April 2011 - Our Daily Green

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Green from all the Green?

As we approach Earth Day 2011, Our Daily Green hears more and more backlash and rumblings. ECOSiZE Me just wrote about someone telling her they "[were] tired of having "that" [meaning green] shoved down her throat". Meanwhile, Our Daily Green has been half-heartedly trying to put together a post for Earth Day this year.

There is so much greenwashing and overly marketed corporate attempts at green that many folks are just fed up. Slap a label that says natural on a product and dye the packaging green to try to fool the consumer. The frustration becomes huge and many people are simply rejecting green. Naturally*, this makes Our Daily Green a bit dejected. The language around living in an environmentally conscious way has become convoluted and warped to the point where many believe it futile to try. Consider what chemical-free, clean, renewable, biodegradable, recyclable, and recycled actually mean. These words are meaningless when used to market a product rather than actually make a change.

We've lamented recycling plastic bottles in the past, as such recycling does not produce bottles again, but rather an entirely new product. In order to get new plastic bottles to recycle, we must strip the earth of more resources.  Consider the changing of a network television logo "green" this week, instead of the usual multicolored peacock. The green movement is becoming as insidious as the pink movement for breast cancer. Slapping a coat of paint on something, even if such paint is chemical-free or natural, doesn't make it any better for the earth or the environment. It simply makes products green-colored, which can lead to green in the face.

We frequently receive mail and articles from friends and readers that gives use pause. Yesterday, we received two links to humor sites that parodied green living but also underscored the skepticism surrounding green. Corporate greenwashers often give lip service to the environment in an attempt to sway consumers to purchase their products.  Another piece about ways people try to save the world that don't work also struck a chord. Issues such as buying carbon offsets, antibacterial products, recycling, and skipping vaccinations were addressed.

The piece likened carbon offsets to "...buying your girlfriend a bracelet after a night in the champagne room, it's debatable whether you are doing anything except paying to clear your own guilty conscience." The only point in that particular piece we took issue with was that organic food was a waste of our time. The argument was made about how inefficient organic farming is. Personally, we would rather study ways to garden more efficiently without chemicals, how to maximize the usefulness of the space, than douse it with chemicals and genetically modified seeds. We're chasing the wrong way to be efficient.

The rest of the criticisms were taken in stride. There is a lot of useless activity and meaningless gestures that have been slapped with a green label. It gives true stewardship for our planet and its resources a bad name.

Where does this leave the green-hearted person? Do we simply throw our hands in the air and declare if we cannot beat 'em, join 'em? Our Daily Green hopes not. Our hope for Earth Day is that instead of celebrating the planet with green balloons and paper plates, we instead embrace a celebration of mindfulness. Genuine change is not something we can buy at the store that is marketed by a corporation that thinks we are stupid. Such change comes from within. We know when we're being too lazy to fill a water bottle from the pitcher or faucet or wipe up a spill with a towel that isn't paper. We know when we buy junk food in a biodegradable wrapper, that we aren't really doing anything.

This is a gut instinct if we stop listening to the commercials and advertisements. If it feels wasteful and tastes like chemicals, it is. If we cannot pronounce the ingredients on a food package, we probably don't want it circulating in our bodies. For example, an ill conceived promotion by a major food company encouraged folks to eat prepackaged stuffing mix that was stuffed only with fake food stuff and chemicals instead of a potato. Really? What is in a potato that we cannot pronounce? If you have to throw something out after one use, whether on the roadside, a garbage can, or in a recycling bin, is it really something worth purchasing?

Common sense is a much more common than we give ourselves credit. It's time to turn off the televisions and stop letting corporate powers tell us what is good for us and the planet. Listen to our common sense and we'll all feel a lot less green in the face and lot more natural.

Happy Earth Day!

Courtesy of:  Mean Joe Green Mohr Cartoons

Monday, April 18, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award

Over the weekend, I was honored to receive this fabulous award from Mama Bird.

We ask anyone receiving the Versatile Blogger Award to pay it forward, if you will. 
  • Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
  • Tell your readers seven (7) things about yourself.
  • Give this award to fifteen (15) recently discovered bloggers. 
  • Contact those bloggers and let them in on the exciting news!
To tell you seven things about myself, wow... on my 100th blog post anniversary, I posted 100 things about myself. Rather than be redundant or conjure seven more, I invite you to follow the link if you're so inclined. I'm more interested in talking about my fellow bloggers. 

Without further ado, I present the recipients of my personal Versatile Blogger awards. This is an eclectic reading collection of fabulous writers, photographers and interesting folks. I am honored to share space on the internet with everyone listed. In alphabetical order, enjoy some of my favorite blogs.
Thank you again to Mama Bird

 a gardener's gardener
we are our planet's stewards
Caring for Our Blessings
 one of my very first blog friends loaded with humor, strong opinions and integrity
 common sense financial tips and advice
  lots of hints, including where I first learned about wool dryer balls
fabulous education outreach program
 a Cleveland photographer with an mindful eye for beauty
 scrutinizes the food we eat
 beautiful graphics, peaceful message
 inside information to the food industry and what we eat
 warm, witty and beautiful photography. And a camel. 
 a lovely tribute to women of all ages, celebrates the joys of growing older
 finding the satisfaction of enough
posts regular hints how to change the world, one step at a time
a great resource for all writers

Skillet Bacon Jam Green

bacon spreadPopular comedians create entire skits about the love of bacon. Entire websites are devoted to bacon. People tweet about bacon. The plethora of bacon products lately seem to support that statement, with plush bacon toys, bacon cologne, and chocolate covered bacon. While none of those products are of particular interest, when Our Daily Green was presented with the opportunity to review Skillet Street Food's hot new condiment, Skillet Bacon Spread, we were intrigued. Could green be better with bacon? Could bacon be green?

Bacon indeed can be green when it is sourced from Niman Ranch, a sustainable network of U.S. family farmers and ranchers – 650 and growing. Our Daily Green has decried factory farming of food several times in the past. It is important to support companies that support ethical farming. This product was also featured in the latest issue of Food & Wine and was named one of the Top 5 Food Trends by the Natural Foods merchandiser trade group.

Skillet Bacon Spread is a fabulous mix Niman Ranch bacon rendered with caramelized onions, balsamic and other spices. It cooks for several hours until it is a perfect blend of smoky, tangy, savory and slightly sweet. It is reminiscent of a spreadable spinach salad dressing. Our Daily Green had a party to attend over the weekend and decided to make an appetizer with the product and solicit the opinions of the guests.

Since the spread had such a rich bacon flavor, we decided to make a cross between spinach salad and BLT's on a cracker. We spread a low fat cream cheese on a bite sized cracker, a thin layer of the Skillet Bacon Spread, julienned fresh spinach, and half a cherry tomato. Other serving suggestions included grilled cheese, burgers, as a base for a vinaigrette, inside a scone or croissant, substitute it for bacon in a BJLT, on baked brie, sautéed in some scallops, roasted with some brussel sprouts, wilted in a spinach salad, on toast with a fried egg on top, finish a potato soup with a dollop.

The appetizers were a hit with many compliments about the unusual but delicious product. They were gone within the first 15 minutes of the party. Not everything is better with bacon, but Skillet Street Food's Bacon Spread certainly makes the case that it is. We loved trying this product and hope to find it in a nearby store soon. It can also be ordered online.

for additional information or wholesale inquiries, please contact: 

Our Daily Green received a sample of Skillet Bacon Spread for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers.We disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Playful Planet Green

Over the weekend, Our Daily Green was thrilled to have two small house guests. Our little nephew and niece are almost 2 and almost 5 and their visit was the perfect opportunity to test a fabulous children's yoga video that was provided to us by our friends at Playful Planet. My nephew chose the 18 minute Save the Whale yoga adventure and healthy fun ensued.

We were particularly happy with the earth-friendly packaging of the DVD made from simple recycled cardboard. How a product is packaged is a good indication and first impression of a company's true commitment to the environment.

Storyland Yoga: Interactive Family Fun (ages 3 to 8)Snippets of colorful cartoons and an engaging video instructor captured his attention. There were moments as an adult I found the dialog slightly idealistic. The instructor had everyone pretend to drive their electric cars to the beach. I respect having a positive and encouraging message, even if somewhat idealistic. Their commitment to earth friendly living is appreciated.

cutest children ever
Riding a surf board
My nephew was engaged and enthusiastic from the very first minute of the video. His baby sister imitated him, but it was slow and gentle enough, that it was even enjoyable for someone younger than the recommended age  range of 3-8. At the very end of the video, Ahmed Fahmy (the instructor) announced that this would help with muscles and my nephew looked at me proudly with a flexed arm. Perfect motivation!

Yoga Shark
The Shark

The video labels traditional yoga poses after animals or actions that fit into the plot line. For example, the upward facing dog becomes a seal and the warrior pose becomes surfing. Shortly after our brief exercise session, they were stretched out for stories and fell asleep to dream about the day they rescued the whale with their aunt.

The following day, I asked my nephew to show me how the shark looked and you can see how effective the video was by the attached photos. Overall, I recommend the video for anyone looking for a more simple, interactive, fun way to encourage exercise and stretching without over-stimulating small children. The exercises are simple and fun, yet effective. 

a small preview of the video
Our Daily Green received a copy of the Storyland Yoga video to review for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers. We disclose this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review giveaway disclosure.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Tweet Me Right Green

Baby BelugaTo any parent of a child in the last 25-30 years, the name Raffi is synonymous with happy toddler music that didn't grate on the ears. Raffi is an international sensation among children's musicians, with his happy folk songs that never spoke down to children, but instead lifted them and their world up. Fun songs like Down by the Bay to encouraging songs like Baby Beluga, there are few parents and children who aren't familiar with Raffi. You may even be humming one of his songs now in memory.

As my children grew, their taste in music evolved and I only remembered Raffi's joyful music when I needed to buy a gift for a little one, hoping to share the same infectious laughter that I had with my own children. Raffi stood out among many entertainers for children with his stringent policy to not sell to children. Raffi never did commercial television and subscribed to the belief that children are not a market segment, but little people filled with potential. From his biography:  
Because of his belief that children should not be exposed to too much television viewing and that they should not be directly marketed to, during his thirty year career as a superstar of kid’s music Raffi refused all offers for commercial television shows and commercial endorsements. Even recently, when approached by a Hollywood production company to do a film based on “Baby Beluga,” he declined when told that the film’s marketing would include direct advertising to children. This is only one of a series of lucrative deals Raffi and Troubadour have declined over the years.
His integrity is a core of his success.

I hadn't thought much about Raffi for a few years, until yesterday afternoon, which led to this post. As is typical of social media today, the six degrees we find separating ourselves from the rest of the world shrinks exponentially. I posted a link on Twitter from Yes! Magazine, an article titled Greed is Not a Virtue, by David Korten. I looked back at my retweets a while later and saw that it had been retweeted by.... RAFFI! A series of exchanges took place when I inquired if indeed he was THE Raffi that brought so many hours of joy and happiness to my home with his music. Indeed, it was this wonderful humanitarian. It's hard to believe an entire conversation could take place 140 characters at a time, but that is the beauty of social media. After that short exchange, Raffi actually took time to check out Our Daily Green and read a few articles. I received a lovely personal note from him last night. I admit it absolutely made my night. Thank you, Raffi for spreading sincere joy and love!

Raffi was born in Egypt and has released a new song celebrating the role of social media in the recent peaceful Egyptian revolution in his hometown of Cairo. It's a fun and lovely tribute to his homeland and national pride. This playful satire filled with text shortened colloquialisms (such as LOL, TTYL and OMG), also reminds us that all of our voices can now be heard, and we can all become part of rapid and powerful change. I absolutely love that he still is speaking a language our children and now young adults understand. Raffi's tribute is a powerful statement to the ways social media connects the world and I am thrilled to honor his request to promote the "Cairo Tango".

Please share this uplifting and powerful video with your networks! 
Let's give back to the man who still lives to give to our children.

In recent years Raffi has focused his time and resources on ecology and social justice issues,and has founded the Centre for Child Honouring. His music now revolves around these themes. Proceeds from the song sales will benefit the Centre for Child Honouring. 

What is YOUR favorite Raffi Song? 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Miessence Green

In continuing with Our Daily Green's review of environmentally and socially responsible skin care and cosmetics companies, we were invited to review the Miessence skin care line. Their representative was extremely helpful and cooperative, sending samples for both my daughter's teenage skin and my not so teenage (middle age?) skin. We both had a mother/daughter spa evening testing the samples and were thrilled with the results. The products left our skin invigorated and soft.

Before we opted to test the products, however, we did some research on Miessence certified organic skin care and learned some extremely impressive things. Miessence only uses food grade organic ingredients in their product. What is unique about that decision is that the food certifications are much more stringent than other certifications. In other words, the ingredients are not only safe to put on your body, but in theory could also be put in your body. We're not suggesting consumption of the skin care products, but rather the reassurance that the ingredients have undergone the most stringent tests available.

GoodGuide rated Miessence products nearly perfect with scores of 8.7, the highest in 2 of the 5 highlighted personal care categories.

According to Newsweek's 2010 Green Rankings:
GoodGuide’s initial challenge was a scientific one: to develop a useful ratings system based on credible science. The company’s product information—and the software it built to process it—is highly respected by industry experts. The GoodGuide system draws data from 300 sources—including firms that do socially responsible investing research, scientific institutions like the EPA, academic studies, company Web sites, and others—to score products on up to 1,500 individual criteria. GoodGuide’s scientists determine the relative importance of each of these metrics for evaluating each product category, and those weightings are used to boil down the raw data into simple ratings on a 10-point scale. 
Environmental Working Group cosmetic safety database also ranked Miessence as extremely safe, with no hazard scores above 2 while most rankings were even lower at 0 or 1. (with EWG a ranking of 10 is the most hazardous products, while 0 is no hazard).

Our Daily Green received samples of Miessence Skin Care products for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will be good for our readers. We are disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 
Tomoson Product review giveaway disclosure.