Thursday, April 29, 2010

From Here to There... Plastic is Everywhere

This evening, I voted in OCEANA's Ocean Hero Awards. One of the nominees writes the blog "The Daily Ocean." For 365 non-consecutive days, she's spending 20 minutes picking up trash off her Santa Monica beach. It's only been 110 days and she's already collected over 450 pounds!! (I just imagine if everyone did that... )

While I was checking out her blog... I came across this video of 2 world traveling surfers... who have discovered something....

No matter WHERE they go... no matter HOW REMOTE a place may seem...

Plastic ALWAYS gets there first.

One of the most important things that we can do is to not pretend this doesn't exist. Once we are conscious to it... we can become conscious to ways that we OURSELVES can become a part of the solution and prevent it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Walk Lightly...

Last week, we checked out the book "A World of Wonders: Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme" by J. Patrick Lewis from the library.   It is such a beautiful book... my kids were constantly asking questions and illustrations had them captivated.  Wow... this is sounding like a book review! ;)

There were SO many verses and rhymes that I loved... but this one stuck out to me (especially since we checked out the book on Earth Day.)

Walk Lightly

Make the Earth your companion.
       Walk lightly on it, as other creatures do.
Let the Sky paint her beauty--she is always 
       watching over you.
Learn from the Sea how to face harsh forces.
Let the River remind you that everything will pass.
Let the Lake instruct you in stillness.
Let the Mountain teach you grandeur.
Make the Woodland your house of peace.
Make the Rainforest your house of hope.
Meet the Wetland on twilight ground.
Save some small piece of Grassland for a red kite
       on a windy day.
Watch the Icecaps glisten with crystal majesty.
Hear the Desert whisper hush to eternity.
Let the Town bring you togetherness.
Make the Earth your companion.
        Walk lightly, as other creatures do. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The other day, I was catching up on one of my favorite blogs: Fake Plastic Fish . If you've never heard of it... lets just say, "Now you know." :) If you've ever wanted to lessen your plastic consumption... and leave a lighter footprint....this is definitely a blog that you should check out!

Last week, she wrote a blog about "Buying Green vs. Being Green." The blog post is long... but she makes many valid points that I completely agree with. **STOP here and read her blog post:)** It's easy to get caught up in purchasing something new because it's touted as being "green" when we either don't really need it because our "non-green" item works just fine or we could and should be purchasing used anyway. OR maybe something we hadn't even thought of: NOT purchasing at all. Think about what she says,

"What we don't buy and consume is probably more important than what we do."

A point that is made in "The Story of Stuff." Overconsumption whether "green" or not... is overconsumption. In order to move past overconsumption, we have to rethink what we buy, why we buy it, and HOW we buy it. Wow... that's a mouthful.

I know the things that I used to buy a lot of and thinking back.... I had to ask myself:

How many pairs of black pants does a girl really need?? How many times am I really going to watch that movie that I just had to buy?? How many toys do my kids really need??

I do this often and I always find that when I rethink (and rethought) things... I don't need 10 different pairs of pants, I don't need to buy movies because I could rent them, and my kids don't need all of the toys that they want (yes, we've even put a limit--it's 1-- on how many gifts family can buy for each of our kids for birthdays and Christmas).

Before we make a purchase we ALWAYS first see if we can buy the item used. Some places that we check are Ebay, Craig's List, consignment shops, and I'd really like to say we go to garage sales... but I just don't move that early in the morning ;) Another one of our favorite resources is Freecycle. Ok... it's not buying... it's better... it's FREE!!) Last year, my husband built a brick patio and walkway with used bricks he gathered from other "Freecyclers":)

Want to go full-fledged into Unconsumption?? Try one of "No Impact Man's" suggestions and don't buy anything new (besides food) for one month. Here's an idea to help "fill the craving to shop."

"Only when we rethink how and what we value — so that we no longer base well-being and quality of life on excess production, consumption, and wasting — will we truly be able to address global warming and other forms of ecological ruin." -- Green Gone Wrong by Heather Rogers (go check it out at your local library ;))

Friday, April 23, 2010

Refuse the Junk

Yesterday, The Plastic Ocean posted this video of Captain Charlie Moore talking about our "plastic footprint." Take a moment to just look at all the plastic around you. As I type... I'm typing on a plastic keyboard, in front of my plastic computer, printer, desk lamp, looking over I see my camera... I'd bet the rug that I'm sitting on has plastics in it. True...some plastics are unavoidable... I LOVE my camera... but for the ones that are avoidable... go ahead and do yourself a favor and listen to Captain Charlie Moore:

"Refuse that plastic junk. I mean, it's just going to break and make you pissed off anyway."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Library & Dinner

Today, we met a friend and her son at the library. It's the second week we've been...and before last week, it had been years since I had been to a library... college to be exact. Yes... for the past 10 years, I was a book store junkie. I was a sucker for the book store "experience." About 6 months ago, I decided that I was going to start going to the library... but didn't until now because I was nervous about taking my kids. All I could imagine was the librarian going "sshhhhhhhh" and then getting kicked out. Luckily, that isn't the case. As my son grabs book after book off the shelves and yells, "Mom! Look at this dinosaur book!!"... I never hear a word from the librarian and have been quickly reminded of how great libraries are... I'm amazed and impressed at the abounding variety of (shared) books and media. Last week, we checked out 3 books. Today, we checked out 8 books!! Of course, all free (for 3 weeks!). Libraries ROCK!!

SO... while we were at the library my friend and I were talking about me recipe testing for The Blissful Chef and what I eat... or rather what I don't eat. She asked, "You don't eat meat... what do you eat for dinner??" A valid question. Of course, I explained... but pictures are SO much better:
For dinner tonight, we ate Orange Seitan (yes, like the famed Orange Chicken from the mall!), Vegetable Lo Mein, and Asian Green Bean Stir-Fry (the green beans are a test recipe for The Blissful Chef... which by the way... were so darn yummy!).

Now I can't give you the recipe for the Asian Green Bean Stir-Fry... BUT... I can give you my recipe for Orange Seitan!!

Orange Seitan

1 lb cubed seitan
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (if you like it hot add more)
1 TBSP rice wine vinegar
water, as needed
1 tsp sesame oil
grated orange zest

*Orange Sauce* (mix all ingredients and set aside)
1 1/2 TBSP soy sauce
1 1/2 TBSP orange juice
7 TBSP brown rice syrup or 5 TBSP brown sugar
5TBSP white vinegar (or rice wine vinegar)
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch


Heat 1-2 TBSP oil in large skillet. Dust the seitan lightly with flour. Add seitan and cook until nicely browned on all sides. Push seitan to the sides add a drop of oil to center of pan and add ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant. Add rice wine and stir. Add *Orange Sauce* and bring to a simmer, stirring until well mixed. (Add water if sauce becomes too thick). Stir in sesame oil and add grated orange zest. Serve immediately :)

Connect to the Small World

The other day, several friends had their Facebook statuses as "It's a small world."  I thought... how appropriate.  I had been thinking the same thing for days... for months... for years.  I often think about how many people that we are connected to... not personally... but through knowing another... if we've had an impact on someone we know... then eventually we will have an impact on someone we don't know without even realizing we did it.  I also think about this whole "small world" theme with nature... things that seem worlds apart... really aren't as far apart as they seem...things that seem insignificant... ARE significant.

Today-- on Earth Day-- and everyday.... Here's how you change the world:  
Realize the power of YOU.

You are important... no matter who you are, where you're from, who you know or who you don't know... you have an impact (Yes, "No Impact Man" even you ;))... and YOU can make a difference... wait... you ARE the difference...

We are ALL connected.  From the smallest microorganism to the blue whale... and we all have one thing in common... the Earth.  

 "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world." ~ John Muir 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

We Make It: Playdough

Often when my sister-in-law writes me... I'm reminded of things that I do and that I should share.  (I have a whole folder saved of her emails to remind myself of all of the things she mentions to me :) )  So recently she told me that she's going to try to make homemade play-doh for her now 1 year old daughter.  Which, of course, got me thinking about how when my oldest turned 2 we bought "Play-Doh" brand play dough.  It was great until he mixed every color together to form a funky shade of brownish gray green... then when my daughter started playing with it... it got too tuff to work with and eventually--even after softening with water-- hardened to a rock like state.

When my daughter started preschool in 2007, they sent home a recipe for homemade playdough that they used at school.  Like I do with most recipes...I sat on it for awhile... then one day... the kids wanted play-doh and I didn't want to go buy any.  I pulled out the recipe:

Homemade Playdough

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tarter
1 cup water
1 tsp oil

beet, spinach, and carrot juice or food coloring
Mix all dry ingredients, then add liquids. Cook over medium heat in a small pan, stirring until dough thickens and becomes one large ball. Place on lightly floured surface and knead the playdough with your hands until it's proper consistency. 

What's in Play-Doh you ask??   It's composed of water, a starch-based binder, a retrogradation inhibitor, salt, lubricant,surfactantpreservative, hardener, humectant, fragrance, and color. A petroleum additive gives the compound a smooth feel, and borax prevents mold from developing. 

Of course, there are other benefits to making Playdough over the store bought brands:
  • $$$... the ingredients are inexpensive and the recipe makes a really good amount of playdough.
  • Knowing exactly "what" is in the playdough... especially important for little ones that like to eat the stuff ;)
  • Make your color of choice... no buying 10 different containers of Play-Doh... all it takes are a couple of drops and Voila! different colors.
  • No little plastic containers.  When we bought Play-Doh, the plastic containers and lids weren't recyclable. :(  We now store our homemade playdough by reusing those containers and by repurposing other plastic containers with lids.
  • AND.... it lasts so much longer ;)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Get Whipping

Have you ever thought about looking at just the ingredients on packaged foods?  Thought about what a product is marketed as versus what it actually is?

I used to LOVE Cool Whip until I realized that it wasn't what I thought I was getting.  Hmmm... that's a little backwards sounding.  What I thought I was getting was whipped cream... what I was eating was something that isn't even close to the ingredients in whipped cream.  

Here's what's in a tub of Cool Whip:


A whole lot of goodness packed in one little plastic tub.  Here's the thing... whipped cream is supposed to just be cream that is whipped.  I can't figure out why there are SO many ingredients in prepackaged whipped products.  So, of course, over 7 years ago... when I learned of the ingredients in Cool Whip... I stopped buying it and started making my own because whipped cream does not need all of those funky ingredients to taste good.  In fact, REAL homemade whipped cream tastes so much better than any premade packaged whipped product.

Want to lose the plastic tub (and all that comes with it) and make the real deal BEST Whipped Cream?

1 cup organic and/or local heavy cream
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix using a hand mixer or whisk by hand until whipped. 

  • I, personally, prefer to use my stand mixer and watch the magic happen :)
  • Put your bowl and beater(s)/whisk in the freezer about 10-15 minutes before you want to make the whipped cream and it'll whip up super fast.)  
  • Pay attention!  Over whip the cream and you'll have butter!!  
  • Use homemade whipped cream in any recipe that calls for Cool Whip :)

Ready to try something new and go beyond dairy?  Try Whipped Cashew Cream... it's absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!  Seriously, you'd never know there's NO dairy in it... it's so divine.  Use it just like you would the aforementioned whips :)

Check out this photo of some whipped cashew cream dolloped on top of stewed blackberries (that we picked and froze LAST summer from Lewis Farms!!)... mmmm... a few more months and fresh blackberries!!!

I use the Cashew Cream recipe from "The Conscious Cook" by Tal Ronnen.  

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Going Waste-Free Saves (Everything)

A little over a year ago, a reporter came to my home to interview me about our trash... or rather our lack of trash. :)  Everything that he asked me was pretty basic... until he asked me if "being well off made doing everything we do... 'easier'??"  I was completely baffled by the question because by saving resources we save another kind of resource... $$$$.

Think about it.  By reducing and reusing, it's impossible not to save money.

All those disposable products... all of those individually wrapped/boxed convenience products... some may seem cheap... but in the long run they end up being more expensive... not only for our wallets... but for the Earth as well.

Check out these facts that I found on the Kids Konserve website:

Crazy right?!  But here's the thing... that's just children's lunches.   What about the teachers... what about the people who pack a lunch for the office... what about picnics??

Hmmm...  I'm feeling like running some numbers.....
  • Bottled water... one plastic single-use bottle of water per day for a year (365 days) at $1.50 per bottle = $547.50* per year!  (And we all know that nobody drinks one bottle of water a day.)
  • Reusable water bottle costs anywhere from $12.50 to $22 ... fill that bottle with tap water and.... Shoot...Tap water is practically free it's so cheap. 
Want to see the math yourself?? Check out this Water Calculator :)

On to plastic baggies aka zip-locks or sandwich bags:
  • A box of 50 basic zip-lock bags runs around $4 (of course depending on where they're purchased).  Let's say that you use 3 every day for a whole year.  That's 1,095 bags in one year!  And let's be honest... I remember when I used plastic baggies... I went through a lot because I used them for EVERYTHING!  Hmmm... so what does that add up to...well besides a whole lot of waste... around $90* per year for something that's thrown away!!
  • Food Cozy 5 for $23.  Use, Wash, Reuse... Repeat.  

Some other common products to check prices are on single serve yogurts vs. tubs of yogurt, cups of fruit vs. fresh, Uncrustables vs. unpackaged made by you PB&J sandwich... the list can go on and on!!

Of course, I pack my kids waste-free lunches for school... but we also pack waste-free for picnics, work lunches, on-the-go snacks and... well, you get the picture.

As the 40th anniversary of Earth Day approaches... make the decision to go "Waste-Free."  There are SO many amazing products out there that make packing Waste-free lunches (and snacks) super easy.  If you're ready to go Waste-Free, check out Kids Konserve.

Reasons why I like Kids Konserve:

  • Many of their products are made from recycled materials... including bags made from recycled plastic bottles and containers made from recycled stainless steel!!  (If you're recycling... and you should be... then you should also look for products made from recycled materials to complete the circle of Reduce Reuse Recyle... don't let it end with Recycle :))
  • Their products come in convenient kits or products can be purchased separately to make your own personal waste-free kit!!
  • Kids Konserve is a company who believes in giving back, their school Waste-Free Challenges give a percentage of every sale back to the school.  Check out their Waste-Free Lunch Challenge.  
  • Clean Up Your Act This Earth Day! and Miss Earth Day
  • With every order placed in April, you will receive a free 20oz. stainless steel Kids Konserve Bottle (of course, while supplies last ;) )

AND... if that's not enough... just because you've taken the time to read my blog (YAY! You!!)....they've offered a 15% discount code (earth15) valid until April 30 to use at their website!!  Thanks Kids Konserve!!!  

"As Americans we have come to depend on the many convenience products that are available to us, and nowhere is this more evident than in the school lunch room. Most parents pack lunch items in single-use plastic bags, aluminum foil, or wax paper, or they purchase single-serving items that come in their own disposable package. Admittedly, these products are extremely convenient, but what is the environmental cost to a country that relies so heavily on them?"  

*I am not a mathematician ;)  If you see an error... please feel free to do the math :)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Be Different! Be Friends!

Back in January, for MLK Day, my daughter brought this home from school... and I've held onto it because I think... that it's one of the most simple ways to make this world a better place :)

"We have different hair. We have different skin. We wear different clothes. We eat different foods. We like different games. We like different animals. We all are different. We all are friends!"

Stop passing judgment.... Make the world a better place by accepting and embracing our differences.... :)

Need more?? Last week, on my son's 8th birthday... I read this:

Monday, April 12, 2010

Teach Them Better

Over the weekend, we went camping in the Uwharrie National Forest (NC). This particular camping (and 4-wheeling) trip was organized by Carolina Rover Owners Club (CROC). I should go ahead and say that my husband really enjoys 4-wheeling, but I-- honestly--don't get it. I go to specifically to hang out.... BUT this time was different. This time, I was given a mission. For the second year (I didn't go last year), CROC held a competition for picking up litter.

Rule & Prize: Whoever picked up the most litter (by weight) on the trails would win $50.

Of course, I told my husband (and everyone we knew) that we had this competition in the bag and there was no way we wouldn't win ;)

SO...for once I was excited to go 4-wheeling... because we knew exactly what we would do with our winnings.... AND because without the ability to 4-wheel... there would be no way for me to hike my way around the forest with 3 kids in tow.

Saturday with a line of 4 Rovers following us on the fire trails... we took our time... stopping when we saw litter along the trails. I felt a tiny bit bad holding up the line... wishing we were at the end of the line... but then constantly reaffirming to myself that being in the lead was a positive thing because not only were we first to pick up the trash....others could see what we were doing and hopefully it would catch on (maybe not that day... but I know it'll catch on) ;)

This is everything we were able to stop for... hop out... and pick up:
Plastic bag with cigarette wrappers, aluminum cans, plastic bottles, chocolate candy bag, chip bags, intake hose, metal spoon, plastics, and a WHOLE bottle of antifreeze!

When I took the picture and saw everything that we picked up... I was happy and kind of bummed. "Happy" because we took the time to do the right thing.... "bummed" because the forest trails have only been open for 2 weeks this year... AND the trashing has already begun. I just can't understand how people (especially outdoor enthusiasts) can throw their trash to the ground. Shoot... I remember the PSA's from my childhood....and just visiting YouTube... there's a PSA about littering/polluting for every generation. Here are a few of my favs... the first one from the year my Mom was born!!!

Seriously... there is absolutely no excuse. People should know better... especially by now!! It just makes no sense to me. I often think... "how would these litterbugs feel about me walking into their home and throwing my trash on their floor??" Hmmm...

I'll go ahead and say what my daughter has been singing for the past few weeks, "What do you do with a litter critter? What do you do with a litter critter? Hey 'Ho! You teach them better. Hey Ho! You teach them better."

Besides us, only one other person picked up litter... and they wondered where and how we found all that trash! SO... of course.... even not being able to pick up every piece of trash that we saw... we won the $50.

We've decided to donate our winnings to "The Plastic Ocean". Why?? Because I stand behind their work... their efforts... 100%. I met Bonnie (check out her and my friend Jennifer's blog: The Plastic Ocean) a couple of years ago... she's amazing in that she read something about plastics in our oceans (I read it too... and it has been my motivation for picking up litter) and was completely affected by it enough to get involved with the Algalita Foundation and start making a difference. Along with visiting the Great Pacific Garbage Patch...she-- along with my friend, Jennifer-- went to Bermuda last summer to study the impact of plastics in the Sargasso Sea-- did you know that baby sea turtles spend their first years there... safe in the protection of the Sargasm? did you know that it's loaded with trash... mainly plastics? AND did you know that the Sargasso Sea is 1 of 5 major ocean gyres that are collecting our trash... our litter??? Think just because you don't live near the coast...that you don't or can't have an impact?? Remember.... everything is connected... we are ALL connected...

By the way...we're also planning on going back to help with trail clean-ups... no prize included ;)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Green My Ride

For the past 5 and a half years, I have had been driving a Toyota Sequoia. (I know, I know.)  Over the years, it's been such a struggle for me... I really loved my Sequoia... it's dependable and it fit our family. BUT... it's also a gas guzzler... and such the opposite of everything that I am... and everything that I believe in (ummm... if for some reason you don't know what I believe in... you may want to start from the beginning ;) )

When people would ask me, "How do you like your Sequoia??"  I would always hesitate... say that it's really great... make sure I told them our reasons for having it... and how I wished Toyota could put the technology of the Prius in it :) 

As much as the Sequoia was "not me".... there are were SO many reasons why I justified having it:

  • 3 kids in car-seats and no way was I getting a mini-van.
  • When family came to visit... having the ability to seat 8 people really was nice. 
  • I don't drive that much (about 10K a year)
  • We have a crazy-ass Weimaraner that we find it's easier on her (and our) mental stability if she rides along with us than stays at home.
  • And having all the extra room was really nice for when we traveled... not to mention built in DVD players.

For the past 3 years, we have really wanted to get a different vehicle.   But it never really made sense for 2 reasons.

1.  Three kids in car-seats.  2.  My Sequoia was paid off.

So we waited... and waited... until 3 weeks ago... when we finally made the decision that NOW was the time to make the switch.  And two weeks ago, we bought a....

So even though I've always wanted one (the technology completely AMAZES me)... being a family of 5, I really never thought that it would make sense for our family.  Another moment of "proving myself wrong" ;)  I am absolutely LOVING it... and have not had one single second where I missed my big curb jumping Sequoia ;)  I have to say that I am still amazed at everything about the Prius.  Its size is very deceiving... totally always thought they were tiny... but they are so spacious (seriously)!!  AND the best part... after zipping around for the past couple of weeks... I've become a more conscious driver!!  Yes, I admit...from the moment I got my drivers license, I have been the "pedal to the metal" girl.  Green light. GO!!!!  Ahh... but not with the Prius.  As I accelerate, I watch the "Eco" monitor thingie and take my time and don't waste energy.  (I've been referring to it as the "marathon runner vs. the sprinter"... the marathon runner starts slow and builds up pace conserving energy... while the sprinter does short bursts and runs out of energy fast.  Something that I wish I would have thought of when I had my 14 mpg Sequoia.)  SO... for anyone who's ever thought that Priuses are slow... let me go ahead and tell you... it's not the Prius... it's the driver watching the Eco monitor trying to beat their best mpg :)

Oh yeah...thanks in part to my conscious driving (watching the monitor and coasting... I LOVE coasting)... I'm averaging around 50 mpg (it was 51, but my "heavy footed" hubbie has dropped it down a notch ;) )

My Sequoia (sold a week ago) next to my new ride.  (I may have changed my car... but the color remains the same... well kind of... Phantom Gray is now Winter Gray Metallic)

SO... what about all those things that I justified having my Sequoia for??  They're just that... justifications.  I don't miss a single thing about the Sequoia... not even the ability to jump curbs ;)

AND... there has been a whole other learning experience from this change....

When I signed the papers... I felt a tad strange.  I made a lot of different choices with this purchase than I would have made in the past.  I didn't get the top package... not because we couldn't afford it... but because we didn't need it.  I had made the decision that I did not want leather... in all of my other vehicles, I've always had leather seats... but I thought think that if I'm not going to eat a cow... then why the heck should I sit on one??  Anyway... as the dealer was going over what I was getting (or more so what I wasn't getting) I said to my husband, "I feel cheap."  And then the thought of my New Year's "Life Resolution" popped in my head.  Having leather... getting the top car package... is something that society has made me believe is one sign of success.  

I LOVE when I have moments when I see and feel change unfolding right in front of me :)

(Update:  As of May 2010, I am averaging about 58 mpg!! Woohoo!!!)

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Day at the Park

A week ago, I took my kids to the park.  We hadn't been to this particular park since last summer and I was pleasantly surprised at how different it was.  First of all, the port-a-potties had been replaced with actual restroom facilities.  YAY!  And, there were several large recycle bins for plastic bottles and aluminum cans.  One problem... as we walked up... I saw the trash can was overflowing with plastic bottles.

The sight immediately made me think about my daughter's field trip a few days earlier when I was throwing away a piece of of my daughter's teachers said, "Don't look in the trash."  She knows me... she knows that I would have serious issues with what I saw-- plastic bottles in the trash.  I said, "I don't know why it bothers me so much.  Why I just can't let it go."  (I'm constantly apologizing for things like this.  But my daughter's teachers... awesome that they are...told me that I have inspired them... way to make a girl feel good and way to make a girl Rethink apologizing for wanting to make a difference ;).)

Anyway... back to the overflowing trash can at the park.  As we were walking up, there were people leaving... so I walked past the trash can.  I waited for the people to be on their way...and while I waited I picked up some litter.  Here's one of many pieces I picked up around the playground.

Then, once they headed to the parking lot... I made my move.  I grabbed the recycle bin-- that was only a couple of steps away from the trash can-- and pulled it closer and took off the lid.  Then a friend arrived with her kids and my oldest son in tow.  I went to apologize for digging through the trash... but then said, "This is what I do." :)  My friend stood and talked to me as I pulled every bottle and can out of the trash... even found bags of bottles!!  Yes... there were moments when it was all a little gross... especially the can with cigarette ashes all over it. YUCK!

When I was done... by done, I mean... got every bottle/can that I could see...I put the bins back and THOROUGHLY washed my hands. ;)


Here's the deal: I really don't like wearing shoes.

I'm not one of those girls whose closet is full of pairs of shoes for every occasion. I have a pair of Adidas shell toes that I've had for... hmmm... 10 years! (I wasn't joking when I said I don't like wearing shoes), a pair of super cute super stylish Coach wedges, a pair of cozy rain boots and 2 pairs of Rainbows (one thin strapped black and one wide strapped brown-- they are my go-to for every occasion ;)). When I'm not barefoot... my feet happily reside in my Rainbows. They are the most comfortable flip-flops that I have ever owned... molding to my feet... they are the closest thing to being barefoot :)

SO....a couple of months ago-- before my trip to LA-- I was in dire need of some new Rainbows. (If you don't know the story... Rainbows are kick-ass flip flops because they last so L-O-N-G.) I went in the surf shop and had an epiphany...then asked, "Do they make Rainbows with something besides leather??" Of course they do. Unfortunately, they didn't have any. SO, I went to another surf shop... they didn't have them either... so I made the decision that I could wait... and placed an order.

Back up... what was my epiphany all about??? First let me say, that after I made the conscious decision to stop eating meat... I didn't really realize that it was going to have a ripple effect on other areas of my life. I read A LOT of stuff... and I am always affected by the things that I learn. I already knew about the cruelty and all of the resources it takes to raise cattle... but then I read about how cattle ranching (yes, that includes leather) plays a major roll in deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest. Seriously, the Amazon Rainforest is being clearcut to raise cattle! Oh, the problem with leather doesn't end there. Oh, no... it gets even worse... a slew of chemicals are used in traditional tanning... and those chemicals don't just disappear... nope... they end up in our environment :(

Foregoing leather was an easy decision to make and commit to. (Also, check out this article: Leather Vs. PVC )

Finally... a couple of weeks ago, my hemp Rainbows arrived!! I'll admit that I was a little nervous whether or not I would love them as much as my leather Rainbows... BUT... I quickly realized even though the sole felt a bit different... they are just as great (ok, better) than their leather counterparts!!

What makes hemp so great?? Here's what the tag on my flops says:

Natural Hemp Fiber

Naturally organic fiber that is environmentally friendly and durable.
Nature's strongest, longest lasting fiber.
Biodegradable and paper free.
No rot, no mold, just pure hemp.

It's Hempenin!

Oh yeah. Those are my hempenin ;) feet swinging at the park.

Where's My Milk Come From??

I've been buying organic milk for a LONG time.  Years ago, my father-in-law sent me a report about the integrity of organic milk.

"The Cornucopia Institute's national survey of organic products in the dairy case showcases ethical family farm producers and exposes factory farm producers and brands that threaten to take over organic dairying. With this Web-based rating tool, you can see which brands and dairy products found in your region are produced using the best organic farming practices and ethics. Based on a years research into the organic dairy business, the scorecard rates 68 different organic dairy brands and private-label products."

From that scorecard, I learned which organic dairy products I would buy... and what companies that I wouldn't support.  And while I knew what type of farmers I would support... I never really thought about "where" the farmers lived that I chose to support.  Since January, I've been trying my best to buy local milk from my co-operative food market (Tidal Creek).  Sometimes I would remember to pick up milk when I was there... other times I would forget and purchase Organic Valley at the grocery store.
Then I came across this website: Where Is My Milk From?.   As soon as I saw the website... I grabbed every bit of dairy in my fridge... Milk, Chocolate Milk, 1/2 and 1/2 (all Organic Valley).  I knew that Organic Valley has farmers in the Southeast... so naturally, I assumed (yes, I am aware of the saying ;) ) that all the dairy products I had purchased came from the Southeast.  WRONG!!  I could hardly believe it when Minnesota, New York and Ohio popped up for the codes that I entered.

SO... for the past month I have only been purchasing local... North Carolina... milk.  Sure, it takes a little more planning on my part since Tidal Creek isn't as convenient as the grocery store a few miles from my home.  BUT I'm feeling great about my decision because:

I'm supporting North Carolina farmers!!
The distance from farm to table is SO much shorter :)
Reusable glass bottles... I pay a $2 deposit that I get back when I RETURN the bottle.
I'm REUSING, which means that I have less in my recycle bin.

On a side note, I should say that we don't really use that much milk.  Partly, because I have my "issues" with the dairy industry.  Over the past several months, I've been using a lot of dairy alternatives that I will share shortly :)