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Magic Carpet Ride April 9, 2009

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green.
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aladdin-sustainI’m back in Warner Robins, GA, for my annual work trip. As with all trips, I typically pack my coffee mug when I travel to try to be eco-minded, but I accidentally left it behind this go around. I popped over to Kroger the other night to pick up a few groceries and a row of mugs caught my eye. I ended up purchasing an Aladdin eCycle mug. It’s BPA-free, made from recycled plastics, and is 100% recyclable.  The other cool part is that, unlike my other travel mugs, this one is dishwasher safe and microwavable. Now I can truly feel good while sipping my coffee!

The Perfect Blowdry November 26, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Around Town, Eco/Green, Gadgets.

dyson-airbladeWhen we visited Founding Farmers, one of the more exciting moments for me was going to the restroom. No, not because I’m a big girl who can go by myself. Being an eco-friendly establishment, there are no paper towels to dry your hands. Instead there’s a hand dryer, but not just any old hand dryer. It was a Dyson Airblade. This thing is AWESOME! I know it seems weird to get all excited about a hand dryer, but I hate those old school versions where you stand there rubbing your hands together tirelessly and still walk out with clammy palms. This thing works like the dryer at the end of one of those drive-thru car washes. A couple of swipes of the hands through the Dyson Airblade and your hands are perfectly dry. Gosh, I love technology. Kudos to Andrea for posing as my hand model!!

Finding Good Eats at the Farmer’s Table November 24, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Around Town, Eco/Green, Food.
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ff_the-spreadI apologize for the lack of posts lately. Work has gotten the best of me over the last two weeks, but hopefully the Thanksgiving holiday will give me a little time to play catch up!

My friend, Nicole, told me about Founding Farmers a while back after reading about it in the Daily Candy newsletter. As fellow Southerners, we can appreciate the food that Founding Farmers offers on their extensive menu. During Casey’s mom’s visit, we stopped by for lunch after our tour of the Capitol. Since it was lunch and we didn’t want to roll ourselves home in a wheelbarrow, we opted to try several small plates…except for Casey, who we all know has a tapeworm and eats big-man portions! We tried the roasted tomato soup, devil-ish eggs, ramos house fried green tomatoes, potato chips and dip (only because one of the dips was pimiento cheese), and the expert cheese taster cheese plate. Casey ordered the rustic chicken pot pie and nibbled off of the small plates too (did I mention the tapeworm). The food was fantastic! I love deviled eggs, but I have a serious dark spot in my heart for celery. The fact that celery was in the deviled eggs…well, you know where this is going. The cheese plate was the best ever!! There were even a couple of cheeses from Thomasville, GA. The honeycomb that accompanied the plate complimented all of the cheeses that were included especially the bayley hazen blue cheese (VT).

ff_cheese-plateBesides serving up good eats, they are also serving our environment a healthy dose of green. The physical structure is LEED certified. They use solar power and reclaimed wood among many other things. Their operation is eco-friendly: they recycle, they’re energy efficient, they use recycled paper products, and reusable glass carafes for serving water. True to their name, the food served at this restuarant comes straight from the farmer and the taste and quality proves to be the best part of all.

“Sack” It To Me September 12, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green.

Dilly Market Bag (jekbot.etsy.com)

Casey and I are really good about carrying reusable bags with us to the grocery store, the farmers’ market, and the mall. However, when we buy produce at the grocery store, I always feel bad using those plastic produce bags. It sort of defeats the purpose of what we’re trying to do. If we are just getting one or two lemons or a bundle of asparagus, I just put them loose in our buggy. On the other hand, a dozen apples rolling loose in the buggy gets to be a juggling act…literally. Then I caught a glimpse of these cotton sacks on a website the other day. Once I found them on the EcoBags site, they were popping up everywhere…even on Etsy….just do a search for ‘produce bags’. Check out the cute ones pictured from Jek in the Box.

Bagg-alicious August 20, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green.
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“Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways and entering the food web when animals accidentally ingest. Each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million plastic bags used per minute. Billions end up as litter each year. According to the EPA, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year. (Estimated cost to retailers is $4 billion.) Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales, and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.” 
– Source: Carbon Conscious Consumer

You’ve heard me preach about the BYOB (Bring Your Own Bag) concept many times. My friend, Katie, has given me a reason to bring it up yet again. Several weeks ago, I got to go to Raleigh, NC, and hang out with my girlfriends. Katie, being the lovely hostess that she is, gave us all little parting gifts. Each of us received a Baggu in our favorite color! This thing rocks! It comes in its own little pouch for easy transport when not in use. Made of heavy duty ripstop nylon, it weighs in at only 2 ounces, yet holds a whopping 25 pounds! I keep mine in my purse and whip it out at Trader Joe’s, the drugstore, the mall…the list is endless. Just another way to be eco-chic while helping mother earth!

Check, Please July 24, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green.

Ever wonder the impact you have on the environment when purchasing something like shoes or clothes? There has been a lot of emphasis recently on buying local…more so with food than with anything else. This can be seen with the 100-Mile Diet and the One Local Summer challenge where you only purchase foods that are grown, harvested, and/or manufactured within a 100 mile radius of your home. Way harder than anyone would think, trust me!

So what about other products? I came across a feature on Patagonia’s website called the Footprint Chronicles. Pick a Patagonia product and trace its footprint. Find out everything from the distance traveled to the carbon dioxide emissions produced from one product. It’s actually kind of mind-boggling to think that those Sugar & Spice shoes that I think are so cute actually traveled 18,950 miles from origin to distribution, while generating 51 pounds of CO2 emissions and 6 ounces of waste, and consuming 30 kWh of energy which they say is the equivalent of leaving a lamp with an 18 watt compact fluorescent bulb burning 24 hours a day for approximately 69 days. WOW, all that from a pair of shoes! That’s a lot to think about.

I’m sure these aren’t facts that we are going to take into consideration for every single purchase we make, but this site sure puts it all into perspective…let’s just call it an environmental reality check.

Hey Coral, Cut Me Some Slack June 20, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Beauty, Eco/Green.

I am white. No, I don’t mean I am caucasian. I mean I’m a chalkasian…as in my skin resembles the color of chalk. You know that guy Powder? Well, he and I could totally be BFF with our skin tone! When I am at the beach, Casey’s family ridicules me for wearing SPF 70, and even with that kind of protection I can still get burned. If they made SPF 100 or even SPF 1000, I’d stockpile it! As a kid, I lived at the pool. My hair was practically white, my body was brown, and my nose was crusty red…from how badly it stayed sunburned. Now they do those scans that can show how much sun damage your skin has received. I don’t need to visualize what I already know to be true. This is why I take such care to minimize getting burned. I was a child then. I’d like to think that I’ve gained some wisdom over the years.  In typical fashion, I digress.

As if I needed something else to worry about at the beach, now it appears that my sunblock is causing coral bleaching. WHAT?! I’ve recently read several articles that discuss how certain ingredients in sunblock elevate the virus levels in the water thereby killing the algae that live on coral.

The alternative is to use all natural, chemical free sunscreens.  There are several brands out there that offer these types of sunscreens: Alba, Burt’s Bees, California Baby, Dr. Hauschka, and Nature’s Gate. Most can be found at stores like Whole Foods. If there’s not a store in your area that carries these brands, then check out drugstore.com to find these and other natural sun care options.

As for me, I’m going to finish using my current sunblock. Then, I’ll try to brave the trial and error with some of these natural brands.

Old Shoes Get New Life June 17, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green, Running.

Now’s the time that I try to do my spring cleaning. I go through the house and pile up things to toss…in the trash or to a charitable organization. Closets seem to amass the most junk for us as I’m sure they do for most families. In going through our closet, I noticed how many pairs of old running sneakers we have accumulated over the past few years. I feel guilty about throwing them in the trash which is typically why they are still sitting in our closet. Guilt be gone! Nike has developed the Reuse-A-Shoe Program which takes old running shoes (ANY BRAND) and repurposes them into a material that can be used to form the surface of basketball courts, tennis courts, running tracks, or playgrounds.

How does it work? You drop off your shoes at one of the participating locations or mail them to the Nike Recycling Center. Once the shoes are out of your hands, they are then sent to one of two processing facilities, Oregon or Belgium, where they are then ground up into a material called Nike Grind. The Nike Grind is then sorted and incorporated with other materials to create various sports surfaces. Nike states that is takes about 2,500 pairs of shoes to create a typical playground. You can read some of their other statistics here.

There are a few stipulations.
1. They accept athletic shoes only…NO dress shoes and NO cleats.
2. The shoes cannot contain any metal.
3. The shoes must be dry.

Those are pretty minor things considering that your old sneakers can now be put to good use. For those in the DC area, the closest drop off location is in Rehoboth Beach which is not so convenient or close. However, for less than the cost of a gallon of gas, you can mail them to the Nike Recycling Center in Oregon. That’s a small price to pay to keep those shoes out of your landfill!

CFL vs. LED June 9, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green.
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No one would argue that a CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) is way more energy efficient than the old incandescent bulb.  They typically give the same level of light as the incandescent bulb while using less energy and having a longer life.  However, these CFLs do have minor drawbacks.  It was only last year that manufacturers developed CFLs with the ability to be used on a dimmer switch.  The range of a dimmable CFL is not quite as wide as that of an incandescent bulb.  Of course, it’s hard to beat a 0 – 100% range.  The other drawback is related to the mercury content found in a CFL.  Most people do not realize that CFLs contain mercury.  While the amount is small, if released, it can be dangerous to the environment and to human health.  Since mercury is only released when the bulb is broken, this is certainly something to keep in mind if one is broken in your home.  However, most of the time it is broken while in transport to a landfill or once it arrives at a landfill which is why proper disposal is important.  Light bulbs, including CFLs, should be disposed of at your local recycling center.  You can go to Earth911 to find out more information or locate the recycling center that’s closest to your home.

The mercury content is certainly not a reason to avoid using CFLs. These are still some of the most energy efficient bulbs on the market. However, there is something new on the horizon. An article in Sunday’s Washington Post discussed the developments that are being made with LEDs (light-emitting diodes). The article tauts that not only do LEDs last anywhere up to 10 times longer than CFLs, they are also difficult to break and work well with dimmers. There’s gotta be a catch, right?! Yep, and that catch is cost. One bulb can run anywhere from $20 to $100, yikes! In addition, diodes typically cast light in only one direction like a spotlight. Developments are being made in that arena, too, with LEDs that have diodes casting in multiple directions…these are the bulbs that sit on the pricier end of the spectrum.

CFL or LED. Both have their drawbacks, but in the end they’re both great eco choices!

Save the Bees May 22, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green, Food, General.

Honey bees are disappearing at an alarming rate. Much of this is due to CCD (colony collapse disorder). What is CCD? The simple definition is where a group of seemingly healthy worker bees up-and-leave their hive abruptly and permanently. Beekeepers first noticed this movement in late 2006. Researchers estimate that nearly one-third of all honey bee colonies in the country have vanished. (source: NRDC.org)

“Why are the bees leaving? Scientists studying the disorder believe a combination of factors could be making bees sick, including pesticide exposure, an inadequate food supply, and a new virus that targets bees’ immune systems.” (source: NRDC.org)

Think you won’t miss the bees?  Think again.  One out of every three bites of food we eat depends on bees for pollination. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that about one-third of the human diet is derived from insect-pollinated plants and that the honey bee is responsible for 80 percent of this pollination. As a matter of fact, bee pollination is key in producing many fruit, vegetable, and nut crops (strawberries, cucumbers, almonds, etc).

How can you help?
1. Plant bee-friendly plants in your yard like lavendar, rosemary, or sunflowers.
2. Stop the use of harmful pesticides.
3. Help support beekeepers by purchasing local honey or honey products like beeswax candles.
4. Here’s my favorite: Eat ice cream, but not just any ice cream. Haagen-Dazs is donating funds to Penn State and UC Davis for every container of “vanilla honey bee” ice cream or “vanilla, honey & granola” frozen yogurt sold. The funds will go to support honey bee and sustainable pollination research programs at each of these universities.