Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Honey, I Should Have Bought More Honey



Eco-novice reflects on the cost of buying local.

About a week ago, a friend of mine was driving up to Sonoma County for a camping trip with his kids.  As part of the drive, my friend planned to stop at his favorite honey operation to stock up on honey at wholesale prices.  I had recently tried and enjoyed this local honey through my CSA and asked him to pick some jars of honey up for me too.

Now even though I was getting this raw locally-produced honey at a great price (far below retail value), it was still significantly pricier than the jugs of pasteurized honey I buy at Costco, and I deliberated quite a while about just how much of this premium honey I wanted to buy.  I use honey for my whole wheat bread, whole grain healthy "cookies," whole grain pancakes, granola, and drizzled over yogurt (among other things), so we go through a fair amount of honey at my house.  Although I haven't researched the subject too much, I do believe there are benefits (in addition to flavor -- raw honey is delicious!) to consuming raw honey that are lost during the pasteurization process, so I decided to order enough raw local honey to use for all of our non-baking needs for about a year.  I chatted with an employee at the local honey business for a while, and she agreed that many of the benefits would probably be lost for longer periods of baking in an oven.

I wrote my check and collected my honey.  And I was feeling pretty good about my decision.  I had supported a local business by buying a locally produced food, in glass jars no less.  But I was still planning on using some big brand honey since I just couldn't quite justify the higher sticker price for unpasteurized honey that would be baked for 20-45 minutes anyway.

Then I read this article about "honey laundering" in Food News (brought to my attention by a post on The Green Phone Booth facebook page):
Asian Honey, Banned in Europe, Is Flooding U.S. Grocery Shelves:  FDA has the laws needed to keep adulterated honey off store shelves but does little, honey industry says.
Now I'm not sure what exactly this article suggests about my "Sue Bee 100% U.S.-made honey" purchased at Costco.  Does the Chinese honey contaminated with antibiotics and lead or concocted from artificial sweeteners mostly end up in processed goods (where the ingredient's origin wouldn't need to be disclosed)?  Does the "honey laundering" only apply to honey labeled as coming from Asian countries suspecting of laundering honey for China?  I'm not sure. But when I shared the article with my husband, he said no more Costco honey.  When we run out of our raw local honey, we'll find a way to get some more.

A few takeaways from the "honey laundering" revelation:
  • If you buy processed foods, you don't really know where the ingredients of your food are coming from.
  • There is a lot going on in the food industry that we are not aware of.
  • Because of global food markets, the industrialization of food production, and inadequate food regulation, the relationship between food producer and food consumer is largely a matter of trust.  
  • Therefore, buy local from small businesses whenever possible.

I think this experience will change the way I think about the relative costs of my food choices in the future.  I feel more grateful than ever to have great options for purchasing locally produced foods from small family operations.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cucumber Craziness! (cuke recipes)

a suburban greenmom indulges a plenitude of cukes

(Note: this is a recycled post from my personal blog two years ago...instead of creating a nice new leisurely post, this morning I'm taking my daughter to the doc to see if her achy wrist from a playground fall yesterday afternoon is broken or just sprained...but I hope it will be helpful, since it's that time of year when the cucumbers are coming out of my ears!)

I love cucumbers.
But all of a sudden I have way more than I know what to do with.

I did find one fabulous recipes link, where there are tons of great cucumber recipes. I would be all over these, and I hope the link will be useful to some people, but I am operating with a handicap. No, it’s nothing as dramatic or valid as a food intolerance, it’s a spousal thing. My husband likes cucumbers, but he doesn’t like creamy things (so much for tzatziki), vinegary things (so no pickles), or cold soup (too bad,gazpacho). Sigh. I mean, of course there’s nothing stopping me from making these things for myself, but there’s no way I’d be able to eat enough of any of it to compensate for our cucumber plenitude.

So I’m looking for other things. There are only so many nights when we can have peeled cucumber sticks for dinner, you know?

(By the way…we had a problem early on with this yucky bitter edge to our sliced cucumbers. I looked it up–God bless the internet–and it turns out the bitterness is the result of a compound called cucurbitacin which is located closer to the stems of the plant. It’s suggested that if you cut off an inch or so at the stem end and peel the cuke under running water or even just rinse it after peeling a lot of this bitterness can be alleviated. So far it’s worked for us.)

This cucumber salsa recipe (found here) looks very promising:

Cucumber Tomato Salsa Recipe

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 jalapeno or serrano chili peppers, seeded and chopped roughly
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 4 to 5 fresh roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped into large chunks
  • 1 dash hot sauce or 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt or sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

To seed the cucumber, cut lengthwise. Take a spoon and scrape seeds out over a sink, leaving a boat, almost as if for a filling. Place in the work bowl of a food processor, fitted with a metal blade.

Peel and slice onion in quarters. Add to the food processor. Add the garlic cloves. Pulse four to five times, until the cucumber and onion are diced. Be careful not to over-process, or the salsa will end up mushy. Add the cilantro, jalapeno or serrano chili peppers (without the seeds unless you want this salsa to be spicy), lime juice, tomatoes and hot sauce. Pulse a few times until the salsa comes together. Do not over-process! You don’t want a soup. The chunks let your guests know this salsa is homemade. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

(EDIT: I made this last night, or something fairly close to it, only I didn’t pulse it but left it more relish-like. I don’t measure or anything, I just threw in what I had; I also added about a teaspoon of powdered cumin and a little salt-free chili powder, and I went a little heavier on the jalapeno hot pepper sauce, because I used an anaheim and a poblano pepper, both pretty mild, instead of the serranos the recipe called for. It wasreally good, and even my salsa-picky spouse was happy to eat it. Cucumbers doseem to behave a lot like tomatoes in salsa, which is good news…)

*****

There’s also one recipe on the original site that looks like a really nice salad that might fly at home:

Couscous Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 cups good stock
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 small red onion, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 small cucumber or zucchini, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1 small Granny Smith apple, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/3 cup currants or raisins
  • 1-2 cups canned chick peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a heavy medium saucepan, whisk together the stock, cinnamon, ginger, cumin, and turmeric. Add the couscous in a slow steady stream, stirring constantly, and continue to boil, stirring, for 1 minute. Cover the pot tightly, remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes.

Fluff the couscous grains with a fork, transfer to a large mixing bowl and let cool. Then fluff again, rubbing with your fingers to break up any lumps. Add the carrot, bell pepper, cucumber, onion, apple, currants and chick peas and toss.

In a small jar with a lid, shake the remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil with the lemon juice, salt and pepper until well mixed. Pour over the salad and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or up to 3 days. Season with additional salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste before serving.

******

If anyone has any other thoughts or experiences, I’d love to hear about them!!

--Jenn the Greenmom

p.s. another thing I've learned since then is that a lot of cucumber recipes (once you get away from the really obvious ones like tzatziki and gazpacho) can take zucchini substitution with very little damage or drama--including pickles!--so that's a thought too for those of us sick of squash as well!


p.p.s. it was a buckle fracture. She now sports a very pretty light blue cast, for the next 3-5 weeks. Poor little thing.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Five Minute Snack or Sandwich Bag Tutorial

A suburban greenmom makes lunches...

I love that waste-free lunches are finally beginning to catch on, in more places than our highly crunchy local preschool. (I love that place--waste free lunches, organic hot lunch program, chickens out back which the kids take care of, acres of green lovely property...) And I love that the accoutrements--containers and snack wraps and such--are becoming easier and easier to find.

About a year and a half ago, here at the Booth, I posted a tutorial for making sandwich wraps and snack bags, and I still think it's a pretty good tute that makes some pretty good reusable items. But the fact is, even as easy as those are, one needs to set aside a decent chunk of time. And have actual decent fabric around. Stuff like that. That's a plan ahead project. That's what I make to give as gifts.

The other day I figured out how to make a flip top sandwich/snack bag out of scrappy stuff I have lying around the house, and it literally takes five minutes. And takes very little sewing skill. It's not as pretty as the ones from the other tute, but it absolutely gets the job done.


Materials:

--long plastic rectangle, like from old ziploc bag or recyclable something, a generous 2.5 times the size of what you want to end up with. Any food-grade impermeable thing is fine, just make sure it doesn't have weird chemicals in it that will leach into your food.

--long cloth rectangle, like from old shirt or fabric scrap bag or whatever, same size.

Directions:
  1. Sew short ends together, "right" side of fabric facing in.
  2. Turn inside out so right side is facing out. Reinforce short seams from this side, just to make it nice and flat. (If you care, you could choose to finish the side seams with a zigzag stitch to guarantee that nothing will unravel, but that might add 37 seconds to your project, so it's up to you. :-))
  3. With plastic on the outside, fold top edge down about a third to halfway down, and then fold bottom up to meet the top folded edge.
  4. Sew up the sides, making sure you've got about the same amount of flap on each side. (The plastic tends to slip, and you can't pin this stuff without making permanent holes.)
  5. Turn right-side out. You're done.
I'd suggest being a little generous in sizing these; you never know when you'll want to put a larger-than-usual sandwich in one. I tend to underestimate size a lot, which makes for teenier bags than I intended. But considering these can be almost entirely repurposed materials (except I guess for the thread and the electricity of the sewing machine, both negligible), there's a lot of room to screw up, you know?

Give this a try--and if any of the instructions are unclear, please do let me know and I'll edit as needed!
--Jenn the Greenmom

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Phone Booth Flashback

Welcome to the Phone Booth Flashback, where we take a trip down memory lane so you can catch up on posts from the Booth's past.

Last Year:
Collective Roots: Jess at Sweet Eventide introduces GPB readers to Collective Roots, which is doing cool things — like organic gardens at K-12 schools.

First Fundraisers of the Year: Going Green Mama laments the "buy more crap" message that fundraisers give our kids... and gives kudos to fundraisers with more eco-thought behind them.

Meatless Monday: Comfort Food: Greenhabilitator talks Potato & Leek Soup.

You Better Believe It: EnviRambo looks at less-than-green social situations. What is one to do when faced with a styrofoam plate at a family gathering?

Conscious Shopper Challenge: Join a Swap Network: From Freecycle to bartering, there are many groups / approaches to furthering our goals of non-consumption.

Green to Gold: Green Bean gives the rundown on the rummage sale that raised money for her sons' school, and shares other ideas for fundraisers with little environmental impact.

Two Years Ago:
Plastic Pollution: Sometimes photos tell the story better than words. Jess of Sweet Eventide shares an example of photos telling the plastic pollution story.

The Greenhabilitator Takes on Her Family First: Kellie muses over her family's green failings, and decides to do a compact, which she calls a "fast for environmentalists." She notes, "It can be almost painful at times, but it reminds you of what is really important in life, what is needed versus wanted, and it stimulates your creativity as well."

Livin' the Good Life: Guest writer Karen Moser-Booth reviews Colin Beavan's No Impact Man. If you haven't read the book, this post will tell you why you should.

Chocolate: From Bean to Bar: The Conscious Shopper recaps what she learns at a chocolate tasting. Check out this post to learn about bean-to-bar and handmade chocolate — and why it is better for the Earth, for you and for the cocoa farmers.

Farmers market report, Aug. 27

Going Green Mama shares her final market report of the summer....

This summer, with skyrocketing gas prices, I've been hesitant to travel beyond my most convenient farmers market. Our city and surrounding counties have so many choices, but the reality is that farmers are getting spread thin with so many locations, so there's the potential to see more variety when moving beyond home base.


Gas prices hovering around the $3.80 mark have put a squash on that, so to speak.


So today I was tickled to have an excuse to justify to myself to travel beyond our usual haunts. My husband made the mistake of leaving a car seat in the rental he used during car repairs, so we headed south to two towns' over to pick up the seat - and some produce.


We hit market #1 just as it was closing for the morning. Stands were picked over by 11 a.m., the market's closing time. One vendor made the comment that people are waiting a half-hour before the market opens each Saturday! So it may be worth an early trip sometime. The kids were tickled to trot around with the little red wagons stationed at the market, and they were eager to fill them up - as long as mom carried the heavy stuff. We skirted around the arts and crafts, apologized profusely to the grouchy man who got upset because my son picked up a jar of his wares and taste-tested some freezer sugar-free raspberry jam. We headed back with a watermelon (still optimistic I will get one good melon this summer!), some peaches, onions and cucumbers. No idea what I'll make with that combination!


Stopped by a yard sale on the way to the next town, where my husband works. There, the kids enjoyed themselves by checking out some goats no less while I whittled through the little boy clothes.


Stopped by market #2 as we approached my husband's work. That too, was on the verge of closing for the day, and most vendors were eagerly packing up to set about their day. Still, it was a nice change - just to get out and explore.


What did you find at the markets this weekend? Any great finds or disappointments?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Reduce: the "R" that really matters

This summer my son and I had an opportunity for adventure. We boarded a plane (actually three planes, each direction) to fly to the Seychelles Islands and spend three weeks with a branch of my second family (I adopted them on my study abroad to Madagascar in 1998). Our travels took us through the sparkling airport metropolis of Dubai, a city that has literally risen from the sand in 20 years. To the island chain of 125 islands allied together as the Republic of the Seychelles with a total population of about 85,000 people.

The Seychelles islands are tropical volcanic islands known for beautiful beaches and Creole culture. Unlike many places on the main-land African continent the roads are excellent, albeit a tad narrow, the water is clean, there is not a threat from mosquito born disease, and the public health system is superior. On La Digue, the most tourist friendly island, cars have been outlawed, and everyone travels by foot or bicycle. On the main island, most people travel by bus and only a small percentage of the population owns cars. Greater than 99% of the adults and children are both literate and multi-lingual. People are proud of their heritage and the government provides for those less fortunate.

In other words, the Seychelles, manages to provide for all the basic necessities of life that we deem important for the pursuit of life and liberty: clean water, food, good health, education, and ability to move about and speak freely. The family we stayed with lived in a beautiful four bedroom, 3 bathroom home, with indoor plumbing, but no hot water. There was a washing machine, but clothes were dried on the line. And day to day family life was not that different from ours here in the US, except that the children had few toys. Or was it that they had (comparatively speaking to a child, even a poor child in the US) no toys? So what did they do for fun? They used their imaginations, they took advantage of mobile devices, they watched some TV, and they played...using their imaginations. Other distinctions from my life in the US? Leftover food was not thrown in the trash, but fed to the dogs, and all the cars were tiny.

And during our visit these lifestyle differences were miniscule, I felt just like I was at home, but the big difference when it comes to the world is that CO2 emissions per person in Seychelles is 7.3 metric tons per capita whereas in the United States it is 19.3 tons (The World Bank, 2007). And so, forgoing hot water, when it is not really needed (it is warm enough that a cool shower is pleasant), big cars, extra plastic crap, toys, toys, and more toys, and whatever else it is that we "need" in the US makes for a huge difference in the carbon foot print of our two republics.

We talk about Reducing, Reusing, Recycling, and Re-purposing, but in my decade or so of living by these practices, I have accumulated so much STUFF. Even my supposedly frugal self has managed to accumulate and buy and contribute to the carbon foot print in such a way that I am in retrospect shocked. And so, I am left wondering, what do I really NEED. Not just what can I do do "reduce" or "re-purpose" or "recycle," but what can I completely eliminate. Does my son really "need" toys? And, to look at how we and how I acquire things? How DID I allow my son to be the owner of not one, but 4 firetrucks? Who cares if they are second hand, hand-me-downs or gifts? Why do we have them? And how many other kids in the US have more firetrucks than they have bottoms to sit on? And so, I finally really, truly, get that the reason we start with "reduce," then "reuse," then "recycle," is that reduction is the "R" that really matters.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Planning for Presents Under the Tree

SustainaMom notes out that there are 122 days until Christmas...

Despite the fact that the temperature is still hovering around 100 degrees, I'm starting to think forward to the holidays. I want to be organized, systematic, thoughtful and deliberate when it comes to gifts this year.

In 2005 (before I became a mom) I had all my holiday shopping done in October. Last year, I didn't start shopping until December 10th. Can you guess which year I felt more proud of the gifts — and my holiday impact on the environment?!

Granted, the volume of our gift giving has dropped dramatically since the economy fell apart in 2008, so our holidays are probably more eco-friendly. We've also given our son many gifts that were handed down to us or purchased from Craig's List. Yes, we go shopping in the hand-me-down closet for presents to wrap "from Mama and Daddy." Is that horrible? It certainly improves our holiday environmental impact and said kiddo loves the toys!

I had grand plans for more do-it-yourself gifts this year, but despite my hope that I would master knitting, I don't have the time for even a single dishcloth at my current knitting speed. So I'm going to focus on Mama-and-Kid projects for grandparent gifts. Last year, we made handprint snowman ornaments. I'm working with my sister and my cousins to get all of our kids together to make handprint canvas bags for the grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

I also want to invest some time to find new companies that I want to support when it comes to buying gifts. Companies with missions beyond profit, whether that mission be advocating for fair trade or upcycling trash. Here are a few I've come across...

Gifts for the Socially Conscious:
  • Sseko Designs: Young women in Uganda have difficulty finding fair work in the 9 months between secondary school and university. Sseko Designs hires recent grads to make beautiful sandals — a way to fund their education so they can become doctors, lawyers, and teachers. The company creates opportunity for women to fund their dreams, which creates opportunity for them to lead their country.
  • One World Projects pegs itself as a marketplace for fair trade, socially & environmentally conscious gifts. For example, an artisan group in El Salvador makes gorgeous purses from old tires. An Indian artisan group sells recycled metal bowls, including one made from old bicycle chains.
Upcycled Gifts:
Where do you go for kid craft-gift project ideas, unique/upcycled gifts, or gifts by companies that support humanitarian efforts?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hold the Flame Retardants, Please




Eco-novice fans the flames of flame retardant controversy

I read an article this week in the Los Angeles Times (via EWG's Enviroblog) that, for me, epitomizes all that is wrong with US chemical regulation, and flame retardant regulation in particular.

The article discusses a recently published study that found in California pregnant women the "highest levels ever reported among pregnant women worldwide of toxic polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), flame retardant chemicals largely banned in California in 2004." The levels of PBDEs in pregnant California women were 10 to 100 times higher than levels found in pregnant women in Europe and Asia, and about 2 to 3 times higher than levels found in pregnant women in other parts of the U.S. Researchers believe the pregnant women's high PBDE levels were likely due to California’s unique flammability regulations (stricter than most of the nation) enacted in the 1970s: Technical bulletin 117. As the L.A. Times article reports, "PBDEs may be toxic to the liver, thyroid and nerve development, according to the EPA." And, according to the study's lead researcher, "there’s a wealth of research that shows these chemicals interfere with development and can lead to lower IQs later on." A California woman myself, the article was a sobering reminder to me of the individual effects of government policy.

The L.A. Times article includes a conversation with Ami Zota, a postdoctoral fellow at UCSF's Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment and lead author of the study. A few excerpts from the interview (emphasis mine):
Q: So are pregnant women getting exposed to these chemicals because when they're getting ready to have a baby they buy used cribs and car seats?
A: It’s a possibility. They’re probably more likely getting exposed because these products are in their home. When they’re added to the foam in furniture and other products, they’re not chemically bound, they’re basically sprayed on the foam so they end up in house dust and indoor air. We breathe in the air, unintentionally eat the dust. The other way we are exposed is these chemicals have ended up in our food supply.

Q: How are they getting in the food supply?
A: They end up in the air in manufacturing. You throw stuff away and it ends up in a landfill. They’ve been found in polar bears and even house cats.

Q: How would we eliminate [the potential harm caused by PBDEs]?
A: We’re still replacing these chemicals with other chemicals that in many cases are structurally similar and have not been thoroughly tested. That was part of the problem — we did not thoroughly test these chemicals before we started to use them in the marketplace. Ultimately the goal is to go toward an approach where we’re thoroughly evaluating chemicals, particularly their effects on vulnerable populations such as pregnant women and developing children. What this shows is with these chemicals, even once they’re banned, you can’t get rid of them.
Q: What can the rest of us do to prevent exposure?
A: That’s a tough question. It requires a combination of individual and group behavior. Pregnant women can dust and wet mop their home, wash their hands frequently, try to avoid products made from foam. Ultimately, it’s very hard to avoid our exposures to these products because they’re so widespread. We need policy measures. There have been efforts to modify this technical bulletin 117. It’s never been shown to be effective to reduce fire-related injury or death, and there are other approaches to fire safety including fire-safe cigarette and building codes.

Flame retardants seem to pop up in the news all the time these days. Earlier this year, for example, we learned that chemical flame retardants, many considered toxic, are widely present in baby products, such as nursing pillows, changing table pads, sleep positioners, portable mattresses, baby carriers, rocking chairs and highchairs. Also earlier this year, I was sent emails asking me to support SB-147, a bill to update California's flammability requirements. That was when I first learned that many experts believe that chemical flame retardants do not prevent fire-related injury or death, but do make smoke from house fires considerably more toxic, in addition to polluting our bodies and environments from everyday contact.

Now that I'm in the market for a car seat for my 4-year-old, I find myself trying to decipher the Ecology Center's latest research on the levels of flame retardants and other chemical additives in car seats, as if worrying about safety ratings, 5-point harness versus booster with regular seat belt, life-span and environmental impact, price, width, and comfort wasn't bad enough.

I'm getting really tired of dealing with this flame retardant issue.  I can't tell you how much I've agonized over mattress purchases.  I'm tired of getting children's fleece pajamas treated with flame retardants from my in-laws every Christmas. Can we just enact some decent chemical regulation already?


A few tips for limiting your exposure to flame retardants:

  • Support the Safe Chemicals Act of 2011 and join Safer Chemicals Healthy Family's email list, so that  you can contact your representatives when relevant legislation comes up for discussion or voting.
  • Avoid purchasing products with polyurethane foam ("solid fuel") and repair old furniture with exposed foam
  • Avoid products that meet California Technical Bulletin 117.  I've seen this tag on 100% cotton quilted comforters and decorative pillows, for example.
  • Vacuum, wet mop, and dust often.  This is a tough one for me, but I focus on rooms where children spend lots of time.
  • Wash hands with soap and water often.
  • Don't buy fleece pajamas treated with flame retardants (look for the 100% cotton pajamas with tags that say "wear snug-fitting not flame resistant").
  • Next time you are in the market for a mattress, consider getting one made of natural materials without flame retardants.  For me, this has become a top priority, since you spend a whole lot of your life on a mattress.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Treating Colds and Flu Naturally

School has started back here and my husband is a school teacher so I already feel like I may be getting a cold. Since I'm not feeling well I thought I would "recycle" one of my posts from my personal blog about treating colds and flu.

Aromatherapy-
Steam alone can help break up congestion and help relieve some symptoms, adding essential oil can make it work even more. Eucalyptus and thyme can help loosen mucus and heal your throat. Tea tree oil can help with dry air passages. Peppermint can also be helpful for your cold and flu symptoms.

You can use the essential oils in several ways, add them to a humidifier or vaporizer, place a few drops on a handkerchief and keep it under your pillow while you sleep, place the herbs or oils in a bowl of boiling water and place a towel over the bowl to create a steam tent. You can also place the oil in a hot bath.

Homeopathic-
There are many homeopathic options for colds and flus but here are a few of my favorites.
Boiron Oscillococcinum is a safe and effective flu remedy.
For colds try Boiron Coldcalm.
Hyland's Cold Tablets with Zinc are another good cold remedy.
Boiron Chestal cough syrup is a drug-free cough remedy that is safe and effective. They also have a children's version.


Herbs/Supplements-
In my house we make a drink out of elderberry extract, colloidal silver, oil of oregano, and Emergen-C Immune Defense it's not the best tasting drink but it works.



Here is some info on breaking a fever naturally.




Disclaimer: I am not a doctor. And even though my nickname is often nurse Lisa, I'm not even a nurse. It's a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting natural remedies. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Everything I Need To Know I Learned from Laura Ingalls

...a suburban greenmom defends the Do It Yourself movement...

Miss Hildebrand was my third grade teacher. That year we spent a pretty big chunk of time on Little House in the Big Woods. We read it, we studied, we wrote book reports and made the obligatory dioramas...and we made butter. And we made cheese. Seriously. A bunch of third graders. The butter was delicious; the cheese tasted kind of gross. But we did it.

Miss Hildebrand was one of the best teachers ever.

I didn't realize it at the time, but that was the beginning of my fascination with DIY projects, aided and abetted by my chemistry professor parents who were determined that their kids would know how things worked, and why. The fascination would go dormant for even years at a time, but it never entirely went away. And once I became a mom, for some reason, it hit with full force and has become one of the driving forces in my life.

I learned to cook--from scratch, avoiding mixes or processed "convenience" foods wherever possible. I learned why different ingredients did different things, until I could mess around with recipes and give them my own twist based on what I had in the house. I taught myself to sew. I began learning about different herbs and did a fairly extensive study of essential oils and aromatherapy. From there it didn't take long for me to graduate to my first diaper balms and baby oil...and from there, thanks to Rosemary Gladstar, to making lotion. Lotion was a hugebridge to have crossed for me, because until then it was one of those mystery products I had no idea how to make, figuring it was just one of those Only They Can Do This things. And then suddenly, there it was. Lovely and thick and nourishing. And then I started wondering how many other mysterious strange things I could make myself. Yogurt? Easy. Lip balm? No problem. Sweetened condensed milk? Why would I want that it's so unhealthy HELLS YEAH. Suddenly nothing was out of reach...I could make anything. (Except for instant pudding; that one eludes me. I'm not losing sleep over it.) It was heady and addictive. Not everything was a success, like the rather tasteless mozzarella cheese. Sometimes once I learned to make something I discovered that it was much more difficult than I'd realized, and I was happy to leave the making to someone else in the future--but man oh man, do I appreciate artisan cheese all the more now that I know what goes into it!

It wasn't just a hobby, either--right about at that time, our family was in a financially tight place--not crisis level, just two people with not enough work and a couple of really small children to raise, clothe, and feed. So knowing how to cook and clean on a shoestring made a pretty significant difference in our financial existence. And that was right about the time I started paying attention to the wider world, and reading Michael Pollan, and reading green blogs, and trying to figure out ways to just plain Use Less. And to do it on my own crazy schedule. And blogging about it. Because I was so excited to realize that all this mystery stuff actually wasn't all that mysterious at all, and I talked to friends about it, and I just wanted to put it...out there. (And, to be completely honest, I just have fun writing, and on a blog I can yak on and on about the stuff that excites me without having to care if anyone was paying attention or not. God knows my kids don't. And I wonder about my husband too sometimes...)

Recently, a post was put out there that was highly critical of my, (and by extension I suppose all of us who do this) desire to learn how to make some of these things on our own, gain better control over the various things that go into our bodies, reduce our consumerism, and show others how to do the same. I've blogged before about the ethical dilemma that comes in for me when there's a small local business I respect and like, but whose product I know I don't really need because I know how to make something that fills that spot in my life. Usually what happens is that I recommend them to others, and more often than not at some point I find myself in a time pinch and shopping from them anyway at some point along the way. Or realizing that what I make on my own may be good but that it's worth the little dent in my budget to purchase the superior product someone else is creating. That's what I do. Other people may have their own approaches to the question.

So this blogger/business owner called me on the carpet, alleging all kinds of things that seem to have come from some other post than the one I wrote, but winding up with, as far as I can tell, an assertion that in this rough economy it is unethical, irresponsible, and anti-woman to try to teach other people how to make on their own, out of simple ingredients they likely have in their home, most of the necessary potions and supplies they would otherwise have to go out and buy--that instead, I should be steering them to the local small woman-owned businesses who have cultivated the "green, safe, and natural" production of these things to an art. (Maybe that's not what she was saying, but that's what it sounded like to me.) (Man, this woman would hate my hero Crunchy Betty!) She says the economy "trumps" all these "Little House Initiatives."

I honestly think this is...just plain wrong. (I had some other words in mind, like what healthy grass-fed cattle produce to fertilize the fields, but I'll stay marginally polite for now.)

Because ultimately, the whole process--I think it's getting to the point where we could even call it a "movement"--of men and women learning how to make, save, gather, build, and preserve what they need to live their lives, is about nothing less than control, choice, and knowledge. Three things we as a cultural place-in-time have lost somewhere between Laura Ingalls and now. We are surrounded by voices that tell us, "no need to do that yourself, we'll make it for you. Food? No, really, we've got it covered, no need to worry about it, open this easy packet and just boil and stir, or better yet, just head out to the drive-through. And seriously, we have to spray poison on the fruits and veggies or they'll be attacked, and of course it's safe, would we lie to you? Electric power? Of course; just pay your bills, however high they get, and you'll have power. Where does it come from? From the power lines, of course, nothing before that need concern you, and what's fracking anyway? Clothes? You can get them really cheap here at Wal-Mart/Old Navy/Insert Name Here...who makes them? Really, why should you care if the people manufacturing them get paid a living wage to do it, you get a great price..." (I'll stop there, because I realize this little paragraph is turning into a full-fledged sarcastic rant, you see where I'm going with it.)

Control, choice, and knowledge. Or, maybe more to the point, knowledge and choice as crucial elements for gaining control--over others' lives, or over our own.

Because here and now, thanks to the wonders of the internet, we have access to the knowledge. It's mixed in with a lot of misinformation and weirdness, but the information is there, if we go out and look for it. And we are just beginning to wake up and realize we have a choice. Because with every little thing we learn to Do For Ourselves, the great Corporate Machine (good Lord, I'm starting to sound like some conspiracy theorist now) loses a bit of its hold over us. And as the network grows, as we read and write and share ideas, and as we empower each other to likewise not be afraid to get out there and give whatever new thing a try, we gain a little more power and control over our lives. Yes, we also need to cultivate an attitude of common-sense discrimination in what "information" we accept (obvious stuff like, when people offer wholesale medical advice without documentation or verifiable credentials, we run the other way, and anything that sounds suspicious should be verified by at least a few other reputable sites)--but that's part of the process too, and as we build a network of trust with like-minded DIY pioneers, among whom the information get shared in posts and comments.

Is everything we try awesome and perfect? Not really. The failed experiments are just part of the learning experience, and teach us what not to try next time. But to try to tell us the only people who should be doing this are the ones with Appropriate Levels of Learning and Artistry To Be Fabulous--that's as disempowering as the corporations who tell us we need to smear toxic chemicals on our face to be attractive, or that canning our own tomatoes is too much work and too dangerous so we should just buy the stuff in the BPA-lined cans.

Near the end of her post, this blogger says, "What is a loaf of bread Jenn but the three simple ingredients of flour, salt and yeast? In the hands of an artist it is phenomenal. In the hands of a non-artist it is something banal and tasteless." I would be the last one to profess that I am an artisan bread baker. But I make bread for my family all through the winter. And it's delicious.

Art can be found in all kinds of places. Not all of it is museum quality. Not all of it is something one could sell to people everywhere and make a living. But my humble DIY art feeds my family. The veggies I grow and preserve, the two-or-three-ingredient cleaning supplies I make, the all-natural body care products I care for my and my family's skin and hair with, the simple clothes and toys I make for my kids out of repurposed and rebuilt older textiles...okay, so it's not high art. But it's mine. And I am proud of it, and I am proud that I know how to do it.

Again, I absolutely in no way mean for this post to belittle or discourage the work of the small businesses whose liveliehood is to make these awesome products and/or skills available to those who might not have time, inclination, or skill to make them on their own. These are awesome, as we talked about here last January, and pretty much all of the DIY people I know (myself included) patronize them on a regular basis and would be lost without them. But in this world of fading discretionary income and emerging awareness of the health dangers all around us, aren't both initiatives equally important to helping us all get a grip on our lives and worlds? Ability to make what we can, and access to purchase what we can't? Between the two approaches, I am convinced that we are quite literally changing the world.

I don't think Laura Ingalls Wilder was trying to change the world with her books; she was just telling her story. But there's no doubt that she has.

So--to the comments. What do you guys think? Any other DIY-lovers who get regular flak from people thinking you have no business doing what your doing, or who just find you bewildering? What are your thoughts on this?

(And while we're at it--and I'll do the same!--I also want to put out the invite to every single reader to post links in the comments to your favorite natural small businesses, the ones you patronize over and over again, whom you trust and whose products you find to be a valuable part of your lives. I'll put the list into a new post next Monday, a "Link Love" post of the businesses we Boothers trust and admire. Have at it!)

--Jenn the Greenmom

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Phone Booth Flashback

Welcome to the Phone Booth Flashback, where we take a trip down memory lane so you can catch up on posts from the Booth's past.

Last Year:
Call to Power: Jenn the Greenmom goes out on a limb and draws parallels between a video game and the dilemmas we face with the planet.

Summer, It Was Good to See You: Going Green Mama laments the end of summer, the slow season that delights her family with its delicious bounty and outdoor play time.

Superheroes Secrets: Who Needs Math?: The Conscious Shopper shares link love, ranging from The NYT's "Math Lessons for Locavores" and the responding blog posts to perspectives on parenting.

Meatless Monday: Beans from Scratch: The Conscious Shopper shares her (extremely inexpensive) vegetarian refried beans recipe.

Compost Happens: EnviRambo compiles tips for everything you need to know about composting.

Conscious Shopper Challenge: Reuse/Repair: The Conscious Shopper challenges you to think creatively about how you reuse "trash" in your home.

Fall Reading List: The Greenhabilitator shares a few favorite parenting books and some green books on her reading list — and check out the recommendations in the comments too.


Two Years Ago:
End of Summer Secrets: The Conscious Shopper shares link love: homemade popsicles, fruit leather, and more book recommendations.

Life - The Longest Running Infomercial: EnviRambo ventures to the mall and an amusement park and she realizes how much her perspective has changed with her green journey.

Growing in America: Ima Greenie, reporter at the Daily Planet, reports on volunteerism in Green Bean's front yard. :)

Future Gardener Seeks Guidance: As a renter, The Conscious Shopper faces challenges in her yard not faced by homeowners. She explores the challenges and readers share their advice.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Farmers market report Aug. 20, 2011

In which Going Green Mama ponders the meaning of "local."

Last night, on a whim, we did what my little boy has been begging to do: Stop at a farm stand that was once routine for us, but had died off once they made the business decision to stop accepting checks. (I just don't carry cash except on market days.)

With the last of my garage sale dollars burning a hole in my pocket, we pulled up the dusty driveway, expecting the usual corn and cantelope that the markets have this time of year. I was surprised.

What had once been a few varieties of seasonal produce had blossomed into jars of jams, fresh and refrigerated produce, varieties of pre-packaged treats. And peaches. My mouth watered.

Then I saw the sign: The peaches were from South Carolina. And I live in the great state of Indiana.

Something about that didn't seem right to me. I am perfectly fine with buying extra-regional American produce at the grocery store, but when it presents itself at the local farm stand a few miles down the road, it seems out of place. Granted, I realize farmers may need to create their own networks to survive in this crazy summer and economy, but isn't there an unsaid promise that when I buy from Joe's farm stand that the food might actually come from somewhere remotely close to Joe's?

What do you think?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Quiz: How Green Are You?

From Emerald Apron, who had way too much fun writing this post!

The other day, someone called me "light green." I was kind of offended at first, but it got me thinking. What are the qualification for different shades of green? AM I really light green? Who's wrong, me or her? So, I wrote up this handy dandy quiz so we can all see where we fall on the verdant spectrum. Please take the quiz and share your results in the comments!


Quiz: How Green Are You?

1. You finish the last of the strawberry jam. What do you do with the empty glass jar?
a. Throw it in the trash can
b. Put it in the recycling bin
c. Rinse it out and save it to reuse as a vase or to store crayons.
d. Put in some water, swish it around and ice pops with it to get every last bit of my homemade jam out of the jar. Then I wash the jar and put it on the shelf next to the rest of my mason jars.

2. What kind of car do you drive?
a. Hummer, SUV, pick up truck or sports car
b. A fuel efficient car
c. Prius Hybrid
d. A 1982 Mercedes that I salvaged from the junk yard, rebuilt by hand and run on biodiesel that I brew in my garage OR This is a trick question, I don’t own a car and I ride my bike and/or take public transportation wherever I need to go.

3. What did you eat for dinner last night?
a. Fast food
b. A prepackaged organic frozen meal
c. A free-range chicken from the farmer’s market and veggies from my garden, with a local artisan baguette
d. Roasted beets with quinoa and kale and heirloom tomatoes from my own “beyond organic” garden OR a home-raised chicken that we slaughtered that day, with homemade sourdough bread, swiss chard from our garden and apple pie made with apples from our own trees that we canned last fall and pie crust made with lard rendered at home from last year’s hog.

4. If you have children, what type of diapers do/did you use?
a. Disposables
b. A hybrid diaper system, like gdiapers
c. Cloth diapers
d. Diapers? What diapers? We used elimination communication OR I chose not to have children because I didn’t want to add to my eco-footprint. (Skip this question if you chose not to have children for other reasons)

5. Where does your electricity come from?
a. I don’t know, the power lines?
b. I buy “clean energy options,” meaning that a proportion of energy equal to our use is put into the grid from clean sources like wind and hydroelectric.
c. I have solar panels on my house (on- or off-grid).
d. Electricity? We live in a yurt.

6. How many appliances in your home are Energy Star rated?
a. What is Energy Star?
b. All of them! We just replaced all of our appliances with new ones, even though they were still working.
c. 1-3. We’re slowly replacing our appliances with Energy Star ones, as needed.
d. Appliances? We don’t have a fridge, we use a wood cookstove and we wash our clothes by hand in the bath tub (hauling water from the hand pump outside and boiling it on the wood cookstove, of course!), and we hang our clothes to dry on the line. Even our underwear!


7. What kind of toilet paper do you use?
a. The quilted soft stuff OR whatever’s on sale
b. Scott Naturals with a percentage recycled
c. Seventh Generation
d. Toilet paper? We use cloth wipes.

8. What kind of milk do you buy?
a. The kind that comes from cows.
b. Organic.
c. Antibiotic and hormone free milk from a local dairy that sells it in returnable glass bottles. We visited there and got to pet one of the cows, too!
d. We have a cow named Bessie. She’s a nice old Jersey, and we milk her once a day, choosing to milk-share with her calf, Daisy. We don’t believe in separating a mother cow from her calf, and one day Daisy will replace her mother. We make butter, kefir and yogurt from the extra milk. OR We’re strict vegans, we don’t drink milk. But we do make our own tofu in case you were interested. OR I express my own breast milk to give to my children, ages 15, 18 and 34. Humans evolved to drink human milk. We even churn our own breast milk ice cream!

9. Did you participate in Earth Hour this year?
a. What’s Earth Hour?
b. Absolutely! We had so much fun turning off our lights and making shadow puppets by beeswax candle light.
c. No. One hour of turning off the lights makes no difference, so why bother? Every day should be Earth Day!
d. Well, we’re too cool for Earth Hour but technically we did participate, since the yurt doesn’t have electricity. (see #5)

10. What type of household cleaners do you use?
a. Lots of antibacterial ones. Gotta kill those germs!
b. We’re making the change to eco-friendly cleaners.
c. We make our own cleaners using lemon juice, borax, baking soda and vinegar. Antibacterial cleaners lead to resistant bacteria!
d. We don’t clean the yurt. Germs are good for your immune system!


YOUR RESULTS:
Mostly A- Goose-poop Green. (Note- This is a shade of green that my brother and I invented in childhood. It results from mixing all the colors of paint together.) You have no interest in decreasing your impact on the Earth.

Mostly B- Mint Green. You care about the environment and are just starting out on your journey. You’re educating yourself and making small changes for your family, one step at a time. You’re excited because there’s still so much to learn and so many changes to make!

Mostly C-Emerald Green. You’re no newbie when it comes to the environmental movement. You’ve done the research and have been working at it for a long time. You wouldn't classify yourself as a "doom and gloom" type... yet.

Mostly D- Green dyed with natural chlorophyll pigment that you extracted from beyond organic herbs grown in your own garden. Except you won’t ever read this quiz because you don’t have internet access.

Note: This quiz is for entertainment purposes only.

Well, after taking this highly scientific quiz, it turns out that I fall right into the Emerald category, with a few minty answers and a few naturally-dyed green answers. What shade of green are you? And did I forget any questions? Feel free to add your own in the comments!

Guest Post: Ask 5 for 5



guest blogger: Sarah Lenssen from Ask5for5
photos courtesy of Cate Turton / Dept. for International Development


First, thanks to The Green Phone Booth for allowing me to post here today! Today, more than 25 blogs, including this one, are standing with me to Ask 5 for 5 for Africa. Here's why....


I began pursuing a BIG dream two weeks ago. After deciding I could no longer avoid the news about the famine in the horn of Africa, I had that gut feeling that I couldn't sit this one out. I HAD to do something because I could. Something bigger than I could do alone. That's when #Ask5for5 was born.

A malnourished child in an MSF treatment tent in Dolo Ado

Two of my children, Ashen and Bereket, were adopted and are from the region affected by the drought in Ethiopia. They would be two of the statistics if they still lived there. I see my son’s and daughter’s faces in the photos of those suffering in the refugee camps. It could have been him. It could have been her. The thought haunts me.




And moms just like us are watching their children go hungry day after day. I can't imagine what it's like, but I have to –I have to be there to help them, because it could have been my children. These families have lost their livestock, their crops, food prices are inflated at the market if there any food there, and don’t have any more lifelines to tap into. Many are traveling hundreds of miles through parched land in hope of finding help. Many are dying along the way. It is estimated that 29,000 children have died in the last 90 days in the famine in Somalia alone.

Malnourished children, weakened by hunger

But I KNOW we can do something about it. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, we can rally ourselves and our friends to respond! I set up a fundraiser through See Your Impact. 100% of your gift will go to the relief and development organization World Vision, where it will be combined with government grants to multiply up to 5 times in impact!

You’ll receive updates on just how your funding is being used to help save lives affected by famine in East Africa. I'm amazed at how much we've raised already -- over $7,000 in just four days! We blew through our first 3 goals in just 3 days and are well on our way to $10,000 and beyond!

I need you to help me save lives. It's so so simple; here's what you need to do:


  1. Donate $5 or more on this page (http://seeyourimpact.org/members/ask5for5)

  2. Send an email to your friends and ask them to join us.

  3. Share Ask5for5 on Facebook and Twitter, and join our page to stay updated too!

  4. I'm also looking for 100 bloggers to stand with Ask5for5 to spread the word during Social Media week, September 19th - 23rd. If you're interested, email me, ask5for5@gmail.com.



Extra food for every child under five



Thanks! Please donate and email your friends right now--don't wait for a calmer moment, because if you're like me, other demands inevitably crop up and you won't get to it. A child's life hangs in the balance, but you can help save her!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eco-friendly Party Decor



In which Eco-novice gets crafty.

A few months ago, when I saw this idea for homemade streamers online, I knew it was easy enough for me to try, and bookmarked it.  We have a few birthdays, plus Father's Day, during the summer in my family.  I was ready to put up some store-bought streamers left over from a church function for the first summer event, until I noticed "flame-resistant, colors do not bleed" on the label, which gave me pause.  Given what I know about flame retardants, I wasn't so interested in my family handling paper saturated with flame resistant chemicals. So, instead, I dug up the bookmarked DIY streamers instructions and made streamers using colored paper we already had.  Not nearly as attractive as the original, but I was using what I had on hand, and not trying that hard.  Just trust me when I say the photos don't really do them justice. We left them up for over a week in order to count for two different occasions.



Then I got to thinking what a truly eco-friendly idea this could be.  I started setting aside colored paper that normally would be headed to either my kids' coloring stash (if printed on only one side) or the recycling bin (printed on both sides).  I also saved a few papers that my kids had colored all over but weren't interested in saving.  When our family's next birthday occasion rolled around, I had plenty of used colorful paper to create upcycled eco-friendly party decorations: streamers from reused paper.  You could easily save the streamers and reuse for several events.  And then when their time in the sun is over, just toss them in your recycling bin.



What are your eco-friendly party ideas?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

21 Day Challenge: Favorite Reusable Products

Last week I recommend people take the 21 Day Challenge to ditch disposables and I give ideas of things to ditch. This week I'm giving my favorite products to replace the disposables.

Bottled water
Klean Kanteen and EarthLust are my favorite stainless steel reusable bottles.

Plastic shopping bags
For usable bags I like Reuseit Workhorse Hemp bags and ChicoBag.

Produce bags
All Things Green's hemp produce bags and Reuseit organic produce bags are my favorites.

Sandwich bags
I always send my husband's lunch in a LunchBot.

Disposable menstrual pads
Lunapads and DivaCup are good options.

Napkins
Reuseit Hemp & Organic Cotton napkins and PeopleTowels are great options.

Paper towels
Use cloth towels and rags you already have. Also Skoy cloths are great for cleaning.

Disposable diapers
There are a lot of great cloth diapers out there. There is sure to be one for you. Itti Bitti and FuzziBunz are two brands I recommend you check out.

Lunch sacks
Reuseit has many great options, to many to list.

Coffee cups
Klean Kanteen insulated mugs are perfect for coffee and tea. They stay hot for up to 6 hours or cold up to 24 hours!

Disposable dishes
Use your real dishes.

Have any favorite reusables you think people should know about? Post below.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Grownup Gig

a hippie greenmom suddenly has to wear makeup and bling...

So Saturday night I got to play a gig. This was a much cooler, ritzier gig than I usually get, and I get this deep twinkle of satisfaction in being able to say airily, "Oh yes, I was hired to play classical and opera selections for this cocktail party; they wouldn't normally have called me, but their usual pianist is working with Dennis DeYoung this weekend..." It was in a seriously schmantzy hotel, on a lovely instrument that had even been tuned. Lots of women with lots of bling and designer gowns and men who smack each other on the back audibly as though the volume of the back-smack is a measure of one's manhood, getting louder the more cocktails everyone drank...

The catch: for a gig like that, I can't go as a hippie with bare face, natural lips, flat loose hair, and faded organic cotton skirt. And thus far I have not had good enough luck with the mineral makeup to get away with using it. So I....I....went to Walgreens and bought a thing of ordinary not-at-all Almay foundation, blush, and lipstick. And I did it without even checking the EWG skin deep cosmetic safety website.

(I was pleased later to realize that the stuff I bought at least rated only a 4; I had figured it would be much worse.)

I wore it. My face was all smooth and one color, my cheeks had a nice faux-blush, and my lips looked appropriately deep and polished. I even used a little brow pencil (since my brows are sort of shapeless) and eye shadow. I draw the line at mascara; I don't do mascara.

I looked pretty good, I guess, if I do say so. But my face felt all weird, and the inside of my mouth tasted like lipstick, this icky petroleum-y taste that was just gross no matter how many mints I sucked on. My hair was lacquered into place and pulled a little too tight, but it was smooth and professional-looking. Blingy sparkly jewelry. And I wore my slinky synthetic knit indestructo-separates; the one eco-grace there is that at least I bought them secondhand on ebay.

It felt weird. Fun, but weird. Like I was playing dress-up or something. I'm totally not complaining--it was an awesome gig, and I don't think I sucked or anything, so I really hope they may ask me again when anything like this comes up. It just didn't feel like...me.

Best of all, though, was coming home and cleaning the crap off my face with good stuff--I quickly whipped up my own little homemade facial cleanser, out of a little honey, a little yogurt, and some almond meal. (I have used oat flour sometimes for this too. Seriously, try this. Your face will thank you.) Thank you, Crunchy Betty. Cleaned the chemicals off my face remarkably quickly and easily, and left my face all soft and sucking up the lovely goodness. A cup of ginger-mint tea before bed. I washed my face again with the same stuff the next morning. Last night, gave my hair a hot oil treatment with jojoba oil, olive oil, and a sprig of rosemary from my patio plant. And by this morning, I feel vaguely like myself again, and at last the petro-lipstick taste is gone from my mouth.

This is not exactly a substantive post, I'm aware. I feel like like a total green slacker, compared to my superhero colleagues who make kefir and grow shrooms and stuff like that...but as usual, I'm curious. I suspect most of us can do the "ordinary" parts of our lives with a lot less consumption and chemically stuff than we used to before starting our green journeys, but what do we do when we find ourselves in situations where being our casual natural green selves becomes a business liability? Anyone ever find themselves in that kind of situation, especially on a daily basis? How do you handle it?

For myself, I'm honestly not losing any sleep over this. I think Erin's faithful 80-20 rule for going green is an awesome yardstick (try to do the green thing 80% of the time, and don't sweat the other 20%), and stuff like this goes easily into the 20 zone. It's not a guilt trip thing. But it just got me thinking...

So, the two questions: First, anyone really genuinely have any tips for going mainstream-glam without too many chemicals and weird things put onto/into our bodies?

Second, anyone out there who deals with wishing they could be greener but literally can't, because of career (or family or cultural) pressure to the contrary?

Please, hit the comments! I don't think I've heard anyone talk about this much thus far...

--Jenn the Greenmom

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