Monday, June 30, 2008

Who Is Protecting Us From Our Protection?

In the current issue of Vegetarian Times, the magazine gives a “Stick” (its version of a slap on the wrist) to the Food and Drug Administration for “failing to issue sunscreen-safety standards for more than three decades.” According to the article, “research by the Environmental Working Group [indicates] 84 percent of 910 name-brand sunscreen products either offer inadequate sun protection or contain ingredients with significant safety concerns.”

Let me pick up where Vegetarian Times left off and share this thought: The good news is we’re now informed and we have green alternatives.

Debby, my green guru from Real Green Goods ( highly recommends Badger SPF 30 For Face & Body ( As it happens, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) listed its five best (and worst) sunscreens . . . and, wouldn’t you know, Badger SPF 30 is at the top of their “Best” list.

Trust me, if it's good enough for EWG and Debby, it's good enough for us! Just for kicks, here are all the sunscreens on both of EWG's lists:

1. Badger SPF 30
2. Peter Thomas Roth Titanium Dioxide Sunblock SPF 30
3. Sun Spray Sun Screen Neutral SPF 40
4. UV Natural Baby SPF30+ Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
5. Vanicream Sunscreen Sport (formerly Sunscreen SPF 35) SPF 35

1. L'Oréal Dermo-Expertise Line Eraser, Pure Retinol, Daily Treatment with SPF 15
2. B. Kamins Chemist Bio-Maple day cream SPF 15
3. Neutrogena Healthy Skin Face Lotion with SPF 15
4. B. Kamins Chemist Day Cream SPF 15
5.Caren et Cie Face Treatment (French Vanilla) SPF 15

For more information, visit . . . and then buy some sunscreen-you-can-trust, get outside, and enjoy your (safe and protected) time in the summer sun.

Question of the blog: Where are you in the spectrum in terms of transitioning from conventional to natural body care products?

Friday, June 27, 2008

How Can Anyone Sleep Through THIS Alarm?

Yesterday, on my way to see my Dad in the hospital (he’s fine!) I had to do something I haven’t done in a very long time: Stop for gas.

Seriously, I can’t remember the last time my Prius was running on empty.

I pulled up to a pump and saw that the car—or, more likely, the SUV—that had been there before me spent $75 on gas. $75! I was almost on empty and it cost me just shy of $30 to fill it up. [By the way, it was 150 miles round trip, to the hospital and back, and my fuel gage barely moved.]

As I was pumping the gas, I heard a loud rumble and sensed the presence of something very large behind me. Yes, it was an SUV, waddling its way towards the pump next to mine. In what can only be called one of the stupidest things I have ever seen for perhaps a dozen reasons, the equally large woman driving the SUV waddled from the cab to the pump, without bothering to turn off the ignition.

How dense can you be?

I was soon to find out. A little while later, as I waited for eight hours in the hospital with my Mom (again, my Dad is doing fine now) I told her it’s so hard to be awake when so many people are asleep. Then, at lunchtime, we walked to the cafeteria—I had packed our salads, dressing, forks, and hemp napkins—and I was shocked to see everyone walking around with Styrofoam.

Isn’t a hospital about preserving life? There will be nothing left to preserve if our earth sickens and dies.

I asked the same question of the hospital when my Dad, back in his room recovering, was given his meal options. White bread. Mayo-rich chicken salad. The (disgusting and unhealthy) list went on and on. Sadly, my Dad wanted nothing more than a protein bar—which, of course, they didn’t have.

Okay, this is the end of my Week of Green Complaints. Next week, I’ll share some of my favorite new Green finds. Until then, have a great weekend!

Question of the blog: How do we get people who are asleep to wake up?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wanna Know What PETA Said?

Earlier this week, I wrote about my surprise in finding that PETA’s line of t-shirts isn't exclusively (or even mostly) organic. In addition to sharing the news with you, I sent an email to PETA. And I got a response. Here it is (unedited):

Dear Kristyn,

Thank you for your comments and for the information you have provided. Currently we have one organic cotton product, the Unisex yellow “
Happy Families” tee and we hope to carry more organic apparel in the future.

Unfortunately, just about anything we do has some adverse effect on the environment. As you already know, this is compounded when we consume products derived from animals since we are hurting the animals themselves, in addition to the environment, and that is why we promote a vegan lifestyle.

We, like you, would like to see the use of all animals and animal ingredients eliminated. We also recognize that, unfortunately, it is impossible to be a total vegan. Although changes are taking place with almost everything, there are animal products and/or animal tests wrapped up in our wallboard, paints, car tires, the asphalt we drive on, printing fluid, you name it. Ultimately, we encourage people to make choices that will have the most positive impact for animals.

While we will consider your suggestion, perhaps you will take comfort in knowing that we currently purchase T-shirts made by American Apparel which are screen printed by a nonprofit screen printer who employs people in the US.

We hope this information is helpful. Thank you for caring and all that you do for animals.

Kindest regards,
PETA Customer Service Staff

I was pleased to get a response, but I’m still surprised that they only carry one organic shirt (note: If you follow the link, it’s only the yellow “Happy Families” shirt that’s organic; all the other shirts with the same design are not organic . . . figure that one out). I’m also surprised they “hope” to carry more in the future.

I’m a total animal rights activist—I even waited for a frog to cross my path while I was mowing the lawn yesterday—but I think we all need to take a global, green, and vegan approach to life. Meaning, we should make the best possible choices for Mother Earth, which includes her animals and her humans.

Question of the blog: Since “Made in the USA” and animal-friendly organic t-shirts are available—and are now more affordable than ever—why use/wear anything else?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Can I Get a Green Amen?

The other day, as we were leaving the grocery store, I shared with Mark that I had the urge to scream at every single person leaving the store with a cartload of plastic bags.

I mean, seriously, you have to live at the bottom of a deep hole not to know that plastic bags are bad . . . and really easy to replace with earth-friendly cotton bags (see for my cloth bags for men and women—sorry for the shameless plug).

Anyway, Mark—ever the voice of reason—said that screaming at people wouldn’t change their habits. If anything, it would make them think I was the crazy one. I saw his point, but I still wanted to buy a megaphone and head to the nearest grocery store.

And then I had my own encounter with crazy.

I was in Concord, NH—a really green town (, if you’re ever in the area—and a pleasant woman came over to me while I was walking along Main Street and asked how I was doing. I did something stupid: I responded. She took my answer as the opportunity to start talking to me about a certain well-known religion. Now, I went to certain-well-known-religion school for 12 years, so I’m aware of everything she had to say. I believe—with all my heart—that we should be good, decent, and loving people and yet, because of that belief, I find it hard to accept the idea of eternal damnation.

Even if I don’t believe in a specific story, I’m still a good, decent, and loving person. And, if we’re going to be judged, shouldn’t we be judged by our actions and not our beliefs? But I digress . . .

After telling the now-no-longer pleasant woman that I didn’t want to talk about a certain well-known religion, she proceeded to follow me for several blocks, praying out loud for me and letting me know she’d continue to pray my family and me (hey, how did my family get into this?). I’m just thankful she didn’t have a megaphone.

When I saw Mark, I uttered the three little words he likes to hear most in the world: You were right.

Question of the blog: How do you temper your green passion?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Is Banana Republic Trying to Green-Wash Us?

I was pleased to hear Banana Republic has incorporated organics into their line . . . but when I went to their site, I could find little more than a t-shirt that was marketed as an “eco-friendly staple” but was really just 5% organic. Which, from another perspective, is 87% not-organic cotton and 8% definitely-not-organic spandex.

To quote Mark, “Is that the best they could do?”

Speaking of, I made a donation to PETA recently and got their newsletter in the mail yesterday. I was moved by the stories (of course) and also by their line of fun and funky t-shirts. I went online to order one, assuming they were organic, or maybe bamboo or hemp.

Not only wasn't I able to find sustainable fabrics, but some shirts are 50% polyester, which is a petroleum product . . . which isn’t good for Mother Nature or animals.

To quote Mark, “How many polyesters were killed in the making of that t-shirt?”

Question of the blog: Would you buy an “eco-friendly" product that was 95% anti-eco?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Did Rachael Ray Make THAT?

I eat almost exclusively raw food. I’m still surprised so many people think it’s strange. Basically, I eat nutritious food prepared by none other than Mother Nature herself.

Recently, another raw foodist suggested I click on the “nutrition” button on the Dunkin’ Donuts website and look at the ingredients for their garden salad. To save you the steps, here they are (unedited):

INGREDIENTS: ICEBERG LETTUCE, ROMAINE LETTUCE, ROASTED RED PEPPERS (Red Peppers, Water, Salt, Citric Acid), CARROT, TOMATO, CHEDDAR CHEESE [Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Annatto (Vegetable Color), Potato Starch And Powdered Cellulose (To Prevent Caking)], CUCUMBER, RED ONION, CHEESE & GARLIC CROUTONS [Enriched Flour (Wheat Flour, Barley Malt, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Water, Whole Wheat Flour, Yeast, Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup, 2% Or Less Of The Following: Whey, Dextrose, Rye Meal, Parsley, Garlic, Natural And Artificial Flavor, Parmesan Cheese And Enzyme Modified Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Cultured Nonfat Milk, Caramel Color, Honey, Wheat Gluten, Calcium Propionate (Mold Inhibitor), Dough Conditioners (May Contain One Or More Of The Following: Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Peroxide, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Ascorbic Acid), Annatto, Extractives Of Turmeric And Paprika (Color), TBHQ (To Preserve Freshness)].

If Dunkin’ Donut’s so-called garden salad—please, may I never see that garden—is so scary, what are the ingredients in, say, their Bacon Lover's Supreme Breakfast Sandwich? Brace yourself (again, this is unedited):

Egg Patty [Whole Eggs, Whey, Pasteurized Process Monterey Jack Cheese (Monterey Jack Cheese (Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Water, Milkfat, Sodium Phosphate, Salt, Sodium Hexametaphosphate), Green Pepper, Red Pepper, Skim Milk, Potatoes (Potatoes, Dextrose, Disodium Dihydrogen Pyrophosphate (Added To Maintain Color), Potassium Sorbate (Added To Maintain Freshness), Swiss And Mushroom Round (Swiss Cheese And Pasteurized Swiss Cheese Product (Swiss Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Water, Milkfat, Sodium Phosphate, Lactic Acid, Salt, Sorbic Acid (Preservative), Natural Flavors, Sodium Citrate, Xanthan Gum), Roasted Mushrooms (Mushrooms, Canola Oil, Salt , Pepper)), Butter Flavored Oil (Partially Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Salt, Soybean Lecithin, Artificial Flavors, Butter Oil, Vitamin A Palmitate Beta Carotene Added For Color), Dried Cream Cheese Product (Cream Cheese (Pasteurized Milk And Cream Cheese Culture, Salt, Carob Bean Gum), Non Fat Dry Milk And Sodium Phosphate), Soybean Oil, Onions, Modified Food Starch, Salt, Xanthan Gum, Liquid Pepper Extract And Citric Acid], Croissant (Enriched Unbleached Wheat Flour (Flour, Enzyme, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, Palm Oil, Sugar, Canola and/or Soybean Oil, Contain less than 2% of the following: Margarine (Vegetable Oils [Palm, Canola], Water, Mono and Diglycerides, Potassium Sorbate [to Preserve Freshness], Citric Acid, Artificial Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3), Yeast, Wheat Gluten, Salt, Artificial Flavor, Datem, Dextrose, Corn Syrup Solids, Fructose, Sodium Caseinate (a Milk Derivative), Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Locust Bean Gum, Colored with [Tumeric and Annatto Extracts], Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Steroyl Lactylate, Leavening [Baking Soda], Azodicarbonamide, Pepper Bacon (Bacon Cured with Water, Salt, Sugar, Smoke Flavoring, Sodium Phosphate, Sodium Erythorbate, Sodium Nitrite, Bellies Coated with a Mixture of Ground Black Pepper), Colby Jack Cheese (Colby Cheese [Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes and Annatto (vegetable color)], Monterey Jack Cheese [Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes]).

I don’t know about you, but I’m waiting for the Dunkin’ Donuts Cookbook. Perhaps it will have spokeswoman Rachael Ray’s picture on the cover? Dinner in 30 Minutes meets Dinner with 30 Ingredients You Can’t Pronounce! And, instead of a chef’s hat, Ms. Ray can be wearing a hazmat suit.

Question of the blog: Do you think it would make a difference if all food—even fast food and restaurant food—had to be served with its list of ingredients?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Is it Necessary to Go “Zero-to-Green” in 6.2 Seconds?

Mark and I moved into our home on a sweltering hot August day nearly six years ago. We started early in the morning and didn’t stop until the last box wasn’t just inside our house, but unpacked. Looking back, we must have been crazy. But it was our first house (it still is!) and we were too excited to be exhausted.

We’re bringing that same enthusiasm and drive to our green conversion but, because it can cost a lot of green to go green, we’re not exactly moving at the same break-neck pace. My inclination is to hurry-up-and-go-green and, all things considered, I’d rather be quick about it because it’s the right thing to do for the earth and our health. But I’m trying to see the bright green side of taking it slow and—in the process—I’m finding that making careful and conscious green choices, over time, is quite satisfying.

Here’s an example. Back in December, I interviewed Christine Chamberlain, the owner of The Clean Bedroom ( for a magazine article and was shocked to learn how unhealthy the average bed is, with an off-gassing mattress, pesticide-laden sheets, and toxic pillows. No wonder I was tossing and turning at night!

Immediately after the interview, I wanted to go to Christine’s website and buy an organic mattress, organic sheets, and organic pillows. But it just wasn’t in the financial cards. A few months later, we had saved enough to buy an organic wool mattress topper from The Clean Bedroom—a green mattress was our first choice but, for the money, the topper offers protection from off-gassing and dust musts, so it made more financial sense. Then, a few weeks later, we found organic sheets on super clearance at TJ Maxx ( And, just last week, the organic wool pillows from Natura ( I blogged earlier about seeing at Target ( went on super clearance as well. It might have taken seven months, but I got my green bed . . . and without spending a lot of green.

Is a green bed really better? Instead of an answer, I have a challenge for you: Why don't you sleep on it—literally—and get back to me.

Question of the blog: You can't always wait for an item to go on sale . . . With that in mind, what's been your biggest green splurge?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Does Leo DiCaprio Think We’re Stupid?

On Sunday night, I Tivo’d “Greensburg”—the Leonardo DiCaprio show about how the Kansas town turned tragedy into triumph by rebuilding green after being literally devastated by a tornado—and I just got around to watching it.

Wow. It was . . . umm . . . not what I expected.

I thought it was going to be a two-hour (inspirational) documentary. Instead, it is a (condescending) series. For some reason—or, rather, for many reasons—the fact that it’s a series turned it from real to reality TV (and we all know there’s very little reality in that genre). Conversations seemed forced or, worse, fake. I dare say that even the idea of going green didn’t come from the town manager, as presented, but by show producers.

So many TV shows are dumbed down. Here’s a news flash for producers: We’re not dumb. Some of us are actually very intelligent. A television screen is like an x-ray machine, revealing the truth and the lies. With “Greensburg,” I saw few truths.

I hope I’m wrong. I just don’t think I am.

For the record, I think the concept of a green town is brilliant. Can you imagine living in a place where every home and business is environmentally friendly? What I worry is missing is the green passion. Every home might be green, but are the homeowners shutting off the lights when they leave the room, using recycled toilet paper, and driving hybrids?

Or am I asking too much?

I realize that a green home/business is a huge, massive, monumental step, and if we all lived that way, we’d all be better off. But, to me, green comes from the inside out. If the house is green, but everything inside has off-gases and pollutants, it hardly matters. I’m not sure how many episodes are in the series and, perhaps, during the construction, Greensburg’s citizens do discover and develop a green passion. I hope so. I’m just not sure I can watch the show to the end. The forced and fake reality of it all makes me feel a little green (as in queasy).

Question of the blog: What did you think of “Greensburg”?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Are You Part of the Green Scene?

Green tequila. Green garden lights. Green underwear! There is so much out there for eco-warriors . . . and that’s a great thing and a confounding thing. Wouldn’t it be nice to go to one source for insight on the best of the green best?

It is nice. And that source is

The virtual company’s intent is to build a nationwide, interactive community for those of us with green on the brain so we can learn and share information on travel, home, gardening, and several other important topics.

In addition to providing news I can use on the products and services I want to use (and asking me to recommend the things I like best), the site is great, with an upbeat design and engaging copy. It’s stuff like this that make me can’t-sleep-at-night excited to be part of the green scene . . . especially that green tequila!

Question of the blog: Do you feel a certain energy in going green?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How Do You Define “Prevention”?

I didn’t know Tim Russert but I felt the pinch of sadness when I heard the news he died. When I heard the news he died from a heart attack, I was hopeful the silver lining from his loss would be a renewed conversation about heart health and a preventative lifestyle.

We came this close to losing my Dad to a heart attack a few years ago, and I know health and lifestyle are important topics. Wild animals don’t die of heart attacks, yet humans and domesticated pets do. Yes, some people have bad genes (like my father and, I assume, like me) but here’s a philosophy I agree with: Genes may be the bullet, but lifestyle is the trigger.

How can we keep from pulling the trigger? A heart attack isn’t inevitable. Exercise is vital, as is proper diet. Last night, on ABC World News with Charles Gibson, they offered a report on heart attacks as part of a tribute to Tim Russert. As the reporter talked about the importance of a preventative lifestyle, what images do you think flashed across the screen?

Green veggies? Whole grains? Fresh fruits?

Nope. It was big white pills.

We have TiVo and, when I saw this, I hit “pause” and put my head on the coffee table. “How can they miss the fact that food is the most important, influential drug on the planet?” I asked my husband. He offered up a really profound answer. “Drug companies are one of the biggest advertisers on television,” he said. “The news networks aren’t going to bite the hands that feed them.”


For years, we’ve been fed lied (both literally and figuratively) about how to live and what to eat. Drink coffee. Avoid coffee. Eat eggs. Avoid eggs. Carbs are necessary. Carbs are evil. The food pyramid keeps changing, and still isn’t right. And then there are commercials for drug companies that include warnings longer than the actual pitch.

Did you know that drug companies used to market solely to doctors but found their profits soared when they marketed to us? I don’t think drug companies should market to anyone. And I’m referring to both prescription and over-the-counter medications. It’s gotten so far out of hand. Think about it: We live in a world where Advil’s campaign is “I’m all Advil” . . . and it works.

Who, really, wants to be all Advil?

I’d rather be all health. Pass the green veggies, whole grains, and fresh fruits, please.

Question of the blog: When you’re enlightened, how do you deal with those who try to cast shadows?

Monday, June 16, 2008

What Happened to Whole Foods?

Grocery stores have made a habit out of pricing their merchandise one way and charging a higher amount once you get to the check-out line. I don’t ever think it’s intentional, but it’s certainly rampant. That’s why, whenever I can, I watch the price of the items as they're rung in, looking for errors.

Unfortunately, I’m usually too busy unloading the cart or searching the bottom of my purse for my wallet to pay attention to the prices I'm being charged.

Yesterday, though, I was at Whole Foods ( with Mark. When we shop together, he’s in charge of unloading the cart and payment, and I’m in charge of making sure we’re not being over-charged. Everything was ringing in correctly and then I noticed the two bunches of organic kale we bought—which should have been $1.99/each—rang up at $2.50/each and that the bag of Celtic sea salt we bought—which should have been $6.49—rang up at $10.50.

Usually, the man or woman working the register will fix the price or, more likely, call someone over who will run through the store to verify the price. But something different happened. The salt was clearly marked $6.49 and I thought the really engaging clerk would simply delete the $10.50 and re-ring it for the correct price. But he said, “Because the product is clearly marked, and we over-charged you, it's free.”

Free? I don’t understand that word in relation to Whole Foods. [Friends of mine used to call “Bread & Circus”—one of the store’s earlier incarnations—“Bleed & Suck Us,” referring to the company’s wild mark-ups.]

“Okay,” I said, rather slowly, waiting for the catch.

“Since the kale isn’t priced, please stop at Customer Service on the way out,” he continued. “If we did over-charge you, you’ll get one bunch of kale for free and we’ll refund you the overage amount.”

Free and refund? Okay, seriously, where am I?

I’ve been a fan of Whole Foods since I walked into one many years ago, and I’ve always defended it when others attacked its high prices and aggressive growth. With Whole Food's new “accurate pricing policy,” I have even more to love.

Question of the blog: Do you know if this new policy is available at every Whole Foods or just the Salem, MA store I visited? [I can't find any information on their website and didn't think to ask at the store . . . I was too stunned.]

Friday, June 13, 2008

Got Green Inspiration?

One of the cool things about driving a Prius—and there are many—is that the engine shuts off when the car is stopped for more than a few seconds. Every time it does this, I’m reminded of how wasteful it is to sit idling, even if you’re just waiting 15 seconds for the light to turn green.

With a Prius, you don’t even have the choice to be wasteful.

It’s also inspiring in odd ways. It was raining the other day and I stopped at a red light. I heard the engine shut off and the sound of the wipers seemed to get louder. I thought, “I don’t need the wipers until I start moving again and it’s just wasting energy anyway,” so I shut them off. It's an admittedly small action, but one I never would have thought of if I hadn't been driving the Prius. And who knows what else it will inspire.

Question of the blog: What are some of the interesting ways you’ve gone green?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A Government That’s Actually FOR the People?

Several months ago, I emailed my Congresswoman—Carol Shea-Porter—detailing my concerns about the environment and the government’s general lack of effort. And, to my great surprise, Congresswoman Shea-Porter responded.

Today I received an email survey from the Congresswoman to find out what I think the government should do to address the energy crisis. She writes in the email, “It is absolutely critical that we reduce our dependence on foreign oil. This is not only an economic and an environmental issue, but a vital national security concern. I will continue to work hard in Congress to make progress toward energy independence.”


I filled out the survey and hope my answers will have some influence. In the meantime, I encourage you to contact your Senators and Congresspeople to make your concerns known. After all, the only way your voice will be heard is if you speak up.

Question of the blog: Will the environment influence how you vote this fall?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Do Your Soles Have Soul?

Several months ago, my mentor/friend/partner-in-crime Rhonda—who runs the divine positive apparel company, KarmaThreads (—told me about TOMS shoes ( She said I’d love them, not just for their funky design, but for their admirable mission: For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need.

I made a mental note to check out their website. And then I lost the mental note.

Recently, I was shopping at a great green store, The Hempest ( in Northampton, Massachusetts—one of my favorite cities—and I was on a mission to buy a pair of eco summer shoes. I found a neat pair in camouflage and bought them, never once looking at the label.

It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the TOMS label on the side. “That sounds familiar,” I thought and I hate to admit that it wasn’t until I peeled the sticker off the bottom (the one that repeats the company’s mission to donate a pair for every pair purchased) that I made the connection.

My verdict? After wearing them almost non-stop for days, TOMS shoes are incredibly comfortable and I love the design. Of course, I also love the mission. Get yourself a pair.

Thanks for the recommendation, Rhonda. You were right, as always!

Question of the blog: Do you have a favorite environmentally friendly shoe designer?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What the F*ck?

Kevin Hall wrote an article for McClatchy Newspapers about solutions to counteract soaring gasoline prices.

Hall writes that President Bush, on Monday, said we should “increase oil drilling in Alaska and offshore.” This so-called solution is short-term and painfully short-sighted. The author goes on to write that Senator McCain's answers “turn more toward increasing production of oil from offshore and from oil-shale deposits in the mountain West.” Again, short-term and painfully short-sighted.

I’m an independent who could never fathom voting along party lines. I do my research. I ask questions. I vote for the candidate I feel will consider the sum and each individual part. I crossed my fingers as I was reading what Senator Obama said, hoping he can see clearly through what has to be a gas-induced haze. Here’s what Hall wrote:

“Speaking in Raleigh, N.C., Obama on Monday repeated his call for a tax on high oil company profits to fund aid programs for the poorest Americans.

‘I'll make oil companies like Exxon pay a tax on their windfall profits, and we'll use the money to help families pay for their skyrocketing energy costs and other bills,’ he said.

Longer term though, Obama said, the only answers are to increase use of alternative energy—solar, wind, biodiesel, clean-coal technology—and to increase fuel-mileage standards for vehicles and develop hybrid-electric cars, which will take time.”

In all fairness, I wish Senator Obama had been in Washington today when the Senate GOP blocked windfall taxes on Big Oil. [And, shortly after, they blocked another proposal that would have extended the tax breaks that have either expired or are scheduled to end this year for alternative energy development (like solar and wind), and for the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation. Those Republicans must be so proud of what they’re leaving—or, rather, not leaving—future generations.]

That being said, I’m glad Senator Obama sees it’s not the price of gas that's the big-picture problem, but our reliance on gas itself. I drive a hybrid. I honestly can’t tell you the last time I was at the gas station.

Poking holes in Alaska and the mountain West isn’t a solution. It’s the beginning of even more problems. How these men can sleep at night is beyond me. Perhaps they sniff a little gasoline?

Question of the blog: What can those of us who care about the environment do to be heard, and respected, in Washington?

Got a (Green) Paper Cut?

I usually dash through the health food store, a woman on a can't-be-deviated mission. But, a few days ago, I had the luxury of some unexpected time (an afternoon meeting was cancelled) and I spent just under an hour meandering up and down the shelves of one of my local health food stores.

Wow. There are a lot of green alternatives to every-day items!

Take, for just one example, the EcoGuard™ Bandages from All Terrain ( As they say on the packaging, and their website, these 100 percent sterile strips are:
· Not tested on animals;
· Latex-free;
· Made from recycled or recyclable material;
· Water-based (with no solvents, alcohol, or AMK);
· Made with natural, food-grade colors and pigments; and
· Made in the US.

Just when I think I’m living pretty green, I receive a gentle reminder—from a bandage, of all places!—that I still have a ways to go.

I often get paper cuts (one of the hazards of being a writer?) and blisters (one of the hazards of being a walker?) and I go through what you might consider an alarming number of bandages in a month. And I never thought twice about what I was using.

Moral of the blog: Think twice. (1) What do I need? (2) Is there a green alternative?

Question of the blog: Do you have a favorite green every-day item?

Monday, June 9, 2008

How Much Do You Love Your Dog?

After hearing from my green guru, Debby (owner of, that conventional dog beds are quite toxic—our furry friends have outrageously high levels of flame retardants in their systems—I set about to find a bed that’s green and chic . . . and I just did.

Here’s a picture of my five-year-old pug, Bruno, relaxing in his new green bed (and notice his jealous sister, one-year-old, Myrna, watching from the wings).

The Bella Bed® is really cool for a number of reasons: It’s ridiculously comfortable—Mark and I both wish they’d make one in the dimensions of a king-size bed—and looks like a piece of art. Beyond that, it’s veterinarian-endorsed and has a true green pedigree:

· All components are made in the US, and the beds are hand sewn by skilled textile sewers in El Salvador, a CAFTA country;
· 100% hypoallergenic and washable; and
· Exterior made from Eco2 recycled cotton fiber and interior fiberfill made form recycled PET (plastic bottles).

The beds come in several cool color combinations and in a number of sizes (from Chihuahua to Mastiff). For more information, I encourage you to check out And to all you green bargain shoppers out there, take note: I bought Bruno's Bella Bed® for 60 percent off at my local HomeGoods!

Question of the blog: If you have animals, in what ways (if any) have they gone green?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Is It Really "National Doughnut Day?" [Insert Eye Roll Here]

A few weeks ago, I talked about the importance of having a healthy, balanced pH level (“pH” stands for “potential of Hydrogen,” in case you were wondering). Determining your pH is actually quite simple: You just pee on a piece of special tape.

I finally got my pH kit today and waited until I had to go (I was nervous my level would be off and so it took awhile before I had the urge). The tape I got measures pH from 5.5 to 8.0, and 6.8 – 7.2 is ideal. It’s the perfect balance your body is always striving for, between alkaline and acid; some Doctors theorize that sickness is a result of the body’s efforts to get back in balance.

So what was my number? You’re so impatient! It was 7.2. In other words: Perfect.

Now, you should know, there’s not much perfect in my life (or in anyone’s, really) so I found this news to be really encouraging. But if the news wasn't good, the good news is that it's relatively easy to get into balance. I've been eating raw-until-dinner (and sometimes through dinner) since November, and so I'm living proof that food is powerful medicine and that consuming close-to-the-source, organic, unprocessed food is really healthy.

For optimum balance, follow the 80/20 rule: eat 80 percent alkaline-forming foods and 20 percent healthy acid-forming foods by volume.

Alkaline-forming foods include:
· Almonds
· Avocado
· Beets
· Broccoli
· Carrots
· Celery
· Coconuts
· Cucumber
· Kale
· Lemon
· Lettuce
· Limes
· Raw Veggies
· Spinach
· Sweet Potatoes
· Wheatgrass

[In other words, everything in my refrigerator . . . well, except the wheatgrass.]

Acid-forming foods include:
· Bread
· Corn
· Lentils
· Most Grains
· Most Nuts
· Rice
· Vinegar

And here’s one of those scary facts for you: To neutralize a glass of cola, with its pH of 2.8, you’d have to mix it with 32 glasses of alkaline water with a pH of 7.0. Got thirst?

Question of the blog: In honor of National Doughnut's Day, where do you think a Krispy Kreme measures on the pH scale?

P.S. I'm waiting for "National Real Food Day."

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Looking for a Gift for a Green Dad?

Caution: Shameless promotion ahead.

EcoVixen (—the company I started earlier this year—produces fiendishly good cloth bags for men and women. The bags are all made in New Hampshire, have great designs and witty sayings, and some are made of recycled cotton and recycled plastic bags.

I started with the “Dick & George” bag (named as a tongue-in-cheek homage to our current VP and President—you can thank me for their green legacy) which is a unique-to-the-market cloth bag for men that was named a “Top 10 Eco Bag” by in April.

And it’s a perfect Father’s Day gift for a green Dad you know.

The bag is black, 15 oz. (which means it stands up on its own, which is cool), has short handles, and says “I’m a Man of the Cloth Bag” on one side and “Not Paper. Not Plastic.” on the other. The bag costs just $30 on (remember, it has a green legacy) and the shipping is free.

Question of the blog: What are some of the eco-friendly gifts you’re buying for the green fathers you know?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Is There a New Definition for “Fresh”?

When Mark and I travel, we always bring along healthy snacks—AKA real food—to keep us satisfied. Favorite snacks include raw almonds, Lara Bars, 70% dark chocolate, and dehydrated bananas (which look disgusting and taste divine).

It’s so easy, when you’re traveling, to slip into starvation mode and then devour anything in sight, no matter how unhealthy you know it is.

And the system is designed that way. Just look at the picture here. Do you consider a bag of chips to be a “fresh” snack? Well, someone does . . . actually, I imagine a lot of people do.

It's not just snacks, of course. Each of the three meals can fall victim to bad food choices. On our way to New York, Mark and I made a quick stop at a rest area. While we walked around, we couldn’t keep our eyes off the masses who were lined up for a chance to inhale some fast “food.”

And while we were in Manhattan—an island with dozens of good-for-you restaurants like Atlas Café, Pure Food and Wine, and Candle 79—I overhead a little boy whining for lunch.

“Are we going to McDonald’s?” he asked.

“Yes,” his mother answered.

There was a pause and then he said, “It’s funny. We go to McDonald’s every day for lunch.”

I wanted to tell him there was nothing funny about it, but I didn’t think he'd get it, and I honestly wasn't sure his mother would either. Sometimes it's easier to be fooled.

Question of the blog: Are you as outraged as I am over the chemicals and preservatives that pass as real food?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Does “W” Stand for “Wasteful”?

No, I’m not talking about our current President (although I could be), I’m talking about W Hotels. Mark and I spent a good amount of time in one of the W Hotels in New York City last week and I was disappointed in their lack of green efforts and also in their lack of response to green requests.

Here’s an example: More and more hotels now have signs in the bathroom letting guests know that towels left on the bar won’t be washed, as opposed to those that are tossed on the floor. This always pleases me as I think it’s incredibly wasteful to wash a towel that has only been used for a few minutes to dry my hair.

W Hotel had no such sign, so I did what I always do in that situation: I hang my towel on a hanger along with a hand-written note that says “Please don’t wash.” This has always worked in the past but, this time, the towel (and the note) disappeared.


Hotel chains like Kimpton Hotels and Fairmont Hotels are starting to go green. As a travel writer, I’ve stayed in quite a few. My favorite green attribute might just be the in-room recycling bins. In just a handful of days in New York, Mark and I had amassed quite a collection of recyclables, which we had to haul 48 blocks to a Whole Foods in order to recycle everything properly.

By the way, the Whole Foods at 95 E Houston Street in New York is incredible. It’s several stories, has a big eco-home store-within-a-store, and overlooks Sara D. Roosevelt Park. It’s also just a two-minute walk to several great green stores, like Kaight (, Moo Shoes (, and Organic Avenue (

Question of the blog: Do you have a favorite green hotel?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Interested in Some Pure Food with a Side of Celebrity?

I’m back from nearly a week in New York. What a great trip! Mark and I did our best to have a green vacation; I’ll share some of our successes and challenges in future blogs but, before I do, I have a quick story to tell.

We had a great raw meal at Manhattan's Pure Food and Wine ( We were there at an off-time and the place was nearly empty, except for Woody Harrelson, Owen Wilson, David Blaine, and Edward Norton.

I’m not one of those people that reads gossip magazines or watches celebrity “news” shows so I wasn’t star-struck, but what did strike me is that you’re probably not going to eat with that crowd at McDonald’s. So if you’re looking for yet another reason to get green and eat green, think of all the famous friends you can make.

Okay, on a serious note, the food was so incredibly great that I just went online to buy their cookbook and found that signed copies are on sale on their site:

Buy a copy. And when you make a recipe at home, just imagine Edward Norton is in your kitchen.

Question of the blog: Do you have a favorite raw cookbook?