Monday, December 22, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Wow, I can't believe it's almost Christmas - my favorite Holiday of the year! And even though I'm an environmental atheist, I still celebrate in style. And so does my Santa....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Yes, I'm Still Here....

But hot diggity jingle bells, December is one BUSY month! I'm volunteering at preschool tomorrow with the kiddos' music teacher. I'm helping her get the little ones ready for their big Christmas concert. SUPER-DUPER-LOTS-O-FUN! I can't wait!

But, tomorrow is Monday so I had a post due. I got it all done tonight, though, so I don't have to feel any pressure tomorrow, I can just jam out to "Away in a Manger" all morning! :-)

Anyhow, the post I did is for the December APLS Carnival and the topic is "Our Children Are Our Greatest Natural Resource". Check it out.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Green Beauty Guide Book Review

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing a new enviro-book authored by Julie Gabriel, entitled The Green Beauty Guide. The book is touted as an "essential resource to organic and natural skin care, hair care, makeup and fragrances" and boy, does it deliver.

Julie has done tons of research on the toxicity of women's beauty products and has managed to summarize the information into one very thick, handy reference manual. I read the 350+ pages like a novel and learned a lot of information. However, I think I will find its real value as I refer back to it whenever I'm searching for (or helping my friends find) less toxic beauty products.

The book is laid out very intuitively. Julie begins by discussing the nature of skin and offers a little biology lesson on how this very large organ works. Don't worry though - it's not the heady stuff of biology 101, it's simplified explanations with descriptive analogies. It makes you truly understand how what we put on our skin becomes part of our own bodies.

She then goes on to discuss some of the more toxic and most commonly-found chemicals that are in many of our beauty products. She discusses the specific toxicology of each item and references various studies that have shown the damaging affects of these supposedly benign ingredients.

And just when you're starting to lose hope that you'll ever be able to use any beauty products again, she throws you a lifeline. She teaches you how to read ingredient labels, what to look for and, more importantly - what to avoid. Not just an alphabetical listing, she gives you the knowledge you need to decode the often incomprehensible labels on drugstore beauty products. She then goes through and defines various industry terms such as organic, bio-dynamic, hypoallergenic, cruelty-free, non GMO, fair trade, and natural.

My favorite part of the book is the DIY beauty section. Julie shares with us many secrets about how we can create our own, personalized, 100% natural skin care products - right in our own kitchens. Turns out it's a lot less expensive than buying the fancy green products currently on the market. And it can be a lot of fun too. I've already experimented with a few recipes and am excited to learn that tea tree oil is apparently just what the doctor ordered for my recent outbreaks. Hallelujah, Julie!

The remaining chapters in the book target specific beauty products including cleansers, toners, facials, moisturizers, sun protection, body care, hair care, baby care, makeup, fragrances and finally a beauty detox program. Each chapter discusses the correct use of the product (never knew I was supposed to double-cleanse each night, did you?), what to look for in a good product, some recommended products if you're looking to buy off-the-shelf and some cool recipes if you're thinking about whipping up your own solution.

Julie also includes an extensive list of recommended resources as well as a list of 100 toxic cosmetic ingredients you don't want in your beauty products (and why). It's kind of like having the EWG's Cosmetic Safety Database right in the palm of your hand - and it's portable enough to take to the drugstore with you!

This is a great book. It may not be the enthralling page-turner you want to take with you on your next cruise, but it's definitely a book you'll want to take with you to Walgreens. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is sick of buying beauty products, only to get them home and find out it's all full of toxic crap. The $16.95 you'll pay for the book will more than pay for itself with the time and money you save searching for truly safe alternatives to Suave and Revlon.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yucky Eco-Chore #37

Cleaning Out The Compost Bucket

Our compost bucket is a 4 quart Tupperware container that sits under the sink. It collects all our errant veggie scraps, fruit cores and the occasional half a peanut-butter-and-fluff sandwich (Yes, I am the Nutritious Mom Of the Year). Every other day or so it gets dumped outside into the compost bin. But it only gets washed out once a month or whenever it really starts to "get its funk on".

So needless to say, come washday, it's pretty stink-o-rific. Basically, it smells like ass. So I run some hot water in it while pumping in a couple squirts of Dr. Bonners Peppermint Castille Soap.

Now it smells like peppermint ass.

I think I'll just put the top back on and stick it back under the sink.

Silly Quotes

OK, sister Heather started it. She put up her new favorite quote over on her blog, The Stitch. And since the kids aren't up yet and I'm done reading CNN headlines (how DO you lose a toolbag on a spacewalk?!?!?) I thought I'd post my favorite new quote. From Joel Salatin:

"Life is risky. You can die from it."

What's your new favorite quote?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Localized Flurry

Well I was getting nervous early last week that no one was going to participate in November's APLS Carnival that I was hosting over at the Green Phone Booth. Well, must be everyone out there procrastinates almost as much as I do. Because by Wednesday? Our extended deadline day? I had a received a flurry of great posts - all on the subject of buying local.

Check out my summary of them here. And then leave your own $.02 on the subject.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Perfect Cheer!

Craig: Oh my God, Arianna, Erin is waving at you! She's trying to get your attention!

Arianna: What? What's that? Sign it out! No, Sign it out! Uh-huh? Yeah! Oh my God! Really? OK!

Craig: What is it? What'd she say?

Arianna: She says she wants us to read The Perfect Cheer!

Craig: Oh my God, let's do it!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Das Burbinator Strikes Again

Hey all, if you haven't figured it out yet, Mondays are my posting days at the Green Phone Booth. My latest post, perhaps to the chagrin of my eco-blogging postmates, has nothing to do with the election or the environment.

Yes folks, it's like I live in a little glass bubble, unaffected by the world around me.

Happy Monday!

Monday, October 27, 2008

APLS Blog Carnival

Hey, check it out -- I'm hosting the November APLS Blog Carnival! The topic is: Buying Local. Go crazy with it!

New Post at the Green Phone Booth

What? You haven't bookmarked or RSS'd or feedburned the Green Phone Booth yet?!??!? Yeah, neither have I. Me not so good with all that techno-crap. That's why I put these little updates here. So I remember to go read my new posts.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Conversations with a 5 year old

So I'm picking up the markers after a marathon coloring session when Ethan walks by....

Me: Hey, buddy! Wanna help mommy pick up these markers?

Ethan: No thanks. I don't like cleanin' up.

Me: Well, do you think I like cleaning up?

Ethan: You're always doing it, so you must like it!


Monday, October 20, 2008

Taking Wing

Hey, check it out! My first blog post over at the Green Phone Booth! Am I taking the superhero theme a little too literally? Probably. But that's how I am. Give me a horse to run with and I will beat it until it's carrion.

So read up and tell me what you think. Seriously. Like tell me if you think I should do it or not. Cuz it does sound like a big time commitment. Have you ever volunteered on a committee like that? Info, please! Every superhero needs a sidekick or at least a butler who tells him what to do.

Thanks, Jeeves!

- Burbs

PS. Do you guys like "The Bulk"? Cuz now I'm beginning to lean towards "The Burbinator". Thoughts?

Friday, October 17, 2008

Palin As President

Bored today? Visit this site and click around.... Make sure your sound is on. :-)

Monday, October 13, 2008

It's A Bird! It's A Plane!

It's...... Burbanmom in a cape and mask?

Check out this new blog from the folks who brought you Green Bean Dreams, Surely You Nest, The Purloined Letter and Going Green. It's a secret place where ordinary women can lose their day-to-day identities and morph into ecologically-minded Superheroes - it's The Green Phone Booth.

We're itnroducing the blog today and will begin daily posting on October 20th. Join us in our efforts to save the world - no previous flying experience, x-ray vision or heat-sensing abilities required!

Hope to see you in the phone booth!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

For Those Who Are Confused....

I know a lot of people have been hearing McCain ads that claim Obama/Biden do not support "clean coal". Whether they do or not is actually in question. But they SHOULDN'T. No one should support "clean coal" because it's like supporting the tooth fairy or Santa Claus (close your eyes, Virginia). It simply does not exist.

This is why "clean coal" is a farce. Because even if it was possible to sequester all the carbon that's created when you burn coal, you still wouldn't be able to undo the environmental damage that is incurred during the acquisition of the coal.

So there you go, clean coal - it's about as clean as a flea-infested, mud-encrusted street rat (or a fast-talking politician). For more information, check out this article from the Washington Post.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Tuning Out

Ladies and Germs, I hate to say it, but I am BURNED OUT. After fifteen months of blogging and over 420 posts, Burbanmom is actually running out of things to say. And, to be honest, I'm actually getting sick of the sound of my own voice (sight of my own words?). I've no idea how folks like Colin Beavan and Heather Armstrong do this - day in and day out or for years on end - but I tip my hat to them. Because me? Stick a fork in me. I'm done.

I need to take a nice long break. I need to re-energize myself and get excited about blogging again. Because right now? It's a big chore. And if it's not fun for me to write, it sure as hell ain't gonna be fun for you to read. Case in point: this post.

Also, I find that there just haven't been enough hours in the day since the kiddos went back to school, Daphne started dance classes, Ethan joined hockey (NO, I don't consider myself a pitbull with lipstick --- I gave up lipstick last year), sewing orders for Halloween are rolling in, and my house is a giant pigsty. OK, that last one is actually nothing new, but I think you get my point: I feel strapped for time and blogging has become just one more thing to check off the list.

And besides, there are so many things I want to dive in and DO, rather than just write about. Things like convincing our public's school system to join the Farm to School Program, sourcing out local cheese and grains for the family, joining the newly-formed Home Owner's Association Green Committee, and - God forbid - start working out and getting in shape. Any shape. Except round. That's my current shape and I'm not so much liking it.

Anyhow, in order to fit all these things in, something's gotta give. And I'm afraid it's the blogging. I've very much enjoyed writing about my journey to a greener life and this blog has accomplished way more than I ever dreamed it would. It was really just supposed to be a way to make myself accountable to family and friends - To ensure that I wouldn't start down the road to environmentalism, only to be distracted by something shiny. Well it has done all that and more! It has allowed me to make connections with some uber-awesome folks whom I otherwise never would have had the pleasure to meet. And for that I am so grateful.

I won't be gone forever and I'll be poppin' in and out with updates on various items - like hey, the comment period for the Endangered Species Act has been extended till October 15! (thanks for the heads up, Amy!) so if you haven't commented yet, what the hell are you waiting for? And who knows, you may find me popping up in unexpected places as well. You'll recognize me though, I'll be the sarcastic one with a bad attitude and an unrelenting pre-rinsing compulsion.

Anyhow, just wanted to let you know that I haven't fallen off the planet - BETH - as I know your biggest peeve is disappearing bloggers (well, actually I guess that would be your second biggest peeve, eh?).

I appreciate your understanding as I take a little time off to recharge my batteries. If you need something to read in the meantime, check out the links on my sidebar under "What's New in the Blogosphere" - they're all great blogs. Hopefully I'll see you around the farm stand!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Million Ways to Save

Many, many, many thank go out to Rob for his wonderful and informative guest posts on fixing the leaks in our homes! Now that we're all leak-free and I have recovered from my laughing fit at the mention of "sill cocks", "rod bending" and "ball cock valves",


Ok, I guess I'm still getting over that. Anyhow, today I'll wrap up all the other water conservation changes I've made over the past year. Hopefully, you can check them out when you have a minute and save a few more gallons per month!

The biggest water drain for most suburbanites is the lawn. Americans are obsessed with manicured lawns - even though they require a shitload of care and attention. My advice? Rip it all out and grow a garden instead. If, however, you live in a subdivision where they frown upon such creativity, at least shut off the sprinkler system. If you use a sprinkler system more than twice per week, this one change will likely save you more water than all the other changes combined.

In the bathroom, try to be conscious of how much water you use. Turn the water off when you brush your teeth, don't waste bathwater by waiting for it to get hot before plugging the drain, don't always turn the water on full blast, don't go overboard on bathing the kiddos (it dries out their skin anyhow) and don't forget - two pees and a poop ('nuff said).

And as for appliances, check your owner's manuals to see if your washing machine and dishwasher have a short cycle that will save you gallons each week. And of course, don't make more work (and waste more water) by washing clothes that aren't really dirty.

Hopefully these water saving tips, coupled with the leak-seeking and professional plumbing advice will help you to greatly decrease your water usage. And if you're on municipal water, you'll be able to enjoy those savings on your next bill! I just love it when "going green" and "saving green" go hand-in-hand, don't you?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Rob Continues to Make Up Dirty Words....

One last post from guest blogger and plumber extraordinaire - Rob Johnson - as he walks us through our final home leak repair and dazzles us with made-up, dirty-sounding words.


A lot of people forget about the “sill cock” or hose bibb on the outside of their homes, which can leak as much as their faucets and they never think about it because it’s outside and usually in a spot that is not very visible. Here is the repair order for fixing a leaking sill cock: (Sorry the guy is so monotonous, but he did a good video series on repairing sill cocks.)

BM: Sorry, had to remove videos as they were making strange popup warnings appear. All videos can be found at Sorry for any confusion!

There you have it. Your home should be leak free. These are all simple repairs that do not require a plumber just some simple tools that you can get at any hardware store:

Pair of channel lock pliers
Pair of needle nose pliers (for getting out small washers)
Screwdriver – preferably a 6 in 1 screwdriver- should cover all the screwdriver needs

That’s all you should need to go around the house and fix your leaks.

Super-big THANK YOU goes out to Rob for all of his wonderful posts these past two weeks on fixing the leaks around your house - without drowning in plumbing bills! Thanks, Rob - you're a prince among men!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Little Change is Good

Have I mentioned lately how much I am enjoying Rob's guest posting? Not only are we all learning how to fix our leaks, but I have barely lifted a bloggy finger this week! Here's more advice from Rob!


Changing the washers on your faucet can be one way to stop the drips! Very simple to do, very smart to do! Just watch this handy video to learn how to change the washers.

Looks pretty easy! Remember to shut off your water supply valves before taking the handles off!

Now what if you have a cartridge type or stem valve? If you believe the manufacturer, these are never supposed to leak. Bull Shit. We have over 200 of these where I work and they leak all the time. Here is an instructional video on changing them:

Now what about the tub you say? This video will show you how to easily change those stems as well:

That should help you all in stopping the water leaks inside your house. On Friday we'll tackle the leaks outside!

The Meatrix

OMG, came across these three videos on Greeen Sheeep's blog and had to share with you.... Check them out when you have a minute....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Potty Talk

Once again, a guest plumber post from the lovely and talented Rob Johnson!

You just did the Burbanmom Sleek Food Color Trick Test in your toilet and have discovered your toilet runs (leaks). Fear not - this too is a simple fix. Sometimes as easy as bending a rod!

BM interrupts: That's what he said.

First determine if your ball cock valve (not getting dirty here- that is what it is called and most older toilets have one -it's that big ball-looking thing in the tank) is shutting off. Simply pull up on the rod slightly – if toilet stops running then this is your lucky day! Just bend the rod down holding the ball cock! Hold the rod in one hand and push down – carefully - with the other hand on the ball. Just don’t bend too far.

BM interrupts: That's what he said.


Replace the flapper valve. Again, go to your friendly neighborhood hardware store take the old flapper with you, then follow the directions in the video below.


Replace the toilet fill valve. Get a suitable replacement at you local hardware store- they can help you figure out what type to get - and just follow the helpful video

There you have some useful tips on toilet problems. All “I can’t believe I spent so much for that *&^@^%$ plumber” simple jobs!

Thanks again, Rob!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Aering Out the Shower

Master Plumber and All-Around Good Guy, Rob Johnson is back today to show us how easy it is to replace our existing shower heads with low-flow models. Thanks, Rob!

Purchasing low flow shower heads is another no-brainer. Most old shower heads are 6 GPM (gallons per minute) and you can get a low-flow head that is 2 GPM at your local hardware store. So, if you take a 5 minute shower that's 20 gallons saved. A shower every day means in a month you'll save 600 gallons. Now multiply that by however many folks shower in your house. Think of all those gallons (and $$$) saved!

Changing to a low-flow shower head is very simple - you just unscrew the old shower head with channel locks or regular pliers (counter-clock wise). Get some Teflon tape, cover the threads of the old pipe (clockwise), then just start putting your new shower head on. Keep turning clockwise until it stops, then tighten with pliers - carefully. No more than ½ a turn.

Geez, that's a lot simpler than I thought it would be. But holy crap - 600 gallons per person, per month! That's crazy savings! If you get off your lazy duff to do one thing this weekend - make it installing a low flow shower head! And get me a beer while you're up, will ya?

Good News!

The No Child Left Inside Act passed today! Hooray!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

No Impact Man Nearly Impacted!

Colin Beavan AKA No Impact Man and his bicycle nearly squashed by a New York State Senator's Mercedes. Wow. How's that for a giant metaphor about our government's attitude toward the environment?

Check out the whole story on NIM's blog. And then make a call or two!

Ranting: It's A Shared Family Value

Ahhhh, I love my sister. She's nutty and fun and slightly insane. Some folks think we're twins. But remember, the attitudes may be similar, but she is much, MUCH older.

Anyhow, check out dear sister Heather's rant about Dixie paper plates and see if she sounds eerily familiar ;-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Are You STILL Eating Factory Farmed Meat?!?!?!

For the love of all that is good with the planet, I am begging you, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE find a local farm near you that provides good homes to your future BLT sandwiches. Because places like this should simply not be allowed to exist and only WE have the power to shut them down.

If you don't buy the factory-farmed meat, the factory farms will go away and we'll be left with decentralized, sustainable, transparent, local FARMS. And that would be a HUGE fucking leap in the right direction.

And the next time you meet a vegetarian - thank them for doing more than their fair share to help save the planet. I can't seem to do it, but have great respect for those who can.


Did you know that "Airhead" used to be one of my nicknames in high school? A little Burbanmom trivia for ya there, no extra charge. Other nicknames included "Erwin", "Scarin' Erin", "Little Heather" and "Brownie". These days, most folks just call me "Crazy Bitch" although it's less of a nickname and more of a clinical observation.

But that's got absolutely nothing to do with today's post. In fact, I don't even have anything to do with the post. That's because a wonderful fellow blogger has been forced volunteered to share some trade secrets that will help us lower our water use! Rob Johnson of
Rob's World is a plumber from Burien, Washington and will be giving us the inside scoop on low-flow faucet aerators today. So without further ado, let's give it up for Rob and the Amazing Aerators!

Burbs asked me to give you guys some simple tips on easy, low cost fixes for your plumbing problems. I can get into changing washers and such on your faucets, but there are so many types and most modern faucets use ceramic cartridges that it would get too confusing if I tried to explain that here (not to mention my fat stubby fingers would get tired of all that typing) so I will direct your attention to Expert Village. There you will find lots of good videos on everything from changing your own oil to leaky faucets. I highly recommend this site. But we are talking plumbing here, so lower your jeans to expose your butt crack, grab a pipe wrench, spit and cuss for a minute or two and follow along!


Purchasing low flow aerators is a no-brainer for me. They are inexpensive to buy, easy to install and they can save lots of water.

An aerator is the little screen in the faucet that aerates (adds air to) your water. Replacing your existing aerator with a low-flow aerator on your kitchen or bathroom faucet reduces water use greatly (faucets made after 1994 should already have these). You can purchase inexpensive low-flow aerators at your Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware stores or your neighborhood hardware.

BM butts in to say: According to Creative Citizen, the average faucet spews out more than 3 gallons per minute, to get a major drop in water usage, you'll need an aerator with a flow rating of 2.75 gpm or less (preferably 1.5 gpm or even 1 gpm or 0.5 gpm). If you already have aerators installed, check the side to see the imprinted flow rate. Consider replacing those over 2.75 gpm.

How to Install a Low-Flow Aerator:

Simply unscrew your old aerator - use a plier to get it started. Turn clockwise.

Before installing your new aerator, turn on the cold water for about a minute to flush out any sediment, then simply screw on the new aerator.

Turn it counter-clockwise, until it stops. You may want to use the pliers to make it tight, but use caution - don't over tighten!

That's it? Really? Even I can do that! Who knew conserving water could be so simple? Thanks, Rob! Burbanmom is off to check her existing aerators to see which ones can be replaced with low-flow aerators! Tune in on Friday when Rob puts himself out of work by showing us just how easy it is to install a low-flow shower head!

1 Sky PSA Contest

From 1Sky:

We're only 49 days away from one of the most important elections of our lives. But instead of addressing the long list of challenges we face, the presidential campaign has been sidetracked by small scandals and petty politics.

We need to bring the focus back to those challenges--especially the failing economy and the climate crisis. We face no greater task right now than confronting global warming and building a new economy powered by clean, renewable energy.

That's why we launched the Climate Matters online video contest a few weeks ago with our friends at Brighter Planet to send our next president a clear message: America is ready for bold leadership on climate and a new energy economy.

The submission deadline is this coming Monday, September 22--only 6 days away--so upload your most inspiring 30 or 60 second video message today

For inspiration, take a look at this public service announcement written and directed by Nikos Spiridakis, a ten-year-old climate activist.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What A Drip

So continuing on our water conservation theme, let's check the house for water leaks. It's super-easy (and loads of fun) to do:

At night, place an empty cup under each sink faucet and go to bed. In the morning, if there's any water in the cup, you'll know there's a leak. The same system works for the tubs. Most shower heads don't need to be checked since they're generally tub/shower combos and the water won't even go up to the shower head unless the pulley-uppey thing on the tub faucet is up (sorry to go all technical plumber jargon on you there). However, if you have a separate shower unit, place a dry bucket on the floor directly under the shower head.

Toilets are another matter altogether. Mostly, because they're more fun to check. First, remove the tank off the back of the toilet and squeeze in a couple drops of red food coloring. Then leave it be for 20 minutes or so. When you come back, if the water in the bowl is red, you know there's a leak. That, or someone in your house needs some medical attention stat.

So go do some green super-sleuthing and see what you can find. Then we'll worry about how to fix them!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Made of Awesome

For more information, check out or hit These guys are made of WIN.

Stuffing Your Tank Top

OK, time to get back into the swing of things here with the ol' Going Green program. Many of you asked how I was able to get my Riot numbers down to their current amounts and so I'm going through my previous years posts and recapping them for you.

And now I just recapped the recapping for you so we'd all be on the same page. Because I'm like that. Redundant, that is. As in "doing something repetitively". You know, again and again. Because I'm like that.

So let's concentrate a bit on water usage shall we? See if we can't chip away at our numbers. Now, for those of you with wells - good luck. I lived on well water most of my life and generally we could tell how we were doing if, and only if, the well went dry. Other than that we really had no way of determining whether our usage was high or low. But for all you city/suburbia folks - you're lucky - you get a personal accounting of your households water use courtesy of the public utilities! Ain't they nice folks?

Today's change is a very simple one to make. And once it's done - it's done. Walk away and forget about it. I love those changes.

Today I want you to drop a brick in the toilet. And when you're done with that, go ahead and implement a water saving strategy. Trust me - it's as easy as pinchin' a loaf - and equally satisfying.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Speaking of Affluence

yeah, it's posting day. But I'm not up for it. I've spent the last two days immersed in the life of Ishmael Beah, the boy soldier, and I am feeling.....

a lot.

But none of it eco-friendly.

So my apologies to you all, who clicked here looking for great green tips to help save the planet and instead found a melancholy woman wondering what, if anything, can be done to help the children of this world who are, through no fault of their own, thrust into lives filled with poverty, hunger, injustice and war.

I need to either go vomit or eat. Not sure which.

Oh, and thanks, MOM, for the cheery-ass book recommendation. Maybe for an encore you could swing by and read "No, Virginia, There is No Santa (and other lies your parents feed you)" to my kids.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Affluence vs. Influence

If you're reading this blog, odds are you've heard about the APLS group - Affluent Persons Living Sustainably. It's a group of environmentally-conscious folks who are doing their best not to trash the planet with disposable plastic, gas-guzzling vehicles and feverish over-consumption.

Well, when the idea of 'APLS' was first introduced, many people balked at the "A" word - Affluent. "Hey! I'm not a Hollywood Starlet! I'm not Bill Gates! I don't have money falling out my ass! How can you call me Affluent?!?!"

Look it up, dude. You are.

We ALL are. We have food in our bellies, medicine for ailments and pillows for our heads. By global standards, we are literally kings among commoners.

Unfortunately, however, we are still obsessed with getting richer. Buying more. Consuming more. Owning more. Why is this? Study after study has shown that more money, more consumption (beyond the basics, of course) does not make us happier. So why do we work like crazy towards even greater affluence?

Wealth should, in theory, provide us with more free time. I mean, we no longer HAVE to grow our own food, build our own shelters, hunt or fish, or simply work to survive. And yet - because of our consumeristic ways - we have less free time than we did 50 years ago. We are working longer, to earn more, so we can buy more. We have to spend more time shopping. More time caring for our possessions. More time sorting through our crap every year to hold a garage sale, so we can make room for new crap. It's a vicious cycle.

So what would happen, instead, if we took all this affluence and instead of pissing it away on shit we don't need we used it to influence environmental change? To influence our leaders to legislate green house gas emissions limits? To influence companies to design more environmentally friendly products? Or to simply spend our time and money giving to environmental causes and those in need.

How do we do this? Simple.

So how do you choose to spend your wealth? Do you choose to influence others or is it more important to flaunt your affluence? When your time is up will you be saying "Thank goodness I bought that Wii" or "I'm glad I helped make a difference"?

The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

We Needs Us Good Edgewcashun

Whether intentional or not, it would appear that the beginning of September is going to be chock full of "Back to School" info for the 'Burb posse. Today's post is all about the "No Child Left Inside" legislation (H.R. 3036, S. 1981) that is scheduled for a vote in the House next week. The NCLI legislation would amend the existing "No Child Left Behind" Act to include funding for Environmental Education.

Blah, blah, blah "child"... Blah, blah, blah "environment" What the hell is she talking about now? Catch me up, Burbs, would ya? But make it quick - I ain't gettin any younger here.

OK... in brief (or cotton grannies, as the case may be): When the No Child Left Behind legislation was first passed in 2001, the intent was to improve and standardize the education received by American children. However, by implementing a litany of required tests for school children - upon which federal funding is based - a number of unexpected consequences have occurred.

Namely, we have quickly become a nation obsessed with cramming for standardized tests. The schools rely heavily on federal funds and, in order to receive those funds, the students must perform well on the national tests. And so the teachers are making sure that every kid knows who our 12th President is, and how many sides a rhombus has - but at the expense of other subjects.

For example, I'm sure you all have heard about how recess and PE have taken a hit in our schools. Most schools no longer offer daily PE class. In fact, many schools only require two years of PE in high school. Yikes. Just two years of physical education. It's not a frickin' foreign language - it's a healthy lifestyle. Where, exactly, are our priorities?

Oh yeah, that's right.... our priorities are the dollars. After all, there's no standardized dodge ball test that'll bring in federal funds.

OK, now think about environmental education. How many national standardized tests do you suppose require our children to be able to identify a native plant? How many tests require them to explain the recycling process of aluminum? Or the effects of plastic on marine life? Or melting ice caps? Or global warming? Ummm... None. None. None. None. and None.

But a rhombus has four sides.

One more rant before I get on to my call of action....

My son, Ethan, has speech issues. He goes to speech therapy weekly at our local elementary school. I was talking to his teacher about the NCLB Act and she was telling me how it is having a really detrimental effect on the disabled and challenged students.

You see, it used to be that teachers would be allowed the freedom to evaluate individuals and then create an individual plan for educating that student so that he/she would be able to function on their own in society. Now some folks, plain and simple, are not going on to college. or even trade school. and THAT'S OK. So why should they all be forced to learn the same shit? Wouldn't a challenged individual be better off to learn basics like - how to handle their own money, how to fill out a job application, how to bus tables or clean floors or work office equipment or SOME LIFE SKILLS, rather than cramming for a standardized test on American literature?

Now don't get me wrong. In theory, the NCLB Act was a great idea. However, we are quickly discovering that it is in need of some SERIOUS tweaking. So once again, it is time to get the lead out.

Pull out your list of representatives, if you will, and draw up a letter in support of HR 3036 and S 1981 - The No Child Left Inside Act. If you want to go the lazy route (hey, you know me, I'm nothing if not lazy) just jump on over to the CBF's NCLI Action Page and use their handy dandy form. While you're there, please read through the information on the NCLI and the history behind its introduction - as well as other ways you can help.

Now, more than ever, we need to be teaching our children the importance of caring for the earth. After all, you reap what you sow. And our kids should know what the hell that saying means.

Monday, September 1, 2008


"But now," says the Once-ler,
"Now that you're here,
the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.
someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It's not."

Remember last April, when I marched my fat ass in to the preschool director's office and proclaimed myself Eco-Dorkess, Lord of the Green Tips? Yeah, well, as I mentioned then, I was pleasantly surprised when the preschool director accepted my offer to create an Earth Day flyer for the kids to take home. And I believe I also mentioned that she told me that if I had another eco-ideas, to go ahead and lay them on her.

Poor lady. If she only knew what she was getting into.

Cuz lay them on I did. And guess what? Many of them stuck! Yes sirree, in addition to the annual Earth Day flyer, Burbanmom's got her hand in several other preschool activities. Here's what I've managed to get going at the school so far:

1. Crayon Recycling - I put the director in touch with The Crayon Bin and now our preschool is collecting crayon nublets to send in for recycling. Every classroom will have a big jug that the kids can use to collect crayon bits. These bits will be recycled into crayons specially made for kids and adults with difficulties in fine motor skills. (Stroke, Autism, Cerebral Palsy or Arthritis). Wow. Saving crayons from the landfill AND helping others. What a great classroom project!

2. Reusable Cups - Up until now, each and every day the preschool was using 200 disposable paper cups during snack time. I talked to the director about the crazy amount of waste (not only in trash, but in dollars too) and, last I heard, she was going to allow the kids to bring in their own sippy cups for snack time! Woo hoo! I mean, it only makes sense - especially since we have to send in their own snacks anyhow.

3. Recycle Coloring Book - When I went on my tour of the local recycling plant last year, one of the things they gave me in my packet was a little 10-page coloring book that was geared toward 3-8 year olds. It taught kids the importance of recycling, what items can be recycled, and how they can start recycling at home. Anyhow, I called the plant and asked if there was any way I could get enough for the 200 students at my preschool. They said "NO PROBLEM! That's what we do!!" FABULOUS! So I went down and picked up 200 of the suckers and they are now in the hands of all the preschool teachers at the school.

4. The Lorax - And yes, I'm volunteering to go read Dr. Seuss's The Lorax to all the classes. The director suggested that maybe I could do a presentation for each class on how to recycle - and I may - but right now, I think I'll start small by just reading them a wonderful, age-appropriate book about how individuals have the ability to directly affect their environment. Plus, I like reading to the kids. It's always nice to have a captive audience. Because honestly, you keep looking at your watch and that's very annoying.

So there's four activities (five, if you count the flyer) that little ol' me was able to get up and running at the school - with little or no money. And in addition to the great feeling the comes from helping the environment, I also get the warm fuzzy of being part of a community.

Have you thought about adding a little green to your child's school? If so, I'd love to hear your ideas! Please share them at the Yahoo! Group. Seriously. The sound of crickets there has been deafening this past week.

And speaking of school, don't forget to check out the Green Moms Carnival this month where the topic will be - coincidentally enough - "Back to School". It'll be hosted by the loverly and talented Mama Bird at Surely You Nest next Monday, September 8th.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Laboring Away

Labor Day. Labor Day. Labor Day.

That just seems too short, doesn't it?

Labor Week.

Much better.

Carry on.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Baking Soda: It's not just for armpits anymore

My goodness, looking around the eco-blogosphere it would seem that we're all a bunch of druggies looking to score some magic white powder. I'm talking about the good stuff - baking soda. The miracle elixir of tree-huggers the world over.

Check it out, people are using it to clean their homes, de-stinkify their pits, wash their hair and, of course, brush their teeth. The funny thing? It works. It's all-natural. It's biodegradable. It's readily available. And it's cheap. My God, what more could you ask for?!?

I switched to baking soda for teeth brushing in May. It definitely took some getting used - and a little recipe-tweaking - but it does a fine job. It's another one of those changes where it may not work 100% of the time, but who cares? It works 85% of the time and that's good enough for me. So on garlic-pizza night I use "real toothpaste". Whoopdy-doo. It's better than using it every single night.

So are you willing to give it a try? Do it tonight (providing you didn't have garlic pizza) and see how you like it. There are a million different recipes you can try - peppermint, cinnamon, plain - experiment a little and find one you like. Then share your recipe with the folks on the Yahoo! Group.

And trust, me it's not a gateway drug. You won't find yourself passed out from sniffing Pine Sol next month. I promise.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

And The Winner Is....

Whew! Not me this time! It's Audrey over at Yeah, you read that right (BTW, I love her actual URL address!). So Audrey, drop me an email at emcoe AT verizon DOT net with your snail mail address and I'll get some Burbanmom pantyliners out to you!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Throwing In The Towel

Continuing with our monthly theme of personal hygiene changes, today we'll be talking about bath towels and how often they're washed.

Some of you might remember a few weeks ago (or was it last year? - I don't remember) when I threw up a poll on my blog asking "How often do you wash your bath towel?". I think my options were something like:

A. Daily
B. Every Other Day
C. Weekly
D. Every Other Week
E. When It Starts to Smell Funky

I believe I was trying to gather some data to use on a later post, which, of course, I promptly forgot about. Until today. And now I can't find the data. Of course.

But I remember thinking "Wow, I am the Queen of Skank" when I saw how often others wash their bath towels. Because me? Option E - all the way, baby. This means I generally throw in the towel somewhere around the three-week range.

I mean really, how gross can it get in one day - or even a week or two? I grab my towel 4-6 times a week when I use it to wipe clean water off my just-scrubbed body. I then hang it up to dry, same as I would hang clean laundry from the washer. So, unless hubby is secretly using it to clean up errant pee (which, in a way, would be kind of nice - but is doubtful, based on empirical evidence) how would it get dirty?

So just for shits and giggles, see how long you can go before your towel starts to 'get its funk on'. It's kind of like that episode of Seinfeld - You know, the "Are You Still 'Master of Your Domain?'" one.

In fact, I've set up a "Master of Your Bath" contest. Total honor system, since there's no way in hell I'm going to come to your house and sniff your bath towel. Unless you're offering free cheesecake and coffee afterwards.

Here's the rules:

Grab yourself a fresh towel today and sign up on the Yahoo! Group. Then, when you reach the point where you can't stand it anymore, log back onto the Yahoo! Group and let us know you're "out". In a month, everyone who is still using the same towel will be entered in a drawing for another set of Mary's great goat soaps!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Have A Moderately Tolerable Period

Because who the hell has a "HAPPY" one? Come on. Is that the lamest advertising campaign ever? How many times have you woken up and said "yippeee! I'm so glad I'm on the rag! Let the good times roll, baby!"?

Well word on the street is that you can at least have a less miserable period and help the environment at the same time! That's right ladies (oh yea, Men: you are hereby excused from today's challenge), it's time to get personal about periods. It's like 7th grade health class all over again, minus the creepy teacher with yellow teeth and bad combover.

We all know that disposables are damaging the earth. And it doesn't matter if it's a disposable coffee cup, a water bottle or a tampon. Single use products made from virgin materials are horribly wasteful and, in most cases, 100% avoidable. So to save some space in our landfills let's look at some eco-friendly options:

* Choose feminine hygiene products that are made from recycled materials (This is what I first did when I decided to make a change for the better)

* Switch to reusable cloth pads like GladRags or Lunapads or Party In My Pants (This is what I do now)

* Try a washable menstrual cup like DivaCup, Keeper, Mooncup, or Lunette (SO many women bloggers swear by these cups. If I ever go "full flow" again, this is what I'll use)

* Get rid of the plumbing (ok, this one's a bit drastic and I don't think I want to advocate it. However, if I didn't list it, you can bet someone would tell me I forgot it and I'd hate for my list to look all incomple)

::wondering how many people will get that joke vs. how many will think just can't spell::

So your task is to search and find the most eco-friendly period protection you can handle. It's ok if you're not ready for a Diva, start small with something that doesn't seem weird and then you can at least and work your way up. But if you don't start somewhere, odds are you'll never change and you'll always be Tampax's bitch.

Oh, and if you're thinking the reusables are all too pricey - just remember that these are one-time purchases. It's not like you'll be buying these every single month. In fact, if you're handy with a sewing machine, you can make your own pads. And if you're handy with silicone injection molds, well you can make your own Diva Cup too!

I have made a bunch of reusable pantyliners and they are super-simple. I'm happy to give instructions to anyone who wants to make them. Also, if you're thinking about switching to reusables, or are just curious to see how they look and feel, you can enter to win a set of seven Burbanmom pantyliners! Just leave your name in the comments, letting me know you'd like to enter the drawing.

And as always, be sure to log onto the Yahoo! Group and tell the rest of us how happy your $*@!*^# period is!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Unconditional Love

Still working on personal hygiene. Who knew there was so much to ground to cover? The fact that we've got a month's worth of changes should be our first clue that maybe, just maybe, we spend a bit too much time, money and resources on lookin' purdy. So let's see if we can totally drop another item from our regimen. How's about conditioner?

EEEEEEKKKK!!! Lots of you freaking out, I know. I didn't think I could live without it either. After all, I have what my sister affectionately calls "hay hair" because of its lovely, straw-like texture. (note to sis: you are older than me. I win.) So anyhow, if anyone needed some conditioning love, surely it was me!

Turns out, not so much. Oh don't get me wrong, the first few days (or maybe even weeks) were rough. But, as so many bloggers seem to be discovering about 'poo, your hair will adjust to the change. There are a few things you can do to ease the transition, though... here's what worked for me:

1. Always brush/comb before you wash! You can't go into the shower with a rat's nest on your head and expect to come out with Brooke Shields hair. It isn't a magic shower, for Christ's sake. Get the snarls all brushed out before you hop in!

2. Use a moisturizing shampoo. Fortunately, I find that my groovy little shampoo bars clean my hair without stripping all the natural oils. This helps keep my hair looking a little less like cow bedding.

3. Find that bitchin' pocket comb you had in 1984 (you know, the "marbled" purple one that you wore as a fashion accessory in the back pocket of your Jordache jeans) and use it when you get out of the shower. Do NOT use a brush on wet hair! It will damage the hair and leave you with nasty split ends. Always use a nice, wide-tooth comb on wet hair.

4. If you can't go cold-turkey, try down-grading to a cider vinegar rinse for a month, then try going conditioner-free.

5. If you need a deep-conditioning treatment every now and again, try using coconut oil. Put it on your hair at night, wrap your head in a towel and shampoo out the next day. Or if you can't sleep with crap on your head, you can put mayonnaise in your hair for 15 minutes, then wash it out. Either option will leave you silky smooth and help you avoid all the weird chemicals found in commercial conditioners - not to mention the time (and water) saved in the shower. Double Bonus? They work so well that once every two weeks is all you'll need!

So, do tell.... are you feelin' the unconditional love?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

And Now Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

Have you sent in your comments yet? If not, go do that first, before you read this post. What the hell, I'm not going anywhere.


OK, we're still working on personal hygiene. You know, cleaning up our environmental act while letting go of some advertising-induced notions about beauty. Hopefully by now, we're all old enough to know that personal beauty is not something that is painted on, shaved clean or polished. Personal beauty lies within.

Smell, however, is right out there.

Nobody likes to be a Stinky Pete. Nobody likes to sit next to a Stinky Pete. I am not advocating Stinky Pete-ism here. I am, however, suggesting alternatives to traditional underarm deodorant. Here's why (from an article at Green is Universal):

Thirty years ago researchers first detected significantly elevated aluminum levels in the brain of Alzheimer's patients, and subsequently proposed a link between the heavy metal and the disease. Though scientists still debate the connection, certainly aluminum is a toxic heavy metal that has no useful biological function, and which we don't want building up in our bodies, ever.

Manufacturers long discounted any such effect from aluminum salts in deodorants, which they claimed would not be absorbed through the skin. This assumption has proven wrong, and over time users of commercial deodorant do accumulate the stuff, sometimes in significant levels. A recent medical report described a woman who ended up with severe aluminum toxicity directly as a result of her deodorant use.

Most commercial deodorants also contain parabens, which act as preservatives and stabilizers, but which like aluminum can be absorbed with systemic effects. Parabens mimic estrogen, and though the amounts we absorb on a daily basis might be small, over time, the accumulation can be significant. A report from England in 2004 documented a relationship between parabens and breast cancer.

Yeesh. That can't be good, right?

So, from my extensive research (reading other blogs), I've come to the conclusion that there are three commonly used alternatives to mainstream deodorant. They are:

Baking Soda
Deodorant Stone
"All-Natural" Commercial Deodorant

I switched to the deodorant stone in May. Worked great until the really, super hot weather hit. I've since switched back to traditional deodorant, but will be going back to "the rock" in September, when the cooler weather sets in.

So, three months with commercial, toxic crap / nine months with a kinder, gentler solution. I can live with that. As I've said many times - being green does NOT have to be an all or nothing proposition. Do the best you can but don't make yourself crazy because that's when you'll feel like quitting. And you don't want to quit. Because quitters smell worse than anything!

WTF? ESA Comments, Take Two

So I go away for a weekend and the fabric of our democratic nation apparently unravels into a nothing more than a pile of thread. No clue WTF happened to the initial Comments page, but there is now what appears to be a revised page at that is up and working.

Again, Please, Please, PLEASE send comments to the DOI via this page and request the follow:

  • that the proposed rule changes NOT be enacted.
  • that the public comment period be extended to at least 60 days.
  • that they open the proposed rules to public hearings.

If, for whatever reason, the above link doesn't work or stops working, you can either submit your comments via the NRDC here or use snail mail to send your comments to:

Public Comment Processing, Attention: 1018-AT50, Division of Policy and Directives Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203

Friday, August 15, 2008

Comment Period Open!

OK, folks, remember on Monday when we got all pissed off about Bush altering the Endangered Species Act? Well, I just checked the DOI and the comment period on the proposed rules has officially opened. To read the proposed rule changes, go here. To comment on these changes, go here.

Don't feel like you have to get all fancy and long-winded (although that's great if you do!). But please, please, for the love of Mike, LEAVE A COMMENT OPPOSING THESE CHANGES! Even if it's just as simple as "I deeply oppose these proposed changes and urge the DOI to reject these rules!".

Just don't let slide this one through. Encourage others to leave their comments as well. Please, we really need EVERYONE to voice their opinion.

Please. Seriously. I'm begging. And that doesn't happen often.

Goatastic Giveaway Winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered my Goatastic Giveaway!

So I search out the random number generator and ask it to please pick me a number between one and thirty-six, since that's the number of comments I received. Here's his (hers? its?) pick:

Let's see... comment 32... 32...

Nice. It's my own friggin' comment. Note to self: do not leave comments on giveaway posts.

So, back to the RNG....

Congratulations to 'Just Me'! Drop me a line at emcoe AT verizon DOT net with your snail mail address and I'll get your goat soap shampoo and body bars out to you asap!

And to everyone else, I still have lots of goat soap shampoo bar samples left. Drop me an email if you'd like to try one! I used my kitchen mandolin to cut the slices, so they're very uniformly cut. And they smell a little like cheese. Bonus!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pearly Whites

TGIF! Let's do an easy change today. I've got to pack for our weekend camping trip and I want to make sure we all have plenty of time to go check out the very first APLS Carnival post!

What do ya say we switch toothbrushes? Not like, you send me yours and I'll send you mine. That would be gross. I mean let's try to find the most environmentally friendly toothbrush and change brands.

In April I switched from my rechargeable electric toothbrush to a Preserve brand toothbrush. Here's why:

"The Preserve's handle is made of polypropylene. It is an efficiently recycled material--its strength does not break down in the recycling process. Polypropylene's recycling efficiency means it is commonly reprocessed and cleaned... Polypropylene is available in many sources of post-consumer and pre-consumer recycled plastics, labeled #5. Presently our main source is from recycled Stonyfield Farm® yogurt cups... The Preserve's materials are also completely recyclable. The handle and bristles are effectively recycled together--the polypropylene and nylon actually strengthen as they combine in the recycling process. Preserve's postage-paid envelope assures that your used brush will be turned into plastic lumber."

So that's what swayed me. I haven't worn it out yet, so I have not yet gone through the recycling process with Preserve, but you can bet I will be sending it back for recycling when the time comes. What are you using to clean your pearly whites?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

S-s-s-s A-a-a-a F-f-f-f E-e-e-e T-t-t-t Y-y-y-y

Safety. Dance!

Ha! Any of you between the ages of 30 - 45 are now singing the totally tubular techno-rific 80's song from Men Without Hats!

So what's all this dancing got to do with personal hygiene? Nothing. It's the "safety" part we'll be discussing today. As in "Safety Razor".


Don't go running off in horror like I'm wearing a leather mask and chasing you with a chainsaw. I *promise* you it won't hurt a bit! Trust me, I have, like, six left thumbs and four toes on the ends of my hands and I haven't cut myself yet.

That's a lie. I did cut myself. But just once, and, if we're being honest, I've managed to cut myself with a traditional disposable Venus razor too.

Anyhow, I switched to a safety razor back in May, after Beth had convinced me it was a safe alternative to plastic razors. I found my "vintage" razor online at eBay. Which is a fancy way of saying that I got to pay more for something used. Cuz that's how eBay rolls. Also following Beth's advice, I purchased approximately one shitload of metal razor blades off eBay, which should last me the rest of my shaving life, with enough leftover for the kids' inheritances. Lucky them.

Of course, there are other hair removal options available. Just last week, Crunchy extolled the virtues of sugaring. I would try this, but I prefer to keep my skin attached to my body. Also, I'm way over on weekly quota of loud shrieks of "AAAIIIIEIEEEIEEE-OHMYGOURDOODLE-WHATTHEFUCK-MOTHERHUMPER?!?!!!" But feel free to try her homemade sugaring recipe. And if you need some left over fabric scraps to use as waxing strips, just let me know.

So your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to find a shaving method that doesn't make you cry like a baby or bleed to death, that is also environmentally friendly. Would love to hear the solutions! Chat it up at the Yahoo! Group.

We can dance if we want to. We can leave your friends behind. Cuz your friends don't dance and if they don't dance, well, they're no friends of mine.

hehehehe. You'll be ready to kick my ass around 3pm today when you can't get that dingity dang song out of your head!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Get The Lead Out

Please go read this article about how Bush is trying to rewrite the Endangered Species Act before he leaves office. And then?

You guessed it.

Go grab your handy-dandy list of representatives and tell them where you think he should file his proposed rules. And be sure to drop a note to our "Resident in Brief" to let him know how you feel.

Don't just get pissed off. DO SOMETHING.

Feeling speechless? Here's a sample note:

Dear Senator / Congressman / President [insert name here]:

It is with great dismay that I read an article regarding the President's recent plans to overhaul the Endangered Species Act. Please note that as a registered voter and concerned citizen, I am vehemently opposed to the proposed relaxation of regulation.

I will be voicing my opinion to the Department of Interior when the public comment period opens. However, I want you to know that should these proposed rules be enacted, I will fully expect you and your colleagues to work fervently to overturn them.


[Insert Your Name Here]

THIS WILL TAKE YOU ALL OF FIVE MINUTES. I spend more time than that just checking emails. And I bet you do too. The emails can wait. This cannot.

And if you have a blog, belong to a Yahoo Group, are on Facebook or Myspace, Twitter or IM, please SPREAD THE WORD. Let's get folks pissed off and acting.

I will let you know when the public comment period opens so that you can voice your opinions directly to the DoI. In the meantime, spread the word, write the letters and get mad.

I'm With It. Are You With It?

Step right up, folks! You won't believe your eyes! The most amazing show this side of the Mississippi is starting! Come inside the tent and have a peek! You don't want to miss this one!

OK, so this is my first APLS Carnival blog post and I think I maybe focusing a little too much on the "carnival" aspect. I keep singing "doo do doodle loodle doo do doodle" and imagining carnies trying to guess my weight (yeah, that's a game where NO ONE wins... just ask my husband).

Anyhow, nearly a hundred words into this post and I still haven't even touched on the APLS Carnival subject of the month:

What does sustainability mean to you?

Wow. That's a big question. Pretty heady stuff for the Burbanista. There's no way I could go this in depth in the half hour before Dirty Jobs comes on. And I likes me my Dirty Jobs.

Sustainability means so many different things to me that it's simply too much to verbalize. It is the deciding factor behind every purchase I make, every post I write, every dollar I donate and every vote I cast. It is the goal I strive to meet as I do my chores, raise my kids, source my food and live my life.

Simply put: It cannot be simply put.

So when words fail me, I resort to a photo mosaic. Here's what sustainability means to me (in 24 pictures or less ;)

And now, can I interest anyone in a ring toss?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Goatastic Giveaway!

Before I started this whole "going green" journey last year, my bathtub resembled the bath and beauty supply aisle at Walgreens. I had my big plastic bottle of liquid soap and the big plastic poof I used to suds up with. I had a plastic bottle of shampoo and another full of conditioner. There was a steel can of shaving gel next to my plastic razor with the disposable plastic heads that hung on a plastic wall-holder thingy. I also had a plastic bottle of Neutrogena face wash, and, for those rough days - a big bottle of bubble bath. Oh yeah, and hubby's lone bar of Irish Spring.

Now? I've taken the plastic out of the shower. All you'll find in there now is a locally-produced, castille-style goat's milk soap bar, a locally-produced goat's milk shampoo bar and my "vintage" metal safety razor. Oh yeah, and hubby's lone bar of Irish Spring.

Not only have I dramatically reduced the toxicity level of my beauty products, I've also reduced the odds of dropping a big bottle in the shower, forcing me to bend over and get it, possibly slipping on the soapy tub, falling and cracking my skull open, where I would lay dying until supper time, when someone noticed there was no food on the table.

Yes, I'm having one of those days.

Anyhow, what's all this got to do with you? Today's challenge is to try to source out natural, organic products for your shower.

And to help encourage you to do try something new, I'm going to do a Burbanmom Giveaway! I'll be giving away one Wild Heaven Farm Goat Soap Bar and one Goat Soap Shampoo bar as a package for one lucky winner! Leave a comment and I'll draw a winner on Friday.

Oh, and I bought an extra shampoo bar for you folks who are looking for a 'poo alternative. If you want me to slice you off a sample and mail it to you, just drop me a line at emcoe AT verizon DOT net and I'll send you slice. Mary has promised me it won't melt in the mail, unless it gets wet. So if as long as your mailman doesn't lick your packages, it should arrive in fine shape.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


Quick! Think of one personal item you use that is totally frivolous. Perfume? Lipstick? Eye Shadow? Nail Polish? After Shave? Hairspray?

Are you thinking of it? Yeah? Good!

Now say "Buh-Bye" in your best 'David Spade as rude flight attendant' style.

Yup. That's the challenge. Pick one extraneous beauty product and give it up.

Go ahead and keep the bottle. No sense tossing it out, after all. But put it out of reach and don't use it for at least one month. And then, when you do pull it out, only use it on special occasions. Make it last you the rest of your damned life, if you can.

I did this with my eyeshadow. I just decided to stop wearing it. It doesn't impact my look that much, so why bother with the plastic container, the little brush, etc., if I don't need it. Then that morphed into me not wearing makeup at all.

Except mascara. I have white Irish skin and the white Irish eyelashes to match, so I kind of look like a circus freak without it.

Anyhow, I don't use my bag-o-war-paint on a daily basis anymore. Just a little mascara and chapstick. What's fun about this change is that, when I do have a special occassion and I put on my makeup - I feel GORGEOUS! Like I spent the whole day at the spa getting all purdy. And it didn't cost me anything. Talk about cheap thrills!

All right, well I've got to go. I'll see you guys later. Buh-bye!

PS... for you folks who requested the Burbanmom cotton ball replacements - they are en route! Well, not really. But the envelopes are sitting right here next to me just waiting to be addressed! Ok, you got me. They're over on my desk. But really, they'll go in the mail tomorrow, I promise. or Saturday - at the latest!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Let the Devolution Begin

Welcome to Day Two of our journey to a more relaxed beauty regimen (AKA Skankville). Monday we gave up cotton balls and Q-Tips, today we're giving up our daily shower.

Say what?

Yup, goodbye daily shower, hello armpit washcloth. Yeehaw.

That's not to say that you should give up the daily shower every day. But pick one day - any day - each week and declare it To Hell With Personal Hygiene Day. My THWPHD is generally Sunday, but I also throw in an occasional weekday, just to shake things up.

Think of all the hot water you'll save. Not to mention soaps, shampoo, conditioner and whatever else you might slather on yourself when you're all alone behind the curtain. Don't tell me.... I don't want to know.

And if you already have a sanctioned THWPHD, then make it a double. Pick another day during the week where you feel comfortable stinkin' it up.

What? Already got TWO? Sounds like you're ready for the Trifecta. Do it up!

The first week will be tough. You'll feel like pigpen, with a little black cloud following you around and wavy lines radiating from your head. You'll get used to it, though. Pretty quickly, in fact. Hopefully your friends and family will too :-)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Personal Hygiene Month

Let's all lower our standards

We seem to be a country obsessed with personal cleanliness and beauty regimens. Shower every day. Brush your teeth after every meal. Scrape out the earwax. Paint the toenails. Squirt on the perfume. Draw on the eyebrows. Smooth on the lips. Dye it. Curl it. Straighten it. Spray it. And then shave or pluck everything else.

Is all this necessary? How clean and sparkly do we need to be? Do we need to be that spic n' span every day? Only on work days? Black tie events? Our own funeral?

Very personal decisions. I sure as hell can't make them for you. But let's spend the whole month of August re-examining our personal "foofy factor" and seeing if we can't make some cuts. Because most of these beauty routines involve some sort of environmental sacrifice. Remember last week, when you checked the toxicity levels of your personal beauty products? Well where do you suppose most of those toxins end up?

They wash off our body (if they're not absorbed and peed out) and go down the drain. Or they get tossed in a landfill with all the other "old" makeups, buffs and lotions that no one wants anymore.

And it's not like this is medical waste. Or expired heart medication. It's nothing that is required for us to survive. It's stuff that we use because ADVERTISERS HAVE CONVINCED US WE NEED IT. But really? Do we?

Are we, as human beings, the only creatures so hideous as to require eyeshadow? So horrifyingly grotesque that we must, absolutely MUST have a gelled quaf? Are we that putrid as to require a thorough dousing of Aqua Velva before we can enter civilized society?

Good gourd, I hope not. So let's take a look at our personal hygiene routines this month and, one small step at a time, knock it down to something we can feel good about. Good about the way we look, as well as the way we treat the environment.

For some of you, this will be an easy month of challenges. For others, not so much. So let's offer lots of support to our fellow APLS to encourage them to make these changes. Because for some, exterior beauty has nothing to do with vanity but is more a measure of personal pride. And changing a lifetime's worth of ideals is hard to do. So remember Burbanmom's cardinal rule - no judging others.

And before you say "I can't do that", just try it. See what happens. Take for instance, toothpaste. A couple of months ago I switched to baking soda. It was ok. Great? No. It was ok for an average day brush, but didn't work so well on a garlic mashed potato day, if you know what I mean. So I compromise. On regular days, I use my baking soda. On stinky days, I grab the Crest. Guilt-Free. I have found my personal tolerance level and am ok with it. I would rather hear someone say "well, I'll do this 25% of the time, but not all the time" than to just say "it didn't work today so I'm not going to use it ever again".

Life is not an all or nothing proposition. Something is better than nothing. And you should try everything once (twice, if you like it ;-).

Today's challenge is super easy. Give up the disposable cotton balls and the Q-Tips. There are a number of reusable options available. Ones that don't require so much water and pesticides to grow. Ones that don't fill up our landfills so quickly.

Personally, I use washable, cut up cloth baby diapers for cotton balls. If you're not handy and need to get your hands on a set of these miracle cotton squares, simply drop me a line at emcoe AT verizon DOT net and let me know. Be sure to include your mailing address and I'll be happy to serge you up a week's worth of squares and get them out to you. So you just ran out of excuses.

And as for the Q-tips? Well you've got car keys, don't you?

Running Behind

That would be a good title for a post about squidders. And yeah, Heather, that's how I choose to spell it!

Running behind on my post because my 17 year old step-daughter and her boyfriend are in town and we had to pretend we can keep up with teenagers all weekend.

We are not only old, but we're silly too.

More from your ancient leader after naptime....

Friday, August 1, 2008

Welcome to My World

So I had a really craptastic day this week. I took the kiddos and we went to a ribbon-cutting ceremony for one of hubby's buildings. It must have been about 100 degrees with 80% humidity and we were melting in the sun as speaker after speaker droned on and on about how wonderful the new facilities were and how they signal great things for the economy and the state and blah, blah, blah, blah.

We're hot. Cut the tape and get on with it. Daphne, all 35 sweaty pounds of her, is climbing up me like a spider monkey and Ethan keeps telling me it's too hot and he wants to go swimming.

No shit, kid. Me too.

But this wasn't actually the bad part. This was tolerable. It was nice to get to see hubby up on the speaker's platform receiving kudos for a job very well done. He even had the honor of being one of the people to cut the ceremonial ribbon. I'm very proud of all the hard work he put in on that project.

But here's why the ceremony sucked:

The whole time the speakers were talking (half an hour), they had the front doors of the building propped wide open, letting all the air conditioning out. Perhaps it was to keep the speakers, who were parked directly in front of the doors, from getting too hot. Bad idea. Maybe if they'd been as uncomfortable as the rest of us, they'd have sped things up a bit.

Once the ribbon was cut, everyone went inside for a peek at the new digs. They were gorgeous, of course, but I cringed every time someone would turn on a faucet just to see if it worked, or open a fridge door to see what the inside looked like. Um, yeah. Don't you have faucets and fridges at home, people? They're pretty much all the same. It's not like red wine's gonna flow out the tap and an elephant's hiding in the fridge.

But it gets worse.

After the tour was over we all headed over to the gymnasium for refreshments. As ribbon cuttings go, it was a pretty decent set up. White linens draped over tall tables that were adorned with fresh cut flowers. A bounty was laid out that included fresh fruits, mini-sandwiches, roast beef, pasta salads, cheese platters and the obligatory tower of Pepperidge Farms cookies.

I could handle all of this. Sure, there were some fruits that weren't in season. And the beef was most likely factory farmed. The cheese was not local and the PF cookies are chock full of corn syrup. I know these things exist. I see them every week in the grocery store, sometimes some of them even hitches a ride home in my cart.

But what made my day suck? What made my heart fall? The plastic. The crazy, insane amount of plastic. Plastic plates, plastic forks, plastic cups, plastic water bottles. Just so much f'ing plastic it made me sick. And not a recycling bin in sight.

I don't understand why someone would go to so much trouble to coordinate such beautiful table settings and then serve the food with plastic? They have a cafeteria on site, so I know they have real plates and silverware. Would it have been so hard to use them and have the tables bussed?

And those mini-water bottles? Really? Wouldn't carafes of nice cold ice water on each table have lent a classier look than disposable Aquafina bottles? And why do we need the plastic cups to pour our plastic water in? So much crazy waste.

So I'm sitting there, looking around at everyone else. And no one seemed bothered. No one even seemed to bat an eye. Everyone was having a great time and I was the only one who looked like she was trapped in a room with Freddy Kruger.

I felt very, very small and insignificant. And even a little silly.

Silly for doing so much at home. For recycling, composting, buying local and organic, for flushing less and line drying more. For worrying about every drop of water I use. For planting tomatoes on my patio. For carpooling. For choosing pencils over pens. For using a coffee carafe and shampoo bars. Silly for all of it. It all seemed futile in the face of all this waste. I am working my ass off to be a better steward and in one afternoon, this small gathering created more waste than I could avoid in a year.

Why bother? There's too many of them and too few of us. Fuck it.

And then I get home and hop online. And I have an email from Green Bean, asking me if she can send her Kill-A-Watt out to the people on the Yahoo! Group waiting list. And Beth is pestering me to log on to Twitter so I can chat with all the other eco-chicks. And Arduous is making feel better about being a dweeby Tweeter. And the green guide book Rob sent me is in my mailbox. And Organic Needle's tea bag has brewed me a perfect quart of iced tea. And IBMommy got the Kill-A-Watt I sent her. And Leslie is writing puns for me. And Just Ducky is finally back online. And Crunchy has just crushed my dream of a new food processor by once again reminding us all that buying new carries a high environmental cost.

And I realize I am not alone. Not by a long shot.

There's a FANTASTIC eco-minded community here in the blogosphere and there are so many ways to feel part of it. Join the APLS Carnival. Sign the Take Back the Filter Petition. Donate to Goods 4 Girls. Sign up for a Challenge. Read some different blogs. Leave comments. Join a Group.

Get. In. Volved.

Because sitting in our small towns or even big cities, our voices seem small - even to ourselves. But together, we have amazing power. The power to build, to change, to help. And most of all, the power to keep each other buoyed when the waters are rough.

Thanks to everyone who makes this community a great place to be.

Oh yeah. The daily change? Help build this community.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


What the Hell's In My Tub?

Research time again! Go to your bathroom and grab all the hygiene products you use on a daily basis: shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, soaps, lotions, antiperspirants, toothpastes, makeup, shaving cream, you name it. Drag all that crap down to your computer (or, if you use a lot of product, take your computer to your bathroom) and log on to the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database.

Now start looking up the toxicity level of all those products you slather on your skin every day.

And then think about how porous your skin is.

And then think about whether or not the word "is" is a preposition.

And then think about why your flamboyant 10th grade English Teacher told you to never end a sentence with a preposition.

And then start to wonder if his "roommate" was actually....


It's all starting to make sense now, isn't it?

Anyhow, once you go through and determine the toxicity level of your beauty regimen, start to think of which items you can maybe live without. Or at least find out what alternatives might exist. And where you might buy them at.*

I'll be tossing out some helpful tips over the next few weeks. You know, fun stuff I learned the hard way. But in the meantime, feel free to start swapping toothpaste recipes and paraben-free shampoo products Yahoo! Group.

*Now there's a preposition! And yeah, I spent 50 minutes of the past hour Googling "prepositions" and "dangling participles" and all of 10 minutes writing the actual post. Because I'm thorough like that. ;-)