Resolving to Make a Difference: Fighting Climate Change

January 22nd, 2012

At the time, it seemed like a long-shot. A carefully staged group of protests in front of the White House, designed to pressure President Obama into fighting the Keystone Pipeline and to build public awareness of the dangers of the pipeline. But as stood in front of the White House and watched my “green mom” friend Harriet Shugarman aka @ClimateMama, join the protest line, I was in awe.

Green Moms at Tar Sands Protest

I didn’t know much about the specifics of the Tar Sands pipeline until Harriet told me and the other Green Moms Carnival members about it.  At first, I wasn’t even sure I objected. Bringing in oil from Canada, as opposed to from the Persian Gulf, didn’t seem like such a bad idea at first.

Then I learned that renowned NASA climate scientist James Hansen had said it would be “game over” on climate change if the pipeline was built.

And slowly but surely, as the news spread, public opinion shifted, until finally, a few days, ago, the President announced his opposition to the pipeline.

But contrary to some reports, it’s still not a dead project. The final reckoning has only been delayed – and who knows who will sit in the Oval Office at that point?

Nearly four years ago, most of us thought we’d see far greater uptake of cleaner, green sources of energy after became president. To be sure, not all of the blame falls on policy makers. The marketing of renewable energy – especially wind and solar thermal – is lackluster. Consumer awareness is still low, and it’s not easy for even the most enthusiastic “green mom” to buy the full range of clean energy products.

We have so far yet to go.

James Hansen can make a credible scientific argument against the pipeline. And he has. But to me, these words of his are most powerful: Einstein said to think and not act is a crime. If we understand the situation, we must try to make it clear. I decided six or seven years ago that I did not want my grandchildren to look back in the future and say “Opa understood what was happening, but he didn’t make it clear.”

I agree with James Hansen. It’s why I stood in front of the White House, shouted “Go, Green Moms! Go Harriet!,” and watched as the protestors were led into a white tent for processing before being taken to jail in the police vans lined up across the square. (It was all very orderly – the arrests having been coordinated ahead of time down to every last detail).

Together, we can accomplish so much. And we have to — for there is so much more to accomplish. Check out the Green Moms’ Carnival on Resolutions to Fight Climate Change, hosted by Amber Strocel of There you’ll find posts from some of the most engaged green women bloggers — about what we can do, what you can do – so that someday, you can tell your grandkids that you did something to fight climate change.

— Lynn



Blogging Break is Over, New Year Seems Full of Possibilities!

January 8th, 2012

I’m soooo glad I took a long blogging break to enjoy Advent and the full twelve days of Christmas. We just wrapped up the holiday season yesterday – yes, that’s right, not until Saturday, 7th January …with a trip to see “Merry Madagascar” topped off by a Three Kings Day party with some old friends.

So now that the Christmas cookies and The Three Kings cake are eaten, I’m focused on new year’s resolutions. I tend to make the same ones year after year: lose weight and get more organized.

This year I decided to get more help in achieving my goals.  On the organizational front, I’ve actually hired a coach – and I start working with her tomorrow! I’m very excited about this. I’m hoping to organize my life in its entirety: family, work, spirituality and the greater Green good, physical activity / health /fitness  and then finally, me-time. (Yeah, I know…what’s me-time?)

Back in 2010, I blogged that I was going to “tackle the big one – weight loss.” I even started a twitter feed – @weight_loss2010.  Here it is, two years later and I weigh about the same. So what’s different? Why will it work this time?

I’m hoping that getting better organized – via the coach – will lessen my stress levels. I KNOW I eat when I’m stressed. I’ll eat a very healthy day’s worth of meals and then just completely blow it during the “witching hour” that every Mom knows so well. All it takes is a few handfuls of cookies or  goldfish(R) or a beer (or what the heck, all three!) at 6:00 p.m. to undo all those salads, whole grains, and lean proteins.

I’m trying a new twist on the online support I looked for with @weight_loss2010. With the encouragement of Sommer Poquette, aka Green and Clean Mom, I’ve agreed to join Shaklee’s “#Cinchspiration” campaign. I’m hoping that the combination of online support, Sommer’s infectious enthusiasm and winning weight loss results (22 pounds!) and a free initial supply of Shaklee’s meal replacement shake will be just the ticket to losing weight.

I also made a trip over the holidays to the Reebok outlet to finally replace my old, worn, holey sneakers.  And I also picked up two pairs of very cool work out pants, which I’m wearing right now, since I just returned from the gym.

And finally, as far as this blog goes, you can expect to see a greater emphasis on climate change. Time is running out to reverse the damage climate change has already inflicted – and the weather-related horrors that most leading scientists predict are yet to come. In fact,  “Resolutions to Fight Climate Change” will be the topic of our first Green Moms Carnival of 2012, which will run at on  January 23.

So stay tuned, enjoy the beginning of an exciting new year, and tell me – what are you up to that’s new and different in 2012?

— Lynn

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

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



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

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 

Green Moms & Public Schools: Top 10 Green School Projects – Pick One!

August 30th, 2010

If your child is heading off to school for the first time, prepare yourself: you may suffer Green Mom Culture Shock, like I did when my son entered public school two years ago.

For eco-conscious parents who have agonized over a zillion purchasing decisions related to choosing the greenest, healthiest products for home cleaning and only the freshest, local, organic and sustainable foods, it can be hard to cope when you discover your local “green” school doesn’t seem so green, particularly when compared to your own home.

While most schools these days (at least here in Montgomery County, Maryland and the surrounding DC suburbs) do have a Green Committee at the PTA level, you may find, as I did, that “green” means different things to different people.  To some, the main function of the green committee should be tending to a school garden. For others, it’s recycling or “waste free lunch.”   What happens if there’s so much to do, you just don’t know where to start?  And is it really possible that maybe, just maybe everything “green” has been “done” at your school?

I’ve put together a “Dream List” of Ten Green School Projects you may want to tackle this year, and I’ve  linked to posts that relate to the project whenever possible. Am I suggesting you try to get the PTA to tackle all ten? Uh, no. (You might want to first read my post, Green Schools: Five Lessons Learned the Hard Way).  But maybe, just maybe,  you can work to get one new project added to your Green Committee’s existing project list.

Take a look and let me know what you think. I’m particularly interested in hearing from parents who’ve tackled the walkable school initiatives. What’s worked and what hasn’t worked for you at your kids’ schools?

Top 10 Green School Projects

  1. Waste Free School Lunch
  2. Ban the Bottled Water  – Switch to Bottles and Jugs!
  3. Solar, Wind, and Alternative Energy at School
  4. Just Say No to Mandatory AntiBacterial Hand Sanitizers and Soaps
  5. Healthier School Lunches
  6. Just Say No to Cheap Plastic Crap: Oh, the Trinkets!
  7. Why Throw Out Unopened Milk? Forced Dumping of Unopened School Milk Bottles in the Garbage
  8. Energy Audits: Wearing T-Shirts In The Classroom During Winter = An Energy Efficiency Problem in Your School
  9. Buses? Try Walkable Schools!
  10. Healthy Schools, Healthy Cleaners. (Or Did You Ever Consider Your Child’s Mysterious Head Aches Might Be Related to the Cleaners Used at Your School?)

This is a post for the Green Moms Carnival on Back to School – our third annual! – hosted by the lovely Micaela at Mindful Momma. After you leave your comment, be sure to check out the other posts!

— Lynn

Copyright OrganicMania 2010

@GreenMoms Take On Cosmetics: Safe or Unsafe? And Should We Support the Safe Cosmetics Act?: It’s the Green Moms Carnival!

July 31st, 2010

We’ve got a wonderful round-up of posts from members of the Green Moms Carnival, women who have been following the debate about cosmetics ingredients for years, and have interesting stories to share.

Let’s start off with Diane MacEachern of Big Green Purse. Diane blogs “evidence is emerging that the cumulative use of these products may be contributing to asthma, the onset of puberty in girls as young as three years old, and even the feminization of baby boys. Because cosmetics, soaps and shampoos are washed down the drain, they get into our water system, where they’re wreaking havoc on wildlife. And what about their relationship to breast cancer?”

But Diane doesn’t leave us hanging – she gives three common-sense ways we can reduce our exposure to the potential risks of cumulative exposure to low doses of chemicals.

Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish tells the story of why she tried to get away from a cute seat mate on a recent flight. “His Axe cologne, or whatever heinous product he was wearing, made my eyes water, nose itch, throat close up, and left me with a throbbing headache.”

That’s something I’ve experienced as well. Once you stop using synthetic fragrances, it’s hard to even be around them. A walk down a grocery store aisle – or a whiff of last year’s BlogHer room drops – can leave you feeling miserable.

Lisa from Condo Blues recounts an interesting discussion with a research scientist from a personal care company.

“One of the biggest secrets about what chemicals (or not) is in a product is what makes up the product’s fragrance,” she notes.  “Last summer, I had the chance to talk to a representative from a large personal care company. She claimed that even her company didn’t know what was in the fragrances of their products because they buy the fragrance from a special fragrance house that has a super secret formula and ironclad nondisclosure agreement that says the fragrance house won’t tell the company what’s in the signature scent of their brand of shampoo.”

Katy at Non-Toxic Kids makes a case for showing The Story of Cosmetics to friends who may be unfamiliar with the battle for safer cosmetics. As she puts it, “Why should you care?  There is a growing body of research showing links between many of the chemicals in our personal care products and serious diseases and conditions.  Chemicals like triclosan, phthalates, parabens are in most cosmetics.   Phthalates are often labeled as “fragrance”.  Triclosan is labeled as an “antibacterial.”

And no one is looking at their synergistic effect on our bodies, especially those who are developing and growing at rapid rates:  our children.   The companies who make these products are using many chemicals that have never been independently tested for safety.  That’s right, never.”

Linda from Citizen Green presents a well researched post that follows-up on Katy’s assertion. As Linda blogs, “Only 11 percent of the 10,500 ingredients in personal care products have been assessed for safety by the cosmetics industry.”

And that’s the reason Deanna of Crunchy Chicken blogs “Make sure you start checking your product labels!” 

Karen of Best of Mother Earth pulls no punches when she asks, “How can cosmetic companies like Estee Lauder raise funds for cancer research and produce products with carcinogens in them? Shouldn’t they start in their own back yard and produce a safe cosmetic in the first place?”

I always especially enjoy the contributions of our Carnival members from outside the United States. In Amber’s post at, Story of Cosmetics:  Canadian Edition,  she blogs about the situation in Canada – how in some ways it parallels the situation in the US, and yet how there are subtle differences. For example, Canadian cosmetic makers are required to list ingredients – “but not all of them.” Huh? So what good does that do? But Amber’s main message is one that is universal:

“But we must recognize that the beauty industry is trying to sell us stuff, just like any other industry that markets consumer goods. They want us to believe that we are flawed and need their stuff. If we aren’t concerned about the state of our skin or the shininess of our hair, we’re not going to shell out for products to fix them. Even initiatives like the Dove Movement are marketing campaigns aimed to make us feel favourable towards a certain brand.

My daughter Hannah is 5 years old. I don’t want her to feel that she needs to coat herself with stuff to be OK, and I especially don’t want the stuff she coats herself with to contain toxins. That’s why I want to see change in the cosmetics industry.”

I always see  myself in Micaela’s (aka Mindful Momma’s) posts.  Maybe it’s because we have kids around the same age, and while we are passionately committed to living sustainably, too often our lives intersect with the real world of Toys R Us and Pokemon.

In her post, “Maybe I Just Bought the Wrong Stuff,” Micaela blogs,  “In The Story of Cosmetics, Annie Leonard comes out and says what a lot of us might be thinking when it comes to buying cosmetics and personal care products:  “maybe it’s my fault…maybe I just bought the wrong thing”…meaning it’s our own damn fault for buying personal care products loaded with toxins and petroleum products…because we didn’t take the time to research the hell out of them before we went to the store.

I’m telling you – that is often how I feel.  And it’s very frustrating.”

Frustrating? Lisa from Retro Housewife Goes Green goes even farther when she blogs, “I don’t know about you but I’m pissed off at the amount of work I have to do to keep myself and my family safe from cancer causing chemicals. We need to change the whole system and work together to demand safer cosmetics.”

I’m with Lisa  – the whole system needs to change, and in my opinion, that includes regulation. But I’m not so sure the Safe Cosmetics Act is the answer. Check my post out here, where I blog about what I’ve learned in two years of following these issues – the things people inside the industry have told me – and my surprise and concern about the backlash opposition to the Safe Cosmetics Act that is being led by small, independent cosmetics makers.

Jennifer Taggert of The Smart Mama (and an attorney)  voices her concern that the Safe Cosmetics Act may mean for small businesses. Jennifer has a unique take on this, and her full post is worth a close read. Here’s an excerpt:

“I bring the CPSIA up after watching The Story of Cosmetics because well intentioned legislation can go badly wrong.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t urge you to understand what it is you are buying. To adopt the precautionary principle in your purchasing decisions.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t think we should advocate for sensible legislation and regulations.

But that’s it – the legislation and/or regulations must be sensible. And that is hard to do. The devil is in the details. Overbroad legislation has unintended consequences and collateral damage.

As said by Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis:

The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

What do you think?

Leave a comment and let us know!

And did you know you can get ALL of our posts pushed out to you via Twitter? Just follow us here:

— Lynn

Copyright 2010 OrganicMania