Organicneedle Is Still Here…and Still Sewing

Posted by organicneedle in Uncategorized

Yes…I have been a lazy blogger. I was hoping the new school year would provide more time to tinker about in my blogosphere…but alas…not the case. Fortunately for Organicneedle, me, and all of you looking for holiday goodies I have managed to keep sewing. So if you are looking for a great gift for the crunchies in your life, head over the Etsy shop and take a gander at my goods.

Reusable 100% organic cotton produce bags, coffee filters, scarves…and even some bears…oh my!  And coming soon…as in this week…exfoliating washcloths and soap savers.

Keep in mind, not only will you be reducing waste by buying reusable products to replace your disposables, supporting the use of ethically and sustainable produced materials, and jumping off the big box bandwagon, you also will be receiving a product that has gone through the toughest inspector imaginable.
Good Help is Hard to Find 1



Seventh Generation Drawstring Tall Kitchen Bags…Pure Trash

Posted by organicneedle in green cleaning, plastic, product review

Wow. This is a whole new level of suck. I know…I know…I always say their products suck. Well..their dishwasher detergent and their laundry detergent do in fact suck. But…up until now, in all fairness, I have been using their recycled TP and their regular recycled 2-ply trash bags with relatively few complaints. Drugstore.com was having a sale on the drawstring bags so I decided to give them a whirl just to spice up my trash life a bit. No wonder they were on sale. I might as well line my garbage can with tissues.
trashbags So what is my big complaint with the trash bags? They are completely non-functional. Out of the 10 we have used guess how many have completely ripped apart? If you guessed 10 you win the grand prize of knowing not to buy these things. Seriously…when you pull the drawstring up it actually rips off the top of the bag. Yes…I said actually rips the top off the bag! You can see how this might compromise its function as an actual trash bag. Now what I can’t figure out is what the hell they are doing to make these bags so crappy. The regular trash bags we have been using from them have 80% recycled content and only have an occasional blow out. These have only 55% recycled content and are so amazingly weak I am afraid to look at one for too long or my stare will penetrate the bag and spill its contents all over my hall.

So…once again…I find myself admiring their purpose…but not pleased with their results.  By all means use their Trash Bags and clean your tush with their paper, but save the drawstring bags for holiday gifts for people you really would enjoy watching spread their garbage from door to curb.  We all celebrate the season in our own special way.

(Image from drugstore.com)



G Diaper Give Away….Yes…Give Away…As In FREE

Posted by organicneedle in family, green cleaning

We have all done it.  Gotten all excited about a new way of doing things that is going to be soooo much better for the environment.  We make our plan, buy our cool new supplies, and get all jazzed up.  Then reality sets in and the thing you plan just doesn’t work out as smoothly as you wanted.  It happens to all of us. (Hence my giant box of smelly worms.)
But sometimes…it can work out in YOUR favor.  My very good friend was excited when she heard about g diapers.  Seemed like the perfect solution for a very busy, yet trying to be green, lifestyle.  She bought the kit and got ready to change some poop.  Well…she put the kit up on the changing table…and well…that is about as far as it got.  (Her baby is a bit of a squirmer….beautiful…but has the strength of a greased ill tempered orangutan when getting his tushy cleaned. )  Plus, since she has a nanny she loves, she didn’t want to force a change on her too fast. Well..the little stinker outgrew the starter set before it was even opened.  Rather then toss them out she passed on to me to pass them onto you.  So if you have a person in the house who still poops their pants…and whose butt is between 13-28 lbs leave a message and these babies can be yours.
(Image is from g diaper’s website)



CSA Blues

Posted by organicneedle in csa, CSA/ Local Food

Normally I sing the praises of my CSA to anyone who  wants/has to listen.  I even convinced two of my friends to join this year. And wouldn’t ya know it…as soon as I convince people how spectacular it is…we get a bit of a dud season.

This year’s CSA crop has been less than satisfying. Not a lot of stuff….certainly not enough for my little fruit bats. What we are getting is good…but not the staples I rely on for feeding the boys. Almost no broccoli, green beans, salad greens, etc. Now granted, we eat more than the average share of produce. That was one of the motivating factors for joining the CSA. The shares aren’t cheap but in the past they have covered the bulk of the produce I need for the week. This year it didn’t cover even half of what I need to keep the family going. empty pot

Last season we were able to get by on the CSA produce, only buying our favorite traveled indulgences like avocados and bananas.  Honestly, this year, even what we have been getting in abundance isn’t  ideal. All the potatoes, beets and cilantro in the world aren’t going to create a decent primavera.  Nor do my kids want to snack on yams at the playground. ( If that ain’t begging for an atomic wedgie, I don’t know what is. )

But…I guess that is part of the lesson of being a part of a CSA. You experience the highs and lows…just like a real farmer…without having to touch horse poo. The difference for our organic farmer is that because we have all invested in him he won’t go under from one or two bad seasons like many small farmers would. But on the other hand….in terms of my own finances…because the crops have been so low, I am buying a lot more California goods than I would prefer for this season. We will have to seriously consider next year’s sign up. Perhaps we will just have to get more organized about going to the farmers markets around town and still try our best to support local guys. My worry with that is that crazy weekends will mean no market trip…and me buying all imported stuff at the local Stop & Rob. And that not supporting the local organic farm when things aren’t going great will mean not having a local organic farm at all.

So…should I stick it out one more year or pack it in and throw myself into the open market? We are committed for this year. I am even one of the official CSA annoyers. (My official duty is to call people after they do their shift to find out if they were called before their shift and to get them to confess any misdeeds during their shift. It annoys the ever loving f*&k out of people.) Hmmm…I wonder why they picked me for the job? Love to hear from any of you who have wrestled with the CSA question…but for now I need to make a few reeeeeeeeeally irritating calls.

(Book image from Overstock.com.)



Where Did I Put My Instruction Book?

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, Etsy, organicneedle, organicneedle bags

Ahhh…back after a lovely little vacation…and back to my 1/3 life crisis. Here is the poop. I’m not sure what to do with the Organic Needle…or anything else for that matter. I had/have some ideas for bags that I really liked…still like. Cool little ways to create something meaningful and sustainable. Started blogging about it and various other stuff floating about in my head… and a year and a half later…here I am. Now what?

I love designing new bags and bringing them from brain…to paper…to organic cloth. Seeing something wasteful and figuring out how to make it sustainable through a reusable item gives me goose bumps…little nerdy goose bumps. It feels a little like birthing something…only with a lot fewer F bombs…okay… slightly fewer F bombs. The fact that other people like them too has been really cool.

And I love writing. It clears my little head…organizes my thoughts witch tend to be like popcorn kernels coming out of an air popper if left unattended. Plus…I love connecting with other people who have similar interests if not zip codes. So the blog part of Organic Needle has really been a terrific added bonus…for me…maybe not so much for the poor people who read me.

But…here is the major poop in the road. In order for Organic Needle to become the next THING…I would need to hire sewers, contract out to a small scale manufacturer, advertise, travel, become incorporated…etc. etc. etc. And that part brings me no joy. Not an ounce. And frankly…I am a tad bit of a control freak..just a smidge… and the bigger a business gets…the less control you really have over the end product. So where do I go from here? You might say…well Needle …why not just leave it as it is? I could. But deep down in my little soul…I am a bit of a Lisa Simpson. I function better with a plan…a very detailed…moving forward…very type A plan. The idea of having a business that isn’t on a path to the next stage bothers me. This indecision is combined with having to decide on a pile of other paths surrounding me. Will I go back to PS teaching? Move on to college level teaching? Finish my PHD? Move into real estate…(don’t ask)? Freelance? Become a professional speed bump? I still have 2 more years home with my little guy…so I have time…time to freak myself out about having no plan. And…yes…I am grateful to have the problem of too many enjoyable options in my future…I am too well aware of what a gift of a problem it is. But the not knowing what my next step and the 20 after that are bugs the bajeebies out of me and makes me restless…which makes me not enjoy the present as much as I should. And I am all about me enjoying me. So I either need some serious Valium, a personality transplant, or to do some soul searching and figure out what exactly I plan to do…which path to ungracefully charge down.

So…if I am not here as often as I should be I am just off looking for my map. Or I have accidentally sewn myself into something and you should be calling for help.



Let’s Talk About STUFF

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic

Let’s talk about stuff baby.  .

Let’s talk about you and me

Let’s talk about all the good things

and the bad things that could be…

Let’s talk abooooooouuuut stuff.

I have been reading many a blog post reflecting on this years Blogher convention…yeah I’m a little behind these days….and the concern over the focus on STUFF.  Since mass consumerism and carbon reduction aren’t exactly best friends, I can understand the irritation.

But……we can’t just stick our heads in the sand and ignore stuff.  Why?  Because sometimes new stuff is actually better stuff.  Like cotton shopping bags and produce bags verses plastic disposable bags.   When I first started Organic Needle, one of my little projects was to count the actual number of plastic bags saved by using the cloth ones.  It was hundreds before even a few months went by. To me the new stuff…the cotton bags…even if it they are  made out of completely new materials…are BETTER.  I now see people designing and marketing all types of shopping bags made from all kinds of “alternative” materials…organic cotton, recycled bottles, hemp, even old movie signs and  think it is fantastic.  To say no to all new stuff, free or paid for,  is to also say no to innovation.

Now, I’m just a teeny weeny business woman who does my best to design responsibly, but do not exactly have an enormous  impact on the consumer/environmental balance in the  world.  The truth is if we want to to make BIG changes…we sometimes even need to invite the big evil kids to play because even if we ignore them…they aren’t going away…nor is their stuff and their stuff making capabilities.  Life would be better if we get them to play the games we want them to play. For example, here in NYC so many people now carry cloth bags BECAUSE so many of the chain stores have gotten on board and offer them at a price and an abundance us little guys can’t compete with, making them now the norm. (Yes…I know there are issues with those store bags made from recycled plastic, but I still lean towards it is batter then new virgin plastic each week.) So while supporting small and local is certainly a very good thing, we can’t just ignore the stuff-making giants, nor ignore the potential positive impact they could have if properly guided.

As far as swag and other give aways go….follow the same rules you follow for shopping…
1. Only take things that meet YOUR personal standards in terms of materials, production ethics, etc.
2. Only take things you REALLY think you will actually use.
3. Only accept things that will potentially reduce your impact. For example…is it a long term item that will replace a disposable one? Is it made from more sustainable resources than your current brand of whatever? Is it more local? Yadda yadda yadda.

(I saw the soap nuts were part of the swag. I totally would have been all over those.)

My point is that complete anti-consumerism isn’t the answer.   Responsible consumerism that encourages the innovation in goods we desire may take a lot more thought…but will in the end by the solution. So…yes…you should look the stuff gift horse in the mouth and have a good ol’ looksy around for potential evil…but do have a look.    Just make sure you’re looking in the right end.



Cash for Clunkers = Cash for Consumerism = Lack of Innovation

Posted by organicneedle in Economics, energy, reuse

Yes…I get the part about promoting the auto industry and supporting all of those who rely on the auto industry for their livelihood. But aren’t we thinking very small here, people?  And does anyone else smell a little green washing with the lower millage business?  Really?  Producing thousands of new cars, using all those resources and chemicals, shipping the damn things to dealers, and then junking the old cars has less of a carbon footprint then having the old cars with slightly higher millage still on the road?  (Now if anyone out there has found some actual data as to the carbon footprint of all these new cars verses the carbon footprint due to millage increases please send me a link. I have yet to find any concrete numbers.)
Is the only way for the auto industry to make money is to produce more new stuff and waste already existing stuff? Can they only survive by causing people to spend MORE money then they have?  Or..perhaps…just maybe….with a little thought by people much smarter than myself…there are a whole host of things that could be going on that would be better for the environment, better for the auto industry and all those who rely on it for the long term, better for tax payers, and better for people’s personal finances.  The complete lack of innovation with this plan and our approach to converting  industrial America is shocking and disappointing.

Here are just a few thoughts that come to my completely *non-technical mind*.

What about the auto industry building more stations to support electric & solar cars? These cars are perfect for urban areas and train commuters because we don’t need to drive them very far and in the case of a power failure we are never far from civilization. But…there are very few places to have these cars serviced.  And those of us in apartments can’t do electric because we don’t have a place to plug in. Couldn’t the auto industry be working on that solution? Making money and jobs by creating service stations and garages & charging a plug in/spot fee?

What about the auto industry running their own version of the Zipcar? (The Zipcar service is a smart little program that allows you to pay a monthly fee to use a car as you need…perfect for people who do a weekly shopping trip, etc.)They would make more money off of each individual car because many people pay for the right to use them…therefore they would need to use less resources making more cars and still make money.  People who don’t need a daily car would spend less money than buying a personal car, and fewer cars would be clogging up the streets needlessly.  Win. Win. Win.

Couldn’t they be working on finding an affordable way to convert an already existing used  car with less then desirable millage to one with very desirable millage?  Many people would pay to have their current car upgraded if it would pay off in 5-10 years in gas savings.  Again…the auto industry could be making that money, employing people to do the upgrades, while saving resources  and carbon emissions, and saving consumers from the big expense of a whole new car.

I feel like there is a lack of effort on the part of these auto companies receiving our big bailouts to really reexamine where they went wrong and begin to create a NEW plan…not just get funding for their old plan that didn’t work.  And we’re letting it happen all for the promise of a few thousand dollars if we are willing to put ourselves further into debt.  There must be more the auto industry could do to remain viable without putting consumers and the environment deeper into dept?  Is a perfectly usable car in a dumpster the image we want of American economic innovation?

*(I fully disclose that I have no idea about the technical parts of any of my ideas.  Not a clue…but I am assuming there are plenty of people out there who can make it happen.  Now if you need a snazzy set of  organic cotton fuzzy dice…I’m your gal. )*



How Green Is Your Body? Part II

Posted by organicneedle in health, plastic

Yesterday we chatted about smoking…today let’s focus on the toughie…obesity.

Weight, Diet and Exercise: Definitely a harder issue to tackle especially in the USA where overeating and sedentary jobs are the norm…and it all comes with some intense emotional baggage. There is not much denying that eating well and exercising are probably two of the most important things YOU can do to ward off literally thousands of health issues…including most of the biggies. Considering that most medical issues involve some sort of plastic, transportation, time, energy, etc. etc., it can be assumed that the less medical intervention you need the greener it is…and the less taxing it is on a ballooning health care system. So…do you consider keeping yourself in healthy shape a part of your green ethic? And if keeping one’s self in good health is both an economic and environmental issue for the public, should it become a government issue? Should we be fighting the epidemic of obesity the same as we have been fighting smoking?
Here is some of what is being done and proposed.

Research and Knowledge: Obesity costs the US health care system close to an estimated 100,000 billion dollars a year, 1/2 being paid by Medicare…and therefore, your taxes. The list of preventable diseases associated with obesity, 20% more than your ideal body weight, is staggering. Yet…despite increased knowledge and awareness we continue to get fatter as a nation. In NYC, our mayor has taken a step further than just public awareness about the risks of obesity… he is helping to show how it is happening. Chain restaurants in NYC have to list calorie content of all its foods. (Seriously eye-opening for all those Starbucks Latte freaks!) Time will tell if the added info has an impact.

Tax: Tax on junk food. There have been several proposals to tax junk food, especially fast food and sugar laden drinks. The $ raised from these taxes would go to programs geared towards fighting obesity…like the projects listed below.

Public Policy: Some school districts have revamped their lunch menus and pulled unhealthy vending machines from their halls and cafeterias.
Green markets are being sponsored and brought into the Bronx to increase healthy food consumption. Again…time will tell if these things will have a major impact.

The idea of charging higher health premiums to the obese, who now make about a shocking 1/3 of the adult population, has been tossed about too. I am more in favor of the reward system. Why can’t we write off gym memberships if we use them? Or free aerobic classes? Can you imagine how many common human ailments would be curtailed if we simply had better preventative care? Why not offer reduced rates to patients who follow doctor prescribed diets and exercise regimes to get their diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, hypertension, etc. under control?

What do you think? Do you consider how you treat your body a part of how you treat the earth? Is it a green issue? How far should the government be allowed to go even if it is a matter of public finance and health before it becomes too much Big Brotherism? Do you consider your health simply as a personal matter or do you see it as a part of a larger system? And again, very important, do calories in fact count if they come off of your kid’s plate?

[Disclaimer Prince Style: I was dieting when I wrote this so forgive me if it goes astray.]



How Green Is Your Body? Part I

Posted by organicneedle in health, plastic, politics

This winter, as most winters, I put on my little winter cushion.  I fluctuate 3-5 lbs between the cold and warm seasons. Usually not a big whoop. This year however, my natural flux seems to be having a slightly harder time hitting the summer zone. Now 3 or 4 lbs isn’t a health crisis…but it does make my spring/summer wardrobe a bit snugger than I prefer. So rather than go out and buy looser clothes to accommodate my winter butt…I will be working a bit harder to get back to summer size. By doing so I will definitely feel better…but also will be saving a ton of $ and resources by NOT BUYING a pile of new clothes in the next size up.

gumbyWhy do I bring my widening rear up other than its pure entertainment value? Well…it got me thinking of the whole connection between one’s physical health and the issue of greenness.  The truth is I am saving more than money and resources on new clothes, I am preventing a step in a direction towards potential future health issues.  Now I am NOT implying that keeping a healthy weight is a sole indicator of one’s physical health. But it is one crucial part of it…along with not smoking, moderation in the naughty stuff, regular exercise, balanced diet, etc.  While reading No Impact Man’s  great guest post focusing on personal responsibility in our actions…I got seriously thinking about where personal health issues within our control come into the picture of greenness and social responsibility.  There is no denying that medical issues require a great deal of energy, resources, time, plastic, and cost the health care system a fortune, making it harder on tax payers and those on the economic gray zone between middle class and poverty.

Smoking: Let’s tackle smoking first…since there are few if any health justifications for its use.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention smokers cost the country $96 billion a year in direct health care costs, and an additional $97 billion a year in lost productivity.  Considering the state of our economy and our health care system, this is no small public matter. In addition, second hand smoke leads to air pollution and potential health issues for anyone exposed, often children of smokers.  Fortunately, this is a fight we seem to be slowly winning.  How?

Research & Public Information: According to the American Lung Association smoking has dropped from 43% to 23% in the past 40 years primarily due to increased knowledge about the dangers involved.

Policy: Congress just passed another set of laws restricting even further how cigarettes can be marketed and stricter rules for getting those products on the shelf. Cities like San Fransisco & NYC have banned smoking in bars and restaurants….much to the delight of nonsmokers. Does it work? Oh yeah…NYC is down 350,000 smokers since 2002 when the ban took place.

Taxes: Cigarettes are a popular tax because it is the easiest to justify. In NYC the tax is $4.25 a pack…yep..that’s $4.25 just in tax. Of those who still smoke, the # of heavy smokers has dropped by a third citing the high cost.

What else could be done? Should cigarettes be banned all together? (My son asks me all the time why smoking is legal at all. He considers it a crime for someone to blow smoke in his and his brother’s faces on the street. He makes a beautiful puffer fish-like face holding his breath dramatically and covering his baby brother’s mouth while walking by the offender.) Should smokers have higher premiums considering they are statistically likely to need more health care than a nonsmoker? Most importantly, should people who throw their cigarette butts on my street be forced to eat them? All important and valid questions to consider in the fight for public health.

*Tomorrow we will talk more about my widening butt, don’t worry.



Inspiration in a Can

Posted by organicneedle in Uncategorized

Just returned from Lancaster touring the amusement park and staring at the Amish, as my good friend puts it. A good time was had by all.  Throughout our little journey, I learned 3 very important things.

1. My husband wants to be Amish….minus the religion and hard work aspects.
2. PA has way too many white people.
3. The Amish can can the bejeebies out of anything. Eggs. Fruits. Veggies. Pie mixes. Soup mixes. Meat. Sauces. Individual freedoms. Jar it all up and slap it on a shelf. They even had cheesecake in a jar, people. And the tricksters let you taste everything….knowing full well you will be driving away in your devil’s wagon with a few dozen jars in your sinfully idle little hands.
weird al
But what I took away most was a little much needed inspiration. I now have all the canning supplies I need to prepare my own concoctions…but have yet to actually get started. Letting my munchkins taste literally hundreds of goodies gave me a good idea of what yummies would be worth my considerable efforts.  In the interest of canning science research, we all sampled ourselves into the next pant sizes. Apple butter was a big hit…and apparently narcoleptic cat easy to prepare without a ton of sugar. Pickled mustard eggs…not so much. And all those tomatoes I have coming to me? Salsa! My husband sampled himself sick on all the great spicy combinations of pepper and tomato. Who would have thought the Amish would like it so hot? So besides giving me a tremendous appreciation for the ability to wear a tank top on an 80 degree day, they have also given me a little appreciation for the simple things…like squashed fruit in a jar.

Now I must go order those little sealy lids…. and break it to my husband, who has never actually lived in the country, come face to face with a horse, or gone an entire day in the past 10 years without the use of the internet, that he does not actually have what it takes to be Amish. Just call me the dream crusher.