Monday, June 30, 2008

June Perfect Post Award

Perfect Post Awards 06-08

Here's my nomination for June's Perfect Post Award from the Minnesota Matron: The Matron Apologizes.

The Matron is witty, sharp, hilarious, and brutally frank. I love her blog and her writing; her cast of characters includes walk-to-the-beat-of-their-own-drummer children and a dog nicknamed Satan's Familiar who defecates indoors with alarming frequency. All in all, she's a rockin' mom and writer. That's why I so love her recent blanket apology for being the Helicopter of all Helicopter Parents (and as I said to her in the comments, I'm hoping you all can take it as a vicarious apology to everyone who met me during 2003-2006). I knew she was speaking for me when she iterated a few of her questions for her kids' future pediatrician when #1 was in utero (ah, but did she take notes on a 3-page typed list of questions? and then file them all away for future reference? Sigh).

Here's her profile just to lure you in:
While trying to catch a ride on the hip mama wagon, I realized I wasn't one! Welcome to the land of the unkempt and nondescript, the house that anxiety built. Someone asked why there's no picture of me. Remember the blog title? Minnesota and matron. You don't need to see that. My name is Mary and the matronly ties that bind are dear husband, three children, and assorted pets.
Go! Read her post. I'm pretty sure that just checking it out will be a form of penance for all of us who were a bit, ah, focused on Kid #1. Read more!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Laying off the Bubbly (Water)

I am a big water guzzler. Seriously, I make a mean glass of ice water. Shhhh! I know that room temperature water might be healthier and is totally more eco-friendly, but you have to give me credit for coming a long way. I used to be a seltzer guzzler. Imagine the overflowing recycling bin from all the giant 2-liter plastic bottles I sucked down on a daily basis. On top of the ridiculous pile of bottles (plastic, then glass), I started wondering what kind of water was in my seltzer. I mean, NRDC all but tarred and feathered the lack of regulation in the bottled water industry years ago, so buying seltzer while I was fretting about my tap water seemed silly. But like I said, I am a water guzzling fool. And I looooove seltzer. So I went down many roads in search of a greener seltzer.

First stop was a handheld seltzer maker I got at Sur La Table. This was irrationally appealing because the brand name iSi nearly approximated the name my daughter had for nursing (isiii!). It only cost $50 (aside from the CO2 chargers - looks like it's $70 now, I guess it's been awhile). I still have this but stopped using it pretty quickly because a)I couldn't figure out how to recycle the chargers (which only made something like 20 oz of water each), b)the amount of energy used to make the chargers in the first place must have been obscene, and c)the seltzer itself really wasn't bubbly enough for my particular thirsty palate. So I have that in my closet. It's got freecycle written all over it.

Second stop was a trip down highbrow mineral water road.
Which was kind of annoying because I am really at heart a Vintage-seltzer-on-sale-in-the-chips-aisle kind of girl. You know, the Ty Nant, Calistoga-kind of road? At least they were glass bottles. Heavy glass bottles shipped across one or two continents. Sigh. This is what I now allow myself to get on my birthday.

Third stop? Too expensive but promising. A friend of mine has a SodaClub dispenser which she says is easy to use (and the chargers, which are recycled by the company, last for a few months). She uses it just for seltzer, not for soda (and they'll send you lots of HFCS syrup with it to get you started, bleccch). My problem is, if I want to buy something new (which I really don't, right?) I want to get reusable glass bottles instead of plastic (Fake Plastic Fiissssh!). And that system costs about $230 (with s/h). All for BUBBLES in my water (and see here for a negative review of the Penguin's temperamental nature to boot).

Now? I've weaned myself off seltzer, despite its purported benefits. As a friend said (a dear seltzer-lovin' friend who just made the mistake of asking me my enviro take on bubbly water and thus has already heard this entire meandering diatribe), "Hey, if I could stop drinking Diet Coke, I can stop drinking bubbly water." Bottom line: if you buy seltzer you can't guarantee any kind of water quality plus you incur a huge environmental cost for the bottling and shipping. If you make your own you're out big bucks for the system plus you're still incurring energy costs to create the chargers.

Me? I'm off to drink some filtered ice water! Ack, should I disengage my ice maker so I can control the water in my 'cubes? Or just go swimming? Maybe both.

Photo courtesy of Nazreth at sxc.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Honey Face Wash

Hey, I'm all for simple. So when I read somewhere (where? I can't remember where!) that you can wash your face with honey, I was all over it. I started up in May when I was deliberately making things harder for myself than they had to be because Crunchy had specifically okayed the purchase of personal care products participating in the Buy-Nothing Challenge. I ran out of face soap and thought, I bet there is something more natural I could use right in my cupboard.

I was right! Honey worked just fine. I'm off it now, but only because I have a Lush store nearby to which I can bring reusable containers (and because, well, let's just say it's sugar ant season). The stuff I'm using now is made in Canada (whoa, nelly, not local) but has safe ingredients. And I will definitely go back to honey in the winter, and while traveling - what's safer than Pooh Bear's favorite treat?

Basic instructions: rub honey on face until tacky (really sticky - it changes consistency). Rinse with warm water. I didn't go for raw honey, just local bees, but I want to try it. I was talking with a friend
who's a locavore foodie genius, a crunchier-than-a-Santa-Cruz-cohousing-dweller friend, right after she gave birth, and told her that breastmilk is magic. "If you get a cut, if your kid has eye goo, you name it," I told her, "breastmilk can cure it."

"Oh?" she said. "So is raw honey. I used to put it on my cuts." Go figure! Love the straight dope on simple solutions. Let me know if you have any basic magic to share.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

writing motherhood: DC Metro Moms Book Club

I have a complicated relationship with rules. Raised by Berkeley radicals (early 60s) who nonetheless believed in old-school authority (a la "every teacher has something to offer you if only you are capable of hearing it"), I went on to study at the feet of a woman who argued that to allow students to disrupt classes was a civil rights infringement on those who'd like to learn (yes, yes, this was also in Berkeley). Back here on the East Coast, I'd have to say that I agree with both my mentor and my mathematician father: structure allows for creativity. Many Lord of the Flies-averse parents and teachers also agree that children thrive in a setting with clear boundaries.

I think my children have a clear sense of the edge of the envelope, but I am hard-pressed to articulate any particular rules aside from common sense and respect. I must confess here that we tried not to say "no" to my first child until she was about three, and worked to create situations in which she wouldn't be set up to make a bad choice. I'm not saying it worked perfectly, just that it was our mindset, and serendipitously, our first was and is someone who loves to please and works hard to understand what's expected of her (I need to point out here that our second is already working to dispel the idea that this has anything to do with us, as his main purpose appears to be to decipher our wants and then to laugh uproariously and proceed to do the opposite).

Of course, none of this comes into play when I am just being irritable or on a mother power trip. Lack of sleep, thoughtlessness? Who knows why I slip into forgetful, rote language, but luckily enough, sometimes right in the middle of so doing, I wake up. I stop myself, apologize, and change the rules (I can do that!). Luckily for me, my child has adopted the legacy of questioning that is her heritage along with her rule-following temperament.

Just this morning, we were taking a shower, and she screamed at the top of her lungs as I washed her hair: "Owwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!" Now, she hates having her curly locks detangled, for obvious reasons. But today the screaming began before her noggin even got moist. Excellent drama and high volume. So I put the kibosh on the noise. When she started splashing and playing and giggling? I told her to quiet that too, without thinking. Mercifully, she asked me plaintively, "No giggling?!" and I snapped out of my thoughtless parent mode. We laughed about it together. "No laughing or having fun," we faux-scolded each other. I hope I can recant as easily when the stakes are higher (like when she's fifteen instead of five).

Lisa Garrigues exhorts us to throw out "the small-minded rules" we've been handed about writing, much as she'd like us to do the same for our children and parenting styles. Let me be the first to toss the five paragraph essay, eh? Blecchhh... Style dictates, grammar, composition, spelling...these also go on the trash heap for Garrigues (not so much for me, but that's another story -- I think we need more grammar and spelling, not less -- in the vein of structure freeing creativity, but that's just me).

writing motherhood is a primer for mothers who'd like to harness the stories of their parenting selves. I received a review copy of her text to read for a DC Metro Moms book club and I have to say, I've enjoyed it tremendously. I was a creative writing major in college and it reminds me most of a summer course I took one year called Writing Women's Lives. It's something of a how-to book that delves into best practices for keeping a journal (garrigues outlines a structure for a Mother's Notebook, filled with Mother Pages), creating a mothers' writing group, and seriously committing to the daily practice of writing.

One dealbreaker for me? I actually believe I compose more creatively and intuitively on my computer. I do like the freedom of pen and paper for brainstorming and sketching, and the portability of Garrigues' Mother's Notebook is appealing, but for me? Blogging is creative enough -- even within my self-imposed structure. I want to say I'd follow through on a daily journaling process, but appealing as it may sound, I've never done it. I'm just a pragmatic kind of writer. And it makes me happy. Maybe that's the rule I'm going to throw out (daily journaling and unburdening of self=self-actualization as a writer)!

Making myself write on paper just isn't going to happen for me. I may carry a journal to develop ideas that I will flesh out on a computer, but for me, there's no going back. I am an endless reviser. I used to write and rewrite my papers in high school on yellow college-ruled paper. I like to see my blog posts before I publish them (anyone else love that feature? I used to print things out to review them but somehow this pageview works just as well for me -- enviro bonus!), and I like to be able to move chunks of text around. Literal cut and paste with a highlighter and a glue stick? No thanks.

The highlight of garrigues' book for me? The writing prompts and the fabulous stories. She's obviously a thoroughly prepared teacher and gave careful feedback to her students. I totally want to take one of her classes! Reading her book is like a window into her writing groups...and would be perfect for someone who's looking to do more chronicling of either their family life or sense of self as a parent. Since it's sort of wasted on me, the refuse-to-journal-er, I'd love to give away my gently-used review copy to someone else. If you'd like me to send along my copy, leave a comment and I'll have EGirl play Vanna real soon. I'll even tell her she's helping me to break some (writing) rules.

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Father's Day: A Personal Affair?

Post over at DC Metro Moms on Father's Day misadventures.... Read more!

Monday, June 16, 2008

How to Pick a Peach

Green Bean Dreams has an eco-book club going, ok, a challenge, to get us reading books about environmental preservation and protection. It's actually been going on in May and June. Not that I've posted any book reviews. No hairshirt necessary, though, Green Bean is a nurturing kind of motivator and she just wants us to keep reading.

How to Pick a Peach by Russ Parsons is a fascinating read. I'm not done, but hell, it's a reference book and I'm hanging onto this sucker for future, uh, use. I already figured out how to pick a watermelon (look for a yellow spot where it sat on the ground and ripened in the field -- cool!) and remembered it in the store when I was (confession) buying a decidedly not-local watermelon from California. Yellow spot! That info stuck! I am so into this book.

So the basic premise of the book is that if one sets out to buy the best-tasting food possible, then labels like organic and locavore can't be far behind. Parsons weaves together fascinating historical details about the genesis of modern plant breeding, recipes, practical buying tips, and helpful lists like "When it's okay to buy unripe fruit." It's like getting the thorough research end of a Michael Pollan book complete with the tips on how to identify decent produce in the market, and cook said delightful food.

I have a community garden plot and have been puttering around there, off and on, for about five years. So I know a tiny bit about food. But like most of us, my sense of seasonal food and basic store of gardening knowledge is pretty thin. That's where this book comes in. It's a contemporary storehouse of information, which is why I'm hanging onto it. Thanks to Green Bean Dreams and my friend AE who recommended this on the heels of Garbageland: On the Secret Trail of Trash. Anyone got any ideas for readable page-turners about energy use and climate change?!

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eco-Friendly Nail Polish?

Sooooo, I like pedicures as much as the next gal. Well, maybe a little less. I happen to like short nails and am pretty happy if they are just clipped with one of those drugstore nail clippers? But I can get behind pretty toes. I got a pedicure right before I got married. And you know what? I really liked it. Those vampy toes make summer come alive. Anyhoo, I shifted over a while back to PeaceKeepers nail polish and acetone-free remover from Whole Paycheck 'cause conventional polish smells bad enough to warn me away even before I dig into EWG's Skin Deep database. EGirl, naturally, would paint her digits a new color every day if I'd let her (awhich I do not).

So what's the deal? Can I safely brighten her mood and her tootsies?

You can pretty much guess that conventional nail polish is bad news. Ever wanted to go hang out in a nail salon just to catch up with a friend while she's getting her fingers beautified? Katydidnot's cannibal kindergartener is clear enough about the hazard. He won't even consider eating humans because of those painted nails.

A bunch of companies are marketing less-toxic nail polish and removers. What are the ingredients to avoid? Toluene, dibutyl phthalates aka DBP, VOCs (in remover), acetone, and formaldehyde. Check here for a good summary (thanks to Tiny Choices for the link). Mmmmmm, pretty. Pretty toxic.

Apparently OPI, Orly and Sally Hansen lost the most toxic chemicals, and Acquarella's got a nontoxic line which is water-based (thanks to Green LA Girl for the tip). Suncoat's water-based and free of many of the top carcinogens (thanks to Green Mom Finds for the tip). Well, Suncoat's site comes down pretty hard on the non-water-based polishes out there, noting "Chemical solvents, namely acetates, are still the major ingredient in the polish: 60-70%. These nail polishes still give off chemical fumes, pollute the air, have an offensive odor, and are highly flammable and explosive." They're trying to sell the water-based stuff, of course, but they certainly make a strong case.

Tiny Choices pondered this weighty question a bit ago and has a great roundup of the enviro conundrum. They basically say that since polish remover itself is no great shakes you should skip the whole scene altogether. It's good to have less-toxic choices if you're going to go down the path, though. I remember going to Nusta Spa a few years back and having to bring my own nail polish because, despite it being an eco-spa, they only had conventional polish in there. That's what Ideal Bite recommends: bringing your own less-toxic polish to the salon. Sounds like the market's coming around since I had my first kid and all hope of getting a pedicure went out the window (thanks to the EU and California, for banning awful ingredients).

I think most of us probably err on the side of caution. Heck, they were singing the sad old refrain of "it's commercially viable and safe until you prove it's deadly" on BPA until pretty recently. Whatevah. I'd rather rub beet juice on my kid's nails than poison her. And yes, I do realize the therapy bill may be higher. Back to the question: is the so-called eco friendly nail polish really safe and/or a solid environmental choice? I think the eco bloggers were in agreement: not really. It's better than the conventional alternative but really, your best bet is to skip it altogether. Sorry, EGirl, we're sticking with special occasion polish for the foreseeable future.

Don't forget, you can always do the shape and buff -- shiny nails look A-OK too, in my humble opinion. As do nails that have lots of rich dirt from the garden or sand from the beach under them, for that matter. Living-your-life hands...gotta love 'em. (Click here for an interesting look at the historical fascination with long nails aka 'I don't do any manual labor' hands.)

*Photo courtesy of sxc.
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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Finding Replacement Parts: If It's Broke, Fix It

It seems like more and more items are meant to be disposable; most of the stuff we buy goes directly into the landfill within six months (according to Annie Leonard in The Story of Stuff). Eek! I was raised by some fairly handy people who had more than a passing familiarity with Depression-era sensibilities, so I know my way around a screwdriver and a clamp to hold on some wood glue. But I'm no MacGyver. That's why it's nice to know that often, saving something to use again is often as simple as a phone call or email.

Customer service is your friend! I'm a big fan of contacting the manufacturer directly, and I've found it extremely helpful to hold onto all of our manuals and receipts for toy and baby items, and household appliances. Even if you don't have the skills to fix something yourself, the combo of having all the necessary parts and a good handyperson can make the difference.

Some companies who have been especially helpful to me (all links are to customer service):

Sonicare replaces defective toothbrushes and takes back old or broken toothbrushes for recycling

Regal Lager services Phil & Ted baby joggers; I got an oldie but a goodie from a friend (meaning under 5 years old -- in perfect condition) and got their help figuring out how to replace the missing basket underneath despite the fact that they no longer manufacture parts for this model (don't get me started on how annoying that is but at least they were proactive about working around it)

Mobi will sell you used video baby monitors at cost should there be a problem with your old one (sigh).

Little Tikes sells replacement parts for all of its toys like the doohickey that adjusts the height of our outdoor basketball hoop.

I've had good luck googling appliance parts for our service repairperson for our stove and dishwasher; I've also tried looking on EBay and freecycle when I couldn't find the part elsewhere.

Finally, you can find missing game parts for all the 1/2 Monopoly sets in your house thanks to this tip from DeclutterIt! -- I haven't checked it out yet but I'm thrilled to file this away for future use.

Hopefully, none of our carefully sourced, well-made items of necessity will break ever again (due to planned obsolescence, shoddy manufacturing, or mistreatment!) but if they do...I'm hoping to keep them out of the landfill. Don't forget as a last resort to try to freecycle the item to see if someone else can use it or see value in it (be honest!) -- people have always kept parts cars around and it's possible that someone else can salvage my trash (my trash, possibly their treasure).

*Image courtesy of Rocks in My Dryer; head on over there for more Works for Me Wednesday
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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Little People on the Road Swap

If you're interested in participating in this round of the Little People Swap, send them an email today to sign up. It's megandmag at gmail dot com -- and by signing up, you're committing to making and/or buying a stuffed animal or doll, then taking pictures of it on all of your summer adventures. You'll need to send postcards from the road and then wrap it all up by making a scrapbook of the whole business for your swap partner family. They get to keep the travelling buddy, btw, so if your kids are possessive you may want to make more than one Special Travelling Friend. I'm just saying. Anyways, don't take it from me, head over to the Little People Swap and check it out! Today's the last day to sign up so act now!

*I figure noting here that the closest thing to a stuffed animal sewed by MamaBird's hands is a beanbag (see above pic) might inspire you to think you can do this too! Thanks so much again to our swap partner from last round, Michelle at Mommies Think Too. Read more!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Walk for the Cure (Shot through the heart and 50,000 of you're to blame...)

Walking down 7th Street from Gallery Place towards the walk start of the Race for the Cure, I started welling up. My voice caught even when I told myself (I know, I know, muttering while I storm along, not a good sign) I could not cry when I met up with my fellow DC Metro Mom bloggers, some of them for the first time. But somehow, the sight of the chattering groups of really young (early twenties? I am so far away from my teaching days that I can no longer nail the age of babes in the woods on sight) women and men wearing eclectic pink and black outfits as they hoofed it towards the race, just caught me in the heart.

Woman with the pink flip flops and black legwarmers with hot pink satin running shorts? Man with baby-pink cape? Woman with rose-colored feather boa wrapped six times around your neck? I'm so grateful to you for your support of those who have fought breast cancer. I'm so grateful to you for reminding me that doing good doesn't have to be like eating your
broccoli. Holy Bay to Breakers in DC, Batman!

This weekend, thanks to the organizing efforts of a woman who's, oh, eight months pregnant, I witnessed the Race for the Cure for the first time. I didn't run in the 105 degree heat and humidity; a group of us simply meandered and yakked it up for the 3.2 miles. And yes, when the turnoff for the cheater one-mile walk neared, I looked longingly at that hard left towards a frosty bloody mary, but when there's a family of five (one parent holding a needy baby on her hip), aforementioned nearly to-term expecting blogger, and a mother to a 400 degree Ergo-contained, softly sighing,
two month-old humanoid of lava breathing on her chest forging ahead, it's time to keep to the path. Race organizers? You're responsible for the fact that Jess from A Bushel and A Peck's going to get a mister installed in her new backyard pergola. Really! Yup, it felt that good.

We all have women near and dear to us who've battled breast cancer, right? Some multiple times. A and C, I love you. You know I walked for you. And I'm intently interested in the environmental factors that may be implicated in increasing breast cancer risk, so I love the work that Komen's doing on that front. I just didn't know how powerful it would be to see 50,000 other people waving their pink flags of love for their folks. I didn't know they'd have massive teams dedicated to the memory of someone they loved. I didn't know we'd see laminated posters and lanyards with pictures of someone's mom, someone's sister, someone's daughter. Some of them survivors, some of them lost to breast cancer.

If you've never walked (or run! I know some of you can do it!), I encourage you to head down to the Mall next year (or your local race) to check it out and join the throngs.

I've mused before about how lucky I am to be part of such a smart and committed community of online bloggers. Thanks again to the DC Metro Moms and to those who wore their hearts on their sleeves, their feet, and their heads for the cure.

(Loved our time together, Andrea, Julie, Sandie, Devra, Jessica, Robin, Leticia, Jodi, Jean, Nancy aka infant holder extraordinaire, Linda, and Jess -- Sarah! thanks for all the directions when I really needed them, at the bar-- and finally, kudos to Mary, Suzie, and Susan for doing the Sleep for the Cure).

*An actual MamaBird photo original. Not a person in sight I know in the picture but I WAS THERE and I FINISHED that warm trek.
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Sunday, June 8, 2008

ManBabies for Father's Day - Dad?
Make one for your baby daddy at!

Could this idea be any more genius? For a sweet and eco-friendly Father's Day gift, skip the power tools and pop a picture of your kid and her papa over to If you just want the picture to show up on their blog (and you can then embed it in your blog like the sample above--which is not PapaBird, btw) let 'em know. That's free. If you want to keep your gross distortion of fatherly love private (not posted on the wide interwebs), then shoot them an email asking for a private digitized version to be sent to you. That's what I did -- and we are all still guffawing at the results, especially EGirl. The kind folks at ManBabies said they'd be happy to make more if anyone's interested in this option. They said they'll charge $15 for a custom ManBaby. For me? They are priceless.... Everlasting gratitude to GoodyBlog for the heads-up (heh heh) on the Father's Day gift only a Hunter S. Thompson-addicted daddy would love.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

Thanks to Crunchy Chicken

So, you've heard me write about Crunchy Chicken and her zany challenges (her tagline is "putting the mental in environmental"), but you may not read her blog. I'm here to tell you that she is one entertaining eco-mother clucker. She is the real McCoy, the greenest bird of all MamaBirds. I'm just sayin', I might try to keep the AC off until August, but I am not using cloth instead of toilet paper any time soon. Capiche?

Late last week, Crunchy thought she might throw in the blogging towel since she's got more on her plate than the rest of us combined (she's got two kids, a job, an unpaid calling she can't resist - helping all of us see the greenlight, a garden that could feed all of Seattle from the sounds of it, and, as if she weren't already ten women combined, her husband is battling cancer). Today, in honor of her efforts to help us all be better to our Mother Earth in so many hilarious ways, bloggers across the green 'sphere are joining together to say thanks to Crunchy Chicken.

One of the 17,000 projects near and dear to Crunchy's heart is Goods For Girls, which I've blogged about before. On her own initiative, in about as much time as I usually take to think up and then start cogitating an idea, Deanna started a nonprofit and got reusable pads in the hands of girls in Africa, enabling them to go to school. Those of us who read Deanna's words daily, who avidly appreciate her sense of humor and frank challenges that get us all to motivate in her prompt and I-never-would-have-thought-this-possible fashion, are donating as much as we can in her honor to Goods For Girls. If you read Crunchy Chicken, or even if you are just impressed by the fortitude of someone who's raising two young children and raising the environmental consciousness of hundreds of people while facing her husband's life threatening illness, please consider making a gift to Goods4Girls. Dollars or hand-sewn pads are all welcome.

And by all means, if you haven't read her blog, do check it out! Deanna, thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me snort and sputter on a daily basis as you open my eyes to new paths toward sustainability.

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Thursday, June 5, 2008

High Efficiency Washing Machines

I spent way too much time online this week poring over Consumer Reports, its Greener Choices recommendations, and the gardenweb laundry forums (I know, I know, avert your eyes from my glamorous lifestyle) trying to find the most energy-efficient, water-saving washer possible that works with our family's style of doing laundry. By style of doing laundry, I mean the days that sometimes elapse between the start of a wash cycle and the last fluff of that clean clothing in the dryer. Really, my confession would have to be that I have no spectacular laundry system.

Our old top-loading, not even remotely energy-efficient washer kicked it. Not so shocking, since its sister dryer let out her last gasp right around New Year's (and they were only bought just yesterday in the summer of 2000). If you're wondering what I did this week, I was on my knees, shaking my fists at the sky, wondering why they don't make 'em like they used to. I could swear my parents never bought more than one washer the whole time I was growing up. In reality, I was doing less raging and more wringing out dirty water from sopping wet clothes and trying in vain to find a laundromat. Anyways, I am right behind No Impact Man when he told us to use our appliances until their last dying breath. I'm telling you, nine times out of ten, the answer to being green? Save your money and stop buying stuff. But sometimes, planned obsolescence and shoddy manufacturing force your hand....

I'm posting the factors we wrestled with in the hopes that I can help someone else in their greening-their-laundry decision-making. Someone else who might be, er, chore challenged, to make the greenest of their lot in life. I know that hanging our clothes to dry would be a fantastic move. Alas, even if I wanted to dry my face in a crunchy, stiff towel (kidding!), this option's not for us since we have a)barely any yard front and back -- think no grass at all -- and b)trees in front and back that drop all manner of leaves and bird excrement. Burying my face in bird droppings might be 100% organic, and might even improve my skin, but it's not going to happen. Our saving grace is that newfangled dryers for the most part have moisture sensors which prevent them from heating your clothes to high heaven after they are done.

Back to the washer. The uber expensive uber eco-conscious choice would of course be to get an HE front loading washer. I decided against it after reading of the possibility of a class action suit against the manufacturers of said washers for mildew smells that have ruined clothes, made laundry rooms stink to high heaven and basically negated the convenience of having a washer in your home in the first place. Lots of people duked it out on the many zillion forums I read, arguing that if one always removes the wet clothes promptly, wipes out the washer with a cloth soaked in bleach (!) or vinegar, and always leaves the washer door open, you won't have this problem. Even without the many people who commented that they had done these high maintenance steps and still ended up with a $1000-plus washer filled with mildew? I think I could walk away at the words, "always remove clothes promptly." You know, it's important to know yourself.

After the shock of shooting down the front loaders (which is what I thought we'd get) I was very pleased to realize that I could still pay more for a washer than I thought was humanly possible make an eco-conscious choice. I found a top loading high efficiency washer from Fisher and Paykel that has the benefits of both fresh-smelling clothes and water conservation. Draining down -- no mildew! High efficiency machine from outside the US -- despite failing the buy local test, this means no scrambling to adapt to 2008 water conservation standards with substandard design! Their website has a whole section about eco friendly manufacturing processes and techniques. And no, I didn't get a dime. Although I would be happy to review a free washing machine.

It comes tomorrow...I never thought I'd say it, but I can't wait to warsh my clothes!

*Photo courtesy of lusi at sxc.
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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Perfect Post Award for a BPA Bedtime Story

Perfect Post Award – 0508

Since 2006, Petroville and Suburban Turmoil have held the Perfect Post Awards "in order to share personally captivating posts within a supportive community." I'm pleased to say I got my act together in time this month to submit my fave. My instructions as a presenter said to pick a post "that made you cry, touched your heart, had you laughing out loud or made you believe in magic again. Whatever the word perfect means to you."

Well, friends, you know that a post about bisphenol-A that a)fingers specific corporate PR firms who got paid to spin the poisoning of our children and b)figured out the name of our BPA folk hero in Canada who spearheaded the movement to ban the chemical there spells P-E-R-F-E-C-T to me! The Cleaner Plate Club is one of my favorite food blogs; it's full of great recipes, insightful commentary about food politics, and, best of all, humorous and -- dare I say it again? -- perfect writing. It's a blog started by a mom who, in her words, began to blog in response to: "Hormones in milk. Pesticides on produce. Feces on meat. Say what? I’m not a foodie, I’m rarely a cook, and I don’t have the time for slow food. Truth is, all I’m looking for is a decent meal - preferably one that my kids will eat, as well. So I begin my quest for a cleaner plate. If you’re looking for a better meal - one that is fresh, healthful, and unsullied - then you can consider yourself a member of the Cleaner Plate Club, too."

Sign me up! Without further ado, here's my May 2008 Perfect Post Award: Toxic Plastic and BPA: A Cleaner Plate Club Bedtime Story.

Thanks so much, Cleaner Plate fairy blogmother, for the comprehensive review; I didn't know that Patagonia phased out BPAs three years ago (woo hoo), nor did I know the details of the FDA's weaselly scientific basis for ruling BPA safe. Mostly, though? I love this post because it made me laugh out loud (lines like "my unlikely stud-muffin of a conservative politician, Tony Clement...")

Don't take my word for it, though. Head on over to the Cleaner Plate Club and check it out. For other Perfect Post Award winners, head on over to Petroville.

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