27

Sep

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)


13

Jul

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?
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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.]


13

Jul

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.


12

Jan

Freshaire Choice No VOC Paint Review

Posted by organicneedle in family, plastic, product review, projects

freshaire My apartment, other than the recently painted boys’ room, is in desperate need of a coat of paint.  I used Benjamin Moore’s Aura for my son’s room and was very pleased with its VOCless goodiness.  At $60 a can, however, it was a wee bit pricey for a big project.  One thing I didn’t mention in my review was that it actually took almost 2x as much paint for good coverage with the no VOC paint verses the old kind, which is something to consider when planning your paint budget and brings me to why I tried this new paint.  Our living room is easily 4x the size, plus the hall and breakfast nook are getting the same color…meaning we will need about 5 gallons of the stuff.  Suddenly $60 a can seems a little pricier than before.  So I decided to try another VOC Free paint Freshaire Choice, at a mere $35 a gallon. Still not the cheapest, but certainly worth the lack of chemical intake and worth a try.

I started with the hall just in case it was a dud. I must say…it was fine. Now Aura had no smell. Freshaire had a slight smell…not really chemically…but a little odor like silly putty. I did have some slight bubbling over a few spots I had patched with compound and not bothered to prime…but not sure I could blame the paint for my laziness.  Overall the color was even and vibrant…with a second coat. I must say…can’t really see too much of a difference to justify the $25 a can more for Aura.

The only drawback I have found so far is that they do not have as many color choices.  The ones they do have are absolutely beautiful nature inspired hues…but they might not be for everyone…like nature haters.  We went with Tranquil Pond.  I’m hopin it will have a calming effect on my little beasties and myself.  Ah…who am I kidding.  Nothing would tame my brood.  Perhaps Tranquilizer Pond.  I feel calmer just thinking about it.


19

Nov

Let Me Be in the Cool Non-Plastic Club Too, Beth…I’ll Share My Wooden Pocket Protector

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, plastic

Last week Beth, Fake Plastic Fish,, wrote a little post about what bloggers are doing to reduce their plastic. And since I want to sit at the cool table too…I wrote my own little blurb.nerds

What inspired me to think about plastic specifically? You Bethikins! I’ve always had my eye on trying to use reusable & recyclable products over non-recyclable, hence the creation of Organic Needle products. But honestly, I thought that as long as it was recyclable it was a free pass. It was reading Beth’s blog that I began to see the error of my ways and the detriments of plastic recycled or not.

I have in no way come close to Beth’s success in ridding my life of plastic, but we have certainly come a long way in the past year without too much effort. Here’s how we approach plastic reduction on 3 fronts. I give you…The Slacker Approach to Plastic Reduction:

1. Replacing disposable with long term. The bags were the first to go in our house more as a reduction of clutter…the fact that it reduced plastic was a bonus. Also on the easy list, Sigg bottles replaced plastic disposable water bottles. Bonus.. a big money saver. Reusable lunch containers replaced disposable plastic. Now this still requires some plastic…my 5 year old can’t have glass containers…but having reusable containers means a tremendous reduction in the amount of plastic we use.

2. Another easy step was/is simply switching products to ones that come in non plastic or less plastic packaging. Like mayo…plastic jar or glass jar? Easy…don’t even have to switch brands. (There is some controversy about this choice since glass is heavier and, therefore, uses more fuel. Still tinkering with that one.) Sometimes we have to rethink our thinking about things entirely…like shampoo. We now use Burt’s Peppermint Shampoo which comes in a paper box and eliminates the bottle completely. Added bonus..the shampoo bar keeps your hair moisturized so it also eliminates the need for conditioner.

3. This one takes a little thought…but not too much. We have reevaluate how much we “need” things that only come in plastic. If it is in a clamshell…probably not coming home with me. We used to buy a lot of seltzer in bottles. We are surviving without it. Bread? We bake our own. **Now we do have our failures. Yogurt…just can’t make my own. Snack foods like fruit snacks, Kashi bars, Fruitaboos are hard for the little boys…and the big boy to part with.

For me…the biggest challenge comes with business. All of my fabrics and supplies come in giant protective bags. And honestly…they ain’t cheap so I guess I would be a little annoyed if they arrived tarnished and unprotected. I try to buy in bulk on the roll where I can…which significantly reduces the amount coming. I also try to reuse the bags over and over to protect various projects from my little helper’s jelly hands. (Murphey’s Law of Sewing: The More Expensive the Fabric-the More Interesting It Is to Jelly Hands.) I have found ways, mainly by stealing them from other people, of shipping without the use of plastic for the most part. Right now my big challenge is getting my nuts to their destinations in one piece without the use of bubble wrap. It is definately a work in progress.

So thanks to Bethikins and her big ol’ brain & blog, we too have started down the less plastic path. Besides being a less toxic path, we are also finding it has less clutter, less waste, and actually is a bit of a cheap ride. I’m all about the cheap and easy.


14

Nov

Cool Green Gifts That Will Hide the Fact That You Are an Eco-Dork

Posted by organicneedle in handmade holidays, plastic

So…you have tried your hand at knitting only to create the world’s longest bookmark? Your cookies taste like floured soap? And those recycled can mobiles you dreamed of dazzling everyone with…look like recycled cans hanging from a hanger? Don’t give up. There is still a way for you to give uber cool gifts that will still satisfy your inner eco-dork. Give the gift of shared resources. What in the holy holly am I talking about? I’m talking Netflix, Rhapsody, and Gamefly. Maybe an online subscription to the NY Times or Consumer Reports?

Why am I calling these services green? Yes…they do require electricity but they greatly reduce the amount of STUFF being produced in the world. You rent a movie from Netflix and you save a disk, a big ol’ plastic container, and its shrink wrap from ever being born. Rhapsody allows you to listen to whatever your little heart desires with out a plastic case, plastic disc, or the shrink wrap. Game Stop…same thing. On-line magazine subscriptions save a whole lotta trees from doing the nasty dance with a saw. Not to mention the fuel savings by not having to drive to the store or for magazines to ship heavy loads of paper to your recipient’s house.shorts

So if those hand tied lace biking shorts just aren’t going to be ready in time for the holidays…quell the rebellion and give a shared resource a whirl. Trust me, they will go over much better than those compost filled air fresheners you have been crafting.


16

Sep

If You Use Some of My Garbage…I’ll Use Some of Yours

Posted by organicneedle in csa, plastic, recycling

A few weeks back I inquired within my CSA as to whether or not “our” farm would take back the containers that they use for berries and little tomatoes. Didn’t hear back from them or the farm so I assumed they could not for some sanitation reasons. Most of the containers were that green paper material which I could recycle in the paper bin but some were the plastic kind that can’t be recycled here in the city…so I was a little bummed. Fast forward a few weeks and guess what I saw at the CSA distribution? A little reuse rainbow…a sign saying the farmer will indeed take back the containers AND the farm that distributes eggs will take ANY egg cartons. How cool is that? I had been recycling the new paper Trader Joe egg cartons, but a reuse trumps a recycle, no?
dumpster
This also inspired me to think about “garbage” I could reuse from other people. Like bread bags. I have run out of my old stash and was contemplating buying a box of zippies but realized that there must be a world of bread bags hitting the trash right in my very building. Most of my friends do not make their own bread. (Yes…they can still be my friends even though they don’t bake bread. Hard as it is…I find ways to love them anyway.)


What can you pick from your friend’s trash? (And no…that is not a euphemism. Get your mind out of the gutter and into the dumpster people!)


4

Sep

Meet My Diva’s Backup Band:Taming the Sewing Jabba Part I

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, plastic, projects, sewing

Now this one is a big feat for me. A few months back when Crunchy started calling for pads I made a sincere attempt to create my own pattern and produce something cycle worthy. What I produced resembled a strap on dog bed. (At least I know I have a backup career as a designer for lazy pets should the need arise.) So…the project got tossed into the Jabba-like heap known as the sewing basket.

Fast forward a few months. Now I have ventured into the land of the Diva and am overall quite happy. There are days, however, when the Diva …well…acts like a Diva and I need a little reinforcement…a backup band if you will. It seemed silly to have to buy disposables to back up the thing that was supposed to replace the disposables…so I got off my lazy needle and took a good look at a sample pad Burban kindly sent me. Rummaged through my repurposable bag of stuff, more on that later this week, and found exactly what I needed: one crib wee wee pad, 100% cotton baby blanket, & pack of sew-on-snaps. I traced the outline of the pad onto the wee wee pad and the back of the cotton blanket. Sewed the two together. I then cut and hemmed a rectangle long enough to reach around the ol’ underoos from the same blanket material. Sewed that baby onto the back. Sewed on the snaps and walaaaaaaaaa.

Now these are suitable for Diva backup performances or a ditty kind of day. For the big show, I would adjust this by adding a layer or two of toweling.

I still am a turd and haven’t sent any actual pads to Crunchy because I am assuming I need to use all new materials for strangers who-diddly-whos. (I, of course, have tons of cotton fabric but no brand new wee wee pads to offer.) Now that I have cracked the diabolical pad code…I will be sure to buy one next time I am in the baby aisle and stop being such a wiener. This is an easy one. Add booking a backup band to your project list. The earth and your who-diddly-who will thank you. Although I have come to realize, with a just a touch of bitterness, that neither are particularly great at sending Thank You notes. Ingrates.


26

Aug

Detox for the Dishwasher: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Automatic Dishwashing Detergent

Posted by organicneedle in plastic, product review

It has taken me awhile to get around to this one because I was given a ton of dishwashing tablets when I first got my machine. I liked them…Electrasol. Then about a year ago BJs had a sale and I bought a years worth…without really taking note of the phosphate level…which is apparently reeeeeeeeeeaaaallly high. It is seriously higher than even our government allows…not sure how they managed that one. Now that I’ve run out of the stuff I decided to give a more earth friendly brand a try.
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Price…5.49 for 45 ozs. Which is 2x the price of Electrasol powder. I was using the tabs, which are about 2x the 7th generation price. So…for a powder it is expensive…but I’m still saving money.

Packaging…Made from 100% recycled paper and is completely recyclable. Since it is a powder there are no little plastic wrappers like the Electrasol tabs.

Performance…Mixed reviews. It definately leaves some residue, especially in the sippy cups…which means extra water to rinse those clean. It was better when I switched my machine from light cycle to regular cycle…but again that is more water and more energy. But…no chlorine and no phosphates. I think the detox method even with its increased demand for water, electricity and effort wins. I am going to stick with it. Now that I know about the evil in my ol’ Electrasol I can’t go back…even though it made my dishes really sparkely. Doesn’t knowledge suck sometimes.


25

Aug

Organicizing My Makeup: Physicians Formula Organic Wear Concealers

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, organics, plastic, product review, recycling

green
fair

Even the Needle needs a wee bit of help looking breathtaking each day. So why not try to add a little organicizing to the ol’ makeup bag? So…I picked up Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Concealers in Fair & Green. (No I am not the swamp thing. Green covers red which I tend to get around my nose during the colder weather…when I hear Santa needs help with his sleigh.)

Packaging…Let’s start with the positive. The outer packaging is just paper. With the rather clever construction they completely eliminated the need for the clam shell type covering most makeup uses. Sweet. Hopefully that alone will inspire redesigns for all makeup…organic or not. The inner packaging is better…but the makeup is still essentially in a plastic tube with paper covering. I guess they could use glass…but maybe that would be a safety issue since you are cramming it onto your face.

Price…6.95 each. That seems to be on par with other concealers.

Now for the not so nicey nice.

Smell…yes it is important since I wear the green on my snout. Rancid olive oil. I now know why they add so much fragrance to makeup. Holy skunk butt. If this were the only issue I would just plug my nose and soldier on…but…keep reading.

Ingredients…better…but wait. Sounds really good at first: organic olive oil, organic soybean oil, beeswax, avocado oil….and then a big list of flowers. I’m feeling girly just looking at the list. But right at the end they slip in some other familiar names that don’t sound so tasty: talc, titanium dioxide, iron oxide, which is rust, no? Do these qualify as natural? I guess they do occur naturally. So does snail slime…doesn’t mean I want some on my face.

Performance…Now for the big So What…does it work? Depends what you mean by work. First the makeup was so thick and sticky you couldn’t apply it like a stick…which is kind of the point of a concealer STICK. Both of them broke when I tried. I was able to use a lipstick brush to apply it and it managed to conceal. Amazing!

swampthing

So…although I give Physicians Formula big props for reinventing the makeup packaging…they have a lot of work to do in the actual makeup department. Bottom line: Swampy no recommend.