Plastic, Plastic, and More Plastic: Green Moms Carnival at Fake Plastic Fish

April 14th, 2009

Head on over to Fake Plastic Fish today to check out a compendium of nearly 20 posts from the Green Moms Carnival members about trying to deal with lives encumbered by plastic!

Our carnival hostess, Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish, kicks off the carnival with a short satiric video about plastic pollution in the San Francisco Bay. Did you know there are 100 plastic bags in the Bay for every seal, duck, and pelican in the Bay? Enough’s enough! Remember what I say: Just Say No to Cheap Plastic Crap! (And the bags it comes in, too!)

Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

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

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

McDonalds on Eco-Friendly Happy Meals

April 1st, 2008

Every parent knows that being stuck on the road with a hungry kid is a dilemma. It’s so hard to find healthy fare on the road that even some Green Eco-Moms find themselves in McDonalds. More importantly, most American kids eat at McDonalds. Think of the huge environmental impact McDonalds could make by greening the Happy Meal and replacing the Cheap Plastic Crap Happy Meal toys with an eco-friendly alternative toy!

The Wall Street Journal recently published a report about McDonalds Corporate Sustainability Blog. I wasn’t familiar with McDonalds environmental initiatives, so I checked out their blog, and left a comment suggesting McDonalds could do even more for the environment by introducing organic Happy Meal selections and eco-friendly Happy Meal toys.

Take a look at McDonalds response via this link.   And let me know what you think by leaving a comment below!

And by the way, their response came 13 days after I left the comment! (The date doesn’t  show up on their blog, but I have it via email).  

– Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

5 Ways to Go Retro For an Eco-Friendly “Green” Easter

March 19th, 2008

Perhaps the easiest way to think about how to “go green” for Easter is to think back on how you celebrated as a child. Did you have zillions of plastic eggs and small trinkets made of Cheap Plastic Crap stuffed in your basket? It’s doubtful. Easter used to be a simple affair. A basket full of jelly beans and chocolate, and some colored (real) eggs was all it took to send a child into spasms of joy at the Easter Bunny’s bounty.

So why do we think kids have changed? Simply because the retailers now encourage us to buy Cheap Plastic Crap trinkets and plastic eggs for Easter? Think again. Try to remember how you celebrated as a child and what made you especially happy. Why not take your cues from that experience to continue your family traditions?

Here’s what works for me.

Say Yes To:
1. Real eggs. Who needs plastic? Dye some eggs and scatter them around the yard for an old fashioned Easter Egg hunt. Granted, you may not want to eat those eggs that have been sitting out in the yard, but just keep some dyed Easter Eggs in reserve in the fridge to enjoy later.

2. Paper or straw baskets. Remember basket weaving? Who needs to buy plastic baskets? You can either re-purpose some straw baskets you probably have lying around the house already or pick some up at a thrift shop. Or simply make your own baskets. Here are some instructions on how to do this.

3. Thrift shop favors. Dying to dress up your house more? Looking for some crazy decorations? Check out your local thrift shops or even antique shops. Odds are you’ll find beautiful old Easter decorations at a fraction of the price of new favors.

4. Organic, fair trade or “natural” chocolates. Okay, this one may not be so retro. We all inhaled hydrogenated oils back in the day. But now there are other, healthier options. If you can’t find or afford fair trade or organic chocolates, look carefully at the labels. I blogged here about a nice little “Made in Vermont” bunny that has all natural ingredients.

5. “Paper” grass. Try shredding some construction paper, gift paper or even comics to make the grass instead of buying plastic grass. (And if you already have the fake plastic grass, just save it and re-use for future Easters!)

Happy Easter!

Do you have any other tips? Leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

10 Tips for Greening an Eco-Friendly St. Patrick’s Day

March 11th, 2008

The “green” holiday is becoming anything but green. Back in the “olden days” 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 fabulous St. Patrick’s Day parade, like the one in New York City where I marched for years.

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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 or Watch a St. Patrick’s Day Parade

3. Enjoy Some Irish Spirits

4. Sing Irish Songs

5. Visit an Irish Pub or Restaurant

6. Bake and Decorate Some Green Cookies or Cupcakes

7. Try Some Corned Beef and Cabbage

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 2008 OrganicMania

Babies: Why do We Need all this Stuff Anyway?

February 17th, 2008

My loathing for Cheap Plastic Crap is well established, but there’s some plastic crap that’s rather expensive and which I’ve considered necessary. Things such as baby monitors, for example. That belief was thrown into question today when a friend from Mexico held up our baby monitor and asked, “What’s this for?”

His child is the same age as ours, his house is the same size as ours, and yet he and his British wife find they can manage quite well, thank you, without the tons of plastic crap – baby monitors included – that takes over American homes.

Something to think about.

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

“Green Halloween”– A Bust in DC

November 2nd, 2007

Now that Halloween is past, we can take a look at the push for green and see if it had any impact. As posted on Halloween eve, organic chocolate’s day has not dawned. But what about the other initiatives? Eco-friendly give-aways, home made costumes, etc?

Sadly, I saw very little of that. In fact, for the first time, my child came home with Cheap Plastic Crap! It’s not enough that CPC comes home from birthday parties and school fairs, but now we need to worry about Halloween as well? Sure enough, deep in the recesses of my kindergartner’s trick-or-treat bag were several non-recyclable plastic gems, including a skeleton, a plastic rope of some kind, a skeleton straw, a snake, a spider, and a few other odds and ends. What’s more, at several parties he was given more CPC! Isn’t candy a big enough treat on Halloween? Why do adults think kids need Cheap Plastic Crap too? This is one trend we should nip in the bud. Think about all of the landfill waste if “trick or treat for plastic” catches on!

What did you see in your neighborhood? Please leave a comment and share.

Some of the Cheap Plastic Crap Given Out on HalloweenHalloween Treats: Cheap Plastic Crap

Copyright 2007, Organicmania

“Green Halloween”

October 30th, 2007

If you’ve only just heard of the Green Halloween movement, don’t feel like you’re out of touch. It just launched this year, and its goal, as you might guess, is to make Halloween healthier for kids and the environment. Who can argue with that? This year I’ve been especially struck by the encroachment of still more Cheap Plastic Crap into Halloween parties, costumes, and decorations. Back in “the olden days” when I was a kid, we bobbed for apples and made our own costumes!

Whole Foods is a platinum sponsor of Green Halloween. So I headed over to Whole Foods expecting to see a wide range of environmentally correct Halloween items. Perhaps something from their well priced 365 Everyday Value line. Instead, I found a bunch of Very Expensive organic chocolates. Perfect for an adult Halloween party, but way out of line for trick-or-treating. The only thing I could find that was relatively affordable was a large sack of individually wrapped pretzel bags.

I looked online at fair trade chocolates and found some delicious looking options, but at $12 a bag they were simply too expensive. In my neighborhood, we can expect to run through six bags of candy on Halloween. That would be more than $80 with shipping! What’s more, the chocolates needed to be ordered really early – by October 17th! That would never do. And online shopping made no sense when I realized that my five-year-old was very excited about the prospect of buying the candy we would be giving out to trick-or-treaters.

So back to the bricks-and-mortar retailers. The shelves at Safeway and Giant were full of same-old, same-old bags of traditional chocolate treats. On a whim, I headed over to CVS. There, alone on a shelf I spied a Hershey’s Organic Chocolate bar. It was far too large for trick or treating, but it did give me hope. It gave me hope because only a company as large as Hershey has the capacity to bring organic chocolates to the trick or treating masses at a reasonable price point. In the course of researching this post, I learned that earlier this month, Hershey acquired organic candy purveyor Dagoba Chocolates, a sure sign that Hershey is taking the organic market seriously.

Wouldn’t it be great if by next Halloween we could give out organic Hershey’s Kisses, priced at a reasonable level? As for this year, I must confess that this OrganicManiac couldn’t justify the price of organic candy. Perhaps I didn’t look early enough or hard enough, but frankly, reasonably priced bags of organic Halloween candy shouldn’t be so hard to find.

So what are we giving out this year? The old traditional favorites: Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kats, Milky Ways, and Krackle. Three big bags for $5 at Target. My kindergartner was thrilled to pick the candies out himself.

Next year I hope I can point him to a reasonably priced selection of organic Halloween candy, available at a local store.

In the meantime, Happy Halloween.

– Lynn

Copyright 2007, Organicmania

Just Say No to Cheap Plastic Crap

October 15th, 2007

Today is Blog Action Day, and bloggers throughout the world are uniting to discuss the environment.

I’m asking you to join me in the campaign to Just Say No to Cheap Plastic Crap. If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the little plastic snakes, tops, rings and other assorted JUNK that show up inside your home once your child starts attending birthday parties and school fairs.

I don’t know a single parent who likes this stuff. Not a one. In just one hour Sunday, I had two parents approach me to complain about Cheap Plastic Crap. Brian bemoaned the fact that he hates the goody bags that his kids haul back from birthday parties and Liz told me that she feels like her “second job” is picking up all the Cheap Plastic Crap littering her playroom.

But picking up all the Cheap Plastic Crap only extends the battle against this stuff. Because where does it go once it leaves your house? It’s not recyclable, so it goes to landfills, where it leaches plastic toxins into the earth.

The best way to prevent the encroachment of Cheap Plastic Crap into your playrooms and ultimately into our landfills, is to Just Say No. But what to offer your little darlings instead of Cheap Plastic Crap? Here are 10 ideas for little replacement trinkets to give out as prizes at school carnivals and to stuff into goody bags (if you must). Now go do it. Join the Campaign to Just Say No to Cheap Plastic Crap. Leave a comment here on OrganicMania saying you’re onboard!

10 Ways to Just Say No to Cheap Plastic Crap
1. Run a book exchange. Ask everyone to bring old books from home, and mix it up. Everyone leaves with a new book.
2. Bake cookies and use those as prizes. If you’re running a school fair, this is a two-fer, because the baked goods always seem to end up being sold for half-off in the last hour of the school fair.
3. If your kids are old enough, teach them why Cheap Plastic Tchotchkes (you may not want to say crap in front of your kids!) are bad for the environment. Your kids will probably have tons of ideas for things you can give away.
4. Coins. Foreign coins, and cool US coins like the dollar coins and US state quarters are popular with kids.
5. Similarly, US and foreign commemorative stamps and first day covers make great prizes.
6. Wooden toys for goody bags. Admittedly, these can be expensive, but there are parents who spend $5 or more on goody bags. Why not give away something like one awesome wooden racing car instead of a bunch of mass produced plastic junk? You can get handcrafted wooden mini-cars for $5 each at Vermont Wooden Toys.

7. Customized wooden nickels for school fairs. These are really cool. Maple Land Mark, another fine Vermont toy maker, will customize wooden nickels for your school or organization. You can get 250 of these for under a quarter!
8. Postcards. These don’t have to be new. In fact, old ones with writing can be more interesting to kids. They can read the messages and play imaginary games about the postcard’s people and places.
9. Maps. Not the fancy, laminated maps which aren’t recyclable. Think instead of the free paper maps given out by tourist boards.
10. Origami kits are fun and unique. Just look for kits with simple packaging – or make your own – so that you don’t end up with a lot of plastic lamination along with your paper!

Have fun! And let me know if these tips work for you or if there are people out there who will fight for the right to keep their Cheap Plastic Crap!
– Lynn

3/31/08 Update: Looking for more eco-friendly birthday party favors? Check out these great ideas from Enviromom!

Copyright 2007, OrganicMania