happy.

– Lynn

Green and Organic Savings Friday: Coffee, Water Bottles and Phthalate-Free Bath Toys

May 9th, 2008

Welcome back to Green and Organic Savings Friday at OrganicMania! Sorry for getting this post up a little bit later than usual this morning, but with two sickos in the house (DH and Big Boy), things are not going exactly according to plan! I’m sure all of you can relate.

Last Friday, we focused on organic tea. This week, the coffee drinkers get equal time. OrganicMania has blogged here about the fabulous biodynamic espresso beans and coffee available via mail order from Café Altura. It’s a great buy at $11 a pound, including shipping. We splurge on this coffee because DH is a coffee snob. (And I admit I’ve become one too).

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But for some folks, coffee is coffee is coffee. They want Fair Trade coffee, but $11 a pound is too expensive. Well, how about $5.88 per pound? I haven’t actually tried this Sam’s Club Fair Trade coffee, but I haven’t seen a better deal. If any of you OrganicManiacs™ out there have tried it, please leave a comment and tell us what you thought! I found this on a scouting expedition the other week to check out Walmart’s organic lines, which have been getting a lot of press. (Yes, if you ever see a Mom with two kids and a Treo snapping pictures in your local store, that’s me! Say hello!) I also reviewed Walmart’s display of Clorox Green Works products during that same trip, check that out here.

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Of course, there’s been a huge amount of press lately about the BPA and phthalates leaching into plastic bottles, sending Moms out to the stores in droves looking for eco-friendly green alternatives. The problem is that doing the research to replace your existing water bottles and bath toys can seem like a nearly full time job! If I can save any of you some time with these tips, it would make me very happy!

If you’re anything like my family, you had about 30 or 40 little plastic bath toys floating around your bath tub. They were so cheap, they seemed to invade the house. Well, one advantage to replacing the Cheap Plastic Crap bath toys with phthalate-free bath toys, is that they’re so much more expensive, you won’t have a boatload of them invading your house! But don’t make the same mistake OrganicMania did initially, and buy them separately for $5 to $15 a pop (ouch!) Instead, you can find reasonably priced tubes or boxes of Safari phthalate-free bath toys for around $8 to $10 for 10 to 12 bath toys. Here‘s one spot you can order them – and they’re on sale. Or, if you happen to be at the Delaware beaches, check out Big Boy’s favorite bookstore, Browseabout, which has a great selection of Safari toys – that’s where Big Boy scored his new bath toys.

And finding that perfect BPA-free water bottle? Well, I haven’t found one yet that’s priced right. So in the spirit of reduce, reuse, recycle, here’s what I’m doing….reusing a glass Honest Tea bottle.

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Did you find any great deals on green and organic products this week? Leave a comment and share!

COMMENT NOTES – NEW COMMENT FORM EXPLANATION: (Sorry for caps!) I’m experimenting with a new program from Mr. Linky. If you are a blogger and want to link to this post from your blog and show a link back from OrganicMania  (which Technorati will count), please leave a comment in the box marked comments and when it asks for URL, leave your URL post where you will link to this post.

If you just wish to leave a comment without linking, leave your comment in the regular WordPress comment box.

Sorry for any confusion – first time through with new technology!

Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Gifts They Can’t Buy You for Mother’s Day: Ask Without Guilt

May 6th, 2008

Ah, Mother’s Day, that one day each year when it’s supposed to be all about us. As kids, we feted Mom with a fancy brunch, a gift, and some flowers.

So it came as a shock to me when I became a Mom and realized that I really didn’t want any of that stuff. The fact is, I just wanted some time to myself…and I felt so GUILTY about it. Then I thought about it some more, and realized that there was something else I really, really wanted – a clean car.

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Wasn’t I supposed to be looking forward to Sunday brunch?

When I asked my other girlfriends, I found that many felt the same way. But few dared to ask their husbands for time alone and a “honey do.” Instead, they put on a smile and tried to enjoy another restaurant meal out – always a challenge for those of us with little ones.

But the statistics bear out what I observed in my own inner circle. Check out this survey of Moms and Free Time by Kiwi Magazine and you’ll learn that 79% of Moms say they don’t get enough personal time. In that first, intense year of Motherhood, you really crave it, and unfortunately that’s when most Moms feel most guilty about asking for it.

Fortunately, in my case, my church intervened, scheduling a “Mother’s Retreat” on the Saturday before Mother’s Day. This retreat is so cool that one of my Jewish friends is coming to take notes in order to convince her temple to offer a similar program!

With a simple meal, an interesting speaker, a meaningful service in the Chapel just for the Moms, and scheduled “me time” when you can take advantage of yoga, massage, or simply close your eyes on a sofa or go outside for a walk, the event is immensely popular.

And as for the requisite Mother’s Day gift? My DH asked me at least ten times if I was SURE that all I wanted for Mother’s Day was a clean station wagon. He really didn’t believe me at first.

While I was at the Saturday Mother’s Retreat with the six-month-old, DH and Big Boy emptied the car of assorted petrified Cheerios (okay, Toasted Organic Oatio-Os to be precise), bottle caps, torn papers, lost toys, ancient newspapers and magazines, worn out pacifiers, and about 984 other interesting items. Then they washed and vacuumed.

I was so excited, I was beside myself when I got into my clean looking and clean smelling Mom Mobile.

My DH was a little annoyed by the huge amount of rubble in the car. He made me promise that I would not let it get into such a state again. Did you see the photo up top? That was taken TODAY. Yes, the car is once again in pretty bad shape!

Anyway, I’m still angling for a clean car this year for Mother’s Day. It makes me feel good, saves me time, costs no money, is a great project for the kids, and is “green.”

What do you want for Mother’s Day? Leave a comment and share! OrganicMania will publicize what Moms really want so maybe all our dreams will come true!

And another good “green” option is a donation to a children’s charity…check out these amazing programs at J&J’s BabyCause site. The Parent Blogger’s Network is publicizing this charity, and I thought I’d give them a mention.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Green and Organic Savings Friday: Organic Milk, Bread & Tea

May 2nd, 2008

Rising food prices are all over the news these days. I was actually afraid to set foot in the store this week, nervous about just how high prices were going. Yes, I keep thinking about how blessed I am to even have the choice of organic food vs. conventional, but it still doesn’t help when you hit the check-out line.

So let’s go back to basics, and focus on some savings opportunities with organic milk, organic bread, and organic tea.

While I’ve always loved the taste of Honest Tea iced tea, I must confess I was not buying organic tea leaves for hot tea. Until the OrganicMania interview with Seth Goldman, CEO of Honest Tea, I considered organic tea “nice to do” but not a necessary organic expenditure. But when I asked Seth how he became so interested in organics, he explained that it was his interest in tea that led him to discover organics. It turns out that tea is one of the most pesticide-laden products out there, and in some countries, really nasty pesticides like atrazine are used on tea plantations. Did it ever occur to you that tea leaves are not rinsed off until they hit the hot water of your tea kettle? (You can read the OrganicMania interview with Honest Tea’s Seth Goldman here).

With some great savings opportunities this week, now’s a good time to make the switch to organic tea. Allegro organic tea is on sale at Whole Foods, 2 packs for $7.00, a significant savings off the regular price of $4.99 a pack. And the Mambo Sprouts coupon book, available at the customer service desk or the check-out registers, includes a coupon for 55 cents off Good Earth organic tea. With the coupon, Good Earth tea is $3.44 at Whole Foods. Good Earth looks like a really sustainable green company – in addition to being organic, the tea bags are unbleached, and the packaging is 100% recyclable with soy based inks. Plus the tea bags are not wrapped in plastic overwrap, as so many tea bags are.

Now that you can relax with a good cuppa tea, what about the kids’ lunch bags? Lots of school kids pack organic milk in their lunch bags. My son drinks regular white milk – not chocolate, not vanilla, not strawberry – but I could never find the money-saving bulk containers of Horizon white milk. Finally, at the Tenleytown, DC, Whole Foods, I found a carton of 18 Horizon organic milk boxes for $13.79 – or 76 cents per package. This is quite a savings over the 3-pack packages which sell for close to $4. More savings on organic milk? Check out this link where you can register for Stonyfield Farm coupons, including fifty cents off a half gallon of organic milk.

As for bread, who can resist home baked bread? I was indulging that weakness with the delicious breads at the Spring Mill Bread Company located in my local MOM’s. Yet with the price of a loaf of fresh baked organic oatmeal bread hitting nearly $5 a loaf, and many loaves well past the $5 mark, I decided it was time to call it quits on this little luxury. Instead, I picked up some basics – organic whole wheat flour, yeast, salt, and white organic flour. For about $1 a loaf, we now have freshly baked organic bread that is even better than the bakery’s bread. And it’s not at all hard to bake. More on that in another post!

Happy shopping! Do you have any great organic or green savings to share? Please leave a comment!

Carnival/Mr. Linky Update – Still working those darn MIS issues to get Mr. Linky working properly. Hopefully we’ll have everything ready to go next Friday to start our own mini-carnival on Green and Organic Savings!

In the meantime, OrganicMania is participating in the Festival of Frugality for the first time.

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

More on Clorox: Take Back the Filter!

May 1st, 2008

As a relative newcomer to the world of online green organizing, I’m a bit atypical. After having spent 20 years in corporate marketing for high tech firms, I understand Big Business, and no, I don’t think all corporations are evil as some environmentalists believe. In fact, there’s not much I see in stark black versus white contrast – I see the shades of gray.

So when I hear about “campaigns” against various companies, I tend to cringe. I know that these “grassroots campaigns” are often well coordinated PR campaigns led by sophisticated organizations (sometimes competitors) with very definite agendas.

But the campaign to convince Clorox to recycle Brita water filters in North America is different. It’s led by a reasonable woman, someone who is a true activist and yet has a regular job with a real company — Beth Terry of the blog Fake Plastic Fish.

The first thing I asked myself when I heard about the campaign was, “Well, has she asked Clorox about their position?”

And of course she had. In fact, Beth had sent Clorox letters prior to starting the campaign, and she later posted the response letters from Clorox  on her campaign website here. And since then, Beth has talked with Clorox representatives about their position that the refill cartridges are not recyclable – despite the fact that Brita filters are recycled in Europe!

Clorox is spending a lot of money going after green consumers through its acquisition of Burt’s Bees, its launch of Green Works cleaners, and its campaign to reduce plastic water bottle usage in favor of using Brita filtered water. As the saying goes, if you’re going to talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. If Clorox truly is “going green,” it needs to re-examine its current business practices.

From the campaign website:

In August of 2007, Clorox and Nalgene teamed up for their FilterForGood campaign, encouraging people to buy a reusable Nalgene bottle and fill it with Brita filtered water in order to reduce plastic bottle waste. According to Clorox’s letter, “One pour-through filter can effectively replace 300 standard bottles of water (16.9oz)” and “…in 2006 Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles.”

So, if all 50 billion water bottles were replaced by Brita filter systems, that would mean 167 million plastic filter cartridges sent to the landfill! We’re all for giving up bottled water. But we think there’s a better way than substituting one kind of plastic waste for another.

What can you do? Join us in asking Clorox to develop a recycling program for Brita filters in the US and Canada. Check out Take Back the Filter to learn more about how you can help by signing the online petition, writing a letter to Clorox, sending in your used Brita filters, blogging about the issue, or donating to offset campaign expenses. And here’s some more ideas for how you can help spread the word.
More info available here at the campaign Facebook page too.

FYI re Food Chat Today – Coping with Rising Prices

May 1st, 2008

OrganicMania spoke yesterday with Jane Black, food reporter for The Washington Post, about how to cope with rising food prices. Jane will be online today at noon Eastern to take reader questions about this issue. Go here to participate. You can submit questions and comments before or during the chat.  I’ll be offsite (darn it!) for the discussion, but I’ll check the archives! Continue reading »