Reminder: Earth Hour is tonight (3/29/08)

Just a reminder that Earth Hour, when millions of people around the world are turning off their lights (and other electronics), is from 8 to 9 p.m. (local time) tonight.

Sign up at Earth Hour

Learn more about it:
* Crunchy Domestic Goddess – Can you turn off your lights for just one hour? – with tips on making it a fun family event
* National Geographic – Earth Hour: Cities, Landmarks to Go Dark
* National Geographic – Global Warming Fast Facts
* World Wildlife Fund – Earth Hour: A global event created to symbolize that each one of us, working together, can make a positive impact on climate change

Can you turn off your lights for just one hour?

Planet Earth

On Saturday, March 29, 2008, people from around the world will join together for Earth Hour 2008 and turn off their lights from 8 to 9 p.m. (your local time) to reduce greenhouse gases and raise awareness about global warming.

Last year Earth Hour 2007 was a Sydney, Australia event where 2.2 million people and 2,100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights for one hour. This year it’s getting worldwide attention and millions of people in some of the world’s major capital cities, including Copenhagen, Toronto, Chicago, Melbourne, Brisbane and Tel Aviv, will unite and turn off their lights for Earth Hour.

If your kids are still up at 8 p.m., you can make Earth Hour into a fun family event.
Candles

  • Light some candles (out of reach of the kids)
  • Have a “camp out” in your living room
  • Play a game like Hide and Go Seek
  • Talk about your day
  • Talk with your children about why you are turning off your lights for an hour
  • Try to do their normal bedtime routine in the dark or by candlelight (We did a dry run of this Monday night and Ava loved it!)
  • Go outside and look at the stars
  • Just enjoy the time together

And if your kids are NOT still up at 8 p.m. (lucky!), then by all means, enjoy a nice quiet candle-lit evening with your significant other. I won’t give you a list of activities. Surely you can figure something out. (Makes me wonder if we’ll see an “Earth Hour baby boom” 9 months from now.) 😉

Will you pledge to turn off your lights for just one hour?

  • Sign up for Earth Hour and then tell a friend or two. Together, our small actions can make a big difference.

Earth Hour doesn’t have to end at 9 p.m. on Saturday, you can incorporate it into your everyday life by doing little things like:

  • turn off lights when you leave a room;
  • switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs;
  • turn off appliances when not in use;
  • unplug things like cell phone chargers, the toaster, microwave and TV when they aren’t in use;
  • use less hot water;
  • switch to green power.

Every little bit helps to reduce global warming.

Hope you’ll join me and millions of others in the dark on Saturday! Don’t forget to sign up so you are officially counted.

International Women’s Day – March 8

International Women’s DayToday, March 8, is International Women’s Day. Never heard of it before? Me either until just yesterday, but I’m so glad that I did.

Celebrated on March 8 every year, “International Women’s Day (IWD) is the global day connecting all women around the world and inspiring them to achieve their full potential. IWD celebrates the collective power of women past, present and future.”

For me, today means reflecting on how far we as women in the United States have come in the past. We have the right to vote, to own property, to get a higher education, to work. Yet it is obvious to me on a daily basis that while we have a lot of rights, there is more work to be done. I need only think of the current battle going on over a woman’s right to have the birth she desires and know that we have a long way to go.

And while our rights as women here in the United States seem pretty good overall, women elsewhere around the world are not as fortunate. Mom Grind notes at a UN Conference in 2001 it was stated that “in the world as a whole, women comprise 51 percent of the population, do 66 percent of the work, receive 10 percent of the income and own less than one percent of the property.”

And Women’s Lens reminds us that in many places, there are still “women who are enslaved; women who are tortured; women who are suppressed; women who are aborted before they can become women because of their sex; women who are discriminated against; women who are overlooked because they are not men; women who are illiterate; women who are circumcised against their will; women who are vilified because they speak out against injustice; women who are threatened with death because they refuse to bow to the men who rule them.”

So yes, women have come a long way in parts of the world and we should celebrate that, but we also cannot lose sight of the fact that we have a lot of work ahead of us.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

You can learn more about IWD on:

Dumpster Diving for Dinner – Freeganism explored

I confess. I watch Oprah sometimes – not religiously, but sometimes. I TIVO the show, then take a look at the description. If it looks interesting, I’ll watch it. If not, it gets deleted.

Yesterday’s topic du jour mentioned something about Lisa Ling investigating the lifestyle of “Freegans.” I had never heard of Freegans or Freeganism before, but I am a fan of Lisa Ling, (anyone remember her from “Channel One News” in high school?), so I decided to take a look to see what it was all about and I’m glad I did.

Freegans are “a grassroots subculture is made of people who have decided to live outside consumer society. Freegans say our culture’s emphasis on buying the newest products—and throwing away perfectly fine older things—is a waste of the world’s resources. Instead, they focus on buying less and use only what they need. One of the main ways freegans do this is by salvaging food and other goods from the trash.”

The focus of the episode was really on how much we as Americans consume and how much we waste. What and how much do we really need to live? What void are we trying to fill as we consume and consume? Will we ever be happy?

freegansOn this episode of Oprah, Lisa Ling followed around Madeline, who previously earned a 6-figure income before becoming a self-professed freegan, and others as they went on a “trash tour” in New York, exploring dumpsters at grocery stores and bakeries for salvageable food that had been tossed. The quantity of edible food was both remarkable and disturbing in that stores are letting so much go to waste. Some of the food was slightly past its sell-by date, some was getting close to the sell-by date, and there really was no explanation as to why some of the food was in the trash. There was produce, eggs, but also a lot of packaged food, still perfectly wrapped.

The food Madeline and the others find is far from gross. “‘It’s not toxic waste,’ she says. Much of the food is still in its original packaging and has been discarded largely for cosmetic reasons, not because of poor quality. She shows Lisa how cartons of eggs are regularly thrown away when there’s one broken egg—even though there are 11 perfectly good ones remaining. Fruit is often thrown away when it has only minor dents, she says.”

Official surveys indicate that every year more than 350 billion pounds of edible food is available for human consumption in the United States. Of that total, nearly 100 billion pounds – including fresh vegetables, fruits, milk, and grain products – are lost to waste by retailers, restaurants, and consumers.

Lisa and Oprah also talked with a newlywed couple, Daniel and Amanda – a doctor and civil engineer – who believe in freeganism as well. I read a bit on their blog last night. Good food for thought – pun intended. 😉

The show definitely got me thinking and I hope it did others as well. While I don’t know that I’m going to run out and go dumpster diving for my dinner tonight, I admit that the idea does have it’s merits, namely that by salvaging food from the dumpster you are keeping it out of the landfills. I do have my concerns regarding safety and whether or not it is legal. I noticed the people on Oprah did their dumpster diving in the dark. Is that because that’s when the food has freshly been tossed or is it because they shouldn’t be digging around in the dumpsters by law or both?

Ava watched some of the show with with me (I turned it off when it got to the part about the mom who works as a stripper to provide for her kids, not that I disagree necessarily, but I didn’t think it was appropriate for Ava to watch) and when I half-jokingly, half-seriously talked about going shopping for our groceries in the trash next time, she commented, “I don’t want to eat food out of the trash. That’s gross.” It spurred a good discussion between us where I pointed out that all of that perfectly edible food being wasted wasn’t good either.

Eating food found in dumpsters might be too extreme for most people, but the message from the show was clear, consumerism and excessive waste in this country is out of control and something needs to change.

So what do YOU think? Do you think Americans in general consume and waste too much? Would you ever consider eating food out of the trash?

If you are interested in doing further reading, I came across some other interesting articles on the subject.

There’s also a site dedicated to Freeganism – Freegan.info – including a dumpster directory and a link to “find freegans near you.” It was down for a while after Oprah’s show aired, but it’s back online now.

Last-minute Green Valentine’s Day Tips

green heartInspired by Crunchy Chicken’s recent funny posts – Planning a Green Valentine’s and Sex is Greeny, I assembled my own green list for last-minute Valentine’s day preparations.

  1. Chocolate – In my opinion you can never do wrong giving chocolate as a gift, just make sure it is the fair trade (slavery-free) variety. Here’s a list of companies known to sell fair trade cocoa products:
    • Clif Bar
    • Cloud Nine
    • Dagoba Organic Chocolate
    • Denman Island Chocolate
    • Gardners Candies
    • Green and Black’s
    • Kailua Candy Company
    • Koppers Chocolate
    • L.A. Burdick Chocolates
    • La Siembre
    • Montezuma’s Chocolates
    • Newman’s Own Organics
    • Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company
    • Rapunzel Pure Organics
    • The Endangered Species Chocolate Company

    — Slavery Free Chocolate?

  2. Candles – Candles are great for setting the mood for a relaxing, romantic dinner and evening, but there’s nothing sexy about the smoke and strong odors given off if they are petroleum based. Instead look to soy candles as a natural alternative to light up your life. Soy candles burn cleaner and last longer than petroleum wax. Soy is a renewable resource, is biodegradable and is non-toxic and non-carcinogenic. There’s a great local company here that makes wonderful soy candles called Naked.
  3. Cards/love letters – Save the trees and send a Valentine e-card or write a love email instead.
    • Care2 E-cards – For every eCard sent, Care2 makes a donation to an environmental nonprofit to save a square foot of rainforest. How cool is that?
  4. Charitable giving – Show your loved one that you care for them and others by giving to the charity of your loved one’s choice. Network for Good allows you to choose the amount to give, and your Valentine can select the charity of their choice.
  5. Sweet Treats – If you want to tint your cookies and treats shades of red, skip the artificial food coloring (Red No. 40) and unwanted side effects – hyperactive kids, anyone? – and go with a natural coloring instead. Check with your local health food/natural grocer.

However you celebrate this Valentine’s day, hope you have a good, green lovin’ one!

Photo credit: Tim Brown Photography

Waterbirth International needs help to stay afloat

I’m writing over at BlogHer today about the financial crisis Waterbirth International is facing and what all of us can do to help. I hope you’ll take a look, do what you can, and consider spreading the word on your blogs, message boards, etc. The fact that this organization, that’s done so much over the past 20 years in the United States to make water birth a more accessible and acceptable option for women, is facing the very real possibility of closing it’s doors is truly heart breaking. There’s so much more they can accomplish if given the opportunity. Please check out the article. Thank you. 🙂

Also, more coming later today about my health. I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday to have some things checked out that had been bothering/worrying me. I got mostly good news, but I’ll explain more later.

Chew on this

Did you know that chewing gum is made from petroleum? It is. Why do I know this? You see, Ava (age 3) has recently taken quite the interest in chewing gum. Jody and I let her have a piece and she did well with it – didn’t swallow it I mean. However, now that she’s had a taste, she wants more, more, more. You could say she’s a chain chewer. She’ll chew one piece for a minute or two, spit it out and pop another in her mouth.

This new habit made me question what all goes into chewing gum. Jody did a search on Wikipedia and found this: Chewing gum is a type of confectionery which is designed to be chewed rather than swallowed. Traditionally, it was made of chicle, a natural latex product, although for reasons of economy and quality many modern chewing gums use petroleum-based polymers instead of chicle.

Mmmm, petroleum. /gag If I don’t want my kid to ingest pesticides and growth hormones in her food, I sure as hell don’t want her gnawing on petroleum in her gum. Oy.

Of course his next search was to find a natural chewing gum alternative to crude oil, which lead him to Glee Gum. Glee Gum is all natural chewing gum made with sustainably-harvested rainforest chicle.

Glee Gum

Jody picked up three packs of Glee Gum at Vitamin Cottage and Ava has been happily chewing on chicle ever since. The only problem with chicle is that it gets stuck in your teeth much more easily than slippery old petroleum. So there have been a few occasions where I’ve had to retrieve gum from Ava’s mouth – it likes to get stuck between her teeth and gums. But I’d rather fish around in her mouth than worry about her ingesting petroleum. 😉

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Which brings me to my next story. Guess what artificial colors are made from. C’mon, guess! That’s right – petroleum as well (in addition to coal tar and insects)! Thanks to Greenstylemom for sharing this bit of information and putting a damper on my recent M&M gluttony consumption.

Here’s a bit more about some of the artificial colors…

Blue No. 1 uses coal tar as one of its components. Because of the use of coal tar, many organizations and circles are speaking out and boycotting products using colors with coal tar because it is a carcinogenic in large quantities, known to cause tumors in lab rats.Blue candy

Red No. 40 can be found in sweets, drinks and condiments, medications, and cosmetics. It has caused allergic reactions in people as well as hyperactivity in children.

Yellow No. 5 or Tartazine can be found in soft drinks, instant puddings, flavored chips (Doritos, etc), cake mixes, custard powder, soups, sauces, kool-aid, ice cream, ice lollies, candy, chewing gum, marzipan, jam, jelly, marmalade, mustard, horseradish, yogurt, noodles, pickles and other pickled products, certain brands of fruit squash, fruit cordial, chips, tim tams, and many convenience foods together with glycerin, lemon and honey products.

Tartrazine, however, does produce the most common allergic react, especially among those with an aspirin intolerance and ashtma. Some research has linked Yellow No. 5 to early childhood Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and hyperactivity. It is banned in Austria and Norway.

Yellow No. 6, also known as Sunset Yellow FCF, is an orange coal tar-based food dye found in orange squash, orange jelly, marzipan, Swiss roll, apricot jam, citrus marmalade, lemon curd, fortune cookies, sweets, hot chocolate mix and packet soups, trifle mix, breadcrumbs and cheese sauce mix and soft drinks. It is the color most prominently seen in DayQuil. It is capable of causing allergic reactions such as abdominal pain, hyperactivity, hives, nasal congestion, and bronchoconstriction, as well as kidney tumours, chromosomal damage, and distaste for food.

Here’s the kicker, a number of these dyes have been banned in countries around the world because of their link to cancer, tumors, allergic reactions and hyperactivity in children, yet they are still used in foods in the good ol’ U.S.A.

Note to self for future sweet binges: Chocolate = good. Chocolate with cancer-coating artificial dye coating on it = bad.

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brain-body connection Thirdly, on another related note, thanks to my friend Melissa for sharing the article: Scientists make gut-brain connection to autism. (The bolding below is mine.)

Compounds produced in the digestive system have been linked to autistic-type behaviour in laboratory settings, potentially demonstrating that what autistic children eat can alter their brain function, say scientists from the University of Western Ontario.

It’s wonderful to see a scientific study finally acknowledge what many parents have already come to realize on their own. (Jenny McCarthy was recently talking with Oprah about this with regard to her autistic son.)

Dr. Martha Herbert, assistant professor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, told CBC News that the study opens up a new way of thinking about the disorder.
Now we’re learning that the brain and body can influence each other,” she said.

Excuse my cynicism here, but NO KIDDING! This hardly seems like news to me, but I guess I should be happy that science is catching on that there IS a mind-body connection. Perhaps they will realize that this can apply to many other things as well. I’m crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath yet.

On your mark, get set, breast-feed!

By now I think most of the online mothering community has heard about the ridiculous, ignorant comments by Bill Maher and actions by Facebook regarding breastfeeding – making both of them look like real boobs.

If you have been living under a rock and are in the dark on these issues, Suburban Oblivion did a good job of covering the Bill Maher storyequating breastfeeding to masturbation?? What is wrong with you, Bill?! – a couple weeks ago.

Then there’s Facebook and MySpace’s idiocy of banning breastfeeding pictures because they are “obscene.” (However, a new social networking site still in beta called Cre8buzz, allows nursing photos AND is supportive of breastfeeding mothers. Yay, Cre8buzz! Here’s a link to become a beta tester.)

All of this leads me to the point of my post, which is that the League of Maternal Justice is hosting a virtual nurse-in AKA “The Great Virtual Breast Fest” on 10/10/07 at 10 a.m. “We’re asking women around the world to speak out – and squirt out! – against the banning of breastfeeding pictures on Facebook, as well as against the constant onslaught of negative attention toward breastfeeding mothers in public spaces and in the media.”

The League is asking for your breastfeeding videos or photos while you participate in the Breast Fest which they will compile to “let the world know that there is no shame, only power, in caring for our children.”

Not breastfeeding, but support it? The League of Maternal Justice loves your boobs too! 😉 “You can participate by writing a post – even a blurb will do – about why you support women’s right to nourish their children whenever and whatever and in whatever manner they wish.”

Please grab a button from their site and help spread the word. The more boobs, the better. 🙂 And if you plan on participating, let them know by emailing The Boob Squad.

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  • Don’t forget tomorrow (Monday, Oct. 1) is World Vegetarian Day. Sign up to go meat-free for the day with me here. C’mon, you know you want to! 😉
  • And check out my latest giveaway – a Halloweenie shirt for your little pumpkin!

07/07/07 – Live Earth

Live Earth

Today is 7/7/07 – the day of Live Earth The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis – “a 24-hour, 7-continent concert series that will bring together more than 100 music artists and 2 billion people to trigger a global movement to solve the climate crisis. Live Earth will reach this worldwide audience through an unprecedented global media architecture covering all media platforms – TV, radio, Internet and wireless channels. Live Earth concerts will be broadcast to a live worldwide audience by MSN at LiveEarth.MSN.com.”

MoveOn.org has a part in this huge event by organizing more than 1300 “Parties for the Planet” in the United States. “We planned for 1000 Parties for the Planet; we have over 1300. We hoped 10,000 MoveOn members would attend; we just cleared 30,000, making this our biggest event of the year. We have events in all 50 states, in the Virgin Islands, in Puerto Rico and in Guam. These parties—quite simply—are going to be huge.

The overwhelming response to these parties is a clear sign of the commitment that regular folks are showing to solving the climate crisis—and our leaders are taking notice. We’ll watch all 8 Democratic presidential contenders answer tough questions from MoveOn members on the climate crisis. And because this is truly a global event, we’ll join 2 billion people around the world to watch Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts. It should be an unforgettable night and is only the beginning of the work we’ll do together to take on the climate crisis.”

A friend of ours is hosting a party so that’s where we’ll be tonight. 🙂 I’m looking forward to it! Anybody else taking part?

To find a MoveOn Party for the Planet in your area, visit
MoveOn.org.

And if you haven’t yet seen An Inconvenient Truth, I recommend checking it out.