Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Are you in California?

If so, head on over to Fake Plastic Fish because not only does she have a really cool site about icky plastic and her efforts to rid her life and the world of it, but she's asking for help from fellow Californians (sweetb, I'm talking to you!) to help support plastic bag legislation in her state.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Home Grown: BYOB

I'm happy to announce that as of January 1st, Seattle will be implementing a $0.20 disposable bag tax (both plastic AND paper) at all grocery, drug, and convenience stores. That means, if you don't bring your own and aren't willing to carry your items out of the store in your bare arms (which I have actually done), you'll be charged 20 cents for every bag you need. There are arguments on both sides of the issue. Many say forcing the issue on people isn't the way to get them to comply, and the only member of the City Council to oppose the measure argued that it was unfair to the elderly and low income residents to impose the fee; however she said she would have been ok with an all out ban. Maybe it's just me, but I don't really get that logic. If bags were completely banned (which I would be ok with) wouldn't the elderly and low income residents still be at a disadvantage? Arguments aside, I personally think it is a great idea. The city is planning on giving away one bag to every resident, and these days even Safeway has reusable bags for $.99. A small price to pay for helping the earth, I think.

But that's besides the point. The point is, Seattle is taking a big step towards becoming greener. On a side note, they are also banning plastic foam food and drink containers. Finally.

I've been a convert to BYOB (bring your own bag) for quite some time now. I love my NEITHER canvas bags that are always stashed in the car for my grocery or market runs. One area that was difficult for me however was my produce. I was still using those darn plastic bags for my lettuce, apples, etc. I'd bring them home, wash them out, and reuse them as much as I could, but I still felt guilty using all that unnecessary plastic. I purchased a few mesh bags about a year ago, and have been using those- but we buy a LOT of fresh produce, my 4 little mesh bags weren't cutting it for my weekly grocery runs. I needed more. So, I was extremely happy when I stumbled upon Bag Green produce bags. Of course I could have just ordered more of my mesh bags which were serving me well, but Bag Green is made right in my own back yard on Bainbridge Island! They are super cute, work great, and Heather packages them in newspaper for mailing. She's super green, and I love it! (These pictures I took when they arrived a few weeks ago don't do them justice.)

If you live on Bainbridge, or even if you don't but are in the market for some produce bags, check out Bag Green and know that you are helping make a difference!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Let's Go Shopping!

Actually, I hate shopping. Well, shopping for clothes, mall shopping, that kind. I know, I'm not your typical girl. But grocery shopping is another story. I honestly really enjoy grocery shopping. I've come to love cooking, and my weekly jaunts to Central Market, Pike Place Market, and farmers markets are something I look forward to. It's a little escape for me...I enjoy meandering up and down every aisle and seeing what is fresh and local from one week to the next. I always try to buy local when possible, and organic. And I've tried to replace most of our everyday household products with earth friendly items. These days though, there are so many options out there of products that claim to be "green" from cleaning products to chocolate bars which are helping the world. Is fair trade good enough for my coffee, or should it be fair trade, organic, and shade grown?

I'll often end up standing in the cleaning products aisle just staring at the products not knowing which eco friendly product is actually better. Is Clorox's new green line, really green? Does that brand clean better. I look at the ingredients and try and remember things I've read- reviews, etc. But sometimes that's hard. There have been times when I go to grab a product, be it food, or household, and I think to myself, "wait, didn't I read something about this company?" but I can't remember what it exactly was that I read and why I should or shouldn't buy it. Here's a perfect example. The only flavor of Luna Bar that I eat is Nuts Over Chocolate. But then I read an article about the horrors of palm oil and realized that flavor was one of only two that included palm oil. Bye-bye Nuts Over Chocolate, I won't be buying you anymore. I was discussing this with #4 and he said "you should make a list of all the products like that and the reasons to buy or not buy them so you don't have to wonder everytime you are at the store." Great idea, but haven't gotten around to it.

But guess what? I don't have to anymore because someone already has done something similar! I just heard about this great book The Better World Shopping Guide. It was first published in 2006, but they have a revised edition being released this October (if you order via Amazon, make sure you are pre-ordering the new version...unless of course you want the older version). It ranks items on your grocer's shelf from A to F for social and environmental responsibility. And it doesn't just rate grocery items, there are computers, gasoline, airlines, and other items as well. What's even cooler is that you can download it onto your iPod! There is a lot of the information available for free on their website to tide you over until your book arrives in the mail.

Happy Shopping!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Friday, July 18, 2008

For Sale

For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that enhances the freedom of others.
- Nelson Mandela

Four weeks from tomorrow I will be running a 5K race on Bainbridge Island. This is significant for two reasons. First, I'm embarrassed to even admit how long it's been since I last ran. And second, and more importantly I am running to raise awareness to end slavery. "Slavery?!" you ask, "Didn't Lincoln take care of that back in the 1800s??" Yes. And no.

Today there are 27,000,0000 enslaved people worldwide --- more than at any time in human history! Human trafficking is a very real problem. Just one you probably don't see every night on the news. And it's not just happening in other parts of the world. It's happening in our own backyard. Take a look at these stats from GOOD magazine:

* The average cost of a Slave is $90
*A slave is imported into the United States every 30 minutes
* 14,500-17,500 slaves are brought into the United States annually
* 50% of slaves in the United States are engaged in the commercial sex industry

And we aren't just talking about women. Modern day slaves come in all ages, sex, and colors. Young girls as young as 10 being being taken from their families with the promise of a better education, only to be sold to a foreigner as a slave. These numbers might be shocking to some, as they were to me when I first started researching it, or perhaps you already are aware of this horrible problem (and problem isn't nearly a strong enough word to describe the enslavement of another human being). Regardless, it is tragic. Michelle Obama was in Seattle yesterday at a fundraiser for our Governor, Christine Gregoire. On the cover of today's PI was a quote from Obama which embodies why I am running this race, and on a larger scale, why I have created this blog. She said,

"Do we settle for the world as it is, or fight for the world as it should be?"

I for one, don't believe in settling. That is why, when attending the local 4th of July parade on Bainbridge, and seeing an organization go by advertising this run, I investigated. As it turns out my most recent issue of GOOD had a two page layout concerning the issue, as does the Utne Reader this month.

So, the morning of August 9th you'll find me running (or perhaps walking) the race on the island in hopes of raising more awareness on this issue. For more information on human trafficking check out the Utne article, and GOOD Magazine. If you live on the island or nearby and would like to participate you can email The event is benefiting The Tronie Foundation and the Not For Sale Campaign.

(this post was originally going to be for Monday, but when I realized that today is Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday, I thought it a fitting topic)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Apparently I know my vocab better than I know my geography!

Yesterday Allie's Answers had a post about the water crisis taking place in the world today. And Wendy at Let the Dog In! linked to my post about FreeRice in her weekly wednesday vocab post. How are these two things related? Well, I've been wanting to do a post on water, especially since I'm currently reading Bottlemania, but I haven't put together anything that I think is worthy of posting yet and thought I would wait until finishing the book. But then those two posts happened yesterday AND I somehow (seriously, I don't remember how) stumbled across this site: FreePoverty, and I thought- hey, what a coincidence, this site is very similar to FreeRice which Wendy brought up today but it is geared toward providing people with water versus rice. See the connection? And thus, I decided to post about this cool site too...especially since some of Wendy's readers may be visiting me from her site (welcome!) and think it was cool too.

Similar to the concept of FreeRice where you are learning your vocab while providing food for the hungry, FreePoverty is a geography quiz. The more locations you are able to locate on a map of the world the more "cups" of water they donate. Water is the most basic element on earth, and no one should be deprived of safe drinking water. Did you know that every 15 seconds a child dies from a water-borne disease due to unclean drinking water? So, why not educate yourself and brush up on your geography skills, all while helping people around the world get the clean water they deserve! Play the game at FreePoverty and learn more about the worldwide water crises at Allie's Answers and

Good Luck!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Market Fresh!

We really are very lucky to live where we do. This time of year in the Northwest means sun, farmer's markets, fresh veggies, and the juiciest berries you've ever tasted! Sorry California, your strawberries just don't stack up.

As I mentioned briefly in yesterday's post, we just returned from the Methow Valley and had an amazing time traveling through the North Cascades, and enjoying nature. We returned late Saturday night, and had a packed day on Sunday. Needless to say, having been gone for a week, our cupboards and refrigerator were bare and I hadn't had a chance to get to the grocery store...we were overdue for a home cooked meal! Commuting daily for work, and usually not arriving to my front door until 6:45 every night makes it hard to grocery shop during the week (especially when my preferred market is Central Market in Poulsbo). So, what is a girl to do? Believe me, there was no way we were going to eat out...again! Lucky me, I work just blocks from the infamous Pike Place Market.

But...I have a confession. I haven't always liked the Pike Place Market (gasp!). I know, I could you not love the diversity of vendors, abundance of fresh fish, locally grown produce and people watching? Well, for starters, I used to despise fish (something #4 has since changed) and then there are the tourists. It is, afterall, aside from the Space Needle, the biggest tourist attraction in Seattle. My idea of shopping for groceries doesn't usually include having to navigate through hordes of picture taking, stroller totting, path blocking, oblivious gawkers (yes, that is a generalization, but not too far from what you'll experience any given day at the Pike Place Market). I think that shopping for an eggplant shouldn't involve weaving my way through 5 layers of people taking pictures of the flagship Starbucks ('s insane how popular that Starbucks is...and it isn't even big enough to sit down and enjoy your coffee). Ahh, but I digress. Don't get me wrong...I always thought the Pike Place Market was a great place for what it was...a tourist mecca! I appreciated the flower vendors, farmers, and quirky shops...I would obligingly stroll through when visitors came to just wasn't my idea of a place where I would actually shop for my daily grocery needs. Why put up with the hassle and (what I assumed where) inflated prices when I can get it at my local grocery store?

Well, that all changed when I moved to Bainbridge Island and began commuting every day. No longer could I just swing by the store on my way home (the ferry captain and bus driver don't generally accomodate those requests from passengers - go figure!) and by the time I hit the house closing in on 7pm, the last thing I wanted to do was run out to the store for that one tomato, or head of lettuce we were out of. So, about two years ago, on a sunny Wednesday lunch hour I gave in. I decided having a salad with our dinner was important even if it meant I would pay inflated tourist prices and risk my life dodging stollers and suffocation from being squeezed between zillions of onlookers. A salad was worth it. I headed down there expecting to be annoyed, and hoping I could use my amazing crowd darting abilities (really, ask #4, I'm pretty good at getting through a mob) and return with some expensive lettuce and a tomato.

If you've been to the Pike Place Market, you know exactly what I am talking about with the crowds. Head into the enclosed area, and be prepared to move at a snails pace. I made the decision that day to go to one of the first vendors I saw, on the outside sidewalk rather than attempting to manuever the interiour of the market. I also assumed, by doing this I'd be paying even more for my produce. You know, like gas stations...the first one off the freeway exit is always the most expensive. And you know what? I. was. wrong. Their prices were actually cheaper than what I paid at my "regular" grocery market. And, because they weren't "inside" the market, but instead on an open sidewalk, manuevering the crowds wasn't nearly as treacherous as I anticipated...I could breath, there weren't people 4 rows thick in front of me! Really? All this time I've avoided it because it's so crowded and I assumed (I know, NEVER assume) prices were inflated so sometimes we'd go without a tomato or head of lettuce (the horror!) for a couple of days until I could make it to the "regular" grocery store?? Well, from that day forward, no more.

I still do my regular shopping on Sunday mornings up in Poulsbo. But...when we've run out of something fresh, rather than just doing without until the weekend arrives, I grab my canvas bag and take a stroll to the market on my lunch hour -- I've actually become somewhat of a regular at that stand I went to the very first day. They know me, and I know I'm getting fresh, local produce and it is NOT priced for tourists! Looking back, I'm not really sure why I had that notion of their produce being overpriced. It's not like tourists are in the market (no pun intended) for produce. "Hey honey, let's pick up some lettuce, a ruttabega, and some cucumbers and take them back to the hotel room!" Yeah, probably not.

So there you have it...last night we had organic local red leaf lettuce, HUGE green onions, roma tomatos, cucumber, corn on the cobb, and lime with our beer. All this without having to ask the ferry captain to make a pitstop for me at the store!

In the News

There was a brief article in the Opinion section of today's Seattle Post Intelligencer about Greg Mortenson and the work he's doing building schools in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I'm a Loaner!

We're back from celebrating #4's birthday. We had an amazing time in the Methow Valley and I will certainly be posting about that later in the week. Right now I'm busy catching up on work and such. The post below is from when I first started a (now defunct) blog nearly a year ago. Unlike that blog, I am committed to keeping this one going! (as an update to the post below: my loan has almost completely been paid back!)


I just heard about this new site about a week ago. I've visited it several times since, and after reading every last thing on their site, I can't come up with one good reason why I would NOT become a "loaner." So, I did. I took the plunge and made my very first personal micro loan to a woman in Ecuador.

The thing that is so great about the concept of, and other micro loan organizations like Global Partnerships, etc., is that it's not just "charity." You (the lender) are helping others help themselves. I don't believe one single person on this planet deserves to live in poverty. Nor do I believe anyone wishes it upon themselves or others. Being a "loaner" I am helping someone build their business from the ground up and helping them achieve success in their business that they may not have otherwise had, given their circumstances.

I may not be able to contribute a lot, but even a small amount I, or anyone else for that matter, is able to loan, is an integral piece in helping end the horrible cylcle of poverty.

Check it out and see what you think!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Bzzzzzzz...Honey, please don't go!

Photo by ferran pestana (from flickr)

Did you know that 90 food crops are dependent on bees? You've probably heard that there is a major problem with the disappearance of the honey bee lately. What does this mean? Well, if you like your fruits and vegetables, it is not a good sign. Please check out The Vanishing of the Bees for an informative documentary worth the watch.

(I'm out this week celebrating #4's 40th birthday so if you don't see any more posts this week don't think I've already given up on the blog...I haven't, just not sure I'll be around internet and besides, you only turn 40 once!)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Home Grown: It's Berry Time!

No, not home grown as in I grew them myself --unfortunately. I want to highlight local businesses and organizations whenever I come across them in order to promote buying local and living sustainably. So, whenever you see a "home grown" post you'll know it's featuring something I've found locally!

We try to buy local and organic whenever possible. This time of year that means lots of veggies and fruits- yea! There is a fairly new organization on Bainbridge Island called Sustainable Bainbridge which focuses on the environmental, economical and social concerns of our community! They are tackling things such as the plastic grocery bag issue, green buildings, and what I want to highlight here - Sound Food. This site is a great resource for anyone who lives on Bainbridge as it has a map of the local farms, offers resources for buying local and what that means, recipes, and lots more. One of the coolest things they have implemented this year is a Ferry Farm Stand - every Wednesday at the ferry terminal on Bainbridge they offer locally grown produce in convenient $5 bags. The program just started last week. I made sure to have cash on me, but low and behold, it was so popular that by the time my ferry arrived, they had already sold out. Bummer for me but great for them as all proceeds go directly to the farmers! I wasn't about to miss out again yesterday. With my $5 in hand I headed towards the front of the boat as it was approaching the dock in order to be one of the first paid off...

I was able to get 1 Quart of fresh, juicy and oh so sweet LOCAL strawberries...YUM! Can't you almost taste them just looking at them? (something tells me #4 will have eaten them all by the time I get home tonight!)

Please pass along any local organizations or businesses you know that are working to make the world a better place. I'd love to know about them, and get the word out.

Have a safe and fun 4th of July!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Walking the walk...

My friend Laura is participating in this year's 3 Day Breast Cancer Walk taking place in Seattle September 12-14. She and her fellow walking teammates will be walking 60 miles over the course of the 3 days in honor of her grandmother, Nellie Faye, who passed away from Breast Cancer 40 years ago - and she'll be walking with her mother who was diagnosed just last September with Breast Cancer.

I met Laura last year when I did the Pennies for Peace Drive. She was the first person to contact me and offered her full support. Without Laura's help during the drive, it would not have been the success that it was- thank you Laura!

All of us probably have been affected in some way by knowing someone diagnosed with Breast Cancer...a mother, sister, aunt, coworker, or maybe even yourself. I admire Laura for what she is doing and am very happy to hear that her mother is doing very well. This is a horrible thing to have happen to anyone, and I fully support every effort to find a cure. If you'd like to join me in supporting Laura in her 60 mile walk, please click here, or on the link to your right and you will go directly to her fund raising page.

Thank you!