Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Green Car Report

In the market for a new car? Here's a site that tells you all about eco-friendly cars. The Green Car Report talks about specific cars that are better for the environment and all the components of driving more green!

Here's a sample article:

Ding-Ding-Ding! Electric Cars Likely To Be Made Noisier By Law

December 20th, 2010

In one particularly hilarious scene in the TV show Weeds, Mary-Louise Parker’s soccer mom/drug dealer character inspires a scary drug lord to buy several Toyota Priuses after he successfully carries out a drive-by shooting while riding in hers.  The selling point? The quietness of the hybrid. “Good for sneaking up on mother******s,” he cackles. 

That might no longer be the case with a piece of legislation that recently passed the Senate and looks to be cleared for approval in the House. The Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act would require electric cars and hybrids to make noise, and would fund the Department of Transportation to create a set of rules for automakers, who would be allowed some leeway in how they carry out the guidelines. Green cars like the Prius don’t make noise when running off their batteries. Whether you have an armed drug dealer as an enemy or (more likely) happen to cross the street without looking, hybrids are more likely to hit you than regular cars, especially when operating at low speeds when gas engines aren’t engaged, according to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. All-electric vehicles like the 2011 Nissan Leaf could be even more of a threat. Of particular concern was the potential danger to blind pedestrians. But researchers and writers have also challenged that study, saying the methodology was flawed. Read More....

Monday, December 6, 2010


OMfreakingG...Why does Macy's have to send SO many catalogs out? Seriously they send like 3 per week sometimes - clothes, casuals and home. Each one of these is like a novel in size and none of it is really anything I want to buy. Hell, I don't even look at them anymore because it's totally boring. Thus they go straight into the recycle. And when you combine Macy's with REI and Black&White and other random crap that I've never even bought from...that's a lot of waste. Ok yes, it does get recycled but that still takes resources and energy and creates some waste.

Today I discovered a site called Catalog Choice where you give your info and the info of the catalogs you no longer want and they'll make sure you stop getting them. Now will it work? I don't know yet, I plan to sign up for it tonight. If it does, however, I'll be the happiest girl in the world because it's near-impossible to contact the corporation/company and make it clear that you want no more catalogs...bastards....

Anyway, I'm thinking that all companies need to just switch to email ads and catalogs anyway. Those are great b/c i just label them and archive them so when I do want to check out sales/coupons I can just go into my folder and find what I need. Doesn't waste my time, nor does it waste paper or energy etc. Wave of the future, people, c'moN!! =)

The other option is for Macy's to get famous movie stars on their covers. For example, if this were Drew Barrymore I'd hang it on my wall and admire it always. (Ok, slight sarcasm, but it may work for some...).

Friday, December 3, 2010

Green Holiday Tips

IT'S CHRISTMASTIME! Ok, well, at least I'm trying to psyche myself up for the Holidays even though I'm guessing this year I'll probably get coal (getting older is a bitch) and only a couple people have RSVP'd to my White Elephant Gift party =(. However, what I'm still psyched about is being green and luckily, green is one of the colors of Christmas! So here are some tips courtesy of the Denver Zoo and modified by me. Did you know that the Zoo is doing it's part to be green this year by using all LED lights in their Zoo Lights display? LED lights use 1% of the energy of traditional lights and 10% of the energy of little lights.  Also, if you guys are local, definitely check this's going to be AWESOME!

Denver Zoo Lights!

Go green this year for Christmas
Your Christmas Tree
  • After the holidays, don’t just throw your tree away- Recycle it! Denver Recycles offers free pick up of your Christmas tree.  Visit their website,, for specific rules and regulations regarding when and how to have your tree picked up.  They list tree pick up by county to make it easy for anyone in Colorado to recycle their tree. (out-of-staters check for something like this in your area!)
  • Instead of purchasing new ornaments this year for trimming your tree, try edible or compostable items like popcorn or cranberries on a string, gingerbread cookies or items made from recycled objects around your home.
  • Or...get a fake tree! Reuseable every year!

Your Holiday Decor

  • Purchase holiday lights made with energy-saving, light-emitting diodes, or LEDs. LEDs use only a fraction of the energy of conventional bulbs and are much better for the environment. LEDs use only about one percent of the power of standard (C7) holiday lights, and about 10 percent of the power in mini-lights. Try
  • Get outdoor light strands that are wired in parallel. These have separate circuitry so that if one bulb blows out the rest will keep shining; all you have to do is replace the bulb rather than the entire strand of lights. Strands sold with series wiring stand or fall together, making it almost impossible to find and replace a single blown-out bulb.

Sending Your Holiday Cards

  • Send E-Cards and you will not waste a single tree.
  • Send cards made of 100 percent recycled paper or tree-free cards made by environmental organizations. In addition to "tree free" cards, you can get cards made of old subway maps, cards made of recycled junk mail, and cards that you can plant which are imbedded with a seed mixture that will grow in the spring.
  • Glue pictures from old cards onto homemade or store-bought recycled paper to create new cards.Yay crafty!
  • Glue pretty paper on the inside of old cards to cover previous writing--and send them again.
  • Avoid cards with glossy, shiny or gold foil coatings since these cannot be recycled. Look for the PCF label on cards (Processed Chlorine Free) -- they're printed on unbleached paper.
What to Buy During Your Holiday Shopping

  • Try making something for those that you love.  People love to get homemade cookies, fudge, bread, or jam
  • Other gifts that will create little to no waste include things like concert or movie tickets, a gift certificate for dinner, or an IOU for services such as a massage, cooking a meal, or baby sitting.
  • Planting a tree is great because you can do it together.
  • Make it a contest for your kids to see how many old toys they can come up with to donate to a local charity; and then the one who collects the most wins a prize.
  • Give someone a gift that keeps on giving, such as a live plant or a donation to Denver Zoo or other local charity to support worldwide conservation projects or the construction of the Asian Tropics exhibit for endangered Asian elephants. 
  • Gifts that don’t require batteries are a great alternative and don’t create as much waste when having to dispose of and replace these batteries.  Try also to look for gifts that are made from recycled materials.
  • Best of all, adopt an animal at Denver Zoo or give a Denver Zoo Membership (or your local zoo)  in someone's name.  Your friends and family will think of you every time they visit!
  • Also, shop on Ebay. There's a lower chance of the toys and stuff being "new in box" which will cut down on all the plastic waste that cannot be recycled.

Wrapping Your Gift

  • Try using colorful pages torn from magazines or last year's calendar pictures to wrap small gifts, and old maps, posters or the Sunday comics for larger boxes.
  • Use crayons or sponge paint to decorate brown grocery bags and wrap with natural raffia ribbon.
  • Reusable cloth ribbons can be used in place of plastic bows or you can save bows and reuse year after year. I swear, my mom has bows from when I was like 5!!
  • Avoid using paper entirely by using reusable decorative tins, baskets or boxes, fabric bags (canvas grocery bags are great!)or give a gift in a gift.
  • Un-wrap gifts carefully and save wrappings for reuse next year.
  • Use old scraps of wrapping paper or cut up old cards to make gift tags.
  • If you do buy wrapping paper, look for ones made of recycled paper. Avoid conventional wrapping paper with metallic colors. Such paper is often produced in an environmentally unfriendly manner.
  • If you have wrapping paper left over from last year and want to have different paper for this year’s presents exchange it with a friend, co-worker or family member’s paper from last year and you will both have “new” paper.<-- I like this idea a lot b/c I get bored of things easily!

Gift mailing

  • You can re-use packing peanuts. Call the peanut hotline at (800) 828-2214, for locations of mailing centers that reuse the packing peanuts or go to If there is no location in your community, check with local gift or craft shops, artists galleries or elementary school art programs for reuse opportunities.Great idea! I didn't know this but will try for the future.
  • Use corrugated boxes. More than 70% of corrugated cardboard is recovered and recycled into new boxes and paper products. The fibers from one corrugated box can have up to seven or eight lives. Breakdown and flatten your boxes for easier transporting before taking them to your local recycling center. If you do not have a center available, check with a local grocer or department store to see if they will bale your cardboard in their in-house recycling program.
  • Shred your old catalogs to make great packing material when mailing gift packages. 
  • Reuse tissue paper from clothing store purchases as packing material or gift paper.

Holiday Parties

  • Use "real" dishes, cups, and utensils that you can wash and reuse year after year.
  • Switch to cloth napkins.
  • Make it easy for your guests to recycle bottles and cans.
  • If you must use disposables, buy napkins and plates made from recycled material. Try
  • Get corn-made cups and utensils which can be composted afterward. And if you don't have compost, at least if you throw them away, they'll break down faster than plastic!
  • Serve sustainable seafood and fish.  Check out Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch page,, for consumer guides and more.
  • Serving local organic food at your parties will help to protect the environment because organic products don’t require pesticides and local food doesn’t have to travel far, creating more carbon emissions, to get to your table.
  • You can make a difference just by being aware of the ingredients you are using in preparing holiday foods.  For instance, palm oil or palmitate is included in many of the foods that we eat and the harvesting of palm oil in Indonesia contributes to the destruction of critical habitat for endangered orangutans and Asian elephants. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'm Proud of My Fellow Pelotonians!

Last night was our annual "Homeowners Budget Ratification Meeting." And boy, it was kind of a throwdown. Residents are not happy that Ecopasses for 2012 are going to be cancelled and some (mostly be and like 3 other houses) about the composting being canceled. I think there might have been some other beefs too, but these are the two that I most care about (since I don't exactly pay HOA fees).  The HOA and Board seemed to have been kinda blind-sided by how many people showed up (over 50) and how many of those were dissatisfied.  Because of this, the budget was reject 31-19. The developers/Board did have 31 votes for all the vacant units they owned but kindly enough, they decided to abstain.

This is really exciting to me because people got together, expressed their views (on both sides) and swayed the masses to reject a budget that probably wasn't ideal for A LOT of the residents. I am motivated now! I am going to get the sustainability going with the help of my new friends from last night. I signed up 13 households interested in composting on top of the 3 or so that I already had. This is going to be awesome! Let's do this people!!!!!!!!!

Even Ruby Rhod is excited! (What? This is one of my coming-of-age, defining pop culture moments!)

Ruby Rhod Goes Green

Friday, November 5, 2010

I Can Has Beer Can AND Sustainability?

My PBR and RoRo drinkin' boyfriend will be happy to hear this one. Apparently aluminum cans are easier to recycle than bottles. This is due to the fact that even though aluminum is harder to mine and process, it uses a lot less material and is more easily recycled. Glass-makers are more likely to use virgin sand than recycle glass because it's easier/more convenient.

Also, glass is heavier making the overall product more effortful to transport, thus producing more carbon emissions.  

And cans are better to transport to the pool on those wonderful and fleeting summer days! Beer snobs need not worry, either, more quality breweries are getting into the swing of cans like New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Maui Brewing Company and a few others I haven't heard of. So even if you're not hip and indy like My Dearest Man, you can still work toward a greener future! Who knew?

Read the full article here.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Maybe I Should Move to Canada

Go, you eco-friendly Canadians, you!

Sun Chips, Canada is keeping their eco-friendly bag. And if people have a problem with it, write them and they'll send you a free pair of earplugs. Epic!

Canada Stays Loyal to Noisy SunChips Bags

I wonder how much it would cost to get them imported?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cloth Diapers - Guest Blogger!

Diapers. Thousands, no MILLIONS, of them are probably sitting in landfills as we speak. Think about it....Ok, who's grossed out now? I know that I am!  For not being pregnant or a mom of a kid in diapers, I find this topic fascinating! It just seems like one of the most icky forms of waste and the (continuing) existence of cloth diapers shows that there are alternatives to help the environment gives which in turn, gives me hope for the future.  So let's find out why cloth diapers are FULL of waste but not wasteFUL

Today, I am pleased to present my very first guest blogger, the lovely Jen E. from Jen blogs (a lot) about family, family products and green-friendly products as well as a host of other topics. She has written up an exciting account of her experience breaking into the cloth-diapering world as well as a list of links for more info. I love her practical and non-preachy approach to this topic, especially her unashamed use of the occasional disposable diaper. This proves that we do what we can which is leaps and bounds more than if we didn't do anything! (And being kind of a girly girl, I love the idea of pretty diaper covers!)


Why Cloth Diapers? Thoughts on diapering from the not-so fanatic cloth diapering mom

Jen's daughter helping with the now-famous cloth diapers!

I think people come to cloth diapering for different reasons. Maybe you are hoping to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle, save some long term money (by age 2 1/2 babies use about 7,000 diapers - costing about $2,000. Comparatively, we’ll spend about $500 or less on cloth diapers total) or avoid the weekly or monthly trips to the store to buy diapers. I know my husband loves never having to go out in the middle of the night or in bad weather to buy diapers last minute. All of these are great reasons to consider cloth diapering!

Of course it’s not all sunshine and roses. Nothing that smells like poop is ever an entirely happy story, if we’re going to be honest. I don’t think I liked cloth diapering per say for at least six months - and I’ve heard this is normal but I sort of wish someone had mentioned it to me when I was getting started. After using disposable diapers with my first child for the last three years, the transition to cloth with my second child was a little bit of a culture shock. The smells were different, the work was, yes, a little bit harder. And I was already tired, sleep deprived and grumpy.

But my husband, who wasn’t in the  throes of post pregnancy hormones, convinced me to stick it out a while longer and before I knew it, cloth diapering had become a normal part of our life that I now wouldn’t trade for anything. The cost savings is exponential, the work just isn’t that hard and the diaper covers are seriously cute.
Cute diaper cover!

There are options to choose from as cloth diapering has become awfully trendy over the past few years. Find a style that works for you : prefold / diaper covers, all-in-ones, pocket diapers and even hybrid styles like the GDiapers - you have a lot to choose from! We use mostly prefolds with a few pocket diapers on hand as back ups when I’m running behind on my laundry. Mix and match and find a method that works for you - there is no right or wrong answer here!

If you are considering cloth diapers but are still on the fence, here are a few things to consider:

·           First, understand that cloth diapering need not be all or nothing. Try it for a few months to see how you like it. Traditional prefold diapers can be used as spit up cloths if you decide to throw in the towel. Why not buy one or two covers and a 6 pack of diapers and give it a shot before going all in?
·           We use cloth at home but disposables when we are on the go. Some people use cloth while out of the house, bringing a wet bag along with them, but I opt for convenience first and find the amount of diapers we end up using on the go isn’t very much in the long scheme of things (we buy disposables once every couple of months as opposed to weekly).
·           Make your diapering schedule work for you. How often do you want to do laundry? Your baby will use about 8-10 diapers a day so if you only want to do laundry every other day, you’ll need at least 20 diapers - buy more diapers and a big diaper pail if you hope to do laundry less. We have about 2 dozen diapers for good measure and I wash diapers every 2-3 days. And remember if you fall behind on laundry, you can always throw your baby in a disposable while you get the laundry done - once in a blue moon (or more) won’t hurt anyone.

·           You might consider a diaper service if you have one in your area. You might not end up saving any money that way, but if the environment is your first concern, this is definitely an option and perfect for anyone who doesn’t have the time to get the laundry done themselves.
·           Don’t forget accessories! Just like in fashion, they will be your best friend. If you use prefolds - get yourself a package of snappis instead of the dreaded diaper pins and please please please pick up some diaper liners to ease in the clean up of poopy diapers once your baby is on solids (before solids, poopy diapers are water soluable, just toss the soiled diaper in the wash and all will be well). Liners are a god send and can be flushed or tossed quickly. You might also look into a diaper sprayer - I know a lot of people use and love these!
·           There are a lot of accessories, detergents and options out there. Some cost more than others. Some work better than others. Just find what works for you and give it a shot. Change your mind as you get there and figure out what you like. For a diaper pail, we honestly just use a big trash can and wash it when we need to. They make cute diaper pail liners that can also be used on the go - but to me that just seemed to make things more complicated instead of easier. For detergent, you can use any laundry detergent that has no dyes, scents or softeners. We use whichever “free and clear” detergent is on sale that week. They all work fine. We also use a laundry booster like borax for good measure.

Here are some cloth diapering links to check out:
  •   Say goodbye to diaper pins and hello to the snappi - makes diaper changes a breeze!
  • Imse Vimse is without a doubt our favorite diaper liner.
  • A diaper sprayer which connects to your toilet for easy clean up
  • Simple Mom is a great recource for anyone looking to try cloth diapering. She has loads of articles with tips on choosing diapers, cleaning them, setting up a diaper changing area, shopping for diapers and accessories, etc.

 Even your kids will love the cloth diaper!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sun Chips Bag Update

Sun Chips' non-compostable bag and MY favorite flavor - IN FRENCH!

Ok, I figured I'd just make a new post about this since people barely read my blog as it is, I'm guessing that no one is going to go back to read posts if they've already read them.

First off, you might be wondering, "Lyndsie, why do you care so much about a stupid chip bag? I know you don't even eat chips that often..." Well, I am excited because this is evidence of a big corporation getting on board with the eco-friendly stuffs. Even if it's only a drop in the bucket as far as big companies go, every drop still counts! This is the same reason why I care that Big Red made a Big Deal about their paper wrappers.

For the original post, go here.

So, I discovered this weekend that it seemed like Sun Chips had run away like a scared little girl from all the "bag's-too-loud whiners". Now the only bag that's compostable (according to their Garden Salsa and Harvest Cheddar bags) is the Original "blue" flavor. Which is still good but way inferior to the other two. However, according to Sun Chips' website they are actually working on a new, quieter compostable bag. In their words, they're "putting the finishing" touches on this product which makes me think that it's going to come out soonish. I really hope that's the case. And hey, quieter would be good but I'd be happy with the old crackley bag.
Interesting side note, Sun Chips' website also has links for following them in their journey for the best bag, how-tos for composting and their "mission statement" for their compostable bag. So that's pretty cool.

Frito-Lay makes a variety of tasty products. (I don't believe in their "Natural" Ruffles tho b/c most potato chips only have 3 ingredients anyway - potatoes, oil, salt).
Now time for a tiny rant. Sun Chips is owned by Frito-Lay so why didn't Frito-Lay make all their bags compostable? I can see that maybe they were just testing it out w/ Sun Chips, but I have never heard anything about F-L considering going 100% compostable. So this whole composting thing that is making people (me) so excited is, in some ways, just a bs marketing scheme or "green washing" as they say. *sigh* At least is aa start...I guess. Let's hope that the quite compostable bag is a success and then the company decides to switch all of its brands, sizes and products to this same bag. Is that too optimistic? I'm tryin' really hard!

R-E-C-Y-C-L-E According to Rocko

The other day, I was reminded of a song about the environment from Rocko's Modern Life, one of the cartoons I watched as a kid. This was probably done in the mid- to late 90s, before even Boulder did city-wide composting. It is extremely catchy and to this day I have the chorus memorized:

You need to R-E-C-Y-C-L-E, recycle!
And C-O-N-S-E-R-V-E, conserve!
And don't P-O-L-L-U-T-E, pollute the river, sky or sea
Or else you're gonna get what you deserve!

So now, please join me and Captain Compost Heap in this fun and responsible little ditty! (You now know the chorus, so no excuse not singing along!).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Score 1 for Lyndsie and Composting!

Right when I heard that the Peloton was going to cancel the composting service I posted a note on the Peloton's Facebook fan page with my thoughts.  I was thinking that nothing would come of it and I was unsure it was even going to be responded to but the following conversation ensued: 

Me:  At least I used to like this community. Now that they're canceling the composting service I'm not too sure. My family has been using it religiously since it began and we were very excited for this option. It advertises as this progressive, Boulder-type facility but in practice maybe they're not so much.
Peloton: Lyndsie, thanks for your candid feedback. The HOA is managing the composting program. They recently polled The Peloton homeowners and unfortunately a large percent of the homeowners who responded choose to cancel the program. There are other options being considered for the few who want to keep the program in tact. Please check in with the HOA office to share your thoughts. They truly do their best to make decisions for the whole community based upon the majority votes.
Me: Thanks for your comment! I have contacted the HOA and board as well as some of the residents. What I would be really interested in knowing is why some residents voted to cancel it. I have been slowly gathering opinions via email from some of them and I'm getting a better idea. Also, I am interested in having a more active role in the community to work on things like sustainability. I believe that if we get enough people to care, we can work out something to help all residents!
Peloton: That's great news Lyndsie. There is currently a Sustainability Committee in place, however I understand they are in need of a homeowner lead to take on some projects. You might really enjoy this role if you have the time and capacity within your schedule. There is no limit to what The Peloton community can achieve with passionate homeowners such as yourself!
Peloton: Lyndsie, I just wanted to let you know that I confirmed there is a possibility for composting to continue for the homeowners who are interested in sustaining it on their own. Please contact the HOA office for more information. Thanks for bringing up this topic.

WOOHOO!! As it appears, no one has brought this up until now. And that's what's so important about environmental issues, don't just assume that someone else is taking care of it. That first post took me under 5 minutes to write and look at the change it's made so far! How great is that? So yeah, people, speak up!!! You never know what kinds of  good you'll do.

p.s. I also wanted to give 1 point to social media, namely Facebook, for being an important factor in communication and change.  Social Media is no longer just for being social, it works on proactivism too! (I made that word up, but I like it better than just "activism" because it sounds like you're really trying to do something good).

\o/ \o/ \o/ \o/

Monday, October 25, 2010

Compost Complaints: Lyndsie vs. The Peloton

Peloton: 1.5

This is the score for my new war against "not composting". Here's the backstory:

My apartment complex, The Peloton started composting on a 6-month trial period (I'm sure some of you have read my excitement in an early post).  Well, the 6 months is up and the board has voted to not maintain the composting service. Now, this really toasted my bread (as they say) and I've began making contact with the other residents to get a feel for their attitudes. It turns out that so far the majority of people support composting with only one nay-sayer. In a bit I will post some resident responses but first I'm going to post my letter to The Peloton (aka Hammersmith Properties).  You don't have to read all of this, but I feel that I need to get my voice out there any way I can.

      I hear that the Peloton board has decided to cancel their composting service by the end of this month. My family started composting right when the trial service was set up and have loved doing it ever since. It has caused us to accumulate much less trash and has led us to feel like we are making a positive impact on the environment. It has also helped us teach our 4 year old about reducing trash and improving the quality of the world we live in. We voted to keep the composting service as we believe that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks.

     I have been talking to some of the residents and it seems that people are still interested in utilizing the compost service. This is also something that I feel very strongly about. I feel that it's very important to contribute to Boulder County's Zero Waste initiative. I’ve noticed that the Peloton’s advertisement is “Going green in Boulder.” But how can you claim this without offering services like composting? The website says that going green starts outside of the residents’ windows, but why not work on both the outside and the inside of the premises?

     I have some questions as to why the service is being cancelled. The email says that there is a lack of resident participation, but I am wondering how this was determined. Have they taken into account that some residents of the Peloton are only seasonal and live for most of the year somewhere else? Also, I'm guessing you were relying on survey data and it's likely that some of the residents haven't filled out the surveys or didn't even receive them? I, for one, am not even on your email list though I have asked to be included... Also, I heard that there is something called a "sustainablity committee" at the Peloton in which I did express interest on the survey, but there has not been any more communication on the subject. I don't know what that charge is for composting through Western Disposal but I have started doing research and am willing to do more research or anything I can do to help with the Peloton's sustainability intiatives. I know of a couple other people who would be interested in meeting to talk about this as well. I think what what happened is that everyone thought someone else was taking care of it, which is why no one has stepped forward yet. But I am willing to rally people to help and share their voice so we can keep the services like composting, recycling etc.
I'm annoyed with the cancellation of this policy because it will just increase the amount of trash the community puts out and that will just go into the landfills and create waste and methane gas. Niether of which is good. Also, Boulder County has a Zero Waste Initiative where they encourage people to recycle and compost, along with other waste-reducing efforts. I don't know if composting is required by the regulations, but even so it should be a service offered. Besides, The Peloton claims it is going green which is hypocritical of them to say if they stop offering these services. Also, I'm annoyed because I hadn't even heard that the Peloton had a Sustainablity Committee, much less was I given the opportunity to join it.
So I started by emailing all the residents whose email addresses I could find in the directory and, like I said, most of the responses were positive (which is why I awarded myself 0.5 point):  
  • " I think it is a good idea, and I hope the logistics can be worked out to avoid the abuses that led to its demise."
  • " If we were at the Pelton more than a few weeks a year, we would want composting, too."
  • "I too am very disappointed!  I bought a counter compost container immediately and have composted this whole time.  I wrote Polly an email telling her how disappointed I am about the cancellation."
 However, I did get one semi negative response (which is why the Peloton get 0.5 points):
  • "We got your inquiry about the composting. We are not adverse to the concept but the set up for bins in the garage is totally unacceptable to us. It created a great deal of odor in a garage already burdened buy sewage and automobile odors. Stepping out of the elevator into such  an unpleasant  surrounding is not what we consider acceptable."
"Ok, so you'd rather contribute tons of waste a year to a landfill thus decreasing our earth space and increasing our methane gas emission than be in discomfort for the 10-20 seconds it takes to walk to your car?" Sigh...people at the complex complain about all kinds of ridiculous things but this one might take the cake. I mean, where did this guy decide that he was so entitled? Yeah, he pays HOA fees, but so does everyone? Do you REALLY think your personal pet peeve is worth making the rest of the inhabitants sacrafice something? And to tell the truth, I don't think it smells in there at all - they have giant fans that blow for quite some time and I don't usually go around in parking garages taking deep, lung-filling breaths.

Anyway...I found out that while we have "in theory" a Sustainability Committee, in practice no one is actually on it. So, that is my goal - to get on (or be!) the Committee and start firing up other residents and/or helping to make my apartment complex a better place to live that's also nice on the environment. I really hope I can make a difference, but if it comes down to it, pitting me against vocal and entitled (and probably MUCH OLDER) residents like the one above might be a losing battle.

If anyone can or wants to help me in this, I need all assistence, tips and encouragement that I can get! Oh, and if you care about this stuff, I'd recommend not buying a unit here and go w/ a house with no stinky HOA or board people.

EDIT: I gave the Peloton an extra point because technically, the compost service is going to end in a few days, so they've already achieved that. And I gave myself another 0.5 point for knocking on the door of some residents today and talking to them about it (they agreed w/ me!).

These tiny, tiny flies live in my compost and while they are annoying, they don't seem to be doing anyone any harm. And my cats love to eat them. =)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thinking About Water

In the past few days, I've been thinking a lot about water. It started a few months ago when I read a glamour article about the grandaughter of that great sea explorer whose name I've forgotten. But she is a water activist now and is trying to teach people how to conserve water.It encouraged me to keep doing what I've been doing as far as pouring leftover drinking water (glasses of water etc) into my plants or the cat/dog bowl, but didn't really take hold of my thoughts. It was striking to me, however, and led me to muse about it now and again.

Then, yesterday, I read some articles about people in New Delhi around the Yamuna river who are upper-middle and middle class and don't even have consistent running water (even though they have pipes). 20-40% of New Delhi's water is lost from leakage due to poor pipe construction and old pipes. This woman has to be even more careful with her water usage and consistently reuses it for other things. She also pays over $45 US dollars (a week?) for 3 different sources of water - running water bill, tanker truck and neighborhood drilled well. She talked about how after she wakes up at 6a.m. she spends her day worrying about how she's going to get water that day.

Then you've got all the lower-middle and lower classes who have no access to running water. The women have to spend their days waiting for water tankers and fighting over water. One woman had to quit her job just so she could wait for water. And even then, a lot spills out into the streets from people filling their jugs. Not to mention the fact that they have open sewers flowing down their streets with unprocessed human waste in them. There are not enough treatment plants to process waste and also little to no restriction on dumping waste in rivers. All this stuff flows down into the Yamuna river, the river that New Delhi was founded on and, ironically, is still considered sacred and holy.  However, this river is pretty much a sewer itself with clumps of waste floating in it and methane bubbles coming from the surface.Despite this, people still bathe, wash clothes, play and work in it. A lot of children a year die from diarrhea and other feces-related deaths before the age of 5. But a lot of those people have no choice. 
Waste from New Delhi pouring into the Yamuna River 

But this is not unique to India.  One blogger talks about how stuff like this is even done in more modern countries like Spain making it risky to drink from the rivers there as well. (I got the picture at the beginning from his blog).  He states facts like "More than 800 million human beings don't have access to safe drinking water of any type, and more than 2.000 million people don't have access to water for sanitation purposes."

So, yeah, water is scarce, they've been telling us that for years, right? Well, right but that doesn't mean that we, in America, can't do something to help. Now I don't really know where our water comes from or goes (water tables and all that) but I do know that even though Colorado has gone through "droughts" we still have water coming out of our taps, our showers and our sprinklers. So the parks had to stop watering their very thirsty Kentucky blue grass? Who cares! We still are waaay luckier than most countries.

Now this is what I'm thinking:  why don't we work on conserving water as well? I know it'll be hard for y'all to give up your 20 minute long showers and that impossibly green lawn, but I think that if we at least cut back in a few ways, it will help. I have thought of some great ways to reduce your water consumption.

1). Don't throw water down the sink! You're finished with that glass of water and you've let it sit there for a few days.  I know that it will taste kinda gross now and I'd rather have a fresh one. But you know who doesn't care? The plant, that lawn, and the dog. Pour the water in there instead.

2). Try to do the 20 minutes showers only on weekends or special-occasion days. I think 7 minutes is what the experts say, but I would time myself to see how long it takes. If you feel that it takes you way to long for your normal routine, think about ways you can cut back. Like, I used to turn off the water when I shaved my legs and after a while I got lazy and stopped. (and I intend to start again, you hecklers!)

3). Make your loads of laundry as full as possible because fewer large loads take less water than many small ones (I read this somewhere, can't remember where now). 

4). Run the water lightly when hand-washing dishes instead of on full tilt. Only use that setting if you need the pressure for the spayer or something.

5). This one is for you PUBLIC WORKS people and BUSINESSES - don't water the grass when it's raining. I mean WTF? Really? I know we, like, NEVER get rain here but seriously. When we do, we should make use of it. Is there some sort of rain meter that can automatically shut of sprinklers when it rains? If there is, everyone should install one.

6). Maybe we could even get really crazy and use small buckets of water to wash and rinse sponges when cleaning counters and stuff? Then only run the water for the final wash....This may not work but I think I'll try it.

7). Ok, seriously, why do medians here have grass on them? Who the F cares about medians? Put some nice rocks or pretty local plants there instead, then you wouldn't have to waste water on something that a person's going to see for less than 5 minutes. 

Ok, this post is getting really long so I'll stop here. I'm sure I've missed stuff, so please post your water-saving strategies. But whatever you do, please keep thinking about water! C'mon ppl!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sunchips bag - Loud AND PROUD

Oh Sun Chips...How I love your multigrain taste and your Harvest Cheddar flavor is like the crack of the chip world. I really don't care if your ingredients are healthier for me or not (54 grams of fat anyone?) but I like to think that the whole grains are really givin' my body the love because they sure are giving my tastebuds some lovin'.

Now, Imagine my surprise when I learn that my beloved Sun Chips have made a compostable bag! WOOHOO world! Now I can buy the most ultimatelytastey chips in the whole world and not feel bad about throwing away the bag. So I do just that and first off I think "HOLY MOLY this bag is loud!" I had to go into the kitchen at work and pour the chips on a plate so I could eat them. 

However, I didn't really give this event much thought. I what? It's a loud bag, but it will biodegrade fast and turn into dirt. I can't complain about that. Though it seems that my fellow Americans took this loudness a bit too seriously. According to the Facebook page: I'm sorry but I can't hear you over this Sun Chips bag Frito-Lay, maker of Sun Chips, is considering switching back to the normal bag because of secret snackers. (Article at bottom).

Here are a few comments from the site.

  • "My hubby said not to buy them anymore because of that bag...."
  • "I'll be honest-I love the fact they were trying to go green...but that thing is SO annoying!"
  • "Dump them into a tuperware container and get over it."
  • "oh yes because a little noise is way less important then the filling of our landfills. If they switch back, I wont eat them again."
  •  "Score: tender ears of the consumer: 1 the Environment: 0"  (sarcasm= positive?)
Smart Facebooker?
"....I suspect that, if these bags break down in a few months, that really limits their shelf lives - especially if the chips were packaged more than a few weeks since the bags were manufactured. And what breaks them down? Do they break downs with moisture? Does a humid environment like Nashville in August shorten the life of those bags? Frankly, I think it was a good idea, but probably didn't work very well."

Maybe the smart Facebooker does have a point. I don't presume to understand how plant-based products work fully, but I can see a valid concern here.  And when you combine that with the noise factor, should Frito-Lay drop its loud bag in favor of garbage dump clogging pastic? Um...NO! Hello people! Really? Did anyone say yes to this? If you did I'm ashamed of youz!  However, there is talk of discontinuing this bag. There is also research going on to reduce the noise factor. I like that latter and I hope they continue with being earth-friendly rather than indulging lazy, overly-sensitive, salt-and-fat-loving Americans. 

I am just here to give some of the love back to Sun Chips and to send my encouraging voice out through the blogosphere. YOU GO, SUN CHIPS! Let's hope these negative complaints dissolve as quickly as your awesome bad in a compost heap!

You can read more about the bag's challenges HERE. 

P.S. what do I have to do to become a secret snacker? ROCK!

EDIT: Apparently Sun Chips ran away like a scared little girl from all the "bag's-too-loud whiners". Now the only bag that's compostable (according to their Garden Salsa and Harvest Cheddar bags) is the original "blue" flavor. Which is still good but way inferior to the other two. Way to drop the ball on that one, Jerkfaces...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Recycle Clothes - And Make Money at It!


I know it's been FO-EV-ER since I've posted, but I am so overwhelmed with topics to write about that I can't seem to settle one one. Also, I realize that I don't know a lot about most of these topics and researching each one will take more time than I have in a week - or month! I have yet to branch into the scary realm of food, though I promise that I will try soon!  However, last week, I made an awesome discovery: Ebay! Some of you have probably already heard of this crazy site, and I'm sure even more of you check it on a weekly (or even daily?) basis. Let me also admit, that I have used ebay before for stuff like kitchen supplies or certain household brands that I like.  And it did occur to me once to look for toys on ebay for the Z-girl to save on plastic packaging.   But last week, oh the humanity!, last week I discovered CLOTHES on ebay. LOTS of clothes for CHEAP!

And that got me to thinking, why not buy 20 pieces of girls clothing online for $90? There are so many pros to this method that I just can't stand it! 

First of all, they looked like they were in good condition, the right size, and also cute! And whatever we didn't like, we could turn around and sell again on Ebay.  I mean think about it, how long does a little kid wear something before she gets too big for it? 3 months? 4 months? 6? I guess some stuff could be used for up to a year, but that's still not long in the scheme of things. And if you are like Z-girl, you have 2 grandmas, 4 great-grandmas, a mom, a step-mom and a step-grandma who all want to buy you the cutest things EVAR! Which means you have a lot of clothes. You have your favorites, Papa has his favorites etc., but a lot of the stuff gets pushed to the wayside.

Second, you are giving money back to a PERSON rather than a company. This appeals to me quite a bit because it seems more real and personal.  Sure, some of these people may be ladies with consignment shops who make a business out of selling, but they're still not a large company or a chain. Also, people who do this for a business manage to put together the CUTEST outfits into lots so you are making sure you get stuff that matches. Also, dealing with real people, it's easier to negotiate, combine shipping and get someone to actually respond to your questions and comments. So...yay for people.

Lastly, think about where those clothes go when you're done with them? Some people may have friends or other children who could take the hand-me-downs, but a lot of us don't. We usually just take them to the Salvation Army (which I hear is a big, richish corporation too now) or Goodwill or other thrift store for MAYBE a tax write-off (but if you're as broke as me, you don't make enough for even that to be worth it). I know these places do charity and good work too, but if you've ever been into one of them you can see that they are practically exploding with stuff. It has always made me wonder where all that stuff goes if noone buys it ever. Though that's a mystery for another day. So selling stuff on Ebay in lots lets you know that your stuff is actually wanted and will be appreciated. Also, you make money from it. It may not be a lot of money but it 100% more than you'd get from a thrift store and probably 90% than you'd get from a consignment shop like Plato's Closet (who'll give you $3 on a pair of Ann Taylor Jeans and then insult your taste of clothes for the rest!).

And, if you're like me and my mom, you've been keeping your nice stuff in storage because it's just "too good" to go to a thrift store but you're utterly sick of wearing it. That means that we at least, will have A LOT of fun putting outfits together to sell.  I'll post again once I've done it to let everyone know how it went.

Girl clothes from Gymboree on Ebay, starting bid $9.99!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Composting Vs. Recycling vs. Trashing (Part Two)

So I really dropped the ball on this one. Summer's been very busy and the last thing I want to do when I get on home from my job working on a computer is get on my computer. But  I feel like I should write this now so that I won't feel bad posting other stuff later....Here goes:

Western Disposal, for those of you who have that, has a convenient composting service that is getting more widespread. Our apartment complex just started it and it's going great. They have a good list of stuff to compost so I'll post that in a bit. But I wanted to first highlight some of the "OMGs" that I learned.

Weird things that are not recyclable that you thought were:
Pizza boxes - the grease makes it "contaminated".

Frozen food boxes (w/ the exception of Amy's Brand) - they are coated w/ plastic so they don't get soggy. (On an unrelated note, Amy's Pesto Tortellini is fabulous!)

 Small Paper bits - when you do single stream recycle the small bits get stuck to the glass, plastic and aluminum.

Plastic Bottle lids - not quite sure why, but yeah. They're not. =( So then birds eat them and die. It's sad.

Luckily, all this stuff except the last one is COMPOSTABLE YAY! Although, with the shredded paper you need to make sure it's wet b/c otherwise when they pour it into their giant grinder it looks like New Year's or a wedding revisited. And trust me, have you ever seen a Western Disposal worker covered in tiny paper bits? I haven't but  can imagine that it's not the prettiest of sights. ;-)

And finally, here's a list of the more obvious things that can be composted.  Depending whether you do the whole process yourself or send it away to do, you may not want to add meat and milk to your compost but I think that's mostly cuz it gets pretty stinky.
  • Yard Waste: 
    • Brush
    • Tree trimmings
    • Grass clippings
    • Weeds
    • Flower clippings
    • Leaves 
    • Small amounts of dirt
  • Food Waste 
    • Vegetables
    • Meat 
    • Dairy
  • Wax coated cardboard 
  • Paperboard 
  • Some papers which are not otherwise recyclable: 
    • Napkins 
    • Paper Towels 
    • Kleenex 
    • Paper bits 
  • Compostable (not just biodegradable) utensils, cups,  plates 

Check out "The Compost Bin" in my sidebar for more info on Composting! And do it if you can.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Plastic Waste: Ignorance is NOT Bliss (once you learn)

Ok, so I really am not trying to sound preachy in over the environment b/c I hate it when people act condescending about stuff like the environment, but I figure if you're reading this you are at least a little bit concerned about your waste habits. However, I found two news articles today that actually make me feel sick about the world's waste. Sick to the point of wondering how the hell we're going to fix this problem. There are billions of people in the world and I'm sure billions who don't recycle, compost or try to reduce their consumption. And these billions include companies who manufacture this detritus. It's absolutely horrible.

The first is a video from the BBC about a beach in Hawaii that's just being littered in plastic trash. Yes, Hawaii, a place that seems to you to be island paradise. Well, this is not at all paradise.

The second is a note with pictures about how plastic is becoming the diet of albatross chicks, leading to the death of thousands each year. The pictures are not for the faint of heart, showing pictures of partially decomposed bird skeletons with their stomachs full of bottle caps, lighters, door stops and other unidentifiable bits of plastic. It makes me wonder about those plastic bottle caps. This infuriates me to no end - both the fact that they're not made to be recyclable and also that recycling companies won't do it. I have no idea WHY this is the case, but it's absolutely inexcusable! There are millions of these bottles made a year and we still haven't figured out how to get rid of the caps? Christ......

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

COMPOSTING! YAY! (part one)

Hi! It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve be very entrenched in mentally draining and environmentally wasteful activities like traveling, moving and unpacking boxes (which I’ve been recycling!). Now I’m finally mostly settled in my new home. (It’s awesome!) Despite being filled with whiny “what’s-being-done-about-this?” tenants, it has its benefits.  One huge one that’s really exciting to me is that the complex has been working with the trash guys on composting. Now, when we go dump our trash and our single-stream recycling, we can also dump our compost!

Composting has been an intimidating endeavor for me because in the past it always seemed to involve bad smells, ick, worms and lots of work. And, granted, I really appreciate the worms’ job in this process but unless they’re paying rent, I just can’t fit them in the tiny apartment. This is why it’s so great the the trash guys now pick up compost and have “out-sourced” their rotten food munching to giant grinders. (Unfortunately worm labour unions all over the country are taking offense…) This makes it possible to compost a lot more without added effort (like the 3 lbs of Kleenexes a week I use during allergy season).

So I decided to get my family in on this composting thing and have been teaching them what I learn. Since it is a kind of scary new form of trash reduction for a lot of people, I thought it would be useful to teach you guys how to make a “compost” kit to get you started and make a list of the thing that I’ve learned that can and cannot be composted. Now, as I don’t have worm or tumbler experience, I’m going to have to seek out experts for that step, but if you have a trash service that will pick up compost here are the easy steps to get “in” on that.

1). Sign up for the service
2). Buy the supplies
3). Keep the bin in a cool place
4). Compost everything you possibly can
5). Empty regularly
6). Be prepared to harbor gnat fugitives. Luckily, they don’t eat much.
7). Know that it does smell a bit

The basic supplies for composting that you will need are:

 - Composting pail: I got the cheapest one at the hardware store that had solid walls (vs. holes). It cost $10 or $15.  It’s plastic, about a 3 gallon or smaller size and has a top and a handle. It turns out that it’s actually too small for my family (see the Kleenex comment above) but since emptying it only involves going down stairs, it’ll do for now. Eventually I want to get a decorative bamboo one for the kitchen counter so that I don’t have to run out to the patio for every Kleenex.You can also get them in steel, stainless steel, or ceramic (and probably others...).
Filters: My box came with 1 filter and I bought a pack of 3 more just so we'd have no excuse to stop composting. Usually, each bin will have a place to put the filter and so you have to make sure you're buying the right ones. And even though in the link a pack is around  $10, they last for 3-4 months each. And you can probably get them for cheaper on the web or w/ a Bed, Bath and Beyond or hardware store coupon. Also, they do, indeed, work. 

- BioBag's Food Waste Bags: Oh, good ol' BioBag. Good for scooping cat and dog poo (NOT compostable). Good for lining your compost canister so it stays less icky. I got the Food Waste ones (~1 gallon) for around $7 at the hardware store, but it looks like you may be able to get them online for cheaper. We are looking into getting the 10-gallon bags to make a bigger compost

A word of warning though, since the bags are compostable, they do start breaking down in the heat so if your compost is too hot, be careful taking the full bag out. 

*NOTE: Not all "biodegradable" bags are compostable. Some are labeled as "biodegradable" because they are made of plastic w/ a chemical in them that helps them break down faster. These should NOT go in your compost b/c they're not made of plant matter. BioBags are made of corn so that's why they're compostablehere.

Soooooooooooooo, that's all you really need to start off with. Since once you throw all your waste in a BioBag and dump it in the appropriate bin! And away it goes!

I will try to get a guest writer here who actually goes through the whole process and uses the compost in her garden. And the next post will be about what is compostable and what is not. (If you're curious in the interim, check out The Compost Bin (in links on the right side) or Western Disposal's website.)  And eventually you'll get something that looks about like this!