Activist Mommy

{August 20, 2007}   Go Green day 6

Day 6 and the challenge is yummy. Today’s Go Green quest is to pack your own lunch in reusable containers. Skip the pre-packaged junk and forget the paperbags and plastic zipper bags. Instead use a sturdy lunchbox, a Wrap-N-Mat, and areusable bottle. A trick I picked up over at the Vegan Lunchbox is to buy PUL diapercuts, large squares of material used to make covers for cloth diapers. You can cut one down and make 2 or 4 reusable mats out of them. And they come in any style, colort, pattern you could dream of.


{August 19, 2007}   Going Green – day 5

On to day 5 of the two week Go Green challenge at Eco Street. So far so good for me. I hope everyone else is doing OK. The challenge today is to turn off the TV for the evening and enjoy some family time. That’s a great idea! I talked briefly about the dangers of TV and kids but really, TV can be bad for everyone. And the electricity sucked down to run the boobtube is bad for the environment.

{August 17, 2007}   Day 3 of Go Green Challenge

Today is day 3 of the Go Green Challenge at Eco Street. The challenge today is to get yourself some reusable shopping bags. There are a lot of differnet options out there. You can reuse the bags already given out by stores, buy some of the great reusable shopping bags out there, or try making your own. If you’re really feeling crafty you can knit a reusable bag from plastic bags. Or if you’re not the knitting type you can use an iron to fuse plastic bags together into one strong reusable bag.

Chico bagsWe have a couple dozen Chico Bags that we use for shopping, going swimming, taking recycling, and more. I got them from Reusable Bags, where you can get almost any kind of reusable bag for any purpose. A friend of mine has several awesome baskets that she uses to shop with. They are cute, functionable, and she feels better using them. Not just from an environmental standpoint either. She ordered her baskets from Basket Africa, a Fair Trade company that provide healthcare, school fees, and community buildings for the weavers and their children.

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{July 24, 2007}   Show some compost love.

Remember when I told you green was sexy? Well TreeHugger agrees. Check out this sexy vase that holds food scraps for composting. Composting can be sexy? Who knew? What about a hot pink toilet? Is that sexy? What if I told you it was a water-less composting toliet? With a little flare I guess even composting can become sexy.

 In fact, composting has become so sexy that entire cities are jumping in with the love. Seattle is going compost crazy by making food recycling mandatory by ’09. Though their plan has a few problems, like not checking to make sure people are doing so and charging those who compost in their own homes. But overall it seems like a pretty good step forward.

Though some people dislike composting (is this for real?) it’s getting more and more popular. Heck, there’s even an Annual Conference for composters.

Interested in composting? You can learn how to do it yourself, share composting with kids, and even composting inside your house.

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  • Farm Dreams has a great list of some Good Books. Three of them are must reads fo the organic,healthy, natural food lovers. There is also a great autobiography on a small farm sitting in the middle of an urban sprawl.
  • The Portland Tribune’s Sustainable Life section features a great book that extols modest living, self-sufficiency as path to happiness. The book is described as an “exuberant celebration of one man’s attempt to live modestly”.
  • The BeHeard blog has six powerful books listed written by Enlightening female authors. These are six deeply important books for all women to read.
  • The GNMParents present some Green Summer Reading that should be on everyone’s list for this summer. From Garage Sale America to The Omnivore’s Dilemma these are definitely books to add to your “must read” lsit.
  • Comfortably Green shares Why having more no longer makes us happy,  an excerpt from Bill McKibben’s new book, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future.

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    I found that I was being linked to a blog called Downwiththekids so I desided to check it out. I was pretty excited to read one of the recent posts, and not just because I was mentined. No, what got my grinning from ear to ear was this great post on the state of the world, Optimism – the only way. With all the negative news it’s nice to read something positive for a change.

    As more people get involved making a change in the world seems more likely. Not only are celebs taking up the torch, but ordinary people are also working to make the world a better place. Maybe it’s just the coffee talking this morning, but thinking about it makes me feel a little warm and tingling. Knowing that more and more people are choosing to take an active role instead of sitting there on the sidelines complaining. As she puts it

    Don’t get me wrong, there is still massive injustice, particularly when you compare the first world to the third world, but when else in history have you had such awareness and concern about the issues?

    Philanthropists of the scale of Bill Gates, a charitable industry that is growing by the year, artists like Bono and Bob Geldof devoting their power and influence to enormous humanitarian objectives? Sure there’s a long way to go, and it’s a bumpy road, but if I look back over human history am I crazy to think we are moving in the right direction?

    Maybe she is crazy, but I’ve never had a problem with crazy. And at least this is a “stars in my eyes” kind of crazy. I can dig that. And I’m not alone. All over the world we are seeing people coming around to a different way of thinking. From poachers reformingtheir ways to families learning to love biodeisel it seems that more and more people are making changes that make the world a better place. And who knows, it might just happen.

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    Spending moneyI read a great post this mrning called Are You Falling for Green Consumerism? over at Green SAHM and it reminded me of a rant I had started and saved. So I pulled it out from the drafts and polished it up a bit.

    I was on the phone with a friend and she bagan telling me about her latest purchase. Swept up by the environmental movement she dropped a nice chunk of money on several new shirts, pants, skirts, and a jacket. “They’re made from organic material!” she chirped, clearly excited. But she already had a closet full of clothes, really nice clothes. More clothes than most people have owned in their entire lifetime. I asked what she did with her old clothes. “Oh, you know. Some I dropped off at the charity shop. I sold some on Ebay. And the rest I put in a couple boxes out in the garage.” My head was spinning. Here was all of this perfectly good clothing, sitting in boxes in the garage, just collecting dust so that my fashion conscience friend could add the word “organic” to her label.

    Shopping green with no concern for how much you’re consuming is the easy way out. It’s an improvement, but a small one when compared to what you could achieve if you are ready to make the sacrifices and try to really make a difference.

    Why waste so much money, and the materials used to make the new clothes, when her previous wardrope was perfectly fine? Most of it had hardly been worn. Some of it still had the price tags on them, a fact she mentioned casually later when she told me how much she managed to make on Ebay. Perhaps I’m uber-frugal, but wouldn’t it have been more eco-friendly to have not bought anything new in the first place? It would have at least saved the resources spent making, shipping, and packaging the new clothes.

    While I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy more eco-friendly products, buying them just for the sake of buying them is kind of pointless. No matter how many pounds of fair-trade coffee you buy if you’re not a coffee drink it is still wasteful. Green consumerism is still just consumerism, only wrapped in a different package. There is a great post called Buying Our Way to a Cleaner World that is definitely worth a read. One of the goals of living more eco-friendly should not be to buy more green labels stuff, but to buy less stuff over all and just make the things you do buy are greener choices.

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    Earth FriendlyShelly at Natural and Sustainable has 13 easy ways to go green listed at her blog. And they really are easy things you can do now. I know some people seem to think that it is too much work to become eco-friendly, but realyl it is the little things that add up. Like Vanessa at Green as a Thistle saying bye-bye to straws, or the Closet Environmentalist buying reusable vacuum bags.    The more little things your do the more they add up, and the easier it becomes for you to move on the the bigger things.

    The Crunchy Chicken did a fun post the other day called Ask Crunchy where people could ask her questions and she answered them honestly. One question asked her waht was the easiest and hardest changes she has made. Her response to the hardest change stuck out to me. She replied “employing any of the changes in public that might cause criticism.” Oh my gosh isn’t that true? I think my hardest change was pulling out the reusable shopping bags at the store. Not because they were harder to use or more of a hassle, but because of the looks and comments I go from others. Sometimes doing the little things at home really is so much easier, and builds up your confidence when it comes time to do the big thigns in public. If I hadn’t already had a couple years of being an “eco-nut” at home under my belt I might never have had the courage to face the comments when I made myself public about it.

    It really is all about the baby steps, taking things one piece at a time and working yourself up to the bigger changes. Start small, like a simple 5 ways to make grocery shopping more earth friendly. Or throwing a more earth friendly party in 5 simple steps. Even just making your yard more earth friendly can be a great way to get started.

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    The Star had a great article on Friday called Toymakers are missing the green revolution that I absolutely loved. It really hit an important point that many parents seem to be missing. Toys, our modern toys that parents buy today are ecological nightmares. Tons of packaging on plastic toys made and shipped from half way across the world that break in a week are overflowing out of our trashcans. Those cheap plastic pieces of junk shoved inside ever kid’s Happy Meal or stuffed into goody bags at birthday parties are quickly broken or forgotten about. And then what happens to them?

    We teach them to flick off the lights when they leave the room. They’ve mastered the habit of turning off the tap while brushing their teeth. And they’re fluent in matters of separating the garbage, litterless lunches and eco-footprints.

    But open the toy box, hit the birthday party circuit or stroll down the aisles of the nearest Toys R Us and the whole notion of raising greener kids seems to disappear in a cloud of noxious gas.

    My sons have one set of grandparents who fall more into the books and clothes as gifts range. Unfortunately, my mother thinks that more is always better. And this includes toys. Until I finally put my foot down and got rude our house was overflowing with junk toys every day. I was bagging them up to drop off at the thrift shop at least once a month. It was disgusting to think about, and even worse to actually see.

    Now we are a bit pickier on our toys. We have a nice set of finger puppets that we play with often. Wooden blocks, wooden puzzles, a wooden toolbox with play tools. My mother even bought us last year a handmade and hand painted wooden trainset from a local crafter. It was pricey, $70, but oh so worth it. It even came in a beautiful handmade wooden box for storing. Buying handcrafted, nonplastic toys from local people is high on our radar of gifts. We also make sure the toys are sturdy ones that will last though multiple kids, and ones that won’t be tossed aside when the next fad comes along. Tranformers will go the way of the Ninja Turtle, but trains are here to stay.

    We also look for good toys second hand. A few months ago I managed to find a box full of metal cars circa 1970. that my sons have fallen madly in love with. They have a huge outdoor play house with slide that I found at a garage sale for less than a quarter of the cost new. Buying them toys second hand means there is no new packaging made, and it doesn’t take anymore gas to get to me than what I use driving to the thrift shop. Rather than perfectly good toys taking up space in landfills, we give them a second life with us.

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    {June 28, 2007}   Recycled fashions are hot

    I’ll start off with a confession, i ripped two big holes in my jeans. Now they were old jeans that I have had for at least 3 years, and I bought them used at a second hand shop so who knows how much wear they got before I got my hands onto them. Having them this long and only now getting two holes shows they were pretty durable. But the holes are, well… across the seat. And I’m not the kind of girl that likes sharing her assets with just anyone walking by. So it was time to make a decision.

    Eco-Chick has a great post about eco-shoes, that included a really interesting link to a site with information on making your own shoes. There were also the cutest homemade shoes ever that makes me wish I had the time to learn to knit. Learning how to recycle for fashion is gaining momentum and more people are being inspired. Hey, no one said conservation had to be bland. Taking thrift store fashions and reshaping them into new outfits can be a lesson in creativity and  fun. Some people are even making a business out of recycled fashions (check out this fish dress, so cute!).

    So what am I going to do with the ripped jeans? I’m thinking maybe making a bag out of them. It could be a hit. I’m no stranger to sewing. I created my own diaper bag that I’ve used for the past 2 years. And this January I made a small tote bag for my preschool neice to carry around. But I have never worked with deniom before, so this will be challenging and fun.

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    et cetera