Holiday Mania Approaches: Take Control

September 30th, 2008

Outside it may be Indian Summer, but step foot into your local stores and you may think we’re just days away from Halloween or even Christmas.

But the fact is, the holidays are not here yet. They’re actually a long way off. This means that you have time to give some thought to how YOU want to spend the holidays. What type of traditions would you like to establish in your family?

Every year we hear people complaining about the commercialization of the holidays. So many of us wish there was something we could do to turn the clock back to the simpler days of years past. There is something you can do – as a parent, you’re in control of what traditions are introduced to your family. It’s never too late to start anew.

Take Halloween. What used to be a simple holiday dedicated to trick-or-treating and bobbing for apples has morphed into a commercial extravaganza featuring everything from outdoor electric light displays to “gift bags” at Halloween parties. Have kids changed so much in a generation that candy is no longer a big enough treat at Halloween?

No, it’s not the kids that have changed. It’s the marketing messages that have changed. What was once a simple holiday aimed at children has now become yet another holiday extravaganza full of sophisticated marketing messages urging adults to buy, buy, buy more cheap and tacky stuff that somehow promises to make our holidays all the happier. But the truth is, the only things this junk will do is pollute our earth and empty our pocketbooks.

If you’re looking for some tips and tricks on how to fight consumerism this holiday season, check out these resources:
- Center for A New American Dream, which has loads of resources about fighting excess commercialism;
- GreenHalloween.org, which has tips on going green at school and at home;
and be sure to visit the Green Moms Carnival on Monday over at Green Bean Dreams. My sisters in arms will be posting about ways you can help retake the holiday spirit by fighting holiday commercialism.

How will you plan to celebrate Halloween this year? Leave a comment and share!

Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

The Night Time Trash People

September 24th, 2008

We all know kids rebel. As a Green Mom, I’d like to believe that my children will absorb at least some of our family’s eco-friendly habits. But sometimes I worry that my green parenting practices might lead my eldest son to rebel like Alex P. Keaton.

So you can imagine how I felt when I overheard this conversation between Big Boy and his cousin, as my DH, his brother, the wives and kids enjoyed a picnic dinner at DC’s Southwest waterfront.

Big Boy: “There’s a lot of trash around here.”

Bigger Boy Cousin: “Let’s pick it up!”

Big Boy: “Awesome, dude. Let’s be the Night Time Trash People. We’ll run around picking up trash.”

Laughing, screaming noise, as two six-year-olds and a nine-year-old run around picking up trash.

On the walk back to metro, Bigger Boy Cousin says, ”You know, there’s too much trash in the world and it’s really bad for the environment.”

Big Boy: “Yeah, because it weighs so much, it could like split the Earth in half. Then the continents would just split down the middle with a big crack.”

Bigger Boy Cousin: “Yeah, and then the world would heat up too much and there would be no oxygen and we would just vaporize and die.”

Big Boy: “Yeah, then we’d just float around like floating skeletons like aliens or something. Cool. We’d all be alien floating skeletons.”

At this point, I made a mental note to make sure that we weren’t terrorizing the kids with overheard tales of looming eco-tragedies.

The next morning, Big Boy informed me that he needed to make posters telling people to recycle. He wants to hang them on trees all around the neighborhood.

I wondered about the wisdom of hanging posters from trees. But off he ran, soon to come back with 60 copies expertly run off on my office printer. NOT double-sided. I took a deep breath, and decided his heart was in the right place.

And we’re off to hang posters. Anyone need about forty extras?

– Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Part II: Interview with Eco-Entrepreneur Anca Novacovici of Eco-Coach

September 23rd, 2008

Following is Part II of OrganicMania’s interview with Anca Novacovici, founder and CEO of DC’s Eco-Coach. You can read Part I of the interview here.

OrganicMania sat down with Anca to discuss how she’s helping businesses and consumers to go green and how she got her own green business off the ground. By the way, if you’re in the DC area, you can meet us both this Wednesday night (September 24th) at Bethesda Green’s Be Green event. Register for free here!

OrganicMania: You do many home eco-audits to help Moms and others go green. What is your biggest concern with conventional cleaning supplies and children?

Anca: Small children breathe in 50% more air than adults, so they’re very susceptible to airborne toxins. Many of the chemicals in fragrances used in common household cleaners are carcinogenic, so they’re hurting children’s respiratory systems.

OrganicMania: How much does it cost to do a home workshop or eco-audit?

Anca: We can do workshops with 10 people or so for $20 per person per workshop. For home eco-audits, we charge $200 for spaces under 1000 square feet and $300 for larger homes – these last about 1 ½ hours. I’ll get the questions ahead of time, figure out how advanced the client’s knowledge is, and then do a walkthrough of the client’s home. After the audit, I will I send them a follow-up report with recommendations.

OrganicMania: What kind of differences do you see between your consumer and business clients?

Anca: Businesses are quicker on the uptake. They’re understanding it and really doing more with it, especially since there are large potential savings, mainly through increased energy efficiency. Individuals seem to be overwhelmed with information. And unfortunately, some people don’t believe that one individual can really make a difference. That’s one reason I prepared a reference list called, “Ten Steps to Green Your Home.”

That said, there are a lot of individuals within companies agitating for change. I recently finished co-authoring a book, entitled “Sustainability 101: A Toolkit for Your Business,’’ which can be found on my website and soon on Amazon and other online providers. Our book can help employees guide their employers in the greening process. This book has also been distributed at ‘green events’ as a give-away, since the steps are straightforward and the book also provides resources that the reader can use.

Note: For more information on the book or on the tip sheet, email Anca at anca at eco-coach dot com. And Anca’s a blogger as well. Check out the Eco-Coach blog here.

Did you like this interview? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts! And be sure to check out the other OrganicMania interviews here. There you’ll find great talks with Honest Tea Tea-EO Seth Goldman, Mom Made Foods Founder Heather Stouffer, Big Green Purse author Diane MacEachern, Mothers & Menus founder Karen Gurwitz, and more to come!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

Green Entrepreneur: Interview with Eco-Coach Founder Anca Novacovici

September 22nd, 2008

One of the best things about my green journey is the many fantastic people I’ve met. And over and over again, I kept hearing about Anca Novacovici, founder of DC’s Eco-Coach. So OrganicMania sat down with Anca for this two-part interview about how she’s helping businesses and consumers to go green and how she got her own green business off the ground. By the way, if you’re in the DC area, you can meet us both this Wednesday night (September 24th) at Bethesda Green’s Be Green event. Register for free here!

OrganicMania: Why did you start Eco-Coach?

Anca: I’ve always been passionate about the environment, and I got to the point where I had to ask myself, “What do you want to do with your life?”

It was always in the back of my mind. I didn’t want to continue not to help the environment…I was working as a consultant with pharmaceutical and telecom companies. I enjoyed the work that I was doing but I also wanted to use my skills to help businesses and individuals be more eco-friendly. I had a few other green ideas before Eco-Coach, and when I saw other people making them a reality, I thought, “That’s it. I have ideas, and others are acting on them. I’ve got to do this.”

OrganicMania: So once you made that decision, how did you turn your idea into a real business?

Anca: I spent the first few months looking at strategy and direction. My first official business client was a business just down the street. I went in and spoke to the owner of a restaurant whom I knew was socially minded and I thought he might be interested in greening the place. From there, it was all word-of-mouth.

OrganicMania: I know you serve consumer clients too, in addition to businesses. What is the split in your customer base between corporate and consumer clients?

Anca: It’s about 65% corporate and 35% consumer. Actually, on the residential front, I started with a workshop for Moms on going green and having a healthy home, which was very well received. This was even before the first business client. One of our most popular services is a workshop on how to green the home. Another is our in-home eco-audits, where we walk through the entire house and go through steps people can take to go green. Sometimes individuals will organize workshops at their homes, and people get together with ten or so friends to do it. We offer these at Greater Goods in Washington DC. We also do individual consultations and coaching for those that feel they need additional support. Many of our clients on the residential side are Moms with newborns or small children who are interested in making their homes healthier for their children.

OrganicMania: A lot of Moms struggle with getting things clean, while trying to avoid harsh, toxic chemicals. It’s especially frustrating when places like daycares and after-care facilities insist on using Clorox bleach and other nasties. Do you have any suggestions?

Anca: Yes, hydrogen peroxide is a great disinfectant. You can use it instead of bleach. Vinegar and water is another good option, as is Borax. These are all low-cost green solutions. There are also products made by brands that work well and can be found at your local health food store.

Check back tomorrow for Part II of the OrganicMania interview with Anca Novacovici, founder of DC’s Eco-Coach.

Did you like this interview? Leave a comment and share. And be sure to check out the other OrganicMania interviews here. There you’ll find great talks with Honest Tea Tea-EO Seth Goldman, Mom Made Foods Founder Heather Stouffer, Big Green Purse author Diane MacEachern, Mothers & Menus founder Karen Gurwitz, and more to come!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

Easy Green Weekend Project #4: Learning about Creeks

September 19th, 2008

Barely recovered from back-to-school Green Mom Culture Shock, I’ve been struggling to keep it together as a single Mom this week while DH has been away “conferencing.” To give you some sense for how it’s gone, here are the catch phrases Big Boy taught Baby Boo this week:
• “Mean Mommy”
• “You’re a Big Meanie”

Well, I don’t know about you, but when I get stressed out, there’s nothing like reconnecting with nature to restore a sense of calm and perspective.

If you’re in the DC area, check out the “Discover the Somerset Creek” event this Sunday from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. And if you’re not in DC? Well, think about it – when was the last time you explored a creek? Heck, when was the last time you even said the word creek?

Join naturalists Sarah Morse and Suzanne Richman for a walk along the Little Falls Branch Creek which winds through the Chevy Chase, Green Acres and Westbrook communities. Learn about the challenges facing an urban creek and the steps you can take to help preserve this fragile environment.

Meet at Somerset Town Hall, 4510 Cumberland Ave, Chevy Chase, Maryland. Wear sturdy shoes as there will be two creek crossings on stepping stones.

Sponsored by the Little Falls Watershed Alliance. Contact LFWA at info@lfwa.org for more information.

Have a great weekend!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

Dealing with the Schools: Coping as a Green Mom

September 15th, 2008

It’s not often that I’m taken by surprise, since I tend to research issues to death. But want to know the reason there have been so few posts of late? It’s this back to school thing. I honestly thought that my life would get easier when my son started first grade at the local public school. Instead, I feel like I have another job.

Between morning melt downs, afternoon crying fits, folders stuffed full of papers to be reviewed by a responsible parental unit, and my continued Green Mom Culture Shock at the many environmentally unfriendly practices common to one of the most progressive school systems in the country – well, I’ve been exhausted!

For nearly a year now, but never more so than since the launch of the Green Moms Carnival, I’ve enjoyed the company of a like-minded sisterhood of Green Moms. These sympathetic souls include Green Moms with college-age kids– La Marguerite, Karen Hanrahan, Anna from GreenTalk and Diane MacEachern – as well as many with elementary school age kids like my Big Boy – the Not Quite Crunchy Parent, Surely You Nest, Sommer from Green and Clean Mom and even a few like me, still dealing with diapers – Alana from Gray Matters holding the honor of having the youngest baby among us.

Between the Green Moms in the blogosphere,  the Green Parents who find their way to leave wonderful comments on OrganicMania, and my growing list of wonderful green clients,  I thought that Green was everywhere.

Well, Green is not everywhere. So here I am, trying to figure which issue to address first. The mandatory plastic ziplock bags? The throw-away Styrofoam trays? The forced bussing past shuttered schools? The high fructose corn syrup laden lollypops handed out by my son’s math teacher? The cheap plastic crap toys given as rewards for good behavior? The environmentally unfriendly school fundraisers?

Hey Green Moms, how are you doing in week three of back-to-school? And have you been successful in “taking on” any of the environmentally unfriendly practices at your local schools?

And, yes, I am co-chairing the school’s Green Committee, so my question is serious. For those of you who have  been successful at  bringing  about change, what’s worked? And what hasn’t worked?

– Lynn

Green Mom Culture Shock: Back to School

September 3rd, 2008

As a seasoned mother of a six-year-old and a nearly two-year-old, I thought I was past the point where much could shock me. But then school started.

And suddenly I went from the friendly confines of the Green Mom blogosphere to the public school system, where teachers routinely send home “supply lists” containing environmentally unfriendly items such as (gasp) plastic ziplock bags and Purell hand sanitizer (2 bottles, please!), where students use thousands of styrofoam lunch trays each day, and where fossil fuels are burned sending children to school on buses that drive past shuttered schools near the bus stops.

I feel like a creature in a strange land.

How’s it going in your world?

– Lynn

Correction: This post originally stated that the styrofoam trays were thrown away. That is incorrect. They are re-used and then after they break are sent to the incinerator.