Something to Listen To…Green Blogosphere.com Interview

March 31st, 2009

I’ve blogged a few times about “better late than never.” Well, this is one of those times. So bear with me as I post this podcast interview conducted by the wonderful Tom Tucker of Green Blogosphere.com. The interview was recorded some time ago (you’ll have to listen to it to figure out when!) and in it, I discuss tips for making the most of your organic shopping budget, my life as a green marketing consultant, how I got started in the Green Blogosphere, and the wonderful Green Moms of the Green Moms Carnival.

Poor Tom Tucker has probably been scratching his head wondering why I didn’t post this sooner – so my very public apologies to you, Tom. Thank you again for a delightful interview.

What has finally motivated me to post this interview? Well, I have another radio interview tomorrow – this time with community radio station KVMR’s See Jane Do program which is “a social change multimedia program, capturing the stories of everyday women doing extraordinary things for the planet.” The Corporation for Public Broadcasting-funded program will be webcast here at 4:20 p.m. EST Wednesday – and it’s a call-in show. I invited fellow Green Moms Carnival member Jennifer Taggert aka The Smart Mama, to join me, along with Lisa Frack, online parent outreach coordinator for The Environmental Working Group.

In prepping for my interview tomorrow, I listened to the Green Blogosphere interview again. My verdict? I think I shared a lot of good information, but said “um..” too often! And can you tell I’m from New Jersey?

Please let me know what you think!

Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

5 Tips for Observing Earth Hour with Kids: Get More than an Earth Minute!

March 28th, 2009

Last year, my grand plans for Earth Hour were derailed by the reality of life with little kids: as I blogged here, I ended up with an “Earth Minute.”

This year, I’m determined to learn from the past and enjoy a less rushed and stressed experience. Here are five tips that I’m hoping will make for a more enjoyable family experience. Let me know what you think. How’d your Earth Hour go last year? And what are you planning tonight? (Yes, it’s tonight!)

1. Stick to Your Routines
Clearly, whoever dreamed up Earth Hour did not have little munchkins to put to bed. 8:30 p.m. is simply too late for most kids. If your tykes hit the hay well before 8:30, DON’T, repeat DON’T try to do something special. Odds are, you’ll regret it…

2. Pick a Substitute Time that Works for You
This year, we’re going to have our Earth Hour during dinner (candlelight dining with my three boys should be fun!). If that doesn’t seem to go well, I may try for a few minutes after dinner. But bedtime – it’s still 8 p.m., Earth Hour or not!

3. Use this as a Teachable Moment
My first grader’s school observed Earth Hour on Friday. When I asked him why they did it, he said, “To help the Earth and stuff.” Yet when I tried to make a correlation between Earth Hour and turning off the lights in his room before he rushes off for school, he didn’t quite seem to get it. That’s another reason to do Earth Hour at the dinner hour – it will give us time and context for a discussion about why we are observing Earth Hour.

4. Give Yourself a Break

If despite all your plans, things still go awry, give yourself a break. When I look back at this photo of my little Boo Bear a year ago, I can’t believe how small he was and how much I tried to accomplish despite that. So many of us parents – especially the Moms – are guilty of this. We simply try to do too much.

5. Celebrate with Your Significant Other
Another benefit to Tips #1 and #2 is that if you stick to your kids’ bedtime routine, odds are you’ll have some energy to celebrate the darkness of Earth Hour with your significant other and perhaps a bottle of sustainable wine, organic beer, and fair trade chocolate.

Sounds a lot better than last year! I can’t wait…

Tell me about your Earth Hour! Leave a comment and share!

Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Getting Started with Seedlings: Make Your Own Recycled Starter Pack Containers

March 24th, 2009
Success with eco-friendly seed pots!

Success with eco-friendly seed pots!

Perhaps, like me, you’ve made the decision to try your hand at raising plants from seed this spring – only to discover that your eco-friendly plans go awry when you realize you have no containers on hand! A quick trip to my storage area didn’t turn up much, so I reached out to my bloggy friend Jess of The Green Phone Booth (and formerly of Surely You Nest), hoping we might be able to stage one of our rare reunions so that I could pick up some cast-off seed starter pots.

A died-in-the-wool Earth Mother who was raised by a Green Mom before they called themselves Green Moms, Jess went one better on me. She had no cast-offs to share, but she did share some of her gardening wisdom. She suggested toilet paper, egg shells, or newspapers. And knowing full well that those suggestions would leave me flummoxed, she helpfully pointed me to this great post from Planet Green, which suggests whipping up planting pots from egg cartons, yogurt containers, newspaper and toilet paper rolls.

The egg cartons seemed easiest to me – I’ve got plenty on hand and frankly, as I’m not really the artsy-crafty type, I found the instructions for the toilet paper and newspaper options a bit too complex.

Turns out fellow Green Mom Jenn Savedge, aka The Green Parent, is also a fan of egg cartons for seedlings, as she explains here. Here’s what works for me, based on tips from all three of these fabulous green women – JessTrev, Jenn Savedge and Jasmin Malik Chui.

1. Figure out how many seedlings you’re going to start, and make sure you have enough egg cartons and egg shells on hand.
2. Yes, as Jenn points out, you’ll want to wash those eggshells first with a gentle cleanser and water. I’m using the produce rinse for this job too!
3. Take a pin and poke a tiny hole in the bottom of each egg shell.
4. Fill with soil (hopefully organic compost from your compost bin), and drop several seeds inside.
5. Voila – once the seeds have sprouted, you can take the eggshells and the cardboard egg carton holders and plant them directly in the ground!

Not only is this a great project for home, but think about all those other times when you’re asked to come up with a craft project for the kids. This is a great spring craft project for school, scouting, or Sunday School. Works for me!

– Lynn

Note: As you can see, I updated this post with a pic of my successful seedlings sitting besides some newspaper pots I purchased at my CSA!

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

10 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Saint Patrick’s Day

March 16th, 2009

The “green” holiday is becoming anything but green. Back when I was a kid, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day was simple. You put on some green clothing, perhaps a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” button, and made sure to down some beer that night. If you truly had the Luck of the Irish, you got to watch or march in a St. Patrick’s Day parade.


But like everything else in our consumerist society, we’re being prompted to buy more “stuff” to celebrate properly. I’ve admitted to loving the tacky, tacky side of Christmas, replete with blow-up inflatables and lighting, but decorating for the holidays is a longstanding tradition. Do we really need more inflatables barely three months later? This year, St. Patrick’s Day inflatables have popped up on suburban lawns, biding their time till they end up in our landfills. (Check it out here). And more and more, the retailers are offering special Cheap Plastic Crap for St. Patrick’s Day. Cheap Plastic Crap is bad enough in kid’s goody bags. Do we really want to encourage it on St. Patrick’s Day too?

Here are 10 tips for celebrating a truly green, eco-friendly St. Patrick’s Day. Have fun! Luck o’ the Irish to you!
1. Wear Green

2. March in or Watch a St. Patrick’s Day Parade

3. Enjoy Some Irish Spirits (and if it’s beer you’re drinking, opt for organic!)

4. Sing Irish Songs

5. Visit an Irish Pub or Restaurant (Walk or take public transit if you can!)

6. Bake and Decorate Some Green Cookies or Cupcakes

7. Skip the Corned Beef, Go for the Cabbage (Why? Cattle farming is a contributor to global warming).

8. Say No to Cheap Plastic Crap for St. Patty’s Day

9. Say No to St. Patty’s Lawn Decorations

10. Smile and Say Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Have fun!

– Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Note: This is a lightly revised version of a post that ran on OrganicMania in ’08.

More on Spring Cleaning: Green Moms Carnival is Up!

March 11th, 2009

Be sure to check out the more than twenty submissions about green ways to clean at this month’s Green Moms Carnival on Spring Cleaning over at Tiny Choices.

– Lynn

Made with Love: A Video Tribute to the @GreenMoms Community

March 9th, 2009

Many thanks to fellow Green Mom Anna Hackman of Green-Talk who felt moved to put together this tribute video to the Twittering women of The Green Moms Carnival in honor of our winning the Shorty Award for Best Green Content on Twitter.

The video is 5 1/2 minutes long and provides an introduction to 15 of the 30-odd women behind the Green Moms Carnival. Among us are authors, environmental activists, Moms taking a break from the workforce, businesswomen, marketing consultants, LEED-certified attorneys, green building experts, entrepreneurs, educators, and more. We are Moms and we are “Mothers of the Earth” — no children of our own, but a responsiblity to everyone’s children to leave the Earth a better place for future generations.

Anna is a LEED certified attorney – she’s not a marketing or video whiz, but she took it upon herself to create and execute this video. What you’ll see is proof of an enormous amount of goodwill towards the Green Moms community and all we have accomplished and hope to accomplish in our fight to leave a better Earth for future generations.

Thank you, Anna, thank you for your hard work, kind words, and thanks to all the other women of the Green Moms Carnival, and thanks to those who support, inspire, and encourage us in our work.

– Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Spring Cleaning

March 8th, 2009

Spring is in the air, and with Spring comes Spring Cleaning for many of us. But in the rush to clean, you may inadvertently be doing more bad than good.

Most of the cleaning products we grew up with are full of trace amounts of chemicals that have been linked to health problems ranging from asthma to cancer, according to environmental watchdog groups like the Environmental Working Group.

So what can you do?

Here are three tips:

1. Go natural. Look for “green” cleaners, but be sure to read the labels. Unfortunately the terms “green,” “eco” and “eco-friendly” are unregulated and can mean anything from truly natural with no synthetic ingredients, to a mish-mash of chemicals with some natural essences thrown in for good measure. If you’re not sure what an ingredient means, go to the EWG’s Chemical Index here.
2. Avoid anti-bacterial products. These products are linked by health officials to the rise in microorganisms that are resistant to antibiotics. This is not new news. Read this Center for Disease Control alert from 2001. It says in part that antibacterial ingredients “are now being added to products used in healthy households, even though an added health benefit has not been demonstrated. Scientists are concerned that the antibacterial agents will select bacteria resistant to them and cross-resistant to antibiotics. Moreover, if they alter a person’s microflora, they may negatively affect the normal maturation of the T helper cell response of the immune system to commensal flora antigens; this change could lead to a greater chance of allergies in children. As with antibiotics, prudent use of these products is urged. Their designated purpose is to protect vulnerable patients.”
3. Consider going “back to the future.” Simple basics like baking soda, castile soap, vinegar, and lemon can do the bulk of the cleaning in your home. “Recipes” for these conoctions are available here.

And be sure to check out the other suggestions from The Green Moms Carnival, which will appear at Tiny Choices on Tuesday.

How do you clean? Leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

Organic and Green Savings: Is Bigger Always Better? No!

March 7th, 2009

I felt the sisterhood of Moms everywhere as I dashed into Whole Foods, desparately looking for a reasonably priced, healthy snack for more than 30 kiddos. Yes, I was “Snack Mom,” and I had all of 10 minutes to figure out what to serve the after-school crowd waiting for me down the street.

That’s when I spied this display of Apple & Eve organic juice boxes, 27 for $13.99. Of course, I hate juice boxes – they rarely get recycled at kids’ events. But when I looked for paper cups to go with the large glass jugs of juice, I couldn’t find any. So boxes it was. How else are you going to feed a group that large?

Before heading to the register, I looked at the smaller packs of Apple & Eve juice – 8 for $3.69. I whipped out my calculator, just to make sure I was getting the best deal with the 27-pack, and much to my surprise discovered that it was actually less expensive to buy the smaller 8-packs, at 46 cents for each box versus 52 cents each in the large 27-pack.

How annoying. How can that be? Finding the best deal for a large group shouldn’t involve arithmetic problems in the shopping aisle.

But it does. So if you’re shopping, make sure to bring along a calculator – or use the one in your mobile phone – to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Big displays and large signs touting prices don’t always mean you’re getting the best price.

Of course, most green consumers will also consider packaging, which definitely points you to the larger, more efficient package (which is what I ended up buying – it helped that with 35 kids to feed, the numbers worked in my favor). But I’d like to know why producers would price products this way in the first place, especially companies like Whole Foods and Apple & Eve, that are making a play for the “green” consumer.

Other deals that are easier to spot?
Grapefruits – 10 for $10 are a great buy, on sale now at Whole Foods and other grocers. They’re satisfying, refreshing, and packed full of nutrients like Vitamin C and the antioxidant lycopene. And no, you don’t need to buy them organic for health reasons. Any pesticides used don’t penetrate the thick skin. But do be sure to wash the skin and knives carefully before eating. Try feeding them to your little tykes. Two-year-old Boo loves them, but my six-year-old Big Boy won’t touch them.

Organic Apples – Organic apples are now cheaper than conventional in many stores. Check them out at Giant, Whole Foods, and Trader Joes, and you may find great deals.

Happy Shopping!

– Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

Great Deals on Recycled Toilet Paper & Why TP Shouldn’t Be at the Bottom of Your Green List

March 2nd, 2009

Perhaps you saw the news a few days ago: reports from Greenpeace, publicized in The New York Times, Fast Company, and the UK newspaper The Guardian, which emphasized the importance of choosing recycled toilet paper over “squeezably soft” brands, which get that softness from wood pulp found only in virgin forests.

Going green involves huge changes in buying behaviors: everything from food to clothing to houses, cars, and even toilet paper gets looked at with increased awareness of its ecological impact.

And for many of us — well, swapping out our favorite toilet paper brand is at the bottom of the list. I’ll admit it: I didn’t give much thought to recycled toilet paper, figuring that I’d just wait until the prices came down and the quality came up. Memories of scratchy paper from overseas didn’t do anything to encourage me to check out recycled toilet paper, and frankly, I didn’t realize the extent to which premium toilet paper is taken from old growth forests. (Read more of this disturbing news here).

So I took a fresh look at recycled toilet paper versus conventional, and found big changes in the marketplace. Did you realize you can buy recycled paper for less money than conventional toilet paper?

CVS recently introduced CVS Earth Essentials, recycled content napkins, toilet paper, and paper towels. I decided that at .89 cents a roll, I could spring for one, and put it to the test versus Scott bathroom tissues, available on the same drugstore shelf for $1.29 per roll, and Seventh Generation, available at Whole Foods for $1.39 per roll.

The verdict? Recycled toilet paper has come a long way. Yes, from the perspective of “The Princess and the Pea,” you do notice a bit of a difference, but it is very slight and not nearly enough to merit being called “scratchy.” The quality is equivalent to the type of toilet paper you find in most public buildings. It’s fine.

And it’s really cheap in bulk. After the successful home test, I returned to CVS to stock up. They’re running a sale on four packs of Earth Essentials, now $3.49, on sale from $4.69 through April 30th. That’s a $1.20 savings per 4-pack. But the savings really add up when you buy a 12-pack for $8.99. That’s less than 75 cents per roll. And if you have a CVS “ExtraCare card,” you may reap even more savings. My initial .89 cent purchase yielded a $5 off any $15 purchase, so when I returned to pick up the 12-pack, I added a few other things in my cart and saved even more.

The CVS Earth Essentials toilet paper rated a “Green Tree” stamp of approval from Greenpeace. (Unfortunately the other Earth Essentials products didn’t rank quite as highly as their toilet paper). Check out the Greenpeace guide here. Other good bets for best buys include the Trader Joe’s house brand and Whole Foods 365 brand. And don’t forget, you can often get 10% off a case of goods such as toilet paper at your local market – just ask! My Organic Market offers this discount plus a “best price” guarantee. Other good sources include CSAs, which often stock paper goods too.

So what are you waiting for? Take the switch to recycled toilet paper off the bottom of your list today!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009