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)



Good Girl/Bad Soap: Trader Joe’s Next To Godliness Automatic Dishwasher Detergent

Posted by organicneedle in product review, random rants

dishes I have a confession to make.  I miss my bad boy detergents.  Electrasol was amazing…every girl’s dream in the dishwasher…yet sooooo toxic.  The total bad boy of the dish washing industry; its phosphate level even exceeds the governments rather lack standards.  So, although completely satisfied, in an attempt to be good to the world, I moved on.  Went looking for a "good guy" and found myself in the arms of 7th Generation.  Yeah…he’s a good guy…comes in recycled/recyclable packaging, nice to the planet.  He just couldn’t get the job done where it counts.  Film and residue.   So I moved on to a snazzy looking Palmolive Eco+…and I was impressed.  That was until I started finding clues that it had a pretty dark secret.  At first it was just a hint of a smell…but then I found the note: Contains Bleach .  Sigh.  So I was back on the market.  This time I tried an old tried and true friend, Trader Joe.  My girlfriends said he was OK in the rack…certainly a nice guy, like 7th, but perhaps with a little more pizazz.  Well…I’m here to report that once again the nice guy just doesn’t put the sparkle on my plates I’m looking for.  Still the issue with residue…even with the vinegar rinse.  What’s a girl to do?

So…not wanting to destroy the world, I will keep seeking out the good guys, but you better bet as I rinse the dull film from my pans I will be fantasizing about Electrasol the whole time. 

And Tide…I still long for your scent on my sheets.  Sigh.



Baby Soap Review

Posted by organicneedle in family, product review

We have been working on ridding a lot of the unnecessary disposable plastic from our shower for awhile now. Shampoo bottles, body washes and scrubs have been replaced with more natural versions that come in plastic free paper boxes. Overall it has been a pretty stress free & successful transformation.  The one area we have been glossing over is the baby soap department.  A few years back an aunt gave me literally about a 3 year supply of various baby washes all coming in big ol’ plastic bottles.  Not wanting to waste, we’ve been using them up.   Now we are finally on the last bottle and it is time to get the munchkins in on the green soap wagon. So far we have tried out two.whale

Kiss My Face Whale of a Soap Orange U Smart

Price: $5.96 for 2 3.5 ounce whales.

Packaging: Plastic free 100% recycled paper, 100% recyclable.

Product: I love that it is 7 little nontoxic ingredients.  My kids love the shape.  It comes in a two pack which is good for my little guys.  Neither little guy had a reaction to it…which they can to harsher soaps. It seemed to clean well enough.  The one thing that would perhaps prevent me from getting this soap again is the strength of the smell.  Sweet sassy mallassy they are a little heavy handed with the orange oil over at Kiss My Face.  The boys didn’t mind smelling like a citrus grove…but it was a wee much for the one whose got to smell them all day long.

Baby Bee Buttermilk Soap
burt baby

Price: $4.99 for one 3.5 ounce bar.

Packaging: 80% recycled plastic free paper box.  100 % recyclable.

Product: Again…love the simplicity; 6 natural little ingredients.  This soap was much creamier and moisturizing than the Kiss My Face.  The boys liked it too….despite being a perfectly unenjoyable round shape.  The smell is so soft and clean it makes them smell like babies again.  Can I make them use this soap forever?

So despite the significantly higher price, I will be washing the munchkins with Burt.  But if you don’t mind people trying to squeeze the juice out of your kids all day, the Kiss My Face Whales work too.



Burt’s Bees Soap Review: Radiance Exfoliating Body Bar with Royal Jelly & Milk and Shea Butter Body Bar

Posted by organicneedle in Etsy, product review

In the past I have told you about our love of the Burt man in the shower.  We use the Rosemary Mint Shampoo Bar and were using the Peppermint Shower Bar.  Let’s just say it was all getting a little heavy on the mint around here.  So I started trying some of Burt’s lighter scented soaps.

This one has a really nice light smell, not at all overwhelming and leaved the body feeling very clean and refreshed.  No filminess to it at all.  I did wash my face with it and found it a bit strong and irritating.  All the ingredients are natural but this one has a huge list of plant extracts in it, one of which my face didn’t like.  If you have very sensitive skin or plant allergies, this may not be for you.  Overall I really like it as a body bar and will order it again.

Naturally Nourishing Milk & Shea Butter Body Bar

I really liked this one too.  The scent is so light and soft.  It is ultra creamy, making it good for the body but, again, best left off the face.  Another plus to this one is that it only has 5 ingredients.  Just 5.  I will definitely order this one again too.

Packaging:  Excellent.  Both come in paperboard boxes made with 80% recycled content and are recyclable.  Neither came with any plastic shrink wrapping on the soap or the box.  They are available in 2 packs, saves a little bit more on the packaging.

Price: Okay.  $4.29 for a 4oz bar or $8.49 for 2 bars.  Not insane…not cheap.

As far as the whole local thing…I have been cruising Etsy for a local soap maker, but have yet to find one that makes soaps I want.  (Yes…Etsy does let you shop locally!)  When the weather improves I will cruise the open markets and hopefully make a connection.  For now…while the words witch and tit are in the daily forcast, I shall be ordering my body scrubbies from good ol’ Drugstore.



Art Waste…An Unchartered Green Territory

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

Art of all sorts is very important to raising well balanced kids…and a quasi-sane mama.   pig I, therefore, have often turned my big green eye away from any of its less then green aspects. We’ve always been big about using the backs of paper, letters, envelopes, boxes, even paper packing material for drawing and enjoy making musical instruments out of would-be recyclies, but that is about as green as we get in the world of art.  The other day, as I was prying out yet another dried up wad of Play Doh from the heater and tossing it and its respective plastic container in the trash, I thought perhaps it is time to explore some greener options. I did a little research and came up with two very doable and fun greener art options for the little ones.

First…Recycling Crayon Nubs

Now…we don’t seem to end up with a ton of nubs.  My kids are pretty good about using them pretty close to up and then they often fall victim to the vacuum.  The crayons ….not the kids.  But it is still a really cool idea for not only getting a little more wear out of the crayons, but also serves as a really cool art project and science lesson in one. Teensygreen gives detailed instructions for this one.

Homemade Play Doh

Now this is a big saver for us. My 2&1/2 yr old has secret stashes of Play Doh all over the house…which I only find moments after they have hit that awful so-crusty-no-kid-will-use-it point of no return. I found a great collection of recipes on an occupational therapy website. My kids loved making this mock Play Doh. We tried the no cook version and had great success except for the coloring part. I forgot to mix it into the water and tried to kneed it in post dough…but that just colored everyone and everything blue.  Our Blue Period we’ll call it.  You can easily skip the food coloring if your kids will allow it and still have a really cool dough.  Did I mention you can eat it?  Don’t like the way that alien you sculpted is looking at you? Bite its head off.

We’ve made definite progress but there is still one major art supply that adds A LOT of plastic waste to the ol’ garbage: markers. My kids love them and aren’t spectacular about putting the caps back on tightly so many end their walk on this earth depressingly early.  (We are working on the cap issue.)  Yes…they could use crayons or pencils which have greener paths, but they LOVE markers…the vibrancy, the glide, the ability to give each other very convincing mustaches.  Really at a loss with this one.   Anyone have a green marker alternative ideas? I would love any other green art options that anyone has tried.  It has been a long ass winter trapped inside, people…and frankly I’m running out of ideas to keep the little runts from eating each other for fun.



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.



Check Out My Scarves! Or…Why Babies Hate Me

Posted by organicneedle in organicneedle, organics, product review, random rants, sewing


I have had these super vibrant soft organic cotton Harmony fabrics for a few months now…with overly ambitious plans to create baby blankets with them. As I was was prepping the material I realized that I wanted to wear them. So…I stitched myself up a little magic. I LOVE these not only because the patterns just make me smile, but they are also soooooo soft. (I sometimes find wool scarves a bit rough on my precious skin.) So tough luck babies…these are for the Mama. Well…I may have a few over at Etsy for anyone else craving a little splash of color this winter.

(Yes…my photos definately need a professional touch. I swear I could be standing on the sun and still not get enough light.)



Walmart Need Not Apply: Calling All Artists and Craftsmen

Posted by organicneedle in blogtastic, Etsy, organicneedle, product review

I will be off the computer for a few days to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family…but I will still be using my brain. I will pause and allow time for snickering. Done now? Let’s face it people… if you haven’t started MAKING gifts yet, you ain’t going homemade this year…at least not from your home. Time to start thinking of other ways to check off your list without selling your soul to Walmart. I’ve told you about cyber gifts, but maybe those just won’t work for all you need to please. So besides stuffing myself with manateeesq portions at my ma’s this week, I will be preparing a little series all about what alternatives there are for purchasing gifts this year of the artistic nature. As usual, I don’t want to do all the work myself. So…if you have a favorite painter, seamstress, potter, quilter, soap maker, cheese sculptor, creator of any kind drop me a line in the comments and I will include them in the series. Trust me…they will appreciate your efforts. (Yes…it is okay if YOU are your favorite creator. I won’t tell…you little self-promoter you.)

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!



When Your Stocks Shrivel Eat More Chocolate: Hershey’s Organic Chocolate Review

Posted by organicneedle in organics, product review

I did a little info gathering during my “research” at Hershey. The simple facts: they own 40% of the US chocolate market and about 11% worldwide. The vast majority of their goods are neither organic nor Fair Trade. Last year they did buy one of my favorites, Dagoba, and seemed to have allowed that business to go on as usual in its organic and Fair Tradey goodness. Given Dagoba’s success, Hershey has created a line of less exotic organic chocolates to appeal to the less adventurous milk chocolate eaters of the world. Very mild and tasty. Much creamier than a Hershey Kiss. Not a whole lot of chocolate flavor…but most milk chocolate lacks that cocoa intensity. (The only milk chocolate I seek out is Scharffen Berger…which has about 40% beany goodness. Hmmmm…Scharferific.) So why did I buy the Hershey organic chocolates…which are not the healthy dark kind, Fair Trade, or the new Equitrade. In general, as pointed out repeatedly in Omnivore’s Dilemma, corporate organic isn’t thought to be the best solution. No it isn’t..but if you can get the big guys playing along that is still a whole lot less toxic chemical being dumped into the world. The more people show an interest …the more it will shift…the more it shifts..the more affordable..etc.etc. Hershey has a lot of buying power and based on their purchase of Dagoba and this new product line they are open to the next generation of chocolate. And I for one am willing to sacrifice my time and my waistline to nudge them in the right direction.homer

While on the subject of Hershey and their potential greeness…no recycle bins anywhere in the park…yet they had signs up with green tips on how to save the planet. Their green campaign is about as effective as their warm Hershey Explosion campaign. Yes…last year they actually had a warm liquid brownie concoction called a Hershey Explosion. Who would of thought that exploding body temperature poo colored chocolate wouldn’t be a big seller?hershey



Tossing Around the B***** Word

Posted by organicneedle in CSA/ Local Food, Economics, family, product review, projects, recycling

I’m talking about BUDGET, of course. (How many of you filth seekers counted the stars? Admit it…I know you are out there.)

We have never really had any formal type of budget. Since neither of us shop for sport and we have a decent income it has never really been an issue. We usually just keep an eye on the credit card tally through Quicken. Getting too high …we buy one less diamond encrusted codpiece that month. Pretty loosey-goosey. Now that we are losing about a new car, a decent new car at that, a month in our stocks, 401Ks, and wherever else it is possible to lose money, we are thinking of taking a slightly more organized approach.

Now…I already told you about the November house rules: no new stuff, no buying lunches, and the dreaded wine budget. Obviously the stuff spending freeze is temporary but it will hopefully give us a decent idea as to what we have been spending by comparing it to a month of no spending. Come December I will start to examine those areas of spending a little more closely but for now the stuff spending suspension will hopefully allow me to focus on our big issue.

I would like you to meet my Arch Nemesis:cheese

Hi. My name is Organic Needle and I am a foodie. I have never met a $15 a lb cheese I didn’t like. Worse yet…we are a family of foodies. Even my 2 year old knows the difference between a 99 cent canned olive and a $12 a jarred olive and will voice his knowledge loudly at any given occasion. We spend a fortune on food…real food. Not pre-made or junk..but just good, usually organic, hormone free, ingredients. And our shopping is insanely diversified…the CSA, at least 6 different specialty markets, Trader Joe’s, Stop & Rob, and all the late night milk runs. Because of the scattered nature of the spending, I actually have no idea what we spend on food per week…but I’m sure it is gross. And yes…having grown up quite poor and on a very tight food budget, I am more than a little embarrassed that I have just taken the luxury of buying what I want completely for granted.
So for the month of November I am NOT actually going to cut back on anything in the food department. (That would require willpower and self-discipline.) I am simply going to figure out what I am spending & where. Once I figure that out, I will hopefully be able to see where some modifications can be made without sacrificing quality…or cheese. Wish me luck. This may actually require math with numbers higher than 10. Hey…those extra toes I’ve been growing might not be such a curse after all.