Activist Mommy











{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.

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{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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I was trying to watch the news last night, I know a terrible habit, but my boys were bouncing off the walls (and each other). So most of what I heard was a few muffled words as they paused to breath before the roaring screams began again. Somewhere in all of that I heard mention of Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. It instantly caught my attention, but I was unable to hear the rest of the story. Showing how out of the loop I am I got angry that Wal-Mart was coming up with another way to kill off small businesses andmake more moeny for themselves. But a quick search online revealed that this scheme has been in operation since 1998 and already operates in several countries. OK, so there isn’t one under this rock I keep hiding beneath. There’s my excuse for not knowing about these.

Reed Warbler feeding baby CuckcooBut I’m still angry. Wal-Mart creates huge super-centers that offer everything you could imagine in one giant store for a fraction of the cost. This wipes out most of the small businesses trying to make it. So then, once these small Mom&Pop stores are closed Wal-Mart swoops in to stick their own “neighborhood markets” in their place. Much like the Common Cuckcoo who lays their eggs in another bird’s nest. See the mother Cuckcoo flies down, kicks out an egg, and lays her own. Once the baby hatches it begs for food from the new adopted mother, growing at a rate much faster than the bird’s real babies. Thus they starve and die while the cuckcoo lives on to steal another’s nest. Wal-Mart is like a huge mother cuckcoo, and these Neighborhood Markets are the seemingly inocent eggs lying in the wrong nest. Pretty soon those eggs are going to hatch and begin demanding food, and it’s the few remaining real neighborhood shops who are going to pay.

Already the stores are being revamped to appeal to more people. This older article (from Jan. ’07) from EarthTimes.org says so much. Wal-Mart Enhances Neighborhood Market Design They are trying out new tricks such as “an increased selections in organics and produce” and “earth-toned colors with natural woods that define each store department that creates a ‘store within a store’ feel”. These Neighborhood Markets are supposed to “creates a more personal experience for the shopper”. Unlike the personal experience one could get by, say, shopping at a family store that has been open your entire life and run by people you grew up with. I suppose the same could almost be said here, except with Wal-Mart those people work behind the counter for less pay, less benefits, and they have to wear those ugly vests.

Wal-Mart Neighborhood MarketIt certainly does seem  as if Wal-Mart is trying to edge in on a friendlier image. A new green logo, earth toned colors, a softer look. I mean, that’s not at all like laying eggs that match the eggs in the nest you are invading. Is it?


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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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et cetera