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.

Interested in Greening Your Pet?

October 13th, 2011

Whether you own a pet, are thinking about getting a pet, or have close friends or family with pets, you’ll find some really interesting information in this month’s Green Moms Carnival on Green Pets. (In fact, I think with that description of pet owners, their friends and family, I just described everyone reading this post!)

From tips about adopting shelter dogs (in celebration of Adopt a Shelter Dog Month), to info about the care and feeding of pets, to my own musings about whether pet ownership can be a first step on the path to sustainability – there are a ton of great reads over at Condo Blues today.

Enjoy! And be sure to join the @GreenMoms next month for “How to Be a Green Consumer – Black Friday edition,”   hosted by Eco-novice.

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

Getting Back to Nature With Kids: Bit by Bit, Bug by Bug

May 11th, 2011

As I look at that headline, I purse my lips and shake my head. It’s hard to admit that even “green Moms” find it challenging to get enough time connecting with nature – for ourselves or our families.

Who isn’t busy? It often seems easier and faster to run an errand by hopping in the car or walking along a sidewalk rather than to take a hike on a wooded trail.

I knew I was in trouble today, with this post still unwritten yet due for this month’s Green Moms’ Carnival. I thought about searching through my camera for pictures of my kids communing with nature. But heck, there’s no time like the present, is there?

I needed to get to the CSA for our weekly pick-up, and had about an hour to spare between a 5 p.m. conference call and the time my son came home off the diesel spewing school bus (one huge irritant, why must they be driven to school when walking is so much healthier?).  Time slowed as he asked for a friend to come over for a playdate. Phone calls, coordination with the other parent, and then the litany of the divine right of children: ice cream. (By the way, Alden’s, you’d sell more if you started calling it Cotton Candy Organic Ice Cream instead of Strawberry Organic Ice Cream. It’s what all the kids call it!)

With 45 minutes left, I decided to chance it – and headed out, two eight-year-old boys in tow, for a walk to the CSA. Normally we’d take the main roads, but mindful of our carnival topic, I headed for the trail instead. Before we had even hit the trail, I knew I had made the right decision: the boys were rolling down the hill, laughing all the way.

Luck was with us. We made it in plenty of time. I was back with nearly 10 minutes to spare for my conference call – enough time to rustle up yet another snack for the boys (this time, cantaloupe).

And the adventures we had!

Bugs to behold!

Scary steps to climb!

And why are they closing this trail anyway?

“Save the trail!,” “Save the trail!” they screamed all the way home.

It’s amazing what happens when you get outside. Exercise, fresh air…and the birth of eco-activists!

When was your last hike?

Leave a comment and share.

Thursday’s Green Mom’s Carnival will be hosted over at The Green Phone Booth. Head on over and read some thoughts and tips from the wonderful women of the Green Moms Carnival about getting outside with the kids.

PS: And if you like this trail, head on over to Facebook and “like” their page here. Looks like they could use some more visibility! Only 66 likes on that site!

— Lynn



A Valentine’s Ode: The State of My Love Affair with Blogging

February 12th, 2011

This Valentine’s Day, the @GreenMoms of the Green Moms Carnival will be blogging about ….affairs of the heart and blogging. Why do we blog? Karen asked us, “Where does all this voice and passion come from? Why do we do it?”

I wish that like Karen I could simply blog about my love for blogging, about how OrganicMania opened new doors, introducing me to a wonderful community whom I never would have met otherwise. Like a starry eyed lover, I could dwell on my blog’s good points: creative release, fun, self-expression, and service to others.

But that would be only half the story. We’re no longer in the throes of first love, as on Valentine’s Day 2008, when this archive shows I blogged nearly every day.

The desire is still there, the bloggy thoughts come, but now other loves beckon. I can tweet my thoughts more quickly, and without an empty page staring back at me as I write. 140 characters: so easy!  I can post a Facebook update in a second and soon see the friendly faces of old friends as they respond.  After three years, my bloggy friends are real friends, and like all friends, we call, visit and email – all without visiting each other’s blogs.

The demands of everyday life can be overwhelming at times, making a personal cause-related blog seem like a luxury I can ill afford.

I’ve thought about quitting, leaving my blog behind. But everytime I’ve thought about it, the blog nearly instantaneously – magically – delivers an incredible gift that makes it impossible to leave.

Increasingly, I look at OrganicMania as an old friend rather than a new love, one that will always be happy to see me when I find the time to visit. And one that’s not jealous of my new companion – my second blog.

Or so I hope.

Check out the other bloggy love lorn posts over at Best of Mother Earth on Monday – Valentine’s Day!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2011

Simpler Celebrations: Christmas AND Chanukah?

December 1st, 2010

My son came home from school today and declared himself a poor soul because he only gets Christmas presents, not Christmas AND Chanukah presents, like most of the kids in his class.

“You’re kidding,” I said. “Most?”

“Yes,” he insisted. “There’s only like five of us who just celebrate either Christmas OR Chanukah.”  (And he rattled off the names to prove his point).


Tonight, December 1st, will see some kids lighting candles and getting the first of their Chanukah presents, while others rip open the doors on the first Advent calendar window to snare some chocolate. And apparently, at least here in Bethesda, a lot of kids enjoying both!

It’s tough enough trying to keep the commercialism of Christmas at bay.  How do parents cope with double the demand for presents: Christmas AND Chanukah?

Apparently my eldest son isn’t alone. My youngest son’s teacher told me at pick-up today that the majority of the four-year-olds are celebrating both holidays as well.

My first inclination was to smile. It seems like just yesterday I was debating inter-faith marriage with my friends (and some boyfriends). Would Jewish-Christian couples really be able to honor both faiths as they raised families? Apparently my generation is making it happen!

But how do families celebrating both holidays focus on the traditions that matter most, without the holidays turning into one huge present-fest?   I’d love to hear from those of you who do celebrate both Chanukah and Christmas. Tell me what you’re doing!


In our family, we’ve long had the tradition of the Advent calendar. From one for my eldest to one for each kid, to three – with one for DH and I to share – to this year’s splurge of one Advent calendar for each of us – we love it!

We celebrate Advent with the calendar, Christmas story readings after dinner, and now, Jingle Bells and Ode to Joy on the keyboard.

Christmas Day is just the start of a 12 day celebration finished by Epiphany (which regrettably will be celebrated at Children’s Hospital as my son returns to have his appendix removed).

The holidays are a beautiful time of year. Music, candles, stories, delicious treats and more – all make the holiday spirit last a lot longer than a gift ever can.

What do you think?

This is a post for the Green Moms Carnival on “Holidays Without the Hoopla,” running at The Green Parent on Monday, December 6th.  Head on over there then to check all of the posts from the @GreenMoms!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

The Green Moms Carnival on 10-10-10

October 10th, 2010

What are you doing today? Well, if you’re sitting behind your computer, head on over and check out the Green Moms Carnival on Climate Change, hosted by ClimateMama.

As for me, I’m home with a sicko – I knew it was bad when he was too weak to open a new Lego set that arrived in the mail. Of course, by 2 a.m. he was ready to play Legos again!

I’ve taken two long walks today, and sadly I don’t see any evidence of fewer cars on the road. It’s a gorgeous day, but it seems like just about any other day.

And you?

— Lynn

Greening Your Clothes: Quality Classics or “Crazy” Wins!

September 24th, 2010

When green gal Diane MacEachern proposed that the Green Moms Carnival look at the eco-impact of clothing for this month’s carnival, I hesitated.

When I think eco, I think of organic cotton, bamboo, and hand-me-downs or “vintage.”  But when I look at my closet – especially my professional garb – I see few of those items.  They just don’t cut it for days when I’m out pitching business for my green marketing firm, 4GreenPs.

Anna, Maryanne and Lynn Green Shorty Award

“The Sexy Green Moms” (according to MC Hammer): Anna Hackman of GreenTalk, Yours Truly, center in my Classic Talbots Suit, and Mary Anne Conlin of NotQuiteCrunchyParent in basic black with boots (not shown!)

But of course being a green gal myself, I’m not totally unaware of the impact of my purchases. It’s just that most of the gorgeous organic cotton clothing I’ve found tends to be styled for casual wear, as opposed to professional outings – like the one I went to this morning at DC’s beautiful Willard Intercontinental Hotel, which played host to the Green Business Awards of Greater Washington.

What to do?

I’ve always favored the classics. Perhaps too much so. When I look back at photos of myself in my 20s, clad in Jones New York business suits, I wish I had stepped it up a bit to take advantage of my youth. But in those days, that just wasn’t the route to “shatter the glass ceiling.” Remember that term?

So as you may have guessed, I’m a Talbots fan.  While many women have considered Talbots a tad too conservative, they’ve stepped it up so much that my friend Julie Power from Moms at Work recently blogged, “Talbots, Why Don’t You Suck So Much Anymore?”

Fashion perspectives aside, what I like about Talbots from a “green” perspective is two-fold:

  1. You can find high quality, classic clothing that lasts many seasons.  By the time I’m ready to hand it off to a charity, it’s still wearable clothing (just not for an important business meeting!)
  2. And I’ve yet to find another line that does this – tell me if they do – but I LOVE the fact that Talbots uses the same colors from season to season. This means that if I buy a skirt with brown in it last spring, and then I find a cool brown sweater the following fall, they’ll match. No problem. This enduring quality is what I love. I don’t feel like I’m contributing quite so much to our “disposable” society when I know that I can wear, update and re-wear the same clothes over…and over…and over.

Now, on the flip side, I’ve found that if you buy REALLY crazy clothes, they too, stand the test of time. They’re so crazy, no one else has seen them!

And no, I’m not posting any photos….

Eco friendly clothing. What do you think about it?

Check out a great round-up of posts on eco-friendly clothing over at Big Green Purse on Monday, when Diane runs the September edition of The Green Moms Carnival!

— Lynn

— Lynn

A Wonderful “Case Study” of My Tribe: The Amazing Women of the Green Moms Carnival

September 17th, 2010

One might think that in my fourth “back-to-school” season, I’d have the drill down by now. But no.

Few posts lately as I’m still in “Green Mom Culture Shock” with the saga of the “mandated” Plastic Water Bottle yet unfolding. Today, for instance, Big Boy came home with a bottle of Nestle “Pure Life” flavored bottled water – part of the taxpayer subsidized school lunch program.

But rather than share another rant about the public schools (right now at least), I’m going to share with you a very interesting post written about the women who keep me sane and on The True Green Path: the wonderful women of The Green Moms Carnival. They don’t think it’s strange to avoid genetically modified foods, bottled water, plastic accoutrements, or a host of other things we greenish Moms view as all in a day’s eco-work. As many said in the comments on my “Plastic Water Bottle” post and off-line, they know what it’s like to be That Mom.

So please head on over to Geoff Livingston’s blog to read his case study which calls Green Moms Carnival “a great example of Fifth Estate civic engagement.”

Still not there? Ok, ok, I’ve got to share my quote from Geoff’s blog post.

“We have had employees of large multinationals approach us and thank us for our work, telling us that our demands for safer, greener, cleaner products makes it easier for them to get new innovations approved within their companies,” said Lynn Miller. “We’ve also had CEOs tell us that ours are the voices that are being listened to – that we are an important force for change. It would have been very easy to ‘sell out’ to commercial interests or even non-profit interests given all the interest in the ‘Mom space,’ but our stature as an independent alliance of top green bloggers enhances our credibility, our authenticity, and the uniqueness of our point of view.”

Now, go read the Case Study. And be sure to head on over to Diane MacEachern’s  Big Green Purse on Monday, September 27th when she’ll host the September carnival on “Eco-Impact of Clothing.”

And if you’re like me – still struggling with Back to School adjustments – check out the August Carnival on “Back to School” hosted by Micaela of Mindful Momma.

Enjoy the weekend!

— Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania 

The Top 10 Things I Loved About BlogHer

August 9th, 2010

I had a great time at Blogher. Some people in my circles asked why, given all the controversy about the Nestle sponsorship and the excessive, sometimes reckless consumption which marred BlogHer ’09.

So here’s why. Here’s a list of the Top 10 Things I Loved About BlogHer.

  1. It’s the only time I get to see my tribe: the members of the Green Moms Carnival and the many other bloggers whose work I respect so much. I tweeted that I was up “partying” with The Smart Mama, Condo Blues, Fake Plastic Fish, Mindful Momma, and The Soft Landing. But actually, we’re a little nerdier than that. Sure we love to party. But you can do that anytime. Looking up municipal water tables and calculating the amount of time a glass of water stays fresh before bacteria breeds? I just can’t do that with my friends at home in Bethesda!

Siel, Jennifer, LynnphotoGreen LA Girl Siel, left; Jennifer Taggert of The Smart Mama and Yours Truly Relaxing After a Session


Ok, Ok, this pic was taken last year at BlogHer ’09. Can you believe we don’t have a group shot from this year?

2.   I loved seeing all the women. It’s a very special experience to be at a conference for women, by women, particularly if you’ve worked in fields, like I have, where there are few women on the conference circuit.

doppelgangersphotoDoppelgangers? It’s been said that Alicia of The Soft Landing and I look alike. What do you think?

3.  It was a better BlogHer than last year from a sustainability perspective. Would I call it a Green Conference? Or even say, “BlogHer Goes Green?” Uh….no. But it was a huge step in the right direction. And I’ll have more to say on that in my next post.

swag exchangephoto

4. Great speakers. My favorite this year was the ending keynote. When I listened to the beautiful 70-year old Marie Wilson of The White House Project and Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, I was inspired.  Her vitality made me think,  “Wow, I’ve only just begun. I’m not so old after all. I have a lot yet to do and to give.”


5.  The Babies of BlogHer

6.  Great dancing. The dance floor rocked. How often do most of us get out dancing? Uh…never. (Except for my recent college reunion!)

7.  Pampering.

8. Never being asked to stop tweeting.

9.  Interesting people. The opportunity to strike up conversations is right in front of you all the time. Every woman there has a story. What’s hers?

bloganthropy photoWith Debbie Bookstaber, co-founder of Bloganthropy.  (Thank you, Corolle dolls for your sponsorship of Bloganthropy!)

10.  Wonderful venues. New York, of course, was amazing. So was Chicago last year (my first BlogHer conference). And next year, BlogHer ’11 will be in San Diego. I’ll be there. Will you?


— Lynn

Copyright 2010