Brainwashing at its finest Part III: O’ Pioneers of NYC

Posted by organicneedle in Uncategorized

Yes….it is more about my little people. I warned you Monday that the whole week would be like this. ….Well if you are still here I am assuming you too have an interest in brainwashing your own little people or just want to mess with other people’s kids. Equally as fun.

As I plunge on with my week of chats about molding my little people into what I hope will be good stewards of the earth, or at least not Mc Ds eating H2 driving Re…re….re…..republicans, I would like to focus on that ever important trait that we don’t often associate with city living: self-sufficiency. Now…I am not talking about pioneer living. Obviously I have chosen to raise my family in one of the largest cities in the world and don’t even handle my own trash, shovel a walk, or even get my own packages. (This isn’t because I am a megasnob that doesn’ want to chip a manicure; it is just the nature of communal city life. So stop rolling your eyes country folk!) That being said, I do feel it is important for my children to not take for granted that one must have others do everything for them. So how do I train my little monkeys to not assume they will always have their hineys professionally shellacked? I let them “help” me with just about everything. Does it mean dinner takes 43 &1/2 hours to make? It might rabbit, it might. Does it mean I often have to sew with a 30 lb two year old licking my face? Perhaps. Does taping a page back in a book require a few more yards of tape than one would deem necessary….who are we to judge? Now…I love my husband…but Bob Vila he is not. He is, however, an amazing father who always seems to find a way to include our guys in any attempts he makes to fix things around the house. (In addition to my great fortune to have a husband who tries so hard, I also have the great fortune of a building staff that can ever so discretely come and fix any “fixing” that has been going on over the weekend.)

Auden Tinkering
[The boys make necessary slide repairs.]

Truman Tinkering

So what does all this blathering have to do with raising little green gremlins? Well….it is my hope that by showing them that they can do and make things for themselves they won’t always look to the easiest answer..buying something new. When they approach a new situation hopefully they will include themselves and their begotten skills as part of the solution. Also…hopefully, because we try to show them we value their help…they will value their own ability to do things. Something is broken…at least make it a discussion as to what should be done. Maybe in the end you need to hire someone or you may even need to replace it, but make it an active choice and not an automatic response. My point…yes I have one…include the little people in on the chat and on your attempts. Failed attempts, such as I’m sure we will experience many many many times in our upcoming yogurt attempts, will teach them that it is okay to fail and keep trying. Even if you may end up with a bucket for a hat. Don’t ask.



Brainwashing at its Finest Part II: MacGuyver Has Nothing on My Boys

Posted by organicneedle in organicneedle, Uncategorized

A few weeks ago in the park my 4 year old stopped me from throwing out the bag that previously contained a questionable rice cake snack given to him in yet another party bag from PreK. (How 10 kids can manage to have 433 birthdays in a year is beyond me.) “Ma…I could totally reuse that for my snack tomorrow.” So…I rolled it up and popped it into my purse and just smiled. There is hope for our little planet. 🙂

Truman And Auden

*********The Boys Prepare for Their Next Mission ********* As you start reducing the incoming tide of plastic and other wasteful disposables into the home…you soon discover that the “waste” you do have needs to play 3 or 4 rolls before making its exit. By all means include your little people in these discussions!!!! Let the little monkeys raid the recycle bin. You would be amazed at what their brains come up with. My two year old will take any container…M&M dispenser, old sippy cups, Ming vase and deposit it in the tub indicating that said object has passed his rigorous examination and has earned the second use of the elite…a tubby toy. (If you ever BUY a toy for the bathtub I order you to smack yourself right now. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Now that we all feel better we can move on.) If all else fails…art supplies. My husband and son love taking toilet paper roles, a shoe box and a little scrap paper and making AT-ATs. (Never saw a family get so excited over using toilet paper up. More fiber STAT; we have a fleet to make!) I guess my boys are lucky. They come from a long line of reusers. Their Uncle Brian, at around the same age, once discovered the remarkable similarity between a slide whistle and a tampon applicator at one of my mother’s parties. She must have been beaming at his pure ingenuity. When I am stumped…I turn to my little superheros and say..what the hairy heck could we use this for? Trust me…they’ll come up with something. It may be mortifyingly embarrassing, but it will be something. More importantly…they will hopefully see that things in life are not so disposable if you are just willing to think a little.



Brainwashing at Its Finest Part I: Creating Little Green Consumers

Posted by organicneedle in family, plastic

Truman Wrapped in a Burrito

This week will be dedicated to my 4yr old, my first, my Einstein, my little man Tru. Believe it or not people, the usually ultra cool calm collected organicneedle you turn to as a beacon of wit & sophistication has been a puddle of tears this past week. I had to register my baby for kindergarten. I knew it would be hard when the time came but boy…I am a sobbing ball of mama jelly. In honor of my Peanut I decided to focus this week on moments of motherhood that really make me smile and make me think I half know what I’m doing…even if just for a moment…and even if I’m just deluding myself.

(Tru is demonstrating his skills as a human burrito.)

My little people go everywhere with me. As a result, they are exposed to a lot of the family purchasing…groceries, clothes, etc. Now many of my friends opt to leave their kids with relatives, nannies, long shore men, whomever they can in order to avoid bringing their crew to the grocery store. I can understand this resisstance for fear of the tantrum for boxes of Count Crapula or the occasional very loud “whisper” about other shoppers physical…..uniqueness we’ll say, but I think they are really missing a great opportunity to wash those little minds.

  • First..the bags. At 2 and 4 my boys already accept that we shop with our own bags. I hope it will be so ingrained that doing anything else would feel weird…like wearing disposable cheese pants.
  • Second…food choice. My little man can already read the word organic and knows what it means. (Okay…there is some drawback to having an eco-smartypants. He informed his PreK teacher that he would not be drinking the milk when he saw that it wasn’t coming out of an organic milk container and demanded to know why she was trying to give them “hormoney” milk. Thaaaaat was a fun parent-teacher chat.) We talk about balanced nutrition, culture, price, season, blah, blah, blah. The point is to treat the trip like you would one to the museum or zoo. (And if you go early enough Sunday morning there won’t be too much of a difference.)
  • Third…packaging, recycling, and waste. As we move away from disposables as much as possible we include our little people in the talks. Why do we buy the jumbo container of yogurt verses the cute little cups? Why do we buy bread supplies verses bread in a bag? (My little men also get to watch mama in action as she pesters the poor produce boys about why the organic bananas are in plastic even though they clearly come prepackaged from Dole that way and the young men have absolutely nothing to do with the choice. It is a lesson in annoyance transference….I’m annoyed…and now I have passed that along to the whole produce staff….free of charge.)

My overall goal with these shopping trips is to help my kids really enjoy and appreciate food in all aspects and to practice responsible consumerism. Are my husband and I the greenest when it comes to our consumerism? Not by a long shot. But we do THINK about our food and try to balance nutrition, culture, environmental concerns, and most of all enjoyment. Well, I must go cry into my son’s baby book now. Ooops I think I rehydrated his umbilical cord. Do you think it is too late to reattach it?



Organic Fashion at its Finest

Posted by organicneedle in projects, random rants

moomooMy quest for the all organic spring wardrobe isn’t going so well people. Yes…I have found organic jeans thanks to Levi’s. (I’ll keep you posted once I get a pair.) But what about spring/summer wear? Hey organic designers…how about capri pants with a zipper? How about summer dresses with a waist? So if you see a woman walking down the streets of NYC wearing what appears to be an adult Onesie, a moo-moo, straw legwarmers and Birkenstocks …just know it is me, the organicneedle, and I am trying.



Dear Gap…So You Want to Be Considered a Friend to the Environment….Just a Few Things We Need to Clear Up First .

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, random rants

Dear Gap:

You frequently tout that you are an "environmentally friendly" company . As we’ll see, I guess that depends on how you define "friendly". You do realize that wasteful plastic policies doesn’t exactly hug the earth, right? Luckily for you, I am here to help you out. You might ask why I take time out of my busy schedule of wiping snotty noses and administering time-outs to give prono bono advice to a global corporation? Because honestly I would like to continue shopping in your stores for the pure convenience of it. But I can’t do this in clear conscience if you don’t reconsider some of your policies.

To make life easy for you, I am going to point out some things that you have perhaps overlooked and some really easy solutions that could make us all happy and maybe earn you the label of environmentally friendly.

1. Plastic Shopping Bags…Ditch ’em. You already offer paper bags in your store so there is no new technology required. Follow the path of WholeFoods and just stop handing them out. The advertising campaigns practically write themselves. Make a big PR stink like WholeFoods did and get yourselves on the cover of the Wall Street Journal. You could even offer people 5% off their next purchase for bringing in their own bags. (You know perfectly well those coupons lead to more sales when people come in to use them). You could even make your own cloth reusable bags and sell them for $5 and on top of that offer 5% off each time it is used. Call it…The Gap Gives 5 to its Customers and the Environment Campaign. Pure genius. Very little work…huge rewards both in terms of reducing the plastic and increasing your sales.

2. Mail Order Bags…Replace the plastic outer mailer with a recycled paper envelope such as the USPS offers. You could have your big ol’ logo printed on the side with something like GAP Cares; We Use Recycled Envelopes. It’s free advertising. ( I realize that the clothes themselves are stored in a warehouse and are kept in little baggies to protect them. As better alternatives become available this should be looked into further.) The outer mailer, however, is a lot of plastic that just doesn’t need to be there. You can still have the double strip on the paper envelope to allow returns as you do on the plastic. You have "environmentally friendly" designers…I’m sure someone could think of something better than what you have.

3. Hangers…Reuse them or give them away. Why are millions of hangers needlessly hitting our landfills? Either have your distribution trucks pick them up when they drop off clothes so that they can be reused or create some sort of OFFICIAL give away program. (One of your own store managers claimed to give them away by the bagful to whomever wants them rather than contribute to your very wasteful practice, but she also noted that it was not part of company policy.) I’m sure many small businesses with tighter margins than yours would love to take your old hangers. Or have you considered shelters, donation centers, and 100 other groups could find uses for them? Being "environmentally friendly" takes a little more work than just having your PR firm put out a press release claiming you are "environmentally friendly". What PR could be better than giving something away for free to people who need it? Just takes a tiny bit of effort on your part.

Well…I have given you so much to think about. Why should you care about what I think? I am just one customer. One who has spent thousands of dollars in your stores. One who, after hearing of these practices, has stopped purchasing from you all together. And one with a lot of friends…okay acquaintances…okay people I can actively annoy until they do my bidding. I don’t like to toss around words like boycott lightly…..but……oh…..and did I mention I have a really big mouth.



Happy Earth Day to My Butt! Why You Should Be Slipping Yours into Levi’s and NOT the Gap

Posted by organicneedle in organic cotton, plastic, random rants

When I posted about my quest to get Gap to produce organic jeans , the kind and ever resourceful Arduous pointed out that Levi’s had already made the huge GREEN step to provide organic cotton jeans. So….in honor of Earth Day…I am going to promote the promotion at Levi’s. Why do something so commercial to celebrate Earth Day?

  1. I really believe switching to organically produced cotton en masse is going to have huge benefits to the world and its inhabitants.
  2. I would really like to stick it to the Gap and their ever so environmentally friendly policies . (I can’t really type a sarcastic tone….but it’s there. Read it again. See?)lev's

Now put your ass in some organic Levi’s and let clothing manufactures and the rest of the world see how good a chemical free tushie can look!



Don’t Passover the Corn-Free Products

Posted by organicneedle in random rants

cornOkay…I admit it…that was terrible. Couldn’t resist being a little corny. Alright I ‘m done…I promise. Lately it seems we are all trying to remove a little of the corn from our diets whether it be for health, the economy, or the enviroment. If you are trying to get the corn out and have a wicked sweet tooth, now is a great time to stock up on things. Corn is a no-no for passover so many companies make kosher for passover foods without it by actually using real sugar from cane or from beets verses corn syrup.

  • Coke makes kosher for passover soda with real sugar verses corn syrup, the original recipe.
  • Fox’s U-Bet Chocolate Syrups
  • Kosher for Passover marshmallows
  • Cookies, pies, cake, etc…
  • Crackers, breads, etc…
  • Fish in Jars….okay…has nothing to do with corn…but just wanted to see if I could get anyone to eat it.

I think I just solved the world’s corn crisis! Let’s stretch the Passover shopping season out for as long as retailers do the Christmas shopping season. Move over Al…the next Nobel is mine! (I wonder if I order a corn head hat now if it will be here in time for my reward ceremony.)



I’m Putting a Lid on It

Posted by organicneedle in plastic

giftedNo, I have not taken a vow of silence. Don’t get so excited Gap, husband, family, guy on the subway trying to read his book. I am talking about using plates as lids for the microwave and fridge. I’m sure the rest of the world has already discovered this highend technology, but I’m a little slow. You too can learn my easy plastic wrap reduction method.

  • Step 1:Place lid on top of bowl with food before heating or putting it in the fridge.
  • Step 2: Remove lid before eating. (Now that is the tricky one.)

If you need further assistance you can attend my 2 week seminar How to Put Things On Other Things.



Gap Finds a Very Environmentally Friendly Way of Throwing out Millions of Hangers a Year. It’s a Miracle! Or a Total Load of Crap! You Decide and Have a Little Fun with a Gap Representive Today!

Posted by organicneedle in plastic

benderSo…in response to my complaint about Old Navy’s 20% bag blitz, Burbarino informed me that they also throw out all of their hangers after one use. Uggggg. So I decided to hear it from the horse’s ass’s mouth….and this is what I gave and what I got:

Dear Gap Associate,
I recently read that you throw out all of your hangers after a single use?
Please tell me this is not true. What are your hanger recycling
Thank you,
[Organic Needle]

Dear Ms. [Needle],
Thank you for your e-mail about our hangers at our Gap Brand Stores. In order
to best assist you, we ask that you please call Gap Customer Relations
at 1-800-GAP-STYLE, option 4, option 4, and then option 2. Our Customer
Relations Specialists are available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 9
p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Thank you again for contacting us.


Customer Service Consultant

Hmmmmmm….do you think they don’t want to answer the question or a cyborg answered the email?

So…I called. And you should too because my representative was squirrrrrrrrmmmmmming like a worm on a hook. Here is how it went.

Me: I have a question about your store policy as to hangers. Do you throw them all out after a single use?

Her: I have no specific information about that.

Me: Well, do they get returned to the factory?

Her: Not that I see noted.

Me: Are they recycled?

Her: I have no specific information about that.

Me: Do new clothes come in on new hangers?

Her: Yes…to prevent wrinkles.

Me: Well…where do they all go after the clothes are sold?

Her: We are an environmentally friendly company and I’m sure the store reuses which ones are in reusable condition.

Me: But if all new stuff is coming in on new hangers, what would they be reused for?

Her: Mam…I have no specific information on that.

Me: Is there a way to find out? There must be some sort of official policy.

Her: Not that I can note here. If information becomes available you can check back.

Me: Well, I will assume that they all are thrown out unless told otherwise.

Her Mam…I have no specific information. Gap is an environmentally friendly company.

So your homework for today is to call the numbers above and make your customer service representative veeeeeeery uncomfortable. This hanger practice is ridiculous. If you call and just keep pressing the numbers listed above in the letter it will put you right through to get your own personal run around. Enjoy! If any of you decide to have a little fun and call please comment and let me know how it goes.



Trader Joe’s …The Artful Dodger

Posted by organicneedle in plastic

artful dodgerCall me a bit of an optimist. I actually believe there are good companies who will gladly answer consumer needs if consumers make their demands clear. Trader Joe’s is one such company. They have one of the best most comprehensive, not to mention voluntary, bag policies around: no plastic & rewards for reuse. Sweet. At the same time, they have really awful packaging policies. Not so sweet. So…I decided to inquire as to this disturbing dichotomy. Here is the letter:

Dear Trader Joe’s:

I was thrilled when your stores started popping up in our area. Your bag policies are excellent and show that your store is concerned with the amount of plastic being dumped into the world. I am very surprised and disappointed, however, by the amount of unnecessary packaging plastic that is used in your store. For example, why are the organic eggs in plastic rather that paper cartons? That plastic is NOT recyclable in NY and in most other areas. Why not stick with the old paper cartons? Also, much of your produce is wrapped in plastic when it seems no packaging is required at all. There must be a way of organizing organic & non-organic products to avoid confusion…as you manage to do with the bananas. Stickers maybe? I would appreciate any information you could provide.

Thank you, Organic Needle

And their actual response:

Hello [Needle] ,

We hear your concerns and take them seriously. We are currently
evaluating the information that is available concerning recyclable

We evaluate every product for packaging requirements and choose the one
we feel is the best currently available to us to deliver freshness,
shelf life and food safety. We continue to explore economical Earth
friendly alternatives that can deliver freshness and shelf life without
preservatives. We also seek out recycled paper packaging where possible
and some of our
packaging for produce is made of corn oil, so it is compostable.

We are always working to balance our desire to use as little packaging
as possible with our efforts to keep our products safe, fresh and cost
effective. We will forward your comments and concerns to our Buying
Department for review.

Thank you for your understanding and patience regarding this matter.

Trader Joe’s
Customer Relations

Notice how they managed to not answer a single question completely? Some of our produce? And the the Styrofoam? And the eggs? Pure brilliance. Could they be a teensy bit more vague. Surprised they didn’t write:

Dear Person, We are writing back about the thing you said. We may do something about it. Thanks. Store

Tomorrow…my joke of a response from the Gap about their hangers.