10 Things I Learned (Or Was Reminded Of) at TedXOilSpill

June 29th, 2010

Yesterday I attended an amazing series of lectures by some of the world’s foremost experts on marine biology, alternative fuels, and more….People from California, New York, Boston, and elsewhere converged on the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in DC for TedxOilSpill. Running from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (and with a cocktail party still going strong when I begged off just before 9 p.m.), TedxOilSpill was a revelation. You can watch the videos as they’re uploaded here, read the #TedXOilSpill tweetstream or just check out my list below of  the top 10 Things I learned (or was reminded of) at TedXOilSpill.

1. Women are brave. It was a female scientist – Dr. Susan Shaw – who said she was told she was crazy to swim in the Gulf. She wanted to know the impact of the oil on marine life. The impact on her? She got sick. Her throat felt like it was “on fire.” After a few days, she was fine. Unfortunately, the fish don’t get a chance to climb out of the Gulf’s waters. They won’t recover so easily. Instead, Dr. Shaw predicts a dire future for marine mammals exposed to so much oil:  “chemical pneumonia,” liver and brain disease, tumors, lesions, and other horrible afflictions. If you want to watch one TedxOilSpill talk, I suggest you watch Dr. Shaw. (She speaks at 56:30).

2. Truly, no one has any idea of the impact of the dispersants used in the Gulf. Dr. Shaw said the toxicologists are going crazy trying to figure it out. Part of the problem is that industry is not required to disclose what is IN the dispersants. She showed the ingredients list the scientists finally obtained: full of “derivatives” and “distellants” – meaningless terms designed to protect trade secrets. Dr. Carl Safina demonstrated what happens when you mix a dispersant with oil and water: everything became a cloudy soup.  The implication was clear:  putting dispersants in the Gulf is only making things worse. No longer floating on top of the water, the oil is mixed throughout, along with chemicals of unknown origin, with unfathomable impact on marine life.

3.  The environmental field is a broad one.  I was surprised that with all the focus on chemicals, not one speaker mentioned that NOW is the time we can do something about the over-use of untested and unregulated chemicals  by supporting overhaul of the Toxic Substances Control Act. Learn more here. The non-profits advocates fighting for TSCA reform – Healthy Child, Healthy World; Moms Rising; Environmental Working Group, and the broad-based Safer Chemicals Coalition -have been focusing on outreach to Moms, but the overuse of chemicals impacts us all. It’s time to call your Congressional representative. NOW.

4.  Bad news about the environment and its impact on animals  is usually underestimated. A chart showing the fall-out estimated from the Exxon Valdez was superimposed on a chart showing what actually happened. Suffice to say: not a pretty picture. (Some species, like the killer whales, never recovered.)

5.  Did you know that 30% of all species of wildlife are expected to be extinct in the next 30 years? And that estimate was made BEFORE the oil spill.

6. I was reminded that the oil platform exploded on Earth Day.  Talk about irony.

7. Not all biofuels are created equal. Remember the furor over corn-based biofuels? Algae provides another option for biofuel, and it doesn’t require the use of arable land or potable water.

8. I keep hearing that electric vehicles will only be good for short trips. Not true. The Tesla can go 244 miles on a single charge. Sure, most of us can’t afford it, but Tesla Motors is using Tesla Technology to develop other, less expensive models such as a  sedan, the S Model.

9. We all know it’s not just about the animals. It’s not just about the fish. It’s not just about the fishermen, or their way of life. Or the culture in the Gulf. But did you ever think of the history that lies at the ocean floor? I heard an AU professor tell us, with a catch in his voice, about the shipwrecks that will be decimated by the oil.

10. Christen Lien has composed (or more accurately) is composing an instrumental piece inspired by her visit to the Gulf. Listening to it, you can almost hear the animals crying for help and the oil rushing in. Viola, harmonica, synthesizer….it is  incredible music.  Her performance capped the end to the conference.

And do you know what? I really learned MORE than just these ten things…but that’s a post for a different night!

I’d love to know what you learned…or what you think about all this…please leave a comment and share!

— Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Green Moms Carnival is Up!

June 22nd, 2010

Head on over to Fake Plastic Fish, that great blog about living life with less plastic, to see the amusing compilation of “day in the life” posts that Beth put together. I learned a lot, and I’m sure you will too!


Partying Like It’s 1999

May 30th, 2010

Despite the melancholy of my earlier post about Taking Stock prior to my college reunion, the fact is: I had a blast.

I danced the night away, closing down the first night’s party at 4 a.m., with a few of my sorority sisters and fraternity pals swirling around nearby.

Not bad for a gal who hasn’t stayed up that late in more than a decade!

I was so proud of that crazy accomplishment – I told everyone – and when Sigma Nu’s undisputed King of Late Night Partying anointed me “best dancer,” I beamed all weekend long.

Looking at the older reunion classes, I knew the day would come when staying up till 4 a.m. would be out of the question.  The first 25 years, gone by so fast! Our 50th reunion will be here tomorrow. Better to dance now, while we can.

And the serious questions I mulled over in my earlier blog post? When they came up, they led to interesting discussions, just as they always do.

Even “the titans of industry” from my class reached out, offering great business advice when I asked their thoughts. One old pal invited me to meet him at the Capitol Hill Club, also known as the National Republican Club. I laughed, telling him that if I happened to see a Republican Senator there, I might just button hole him to talk about TSCA reform. And he smiled, saying, “That’s okay, Lynn Anne.”

That’s  what old friends and reunions are for. Reconnecting. Reminiscing. Reflecting.

And partying like it’s 1999.

If you can go to your reunion, go.

Unfortunately, concerns left many of our classmates at home. As one high school classmate put it, “I heard the same excuses over and over again.  I’ve gained weight. I got divorced. I was laid off. I’m bald.”

“Hey,” he laughed with a dismissive wave of his hand, “We all have!”

Or, as I put it, “Or at least, one out of the four!”

Life can be hard at times. But the party goes on. We’re still here, and that’s worth celebrating.

So go back to your reunion. And if you go, be sure to  let me know what it was like!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

Taking Stock

May 21st, 2010

There are moments in life that cause us to stop. To think. To reflect. It can be a life altering event like a birth, a death, or a divorce. Or it can be something simpler, but in many ways just as profound: a meeting with old friends. A peek back at life the way it used to be.

This afternoon, I’ll leave my husband and two munchkins behind  – (hope he’s remembering my Stay at Home Spouse Survival Tips!) – to attend my 25th college reunion at Lehigh University.

It’s hard to admit that the years have gone by so quickly, but it’s true. I still remember, as a young child, hearing the “old folks” around me say, “Life goes by quickly.” It didn’t seem possible then, but like so many things in life, only now do I know the elders were right.

Twenty five years ago, I was a scholarship kid, scared to death that I would lose my scholarship if I flunked Statistics or Advanced Calculus. (I never worked so hard for a D+ in my life!)  I was worried about paying back my student loans – (I did so early) – and I wondered if I would ever meet the right guy.   (It took 18 years of dating experience and a Strategic Plan to Meet a Man, but I finally did!)

I was so busy serving on a million class committees that sometimes it was hard to get my class work done (kind of like how this blog and my online activism with @GreenMoms interferes with biz dev work for my business).  Some things never change!

I wanted to explore the world (22 countries down, 180 or so to go!), make some money (Nasdaq 5000, easy come, easy go), and live an interesting life.

I didn’t expect my life to now be so consumed by environmental concerns.

Online, my friends’ beliefs are well known. It’s easy to complain about the evils of bottled water with bloggy friends like Beth of Fake Plastic Fish or Diane of Big Green Purse.

In real life, it’s far trickier. Those big chemical companies fighting full reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act? They recruit from colleges like Lehigh, and from MBA programs like Georgetown’s. (Hoya Saxa!)

In “real life,” many of my oldest and dearest friends aren’t working for NGOs, showing up for Capitol Hill testimony, or demonstrating in the streets.

Instead, they’re working hard for those same companies we like to challenge in the green blogosphere.  I know what it’s like. I’ve worked in marketing and PR for Fortune 500 firms.

They don’t want to question. They want to believe.

But I know from experience that face-to-face, those differences will melt away. I’ll smile with a skeptical twinkle in my eye, refer them to the EWG’s Skin Deep  Database, and agree to provide some questions they can forward to their colleagues. I don’t want to put my friends on the spot. They’re my friends after all, and it’s a party.

And then I’ll think, and reflect, on all that’s changed in 25 years.

What about you?

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

Thinking Again About a Hybrid or Electric Car? You’re Not the Only One

May 8th, 2010

It seems like an eternity ago that decisions to purchase hybrid and electric vehicles hinged mainly on considerations like fuel economy, the price at the pump, and the age and condition of your existing car.

The Gulf oil spill disaster changed all that.

Nothing in recent memory has so powerfully seared into our collective consciousness the need to reduce our dependence on oil.

Wildlife is dying.

The ocean is suffering.

Read this moving blog post by Larry Schweiger, President of The National Wildlife Federation.

Nothing will ever be the same again.

With this as the backdrop, I hate to confess, I have my own oil addiction. I don’t own a hybrid. One of our Subarus is eleven-years-old, and still in excellent condition. Our other Subaru is newer, and we bought it out of brand loyalty – the first one kept us safe after a deer crashed into our windshield when I was pregnant with Boo.

Subaru, when are you introducing hybrids or electric vehicles?

I’m in the market for a hybrid or electric car now. (Guess I should have really made the Volt test drive that Chevy invited me to!)

What about you?

This is a post for the Green Moms Carnival on Transportation, hosted by Big Green Purse.

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

You Can Vote for the Future: Tonight Till Midnight EST

April 29th, 2010

Friends, please take 2 minutes NOW (or before midnight EST) to go to
http://bit.ly/Vote4Green (a link to the White House website) and cast a “5” vote for EnvironmentalCharter High School in LA.

Why?   The voting closes tonight at midnight EST and Environmental Charter High is the only “green” high school among the six finalists competing to win President Obama’s  Commencement Challenge.

I’ve been privileged to get to know some of these students through my work with my client Green My Parents. They are incredible, amazing kids who are leaders in building a brighter, greener future for all of us.

Here’s how they tell the story (from White House site):

ECHS is alive.  We’re blocks from the world’s most congested freeway, yet we step onto campus with fruit trees and a running stream of reclaimed water, which was once asphalt, and we know we’re in an environment designed to envision a better life.  As freshmen evaluate community health, sophomores debate the sustainability of progress, juniors examine the American dream, and we ask, “How are we powerful?” In our urbanite amphitheatre, we showcase art, host composting workshops, and train freshmen for success at ECHS. We give tours and present solutions and best practices, so 98% of us feel comfortable public speaking. With more graduation requirements than schools nationally, we pack our schedules with AP and college courses and exceed service requirements.  ECHS is challenging; but, we thrive – we’ve learned education is empowerment and graduation is a milestone on our journey to a better world. We are 68% Latino, 20% African-American, 78% low income.  Arriving 2.5 grade levels behind peers in math and English, by graduation we outperform national averages. 92% of us were accepted into universities in 2009 and most are first in our families to attend.  We’re prepared to redefine the American Dream, rewrite our futures and heal our planet.

Go. Now. Vote. Please:


Thank you so much.

(And obviously, if you’re on Twitter or Facebook, please spread the word – hurry!)


A First Look at What the New Safe Chemicals Act May Mean for Parents: It Won’t Be an Immediate Panacea

April 15th, 2010

This morning, the Safe Chemicals Act,  long awaited legislation to reform the nation’s outdated chemicals law, The Toxic Substances Control Act, was introduced in Congress. This came in response to years of lobbying by environmental health watchdogs like the Safer Chemicals Healthy Families Coalition; Healthy Child, Healthy World , The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and The Environmental Working Group; physicians like Dr. Alan Greene; authors like Stacy Malkin of “Not Just a Pretty Face,”  Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse, Jennifer Taggert of The Smart Mama’s Green Guide, and Nena Baker of “The Body Toxic,” and yes, activists like Moms Rising and bloggers like my Green Moms Carnival friends.

It was just a year ago this month that the Green Moms Carnival bloggers were  taken to task by the chemical lobby and others for our “hysterical” reaction to finding out that our favorite baby bath products contained probable human carcinogens.  Some of us, like Sommer of Green and Clean Mom, who hosted the Toxic Tub Carnival, were even attacked by other Mom bloggers for being so rude as to question those companies that market baby products with 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde.

But in the end, all of our probing, phone calling, and blogging contributed to the consumer outrage that led retailers to pull BPA-tainted products and state legislators to restrict the use of harmful chemicals in common everyday items. Now,  with today’s introduction of the Safe Chemicals Act, we are a huge step closer to an even safer marketplace.

But don’t celebrate just yet – this bill’s not a panacea. I still foresee the most diligent among us dutifully consulting databases to figure out which products are safe to buy. Incredible, isn’t it?  That’s because the bill regulates the EPA, not the FDA – which regulates 1,4 dioxane, as J&J explains on their website.   And because the bill doesn’t mandate that the EPA look at multiple exposures, as the esteemed National Academy of Sciences has recommended. It just “allows” it to do so.

But for those of us who are still waiting for our simple questions about chemical reform to be answered? Well, today we got some answers. Here’s what I asked and here is the response from Dr. Alan Greene, M.D., Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Stanford School of Medicine, author, Raising Baby Green (and every green Mom’s favorite twitter buddy):

OrganicMania: “My readers are particularly interested in probable carcinogenic  compounds like 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde which are commonly used in infant and childrens  baths. Given that there are  80,000 chemicals in the market today – and some of them – like asbestos – are very directly linked to deaths, how likely do you think it is that specific action will be taken against the use of 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde in terms of being classified as most dangerous?”

Dr. Greene “1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde  would meet a a number of the criteria for prioritization. A safety determination will be made early in the process relative to 1,4 dioxane.  Formaldehyde might also get expedited action.”

At that point, Dr. Richard Denison, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Environmental Defense Fund, noted that the FDA has jurisdication over formaldehyde, not the EPA. (But I knew this, thanks to  The Smart Mama.)     As Dr. Denison put it,  “EPA must have authority and the  mandate to look at all uses of chemicals under another agency’s jurisdiction.”

I then went on to ask about multiple, cumulative exposures. Because how are those little babies being exposed to neurotoxins? Its likely through the chemical-laden creams, lotions and potions that the average American woman slathers over her body every day. And as The Smart Mama has blogged, the industry would like us to believe that “just a little bit of carcinogen is okay.

How to tackle that issue? It’s far trickier.  As Maureen Swanson of the  Learning Disabilities Association of America, said, “We would like to see strengthened language that would direct the EPA to go by the National Academy of Science’s   recommendation on looking more closely at cumulative exposures. It is mentioned in the bill, but they are not directed to adopt those recommendations.  How do we enact real reform to make a real difference in our products and in our health risks?..I totally agree..there are a lot of different chemicals which can interfere with the thyroid, and the thyroid gland impacts brain development. It is essential to work on the science, to get stronger language directing EPA to use those recommendations, and to make clear that both versions of the bill define the safety standard and to require they at least take into account aggregate and cumulative exposures. “

Dr. Greene then jumped in to explain, “It’s left to the EPA to flesh out, and there’s no immediate change on that because there’s not science to deal with it {multiple cumulative exposures}. But by requiring the EPA to take those factors into account, we have a structure that moves us forward far beyond where we are now.”

So what can you do?

First, support this bill. It’s the best we’ve got, and it’s the best we’ll get.  Pay attention to the debate raging in the mainstream media and at action sites like Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, the Environmental Working Group’s Kid-Safe Blog, and Healthy Child, Healthy World.

And remember, as you start talking up the Safe Chemicals Act, don’t let anyone accuse you of being a hysterical mom. Or you’ll have to answer to:

Tiffany of Nature Moms Jennifer of The Green Parent, Beth of Fake Plastic Fish Katy from Non-Toxic Kids, Micaela from Mindfull Momma, Alicia from The Soft LandingAnna from Green Talk , Christine Gardner of moregreenmomsAlline of Passion for Green Business , Diane from Big Green Purse and one of Glamour Magazine’s 70 Eco Heros,  Jess from The Green Phone Booth,   MaryAnne   at EcoChild’s Play and Not Quite Crunchy Parent, Karen from Best of Mother Earth, Katherine from the Safe Mama, Sommer of Green and Clean Mom, Jennifer aka The Smart Mama, and of course, me, Lynn from OrganicMania.

Oh, J&J? No need to answer those questions now. I got my answers today.

— Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania

Another Green Moms Carnival is Up: Spring is for Gardening!

April 14th, 2010


Head on over to GreenTalk today to check out the wonderful compilation of gardening posts that the lovely Anna has put up on her blog. I lost count, but depending on how you count ’em, looks like there are 15 to 20 great posts about gardening!

So sit back, relax and prepare to be inspired!

Thanks, Anna, for hosting!

Our next carnival is May 3rd, hosted by Diane of Big Green Purse. The topic? Transportation!

— Lynn

Think Raising Green Kids is Tough? Try Greening Your Parents! (And Vote Today at Pepsi Refresh!)

March 31st, 2010

Maybe I’ve had it wrong all along.  I’ve been blogging  about helping parents to raise green kids,  when maybe it’s the kids who need to green their parents!

That’s the premise behind Green My Parents, a green youth movement launching Earth Day  to help young people teach their peers and parents how to work together to go green through simple, everyday actions that not only help Mother Earth, they save money! Starting with a small group of “Green My Parents Champions,” these kids are committed to recruiting 100 kids to help save their parents $100 at home through simple, energy savings steps. The movement will grow as those 100 kids recruit another 100 kids and so on until they reach their goal of saving $100 million for American families – and greening the planet at the same time.

I’m blown away by the kids behind this movement. Check out:

  • Adora Svitak, a 12-year-old who is a published author and was the youngest speaker at the TED 2010 conference. She says, “ As one of the champions for GreenMyParents, I feel strongly that we can inspire our families, our communities and our country to successfully face and overcome the most important challenge of our time.”
  • Jordan Howard, 17, a senior at Environmental Charter High in LA, Green Ambassador Youth leader, and prolific speaker and blogger who inspires at her blog jordaninspires.com;
  • Alec Loorz, a 14-year-old who founded Kids Against Global Warming as a 12-year-old. He gave over 30 global warming presentations before being invited by Al Gore to be formally trained with the Climate  Project in October of 2008.  He is now the youngest trained presenter with The Climate Project.
  • Ally Maize, who three years ago, as a 15-year-old started the Green Youth Movement, whose goal is to “educate kids all over the world on living green, and to one day establish this very important information as part of the curriculum in our elementary schools.” and
  • Erin Schrode, a freshman at Columbia University and  founder of Teens Turning Green who wrote a great blog post about just what Green My Parents means to her. Erin just returned from a trip to Haiti that was sponsored by Green My Parents.  As Erin put it, “Every penny I raise for Haiti will go DIRECTLY to development efforts on the ground and the creation of a sustainable healthy peaceful nation for the future.”

Talk about positive role models for youth! (I don’t even want to imagine the college application essays these kids have put together!)

There’s a lot already going on – you can follow GreenMyParents on Facebook and Twitter and keep up with the movement on our website.  But the official launch is on Earth Day, when the Green My Parents book (and more) comes out. So stay tuned for more deets!  And please, join in! God knows, we need to green those parents!

Some of the other organizations behind Green My Parents are:  National Wildlife Federation publisher of Ranger Rick Magazine, Environmental Protection Agency ENERGY STAR Program, Carbonfund.org, Environmental Media Association, Earth Echo, Alliance for Climate Education (ACE,) Kiva.Org, DonorsChoose.org, Kids vs. Global Warming, Green Youth Movement (GYM), Teens Turning Green, SlowFoodUSA, ProjectSprout, Rise Above Plastics, Plastic Pollution Coalition, Green Charter Schools Network, Environmental Charter High School, Green Ambassadors, and many others who are joining us every day. Care to join in as a sponsor or a member? Just leave a comment here, @ us on Twitter, leave a message on our Facebook page, or whatever is easiest. We’ve got a lot of work to do!

Note: GreenMyParents is a new client of my consulting firm, 4GreenPs. I’m thrilled to be working with them to help this movement take off!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

My Take on Expo West

March 18th, 2010

So you might be wondering what happened….. I posted about how I would be blogging from Expo West…and then…nothing. (Well, except for all those tweets!)

Well, today my post about ExpoWest  went up on the Seventh Generation community blog. You can read it here.

It was a great experience, and despite my good natured complaining about Food Porn and Organic Kid Marketing, I hope to make it back to the show again next year!

— Lynn

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