Sunday, August 31, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 08.30.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

You might have noticed that there was no update for the Need-a-Bag? Project on 08.23.08, last Saturday. You might think I'm being a lazy blogger, and you would be right any other weekend. This particular weekend, however, the farmer's market was closed because of Tropical Storm Fay. Fay rolled through our part of the state and sent many scurrying for cover, including farmer's market sellers and buyers. They closed the market as a last-minute decision and it was a good one; unfortunately no one got any love from us, as a result. Need-a-Bag? Project Associate Stace also didn't get to do her first weekend of putting-away-ing, but I'm sure she was busy making sure her husband and cats were on higher ground.

So this weekend we were back, but I'm here to ask the musical question, What's the Point? There was almost no one selling, and what they were selling was stuff like okra, which I know with a 99.999% certainty that any okra would rot in my crisper. DG is about living on ditch weeds and eggs at this point, but she was there.

And, I forgot to mention how many totes we put out today, because I cannot remember. Dang, I hate when I forget to count them. Some of them were in DG's car and then I had my two, stupid Publix totes to sling on the fence. I think it was something like six, not counting mine. We also kept back the Eng by Nik designer totes because I could not properly photograph them as I did not have my camera.

We got a lovely surprise, though, from our Need-a-Bag Guardian Angel Jean, who brought us a fabulous tote with the Tower of London on it, it was so awesome. And she told us that a friend of hers who runs estate sales is going to give us all the tote bags she comes across! What a great thing!

And Jean, without the fabulous friends and sunny disposition, is also just light-years ahead of us in getting the totes for cheap. When DG and I started hunting thrift stores and garage sales for tote bags, we agreed we wouldn't spend more than one dollar on any single tote bag, and we have largely stuck to our guns on that point. Jean, however, gets them, like, five for a dollar, and whoever she buys them from probably throws in a Tiffany lamp or something. That's how saavy she is.

So, a big Need-a-Bag? Project THANK YOU to Jean for helping us. Looking forward to honoring you properly at the First Annual Need-a-Bag? Project Banquet, coming to a pizza shed near you in October.

I, on the other hand, have begun what I consider an unsavory practice and I wish I could stop but right now it's the only way I'm contributing any tote bags to the project. I've been buying the tote bags many grocery and chain stores are selling for 1 dollar instead of using plastic, bringing my own bags, or just putting them in the car from the cart. Target, for instance, has these kind of cute wallet-sized totes that unfold into a good-sized tote bag. I bought two of those today and then got two more bags at Publix during our midday shopping trip. The ones at Publix are these huge totes that have flat bottoms and they are a lot easier to pack than the old canvas ones they used to sell. The one pictured to the left is what they look like.

Anyway, I've been buying these and giving them to the project immediately afterwards. So, while technically they are only 1-dollar they are not used, except if you count them being used once by me to tote bananas and white bread to home. DG doesn't seem bothered by it but I'm feeling a little uneasy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Update on Weaning from Deodorants

I realized I was being very quiet on this subject and so decided to give an update. My efforts to fully wean from using commercial deodorants have been spotty, and at one point during this muggy summer I pretty much fell off the wagon and started using my favorite, Old Spice. I smelled so good. I had to stop, though, because it's a slippery slope. My body is finally acclimated to not relying on deodorants and I'm not that stinky. At least, that is what I've been told. I'm still very neurotic about my B.O., which brings me to the conclusion that people who are not that secure about themselves should not be trying to wean themselves from deodorants.

Anyway, before I fell back off the wagon into Old Spice usage once again, I decided to try the baking soda/corn starch mixture Tracy of the (sadly) now defunct blog, The Glom Shelter, suggested when I started on this journey. She also adds essential oils to hers, so I added a few drops of my favorite Paloma Picasso dupe from SaveonScents and mixed it around. I think I've come up with something I can live with, actually, because I smell really good even if I'm sweating like a donkey.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Charlie's Soap

I've been blogging recently about laundry detergent, and how I've come to the conclusion that I am not going to find one that is environmentally-friendly and as cheap as the store-bought cheap brands. And, I'm pretty much right.

Recently, I got a comment on a post I did about a year ago about Arm & Hammer Essentials, and I used the comment in a post that talked about optical brighteners. Apparently, even something that, on first blush, looked ec0-friendly and cheap, contains petroleum products in the form of optical brighteners which are derived from benzene. Benzene is bad for people and bad for our water ecosystems.

Anyway, contained in the comments for that post, my friend Brenda gives the link to Charlie's Soap. Bren used to own her own cloth diaper business, and was (and still is) slavishly dedicated to providing information that matters to people, whether it be about the best way to cloth diaper your child, or the cheapest way to feed your family. By the way, be sure to catch her blog, Gainesville Deals -- it is chock-full o'ways to feed your family for less and is probably applicable even to people outside of our food-feeding range.

So, again, anyway, Charlie's Soap was one of those little-known products that Brenda happened upon in her searches for the best soap to use to wash cloth diapers. It is biodegradable -- here is a pullout from their research page, under the "Biodegradable" heading:
To qualify as biodegradable, a substance must be 80% degraded in 28 days. Charlie's Soap degraded over 97% in soil in 28 days and is certified safe for use in small lakes and streams.

Here's another factoid from their Products page:
Our Laundry Powder is a revolutionary approach to laundry care. It does not cover up stains and odors with scents and brighteners - it really cleans. It is made with a unique blend of biodegradable coconut-based detergents and high-grade, completely soluble, Green River washing soda.

The fact that it is certified for use in small lakes and streams makes me think that this is okay stuff. I trust Brenda's judgement because she used this stuff with her kids' diapers. I'm going order the big, 5-gallon bucket of the dry powder, because it comes out to about 11-cents per load. A 2.5 quart bottle of Arm&Hammer Essentials with 41 loads for about $5.50 is 13-cents per load, so it's a little cheaper and the shipping is free for orders over $20 through the Charlie's Soap website.

If anyone in my area is interested in co-op'ing this with me, you can dig into my 5-gallon bucket for 11-cents per load and I'll throw in an old Oxy-clean bucket! Email me at and let me know -- I'll email you when it comes in!

Monday, August 18, 2008

All Aboard for Plastic Island

Aboard the luxurious Kon Tiki II Electric Boogaloo.

Thanks to Stace for providing this lovely brochure photo

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 08.16.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

There were two reasons we restrained ourselves from putting out all of the bags yesterday; one, it was starting to rain, and the other reason is that we are in between bag put-er awayers. More to the point, our friend and Need-a-Bag? project associate, Erika-of-the-pretty-caladiums, is now Erika-I'm-Getting-Out-Of-Dodge-Until-December. She and her dad decided a couple of weeks ago that because things are getting soooo slow at the farmer's market (to paraphrase Erika, "we saw the tumbleweeds rolling through and decided it was time") to close up shop until their crops start coming in for December.

All that said, we couldn't let the market manager shoulder the responsibility of putting away the bags, so we asked Need-a-Bag? project associate-and-pinch-hitter, Stace, to take over until December and she graciously accepted the challenge! Thank you, Stace, for supporting the team! Rah! Rah!

There was also another reason for not putting out all the bags, besides inclement weather and lack of put-er awayer, one that is very exciting to report. Nik of Eng by Nik has become a Guardian Angel Need-a-Bag? project supporter, and is now sending us her tote bag seconds to put out at the farmer's market -- for free!!! Thank you so much Nik, this has been a real boon for the Need-a-Bag? project!

Next week, farmer's market customers, the real hard core customers like DG who come even if the only thing available to buy are ditch weeds, will have the pleasure of choosing from two Eng by Nik designer tote bags. Each tote has a postcard with a personal note from the designer describing the imperfection and includes care instructions and a complimentary Eng by Nik fine arts pen!

Check out Nik's Etsy shop here!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 08.09.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

Oh, so anyway, I completely forgot to post about our N-A-B movements last weekend. The end. No, wait, I've got more. We put out 19 bags and, while we made a quick garage sale venture before going to the gym, we discovered who our secret benefactor was these past few weeks. It was none other than the farmer's market own Jeanne, and she has been getting them way cheaper than us, because she is way smarter. Thank you, Jeanne, for supporting this project! I've got more news about another important benefactor, but I will leave that until the next update, which will be about today's visit to the farmer's market.

It is getting to be a bit of a ghost town at the farmer's market, after almost 2 months of it being crazy busy. The third row of tables has pretty much disappeared. I think this will be a good time to start stockpiling bags for the autumn.

One last thing -- DG and I got together the week before last to make a whole stack of t-totes to hang on the fence (hence the large number of bags for this week's total). There was one strange, dress-like thing that was too long to be made into a t-tote, so we cut off the bottom, and from that I totally free-styled a tote bag. It's pretty cruddy, but I did it in about 5 minutes and with reinforced handle stitches it will carry a few sweet potatoes, believe me!

The photos from top to bottom: A typical bagline at the farmer's market each Saturday morning; close up of t-totes (from left to right); strange dress-like shift/t-tote, free style tote done by yours truly, spaghetti strap t-tote.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Edible Plant Project

The Edible Plant Project is a new organization in Gainesville to help promote "edible landscaping and local food abundance in North Central Florida."

I'm ready to raze my camellias for some fig trees, now.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Hankie-Pankie -- Not Just for Presidential Candidates Anymore!

Just a quick post about this hankie holder I made awhile back. My original intention was to use it with cloth handkerchiefs. It's cloth on the outside with a plastic liner. I made the holder and then used it with paper tissues instead! I'd take tissues from the box and fold them up. I didn't have the wherewithal to make any hankies for it.

Then, the other day I had an epiphany. I already had the hankies, they were DJ's old diaper wipes when I did cloth diapers for about 5 minutes when he was a baby. These are really nice, organic flannel squares, serged all around. They're really sturdy, and are the perfect size. As you can see in the photo, I have them rolled up on one side and as I use them, I place them in the other compartment, and then from there I just dump the whole thing into the wash.

How am I doing with them? The results are mixed right now. Not being the season where I'm sniffling constantly, and I'm still reaching for toilet paper or napkins when I need to use a hankie. It's a habit I have to break, and I think as the winter comes and I start needing to use handkerchiefs, the true test of whether I can successfully switch from paper hankies to cloth will occur.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

More on Trash Vortex/Garbage Gyre/Great Pacific Garbage Patch

During a recent trip to the gym, DG and I discussed my recent post about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP, but known affectionately by readers of the AE as the Garbage Gyre), and we decided that what was needed was to band together a couple of thousand volunteers, a couple of thousand kayaks made from recycled plastic, and some big 0l' sugar mommy/daddy with the capital to ship us all over to the drop spot with 10 or so garbage barges that we can use to clean up the dang thing. I really think that's the only way this is going to happen, since no country wants to claim ownership of this monstrosity, yet every nation has probably contributed to it.

I'm not a big fan of, because they contribute to the whole notion of saving the environment through buying more junk you don't really need, because it's "green" junk. But, having said that, they have a couple of really great pieces about the GPX2. The first is something they did in February titled "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: Out of Sight, Out of Mind," that describes what it is very succinctly. One commenter even links to a Flickr photo of the GPX2 which is mind-blowing in size. Then, in April of this year, they did another article about the gyre, " Sails Out to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch," and had links to the videos. There are 12 episodes in all, and I encourage everyone to watch at least the first episode of "Garbage Island."

Photo is of correspondent Thomas Morton with the catch of the day -- plastic garbage-- via

Trash vortex

I finally connected with Jane Genovese of Live the and she stated that the photograph of the poster from Fremantle was not hers, either. Too bad! I thought I'd solved the riddle.

Anyway, so I was hunting around on the internets for another clue to solve this Scooby-Doo mystery of the Fremantle poster photograph and stumbled on This Way Up e-zine, a site that "prompts the positive, kindles the constructive, highlights the hopeful and leaves you feeling - well, up!" Besides the fact that that in itself makes the site kind of annoying, they did have a good article on the Trash Vortex, something DG and I have been trying to get information on. Two years back, DG posted on what she called "garbage gyres," a supposedly enormous island of plastic garbage floating out in the Pacific. When we started the Need-a-Bag? Project we looked for information for our educational literature on the garbage gyre, but found nothing. So, imagine my happy surprise when I discovered an article on This Way Up about it, entitled "Do Something Drastic, Cut the Plastic." I'm really falling in love with that phrase, by the way.

Here's a pullout from that article:
The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world's largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting 'soup' stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan. Charles Moore, an American oceanographer who discovered the 'Great Pacific Garbage Patch' or 'trash vortex', believes that about 100 million tons of flotsam are circulating in the region. Marcus Eriksen, a research director of the US-based Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which Mr Moore founded, said yesterday: 'The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size of the continental United States.'

So, doesn't that make you want to take up the oar of a kayak and go out and start cleaning up? It does to me. Why aren't we doing anything about this???

I looked around some more and found this interview from The International Plastics Task Force with the oceanographer who discovered the trash vortex, Charles Moore. He has a very good explanation for this:
We can't regulate it any of us on our own. The center of the
oceans, no one owns it and it's very difficult to get the nations of the
world to agree on a protocol for rehabilitating a place where theirs no

Well how about this for a reason to agree on a protocol: IT'S KILLING THE OCEANS!!!

The search for the source of the Fremantle poster continues...

Got the picture from This Way Up e-zine

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Need-a-Bag? Project Update 08.02.08

Note: The Need-a-Bag? project was created to promote sustainable bagging at the Hwy 441 Alachua County Farmer's Market each Saturday morning. We supply reusable tote bags reclaimed from thrift stores and garage sales. The Need-a-Bag? project also utilizes old tank tops as tote bags by sewing up the bottoms (these are called t-totes). We invite you to read the other posts on the project by clicking the "Need-a-Bag? Project" label at the bottom of this post.

The summer has been really rough on the project; between our family taking trips and my having to work some weekends and DG visiting with various peeps, it feels like we haven't been at the farmer's market at all. Last week was probably the worst it was going to get; I went to Seaworld with the fam, and DG was in Tampa. Neither of us showed up at the farmer's market, something that has never happened in the almost-year we've been doing this project. DG felt that we had betrayed the Need-a-Bag? Project promise, but I chalk it up to summertime, especially in Gainesville, where people operate in a different time zone, anyway (and, no, that wouldn't be the 4:20 time zone).

We put out 12 bags, most of which DG procured while in Tampa, and some kind soul left us 3 bags from last week. Or maybe it was the week before, because we didn't come last week...

Got the photo of the Believe Shamu show at Seaworld from
and yes, I really do believe a person can get tossed 20 feet in the air by a killer whale