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.

Towards A Better BlogHer

August 15th, 2010

As someone who blogged last year about SwagHer, decrying Blogher ‘09’s excessive  swag and pushy promotions, I feel compelled to report on the atmosphere at BlogHer ’10.

What a difference a year makes.

It’s to BlogHer’s credit that they actually practice what they preach – they listened to the community’s feedback and implemented changes that vastly improved the feel of the conference and resulted in some noticeably greener changes.

Was it perfect? No. But as I told those who complained to me, BlogHer is not a green conference.

Here are just some of the improvements at BlogHer ’10:

Pur Waterphoto

1. The water stations were clearly visible (much more so than last year), as were the water bottles. (Thanks, P&G).

I especially liked the bathroom rugs that the organizers placed under the water jugs to absorb the water overflow. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had discussions with event organizers about how to handle the “drip” problem. Bathroom rugs? That’s a cheap, simple, green solution that anyone can implement.  Now we just need P&G to figure out how to recycle those water filters, like Brita does — (thanks to the Take Back the Filter action campaign led by blogger Fake Plastic Fish!)

2. Sponsors were barred from accosting approaching conference attendees to ask, “Would you like my swag wonderful sample of ….?” “Can I interview you about how much you love my wonderful brand and how we will change the world?”

Playskool

Of course, in the expo center, that kind of thing still went on at BlogHer ’10. But if you choose to step foot in the exhibit hall, you need to expect that the exhibitors will approach you and try to entice you with swag, giveaways, contests, etc. That’s the deal. If you don’t like it, don’t go to the exhibit hall.

3. A Swag recycling station (sponsored by P&G) was a big hit.

swagexchange

Even more swag could have been exchanged if it had stayed open a bit later (or if attendees had been warned that it would close up late Saturday afternoon).

4. I’m not sure if it was the conference lay-out or the way rooms were assigned, but there seemed to be far less of the “swag trick or treating” atmosphere that prevailed last year.

And as I’ve previously posted, I had a great time at BlogHer ’10. I’m looking forward to returning to next summer’s BlogHer ’11 in San Diego. But I hope to see some further “greening” of the conference.

What improvements would I like to see at BlogHer ‘11?

1. I had a hard time swallowing the “BlogHer Goes Green” slogan when there was no effort made to offset the carbon footprint of the conference. Many (most) conferences I attend offer carbon offsets,  and it’s something BlogHer could easily explore and probably even find a sponsor to cover for the attendees. In fact, last year  Michelin offset the travel for the attendees at the green session.

2. I’d like to see a diverse committee of BlogHer attendees offer a “swag vetting” service for BlogHer sponsors. (And yes, these women should be compensated for their time – not expected to volunteer).  Through a swag vetting service, sponsors could get early feedback that a proposed  giveaway would be a dud. Think of the time, money, and resources saved, as well as the improved blogger relations that would come from gifting a truly appreciated token rather than a spurned offering.   Does the Salvation Army really need all those leftover Jimmy Dean alarm clocks? (But believe it or not, I brought mine home for my son to replace his broken Thomas alarm clock!)

3. On the same note, BlogHer should re-evaluate the all-conference giveaway bag. Frankly, that’s where most of the discarded waste bound for some hapless homeless people came from!

4. BlogHer sponsors could run more experiential programs with attendees rather than offer gifts.  Some sponsors excelled at this, notably Liberty Mutual Insurance and their PR agency Ketchum, which offered a media training program for bloggers; Ecco Shoes, which pampered attendees with free pedicures; and P&G with their hair styling and make-overs.

makeoversP&G

But there’s still room for more creative experiential marketing programs with bloggers.    How about a leisurely brunch for the late owls who could never make the 10 a.m. breakfast cut-off (including yours truly?) What about some fresh fruit or veggies at the Recharge Lounge?   Or a goodbye brunch? How about  keeping the dance floor pounding all night long? I didn’t want Sparklecorn’s dance floor to close at 11 p.m. – did you?

5. Sponsors would profit from exploring more sustainable gifts. There is an enormous variety of creative, upcycled, recycled and fair trade gifts which would be unique and appreciated by the conference attendees.

6. I’m hopeful that next year, with the conference in California, we’ll see organic food and local, sustainable wines for conference goers to enjoy.

7. BlogHer could encourage sponsors to offer women an option of swag or donations to a crowd-sourced social change project or pet cause.Imagine the real impact of BlogHer if we were able to opt out of swag and reallocate those dollars to The Afghan Women’s Project, Tutus for Tanner, The American Cancer Society or Breast Cancer Fund, Bloganthropy, or another cause dear to the BlogHer community?  With 3500 attendees projected for Blogher ’11, and an estimated $100 per person spent on swag (my own  arguably conservative WAG), we could take funds otherwise spent on “sponsor gifts” and donate $350,000 to causes that make a real difference to our community.

After all – wasn’t that the real message of the keynote? Did you not hear what Gloria Feldt and Marie Wilson said? Women have power. We have economic power. And our voices matter. So what are we doing with that power? Mr. Potato Head or a Crowd-Sourced Cause Donation? Think about it.

And for those who say it can’t be all or nothing, fine. How about letting attendees opt in or opt out of swag from specific brands? That way those bloggers who take samples for review purposes are happy, brands’ products continue to get exposed to new audiences, so they’re happy, and we should all be happy because perhaps we could get to a near-zero waste conference – where we’re not expending resources to ship leftover  notebooks, plastic cups, alarm clocks, and paper – oh, the paper! -  to the Salvation Army.

NoNestlephoto

There was a lot of controversy about the Nestle sponsorship. It led to the boycotting of the conference by some speakers and attendees, and to silent action coordinated by PhDinParenting, who through her blogging, increased  BlogHer community awareness of Nestle’s violations of the WHO’s  International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.   I proudly wore one of the #NoNestle stickers that Crunchy Domestic Goddess handed me.

crunchydomesticgoddess

But to hold BlogHer’s founders to that same standard is not realistic. BlogHer is not a private endeavor. It’s not a B-Corporation. On the contrary, BlogHer is a rare example of a successful venture-capital funded start-up led by a female management team still comprised of the original founders. Jory des Jardins, Elisa Camahort Page and Lisa Stone don’t air their business issues in public, but take it from me – someone who worked for venture backed tech start-ups for years – these gals must be under intense pressure to grow revenue and show profit. They can’t turn away the big bucks that a company like Nestle offers to the conference.

Instead, BlogHer took Nestle’s money and paid for incredible speakers and a wide range of progressive programming. But BlogHer’s not a green or progressive conference, per se. And that’s not all bad. Because while I admire my deep green blogging buddies, I don’t want to spend my time preaching to the choir. I want to move people along the spectrum from light green to a deeper shade of green – and that’s best done by mixing at a conference like BlogHer, which appeals to a very diverse group of women from across the spectrum of ideologies, income levels, religions, and races.

What did you think about BlogHer? Leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

My Kind of CE-Yo

April 30th, 2009

Thanks to Stonyfield Farm, I’ll be heading out to my first BlogHER conference this July in Chicago. I’m not sure which I’m more excited about – finally getting the chance to attend the big BlogHER conference, or the sponsorship from Stonyfield.

Stonyfield’s PR firm offered me the sponsorship, which is actually in return for promoting their new yogurt, Oikos, the only organic Greek yogurt on the market. They sent me some product pix to feature here on OrganicMania.

So who’s that guy? Why is his photo posted instead of the product beauty shot?

That, my friends, is Gary Hirshberg, otherwise known as Stonyfield’s CE-Yo. And although I do enjoy Stonyfield Farms yogurts, I really love what Stonyfield stands for. As I blogged just yesterday, if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years of studying the green and organic market, it’s this: organic does not always mean green and sustainable, and green and sustainable does not always mean organic.

But Stonyfield is an organic company that operates its business sustainably. In fact, Gary Hirshberg was an environmental activist and windmill maker back when he first got involved with biodynamic and organic farming methods. The company started buying carbon offset credits more than 10 years ago, before most people had even heard of global warming. They do great things like donate funds to one of my favorite organizations, The Environmental Working Group, work hard to reduce waste, support and mentor other sustainable businesses, conserve energy, and make sustainable packaging choices.

There’s all kinds of consumers out there. I’m the deep green type. Show me a company that’s making a difference, and I’ll gladly buy their products.

Thanks, Stonyfield!

And now for the next question…how do I get to Chicago? Hmm….anyone have any connections to Amtrak? I have visions of another sponsorship…this one to promote rail travel as having less environmental impact than air travel.

– Lynn

Copyright 2009 OrganicMania

It May Be April Fool’s Day, But Toxins in Baby Bath are No Joke

April 1st, 2009

It sounds incredible: probable human carcinogens like formaldehyde in children’s bubble bath. Yes, today is April Fool’s Day, but this is no joke. This is the sad reality of the state of our personal care products industry.

How did we get to this point? It’s a function of our regulatory system (or lack thereof as some might say). According to the non-profit Environmental Working Group, “The nation’s toxic chemical regulatory law, the Toxic Substances Control Act, is in drastic need of reform. Passed in 1976 and never amended since, TSCA is widely regarded as the weakest of all major environmental laws on the books today. When passed, the Act declared safe some 62,000 chemicals already on the market, even though there were little or no data to support this policy. Since that time another 20,000 chemicals have been put into commerce in the United States, also with little or no data to support their safety.”

And if this is news to you, you may be asking why you’re learning about this only now. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics just last month released its “No More Toxic Tub” report, which included lab results showing that personal care products are commonly contaminated with formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane – and, in many cases, both. According to the report, “These two chemicals, linked to cancer and skin allergies, are anything but safe and gentle and are completely unregulated in children’s bath products.”

But you know what? This isn’t new news. It may be new to you because perhaps you’re a new parent who is just for the first time paying careful attention to what goes into the bath water with your baby. But the fact is, you can find reports like this one about 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde dating back to 2007 – and I imagine, even earlier. (Updated 4/3: Here’s a link reporting that in 1982, “the industry-funded Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel noted that the cosmetic industry was aware of the problem of 1,4-dioxane in cosmetics and was making an effort to reduce or remove the impurity.” )

The makers of these products claim they are completely safe and meet all government requirements. J&J’s products are bearing the bulk of the criticism from today’s Green Moms Carnival because of J&J’s ill-timed “Big Bubblin Stars” video campaign. But the fact is, J&J does meet all US requirements. Levels of formaldehyde in the J&J products are even below EU levels, which is significant because many American consumers try to follow EU standards for personal care products because they believe them to be safer than the US standards.

But the issue is not J&J’s products alone. Why? We are exposed to thousands of personal care products over our lifetimes. If each one of these products leaches trace amounts of potentially toxic chemicals into our bodies – as tests like the EWG’s “Body Burden” test have shown – then the effect is a cumulative one. And when you’re talking about infants, small children, and young people in their reproductive years, the potential effects are really unknown. We do know that chemicals have been linked to cancers. We do know that we’ve seen a marked decrease in fertility in this country and an increasing number of reproductive diseases. Are they connected to repeated chemical exposures from birth on? I agree with Dr. Philip P. Landrigan, Professor and Chair of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine. He says, “Children are not simply ‘little adults’. They are uniquely vulnerable to toxic exposures in the environment. Exposures in early life can affect human health over the entire life span. We need to find definitive answers about the relationship between toxic chemicals and health so we can protect our children now and in the future.”

In response to past criticism, J&J’s spokesperson Iris Grossman has said, “It’s important to stress that all our products are within the FDA limits.” But that’s just the problem. Are the FDA limits appropriate? Unfortunately, one of the legacies left us by the Bush Administration is the public’s fundamental distrust of our regulatory system. The public has just been burned too many times by lax oversight. Look at our financial markets. The SEC claims it wasn’t aware of the extensive use of derivatives in our secondary markets. Heck, I remember learning about derivatives way back in ’97 when I was at Georgetown’s Business School. No, I didn’t understand them, but I still remember scribbling this note: Derivatives: Stay Away!!! Then there’s the sad state of our food safety oversight. How many more people will have to die of salmonella before we get that under control? What about the lead in children’s toys? I shouldn’t have to cart my toys over to The Smart Mama for a thorough lead inspection.

Many will advocate for more regulation, such as the Kid Safe Chemical Act supported by the Environmental Working Group. But regulations don’t always work as intended. The CSPIA, enacted to prevent the sale of items containing lead, has inadvertently caused many small makers of children’s products to go out of business because they couldn’t afford to comply with the testing requirements imposed by the new law. Then there’s the response to the banking crisis. While the government was celebrating the passage of TARP, the bankers were celebrating the fact that the law didn’t require them to start lending again. How do I know that? I first learned about it at a Washington Christmas party, well before that scandal had finally hit the press. And now that spring is here? The credit markets still remain frozen.

So is The Kid Safe Chemical Act the answer? Will it cause more problems than it purports to solve? Will it inadvertently cause harm to the natural and organic purveyors, by causing them to comply with burdensome regulation, just like what happened when the USDA Organic regulation and the CSPIA was passed? I don’t know. I don’t claim to be a regulatory expert. But I do know something about marketing. And I know that the profit margins on personal care products – beauty products in particular – are incredibly high. It is a very lucrative business, and in most cases the biggest expense is not producing the product, it’s marketing. It’s paying for all the free samples and glossy magazine ads that personal care products companies routinely hand out.

Of course, it’s a different matter in the natural and organics market. There, the cost of all natural alternatives to synthetic chemical ingredients is high. And consequently, on a percentage basis, they spend less on marketing than companies like P&G or J&J.

As an MBA and a New Jersey native, I have very dear friends who have worked at leading personal care companies like J&J, Bristol Myers Squibb, and P&G. Of course they believe their products are safe and comply with US law. But that’s not the whole issue. Someone – either the personal care industry as a whole – or the US government – needs to take a closer look at the 82,000 chemicals used in our personal care products to assess the likelihood that they are contributing to our sky high cancer rates and the increasing incidence of reproductive abnormalities.

And as a former newspaper reporter, I know that there are two sides to every story. So I called J&J before publishing this blog post. I wanted to understand their stance on the Kid Safe Chemical Act and the possible adverse affects of long term exposure to the multitude of chemicals in our personal care products. Their spokesperson, Iris Grossman, could not respond to these questions, although she did offer to put me in touch with their “Mommy blogger” person. I pointed out to her that if she couldn’t answer my question, I didn’t think a “Mommy blogger” specialist could either. Then the shock set in. As a marketing and communications professional, I know that every company has a set of standard Q&As used to respond to the media. I asked her if this meant that NO ONE had ever asked these questions before:
- What is J&J’s stance on the Kid Safe Chemical Act?
- What does J&J think about the adverse affects of long term exposure to the thousands of chemicals used in personal care products?
- Is this issue even being discussed at the industry level, through groups like the Personal Products Council?

So what can you do? Here are a few choices:

1. Sign this petition in support of the Kid Safe Chemical Act.
2. Fill out this web form to contact J&J and tell them you want them to lead an industry-wide effort to overhaul the Toxic Substances Control Act. Or, leave a comment on the J&J blog.
3. Contact the Personal Care Products Council here and tell them you expect a better response to the EWG report than the one that their Chief Scientist gave US News & World Report. “These are issues that have been around for many, many years, so it’s not new news. The thing that impressed me was the low levels of dioxane that were found in these products, which indicates to me that the industry is doing its job in keeping this potential contaminant down to a low level.” (And yes, I’ve called the Personal Care Products Council and am just waiting for a call back).
4. Check the EWG’s Skin Deep data base to find safer alternatives to the products identified in the Campaign’s report.

5. Use fewer personal care products and try to find those with fewer, simpler ingredients.

6. Contact your Congressional representatives to let them know you support Kid Safe. Support is especially critical in Pennyslvania and California.  This press release from Senator Lautenberg’s office includes good background information on the bill.  If you or someone you know lives in PA, check out this link.

If you live in CA, check out this link.

What do you think? Please leave a comment and share. And if you want to talk about the issue, I’ll be on the radio today along with Jennifer Taggert, The Smart Mama, and Lisa Frack of the Environmental Working Group. You can listen to us here and call in with questions at (530) 265-9555.

Thanks for reading this far! This was a longer than usual post, but I felt I needed the space to make these arguments.

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2009

10 Tips for Avoiding Recalled Toys

December 3rd, 2008

Do you see what’s on that paper lying next to those cute toy trains? A recall notice for those very same trains.

Those My Little Train Toy Classics were so darn cute that I picked one up to admire it. And it was cheap too – less than $2.

But those cheap toys always give me pause. So many of them have been linked to recalls and lead paint. So I decided against purchasing one, even though I’m not prepared to spend loads of money on an all natural, organic alternative.

As I was leaving the store, I noticed a recall notice on the bulletin board near the exit. I picked up the recall notice and ran back to see if these were the same trains. After taking them all down from the display, I brought them over to the customer service desk, showed them the recall notice, and explained that they were selling recalled toys. I expected an apology, or at least an expression of concern from the store personnel…but their response didn’t satisfy me. My immediate reaction was to send out this irate Tweet to my Twitter network.

The next day I called the store manager, and asked him if he was aware of what had happened with the recalled toys the evening prior. He wasn’t. No one had yet bothered to tell him that they had recalled toys on their shelves. He assured me that there was no way I could have purchased a recalled item, because the item would not ring up at the register. He also told me that it was likely that just a lot of the item that was recalled, and that the items on the store shelf were probably fine. Well, no. I checked the Consumer Product Safety Commission website and in fact, all of these toy trains have been recalled due to a choking hazard.

It’s tempting to buy cheap toys – but it’s not worth the risk. They’re often full of toxins (just ask my friend with a toy testing gun, The Smart Mama). And even if they’re safe, they usually don’t last very long before they break.

Few of us can afford to buy all natural, organic toys all the time. So what can you do? Here are ten tips:

1. Before you buy anything, go to the Consumer Product Safety Commission and check the recall list. The notice on the toy trains came out the very day I saw them on the store shelf! (And five more alerts have come out since that one was issued!)

2. Shop consignment stores. You won’t believe the number of high quality wooden toys you can find, some still new and in the original packaging. In the DC area, I like to shop at The Purple Goose and Wiggle Room.

3. Ask your friends for their cast-offs. I have one dear friend in Florida who mails her son’s hand-me-down clothes to us. There’s no reason you can’t get cast-off toys too. (I’d like to get in line for cast-offs from the son of natural toy expert MC Milker of Not Quite Crunchy Parent!)

4. Check yard sales, especially in what my mother used to call “the high rent district.” That’s where you may find gently used, natural and organic toys.

5. Zwaggle is a great source for parents to swap gently used toys.

6. Freecycle is full of environmentally conscious people who love to recycle. These are the same people who are likely to have purchased high quality toys. Post a query requesting your child’s dream toy. Who knows? Maybe you’ll get it for free!

7. Look for discount coupons on line. Simply google the name of the toy and “coupon,” and see what turns up. And here’s an easier way you can save some money on high quality, natural toys. To save 10% off your first order at Natural Pod, just use coupon code GCM08.

But these are only temporary steps. The only way we will keep junk toys out of the store aisles is by exerting pressure on government to strengthen the regulations governing toy safety and inspections. Here’s what you can do:

8. Call or write your Congressional delegation and tell them that you want more resources devoted to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the agency tasked with ensuring the safety of our children’s toys.

9. Write to your state and local representatives too. States like Washington and Oregon are ahead of federal law it comes to protecting our kids from unsafe toys.

10. Align yourself with organizations that are lobbying the government on behalf of children’s issues. Groups such as Momsrising lobby for passage of laws that help protect kids not only from recalled toys, but from toys containing unsafe levels of chemical toxins.

How are you going to handle toy shopping this holiday season? Leave a comment and share!

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

Thrilled that Blogging Continues to Change My Life

July 8th, 2008

Shortly after starting OrganicMania, I wrote this post about How Blogging Changed My Life, which ran on LaMarguerite. As I wrote then, I “realized that organics and green living are more than simply an interest of mine. I want to find a way to make these passions fit into my work life too. This is obviously a huge change, and I’ll be blogging more about this as I explore what new doors may open for me.”

Happily, many doors have opened since that post. Not only do I want to share this good news with all those who have encouraged my efforts with OrganicMania, but I think it’s important to do so in the interest of “full disclosure” as well.

When I started OrganicMania, my marketing consultancy was focused on technology businesses, which was a logical step since I had spent my entire career in high tech marketing. Yet when it was time to explore social media and blogging, I chose to blog not about tech marketing, but about organics and going green.

Now, thanks to OrganicMania, I’ve expanded my marketing consulting business into the organic, green and non-profit sectors. My new clients are: Mom Made™ Foods, a leading brand of organic children’s foods; Livability Project, an organization focused on building sustainable communities; and .ORG, The Public Interest Registry, which manages the .ORG top-level Internet domain.

At times this journey seemed like something straight out of Oprah. Following my bliss was scary for me, as there was no defined career path, no specific roadmap to follow. There was no rational plan for how all of this unfolded. I met Heather Stouffer, founder of Mom Made, after she left this comment on OrganicMania. I met Dave Feldman of Livability through my volunteer work with Bethesda Green. In fact, I’ve met so many amazing people through OrganicMania – that’s another way blogging has changed my life, and another post for another day.

Thanks again to all of you for your support.

– Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

Green and Organic Savings Friday: CVS “Organic” Make-up, Late Night Specials at Whole Foods, Organic Baby Food and More!

May 16th, 2008

Last night OrganicMania discovered an advantage to waiting until the absolute last minute to pick up groceries. Never before had I heard the voice booming across Whole Foods announcing, “Two-for-one Special! Buy One, Get One Free!” Buy what? Where the heck was I? For a second, I thought I was back in Germany, where at Kaufhalle a flashing blue siren goes off before a voice announces “Sonderangebot!”

But no, it was the gorgeous sandwiches in the prepared food section that were on sale. Every night at about 9:55 p.m. you can pick up two sandwiches for the price of one. OrganicMania nabbed two gorgeous eggplant sandwiches for $3.15 each! Can’t beat that…

Well, maybe….we just tried the eggplant sandwich and sad to say, it is a bit past its prime, despite the prepared food manager’s assurances that it would taste just fine. My DH deemed it better suited to a midnight snack, and suggested we keep experimenting “in the name of research” to see if any of their sale sandwiches hold up better than the eggplant. More on that subject another week!

physicians-formula.jpg

Isn’t it great to see all these sale signs on organic make-up? Now’s the time to try Physician’s Formula Organic Make-up with the 2 for one sale at CVS. Not only is the make-up 2 for the price of 1, but CVS offers incredible coupon savings through their CVS card program. So savvy CVS shoppers may be able to get their make-up for nothing or next to nothing!

I haven’t tried this make-up yet, but one thing I love about it is the sustainable packaging. The powder is packaged in recyclable paper instead of petroleum-based plastic. That’s one trend we should all hope that the other cosmetics makers adopt.

On the flip side, this make-up is marketed as “organic” when it has many chemical ingredients and is not certified USDA organic. The marketing of this “organic make-up” falls into that “gray area” OrganicMania discussed here with Diane MacEachern, noted environmentalist and author of the eco best seller “Big Green Purse.”

But as with so many other cosmetics lines, you need to be careful about the specific products you purchase. Check out this overview of Physicians Formula ingredients by the Environmental Working Group, and you’ll see that the safety rankings are all over the map. Best bets?

The powder and foundation are both ranked 3, or “moderate hazard” by the EWG, which is actually very good compared to most cosmetics.

OrganicMania considers the eye make-up remover pads and sunscreen “best buys” with EWG rankings of 2, or low hazard. It’s unlikely you’ll find a better choice for your money .

Now that you’re all beautified, what does that lead to? Romance! Love! Babies! Baby food! How’s that for a segue?

organic-baby-food.jpg

Safeway once again has its housebrand O Organics Baby Food 4.5 ounce baby food jars on sale, 10 jars for $7.00 or 17.5 cents per ounce, saving you 90 cents on ten. Unfortunately, that’s a whole dollar more per ten than this organic baby food sale Safeway ran about six months ago, when organic baby food was priced at a just a penny more than conventional baby food! But 10 jars for $7.00 is still a good deal with today’s rising food prices. Are you planning to keep buying organic for your baby? Leave a comment and share!

Did you find any good deals this week? Please share your tips! And check out these other savings tips here. (Warning: some green, some not so green!)

Happy shopping!

Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Stinging Nettles Need a New Name!

May 14th, 2008

Belonging to a CSA is an incredible experience. You gain exposure to produce that you might normally never buy – and certainly would never find at your local market. I’ve posted here about CSA biodynamic and organic treasures such as Jerusalem artichokes, persimmons, celeriac, black radish, salsify, purple top turnips, passionfruit, kabocha squash and sweet white turnips.

But sometimes, trying to expose a kindergartner to nature’s bounty has its challenges.

Just imagine you were 5-years-old. Would you eat stinging nettles? You’d have to be brave, wouldn’t you? After all, “stinging nettles” sound like scary creatures from Harry Potter! They might sting your tongue, don’t you think? And in fact, they really do sting before they are cooked. You saw this warning sign with your own eyes.

stinging-nettles.jpg

But after nettles are sautéed in olive oil with leeks and onions, they are quite delicious, thank you very much. Try telling that to a skeptical boy, eyeing you and the stinging nettles warily!

Fortunately, this kid is well aware of Organic Kid Marketing. So Mom tried to explain that since the stinging nettles come directly from a farm to the CSA, they haven’t been marketed and packaged properly by Organic Kid Marketers. Perhaps he had some ideas?

Yes! Organic Cobra Stinging Nettles, packaged with free stickers of cobras and drawings of cobras all over the box.

Great idea! Cobras are way cool! We love cobras!

Just imagine these nettles came in that cool cobra box. Now eat your nettles!

Not a chance….

Sigh…

Check out some other cool CSA and farmers market fare recipes here at Beth Bader’s Farmers Market Fare and some make-your-own concoctions at Surely You Nest.

– Lynn

Copyright 2008 OrganicMania

Still No In-Store Refill Containers for Clorox Green Works

April 29th, 2008

Back in January, OrganicMania posted a rave review about Clorox Green Works™, but questioned the lack of refill containers. How can a “green” eco-friendly product lack refill containers? At the time, a Green Works PR rep told OrganicMania that the company was “exploring this option.”

My local grocery store still isn’t carrying refill containers, so this weekend OrganicMania wandered into a Walmart, thinking that if any place would stock refill containers, it would be a superstore like Walmart, which caters to families and people making bulk purchases.

green-works-bottles.jpg

But there were none to be found. It’s now more than three months since the launch of Green Works, and still no refill containers. Do Clorox Green Works, Walmart and the other retailers just expect consumers to keep buying more and more of the small containers? Sure, they’re recyclable, but it’s not as sustainable an approach as offering refill containers.

Refill containers are important because they minimize the use of smaller, nozzled plastic containers, reduce waste, and simply because they’re something green consumers expect from a green product line. They’re a key component of source reduction, which decreases the amount of materials used during the manufacturing and distribution of products.

Funny thing is, you can easily find a 64 ounce refill container for traditional Clorox cleaners, but not for Clorox Green Works.

clorox-bleach.jpg

Can a product be truly green without a sustainable approach to packaging? Me thinks not.

4/30/08 Update: Finally, after more Internet searching, I discovered that refill containers for Green Works are available on line at multiple sources including here, here and here, as well as at warehouse clubs like Sam’s. But this approach isn’t sufficiently green for a green product. If you’re going to market as a green company, you need to be authentically green. That includes packaging considerations. More on this tomorrow, when OrganicMania talks about the Take Back the Filter campaign against Clorox and Brita water filters.

Copyright OrganicMania 2008

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