Monday, December 31, 2012

Next Christmas

Wow, what a whirlwind the Christmas season this past year has been. Forgot to mention one of my new year's resolutions which has to do with both my non-environmental and environmental goals: 2013 will be the No Gift Christmas. Not quite sure how I'm going handle this with the family - DH is already grumbling that I won't be able to get away without any presents for the family. I'm going to do it - I'm going to ask for nothing and tell folks what I'm up to. It will be an interesting experiment and a practical one, as well.

I'm already feeling conflicted about it, and I haven't even started blathering to everyone I know about this idea. Part of me says, "well, you could buy second-hand or make things for people." I do this every year, to some extent. This year I started a batch of Kahlua that I have yet to finish and the holidays are already over! My point is to see how far I can go without buying gifts. I've ALWAYS been a gift-giver over the holidays, no matter how poor I've been. This next year I expect to be in better financial shape than ever, so why not splurge? I certainly splurged this past Christmas.

My intention is to point out that Christmas is not about giving or receiving, but enjoying the precious moments with your family and friends. You have a harder time enjoying that time when you are scrabbling for gifts or worrying about how much money you're spending doing it. On the other hand, I might find myself being more uncomfortable if I don't participate in the yearly money-toss at businesses, local or otherwise. I'm not sure what's going to happen.

So, my first accidentally environmental project of the New Year will actually take place a little less than a year from now.

And I have to set guidelines for myself, or I'll be slipping and sliding all over the place.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I go through this every year - I make resolutions to do better, be better, and mostly for the environment. This year, however, I'm making more resolutions to get our home and finances in order. This year I resolve to:

Get our house cleaned out of junk, especially in the workshop so we can turn it into a game room for DJ. Haven't decided whether to have an actual garage sale or lawn happening (where we give everything away).

Get our finances in order - now that we are a two income household again, I want to start saving up for a second house and/or a second car (yes, a second car!). The second house will eventually be for DJ and his eventual family.

Lose weight and start running again. I've already lost a bunch of weight, now I need to lose more and get into a running shape so I can join in the Princess Half-Marathon in 2014.

Okay, those are my non-environmental resolutions. For the environment:

I resolve to ride my bike more.

I resolve to participate in at least one, week-long accidentally environmental project (I think it will have something to do with beer).

And that's pretty much it. Eminently achievable, just have to plan and get serious.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The AE approves

Eating breakfast at DJ's Bagel Cafe and realized that they follow the middle ground I try to walk i.e. they use ceramic plates and foam cups - I also noticed that the cup says it's recyclable in Los Angeles. Hmm, that doesn't help cause we're in Arizona!

Oh yeah, the food is awesome here, too!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Water Conservation, Arizona style

So far, this is the only attempt I've seen at water conservation at our hotel. The place is like Disneyworld in the southwest - a Disney-twist to a desert habitat. Will post more as I see more of it :)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

How to Take a Shower

Now, I'm the last person to tell ANYBODY how to take a shower. I bathe maybe twice a week, following the gauge, "do I work in a coal mine? No." Or, "do I work on a farm? No." And that helps me determine whether or not I need to bathe daily. See, these are very taxing, sweaty, jobs to have, and unless I come home every day caked in coal dust or earth I don't think I need to take a bath.

But I think we need to start thinking about how we shower in this country, especially in thirsty parts of the country like Florida. That's why I'm advocating not only less frequent showers, but showers in which you leave the water on to get wet, turn off the water, soap up the parts that need to be washed, and then turn on the water again to get rinsed off.

Now I know that less frequent showers evokes an "eww" response in many people (the more people I talk to the more I realize how outlier my bathing habits are) so I'm not saying you HAVE to reduce your showers per week. A blogger I used to follow was part of the 90% Solution movement and only spent 3 minutes a day using water for her daily ablutions. That equates to about 3 gallons of water, depending on your water pressure. You have to go with what you're comfortable with - if you don't like the thought of going without a shower each day, at least consider shortening your showers. I've read in places that you can use a timer, although that seems kind of lame, because what happens if you are in the middle of the most intense part of your shower (hair) and the timer goes off?

Set a limit and stick to it. Whether it's taking a long, hot shower twice a week (which is my current desire) or taking shorter daily showers, find what's comfortable for you and start conserving water. There. I said it. CONSERVE!!!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Monday, December 17, 2012

Roast beef in a box

I've been asking to have cold cuts put in an old Chinese food container. So far, no one at the deli counter has complained.

Friday, December 14, 2012 Petition

I know, I should be working, but obsessing about Maidenform making their products in the USA again has got me all het-up.  I just filled out a petition about Maidenform on Moveon's sister site,

Make Maidenform an American-made product again

Who doesn't want to buy locally?  Well, what about American, Union-made undergarments?  It is becoming a rarity to see the ILGWU label on any clothing you buy in the store, and that has to change.  Support the Made-in-America movement by pushing for Maidenform to produce their goods back state-side, in union-run factories.  Maidenform is one of the oldest undergarment makers still based in the US, but their products are produced overseas.  This has to change!

Question 2 asked who I direct this to, but I didn't know; the CEO of Maidenform, I guess.

Here's what I wrote for the petition text:

The citizens listed below no longer want to buy garments not produced by union labor in the United States of America.  We are willing to pay for good quality products that help support America's families and communities.  Maidenform, a 90-year old American company, should be producing their undergarments in union-run factories, and not overseas.

Oh, wait.  You can read it yourself by going to the link for the petition.  Thanks in advance for signing it!

Reply from Maidenform

Dear Michele,

Thank you for choosing Maidenform.  The physical address you can mail your letter to is below:

General Inquiries
485 Route 1 South Building F
Iselin, NJ 08830
United States

Please feel free to contact us if you have any other questions or concerns.

First email to Maidenform

Maidenform doesn't have a physical mailing address on their website, so I sent the following email:

Dear Customer Service,

I would like to write a snail-mail letter to Maidenform and wondered what the physical address is where I can mail this?  Thank you and have a happy holiday season.


Too much? 

Swiped the photo from OHEMV

Thursday, December 13, 2012


I love comments, especially when they're from real people and not people trying to sell something.  Unfortunately, I have been letting my comment moderation go south and I apologize to anyone reading who has posted a nice comment and then waited interminably for it to be published.

Another Impotent Survey Rant to Maidenform

I like that Maidenform has been a long-time US company, but they need to start producing their undergarments back in the states.  I buy American-Made whenever possible (union-made definitely) but there are few options with decent undergarments.  I would even pay more for these same undergarments if they were produced state-side.  Please consider it.

I need to write them a really real letter and stop dickering around with these stupid surveys - I don't, as a principled rule, fill out surveys unless there is a free t-shirt or other perk for giving them all kinds of analytics on my purchasing sensibilities. The only reason I filled out this survey for Maidenform was to have the opportunity to tell them, once again, to start making their dainties back in the US of A.

And, just so this morning/afternoon is not a complete loss, here is one of my favorite songs in the whole world - favorite because it is one of the few songs I know all the words to.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving and, no, I have not abandoned the blog

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  This blog has suffered because of my new (now old) job - I've been in it for 6 months and I love what I'm doing (for those who wonder, I work as a circulation coordinator for nights and weekends at an academic library), so the suffers.  You can subscribe to the AE's news feed on Facebook (see the linky thing on the right side), but that doesn't make up for not posting on a blog, I know.  It's not like I don't think of posts anymore - I'm always ready to snap a picture of the kind hippies at Citizen's Co-op, or write about my eternal composting problems, it's just going to take a while until I find the time to do it more consistently.

Anyway, I'm going to try to do a Black Friday post as is my per usual, and hope you will stop by :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Cup still leakproof!

I posted awhile ago about my Starbucks cup that is a bicyclist's dream, as in you can throw it in your pannier upside-down and it will not leak! Well, in the last couple of months the stopper in the lid was hanging by a scrap and, finally, ripped off (thought I was about to eat a bug in my last gulp of coffee), and I was afraid I would have to search on eBay for another cup - I don't think they still make this model. I hate the idea of getting rid of this cup, mostly because I haven't figured out if I can recycle it - could probably scrap it, I guess. Anyway, wanted to report that, thanks to Starbucks' designers' brilliance, the cup continues to be leakproof! Feeling very lucky and hoping that this thing lasts a few more years while I figure out what to do with it post-intended use.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Entertainment Weekly subscription on its way, thanks to Recyclebank

Damn you, stupid coupon
Thank you, Recyclebank, for not jerking me around too much with your watch a video-take a quiz-get points scheme to get people to live more environmentally (although how buying anything helps you become more environmental is kind of beyond me).  There was the time, though, when I accidentally spent 25 precious, precious points on a 2-dollar coupon for eco razors that I didn't want and, as it turns out, didn't get because a.) Stores in my area don't sell them, and b.) the coupon never printed out because I didn't download the stupid coupon software properly and the dang thing got lost in the ether.  Did I complain to you?  Almost!  But then I found a couple of fabulous videos for products I never intend to buy because one especially is from GE and the other is, well, mayonnaise.  Anyway, that put me at exactly 250 points and then I immediately ordered my 1 yr subscription to Entertainment Weekly.  Yay!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Shop Co-op (Dammit!)

I've been a member of Citizen's Co-op since they first started taking members, about 4 years ago.  It was still a twinkle in Gretchen's eye, but almost exactly one year ago it finally opened up and...I haven't been shopping there very much.  Sometime earlier in the year an email went out to exhort folks to shop at the co-op more and over what they had been doing already - I think I remember they wanted something like 100-dollars worth of shopping from each member per month.  Not from me, however; I do maybe 1/4 of that in a month, if that.  This is where environmentalism becomes not so accidental, and I think where a lot of people begin to balk.  We're Americans, after all, rugged individualists - we can't be told where to shop or how much to buy.  Oh, wait.  Can we?  No!  We can be subtly lured into purchasing crap we don't need but God help the soul who tries to make us buy something because it will help the community.  At least that's how I feel.

Frankly, getting to the co-op is kind of a pain and Ward's is so much closer.  But I feel like a guilty heel of a co-op member slinking away from an illicit tryst everytime I shop at Ward's though.  Even today DJ and I went to
Fresh Market, which is in a completely different universe from our own Publix/Ward's solar system, and I couldn't help but feel like I was going behind the co-op's back, like a traitorous thug.  Thug?  Yeah, I think so.  And here is a picture of some "Eco-zip" bags that I saw while at Fresh Market.

So, I have to shop more at the co-op "to help the community" even though it's kind of a drag to get to and they don't sell donuts and Bleinheim Ginger Ale, the latter of which I got at Fresh Market and is so tasty (I don't know if Fresh Market sells donuts. Probably not).

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Ziploc, Recyclebank, and using glassware for storage

So I've been obsessed with getting points on Recyclebank - you take a quiz or watch a video and then take a quiz, or make a pledge to be more green, or buy something from one of their sponsors and Recyclebank gives you points that you can collect for a reward of some kind.  The thing I am so totally gunning for is a year's subscription to Entertainment Weekly, which is 250 points.  I am almost halfway there!!!!  I don't buy stuff and I won't sign up for accounts, but I will take their quizzes and watch sponsored videos - like, last night I watched a video for some eco recycled motor oil product and then watched one for Kashi and took a simple quiz after each.  So, as long as I can skate by without having to actually buy anything I will soon be sitting pretty with a new Entertainment Weekly subscription, yay!

But, anyway, so one of things on Recyclebank is that you can get points by posting codes from special boxes of Ziploc bags, I think from all the smaller sandwich bags which we hardly ever buy.  But I was thinking, with  the fact that Ziploc, along with Glad and (of course) Pyrex are making glass food containers now, why isn't Ziploc asking people for codes to those things?  I would totally jump all over that because I am starting to make the transition to glass containers.

Going from plastic to glass has been really, really slow - I purchased the above container from Ziploc while on vacation and then got some small Pyrex containers after I got back.  Plus, if you've ever seen the inside of our fridge, we basically pile up everything willy-nilly where ever it will fit, so sometimes we have food-a-lanches where containers launch themselves onto the floor from being stacked precariously on top of some cheese or a bag of carrots.  So, I am going into this whole plastic-to-glass thing with a bit of trepidation because the nice thing about plastic is that it won't shatter or break a toe.  Wait, I take that back - I did have a plastic container shatter when it fell out of the freezer but that was from a height and the plastic was brittle from being frozen.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

More about Rewards with Greenopolis and RecycleBank

So while on vacation I went to the Ripley's Believe it or Not museum in St. Augustine for the sole purpose of recycling a butt-load of cans and bottles at the Promise of Pepsico's Dream Machine. We collected a bunch of recyclables over the course of our vacation and I discovered this machine when we went on the Ripley's Ghost Tour (which is truly creepy and you should go if you get the chance). Anyway, recycling through this method has been like a game – well, actually, it is a game. Every time I recycle a can or bottle in the Dream Machine I get rewarded with 5 points – right now I've got 160 points. That's not all from recycling, mind you – through RecycleBank and Greenopolis, I've also played a recycling game, pledged to take shorter showers (i've gone on rants about this before – see here) and I've used their iphone app, RecyclePix. With Recylepix I take a picture of a can or bottle that I'm considering recycling and then post it on the Greenopolis website, where it gets sucked into a vortex of environmental action, never to be seen again. I guess. I don't know, because I haven't seen any of the pictures I've posted – I get points for posting the pictures and then extra points for putting a caption on the photo, and then extra points if I post it on Facebook or Twitter. I don't do the social networking thing for something like RecyclePix, but you can friend the AE on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, if you are so inclined.

I guess I'm wary about posting to FB and Twitter with this stuff because in a really big way this all seems really vapid, and it's giving greater glory to Pepsico and WM, who sponsor the Dream Machine. On the other hand, the idea of rewarding people for environmental behaviors is appealing to me. The dream Machine is actually a good cause not just because of the environmental aspect but also because it benefits a veterans group. I hate to say it, but this might be the only way to get people to think about responsible environmental behaviors, the carrot and stick strategies of rewards and benefits.

Speaking of benefits, I'm going to check and see what 160 points gets me, rewards-wise!

Back. Well, I don't know what kind of rewards I get because there's no place to check. There is a rewards site, but it just tells you about all the cool things you can get, without actually telling you what they are. WHAT WAS THE POINT?! Also, even though Greenopolis is partnered with RecycleBank, my points on Greenopolis are separate from RecycleBank. I would have probably about 200 or 300 points if the accounts were connected. If I can find my Greenopolis pictures I'll post them.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Recyclebank and the lure of game points

So I signed up
With Recyclebank last night/this morning while trying to figure out how to fix a video on the blog where I demonstrate recycling with PepsiCo's Dream Machine - it was highly successful so now I'm thinking about the idea of getting people to be more environmental by rewarding environmental behavior. Must ponder this more while I contemplate getting out of my chair to recycle this bottle.

Environmental packaging on the beach

The snack bar at Anastasia State Park has clamshells for food made of cardboard - makes me
Feel extra good as I consume a bunch of fries while enjoying my family at the beach

The Promise of Pepsico (video)

Ran into Pepsico's Dream Machine at Ripley's Believe It Or Not Museum while on vacay with the fams - of course I had to sign up for it so I could get yet another key fob that will fall apart but it's all good!  The Dream Machine is part of "The Promise of Pepsico" which sounds like something you would experience at Epcot but here it was, right in the center of St. Augustine, The Oldest City™and also at the very strange but oddly compelling Ripley's Museum.  So of course I enlisted the Old Man to shoot video on the iPhone of me using the machine for the first time to recycle a couple of bottles; in return for this action I got 10 points which I can supposedly use for goods and stuff - hey, I would be happy if it would entitle me to a Pepsi t-shirt, but they've got big plans for my points, oh yes.  I think they've got a relationship with the Entertainment coupon book and Fandango, but in any case I need 100 points to even do anything redeeming-wise.

Anyway, here's the video so crappy audio and all, it's all yours!

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Patagonia's Common Thread Initiative

I've been shopping on ebay lately for good, used, clothes for my job.  I like all the preppie, quasi-athletic brands like Columbia and Patagonia but don't like the buying from sweatshops aspect.  It seems like someone at Patagonia has been thinking along the same lines.  Patagonia, actually, has been one of the more aware clothing makers for social, labor, and environmental issues involved in clothing manufacture, and now they've come out with The Common Threads Initiative in cooperation with ebay. You sign a pledge that asks you to do three seemingly simple things:
"Reduce. Don't buy what we don't need. Repair: Fix stuff that still has life in it. Reuse: Share."
They have about half of the 50,000 pledges they want folks to take for this year.   All three of those things may sound easy to do, but in practice can be very difficult.  Most people can't or don't buy less, and most won't repair clothes if they rip or lose a button.  I'm halfway between fixing and not-fixing so I can definitely sympathize with people who don't want to go to all the trouble to find a needle and thread or drag their sewing machine from the closet, or take their shoes to the cobbler.  Too many things to think about and do! In my perfect world we'd have a trade system for old clothes but the capitalistic functions of our society work in this instance, too, I suppose.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Homemade Shirt

Wore my homemade shirt the other day - this is the one of the articles of clothing that inspired the post I did the other day about how the clothes I make don't have to be couture-quality.  This is definitely not boutique-ready, but I don't feel ashamed to wear it - I feel great, actually, because I'm wearing something I made myself.  The button holes are a little messy and some of the seams might not be the straightest, but people are not going to be inspecting the workmanship - it covers my body and looks relatively nice.

May Day: Buy Union!

If you choose to buy nothing tomorrow on May Day to show solidarity with fellow workers of the world, more power to you!  If, however, you do choose to buy something, try this list of American-made products published on the United Food and Communication Workers International Union's (UFCW's) website.  It was interesting to browse through and see what's available, but it would be even more helpful if they linked to the website of the business so you could go straight there and see where the product was being offered in your area.

Note: While I was doing labels for this post I realized that today is the beginning of National Bike Month, so I'll have to do a post on that, soon!

Got the neat graphic from here.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Food in Jars!!!!

A friend on FB linked to this blog called Food in Jars, and I'm totally going to try making homemade yogurt this summer.  Still a little squeamish about my mixed success with ginger beer and my too successful experiment with kombucha, though.  Anyone remember the horror of Amish Friendship Bread when it was really popular?  Yes, Kombucha was kinda like.

Got the photo from Food in Jars

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Thought about sewing: It doesn't have to be perfect

I miss not being able to sew, even though I have this fabulous job that I just love, love, love!  So, yeah, even though I'm blogging when I should probably be doing something related to my job, as fabulous as it is.

Anyway, the last two pieces of clothing I made was a skirt and shirt, from fabric I had gotten the previous summer.  I was really proud of myself for cranking out the two pieces of clothing in little time, and I realized something significant - it doesn't have to look couture-perfect.  No one is inspecting my shirt to see if the seams are all that.  Was thinking about this in the context of how women had to get by with a needle and thread to make clothes for themselves and their families.  From volunteering at the Morningside Living History Farm I have a teeny-tiny inkling of how freakin' hard pioneer women must have had to work to keep everything going, and thinking about how little time they must have had for things like sewing for pleasure.  So, like me, they probably decided that it didn't have to be perfect, it just had to stay together so it didn't fall apart while plowing a field or chopping wood or whatever.

Need to continue thinking like this about things like sewing clothing - it's so beneficial to make your own clothes because you're not buying from companies that have their clothing made in third world hellholes, and it's just a really cool way to be independent (somewhat) of the grid.  Now, if I can justify getting a treadle sewing machine, as pictured above, I will totes have moved off-grid.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Eco Dry Erase Markers

Stopping my busy life as a library worker to tell you about Office Despot's contribution to greening the office:  Recycled plastic cases for dry erase markers.  

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Year of Living Dangerously Unevironmentally

Well, I've come to an understanding with the Old Man - he has been doing a lot of dishes lately and that, on top of his child care activities while I'm working 3rd shift, have made him an unhappy camper, and has brought me to the conclusion that we are going to have to change what we eat and how we eat. 

So, I'm off to find those little wicker baskets that you use with paper plates to serve food, and also to buy cold cuts and soups for dinners.  I think that's how we're going to solve a lot of problems; this is an easy enough meal that can be heated up in 10 minutes. 

Think I might also get a microwave while I'm shopping for paper plates and wicker baskets. 

This is compromise - this is also about keeping a marriage from potentially falling apart...both good reasons to drop some of my eco-values (as tenuous as they are).  Well, I had already decided to get a new microwave oven, but now it seems more imperative.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Consumer Reports: Buy American

Saw this in the recent issue of Consumer Reports and thought I'd share.  It shows that other folks in the US are thinking the way I am about supporting products made in America.  Yes, in other words, I have the validation, now, that I so desperately crave.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

New Glasses and Blog Update

My frames sans the tinted lenses
Hello blog!  Long time no see!  I've been absent for a few weeks, mainly because I started a new job that takes me on fabulous adventures in librarianship during the graveyard shift at UF's main library.  As you can probably guess, I both love my new job and am always busy so no blogging for me (I still manage to fit in some FB time to record my nightly observations).  So, no, haven't abandoned the blog - just taking a break while I keep my head above water with masters program #2, family, and getting enough sleep.

I need new glasses.  Before I started going to grad school at UF it became painfully apparent that I had gotten to that age where things like eyesight start to fail.  So, I ended up getting a pair of retro frames on Etsy and had Gainesville Opticians fill the prescription.  They did it with the understanding that they weren't responsible if the frames broke because they were dang old frames.  The frames lasted me about three years before they started falling apart - this is the only argument I've found so far for not buying used with everything.  Eyeglass frames are just one of those exceptions, I guess - that and iron lungs, I think!

Anyway, I was having no luck on ebay trying to get a new pair of old frames and had just about given up when I remembered something the eye tech at Gainesville Opticians told me, that the people who manufactured my glasses are still in business.  So I looked them up and lo and behold not only do they still make frames (since 1865) but they make the exact frame that I have! 

The name of the manufacturer is Shuron, and they advertise on their website that you can "see SHURON FRAMES in almost every Major Motion Picture or TV Series where "RETRO" frames are worn."  I emailed briefly with one of the sales associates who emailed me back on a weekend within an hour of my original email.  He was very helpful and finding my exact frames has been a freakin miracle.  Shuron frames are made in South Carolina and, get this, the company also makes steering wheel covers!  Really?  Yes!

I'll be ordering my frames this week and have Gainesville Opticians fill them, even though Shuron also fills prescriptions.  I'm kind of mad at Gainesville Opticians for not special ordering me the frames, but they are just so darn nice in their refusal that I can't help continuing to like them.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year!

Oh God.  Please, no.
Aw crap, I forgot to do my new year's post about resolutions and such!  Okay, here's my short list of eco resolutions for 2012:

  • Not let my compost rot in my kitchen and then in my carport (I was being so good and then got lazy again)
  • Find a composting system that works - like getting something that won't spawn anaerobic gas monsters in my kitchen
  • Lose more stuff so I have less stuff
  • Go to the Co-op and Ward's more and shop at Publix less
...and a bunch of other stuff I haven't come up with but will in the coming months.

Did anyone watch Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's?  I refuse to acknowledge Ryan Seacrest as the Dick Clark of the New Millennium.

Anyway, thanks for continuing to read and friend and comment and follow this blog - I really do enjoy your input and hope we can continue the great conversation for 2012!

Got the photo of Dick Clark and his nemesis from Shopping Blog.