Friday, May 23, 2008

Want a Bite of the Big Green Apple?

I’m leaving today—in a few minutes actually—for a much-anticipated trip to New York. Mark and I have planned as green a trip as possible. You might think eco travel in New York City would be easy to plan, but it really wasn’t. It seems Central Park is still the greenest thing in Manhattan . . . but, with a bit of research, we managed to find a lot to see and do.

We’re taking this trip with our “economic stimulus” refund. We plan to stimulate a lot of green stores in Gotham with our green money. Last year, we had hoped to take a trip to Europe this spring, but decided against it because of the weak dollar—plus we think, in this economy, it’s good to spend our money as close to home as possible. Oh, and to save on gas (and pollution) we'll be driving our hybrid one state down to Connecticut and then taking a train into the city.

I’ll share the highlights of our Big Apple trip with you when I return. In the meantime, have a great green Memorial Day weekend.

Question of the blog: Has the strong Euro and/or price of gas influenced your travel plans?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Does Barnes & Noble Want Us To Be Fat?

I blogged earlier about ordering a healthy eating book called The pH Miracle: Balance Your Diet, Reclaim Your Health by Dr. Robert Young. It arrived today, along with two other healthy eating books: You Are What You Eat: The Plan That Will Change Your Life and Slim for Life: The Ultimate Health and Detox Plan by Dr. Gillian McKeith.

I ordered the books through Barnes & Noble and they arrived with something rather shocking: A coupon for a free chicken sandwich from McDonald’s.

Just picture it: I rip open the box, eager to get advice on improving my diet (eating better for myself and the planet) and out falls a picture of a chicken sandwich. It actually made me laugh out loud. But it really wasn’t funny. I’ve been a vegetarian for many years so there was absolutely no temptation but what if I was addicted to fast food and bought those books in an effort to change my life? Using a free chicken sandwich coupon as a bookmark might make it easier to fall off the wagon.

I’m waiting for the day that I order something and get a coupon for a free apple.

Question of the blog: Has McDonald’s infiltrated places that surprise you?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Did They Miss the Point Or What? [Part 2]

Yesterday, when I was at Macy’s to buy an organic shirt, I asked if I could put my purchase in my cloth bag without using a plastic Macy’s bag.

“I’m sorry, I have to use a Macy’s bag, it’s our policy,” the clerk said.

“But I don’t use plastic bags,” I answered.

“I’ll use the smallest plastic bags we have,” she said, flapping the bag open.

“I really don’t use plastic.”

She huffed (literally, huffed) and said, “Well, you can throw it out when you get out the door.”

Ouch. And . . . are you kidding me?

“If I have to use a plastic bag, I won’t buy this shirt,” I said.

In this case, the (green) customer was right and I walked out with my organic tee and without a plastic Macy’s bag.

It’s Macy's policy to force a petroleum-based product on their customers? Now I remember why I haven’t shopped at Macy’s in years.

Question of the blog: Why do you think plastic bags are almost taboo in grocery stores but are still perfectly acceptable in department stores?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Did They Miss The Point Or What?

I just returned from a quick trip to Macy’s. My Mom told me they sell organic t-shirts. Cool organic t-shirts. And she’s right. I bought one. But right next to the organic shirts are shirts that carry an environmental message, but aren’t environmental. [They aren’t organic and are made overseas.]

It’s a classic case of missing the point.

The green movement isn’t about posturing or pretending. It’s about action. So people who truly care don’t just wear a shirt that says “Save the Environment” they actually wear shirts that help to save the environment.

Macy’s and designers: Please take note.

Question of the blog: What are some of the ways you see people trying to take advantage of the green movement?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Is it Myrna-Approved?

Recently, Mark and I decided it’s time for a change in our bedroom: We painted the walls.

Of course, we decided the entire process had to be green, so we went to Home Depot ( and bought their FreshAir primer and paint and their eco painting starter kit. The cost is a little more than conventional paints and supplies, but it’s absolutely worth the investment.

As we went through check out, the cashier said, “The only complaint about this paint is it doesn’t have that paint smell. I know that’s the whole point, but there’s something about that smell.” I understood. The smell of paint has traditionally been part of the process . . . back before we all figured out paint fumes are actually toxic.

Anyway, Mark and I rushed back home and got to work. The no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paint is just like ordinary paint, just without the strong odor. During the process, our precocious one-year-old Siamese, Myrna, snuck into our room. Myrna has allergies (side note: So does our dog. When I was growing up, I never heard of an animal having allergies; did you?) and she is highly sensitive to smells. She recoils from just about anything with a strong odor. I watched as she walked up to the open paint can, thinking she’d quickly back away, but she didn’t. She sniffed it for a while and then started attacking the brushes.

It’s official: FreshAir paint is Myrna approved.

Question of the blog: What’s your experience been with no-VOC paint?

Friday, May 16, 2008

What’s Your pH Balance?

Some people say “everything happens for a reason” but I prefer to think that there is a balance in life. If Monday is a really challenging day, for example, I get myself through it by thinking that Tuesday is bound to be much better. Life, in general, strives for a happy medium and when we get too far out on an extreme, we always head back to center (although sometimes we overcompensate by going to the other extreme). The goal though, always, is balance.

It's an idea often associated with diet, as in a balanced diet. But what does that mean? Some might argue that a balanced diet is holding your Big Mac is one hand and your giant Slurpee in the other. Of course, we all know better. Or do we, really?

I’ve long thought that school only teaches us half the really important things in life. We need to be taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, but we also need to be taught how to eat right, have good relationships, even how to do our taxes. Unfortunately, it’s up to us to figure out those life lessons on our own. And the McDonald’s drive-thru has become to nutrition what Cliff Notes is to Shakespeare: It might make you full, but it won’t fill you up.

I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years and a vegan for a while and interested in raw, local, organic food for several months. I’m always reading books and articles on nutrition and health and trying new things. Recently, I heard about the importance of having proper pH balance. Our bodies strive to have a pH balance of just over 7 and, when we’re out of balance because of the poor food choices we make, the steps our bodies go through to get us back in balance could make us sick. Really sick.

There are pH strips you can buy ( to figure out your pH number. I’m going to get them. There’s also a book called The pH Miracle ( I just ordered that’s supposed to be enlightening and inspiring. Apparently the author, Dr. Young, advocates an 80% green diet. That puts a whole new spin on going green.

Question of the blog: If I show you my pH number, will you show me yours?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Like it Raw?

Back in November, I began incorporating raw organic food into my diet. Now, I start every day with fresh juice made from green vegetables, ginger, and lemon followed by a fresh fruit smoothie. I also have a salad for lunch and lots of dried fruits and nuts—and carob—as snacks.

Two women were my inspiration to go raw and get healthier: Kris Carr and her documentary Crazy Sexy Cancer ( and Natalia Rose and her book The Raw Food Detox Diet ( Since November, I lost 20 pounds, but have since hit a wall. I’ve been searching for a means to break through that wall (I want to lose another 20) and I think I found it with a third woman who recently turned my inspiration duo into a trio: Bunny Berry (

Bunny is currently one third of the way through a 100-day raw food challenge. In her words, she’s “37, fat, fatigued, and ready to change [her] life.” She has been keeping a blunt blog about her journey with pictures, video diaries, and terrific stories documenting her highs and lows. Bunny lets us all the way in, showing raw emotion (excuse the pun) and not holding back. Also, I adore her style. She’s funny, slightly sarcastic, and whimsical and she has big plans. I can relate.

I’ve been toying with the idea of conducting my own all-raw food challenge. Even though I eat a lot of raw food now, I never have a raw dinner. My only hesitation with going all the way is that I’m married to a guy who could eat a dozen Snickers a day and somehow lose weight and so I can’t ask him to go raw with me. I’m afraid he’d waste away . . . he’d also tick me off as I saw the pounds shed off him and cling to me like body paint. But that creates a challenge on top of a challenge: Preparing a cooked meal for Mark every night and preparing an uncooked meal for me. It’s not the extra work that concerns me. It’s having to sit opposite him while he devours steaming spaghetti while I pick at my mock hummus. In other words, I don’t want to be green while being green with envy.

Why do it, then? You might be asking yourself. Well, I do believe that eating raw is great for the environment and great for me. Eating raw most of the day has already transformed my life and I really want to break through and see all of raw food’s benefits. At this point, I don’t want to eat exclusively raw for the rest of my life, but I think I need a boost to break through the wall and never look back.

Thanks for the boost, Bunny.

Question of the blog: What’s your favorite raw snack or meal?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Got Time for a Great (Green) Work-Out?

Don’t hate me, but I actually enjoy working out. The challenge. The accomplishment. The physical transformation. For the past five years, I’ve worked out five or six days a week, doing Tae Bo tapes or walking on the treadmill and lifting weights. It’s gotten to the point where I feel antsy and down if I don’t work out so it’s something I have to do.

Several months ago, I changed up my routine and started taking the advice of no-holds-barred trainer by the name of Rocco Castellano ( Rocco is a proponent of a back-to-basics exercise philosophy that uses only the energy we produce. In other words, unplug the treadmill and turn off the TV and DVD player and get an ever better work-out than normal.

Rocco’s 15-minute circuit includes the following five exercises:
· Jumping jacks
· Mountain climbers
· Push-ups or negative push-ups
· Lunges
· And criss-cross crunches

No special equipment is required and you can perform this circuit anywhere. I do one minute of each and do each circuit three times. It’s amazing how quickly I felt and saw a difference. I guess you could say it’s a green work-out routine that’s got real muscle.

Question of the blog: Is green a consideration when you work out?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Stupid or Arrogant? Or (Gasp) Both?

Recently, I’ve seen commercials for a major car maker offering free gas with the purchase of one of its gas-guzzling cars. I’ve also seen ads for a local dealer offering $2.99 gas for three years with the purchase of one of its gas-guzzling used cars. I’ve also heard politicians arguing over the gas tax and releasing the gas reserve.

Here’s a suggestion: Wake up and smell the toxic gasoline.

Green is in. Gas is out. Well, it isn’t out (yet) but it should be. I was born during a gas crisis, three decades ago, and we’re still working on learning the same lesson. It’s amazing to me. It’s also more than a little sad, and more than a little disturbing. Is it that we’re stupid or arrogant? Never mind I asked! The price of gas isn’t the issue, it’s gas itself. Where it comes from, how it’s treated, how it’s marked up (and marked up again and again and again), and what it does to the environment.

If only we had a solution. Oh, wait, we do: Hybrid cars.

Until we’re finally free of our gas handcuffs, hybrid cars are intelligent alternatives. I drive a Toyota Prius. I get, on average, 49 miles per gallon. And the Prius isn’t expensive; it was voted “Best Car Under $25,000” by one of those major car magazines. Notice that’s “Best Car” and not “Best Hybrid.” I agree with their assessment. I think my Prius is the best car on the road. Whenever I pass some expensive, show-off car, I no longer feel a twinge of jealousy. I actually feel bad for everyone who drives something else.

My only complaint? When the car is in reverse, it makes a horrible beeping sound inside the car. [Note to Toyota: As the driver, I know when the car is in reverse. I’m the one who puts it in reverse. That sound is only appropriate for large trucks, and only when projected outside the truck to warn others.]

Question of the blog: If you drive a Prius, have you figured out how to turn off the horrible beeping sound inside the car when you’re in reverse? I’ll send a free EcoVixen ( cloth shopping tote to the first person to provide a suggestion that does the trick.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Care to Make a (Green) Toast?

I’ve been a wine enthusiast since graduating from college about a dozen years ago (my uncle gave me a bottle of good wine and I was hooked) and I’ve been a traveler for as long as I can remember (literally—my first memory is a trip I took with my family when I was just two years old). As a travel writer since 2001, I’ve been lucky enough to combine these two passions with trips to wine regions, from Tuscany to Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Recently, my passion for all things green has entered the mix as well and I’m searching for great wine with an eco pedigree . . . and I just found a winery I’d like to share with you: Yalumba Winery (

Yalumba is Australia’s oldest family owned winery (operating for over 150 years) and they happen to have a holistic approach to their environmental practices with a focus on sustainability of natural resources. Here’s how their website describes their commitment to the environment: “At Yalumba environmentally-friendly sustainable activities are recognized as an intrinsic aspect of wine quality. In order to substantiate this aspect of quality, Yalumba has implemented a brand stewardship program that reflects authenticity, due diligence, product safety and credible environmental management. Yalumba is committed to working co-operatively with its suppliers of goods and services to help them minimize their environmental impacts by adopting clean technology and best practice procedures. All things being equal, Yalumba also strives to give preference to locally produced goods and services. Furthermore, the company seeks to encourage its customers to dispose of product packaging in an environmentally and socially responsible manner.”

In 2007, Yalumba Winery was the first winery in the world to receive the Climate Protection Award from the US Environmental Protection Agency and, in 2005, was the first company to be officially recognized by the Australian Government’s Green Office as a “Leader” in greenhouse gas management. Their list of green awards is impressive.

And so is their wine.

Yalumba has several organic wines. Unfotunately, I couldn’t find any in my local wine shop, so I tried a 2006 Shiraz Viognier. Some wine expert rated it 88 points and I think it deserves to be 90. At least. It’s wildly aromatic (with sweet fruits on the nose) with the taste of dark berries and soft tannins at the finish. I had it with a piece of dark chocolate and it was ridiculously good. If you can find it, get a bottle (or two) for yourself. And, when you enjoy it, offer up a toast to the environment.

Question of the blog: What’s your favorite green wine?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Interested in Green Bargain Shopping Tips?

Please allow me to introduce myself: I am the bargain shopper and, recently, have become the green bargain shopper as well. There is something immensely gratifying about finding a great deal on a great green product. There is also something immensely gratifying about passing along these “finds” to others.

Target ( is my go-to for bargains and, in a recent blog, I revealed the exceptional Method ( and Flor ( deals I found there. I returned to Target this week and found additional green bargain shopping deals:

· Natura ( pillows. For around $40/each, these good-for-you and good-for-the-earth pillows are a steal.

· Burt’s Bees ( products. We all know and love Burt and his bees and their wide range of natural lotions and potions. When I was in the store earlier this week, they all happened to be on sale.

If you don’t live near a Target store, check out the eco friendly page on their site ( with all kinds of products to reduce, reuse, recycle (from recycled dinnerware to solar powered items to Energy Star appliances) . . . bamboo, hemp, and jute products (from rugs to yoga gear to pet supplies) . . . organic products (from bedding to apparel to toys) . . . natural beauty products (from Avalon Alba to Juice Organics to Jason) . . . and pre-owned products (from iPods to TVs to videos).

Switching stores, I've also found that many TJX stores ( like TJ Maxx and HomeGoods carry well-made and well-priced organic goods. I just stocked up on organic towels at TJ Maxx—and all on super clearance, of course.

In an ideal world, we’d all support our local stores—especially health food stores—and we’d ignore the giant retailers. But every dollar counts in an economy like this. My suggestion is to shop green at Target and TJX (and all others that carry green products) while also spending as much green as you can at your local stores . . . even the green bargain shopper pays retail once in a while when I know my money is helping my local economy.

Question of the blog: Where do you find your best green bargains?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Want to Hear a Funny (Sort of) Story?

At the Go Green Expo ( in New York City a couple of weeks ago, my first sale for EcoVixen ( wasn’t a sale at all: Someone stole a “Karma” bag.

Now, as the name of the bag implies, this cloth shopping tote plays on the law of moral causation. On the front it says, "You don't want to return as a plastic bag, do you? Don't mess with Karma." And on the back it says, “What goes around, comes around." and "Reducing. Reusing. Recycling. Keeping Karma Happy."

And, yes, someone at an environmentally friendly expo stole it!

[If you happen to be the person who did this, know that I am not angry at all; rather, I’m sad you live a life where that behavior is normal and that the possibility of coming back as a plastic bag and living 1,000 years in a landfill appeals to you.]

Along a similar line, I was at the store today and a woman in front of me in line was wearing a nice “Save the Earth” t-shirt . . . and she walked out of the store with half a dozen plastic bags. I wanted to run after her and demand that she remove her t-shirt at once, but I didn’t think that would go over well.

For me—and, I hope, for you—green isn’t a fad, it isn’t a way to make money (or rip people off), or “pretend” to be something I’m not. Green is who I am and who I feel I’ve always been. Going green is my passion and I’m glad it’s something I seem to be sharing with more and more people. Just not a certain person carrying a “Karma” bag or a lady wearing a “Save the Earth” t-shirt.

Question of the blog: Does anything in the green movement (posers, scam artists, etc.) that annoys you?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Want a (Green) Summer Read?

Like any mother and daughter, my Mom and I have a lot in common and plenty of differences. One of our commonalities is our love of books and one of our differences is the books we read. I like to read quirky books that make me think and hopefully laugh—like A. J. Jacob’s The Know-It-All: One Man's Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World—and my Mom likes to read what I’d describe as sappy love stories.

To give my Mom credit, these books are her guilty pleasure. She runs an Emergency Room and works just shy of 100 hours a week and easy-to-read books help her relax after a busy day of, well, saving lives. That’s fine. Good for her. Except . . . she always passes her books on to me when she’s done. I hope my Mom’s not reading this because I’m going to make a confession: I pass them on to Goodwill without ever cracking the spine.

That is, until now.

On Friday, my Mom handed me a copy of Dorothea Benton Frank’s The Land of Mango Sunsets and something about the cover (a low country beach house with a view of a spectacular sunset) made me want to read the story. Against my better judgment, and my aversion to the horrible name, I started to read it.

It’s not Shakespeare (it’s not even A. J. Jacobs) but there is something worth noting: One of the main characters is an environmentalist. The author provides just enough background information on certain green issues to—hopefully—influence some people as they read the book.

My one complaint is that the character has a goat and smokes pot, as if those of us in the green movement always have to be different in some way. But, still, I’m happy the message is getting out there. Now please excuse me: My goat needs to be fed.

Question of the blog: Are you generally happy with the ways green is becoming mainstream?

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Who is That White-Bearded Guy?

Take a walk around almost any health food store and you’ll probably pass a photo of a smiling man sporting a white beard on some of the products you see: It’s Dr. Weil.

Who is Dr. Weil? Here’s how his website ( answers that question: Andrew Weil, M.D., has devoted the past thirty years to developing, practicing, and teaching others about the principles of integrative medicine. Dr. Weil combines a Harvard education and a lifetime of practicing natural and preventive medicine to provide a unique approach to health care which encompasses body, mind, and spirit.

Harvard sounds impressive but, for me, there’s something you can trust in the Doctor’s eyes.

Stay with me for a minute. I was recently in New York City for Go Green Expo ( with Debby from Real Green Goods ( and I was telling Debby about my favorite raw snack bar: Lara Bars ( and Debby, my green guru, asked me: Is it organic? I admit . . . I hadn’t looked. When I did, here’s what I found: They are six natural ingredients or less and there’s no added sugar or GMO and they’re gluten-free, dairy-free, soy free, kosher, and vegan without fillers, supplements, flavorings, or sweeteners but they are not organic.

Later that weekend, Debby and I were getting breakfast at Whole Foods Market ( and I saw that Dr. Weil has raw snack bars of his own: Dr. Weil's Pure Fruit & Nut Bar. They are just like Lara Bars, but—this time—they are organic. His banana bar has just three ingredients and has a strong banana flavor (that is real banana, nothing imitation). I bought an entire box.

Question of the blog: If you’re a fan of Dr. Weil, what’s your favorite part of the Weil lifestyle?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Care For Some Juiced Romaine Hearts?

It was my birthday recently and Mark bought me a juicer from Breville ( and I’ve been juicing like a green maniac ever since. The verdict: Juice is highly energizing, just be careful of how many beets you use!

Among many other things, I’ve juiced oranges, spinach, romaine hearts, and beets (now I know to use no more than half of one unless I acquire a taste for dirt). Everything I use is organic and I drink the juice first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach. It’s like a shot of pure energy.

Here’s the recipe for the juice I made today (all fruits and vegetables are organic):
1” ginger
2 carrots
1 lemon (I zest it first and freeze the zest)
1 lime (same note about the zest)
2 small apples
1 bunch of kale
½ small red beet
½ cucumber

The color of this juice is ruby and the apples give it sweetness, the ginger gives it heat, and the citrus cuts through any “green” flavor. I love it and highly recommend it. Oh, and here’s my secret: Juice tastes best when it’s really cold so I serve mine over ice. One last thing: I compost everything that's left in the juicer.

Question of the blog: If you have one, what's your favorite juice recipe?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Need a Miracle? How About 82 Miracles?

My parents took today off from work and the three of us enjoyed a road trip together to Boston, MA and then Concord, NH. In Concord, we went to the city’s green department store, Real Green Goods (which is also online at and then went to the Concord Co-Op; while there, I found Tate’s The Miracle Conditioner (

I had read about this "miracle" once and was excited to see it on the shelf. It’s an all natural product with no parabens, sulfites, glycols, dyes, or fragrance and it’s gluten free. It has 82 different uses (yeah, 82—it’s like the duct tape of the green movement). Tate’s The Miracle Conditioner is everything from an intense hair conditioner to hand lotion to muscle rub to deodorant.

I’ve already used it—successfully—in three different ways. Three ways, and counting . . .

Question of the blog: What’s your favorite green beauty product?

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Got (Clean) Water?

So first there was the stream, but the streams got polluted. And then there was the tap, and then the pipes got rusty and the water ended up with pharmaceuticals in it. And then there was the plastic bottle, typically filled not with H2o from pristine sources but with city tap water . . . and served up in rather pervasive plastic bottles that aren't very good for us in the first place.

The debate about water is enough to make me want a drink—although, not a drink of water, of course.

So I showed up at the Go Green Expo ( last weekend with a pink water bottle made of a type of plastic I was told was safe when I bought it months ago. Instantly, Debby, my green guru from Real Green Goods ( told me I needed to stop using that bottle. As always, though, she had a solution: Klean Kanteen (

These cool bottles are all stainless steel. They won’t leech. They won’t break (at least, not easily). And they are meant to be used over and over again, so they won’t end up by the billions in our landfills.

I’ve been using mine all week, and even non-green people I know have commented on it. They’re that cool. Ditch the plastic and get your own canteen ASAP.

Question of the blog: What's your take on the water debate?