Friday, February 29, 2008

Poop Freeze

I was flying up north yesterday and started to read SkyMall, that shopping magazine they have on planes that takes advantage of the fact that you are trapped with nothing to do. I was perusing the pages laughing at products that I'm certain no one actually needs, and most likely most don't even want, when i cam across this little gem. Here's the blurb from the mag.

"Poop Freeze is an easy, earth-friendly way to do your "dooty" and clean up after your dog. It chills animal waste to -62°F, creating an outer "crust" that enables you to quickly place in a bag and dispose. Makes picking up loose stool and diarrhea easier. Effective for all kinds of pets, including dogs, cats, birds, etc. Indoor or outdoor use. Safe for humans and pets when used as directed. "

I'm sorry did that say earth friendly? Truly? Earth friendly? Now i'm assuming they are talking about CFC use, but can you really look at this product that no one on earth actually needs and say that it is friendly in any way towards the earth? Unreal.

I ordered a case.

I guess the thing that gets me is this so highlights the whole greenwashing thing that is going on all around us. So few people actually take time to critically think about their decisions that they can go ahead and buy and use Poop Freeze and feel likem they are doing the right thing. They can look past the manufacturing, transportation, and disposal of Poop Freeze and smile as they ice their dog's waste stream simply because they were told it was ok. Advertisers wouldn't lie would they?

Same thing gets me about disposable. Who decides that it's disposable? An environmental engineer who looks at the cradle to grave cycle of the project, or a number cruncher named Bob (my apologies to all the Bobs out there) who has determined that people will buy something at a certain price point, throw it away and buy another one, if they are led to believe that that's ok.

Allright, I'm done. Rant over. Gotta check my mail and see if the Poop Freeze has arrived.



Speak and Be Heard

There's a great post i just read on the Be The Change Blog about an experience she had with a grocery store. She brings here own bags and when she got home, noticed that they ahd plastic bagged a small item that she wasn't aware of. So she wrote a nice note to the store manager (nice is the key here) and they ended up talking to her and then telling their employees to make sure to ask folks with re-usables before they bagged anything. Shows the power o making your voice heard, even on a small level.

Similarly, I have taken to writing/calling organizations and asking if they'd remove me from mailing lists (mostly non-profits I support). Here's an email I received back that shows how most folks are willing to help if they can and know what you want.

Thank you so much for calling late last week and requesting that we stop sending paper mail to you and instead contact you only by e-mail. I wish more donors would let us know their preferences!

Please know that it sometimes take awhile for a change like this to take effect, because paper mailings are prepared well in advance and are impossible to recall. However, the change has been made so you should stop receiving paper mailings from us within the next month or two.

Thank you again for your support for our work. Please contact me any time. I would love to thank you personally for your gifts.


Christine M. Dodson
Manager, Annual Giving
Freedom from Hunger
1644 DaVinci Court
P.O. Box 2000
Davis, CA 95618
(530) 758-6200 Ext. 1042
1 (800) 708-2555


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ban the Bag! Sign The Petition

A blog reader sent me the following link and post to an online petition to ban plastic bags in grocery stores all across the country. I think making our voices heard on this subject is important, and this, along with sending it to your representatives in Washington, is a good way to do it.

Here's the link to the petition, and below is a letter from them explaining why a ban is important.


This is a petition intended to urge all CEOs of major U.S. supermarkets to completely eliminate plastic grocery store bags.

On January 22, 2008, Whole Foods Market, the global leader in the natural and organic foods market space, formally announced that it will permanently end the use of all disposable plastic grocery store bags. This decision affects all of its 270 stores, and is set to be completed by Earth Day, or April 22, 2008. We at Green Eggs and Planet (, are fully behind this small but significant step forward in terms of global consciousness and environmental awareness. And this got us to thinking.

What about the rest of the super markets and grocery stores out there across the land? What are they waiting for?

We don't believe that it should only be the province of the environmentally aware, eco-friendly "organic" or "health" food store, regardless of how large and seemingly important Whole Foods may have become in recent years. Those of us who have awoken to the reality of the planet's state, rather unfortunately, still represent only a growing minority. The fact of the matter is that the issue at hand, specifically that of eliminating plastic bags from use across the country, is a concern for all people -- whether they realize it yet or not. The time, however, is now.

Many of us have begun to notice a small change creeping up in our local grocery stores and super markets -- with some stores currently offering alternatives at the checkout stand. It's no longer just "Paper or plastic?" -- now there's also a re-useable bag for sale, typically around 99 cents, silently and awkwardly perched somewhere within arm's reach, quietly vying with the entertainment rags and candy racks for your attention. More often than not, however, nobody at the grocery store is educating the consumer, offering the re-useable option as the only way to go, serving up the exact reasons behind why making that decision is so potentially important.

Here are the facts:

-- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, we consume over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps in the United States alone, every year.

-- In the U.S., consumers throw away about 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually, with an estimated cost to retailers at $4 billion.

-- Plastic bags are petroleum based, and they litter countless landfills, often taking more than a thousand years to break down. This means that polymers of literally every single bag ever produced still exist somewhere, in some smaller form, on our planet.

-- It takes over 400,000 gallons of crude oil to produce 100 million plastic bags. Less than 1% of these will be recycled.

-- Hundreds of thousands of seabirds and marine mammals, including whales and sea turtles, die every year from eating discarded plastic bags that they mistake for food.

-- Plastic bags don’t actually biodegrade; instead, they constantly break down into smaller and smaller toxic bits (photodegrade). In the process, they contaminate soil and waterways. Eventually, they are accidentally eaten by many animals, and end up in the food chain, later to be consumed in many cases by humans.

-- Despite efforts to reuse and recycle, studies have shown that plastic bags are consistently among the twelve items of debris most often found in coastal cleanups (Center for Marine Conservation).

Many other countries have banned or actively discourage the use of plastic bags, including Australia, Ireland, Italy, Taiwan and more. Still others have instituted a tax on all plastic bags that get used at the grocery stores. Mumbai has formally banned the use of plastic bags since 2005.

A little bit of consciousness and simple, practical action can go a long way if all consumers make the choice to abandon plastic bags, make their voices heard with their super market and grocery store corporations and make the switch to re-useable shopping bags. Whole Foods estimates that from May to December of 2008, they will be preventing 100 million disposable plastic bags from entering the environment.

The goal now is to confront all other CEOs of major grocery store chains with this evidence, with Whole Foods example, and with our voices -- and a demand for change and a new collective policy towards the environment. Time is running out.

Take a minute to sign this e-petition, and spread the word. Copy and paste the link from the petition, and pass it along to all of your friends.

When we reach a significant amount of signatures whose collective voice will have the ability to make an impact, we will then draft a formal letter along with this petition, and send it to all major U.S. super market CEOs and leadership.

This includes:
The Vons Companies, Inc.
Albertsons LLC
Ralphs Grocery Company
Safeway Inc.
The Kroger Co.
Gelson's and Mayfair (Arden Group, Inc.)
D'Agostino Supermarkets, Inc.
Pathmark Stores, Inc.

With your help, we will reach that number of signatures quickly, and foster positive environmental change.


Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar Fever and the Need To Be Cool

No doubt as I type this post, people all over the US and perhaps all over the world as well, are sitting down to watch the Oscars, the night when Hollywood comes out to salute itself and let everyone else in on how the stars act, what they wear, and who they think will and should win. Don't get me wrong, I love the Oscars, and while I don't generally watch them, it's fun to see which actors/technicians and films walk away with awards and why.

This year however, as irony would have it, I got a little different look at the awards that fit in quite nicely with my little project here. A friend of mine has been nominated for an award and as a result I was allowed a little inside look at the goings on beforehand, namely, the hospitality suites.

For those of you who aren't in "the industry" as So Calers call it, hospitality suites are set up all over town the week before the Oscars and their sole purpose is to put expensive stuff in the hands of Nominees in the hopes that they will where/use them, and we, the unsuspecting public, will want to wear/use them so that we can be like them.

I only went to one suite as it was more than i could handle, but here's how it went. We showed up at the Lux hotel on Rodeo Drive and headed up to the Penthouse where about 12 tables were set up, each with a different designer. I don't really know much about these things, but there was a designer jean company, Cartier watches, designer hand bags, a spa in the back where you could get "oxidized" and a manicure, coffee bars, champagne bars, three seperate designer jewelry tables, and a ton of other stuff.

The nominee (and his friends mind you) walk around and express interest in something and if they like something, the folks behind the table work out getting it to them for the Oscars (sometimes to use, sometimes to keep). It's really quite amazing. Here are a few of the tables.

Truly amazing stuff. Of course for most of us, this stuff was off limits except for looking, as they all want these things to be going to the Academy Awards, not Uncle Bens Bean Cookoff. Fear not though, for everyone else (I declined but had to argue out of it) recieved bags with the goodies below. I'd guestimate that they were worth about $700-$800 at least. Here's what they had:

This is everything in the bag. Some closeups of favorites below.

This was one of the odder things they had. I forget what it's called but we were very specifically shown it and told that this is a mens cologne that was made specifically for one of the passengers on the Titanic and is quite expensive. Apparently smelling like a drowning victim is quite in vogue these days.

A really impressive amount of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans (whihc I have to admit I ate a few handfuls of while we were there cuz they had them out in bowls).

Fiji water, facial cream and a Porsche gift certificate with a map of LA inside. The map folded out pretty cool and much to many nominees surprise I'm sure, illustrated that there is indeed a subway system here.

T-shirts, gift certificates for designer jeans, facial cream, candles, spa gift certificates, Porsche driving gloves, nail polish, and a weird gold thing that i couldn't figure out what it was.

G String underwear (of course), coffee, cocoa, hand cream, a weird pink alcoholic drink, and candy.

And everybody's favorite in the orange box, a wristwatch that is basically a small computer. Video, mp3, phone, appointments, web, you name it. I asked the guy at that table what they retial for and he told me they were about $400. Amazing.

Now if i sound off on all of this, let me explain a bit. The companies are merely doing business because what they really want is for Tom Hanks to use their wristwatch in one picture and it's been worth it. The hotel is merely renting out the space and doing business. The nominees are merely accepting gifts that others want to give them (and I should note that after hitting this suite, his first, my friend declined to go to any others as it disgusted him quite a bit). They do have a choice, and many don't do this at all, but we all like free stuff right.

I guess what bugs me is the overall transparency of how all of this, the Oscars, TV, Movies, you name it, is designed to make all of us (the little people) feel less good about ourselves unless we have the same stuff that these nominees have. And again, it's not their fault, their just as sucked into this as we are. Keep in mind, this was only one of about ten or fifteen that were going on, and doesn't even take into account all of the gift bags that everyone will get tonight.

Amazing stuff. Makes you wonder why things are the way they are huh, or maybe it better explains it.

Enjoy The Oscars



Secret Life Of Cell Phones

Here's a cool little video about recycling cell phones from the site Secret Life.
Again, I can't help but think that part of the answer is to offer a significant return on investment if you were to turn your old cell phone in when buying a new one, but of course, convincing folks they don't need a new one in the first place would do that one better. Anyway, worth the four minutes it takes to check it out.

Live Sustainably