EcoConsciousness Today And For All Tomorrows

EcoConsciousness.  That looks like it’s spelled incorrectly.  What is it anyway?  It’s being aware of our own personal actions and how those actions either help keep the world clean, or not.

I stopped and thought about my actions on any given day.  For the most part, I feel that I am doing a decent job of picking up after myself and putting things in a garbage receptacle.  [Why is that important?  Because whatever we don’t put into a garbage can, and usually do, end up in the sewers and is washed out into sea.  There, our garbage can strangle sea creatures to death.  Or worse, animals such as turtles eat soft plastic (like bags) thinking it’s fish and starve to death as more and more plastic takes up space in their bodies.)]

However, that’s not even scratching the surface.  There are people who pick up after other people to ensure that waste does not go out to sea.  Then, there are those who go a bit further and in addition to picking up waste strive to put LESS WASTE into the system by using less packaged products in their everyday life.

YOU: What…huh?  Come again?

There are people who have as their goal a zero waste lifestyle.  Meaning, they do their best to have nothing to throw in the trash bin.  They use reusable containers.  They carry reusable bags with them to the grocery store.  They find Bulk Food stores where they bring their own containers with them to fill with whatever they need.

A few who are extremely passionate about getting our environment cleaner go an extra step and go  dumpster diving.  Yep.  They go into trash dumpsters to see what they find that can be reclaimed and utilized.  freegan.info‘s dumpster directory page details that some locations are ‘weirdly competitive’.  This is very extreme, in my mind, but if one is passionate about saving the planet (one dumpster at a time??) I cannot be mad.  Less waste means more space for other things, ahem — new people — in the future.

Zero waste is truly a thing.  There’s a movement out there and Bea Johnson is one of the thought leaders in this space.  The picture (from Bea’s website) below shows her family’s waste for the entire year of 2016.

Family-annual-waste-for-2016-photo-credit-Cristovão@Exposed-Image-1200x800

My brain cannot fathom how an entire family can have so little waste!  Clearly this is a passion for Bea and a very noble one.  I know it will take some time for me to wrap my brain around the changes in thought this lifestyle requires.  Well, at least a major shift in consciousness.

Of course, we’ll talk more about this later.  In the meantime, what do you think about ecoconsciousness?  What is your current level of comfort in regards to how much of your household’s waste goes to your sanitation department each year?

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My Thoughts 2 Weeks in on Green Cleaning Products

For two weeks and three days, I have been testing out some green household cleaning products by City Maid Green.  Their tagline is: Powered by plants.  Cute, catchy, environmentally alluring.

City Maid Green products_6 28 2017

Or, is it a bunch of fluff to capture the awareness of a particular demographic?  When you’ve only used Comet, bleach, Lysol, Windex, Fantastic, Mr. Clean, etc., this is actually a real concern.  You know, like I have.

For the first three days after I purchased City Maid Green’s Eucalyptus Mint Multi-Purpose Cleaner and their Lavender Multi-Purpose Cleaner, I left both untouched and unused.  I was absolutely petrified that these ‘plants’ would not remove germs and leave my house in a less than ideal condition.  I mean, come on!  All that’s in these cleaners are:

  • Water
  • Saponified Olive and Coconut Oil
  • Borax
  • Eucalyptus and Tea Tree Essential Oils

Okay.  But, what the heck is saponification anyway?  Merriam-Webster’s dictionary states that to saponify means, “to convert (something, such as fat) into soap; specifically to hydrolyze (a fat) with alkali to form a soap or glycerol.”  Okay, good.  Next question, what is the compound used to start the saponification process?  In bar soaps, NaOH, or lye.  In liquid soaps/cleaners, it is potassium hydroxide (KOH).  What?!  This sounds un-natural to use lye, or potassium hydroxide in a natural product.  However, what my brain did not initially compute is that this is a chemical reactionThere is but so much that can be done to avoid getting to certain compounds, such as soap and cleaners, without using actual science.  I checked around to see what else can be used and I kept seeing KOH and NaOH no matter where I looked even on the From Nature With Love website.  FNWL (a wholesale brand) offers a full range of organic, natural and essential personal care items.  FNWL also prides itself on its green initiatives including “harnessing 100% clean energy to power its 30,000 square foot corporate headquarters.”

Alright.  KOH won’t kill me! 🙂 [And, when we use bar soap, in the saponification process it is calculated to burn off the lye so it will not end up in the final product — the bar of soap you use on your skin.  That’s a relief! (If you click the NaOH link above, you can read up on the actual process by reading the saponification lab experiment.)]

Now, back to City Maid Green.  Once my mind was at ease that I wouldn’t kill myself, or my family, via this previously un-heard of saponification process, I tried it out in the bathroom face basin.

It smelled clean, fresh and did a pretty darn good job of cleaning the soap scum off.  In fact, the sheeting action we all know all love to let us know surfaces are clean.  Here is the best explanation I found to describe why we love “sheeting action” taken from Chemical & Engineering News (Dec 3, 2001, Vol 79, Number 49)

The surfactant breaks the surface tension of water droplets, flattening them and allowing the water to run down in the form of a sheet. The phenomenon is called sheeting action. Those droplets contain soap scum; oils and debris from the body; and salts of calcium, magnesium, or iron. If allowed to dry on their own, the droplets will leave residues that would build up over time. The chelating agent sequesters the ions of these salts, rendering them soluble. The alcohol helps to dissolve all the ingredients in water and to remove oily human debris.

While we are not discussing shower cleaning products (read: traditional chemical cleaning products), the sheeting action description remains the same and  is what we, as consumers and home cleaners, still want to see to know that our surfaces are clean!

I can tell you that City Maid Green’s 2 products that I used do work and provide sheeting action in the face basin and in the bathtub (yes, the one that gets the biggest ring!).  Sure, you do have to put in a bit of extra elbow grease but for a home that is clean, that does not have chemical (read: noxious) fumes emanating from the place cleaned for several hours after use — it’s worth it!

Before, when I used traditional cleaners, my children could smell that I was cleaning before they opened the front door; they could smell the bleach from outside our home.

Now, they smell eucalyptus, mint, lavender and tea tree oil!  Much nicer, and much easier on the lungs and body.  (You can see we love it because both bottles are almost finished!)

Two weeks later, I am comfortable enough to try other green products such as Mrs. Meyers, or J.R. Watkins Aloe and Green Tea Window Cleaner.  Real Simple
magazine has a great piece about 8 green cleaning products that I am planning on taking a look at very soon.  Here’s  the link: https://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/green-living/green-cleaning-products.

Weekend Inspiration: Mother Earth & Sustainable Shoes

For a long time I felt the desire to take a look at the Earth and help her heal, and be stronger and better than she was last generation.  But how?  I am just one tiny, teeny little person, right?

Wrong.

There are so many ways we can help our planet, and ourselves.  We just have to think about a few things differently.  For instance, I love shoes.  [What woman doesn’t, you say. :-)]  But, if you think about it, shoes, as we know them to be, are NOT sustainable.  They use up plenty of earth’s resources (animal kingdom, plastics, polymers, and other man-made materials…)  What if there were shoes that…ahem…walked lightly on the planet?  And, looked good?  Impossible, you say?  Well, take a look at these inspiring footwear.

Adidas UltraBoost Parley Shoes (sneakers)

Made from reclaimed plastic from the ocean!

addidas parley sneakers

Adidas Terrex Climacool Boat Shoe

In the same Parley line as the previous shoe.  This Terrex boat shoe is also made from reclaimed plastic from the ocean.  Read the May 1st, 2017 article from Forbes discussing its release.

Ocean Boat Shoes

 

VivoBloom Shoes

Made from algae from harmful algal blooms in high risk bodies of water.  Blue-green algae is a polymer!  Who knew?  [Yep, you did!]

These shoes will be available in July 2017.  You can read the Smithsonian article from May 31st, 2017 here.

vivo_bloom_2-5-5

VEERAH Shoes (Vegan!)

VEERAH, the Sanskrit word for ‘warrior’, is an appropriate name for these stylish shoes that are making a statement while turning heads and saving the planet simultaneously.  These fashion-forward shoes have an organic cotton lining, Italian resin outsole and is PETA-approved.  Read more about what VEERAH shoes are made of here.

I first came across these shoes at the Green Festival Expo held at the Jacob Javitis Center in NYC on June 11th.  That’s why you see an array of shoe designs below.  I was there and fell in love with these shoes instantly.  They are comfortable and you’ll be the belle of the day, night or ball! Did I mention the accessories (tassels & clip on jewels) are interchangeable?  And, you can wear them on your wrist, or around your neck if you so choose?

Veerah shoes 6 11 2017

As you can see, this topic inspired me to dig and find out more!  I will definitely write more about sustainable shoes in the future.  But for now, please check out these shoes, and the companies that created them.  Then, share the word with your friends and family.  We can help our planet one step at a time. [Pun totally intended.]

Ta-ta for now,

Rochelle

 

Longest Running Expo: 6th Annual GreenFestival 2017

On Sunday, June 11th, I attended the Green Festival Expo at the Javits Center in New York City.  It was pretty awesome!  Two of my children, and I, headed out on the subway not knowing what to expect but having a feeling of excitement nonetheless.

From the moment we alighted from the elevator onto the Expo’s floor, we were pleasantly bombarded with items that we could and would want to eat – including gluten free items!  The very first stop was the GoMacro Macrobar which is gluten free, and pretty darn tasty!  (Please note: some flavors contain soy.)  The server behind this booth was so Cali-zen!  He put huge smiles on our faces and made us feel at ease.

gomacro_6 11 2017

Then, it was on to Coco-Mat, positioned to the extreme right of the escalators – perfect for grabbing attention!  We all loved the softness and the feathery lightness of this all-natural bed.  The mattresses are made from various natural materials such as: natural rubber, rubberized coconut-fiber, rubberized horsehair, seaweed, eucalyptus leaves, and cactus fiber. (Yeah!  We were amazed as well.)

coco mat_6 11 2017

The next thing that caught our collective eye was the Kia Soul EV – a 100% electric car with 0% emissions.  Whoa.  Fully loaded?  It comes out to $36K.  Not bad.  But, it’s the perks that really had us thinking about getting behind this luxurious looking wheel.

Kia soul ev_6 11 2017

  • $7,500 in credits, rebates back from the federal government because of the money you are saving the planet because you are not using fossil fuel to power this vehicle
  • Money savings from state tax credits for environmental ease (not all states have these credits; Illinois does not)
  • 120 city miles / 92 highway miles on a fully charged battery
  • 24 hours to full charge on a 27 kWh 360 V lithium-ion battery (alternating AC1 current)
  • Use of recycled plastics for the car’s décor showing the manufacturer’s commitment to the environment

My whole family wants this car!  Including me.

Our next little stop was just a few steps away at the Vegan Smart booth.  This is a plant-based protein powder that comes in several different flavors. ( All flavors contain soy.)  The strawberry flavor was by far, to me, the best tasting.  Given my family’s long history using and drinking protein powders, this ranked in the pretty okay category.  It didn’t knock our socks off but it was tasty and nutritious – and it’s a Black-owned business.

vegan smart_6 11 2017

From here on, I cannot recall each and every stop we made – we saw so much!

Think we next stopped at Samina, a sleeping system (bed) company that rocked my family’s world.  The European Ash Wood“box spring” is individually tied and affixed to the frame in such a way that the slats contour to your positioning leaving your body feeling fully supported and at ease.  For the five minutes I laid on the bare “box spring” I was in heaven.  And the person sleeping next you is in no way affected if you toss and turn.  How do I know?  My 3-year-old daughter was jumping on the Samina bed not 2 feet from where I was lying and my side of the bed did not move or vibrate at all.  It was incredible.  No, it was mind-blowing.

Samina_6 11 2017

Oh, did I mention that all of the wool coverings this company uses for its mattresses are from sheep that roam freely in Austria and have their wool hand-washed to preserve the wool’s ability to insulate when it’s cold and to keep you cool when it’s warm?  Therefore, you’re sleeping on disturbingly happy sheep’s wool.  I’m sure 365 days of that along is a fantastic experience!

Okay, now it gets really murky…

City Maid Green – OMG!  I am in love with these plant powered cleaners!  I was extremely skeptical about using products that did not contain – wait, dare I say it?  Okay, I will…bleach.  How the heck can you clean the tub and the face basin with plant essences?  Well, I’ve been doing it for the past 9 days and I can attest and testify that they do work.  I was a bit upset the first couple of days because the water beaded in the area that I just “cleaned.”  Then, I realized that a bit more elbow grease is needed when using green cleaning products – so I get my work out on when I clean the bathroom now!  [Did I mention the household cleaners are only $4.99 each spray bottle?] http://citymaidgreen.com/

city maid green_6 11 2017

I would say you use a bit more product than you would a chemical cleaner but that stands to reason.  It’s the same reason why you don’t have to do much scrubbing with a chemical cleaner – why?  It strips everything, including the skin cell from your hand… (Ooops.  Did I say that out loud?)

MJ Lemon – hand-crafted Eco-friendly skin care by founder Maheen Lemon.  She graduated from the Aveda Institute in New York City with a license in Esthetics and skin care.  She has also studied Ayurveda which enhances her line of skincare with a whole-body-mind consciousness.  All of her products are 100% natural, organic and cruelty-free.

MJ Lemon pic_6 11 2017

Twin Pines at Dover Hill – all natural body bar soaps & scrubs; the coffee-mint body scrub with the sweet little wooden scoop comes to mind readily.  They smelled and looked great!  Tell the owner, Laura Baliotti, I sent you.  Congrats on being selected as a GreenFestival Expo Brand Award Finalist!

Twin Pines body scrubs_6 11 2017

Element – healthful snacking that won’t leave you feeling guilty!  These rice crackers are slathered with a rich topping that is dairy-free, gluten-free and simply gosh-darn good.  We loved the strawberry flavor (Yeah, we’re berry citrus lovers.)  But, the other flavors are really really good!  Fredrik told me that this company came about because his wife has numerous allergies and she wanted a portable snack that she could enjoy without it being messy.  (Nutella on rice crackers does not travel well he mentioned to me.)  Their solution?  Element snacks, of course.

element snacks_6 11 2017

EMFs Protect – Now, I will admit, I have to get more info on all of this but here’s the gist of it.  EMFs (electric and magnetic fields) surround us in our ever-expanding technological worlds.  While these energy fields power our devices (which we cannot seem to live without these days), the fields do not coincide well with our body’s own electromagnetic field.  In fact, EMFs interrupt and interfere with our bodies.  EMFs make our bodies weaker and susceptible to illness and disease.  Here’s more information from Roy Riggs, a geobiologist: https://bodyecology.com/articles/little-known-dangers-of-emf.php.

emfs protect_6 11 2017

So, I said all of that to now tell you that there’s this band that you can put on your wrist that will greatly reduce/dampen the EMFs around you so that your body is not affected by them.  The band contains a crystal that produces negative ions.  The folks at the booth did a demonstration with my son which seemed to show that when he was wearing the band he was stronger and was able to resist his arm being pushed down.  (Without the band, his arm much more easily was pushed down.)  [You know my son wants one of these bands, right?] http://mypowerbandz.com/order-negative-ion-bands.html

Solar Tube – brings light from outside into your attic.  It loses only 3% of light for every 10 feet of tubing.  Four hundred lumens of light is reflected in the material lining the tube (very bright!!) and there’s a layer behind this material that absorbs the heat so you are only bringing the light into your home.  And, there’s a 30% federal tax credit!

solar tube_6 11 2017

Di Loren Acacia Silk Face Oil – this woman-owned and run company works with women in Uganda.  Desert oil is hand-harvested by the Ugandan women by sustainable methods and this extremely moisturizing oil is combined with Acacia to give you a face oil that does not clog your pores or feels heavy.  It helps to reduce wrinkles and the appearance of aging skin.  The co-founder Lauren Servin is both personable and passionate about bringing natural products for women, by women and to help heal the earth.

di loren_6 11 2017

I would be totally remiss if I did not rave about My Eco Bags!  I picked up a 4-bag set of these bags that you can take to the grocery store so you don’t use any more disposable plastic bags.  My Eco Bags are made from recycled yogurt containers and other types of recycled plastics and materials.  The straps are so wide and comfortable that it is not a hardship to bring home a lot of groceries in these sturdy bags.

my eco bags_javitis_6 11 2017

There was so much more but I’ll stop here.  We’ll be looking at more green products and other topics in the arena of sustainability in the weeks and months to come.

Ta-ta for now,

Rochelle