You Aren't Lazy - You're Just Being Green

WESTLAND, MI - JULY 7: Emile Blair, 11, of Wes...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The next time someone accuses you of sitting on your crack, popping that popular recreational drug, Zoloft, tell them you’re taking one for Al Gore.

Here’s a quick list of ways I like to keep things eco-friendly (it’s all about perspective, people):

  • Conserve water – Skip that shower/bath for yourself or your kids. Keep a stick of deodorant handy and a bottle of Febreeze by the front door. No one will be the wiser.
  • Conserve energy – Keep a/c costs down by keeping the kitchen cool by serving up cereal for dinner. Having guests? Order take out and re-plate upon delivery. It’s all in the presentation (and the wine, don’t skimp on the wine).
  • Reduce fossil fuel consumption – Let the kids walk to school. Draw them a map the night before and there’s no need for you to even get up, which means no need to turn up that heater in the morning. (Or homeschool, which requires no driving or walking to school at all.)
  • Save electricity – Put the kids to bed when the sun goes down. When nature turns out the lights, it’s lights out for little Johnny. More time for Mommy and Daddy to get their freak on.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle – This works for laundry, too. Turn those underwear inside out, kids. You’ll get another day out of ‘em. Those socks aren’t dirty until they’re stiff, and those jeans are fine until they can stand up on their own. Hang that bath towel on a hook when you’re done with it. When it stinks like your butt, it’s time to wash you or wash it. Probably both.

If you want to learn more about dropping the bar a notch, check out the fabulous writers over at Aiming Low. They’ll take you there.

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Finds: Mint-Chocolate Chip Flower Pin and Other Goodies

I’m trying out a new feature on my blog. You’ll have to let me know what you think.

In the sidebar of CalifmomReviews I feature my online finds. These range from fashion to tech gadgets. I may be the only one who thinks they’re cool, but maybe not.

Therefore, I’ve decided to share a few of them here. I’ll be posting a few in this post, but will probably just post a few each week, as I stumble upon them.

I’d love to have your feedback.

I switched our family off of the plastic goods awhile ago, and we no longer have babies in the house, but this thinkbaby set was just too cool to pass up. If you know someone expecting, or have little ones yourself, this would be a great feeding set.

These Alpaca Celestial Scarf sets are so fun. I love the shape of the hats. Not your average beanie. I mean, I’m all for looking like a pinhead in the name of warmth…but you know. The circles, so cool. Makes me think of squid tentacles. In a good way. I love me some sea creatures.

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Protecting Our Children or Going Overboard: What CPSIA means to you

Economy of American SamoaImage via Wikipedia

If you want to read my opinions on how the CPSIA will impact our family and homeschoolers, in general, click here.

If you aren't yet familiar with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, keep reading. If you think it won't effect you, keep reading. If you are worried about our economy or your job, keep reading.

The post below is part of the CPSIA Blog-In and was provided to bloggers for this purpose. Feel free to use it on your own blog.

As parents and concerned citizens I’m sure most of us at one time or another have been confronted with the question of lead poisoning. But have you asked yourself what your government is doing to protect your children from lead contained in toys? The answer? They're banning toys, taking books from schools and libraries, hurting low income families, killing entrepreneurial spirit and risking putting the economy in an even greater depression than we've seen in decades. I'd like to introduce you to their solution: the CPSIA.

Do you know about the CPSIA? No? Then I ask you to take a few minutes to find out about it.

The CPSIA stands for Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, a new set of laws that will come into effect on 10 February, 2009 and will impact many, many people in a negative way. Make no mistake, this is very real. View it for yourself. If Forbes, the American Library Association and numerous other media are paying attention, perhaps you should too.

How will these new laws affect you? Well, here are a few examples:

To the Parents of Young Students:
Due to the new law, expect to see the cost of school supplies sky rocket. While those paper clips weren't originally intended for your student to use, they will need to be tested now that your 11-year-old needs them for his school project. This law applies to any and all school supplies (textbooks, pencils, crayons, paper, etc.) being used by children under 12.

To the Avid Reader:
Due to the new law, all children's books will be pulled from library and school shelves, as there is no exemption for them. That’s okay though, there's always television. Our children don’t need to learn the love of reading after all.
Article from the American Library Association

To the Lover of All Things Handmade:
Due to the new law, you will now be given a cotton ball and an instruction manual so you can make it yourself since that blanket you originally had your eye on for $50 will now cost you around $1,000 after it's passed testing. It won't even be the one-of-a-kind blanket you were hoping for. Items are destroyed in the testing process making one-of-a-kind items virtually impossible. So that gorgeous hand-knit hat you bought your child this past winter won’t be available next winter.

To the Environmentalist:
Due to the new law, all items in non-compliance will now be dumped into our already overflowing landfills. Imagine not just products from the small business owners, but the Big Box Stores as well. You can't sell it so you must toss it. Or be potentially sued for selling it. You can't even give them away. If you are caught, it is still a violation.

To the Second-Hand Shopper:
Due to the new law, you will now need to spend $20 for that brand new pair of jeans for your 2-year old, rather than shop at the Goodwill for second hand. Many resale shops are eliminating children's items all together to avoid future lawsuits.

To the Entrepreneur:
Due to this new law, you will be forced to adhere to strict testing of your unique products or discontinue to make and/or sell them. Small businesses will be likely to be unable to afford the cost of testing and be forced to close up shop. Due to the current economic state, you'll have to hope for the best when it comes to finding a new job in Corporate America.

To the Antique Toy Collector:
Due to the new law, you'd better start buying now because it's all going to private collection and will no longer be available to purchase. “Because the new rules apply retroactively, toys and clothes already on the shelf will have to be thrown out if they aren't certified as safe.”

To the American Economy:
Already struggling under an economy that hasn’t been this weak in decades, the American economy will be hit harder with the inevitable loss of jobs and revenues from suppliers, small businesses and consumers. The required testing is far too costly and restrictive for small businesses or individuals to undertake.

To the Worldwide Economy:
Due to this new law, many foreign manufacturers have already pulled out of the US market. You can imagine the impact of this on their businesses.

If you think this is exaggerating, here is a recent article from Forbes

And for those of you prepared to be stupefied and boggled, The New Law

Did you know? If this upsets or alarms you, please react.

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Walk Hard

Between the day I graduated from high school and the time I graduated from college, I moved 14 times. Oddly, I like moving. It's a great way to purge the crap. Given my ability to amass crap, purging it is essential.

Since having children, selling our condo, then purchasing a house, we haven't moved for almost 11 years. We've often considered moving. We made a half-hearted offer on a house once, and have had our realtor show us others. We just can't get that excited about moving.

It's not that our house is fabulous. It was built post-WWII, when things were done quickly and cheaply. It used to look like every other house on the street. After 60 years, and the advent of HGTV, it looks sort of like every other house on the street.

The reason we bought this house, aside from it's quaint charm, was its location. Oh, yeah. The big 'L'. Our house has it goin' on. And, now, thanks to the Internets (and Carolyn), I can prove it. Walk Score will rate your home's walkability. Our house, on a scale of 1 to 100, gets a 74. That is a walkable location. By contrast, the house I lived in from ages 10 thru 18 gets a 2 (but only because they built a school after I moved).

Don't get me wrong, I don't walk to all of the places I could walk. However, within reasonable walking distance of our house are the pediatrician, movie theater, veterinarian, Trader Joe's, OSH, hospital, dentist, optometrist, park, bike trail, kickass margaritas, various restaurants, 2 movie theaters, 2 high schools, an elementary school, a few bike shops, clothing stores, toy stores, and a performing arts center. Of those places, only a handful are located in the typical suburban strip mall.

So, until I feel like living on a busier street even closer to downtown, we'll be staying put. So, readers, what's your Walk Score? Once you know, post it in the comments. Can anyone get in the 80s or 90s? Anyone score a 0?

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Real Fun

Bob had a race this weekend at Cow Mountain OHV. After delivering him to the staging area, the kids and I had about 5 hours to kill. On our way to the hotel the night before, we'd passed Gaiam Real Goods and the Solar Living Institute in Hopland. Feeling a little guilty about my husband's gas-powered hobby on Earth Day weekend (a day becomes a weekend..) , I suggested to the kids that we make the trek back to Hopland for a tour and some eco-friendly consumerism.

We arrived just after they opened, managed to take an informative tour with a resident hemp-clad intern, power some lightbulbs with pedal-power, and purchase enough eco-friendly product to sustain the econmy for another month or more.

What an amazing place. They've taken a former CalTrans wasteland and formed an oasis of sustainable commerce and living. What was once a flatland with a single tree is now a shangri-la of ponds, hills, wildlife and gardens. A biodiesel fueling station flanks the parking lot. The bathrooms are tiled in recycled porcelain toilet tank lids. Design elements mimic patterns in nature, like my favorite, the Fibonacci series. The site's solar power plant generates $50,000 year in income from the power sold back to the utility company. Smaller solar panels are used to power the onsite operations.

When our docent discussed the work being done to convert methane into a usable energy source, Bug felt compelled to share a little-known fact about cattle. "Cow burps produce more methane than cow farts" he proudly interjected. I'm not sure the other tour particpants heard him, but the docent cracked up. At the end of the tour, a gentleman in our group who was wearing an oxygen tank, walked up to the docent, held out his purple hand, and slipped the guy a wad of cash. You see, this is a non-profit gig, funded by donations and the like. Moments later, Bug followed suit and slipped the guy a buck. God, I love this kid.

Peanut was a little bummed the solar-powered merry-go-round wasn't up and running yet (opens in the summer months). She's insisting we plan a return trip with a full weekend dedicated to visiting the Institute. I'm thinking we'll sign up for one of the 300+ (yes, 300) workshops they offer.

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