Archive for the ‘ Environment ’ Category

Simple Shoes

I simply love my new Simple Satire sneakers.  I went into Nordstrom’s the other day to try on Tom’s shoes.  Tom’s apparently don’t fit me well but are still great shoes from a company that built its reputation on giving back to those less fortunate.  I like that, I like that Tom’s has vegan options, they just didn’t fit.

On a display a few feet away from Tom’s were Simple’s Satire vegan sneakers.  I had read about them and found them to be an impressive company so I tried them on.  These shoes are super comfortable, have great arch support and are made by a company that cares about the planet and it’s inhabitants.  I like that.  My new sneaks are vegan, and made with sustainable materials.  Their goal is actually 100% sustainability.   The laces are recycled elastic, the bottom is from recycled car tires.  All of the supportive inside stuff is made of EVA with BIO-D to make it biodegradable.  I just hope they don’t start breaking down while I’m wearing them!  Last they actually have a nice comfy arch support.

More importantly they are actually really cute!  I had a hard time deciding which style and color to purchase.  I ended up with Charcoal because they go with pretty much anything.  My first time out in them was a work day.  I wore them with no socks all day and had no problems.  I could have bought them right from their website http://www.simpleshoes.com but decided to purchase from Zappo’s because I first heard about them there.  At http://www.zappos.com/s you can actually search for shoes under the word “vegan” and they have a lot of options.

My one issue is that Simple manufactures their shoes in China.  They say that they pay reasonable wages and overtime when appropriate.  They do not hire children under 16 years of age.  But what about the fact that these ‘eco-friendly” shoes have to be shipped halfway around the world?  I’m not sure if it’s environmentally irresponsible or just part of a global economy.  I like purchasing products made in the USA but am more concerned that the people making a product are treated fairly.

They also have some cute ballet flat styles that I’ll purchase soon.  I like that they also have mens and kids shoes so the entire family can be eco-friendly.  Check them out, they’re reasonably priced and come in many great colors and styles.

 

 

Natural Body Products

Lately I am on  a kick to go as chemical free as possible.  I would like for my body to be in as close to a natural state as possible.  This apparently is much easier said than done, especially when you have sensitive skin as I do.  I’m noticing increasing number of items in stores that are listed as natural but many of them still have ingredients that I cannot discern or pronounce.

One thing I’ve recently done is switch from regular deodorant that contains aluminum to a crystal stick which is made from 100% mineral salts.  Living in Florida I was very skeptical but I’ve discovered that using Crystal Deodorant with a little corn starch powder works as well or better than any commercial deodorant I’ve used.  As for aluminum, it is considered toxic and is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, respiratory and neurological problems.

My daughter is planning on making her own deodorant.  For those of you interested I’ve found these links to do so:

http://1greengeneration.elementsintime.com/?p=596

http://www.passionatehomemaking.com/2008/03/update-homemade-deoderant.html

As for your typical toothpaste, it is full of not so healthy ingredients.  Sodium Lauryl Sulphate is used to make those lovely soapy bubbles.  It is also used to clean oil spills.  It’s toxic to the liver and kidneys and is a known cause of skin problems.  Propylene Glycol is in many soaps, toothpastes and beauty products.  It’s also known as anti-freeze.  Aren’t we told to store anti-freeze in safe places away from small kids and animals?  I’ve switched to Tom’s Wicked Fresh! Toothpaste  which is chemical free and works great!

Soap has been the hardest thing for me.  I have very sensitive skin and seem to have issues with glycerin which is a main ingredient in many natural soaps.  For years I’ve only used white Dove and I really like the way it makes my skin feel.  Even plain simple Dove has ingredients such as Sodium Lauroyl Isethionate used to make the soap lather up. Aqua Lauric Acid and Stearic Acid which is a chemical humectant which helps the skin hold moisture.  Sodium Isethionate, sodium stearate and cocomidopropyl are all surfactants. Plus another nine chemicals for fragrance and another fifteen that have similar effects to those listed above.  Whew, all I want is clean dry skin!

Personally I’ve recently switched to Jason’s Organic Aloe Vera Satin shower and I love it.  It has a nice fresh natural scent and my sensitive skin feels great.  If you’re interested in purchasing home made soaps here’s a link to Etsy where there’s a huge variety made from do-it-yourselfers: http://www.etsy.com/search_results.php?search_query=vegetarian+soap&filter[0]=handmade&filter[1]=bath_and_beauty

If you’re interested in making your own soap.  Here’s some interesting sites: http://www.essortment.com/all/howtomakesoap_rasf.htm

http://www.pvsoap.com/recipes.htm

http://www.millersoap.com/soapallveg.html

I’m wishing you all a safe, clean, chemical free day!

Lin




Climate Change

After watching the movie No Impact Man I added Colin Beavan’s blog to my Google Reader.  Today he wrote an interesting post on our government’s failure to pass a climate control bill that would actually endorse climate change.

Ultimately once again our government has caved in and handed all control over to large corporations who care far more about their profit margin that the havoc they are creating on our planet.  Colin provided links to 1Sky which is trying to get people to inform our government that we will not tolerate these weak bills that do little to support our planet.

In Colin’s words: It’s time to show Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, our senators and President Obama the full extent of our outrage at their failure to take on the greatest crisis of our time.

Click on this link and send them a message and tell them two simple things:

Please take a few moments and send an email to your local politicians.  I just finished and it took moments.  The emails are all filled out, you just need to enter your zip code and add a little personal information.  Maybe if enough people share their passion on the subject we can make a difference.

Thanks and have a peaceful day!  Lin

No Impact Man

This morning I finally got to watch the documentary, by Colin Beaven. A reader gmomj recommended it to me in a comment on my post titled My Carbon Footprint.  In my own desire for non consumerism I placed the dvd on hold at my local library and waited about 10 days for it to come in.  Due to my busy schedule I had to renew it once prior to my viewing but that’s ok.  I found the movie to be interesting with some great tips and ideas to incorporate in my every day life.  During the movie Colin read and showed comments made by his critics calling it nothing short of self promotion.  Most everything we view these days is self promotion in one form or another so I’m going to opt for the version that is actually doing some good for our society and planet rather than the many other versions out there.  If you’d like a preview, here’s the trailer: http://youtu.be/Z9Ctt7FGFBo?hd=1

Planet Green recently had a short series called the 100 Day Challenge where people signed up to eat only local food for 100 days.  I really enjoyed this series and it made me more aware of where my produce comes from.  The Beaven family also went local as far as foods and products they consumed.  Once they turned off their electricity they also shopped for just a few days at a time, buying only what they would use.  I think of this and look at my pantry and the cans of food just sitting there.  I’m also cognizant of the produce I buy with good intention and end up throwing out.  It’s definitely a work in progress for myself.  I am working on using what I have for the time being and have made minimal trips to the grocery store the last month.

Major lifestyle changes for the Colin Beaven’s family was also interesting to view.  They stopped using all public modes of transportation including elevators.  Living in NYC this is quite a feat.  Their young child was taken out of disposable diapers and placed in the cloth variety.  I actually used cloth diapers with my son 20 years ago because of his sensitive skin.  Within 12 hours a terrible rash that lasted months virtually disappeared.  I bought these wonderful diaper wraps that held the diaper in place and was able to contain a lot of moisture.  It was far easier than people think.  I would absolutely do it again.


In place of cleaning their house, clothes, and selves with harsh chemical soaps (even those who claim to be environmentally friendly often aren’t) they used a few simple products from a grocery store to wash everything.  You can clean pretty much anything with white vinegar, baking soda, borax, and castile soap.  I was glad to see borax made his list.  I’ve used it for years for both cleaning and pest control.  It’s a great product. I personally also love powdered Bon Ami which I clean much of my house with.  It’s a great product.

What I loved was his statement that:  It’s not about using as little as we can possibly use but finding the way to get what I need in a sustainable way.” That’s really what we should be focusing on.  Experiments and trial phases of giving up everything is good but very few people will be wiling to do that for the long-term.  At one point his wife Michelle Conlin stated that she would be happy when the experiment is over and she can read to her daughter with ample illumination.  That made me laugh because I used to be the person who read in a dark or barely lit room and as my eyes age (I’m not!) I am finding myself needing more and brighter lights in order to read anything.  I can totally relate to her statement.

My favorite thing about this documentary is that Colin mentioned that living in an apartment without basic utilities forced them to live outside their space and experience more of what NYC had to offer.  This resonated with me.  The biggest thing I got out of the book 1×12 by William Powers was that his experience wasn’t about living in that small space  but his life outside of that space.  I mentioned then that my biggest takeaway from my husband’s and my camping experience was that living in a 300 sf camper with many of the luxuries of home still forced me outside in a very positive way.  All the site seeing was great but my favorite daily ritual was sitting outside the camper with my feet up on a rock reading and while watching and listening to the stream water rolling by.  Life doesn’t get much better than that.

I really enjoyed this documentary and although I now know the story I went online and placed the book on hold.  Personally I am  always interested in seeing what people are doing to lower their impact or simply live a more sustainable life.  What are you doing?

Have a peaceful day! Lin


Favorite Things

I recently posted about my favorite portable, reusable salad bowl and found that more people that I expected were very interested in that.  So today I’m going to mention a few more of my favorite things.  I’m not one to spend much money on myself so you should find each of these items very budget friendly.

I’ll start with my Yes to Carrots Lip Balm which I would be lost without.  I am truly a lip balm addict.  I currently have 4 of these in different locations such as my desk at work, bedside, by the bathroom sink and one in the living room where I read.  I also keep a Yes to Carrots Lip Gloss in my bag.  They come in a variety of flavors which are realistic and not overly sweet like the lip balms marketed to kids.  They cost around $2.99 a piece and I enjoy all flavors.

I love my filtered water bottle from Power Bottle USA.  Each filter is good for at least 20 gallons of water and the bottle is BPA free.  I drink out of mine all day at work and no longer purchase water or diet soda.  My first filter lasted 3-4 months and I could taste t difference when it stopped working.  You can purchase this from Amazon for just under $10.

Chocolate is my all time favorite food and the darker the better.  Green and Black’s Organic Chocolate is incredibly rich, creamy and delicious.  I like the 70% cocoa variety but they have many options for different tastes.  I purchase this at my local Publix and I believe it is under $3 for a 3.5 oz bar.  It is very rich so I never eat more than a couple of squares at a time.

Last is my organic sheets from Target.  They are 320 thread count and extremely luxurious feeling.  The cost was about $40 for a king set which is unbelievable.  They have very deep pockets and fit my thick mattress without ever falling off.  This is a first for me.  With other sheets we’ve needed those annoying straps under the corners to keep them from sliding.  I love going to sleep in these sheets.

What are some of your favorite things?  Please share with us!

Genetically Modified Tofu

Recently I watched the movie Food, Inc.  If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.  A majority of it made me simply glad to be a veg.  Later in the movie they moved on to genetically modified produce.  This obviously made me sit up and pay more attention.  Not that I wasnt aware of gm foods but seeing it and hearing the descriptive is quite compelling.

Soybeans are used is so many foods that of course it’s very beneficial to be re-engineered into something that can grow more productively.  Scientists created a soybean seed that can grow regardless of how strong a pesticide is sprayed on and around it.  Monsanto is the company that grows these soybeans and they have quite a monopoly on their growth in the USA.  As a giant company it is very easy for them to choke out the local growers who are farming organically.

One issue is that even when you purchase organic soybeans a portion of them might still be genetically modified.  Sometimes the issue arises from the supplier of the actual beans to plant soybeans.  Other times it comes from organic farms being very close in proximity to non organic farms and then there’s cross contamination.

Generally speaking I’ve been trying to get away from consuming too many soy products.  Like corn, soy is in so many of our prepared foods, which I also do my best to avoid.  For milk I’ve switched to an organic rice variety that I purchase  by the case at Costco.  I eat a minimal amount of vegetarian “meat products but they are quite good on occasion.

There seems to be several options for organic tofu that you can purchase.  Whole Foods 365 generic label is organic as is Trader Joe’s generic brand.  According to Nasoya’s website their tofu is organic but they explain that they get beans from all over the world.  Silken brand also claims to be organic and per their website is made in the USA.  At least it’s not being shipped halfway around the world.  For myself, I’m not gong to stop eating tofu, I’m just going to spend more time reading labels and being certain I know what it is that I’m eating.

What Happened to Freecycle?

For a couple of years I have been a big fan of the Freecycle Network.  I even have them listed on my list of links because I believe that somewhere the ideals of freecycle must still be running strong.  Freecycle was set up with local Yahoo groups where one offers up items no longer want or need and someone who needs it comes and takes it for you.  It also works where people post what they want and someone will respond with a free offer.

I’ve never been one to hold up to enough stuff to bother having a garage sale.  When I heard about Freecycle I thought it was great, post an offer and have someone pick the item up.  I have offered up items such as a barely working power washer, gallons of paint in a color I didn’t like, old pc monitors, and even old towels.  Even with full disclaimer I received about 20 offers for the power washer.  My garbage was truly someone elses treasure.

My local network seems to be waning in use.  I used to get a weekly update with 20-30 offers/requests.  Lately there’s about 2-3 items per week.  Also, I’ve had to post a particular offer 3 times before the moderator approved it.  After a quick online search and a glance at their Facebook page, I realize that groups across the USA are falling apart.  Ultimately, the success or failure of each local groups falls upon their moderator.

Numerous people complain that their request for membership has been denied with no explanation.  Offers and requests must be approved by the moderator.  If they’re busy or not online your post can sit ignored.  I wonder if Freecycle started as a local way to recycle items that got too big for itself.

It seems that this would be better managed from one website that you could join and then localize from there.  It’s hard to believe but I think trying to manage this through many individual “groups” pages is outdated.  I’ve noticed that the UK has several similar organizations that are managed from one website.  It would be nice to know if they have the same difficulties of Freecycle.

I really believe in the basic principles of Freecycle and don’t want to see it go wayside. Please check it out if you want or need stuff.  I believe that there are several locations that have issues but I’m hoping the majority of groups still are doing what they should. http://www.freecycle.org/

I’ve noticed people have come up with their own spin on giving away your unwanted stuff.  One idea is a biannual event, where on a specific day you leave stuff roadside for people to take.  The next date for this is September 25, 2010. I think this is a fabulous idea but it will have to get a lot of publicity to work.  http://giveyourstuffaway.com/

This is a great place to see what items can be recycled and tells you how to go about it.  As for locations, it’s in the UK.  http://www.recyclenow.com/

Here’s a US based group that tells you how and where to recycle some items that aren’t as easy as paper and glass.  http://earth911.com/