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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

search spring cleaning and community involvement

neighborhood Nextdoor

Now that spring has arrived it’s time for many of you, myself included, to clean out our closets in honor of the spring cleaning tradition. A great way to go about your spring cleaning regimen is to have yourself a neighborhood garage sale. This not only allows you to get rid of your items in a sustainable way (by letting others use them), but also helps strengthen ties through community building.

A new app related to this spring clean up, garage sale, and community building is Nextdoor. Nextdoor is “the free and private social network for neighborhoods.” Secure, password protected, neighborhood websites are created where people can “ask questions, get to know one another, and exchange local advice and recommendations.” This neighborhood website would also be put to good use by organizing a spring cleaning garage sale on it! Also, if you don’t have enough items for a garage sale you can also post items to sell or give away.

Nextdoor has also released some interesting findings with the start of Earth Month (April) in order to “raise awareness for the ways neighbors can come together to conserve resources,” which is exactly what a garage sale can promote. Two interesting figures reported in the websites survey findings about conservation efforts are that: “52% of Americans would be more likely to host a garage sale in spring if they had an easy way to get the word out to their neighbors, and 51% of Americans would engage in carpools with neighbors if they had an easy way to coordinate.”

So, find your neighborhood and help create some community spirit and conserve by visiting to learn more about the app and download it on your mobile device.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day – the Economics, Politics and Battle Ahead

heart-shaped paradise island

Earth Day used to be one, big, warm and fuzzy hug – all about thinking green and celebrating our positive relationship with good ol’ Mother Earth. But then something happened — the economic downturn — precipitated by the collapse of the real estate bubble. Out of that smoldering pile of discontent and unemployment rose a couple of grassroots political movements, one somewhat enduring (the Tea Party) and one on a fast track to extinction (the Occupy movement). Where the Tea Party was quickly embraced (some might say, subverted) by the mainstream Republican machine, the Occupy movement, with its Woodstockian management structure, lack of funding and rudderless approach – quickly disappeared.

Corporations are people… really
In this climate of discontent, big government, all forms of regulation, climate science and anything-Obama quickly became targets of the Tea Party and, by association, the Republican Party, which was then presented with an energized base. Mix-in a SCOTUS decision supporting a newly-minted interpretation of the Constitution that now deemed corporations as people – loosening the restraints on political donations by allowing more money to flow freely into our political system – and you had the makings of new ballgame.

The Koch brothers and other special interest groups took full advantage of the re-alignment in Congress to start chipping away at all the pesky science, regulations and agencies that had been preventing them from more fully maximizing their profits. Global warming was quickly beaten-up and re-branded as climate change. Every cold snap and snowstorm became a talking point questioning the impact and existence of man-made climate change. Extreme storms, rising sea levels, mountains of scientific data, dozens of renowned climate scientists, melting ice caps and rising sea levels made the opposite case.

Science, social programs and environmental regulations were now characterized as Satan’s spawn to a large swath of our population. In this polarized political cauldron, marketing messaging and even news stories have become more targeted, cynical and disingenuous.

The battleground issues…
Fast-forward to today: hydraulic fracking, GMO labeling, the Endangered Species Act, water quality, over-development and emissions standards are now battleground issues for polarized communities. You can experience the depth of the disagreement, distrust and disharmony at most family events, as folks on opposite sides of environmental issues spout their talking points.

Who’s got food issues?
The battle now continues around healthcare reform. A sidebar to that mess is the negative health impact of diets dominated by processed foods and refined sugar – as well as the adverse environmental impact caused by an industrial-scale agribusinesses with an insatiable need for water and prone to the indiscriminate use of pesticides, GMO’s, hormones and fertilizers – making food a definite “buyer beware” situation.

What can we do?
As individual consumers we can make a difference by spending our hard-earned cash in the support of companies, products and organizations that reflect our values and healthful, sustainable practices. Though economics (price) can often dictate buying decisions, investing a modicum of time and energy into uncovering better products – be they organic, sustainable, locally produced or greener in their manufacture – can help you and your family reap the benefits of eating, breathing and living a richer, more earth-friendly existence.

Let’s use Earth Day as a catalyst — it’s time to re-charge our batteries, re-focus our energies and get back in the game – fighting for the lifestyle, as well as political and community issues that matter most. Shopping and buying from local farmers, craftsmen and businesses whenever possible is a great start.

On the political front, armed with the knowledge that compromise isn’t currently a possibility, comes the realization that the ‘green’ community must be as hardcore and energized as the other guys. Don’t let the climate change deniers, creationists and science haters dominate the conversation. Get in there (or out there) and speak your mind.  And why not clean-up that local beach or empty lot while you’re at it…give that Earth Day a hug.

photo: heart-shaped island image via


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Monday, April 21, 2014

Earth Day – Let’s Celebrate

green Earth in the grass

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22nd, and it is time for us “green” people to celebrate. Now this doesn’t mean that the other 364 days of the year aren’t days for being green and living sustainably as well, this just means that Earth Day should be a day to try something new for the environment.

For example, Google+ and Time are teaming up to find beautiful pictures of the planet. If you want to participate and share some of your own pictures, head over to Google+ and share them by hashtagging #MyBeautifulEarth and Google+ will feature the image on a page with all the other pictures as well from now until April 22nd. Also, Time’s photo editors will go through all the submissions and the best will be featured on on Earth Day!

Also, enjoy and Earth Day freebie by visiting a Disney Store on April 22 with at least five plastic bags you’d like to recycle. If you do so, you’ll receive a free Disneynature Bears reusable tote bag, while supplies last!

Or pick an app to help you go green! I’ve done reviews on two of these apps, but here are three that you should check out to do your part for our planet. GoodGuide is used for getting a product’s environmental impact rating, PaperKarma is used to snap photos of unwanted junk mail to remove them from your mailing list, and Rippl is used to help you form eco-friendly habits (I’ll do a review about this soon to give you the full scoop).

Aside from these Earth Day reminders, just remember you can always participate in helping the environment. Look for local beach cleanups in honor of Earth Day or do your own research on what’s going on in your hometown, Tuesday and other days!

related: more eco news from

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Eco-News Roundup – Earth Day’s Here

Mother Earth's Eyeball

Here’s an eco-news roundup for you just before Earth Day, so I will start with a little Earth Day inspiration. Here are 17 inspiring quotes for Earth Day that will hopefully inspire you and get you into a “green” mood.

  • For our other eco-news for the week — I’m sure many of you are familiar with the plight of our bees. If not, here’s an update — our bees are suffering from something called Colony Collapse Disorder causing the bee population to drastically decline. As a result, people are becoming more aware of the effects of pesticides on our bees, especially neonicotinoids, and are lessening their use of such pesticides. To read more about this and a scientific report produced by Greenpeace on “The Bees’ Burden” visit or this local Minnesota news site.
  • Some good news for the Asian environmental movement is that in Singapore “more than 2,000 young people gathered in the heart of Orchard Road on Saturday to commemorate Youth for the Environment Day.” The Second Minister for Environment and Water Resources, Grace Fu, was the guest of honor and spoke about the extreme weather patterns in Singapore and around the world, changing climate, and the proof that humans have an impact on it. Read more about the event at
  • In more good news, “30 countries pledged donations totaling $4.43 billion to the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which will be used over the next four years to help developing countries preserve the environment. These funds will go towards projects to tackle climate change, deforestation, land degradation, species’ extinction, toxic chemicals and waste, and threats to ocean and freshwater resources. Read more about GEF and the donated money @

related: more eco news from The Alternative Consumer

Planet Earth and human eye photo via

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Friday, April 18, 2014

eco-fashion friday finds: Earth Day spin

antler scarf

(above) Are you a fan of Hannibal or True Detective? Then you may also be a fan of this Antler print scarf – with a more positive spin than the tv shows. Handmade of soft, sheer, organic cotton material and printed with awater-based paint, it comes in a variety of lovely colors … the perfect wrap for spring-summer wear. ($19) from Istanbul, Turkey-based, ShebboDesign on etsy.

river pebble and cork bracelet

(above) Don’t be green with envy … FizzCandy Jewelry is gifting this bracelet to A-List celebrities as part of its Earth Day promotion. (I know, not fair)

The bracelet features a fossilized river pebble from Lake Michigan, paired with Bali silver beads and Portuguese cork for a crunchy unisex look. Now if they’d just gift this to ordinary folks … $55

sustainable cork tote

(above) Looking for a special tote? With classic lines, versatile enough for travel, everyday or office … loving this luxurious Essential B Tote from eco-fabulous, Pelcor. Eco-fashioned from naturally sustainable, easily renewable cork; ($215). (more…)

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

eco art: four seasons tree paintings on reclaimed board

seasons paintings on reclaimed wood

Looking for something unique to put on the walls of your loft or apartment? The colorful panels of artist Rafi Perez’s  “Seasons of Change” tree paintings will certainly get the job done. The mixed-medium paintings are a colorful, abstract depiction of the four seasons and are created on reclaimed wood – creating a juxtaposition of new and old, abstract and organic.

seasons paintings on reclaimed wood

Perez creates each piece on commission and has designs in a variety of sizes. Sets of four range in price from $80 to $395 depending on size. Individual panels are also available. Perez maintains his studio in Pensacola, Florida and you can purchase his art online @ the Rafi Was Here Studio shop.

It’s always great to see designers keeping things sustainable by using repurposed and reclaimed materials.

related: more eco art featured on The Alternative Consumer

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