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.