Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic

baffI was looking through some blogs today and found this site called French Picnic. Its a blog that likes to take the old and make it new or use what you have to make something new. I found this post – Use it up. Wear it out.

Have you noticed that we live in a throw-away society? What might have seemed terrific three months ago is suddenly outshadowed by the bigger, better, newer version of itself; the one we just can’t live without (or so they say). Is bigger and newer always better?

We say nay.

Our motto is: Use what you have.

Do you realize how many oldies-but-goodies you have hanging around right under your nose? Our goal is to show you how to re-craft your crap and make it fabulous.

Today’s suggested reading:

Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic.

Affluenza uses the whimsical metaphor of a disease to tackle a very serious subject: the damage done — to our health, our families, our communities, and our environment — by the obsessive quest for material gain that, since World War II, has been the principle of the American Dream. The authors show that problems like loneliness and rising debt, longer working hours and environmental pollution, family conflict and rampant commercialism are actually symptoms caused by a single “disease”: affluenza, the never-ending search for more.

If you are concerned about the environment than check your local library to see if they carry this book and give it a read, see what you think.

Better World Shopping

valuesYesterday my husband sent me a link to this website, better world shopper and was intrigued by the rankings part of the site. You can choose through a list of products and it will rank the best to worst, giving them an A through F rating. How they come to these ratings is by:

step.one – Data is collected over the past 20 years from a wide range of nonprofit sources on the social and environmental responsibility of more than 1000 companies.

step.two – The data is organized in a massive database that matches companies with their brands, assigns weights to each piece of data, and calculates an overall responsibility score.

step.three – Companies/brands are transferred to smaller, more specific charts based on product categories where each one is assigned a letter grade based on its overall responsibility relative to its competitors in the same product category.

step.four – Companies/brands are then transferred into easy-to-use report cards that allow people to quickly identify the most/least responsible choices when they are shopping online, at the supermarket, or in the mall.

The better world shopper is a site dedicated to providing people with reliable account of the social and environmental responsibility of every company on the planet and making it available in practical forms that individuals can use in their everyday lives. Keeping these key issues in mind, Human Rights, the Environment, Animal Protection, Community Involvement, and Social Justice.

The website is pack full of information but they also have a guide you can buy for $10 if you would like to use it while shopping or out and about.

How Green Do You Want to Be?

I was looking through thedailygreen.com to see what interesting new green news I could find and found this little fun quiz. “How Green Do You Want To Be?”. I took the quiz and it came out fairly decent but I would like to do a better job at being green. I am concerned about the environment and have gone out of my way to stop people from throwing away things that could be recycled and taking things home from places to recycle them in my bin so they wouldnt be thrown out. Our landfills can’t handle anymore waste.

Take this quiz and lets see just how green you really are.

How Green Do You Want to Be?

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5 Ways to be Green and Save Money

909780_59550139Sometimes I feel being green is a bit more expensive than being careless and not caring about this environment. Buying organic food, buying green, biodegradable cleaning products, organic beauty products all have high price tags but they are good for the environment and not to mention our bodies, but how do you get around this? Below are some helpful ways you can be green and save money.

  1. Give up paper towels, plastic wrap and ziplock bags: Don’t spend your money on things to wrap your food in or paper towels to clean with. Start using your tupperware or save butter containers to store your food in. For cleaning windows use newspaper and for wiping hands use cloth napkins – not only is it green but it makes your table look nicer. You can also use old rags for cleaning with.
  2. Stop buying bottled water: The water from your faucet is just as good, and bottled water produces garbage because most people (over 80%) throw the bottles away instead of recycle them. Check out the facts on the lighterfootstep.com.
  3. Shop at thrift stores: Whatever items you are comfortable buying at thrift stores/second hand keeps that item from going to the garbage dump.
  4. Cut your grocery bill: Use coupons on items you use only, just cause you have a coupon or its a good deal doesn’t mean you need to buy it. Shop for groceries once every two weeks, shopping more than that and you will end up with stuff that you don’t need which in turn will cause you to waste food.
  5. Conserve water: Think about the water you use, take quicker showers, use a timer if you need help, turn off the water when you are brushing your teeth and use less hot water.

There are many more ways to be green while saving money or not spending so keep your eyes peeled for helpful hints and when you come across ways that you have saved please share them.

The No-‘Poo do??

110154_5482Really have you heard of the No-‘Poo Do? This morning one of my co-workers was telling me about just this. I hadn’t heard of it before. In fact I didn’t know there were people out there that didn’t use shampoo when they showered. I figured if they didn’t use shampoo they were using some sort of soap but no – they really don’t use any sort of cleaning agent to wash there hair, they just rinse with water.

I could see how this would be good for your hair and I could see how this could be very Eco-friendly. Your not dumping toxic shampoo/soap down the drain, your not buying shampoo which ends up being less plastic thrown away and your spending less money.

As for your hair this is an excellent way to get your hair back to its beautiful self, it gets the oils to where they are supposed to be, making your hair very shiny and supple. Its much like using chap stick on your lips, your lips get used to it and need it but if you go off chap stick, after about a couple weeks your lips will get back to their supple self, but you go through an extreme drying period in the process. Or lotion, when you use lotion every day, same effects, you stop using it and after a period of two weeks or so your body will regulate itself and not need it anymore.

Here is an article from The Phoenix Network; The No-‘Poo Do. Instructables also has a How to Go No Poo. Check it out and see what you think.

Vetrazzo – Recycled Glass Countertop’s

left_col_samples_imgAre you building a new home or remodeling an existing house? Are you concerned about the environment and want to use environmentally friendly products? If so it would be a good idea to check out Vetrazzo‘s recycled glass countertops. A friend of mine has these countertops in her home and they truly are uniquely beautiful.

Vetrazzo was invented in 1996 in Berkeley, California by glass scientist, driven by his passion for the environment. He gets the idea to recapture the inherent beauty of recycled glass by transforming it into a functionally superior building material.

All of the glass used in Vetrazzo is recycled, and it makes up about 85% of the total material. Most of the glass comes from curbside recycling programs. Other glass comes from windows, dinnerware, stemware, windshields, stained glass, laboratory glass, reclaimed glass from building demolition, traffic lights and other unusual sources. Every Vetrazzo surface has its own history. We track that history, and after you purchase and register Vetrazzo, we provide a Certificate of Transformation that tells you where the glass in your Vetrazzo came from.

Another amazing quality that makes Vetrazzo worth checking out is there policy to take back their products (if its a large enough piece and in good enough condition) and they will manufacture it into a new, useful Vetrazzo product. They take recycling to the next level.

Can You Recycle Old Carpet?

308334_8918As I was looking out into my yard this morning I noticed a carpet remnant had been dragged from the side of the house onto the lawn? Our dog was having a hay day pulling it around the yard. I was thinking I need to go throw it in the garbage bin but wondered if it could possibly be recycled. So I started looking around the Internet and found a site called CARE – Carpet America Recovery Effort.

Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) is a joint industry-government effort to increase the amount of recycling and reuse of post-consumer carpet and reduce the amount of waste carpet going to landfills.

How Can I Recycle My Old Carpet?(Adapted from CARE website)

There is no simple, routine method in place today to recycle old carpet. Each case is individual since there is no infrastructure to handle old carpet at this time. CARE is working to help put that infrastructure in place. If you are a residential home owner you might ask your dealer for suggestions. If you are in the commercial sector, call your mill representative or specifier and tell them you want your old carpet recycled and they can work with you to try and make this happen. Please keep in mind, recycling costs money; it is not free. Costs vary with location and available systems.

Keeping the above in mind, you do have options. The goal is to stop filling up the landfills by reusing our waist, which in turn is a huge help to the environment. To find Carpet Reclamation Partners in your area click here.

Urban Renewal from Urban Outfitters

Urban Renewal pieces are totally one-of-a-kind handcrafted in Philadelphia from vintage, dead-stock and surplus materials sourced from around the world. ~ Urban Outfitters

Urban Renewal is its own section on the site of Urban Outfitters where you can find clothing items that are essentially made from recycled clothing or material. Making it possible for you to be green and buy items like this one-of-a-kind vintage chambray shirt:

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Vintage chambray shirt - each one is one-of-a-kind

They also have various knit dresses that are pieced together from vintage knit fabrics, you pick the shade you want and they choose for you from a limited edition of dresses, similar to whats on the site.

They have vintage Hawaiian shirts that have been made into dresses and tank tops that have been made into dresses. They have used amazing creativity to make the clothing they sell on Urban Renewal.

If you are concerned about the environment and want to wear clothes that are in style check out Urban Renewal before you shop anywhere else. Recycling makes the world go around!

Eco-Friendly Paint

693779_75065407Are you getting ready to paint your house? Inside or out, its important to use paint that is easy on the environment and on the family living in the house, that breaths in the fumes. Green Living Ideas has an article on the potential hazards of paints and what to look for in paint.  Here are a few companies to look at when you are ready to paint.

Devine Color – Interior Paint that goes on like yogurt. Low odor, low VOC, Eco-friendly, luxury paint and sheens. All of Devine Colors paints meet or exceed the strictest requirements of the South Coast Air Quality Management District. They offer a full range of colors to meet all your painting needs.

The Real Milk Paint Co. – Milk paint is an environmentally friendly paint that is ideal for antique furniture, decks, floors and walls. You can mix milk paint with pigment powders to create just about any color. Real Milk Paint is completely safe, eco-friendly, non-toxic, lead free and not radioactive.

Benjamin Moore Paints, Aura Interior – Environmentally friendly coatings not only meet, but often exceed the strictest industry standards, while also delivering the premium levels of performance you expect from Benjamin Moore.

Olympic Premium Interior Paints – Combining an outstanding quality zero VOC formula that is better for the environment and dries with no lingering odor. Have a green home in any color you want.

Non-stick Cookware Concerns

531931_83735513In a recent article in my local newspaper I read about non-stick pans and its effect on the environment. I had heard some bad things about teflon and why we shouldn’t use it but never like this.

This excerpt is from The Oregonian Food Day section from Tuesday, August 18, 2009.

Traditional nonstick pans are coated with polytrafluoroethylene, PTFE for short. When overheated PTFE releases polymer fumes that can cause fleeting chills, headache and fever.  Those stories you hear about fumes from searing-hot nonstick pans killing pet birds are true: Birds have very sensitive respiratory systems (to be fair, the fumes emitted by overheated cooking oils can kill birds, too).

Now you need to know that PFOA, a chemical used in making PTFE coatings such as teflon, is not only found in non-stick cookware but is also found in items such as eyeglass lenses, waterproof outdoor gear, ball bearings, pizza boxes, and more. Thankfully the EPA classified PFOA as a carcinogen and has urged that companies eliminate its use by 2015.

The important thing to know about non-stick cookware is that if used properly they wont emit toxic fumes but that means keeping the heat to a medium temp or below. But when cooking we rarely use our pans in a low to medium heat. So when you heat to medium-high or above you are abusing your non-stick cookware and causing environmental and health concerns.

So your best bet is to limit your use of non-stick pans or avoid them altogether. Check out the Cookware Consumer Guide for the Big List of the Best of the Best.