Thanks Again to All Who Helped @GreenMoms #SaveGreenMoms

December 10th, 2011

Some of you know that we had a crisis with the @GreenMoms Twitter feed over the Thanksgiving holiday. It disappeared.

Poof. 72,000+ followers, just gone…in Twitter Hell Account Suspension-Land.  Which, it turns out, is a pretty mysterious place, without any instant communication – 140 characters or not.

It was incredibly frustrating to deal with this, especially coming as it did during our Black Friday carnival.  (We resisted the temptation to think our ill-timed suspension was a corporate plot to block our anti-consumerist messages on the biggest shopping day of the year! Although Lisa of Condo Blues did blog, “Does Twitter Hate Green Moms?”).

But thanks to a lot of support from our friends online  – one of whom, Maryanne Conlin(aka MC Milker), even intervened behind the scenes at Twitter HQ – and a diligent Twitter customer service rep, we finally got our account back on November 30th. On December 7th, I received an email from Twitter support explaining that @GreenMoms had been caught in a spam filter.

It was frustrating on a personal level, and frankly, scary on a professional level. I thought of the many Twitter accounts I’ve launched for clients – accounts that are now lifelines for many non-profits and green businesses.  What if a mysterious “account suspension” happened to them?   Or what if it happened to an activist relying on Twitter for communications during a crisis situation?

Much has been made of Twitter as today’s best source for breaking news and citizen journalism. But can Twitter live up to this ideal if well established accounts can be made to suddenly disappear, with no recourse, no response, no explanation for days? And what of the many organizations that have come to rely on Twitter as an integral communications channel?   As the old saying goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Here’s where you can find GreenMomsCarnival on Facebook and on GooglePlus.  Here’s our Homepage, with listings of all of our carnivals. Our next one, on Green Gifts, runs Monday at Citizen Green.

How to be a Green Consumer: First, Ignore Black Friday! (At least on Thanksgiving!)

November 24th, 2011

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving most of all the holidays because of its simplicity. Eating a good meal with family and friends and giving thanks for all we have is a simple, yet profound act.

But this year, something happened on the way to Thanksgiving. Some stores opened as early as 9 p.m. Thankgiving Day, or never even closed for Thanksgiving, according to The Washington Post.  Black Friday sales are morphing into Small Business Saturday sales which are morphing into CyberMonday sales…and then the countdown of xx days to Christmas begins.

Forget the over commercialization of Christmas. That battle is lost. The new battle is over Thanksgiving. Because the fact is, the early promotion of Christmas sales takes the focus away from much that is special about Thanksgiving.

What happens when our focus shifts from giving thanks to preparing for “deals of a lifetime” the very next day?

Do we still give thanks for all that we have?

Or do we start planning our shopping sprees?

Does our mind wander to all that we don’t have…all that we could have if only …if only we get to the stores early enough. Is our conversation around Thanksgiving time about “wants” and “needs” and “deals” rather than thanks?

I thought I was immune to this. After all, I don’t rush out to the stores on Black Friday. Never have, doubt I ever will. Our family traditions used to include football on Friday – and we still try to include some outdoor time, continuing the Thanksgiving tradition of giving thanks for the beauty and wonder of nature.

But this year, it seemed the promotions came early and strong into my email box, and tempted me. Did you know there’s an Iphone app where you can sort all your deals? And even my favorite afterschool Lego program is running discounts, along with plenty of green and organic merchants.

Eileen Fisher Thanksgiving & Black Friday Sale

We’re still looking for a car, and a car dealer sent me a Black Friday savings voucher. I was tempted to start researching the deals in the car on the way to Thanksgiving dinner…but realized I would then fall right into the trap of commercialism, instead of the celebration of Thanksgiving.

I’m not a luddite. I make my living as a marketer, helping companies and organizations bring to market products, services and causes. But I believe that both green marketers and green consumers need to figure out how to take advantage of the Christmas shopping rush without destroying one of the most beautiful and purposeful holidays we Americans still hold dear: Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Table

What do you think? Did you notice a change this Thanksgiving?

This is a post for the Green Moms Carnival on How to be a Green Consumer: Black Friday edition, hosted by Betsy at Eco-Novice.

The Great Green Halloween Grinch

November 1st, 2011

Now that Halloween is over, I’ll confess.  For the past few weeks, I’ve been biting my tongue to keep from sounding like the Great Green Halloween Grinch.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Halloween as much as anyone. Dressing up in costume, trick or treating, and childhood memories make it one of my favorite celebrations. I’ll even admit to owning some hideously tacky Halloween stuff like this “Frank the Monster” (purchased at Lillian Vernon in my pre-green days).

Tacky Halloween Decorations

So what’s turning me into a Halloween Grinch? Waste. Over commercialism.  The virtual disappearance of time honored traditions like Trick or Treat for Unicef and Bobbing for Apples. The appearance of Halloween décor that rivals Tacky, Tacky Christmas decorations.   Retailers shipping back pumpkins – before Halloween – to make way for Christmas décor.

To be sure, there have been incredible strides in making Halloween more “green.”  In just four years, Corey and Lynn have grown Green Halloween from a regional event to a nationwide costume swap and more.

And yet….. during “green Halloween” twitter chats, sustainably minded “green moms” wonder how to “get rid of” all the candy their kids bring home. The SwitchWitch, who takes Halloween candy away and replaces it with a gift, is a popular option. The First Lady suggests letting kids keep their candy for a few days before confiscating it. Dentists advertise “trade in” plans – $1 for each pound of candy turned in. And there are organizations like MoverMoms who collect candy to send to the troops.

Why are we spending so much money on something that we’re disposing of the very next day? I just don’t remember all this angst as a kid. My candy stash lasted for months. If parents talked about getting rid of candy, it went over my head.

This morning, I heard on the news that Americans spent $7 Billion on Halloween candy, costumes, decorations and more.

How much of that $7B could be redirected towards truly important things that we value, rather than items that we throw out days later?

I know, I know…I sound like a Halloween Grinch. Told ya. That’s why I kept quiet for so long.

What do you think about how we celebrate Halloween?

– Lynn

My Subaru’s Totaled, So I’m Going Car-less….For Now

October 10th, 2011

Two totaled Subarus in five years: what are the odds? Thank God, we’re all fine, and no, neither accident was our fault!

Two weeks ago, a Jeep slammed into our 2001 Subaru Legacy. Our four-year-old was in the backseat. Ironically, that’s where his big brother was sitting on Mother’s Day, 2006, when a huge deer ran into the front of our 1999 Subaru wagon. (I was sitting in the front seat, very pregnant at the time. Thank God — and Subaru — we were all fine!)

The insurance company totaled the car because it would cost more than “the car is worth” to fix it. Says who? Talk about a waste, from a sustainability perspective!

So while we will get $9,000 or so to replace our Subaru, it’s hard – no unthinkable – to replace the car we bought new with someone else’s old car.

At first, I took it as a great green challenge to go carless. After all, we live near metro, I walk to my office, and the school bus comes to the corner. It was just the other week that I turned down a corporate Zip Car membership. Maybe time to reconsider?  Or what about BlaBlaCar, a ride-sharing service that cuts carbon – and costs?

But the thought of trekking several blocks with a sick kid in tow to grab a Zipcar to get to the doctors made me realize I didn’t want to give up the convenience of a car in my driveway, ready to roll.  And BlaBlaCar, regrettably, is not yet available in the US.

So now I’m back to square one, thinking about what to do next.

What about you, dear readers? Does your family get by with just one car? How do you do it, when you live outside a city center?  Am I crazy to think about trying to survive with just one family car?  (DH  uses the wagon for his commute).

Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

– Lynn

Check Out This Month’s Green Moms Carnival: Green Back-to-School!

August 30th, 2011

For the fourth time in as many years, my friends — the Green Moms of the Green Moms Carnival – have come together to share our tips on how to get ready for the back-to-school rush.

Green Moms Carnival

I hope you’ve read my post about how sometimes even Green Moms forget to Reduce, Reuse, Refuse, Repurpose, and Recycle.  But that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Head on over to Mindful Momma to read a great compilation of more than twenty posts about the green-back-to-school.

Enjoy!

– Lynn

Back to School Shopping: Remembering You Can Still Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose or Recycle!

August 20th, 2011

I chalk it up to a mother’s Prehistoric background as a Gatherer, married with her primal instinct to protect and prepare her offspring. How else to explain the fact that so many of us forget all about the Cardinal Rules of The Five Rs (Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Repurpose and Recycle) when it comes to our own precious darlings’ return to school?  Sure, it’s tempting to fall into green shopping mania, but take a closer look at some of these tips…you may find that you can get away just fine without many new items for back-to-school.

Back to School Essentials?

After all, when was the last time you heard a grade schooler say, “Mom, I really need a  new lunchbox!” OK, granted, maybe girls are different – but I’d wager that boys could care less about the many new “back-to-school” items most Moms feel compelled to buy.    My rising fourth grader has been toting the same Crocodile Creek lunch box since kindergarten. Sure, it’s looking a bit beat up now, but does it really matter?

durable PVC-free lunchboxes

The fact is, if you spring for high quality gear at the outset, you may find, like me, that you’ll get years and years of use out of your back-to-school items.  Here’s what’s worked for me:

1. Lunch Boxes: Crocodile Creek’s PVC-free lunch boxes are incredibly durable. The one pictured here is going into its fifth year of service. For some reason my other son’s Crocodile Creek lunch box didn’t last quite as long – perhaps because of too much spilled yogurt on the inside.  When it got even a bit too funky for my taste, I replaced it with this Hanna Andersson lunch box, which is a bit roomier.

Do I think it’s time for a new lunch box after four years? Well, yes, so I purchased a new one…but Big Boy told me sensibly, “The other one is perfectly fine, Mom. And it’s not so eco-green to buy new every year, is it, Mom?”

2. Backpacks: Resist the temptation to buy the cheap theme backpacks. It’s amazing how soon that cool character they absolutely must have this year become so LAST YEAR or worse yet, BABY-ISH.   Perhaps because of the shortness of the “awesome factor,”  most of them are not built to last, but if you’ve got a younger one in preschool, they do make good cast-offs — even with broken zippers.

After my son’s Spiderman backpack broke after just two weeks of use, I purchased a durable Eddie Bauer backpack, which is going into its third year of use.  Sure it’s a little dirty, but again, we’re talking about a boy. And we could always …wash it!

durable school back packs

Other great sources for durable, long lasting backpacks that last for years? You guessed it…Hanna Andersson and Crocodile Creek.  And if your little one must absolutely have Spiderman, Thomas, or some other character, check the consignment shops. After waiting patiently for a season, I found an adorable Thomas backpack for $5. Of course, it’s broken now.

If you’re tempted to give in to the Back to School shopping mania, just think about all you can do with the $100 or so bucks you might save by not indulging. A nice dinner out. Some money in the savings account. Or a great little something for YOU.

What do you think? Will you be skipping any of the so-called back-to-school “must haves” this season?   Check out what the Green Moms of the Green Moms Carnival have to say about Back to School shopping at our 4th annual Back to School Carnival, hosted by Micaela of Mindful Momma on Monday.

Disclosures: In case you’re wondering, I don’t do any work for the companies mentioned here. They’re not clients, and I purchased all the items mentioned in this piece…most of them, years ago!  :)

– Lynn

Green Mom Activism: Does It Matter Anymore?

July 22nd, 2011

They  say bad things come in threes. So here are three to ponder.

  1. A non profit leader and fellow “green mom” activist posts on her FaceBook page, “over the past few days I’ve been called a Nazi, told my work is futile, and more…”
  2. Another “green mom” tells me that her grown kids think the battle against climate change is lost. You guessed it: her work focuses on climate change. Is she fighting a losing battle?
  3. My own son sighs in exasperation, “You embarrass me sometimes, Mom. I mean, not everything can be eco-green. You can’t change everything, you know, Mom?”

Let’s start with my newly minted tween’s skeptical words.  I looked at him with a big smile, rushed over to hug him, and said, “Oh, honey, you’re growing up!”

“What do you mean, Mom?”

“It’s the first time you’ve told me that I embarrass you! Honey, get used to it, because I’m going to embarrass you for many, many more years to come.”

:)

While I can poke fun at the “embarrassing Mom” comment, the “green is futile” messages that my friends and I are getting are unnerving.

All around us are signs that people are waking up to the importance of environmental action. Businesses are built around green. Corporations publish sustainability plans, and actively court green consumers.  Kids, the future, are at the vanguard of the movement. And yet….if everyone is so green, why are we still in so much trouble?

When I started the Green Moms Carnival, few people recognized the important role that mothers play in the environmental movement. What a difference three years makes.  Market studies have been written about the phenomenon.  PR firms have cashed in. Environmental NGOs court them.  Everyone wants a piece of  “mom influence.”

And yet, if we’re not influencing our own kids and our own circles, what does it really matter? And where do we go from here?

Give up, or carry on? Pass the baton to a new generation?

– Lynn

 

 

Kids and Veterans on Memorial Day

May 30th, 2011

I think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer beach season. It wasn’t until my dear brother made a comment about “no one remembering veterans anymore” that I realized Memorial Day could be yet another “teachable moment” with my kids.

When I told my eight-year-old son we were going to watch the Veteran’s Day observance in Rehoboth Beach, he grumbled and groaned. I wasn’t surprised. What kid in his right mind wants to go to something called an “observance” when the sun, sand and boardwalk amusements beckon?

Maybe if he had known a veteran would give him one of the shells fired off in the salute, he would have argued less.

Perhaps if he realized that a World War II veteran would tell him, “Yes, I remember FDR! Of course!” it would make his first big oral book report — due this week –  that much more interesting.

Or had he known that a reporter for the local newspaper would interview him, my idea for the outing might have seemed more exciting.

But in the end, what mattered most to me was not the arguing beforehand, but what he said after the ceremony ended.

“Thank you,” he said to the veterans.

And to me, he said, “Thanks, Mom, I’m glad we came.”

What did you do on Memorial Day? If you didn’t observe the day with veterans, do you plan to next year? Please leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

He’s Darn Lucky I’m Not the #1 EcoMom, Top 25 Is Sufficiently Annoying!

April 5th, 2011

One of the peculiarities of the Mom blogger world is the near-constant parade of  Top Mom Blogger Lists. Immediately great debate ensues among the bloggers about who’s in, who’s out, if the award is bogus – a mere SEO ploy – or actually, a great honor.

So late this afternoon, as I relented to my kids’ whining for a snack while at CVS, I checked my phone for emails, and burst out laughing.

Here’s what I read: “Your blog OrganicMania has been nominated to the  Top 25 Eco-Friendly Moms list on Circle of Moms! This is a great opportunity to gain new readers through our audience of over 6 million active users.”

I sure didn’t feel like a Top 25 Eco-Friendly Mom as I gazed over my phone at this image:

 

Can you see what he’s eating? That processed, assuredly non-organic and fully bovine hormone laden bright orange cheese stuff packaged with three crackers, all enshrined in a plastic tomb.  (Probably from the same lot manufactured back in the ’70s, the last time I ate this particular snack).

Why couldn’t I have received the email while I was at the CSA? At least I wouldn’t have felt like I was caught cheating in the act of attaining EcoSuperMomDom.

“Why are you laughing?” my son asked.

After I explained about the email, he got to the heart of the matter: “So are you number one?”

“No,” I responded, noting that (at that time) the honor was reserved for my pal Tiffany of Nature Moms, one of the real-deal original pioneers of Green Mom blogging.   “And you’re lucky I’m not number one.”

“Why?,” he asked, genuinely surprised.

“Because the Number 1 EcoMom would never let her son eat that processed stuff!”

At that time, I was somewhere in the top 25, but as word is spreading, the field of nominees is growing rapidly. (That’s how these ranking contests or honorary lists or whatever you want to call them work).

But if you’d like to help me stay in the top 25 (which I do confess I think would be kind of cool), you’d make me smile again if you went right here and voted.   Thanks! And on a serious note, do check out some of the blogs you may not be already be familiar with…there are a lot of women out there doing some amazing things to green up their lives.

 


– Lynn

I Should Have Known It Was Bad When He Couldn’t Open the Legos: How Do You Know When A Child Is Seriously Ill?

October 11th, 2010

I started this post earlier today at Suburban Hospital. Blogging to relieve stress…

My eight-year-old son is a Lego fanatic, as I’ve blogged here, here, and here.

legodropshipphoto

When he returned home from a Saturday morning Cub Scout hike, nauseous and exhausted, I figured it was a stomach bug and encouraged him to sleep. He slept most of the day. And when he was too tired to open a much anticipated Lego box that arrived in the mail, I suspected a bad fever.

By 2 a.m. Sunday, when he was up and playing with the Legos, I thought he was on the mend.  By end of day Sunday, none of us, to my great surprise, had caught his bug, and that’s when I began to worry.  After all, aren’t viruses contagious?

When my husband told me he had to carry him upstairs to bed, I replied, “We’re calling the doctor in the morning.” But by morning time, my son couldn’t even get out of bed, so we headed over to Suburban Hospital, where they put him on IVs, took blood samples and a sonogram, and told us they suspected a perforated appendix.

After four hours, he was transferred to Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC. Big Boy went by ambulance with his father, and I by car after dropping off Boo at his best friend’s house.

And here I sit, now, blogging, waiting to find out if he has a burst appendix or not.

I feel:

  • Grateful to live in a place that has such wonderful medical care nearby;
  • Remorseful that I didn’t take him in as soon as I realized he was too sick to open a Lego box.
  • Amazed by how helpful technology has been through all of this. From my iPhone, I was able to quickly update my FaceBook status, read comforting messages from friends; check in on Foursquare and Twitter (my semblance of normality); look up appenditicitis on the Internet, and get directions to Children’s Hospital from Suburban Hospital.

From the Internet I learned that he’d likely need surgery and that if he had an abscess it would not be a good thing. I realized he’d need to stay overnight, and might be laid up as long as a week.

I had just accepted that when all of  a sudden things changed. They didn’t know what it was after all…symptoms inconsistent with appendicitis…could be his intestine? Another four hour wait as he prepped for a CT scan before we’d know whether it would be surgery tonight, surgery in a few days, or some other “medical treatment.”

I know in the scheme of things this is a very minor childhood incident, but it’s never easy to see your child suffer or hooked up to IVs is it? Again, I thought of the kids in other parts of the world who suffer without access to the incredible medical resources we have right at our fingertips.

Thanks to all of you who checked in with me today.

- Lynn

Postscript: Unfortunately he does have a ruptured appendix with abscess. They’re draining it tomorrow, and we’ll know more about surgery. One nurse predicted a five day stay in the hospital, and the Internet sites I’m now cruising say two to three weeks to recover. We’ll see.  My husband is cancelling his business trip to London, and we’re hunkering down.  Fortunately we both have pretty flexible schedules, so we will be trading off on hospital duty and doing a lot of typing in the hospital room too!