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.