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Happy Earth Day! April 22, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green.
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Today is Earth Day.  There’s no better time to make a pledge to better our environment…one baby step at a time.  Speaking of steps, check out EarthLab to calculate your carbon footprint and learn new ways to lower your impact. Input a few pieces of information to formulate your personal ECP (Earth Conservation Plan) score. My ECP score was 318 which is not a terrible start considering the US average ranges from 325 to 354. It also revealed that my carbon output is 12.2 tons compared to the national average of 15.2 tons. Since ECP scores can reach as high as 900, I feel like my strides toward recycling, using my own bag at the store, and switching to CFLs have made a positive impact. I know that there are still many changes I can incorporate into my daily habits. What’s your score?

The Write Stuff March 31, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green, General.
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ecojotI’ve been on the lookout for a cute journal to jot various things down. While I am a gadget girl and do utilize my memo pad on my blackberry, I do love to physically write things down. I don’t know if it’s related to my mild OCD or my weird obsession with writing utensils. In my search, I came across Ecojot. They have unbelievably cool journals and organizers. What makes them even more unique is that the pages are 100% post consumer content. They also use vegetable-based ink and landfill gas as a power source for their plant in Canada. On top of all that, a portion of their sales goes to an environmental cause. Does this company rock or what?!

You Want Me to Shave My Legs with a Yogurt Cup? March 20, 2008

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Recycline_PreserveNo, I haven’t lost my marbles. You heard me right. A yogurt cup. A Massachusetts-based company called Recycline is making it possible with their line of Preserve™ products. They have partnered with Stonyfield Farm to take yogurt cups (returned to the company by consumers for recycling) and turn them into toothbrushes and razors. Not only do you get a product that utilizes recycled materials, Recycline also provides you with a postage-paid mailer so that you can return your product for recycling if your community doesn’t accept #5 plastics. For those products that are returned to Recycline, they are then recycled for a third time into plastic lumber “which is used to make picnic tables, decks, boardwalks and other durable products.” Pretty cool, huh? I love innovative green ideas!

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint (Literally) March 10, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green, Fashion, Shopping.
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I’m getting excited as spring approaches. Warmer weather means that it’s time to pull out the sandals and shorts. I’m always looking out for cute, yet comfortable, summer shoes that provide the versatility that I’m looking for. I came across a line of footwear called J-41. These shoes are engineered using Jeep (yep, the car manufacturer) technology. They’re designed to be “go anywhere” shoes. Not only that, but they also mesh the world of fashion with sustainability. The packaging is 100% recycled material that is 100% recyclable. The rubber outsoles are also made from partially recycled material. They also carry a vegan line of footwear which contains my personal favorite, the Aquarius Vegan.

Earth Shoes is also doing it’s part to help your body and the environment. Their shoes use Kalsø Negative Heel Technologyto shift “your weight back, helping you burn calories while strengthening and toning your body.” They, too, offer a Vegan collection which does not use “any animal or animal by-products in its design or development.” The packaging used by Earth Shoes is made from either hemp or PLA* which is 100% biodegradable and, in addition, they use soy-based inks and recycled paper.  The Lazer and Cabo San Lucas are two cute picks that would be great to take to the beach!

Keen Footwear continues making great strides at becoming a “green” giant…no pun intended. Their philosophy, called Hybrid.Think, is looking at all the small ways that they can become more sustainable. For example, they have rolled “out new packaging, the 100% Hybrid Box. It uses biodegradable materials, natural water-based latex glue, soy-based inks, and weighs 25% less than the old box, reducing labor, power and fuel in shipping. Best of all, it easily collapses for recycling.” I’ve been a fan of Keens for a long time. I especially love the Newport, Ventura, and Bronx. The Waimea is a cute alternative to the flip flop. In addition, Keen now has a bag line called Hybrid.Transport that uses recycled aluminum and rubber reclaimed directly from the floor of their own shoe factory!

*Polylactic acid (PLA) is a biodegradable, thermoplastic, aliphatic polyester derived from renewable resources, such as corn starch or sugarcane. -Source: Wikipedia

A Coat for Your Coffee February 28, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green.
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I love my Starbucks coffee: grande two pump vanilla cappuccino. While Starbucks certainly takes great strides to do their part to offset any negative environmental impacts that their operations create, I often wonder about the waste created by those little pesky cardboard cup sleeves and the cups themselves.

One way that Starbucks is trying to make a difference is by using paper products that contain a minimum of 30% post-consumer content. However, did you know that if you bring your own mug, they will give you a $0.10 discount. If bringing your own mug seems like a hassle, then at least consider not using the cardboard cup sleeve. I know that without that sleeve your hand is more than likely going to catch fire, so I’m going to provide you with an eco-chic alternative. I was reading about a company called Cup Couture who make CupCoats, “High Fashion Thermal Sleeves for Paper Cups”. I’m a big fan of the Heather and the Angelina. Not only are they reusable and stylish, they also act as an insulator keeping that hot beverage hotter for longer.

For a closer to home perspective, check out a story they ran on the local news last night about the amount of trash that we create as individuals and how it all adds up. Their story puts a new spin on an ever growing problem.  It’s all about the baby steps: doing just one thing, no matter how small, can eventually make a big impact.

Packaging that Gives Back February 27, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Beauty, Eco/Green, Shopping.
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I love shopping. While I may be helping our economy, I certainly don’t think that my habit is helping the environment. Product packaging has reached a tipping point in terms of its effect on the environment. Think about how much is trashed every time you purchase something new. I recently purchased new eye cream over the internet. This little tiny jar which is only about 1.5″ wide came shipped in a box at least 10 times that size. Think about food packaging, especially meat items like burgers, steak, and chicken, packaged on a foam tray and wrapped in plastic wrap. The list goes on and on.

Well, I’m glad that some companies are thinking outside the box and coming up with new solutions to combat our consumer waste. Skincare items made by Pangea Organics are packaged using a “new Zero Waste process with 100% post-consumer paper and organic seeds like sweet basil and amaranth. Simply slip off the label, soak the box in water for a minute and plant it in the earth.”

Cargo Cosmetics is taking it one step further. Not only is their new line of 20 lipsticks, called PlantLove, beautiful; each tube is made of corn, the packaging can be planted and will bloom into wildflowers, and they will donate $2 from the sale of each tube to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Talk about giving back!

The Good, The Bad, and The Disposable February 26, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green, Gadgets, Shopping.
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I was standing in a store at DCA last week and a rack caught my eye. It was a rack of DVDs that had the following statement on the package: No Return DVD Rental. What the heck? Ok, so now my interest is peaked. I picked up the package and began reading. It’s a DVD that, once opened, is only good for 48 hours. It’s actually called an EZ-D and upon opening the package a bonding resin on the DVD reacts to the atmosphere around it making the disc unreadable after 48 hours. It’s the development of a company called Flexplay.

Environmentalists are up in arms about this product. They are complaining that these EZ-Ds are an unnecessary disposable product. Why take a perfectly good reusable product like a DVD and add a time limit which turns it into waste? Art LeBlanc, the president of Flexplay, said that the development of this product “is intended to address people who find renting inconvenient.” I’m not that convinced about the convenience factor that this provides. We subscribe to Netflix and there’s no inconvenience there (is it that hard to walk to your mailbox?) nor is there a time limit for how long I can keep the movie. The one positive aspect that Flexplay provides is that the discs are fully recyclable. You can visit their website and request a prepaid label to send your EZ-Ds back to Flexplay for recycling. However, what is the environmental impact of creating these EZ-Ds? Supposedly it’s no different than a regular DVD. What about price? The price point seems to hit around $4.99 per disc.

I can see some value in offering this type of product in an airport when you might be looking to view a movie on the “fly”, but in regular day-to-day viewing, I’m not really sure that I see the added convenience that it is supposed to provide to the consumer.

Finding a Purpose to Repurpose January 23, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Art, Eco/Green, Fashion, Shopping.
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Mixed Glass EarringsDuring a recent online shopping adventure, I came across an Etsy shop called Bottled Up Designs. Living in Pennsylvania, Laura Bergman has found a new purpose for old glass. Her creations range from earrings and necklaces to candle holders and ornaments. Each of her pieces has a story behind it such as where the glass came from and how it was previously used. Can you think of a more beautiful way to help our environment?! She certainly puts new meaning behind the three R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle).

Make the Change, Flip the Switch January 19, 2008

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“If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.” – www.energystar.gov

Last year, Casey and I changed every bulb in our house to a compact fluorescent bulb (CFL) with the exception of our dining room fixture. It works on a dimmer which has not been compatible with CFLs until now. Over at The Daily Green, they feature a variety of CFLs in every shape and size and those that also work with dimmers. They even have an Anti-Bug CFL which casts a yellow hue that is pleasing to the human eye and, evidently, not so pleasing to the eyes of a bug! I’ll be switching my current CFLs on my patio to these when spring gets near. No more pesky moths and other flying critters fluttering around on my porch!

When Bleach Turns Things Green January 17, 2008

Posted by smooregasbord in Eco/Green, Shopping.
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A few months back there was a real stink made about Clorox purchasing Burt’s Bees. How can a company that produces bleach, plastic bags and plastic wrap, cat litter, and automotive care products now be behind the production of all natural body products? In some’s opinion, this acquisition seems to create a misrepresentation of a product line that consumers supported because of it’s commitment to organic living and the environment.

Well, Clorox has taken it a step further with their new line of home cleaning products called GreenWorks. Clorox claims the products are 99% natural with developments pushing them well on their way to the 100% mark. Each product is biodegradable and comes from renewable resources. Are they just jumping on the eco-wagon or maybe the acquisition of an eco-friendly corporation was a positive influence? Could this possibly prove the old adage that the pasture is always greener on the other side of the fence…at least environmentally speaking!?