Sunday, October 21, 2007

What is Fair Trade Certified?

Have you noticed the "Fair Tade Certified" label on certain products at the grocery store like cofee or rice? Do you wonder what it's all about? Here's the basics:

Fair Trade Certified products must meet certain social and environmental standards. Those standards are:

Farmers are paid a fair price for their products and in turn those farmers pay their workers a fair wage for their labor

Workers must have decent working and living conditions. Forced child labor is prohibited.

Farmers must farm in a sustainable fashion - that includes farming organically.

The farmers must make investments in their local communities.

This process of fair trade raises the standard of living for the laborers and their communities all over the world. By buying Fair Trade Certified products, you are helping to contribute to the environmental and financial stability of people in developing nations.

This is, of course, a very simplified explanation of Fair Trade Certified. For more details, you can visit, the website for TransFair USA - the only independent, non-profit certification agency for Fair Trade products in the US. Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day

Today is blog action day - One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.

Today's issue is the environment. It's not as if I don't blog about this every day (well almost every day), but it's worth noting that today bloggers all over the world will be addressing the issue. Even if their blog doesn't normally talk about environmental issues, today it will. I wonder how many people who never give the environment a second thought will read something today that will make them decide to make some changes. Every small change counts.

Check out the 365 Day Pledge to Go Green

It has one small change idea for each day of the next year. Changes like unplug your cell phone charger when not in use and cook a vegetarian meal. Very doable small changes.

I challenge you to make one small change each day so you can be a little greener every day. Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Greening Your Kids Lunchbox

Everyday (except for the two days a month I allow my son to buy lunch), I pack my eight year old a lunch to take to school. Two years ago when he was in first grade he threw out a lot more than just the sandwich he didn't feel like eating. He threw out two or three ziploc baggies each day. One for his sandwich, one for his snack, and one that held the 40 cents he took each day for milk.

Today, there is very little in his lunchbox to throw away except an apple core or banana peel. I send everything in reusable containers. I put his milk money in a little canister that came from a roll of camera film.

I just found this great reusable sandwich wrapper at

It wraps a sandwich, becomes a placemat while you're eating the sandwich, and then wipes right off to use again. I love the idea and wanted to share it with everyone.

I'm goign to order one, and I'll give a product review once my son tries it out for a while. Stumble Upon Toolbar

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Choosing Your Green

I have no advice toay - just questions. I was at the grocery store this morning, paralyzed in the laundry detergent isle. Like most people, I have a budget that I have to work with when it comes to the grocery store. Now, most of the green changes I've been making in my family's life have saved us money. But the grocery store is the one place, where if I made all the eco-correct choices, I'd completely blow my budget.

How do I choose between organic milk, eco-friendly laundry detergent or fair trade certified coffee. I can't afford all of them. It's a big conundrum.

How do you pick and choose what to buy at the grocery store when you want to change everything, and chang it NOW? Stumble Upon Toolbar

Saturday, October 6, 2007

I spoke too soon

Yesterday I wrote about getting my ink cartridges refilled. I may have spoken too soon. It's a great idea, but unfortunately, the colors are all wrong on my refilled cartridge. I'm going to take the cartridge back. There is a guarantee. I just looked at the web site and it claims a 100% satisfaction guarantee, but what that means, I don't know.

I'll report more as I have it. Stumble Upon Toolbar

Friday, October 5, 2007

Reuse Your Ink Cartridges - Have Them Refilled

I saw a tv commercial the other day for Walgreens. At certain locations, you can take your empty ink cartridges to them and they will refill them. It costs $10 to refill b&w cartridges and $15 for color. I had empty cartridges in my office that I had been meaning to recycle so I took them to Walgreens. The price I paid to have them refilled is half of what I would have paid for new, and I don't have to worry about disposing of the old cartridges properly.

That's a good deal! Stumble Upon Toolbar

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Another Socially Conscious Christmas Idea

I just discovered another Christmas gift idea that can give back. Plow and Hearth has pewter Plant-a-Tree ornaments. For each ornmanet sold, the Canadian company that makes the ornament will plant a tree at a site around the world that needs reforestation.

There are 11 different ornments to choose from and they only cost $9.95 each.

Here's link to their website:§ion_id=2009&search_type=featured&search_value=4118&cur_index=1

I also noticed as I was looking through Plow and Hearth's catalog that they plant two trees for every one tree it takes to make their catalogs. They have my approval. Stumble Upon Toolbar

Greening Your Music Collection

Years ago when my husband and I got rid of all of our music cassettes (we donated them), we made a list of all of the ones we wanted to replace on cd. From the hundreds of cassettes we got rid of, we came up with a long list that we wanted to replace. Of course, we couldn't run out and buy them all at once. We had discovered a marvelous used cd store in the same shopping center as our favorite movie theater and started replacing them with used cd's, one or two (okay sometimes more) at a time. It became a regular part of date night. Dinner, a trip to the used cd store, then a movie.

We started replacing the music this way because it cost us a lot less. Eventually, the store started selling used dvd's also. The prices there were so great that we even gave each other permission to buy used music and movies as gifts for birthdays and Christmas. My kids don't even realize most that the dvd's and cd's we've ever bought for them are used.

What we didn't realize at the time was that we had also started restocking our collection in an environmentally friendly way. Instead of buying new, we were buying used. You know the mantra - reduce, reuse, recycle. We were resuing someone else's old cd's and dvd's. When we feel the need to thin out the cd collection, we now recycle the ones we don't want by taking them to the used store.

Buying your music online in the form of mp3's is another way to make your music collection greener, also. There is no physical product, no production waste, no packaging waste, no trash created when your 3 year old cracks the cd trying to take it out of the package.

I will confess, though, that once in a while I do buy my cd's brand new. I have no idea if it makes a real difference or not, but I have it in my mind that buying a just released cd in the store counts more than purchasing it off of someplace like iTunes. When there is an artist that I really like who is putting out a new cd, and I want to show my support for tht artist, I buy the cd new. I think the last time I actually did it was with Edie Brickell and New Bohemians' last album Stranger Things put out last year. I felt like buying the physical cd on the first day it was released was a show of support for my favorite group. Did it really make a difference? I have no idea.

But I do know that buying the majority of my music and movies either used or through an mp3 format does make a difference. Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Dr. Seuss was a Tree Hugger

I just finished reading my five year old The Lorax. I love, love, love that book. It is such a gentle introduction for a child on the importance of caring for the earth and yet a pointed lesson for the adult who reads it to the child.

I love what is said near the end:

"But now," says the Once-ler,
"Now that you're here,
the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It's not.

Thanks Dr. Seuss, for helping me to teach my kids at a very young age to care a whole awful lot. Stumble Upon Toolbar

Monday, October 1, 2007

Read a Banned Book

I'm veering from the green today to let everyone know that we are in the middle of Banned Books Week (Sept 29-Oct 6). The purpose of BBW is to celebrate our freedom to read and write whatever we want even if others find it undesirable.

Don't get me wrong, I am all for parental censorship of what my children read, watch and listen to. I believe it is my responsibiity to do so. But parental censorship is different from banning books altogether. I have an 8 year old whose reading level is really high, but I wouldn't let him read The Catcher in the Rye (yet). But there are other books that are on the top 100 challenged books list that I think my 8 year old should be reading including Madeliene Lengle's A Wrinkle in Time. It's the book that changed my life when I was a kid, and I have always been dumbfounded by the fact that there are people who want it taken out of school and public libraries.

Ms. L'engle died early last month, and I can think of no better way that I can honor her than to encourage everyone to read banned books and to cherish the freedom we have in our country to read and write whatever we want.

Here is a link to the 100 top challenged books:

It's an eye opening list, isn't it? Stumble Upon Toolbar