Tag Archives: Environment & Climate Change

Mystical cats and mystical printing methods: What I bought this month

I’ve had this nagging feeling lately that I spend way too much time in front of or looking down at a screen. My eyes are tired and honestly, I’m a bit tired of endless updates (and Trump’s ugly mug).

Now, I’m not sure if it’s super nerdy or quite trendy, but I’ve wanted a so called “adult” coloring book ever since they first came out, and now seemed like the perfect time to get one to help me spend more time being creative and less time screen surfing.

“Mystical Cats in Secret Places”. That’s my new coloring book because yes, I love cats. Since I’ve spent many days drawing in the past, I already have lots of colored pencils I can use. (Digging them out at home I was happy to see they are all plastic free, made in Europe and non toxic.)

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Speaking of books, have you ever flipped a book over at Barnes and Noble to see where it was actually printed?

Funny thing, or sad rather, many of them are made in China. You’ll find that being true for the majority of coloring books as well (kids and adult ones). Yes, we import English books written by American authors from China. It’s a mad world!

When it comes to printing, “made in China” is not only concerning due to the long transport and the outsourcing of jobs, the biggest issue is the environmental impact this business has on local eco systems.

See, it’s actually common for Chinese (and Indian) printers to do all their printing offshore. That means the books are made onboard ships that conveniently release all the excess tint and chemicals straight into the open sea*. It’s a great way for them to escape watchful eyes, avoid regulation and stay super competitive on pricing.  In other words an eco disaster. So take a second and check the origin next time you’re book browsing.

Anyway, less screen time and plenty more mystical cats for me! I’m excited.

As far as the 12 months  – 12 items challenge, this coloring book is my one purchase for August. I spent $13.95 and it is made (onshore) in Canada.

*I first found out about Chinese offshore printing thru _Wastelandrebel_’s instagram account.

 

A four step guide to choosing the eco-friendly fabrics of your life!

My sister suggested a long time ago that I write something about fabrics. She asked: When it comes to shopping planet-friendly, which fabrics should I go for?

Here’s what I’ve come up with, based on internet research, articles I’ve read and some personal eco ideas that make sense to me :)

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Step 1: Go for natural fibers

Post shared on eco-gites.blogspot.com and skipthebag.blogspot.com/

Another trade agreement, another fight

The current political climate is draining me. Stealing away my creativity to write. Making me doubt my belief in the power of good people. A belief this blog is heavily based upon. I always write an Independence Day post, but this year I just couldn’t.

After a painful spring of primaries it seems we are left with two less than desirable candidates. Two candidates without climate change on the agenda. One simply calls it a hoax, the other one wants to continue fracking her way to poisoned water and methane leaks.

Of course it is not just that. There’s his racism, stupidity and the fact that he is completely unqualified. There’s her big bank sponsors, changing of opinions and lies.

All I hear people say is “they’re both so scary.” Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and foreigners say it. Friends, co-workers, people at dinner parties and in elevators say it. So, I keep thinking; how did we get here?

Mainstream media has been calling the Berniecrats “sore losers”. That’s fine, because I am.

Sore from hearing about the missing ballots, how the polling places were closing early and how there were long lines of people waiting to vote (but never getting to). And I must say I’m sore from being punched by statistics reporting that for every 80 minutes that corporate media talked about Trump in 2015, Bernie got 20 seconds.

Yet, Bernie keeps fighting. He’s going to the convention. You don’t have to agree with his politics to admire that commitment. I do though (agree and admire), and I want to fight like that for what I believe in too.

We the people might not be able to change who the presidential hopefuls are at this point, but right now we have a chance to speak out against the proposed TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership).

The TPP follows in the footsteps of other unfettered free trade agreements like NAFTA, CAFTA and the Permanent Normalized Trade Agreement with China (PNTR). These treaties have forced American workers to compete against desperate and low-wage labor around the world. The result has been massive job losses in the United States (3,5 million jobs) and the shutting down of tens of thousands of factories.

Yes, I know, I always say our money is our vote and by buying American-made we can bring jobs back (and that’s true). However taking a stand and opposing the TPP, is an excellent opportunity to really fight for our beliefs.  We have to end trade agreements that encourage outsourcing, threaten environmental laws, increase shipping transport, ruin the middle class and only make the business owners richer.

Read more about the TPP here, and take a stand here. Share the information and get more people involved.

Make me believe in the power of good people again.

(If you have a Trump sign in your yard or a Hillary bumper sticker, don’t bother leaving me a comment.)

You can take me out of Europe, but you can’t take Sweden out of me (an eco-friendly air travel post)

KLM is my favorite cross-Atlantic airline. Not only can we afford the economy comfort seats (4″ more leg room, a bit more recline and a quiet cabin) but the connection in Amsterdam is usually a breeze (knock on wood) and year after year they earn the award for most environmentally friendly airline. Do I appreciate the fact that I can calculate and compensate the CO2 emissions of my flight immediately as I book it? Yes!

First, the contribution made to the “CO2 ZERO program”, as KLM calls it, is directly and fully invested in various sustainable energy projects. On top of their agenda is development and use of bio-fuels, which they estimate can lead up to an 80% reduction of CO2 emission when used on a large scale.

Interested? Take a look at this informative video about the work they’re doing and why! (Another animated one ;))

KLM reduces their energy consumption by the use of lightweight materials on board, fuel-efficient operations and improved engine cleaning methods. And although their tea and coffee cups are 100% biodegradable and the majority of the food is sourced sustainably and locally, the onboard meal service needs a total re-do, if you ask me.  The meals in coach are still served in single-use plastic packaging which, in addition to the food waste, adds up to an incredible amount of garbage for each flight. Reusable dishes, fabric towels and compostable materials (for disposables) shouldn’t be that hard to do. We also need to see the vegan meal become a standard option on all flights. Let’s not settle for the classic “Do you want the meat or the pasta swimming in cheese?” anymore!

The aviation industry is responsible for about 2-3% of the total CO2 volume caused by people. To be honest, I am surprised the number is that low! Compared to all transport, the contribution from aviation is 12% where cars and trucks come in at a combined 74%. Fun fact: Some of the newer planes, Airbus A380, Boeing 787, ATR-600 and Bombardier CSeries aircrafts, use less than 3 liters or 0.8 gallons of jet fuel per 100 kilometers or 62 miles (per passenger). This matches the efficiency of many modern compact cars (and is actually more efficient that many American SUVs).

In collaboration with Delft University of Technology (in Holland), KLM is working on the development of an aircraft they call the “CleanEra”, which will be 50% more efficient and produce 50% less noise. The expectation is that this aircraft could be flight-ready already 2025.

In this global world we live in, I realize we cannot function without air travel. We all use it from time to time and I don’t think electric planes or cross-ocean super shuttles are happening in my lifetime (but I’d love to be proven wrong – Elon Musk, hoping you will do so!) so it’s super important to me that the airline I choose to travel with, do what they can to promote sustainability!

Where are we heading? To the motherland.

Green pine trees, cold fresh air, family, recycling bins in every corner and the best potato salad and candy in the world awaits (nope, not being subjective at all) in my home of Sweden. It was recently named most sustainable country in the world, 99% of trash is reused, recycled or used as bio-fuel, and Sweden aims to be completely fossil fuel free by 2050. No wonder I became an eco-activist ;)

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Don’t forget about me and the blog while I’m gone! Thank goodness for pre-scheduled posts!

Ignorant things people say to environmentalists – and why it’s bullshit

Many people seem to have an issue with anyone they meet, who is fighting to end any type of injustice. Ridicule of such fighters and denial of the issues are common traits for the ignorant bunch. Normally, I just smile and shrug my shoulders, but since it bugs me, I decided to compile the best advice and comments I’ve gotten as an environmentalist, into this blog post.

It may make you feel defensive, if you’re the type of person handing out this kind of “advice”, or maybe you’ll read and nod because this happens to you too! Either way, here it goes:

1.“Much good recycling will do when you drive THAT car”

First, let me make this clear; I don’t drive MORE miles in my car in order to recycle or bring my reusable bottle. That means that by minimizing landfill waste, I am doing a good thing for the environment and the climate (reducing methane emissions and saving energy), which has absolutely NOTHING to do with my car.

Second, since I am an environmentalist, I’m against all fuel-burning activities and I am planning to get away from it as soon as technology and means align. In the meantime, I do all I can to compensate for my using of fuel. Such actions include, but are not limited to: recycling, attempting zero waste, no one-time-use plastic, CO2 compensating, walking or biking when I can, reduced consumption, shopping local, buying organic produce, supporting environmental organizations, saving water and last but not least, eating mostly plants. What are you actually doing in order to carbon compensate for your burgers, your imported sweatshop shirts and your car?

To make a point of just how stupid this comment is, here are similar statements: “Much good turning off the lights will do when you have a refrigerator” or “Much good working-out will do when you had lunch today”.

I rest my case.

ignoramt

2.”Shouldn’t you be driving a Prius?”

Oh, the beloved Prius comment. And, no, I find them slow, not great looking and I happen to have another car for now. Hybrid cars still use fossil fuel and motor oil and have twice as many engine components as conventional cars. Maybe a Prius won’t work for my family’s camping trips or maybe I need to drive off-road when I’m saving wild animals from plastic waste you threw away. Maybe I can’t afford to change cars right now. Whatever reason there is for me not having a Prius, please stop assuming I should. If you think driving a hybrid alone equals being eco-friendly, you have a long way to go. On another note, shouldn’t you be getting out of my face?

3.“Leonardo DiCaprio says he’s an environmentalist, but he travels in his personal jet”

Here’s something that might baffle the ignorant: all conservation efforts take tools and transport. No matter how hard we try to not travel, in order to make an impact we need to be at the right place at the right time, show up for meetings, debate and participate. Leo can’t orb and he is a public figure, so he flies in his jet.

I read an interview recently, where Leo said that what inspires him most in his work for the environment, is when he travels and gets to see beautiful places, yet untouched by man. It gives him hope and inspires him to do things like, invest 45 million dollars in conservation projects.

Last time I checked, you took a flight for no better reason than going on vacation, so why are you judging someone else for flying?

And maybe Leo’s jet runs on bio-fuels (estimated to reduce flight emissions by up to 80%) and transports a team of 20+ people. You don’t know his deal, so shut the beep up.

4.“The fossil-fuel-protesters showed up in kayaks made of fossil fuel. Stupid!”

Wow. You know what? I’m pretty sure some of them wore North Face fleece sweaters and had sneakers on with plastic soles too. They may also have been wearing life vests and glasses with plastic frames. Matter much?

Sounds like you don’t understand why they were protesting (in their emission-free transportation). Let me tell you.

They were protesting against a large corporation being allowed to drill for MORE oil, inside of an important eco-system. You see, what they’re saying is this: “We realize there has been oil for a long time, we just don’t want to endanger more species and habitats by drilling for more. Further, we want to stop new drilling sites all together so that industries and inventors have to come up with smarter ways to make material for our kayaks, fleeces and glasses. Preferably something non-toxic this time that doesn’t make a corrupt industry richer.”

By judging their kayaks, you are proving your ignorance and how little you understand about the environmental importance of the protest. Focusing on the method of protest, is just a cheap trick to divert attention from the topic of protest (everyone knows that). And, again, conservation efforts take transport and tools. And I promise you, they didn’t buy new kayaks for that ONE protest. They had them already, borrowed them from friends or rented them. I’m sure there was zero consumption related to their protest.

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5.“You’re an idealist. It doesn’t make economic sense to change”

Now that’s a lie. Are you telling me that it doesn’t make economic sense for restaurants and coffee shops to not provide one-time-use to-go cups? That it doesn’t make economic sense to bring my own shopping bags to the store? That is doesn’t make economic sense to stop polluting the oceans so we still have marine life in 100 years?

The technology needed for us to transition to 100% green energy is already here, and as it gets bigger and better it will provide millions of jobs. We have to re-think, re-build and re-plan everything. Sure, for crude loving companies like Exxon and Koch Industries it doesn’t make economic sense. But are you seriously routing for the polluting billionaires?

Point is; I’m not idealistic. But you, dear, are lazy and conservative, and probably very scared of change. Mostly I think you are worried that people like me are right (why else would you put me down?) and sooner or later you will have to admit that. If not because you realize it on your own, but because rules and regulations will force you to change your consumption driven, fossil dependent, one-time-use behavior. But don’t worry; I’m not going to criticize your choices in front of all your friends or colleagues, like you do mine. I’m just leading by example, knowing I’m right, while you’re, honestly, simply being ignorant (isn’t it blissful?!).

I’ll let you in on a little secret; all living humans, including environmentalists, have a carbon footprint. An environmentalist in the west’s footprint is most definitely larger than that of a person in a third world country; we consume more food, have more possessions, use electricity and most of us have private transport. The only way to not have a carbon footprint is to end one’s stay here on the planet. But since we are having a good time, we want to hang around for a while. What we are trying to do is to minimize our footprints, work for change and encourage awareness so collectively the whole world can minimize their footprints too.

Now to end this rant. I wrote this blog post on a computer; a device that contains rare earth metals and plastic, consumes energy and was made unethically in China. (I also drank some tea.) So go ahead ignorant bunch, say it. “Much good blogging will do when you have a computer”.

Yeah, that one is on me.

 

*Phrases in pink are from the song “Step off” by Kacey Musgraves.

2 years on the challenge: Not made in China GURU – c’est moi!

2015 has been an amazing year! Not because anything particularly amazing has happened, on the contrary, but I have learned so much this year; by dealing with life’s ups and downs, making mistakes and frankly by researching a hell of a lot, looking for answers and watching documentaries.

2014 was all about “surviving” this challenge of mine, just avoiding the made in China traps and looking long and hard at what I actually needed to buy vs. what I wanted to buy. 2015, on the other hand, has taken me and the challenge so much further, turning me into a shop local champ and close to living somewhat sustainably (still have a long way to go!). Shopping not made in China is actually easy now!

During the entire year of 2015, I have participated in buying only these (very) few items made in China:

  1. Plastic frames for prescription eye-glasses for my husband (one pair of sunglasses, one regular pair)
  2. Two pairs of foot-friendly Merrell sneakers for my husband.

Isn’t that an amazingly short list?! Hurray! Glasses and footwear are two of few items, I consider “need to have” so I don’t feel too bad about my felonies! About the sneakers, he got two pairs from China and I got three pairs from Vietnam… so we both went sweatshop there. Anyone else come close to that low number? Take a look around your home, just for fun, to see where your new purchases were made!

I’ve had a lot of people read my blog this year, mostly because I have shared it on social media and people with curious minds have clicked my links. Nothing is more awesome than having someone say “You have made me think of that” or “Because of you I did this”. It means so much to me. I believe that most people want to do right, by each other and by the planet; they just don’t have the simple tools or the knowledge to do so – yet. I am really just trying to inspire while I’m constantly learning more!

2015 lookback

There was a time when mankind thought the earth was flat. There was a time when some people said Climate Change wasn’t due to human actions. Wait, oops, that’s now…

So that said, here’s a list of a few easy eco-changes I’ve made this year in addition to shopping made right (here):

  1. I’m now pretty much vegetarian (but I’m not putting a label on it). I made this change in order to save water, CO2, methane emissions, forests, and energy. Basically save the planet! (Yes, I saw the Cowspiracy movie!)
  2. Our household now has 10% solar & 90% wind powered electricity. Finally found a provider serving our area offering only renewable energy! Whooo!
  3. Cut my hair to shoulder length! I’d like to think I did it to save water, shampoo, and products, but I did it to look cute. Still, the savings are a bonus :)
  4. Stopped using my trashcan at work. I noticed the cleaning crew changed the bag every day, even if there was just a tiny thing in it. Now I walk 20 steps to the kitchen. Exercise! And that is 240 plastic bags saved, per year, for ONE person.

It’s 2016! I will keep blogging, keep bugging you all (yay) and keep my optimism and passion for the environment because I believe passion is contagious!

Remember; The Not Made in China Challenge is not just about China. It’s about knowing where your possessions came from, how they were made and how they affect our planet. We all need to process that knowledge and take it seriously. What you choose to buy or not to buy is your vote and your impact on the world market.

This is the NOT MADE IN CHINA CHALLENGE 2016! I am psyched for this year – is this the year I will have ZERO items on my China-felonies count?

Thanks for reading! Come back and visit :)

Why in the world are you building another GAS station?

Next to the office building where I work, ExxonMobil just finished building a new gas station. I pass by it every day, and every day, I can’t help but think about what a stupid, short term, investment that was.

We don’t need another convenience store; there’s a Walgreens around the corner. We don’t need bad gas station coffee; there’s a Starbucks only a few blocks away. So why are they building it?

Oh, for the gas you say. Well, we’ll see about that.

One must have been living under a rock lately to have missed the electrical vehicle revolution started by a certain American made electrical car with a driving range of up to 280+ miles on one charge. With Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk in the driver’s seat and recently fueled by Volkswagen’s diesel scandal, this trend has only one way to go; up, up and up. Said scandal, I believe, is what I’d like to call a blessing in disguise, as the only way for VW to come back from this nasty, fossil fuel scam, is to go all electric.

Volvo just announced their EV coming in 2019, Porsche is building a luxury EV to compete with Tesla’s model S, Toyota has pledged to have a completely fossil-free fleet by 2050 (I think it will be sooner than that), Audi is making a whole line of electric cars, the list goes on…

Now that you’ve read this far into the post, it’s time for the fossil-lovers, also known as the corrupt crew, to say their “we’ll always need gas” line and their famous “your electricity comes from coal anyway” response. And don’t forget the “they can’t handle the battery disposal”. Ok, thank you, great input, way to think outside of the box on your part, I appreciate your insight.

There’s some truth to what “they” say. Heavy trucks, to name one type of vehicle, will probably run on gas or diesel for a while yet, and some areas are energized by coal or other fossils – for now. Trust me, that will change, there is no stopping solar. Toyota recently designed and built a solar driven power station for Yellowstone’s Buffalo Ranch, using old Toyota Camry Hybrid batteries (deemed no longer suitable for the auto industry, but have many years left in other applications), and solar panels so the park can run off the grid, noise free, pollution free. There are endless possibilities for batteries.

Back to the new ExxonMobil gas station on my way to work. I’m talking a two lane, two way street, 35 mph speed limit. Not a highway, not a freeway. No heavy traffic comes through here. No trucks will need to stop here for gas. And in only a few years, neither will any cars.

Which commuter, in their right state of mind, will stop at a gas station in 90 degree heat or zero degree winter air, to fill up their tank in the morning, when they could have had the car fully charged in their garage during the night? Who will opt for that old technology; pulling over, getting out of the car, touching those germy handles and buttons, while smelling that gas smell? Writing that reminds me of days when one had to find a pay phone to call home and drive to blockbuster to rent a movie. Yeah, I don’t think anyone misses that.

Seriously, dude? Stop this nonsense.
Seriously, dude? Stop this nonsense.

Commuting, less than 280 miles per day, is what most citizens use their cars for every day, meaning most will buy an EV when the market is ready. I plan on hanging around long enough to see more and more gas stations go out of business. I think we should turn the land into urban parks; grow trees, flowers, and have picnic tables. With all the newly found fresh air and noise free streets, thanks to our electrical, silent, zero emission vehicles, that makes for a pretty darn nice coffee break.

ExxonMobil, you rich bitch, I can’t wait to see you go out of business.

Please don’t take my tag away from me! (What I learned from Cowspiracy)

Whenever there is a new documentary on Netflix promising to get our wheels turning, we always watch it. Watch, absorb, discuss, research and make necessary changes. So when Leonardo DiCaprio (my favorite eco-celebrity) posted that “Cowspiracy” was available, we knew we had to watch it.

There’s a lot to be learned from watching this amazing movie about how agriculture, raising livestock and eating meat, beef in particular, impact our environment. I will not be able to do the movie justice by attempting to summarize what it’s all about; you have to see it (and listen!) for yourself.

Personally, we knew eating meat was bad for the environment (cow burps and farts = methane), but honestly, we had no idea to what extent.

Water usage, meat vs. plant
Water usage, meat vs. plant

One of the sources interviewed in this fantastic movie said something like; “No meat-eater can call themselves an environmentalist”. Based on the fact that livestock is the largest global source of methane and nitrous oxide pollution, number one reason for deforestation, causes drought and produces excessive amounts of waste, to name a few issues; there’s no doubt that he is right.

This blog is all about tags. I’m always saying we must check the tag to see what something contains, where something is made, what a brand stands for. Tags and labels are important, and when it comes to myself, I like to think my tag says “made in Sweden”, contents: opinionated (150% of daily recommended value) environmentalist. I can’t have my tag taken away from me!! I’ve built a whole blog around my tag! Must eat better!

Land it takes to have a steak.
Land it takes to have a steak.

We saw the movie a few months ago, and since then, low, lower, lowest meat consumption for me and hubby. It’s not like we ate beef several times a week, and I was already doing meat-free-lunch every day, but we’ve stepped up our game dramatically. It hasn’t been a very hard change for me to be honest. But, yes, I do need to work on my vegan-cooking skills. I love cooking, so I am sure I’ll get better in time (that’s the optimist in me talking).

You know we’re saving for our first made right (here) Tesla, and here’s an interesting fact from the movie; switching to an electric vehicle (from a gas driven) will save a teeny bit more CO2 per year, than what switching to a plant based diet from a meat based diet will (only talking CO2 not the other worse greenhouse gases). But, how easy is it to change the purchases at the grocery store today compared to saving up and buying a new car? Exactly, that’s a no-brainer; start at the grocery store. Combined, these two changes are dynamite – in a good way.

We must all admit that we don’t know everything, and we all have the right to be wrong – that’s the cool thing about being human. We are wrong to eat meat in the vast amounts that we are, and the solution is really simple.

This movie got the world talking. It got me and my friends talking. Thank you Leo and Cowspiracy, that is truly grand.

3 gases

Pictures are from Cowspiracy’s Facebook page and copyright Culinary Schools.org. Read more at cowspiracy.com.

Personal note: I reduce the amount of non-recyclable packaging I bring into our home, by not buying meats. It’s also easier to check tags on veggies than it is on meats (and processed foods) making it easy to shop local.

Halloween – The scariest holiday of them all! Boo!

Despite the fact that I love orange, Halloween is my least favorite American holiday. I’m not even sure that, per definition, Halloween can be labeled as such. The reasons for my dislikes are simple.

First reason: The amount of merchandise people buy is an outrage considering the length of time they will enjoy it. Halloween is ONE day. And yes, it’s all imported, low quality China crap. For someone on a shop local mission – this is pure horror.

Made in China at its finest: Happy
Made in China at its finest: Happy “Neewollah” y’all! Thank you Martha Stewart; great call.

Second reason: Sugar overload, with a side of processed, for all little kiddos – need I elaborate?

Third reason: Candy wrapper frenzy. Individually packaged, small pieces of candy – that must be the most wasteful way of using plastics in packaging. These wrappers aren’t being recycled (not sure they can be?) and some of which will get lost outside trick or treating and end up in our lands and waters. Pretty much any zero waster’s worst nightmare.

No, I ain’t joking friends; this rant is dead serious.

I did hear a few of my friends saying they were reinventing old costumes this year; using big brother’s old outfit for little sister, which is definitely a good way to reuse and save money and help the environment! Here’s another idea to save; since you find sustainability and mindfulness so scary, why don’t you dress up as environmentalists? It’s easy. Just wear your normal clothes, hand out fruits and veggies as your treats, and mind your waste.

On a lighter note, we got invited to a pot-luck on Saturday, no costumes necessary, just good ole’ fall fun (yay!). Since I am refusing to buy anything even remotely related to this eco-terrifying “holiday”, a garden pot-luck is the perfect way to celebrate!

I’ll be wearing my favorite orange outfit and I can’t wait to try some pumpkin soup. If the time is right, and the crowd is right, (I’ll be the judge of that, thank you!); I’ll probably rant a bit about my Halloween-dislikes too. Happy Halloween; Anna-style.

Boo!

Come on ladies, there is nothing sustainable about H&M

hm2Ever since I fell in love with a blouse with giraffes from H&M’s “Conscious Collection” and obviously fell for their brilliant marketing ploy and bought it, I’ve thought a lot about H&M. At the same time, I’ve also seen them pop up here and there in blogs I read, often mentioned in a context of sustainable fashion, presented as being a company on the forefront of sustainability. They may be on the right path (finally), but “sustainable” is not a label they have the right to wear.

Why? It’s time to share some of my own thoughts on H&M.

1. Let’s talk about The Conscious Collection, which has gotten a lot of media lately, and indeed is a good initiative. A rack of sustainably made, recycled fabric garments, placed immediately inside of the entrance to the store, that gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling about your shopping experience. Maybe you’ll be so excited about the collection that you forget that the clothes in the rest of the store, in other words 95% of their merchandise, were made without a conscience and non-sustainably. That’s what that collection label ultimately tells you, just like bread with an “organic” label at the grocery store tells you the rest of the bread is, in fact, not organic. Why else would H&M need to single that collection out and have a special label and special rack for those garments? Fail.

2. H&M launched a big campaign to inform everyone that you can drop off your old clothes at their stores, and they will recycle them* and in return you get a coupon. People seem to think recycling means you are eco-friendly, that recycling in all of its glory is the answer to our environmental problems. Wrong! Yes, recycling is great, but it’s the third part and last resort of the golden rule of sustainability. The first part is to reduce; a fact that H&M has no interest in doing. Heck, they give you a coupon so that you will shop more! Maybe the same day you brought items in for recycling you’ll buy something new, using your well-deserved coupon (“you did something eco-friendly, you recycled, now treat yourself to something new, you’ve earned it”). Second part of the rule, reuse; an activity H&M makes hard by mostly selling garments of lower quality, in styles which will only be on trend for about five more minutes. (I will tell you, I have a few good-quality H&M pieces in my closet, which I plan on reusing and enjoying for a long time.) H&M are completely ignoring part one and pushing the boundaries of part two, they actually encourage opposite behavior, yet people applaud them for doing part 3 recycling?! Fail.

3. The only way to sell a top for 10 dollars and make profit, is to have it made for less than one. Where can that type of manufacturing thrive? Only in factories paying minimum wage to workers in developing countries. That means everything in H&M’s US stores is imported, mostly from China, shipped here by polluting container ships. Fail.

4. H&M is actually one of the biggest thugs in the fashion industry as they keep prices low, all year long, and has new styles on the shelves every week which is great for encouraging impulse purchases and overconsumption of clothes. Most of which is sold to teens and young, trendy adults, who’s last season looks will end up in landfill as their closets are already over-flowing. “Quantity over Quality” does not a sustainable company make. Fail.

H&M should not be thought of as a sustainable company; please stop saying, blogging, thinking, sharing that they are. Adding a small eco-collection, does not make up for a buy-and-toss company philosophy. H&M represents the core of what is wrong in the fashion industry; fast, disposable, cheap. Don’t get fooled by their brilliant marketing department –  because brilliant is indeed what they are.

H&M is a trendy company and sustainable fashion is trending now, it’s as simple as that. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what the label “Conscious Collection” secretly means? They are fully aware (conscious) of the ongoing, important eco-trend.

Sadly, we bought it.

hm

*Recycling fabric technology is still in its early stages and, as far as I know, not yet a very energy efficient process. What is deemed not ‘recyclable’ is donated, which has proven to be another fake eco-friend, as it just means moving garment waste from one fortunate country to one less fortunate, already overflowing with western used clothes. Landfill is still landfill.

This week’s impulse purchase: A few tons of CO2 and some trees

Have you ever experienced the mysterious ways your friends like things on Facebook?

What I mean is this: Post a picture of yourself in a new dress, tag it #MadeinUSA #OutfitILove and get 25 likes, five comments and 100 views on the blog. Post a link to a relevant article on land destruction (so sad) or animals being saved from captivity (yay); get two likes, no comments, no views. (One of those likes being from my husband.)

So when I came across this video and shared it and no one seemed to care, I figured I’d share it here too. Maybe a few eco-conscious followers will watch it :)

I didn’t know who Prince Ea was before I stumbled upon his important message. He is saying EXACTLY what I want to tell people who seem to not have woken up yet. We have one planet.

Favorite Quote: “What ever you are fighting for; Racism, Poverty, Feminism, Gay Rights or any type of Equality – It won’t matter in the least, because if we all don’t work together to save the environment we will be Equally Extinct.”

No matter your cause; saving wildlife, planting trees, cutting back on meat, shopping sustainably, living homemade, committed to zero waste, driving electric… One way or another, you have probably implemented these changes in your life with an intention of doing better for our planet. And the thing is, once you start walking down one eco-path, you quickly embrace another. Why? Because they make sense.

Thanks to all the bloggers who inspire me to walk new paths! And, of course, thanks to Price Ea who made me make an impulse purchase (I hardly ever do!) in order to save some trees :)

trees

Must give cudos to Stand for Trees for not asking for my home address or offer to send me some sort of “thank you gift”. Above PDFs in an email, was all I got and wanted.

Got some money burning in your pocket? Donate here to plant some trees and support clean air and lives:

Stand for Trees

“Sweatshop” – Ready to see the (sad) story of your imported clothes?

I talk a lot about pollution, shipping and waste on this blog, as it is the reason why I am on a shop local mission! The health of this planet has such a big place in my heart, so for me, that’s the motivator.

However, I know many people around me relate and are more motivated by injustice, cruelty or by gaining insight into other people’s stories and their welfare. Many donate to save starving children or to better situations for people in need, while I would donate to an environmental organization. The world needs all of us.

That’s why I am sharing this link to a 12 minute episode today, (trailer below) which I first saw on the blog The Delicate Tension a couple of weeks ago. It scared me, but also made me feel like I am definitely on the right path. Long story short; three western youngsters who live to shop, go to Cambodia to experience first hand, the life of a sweatshop factory worker making about $100 a month, in order to understand where and how their clothes were made.

I feel like I am taking a stand against this kind of industry with how I shop. Are we at risk of putting garment workers out of work temporarily if we stop shopping? Probably. But how else do we show the big chains (who use sweatshops) that we don’t accept it? What do you think?

Maybe you have noticed that while this is a “not made in China challenge”, when it comes to clothes I try to buy 100% US made. This is because I consider all clothes to be luxury items; things I want but don’t NEED. (I think we all need to be honest with ourselves when it comes to what clothes we actually need). For me, buying a top from Bangladesh or Cambodia just because I think “it looks cute on me” is not ok per this challenge either, even if the tag per definition doesn’t say China; it’s just not worth the import. (Factory workers in USA don’t make great money either, but there are regulations here I do feel more comfortable with.)

I hope you feel inspired to look at your consumption after watching this clip, just in case my pollution propaganda ain’t working. I’m pretty tough, but this series made me tear up.

If you want to watch the whole series (there are five episodes and it’s worth the time), click here. If the link above for some reason doesn’t work, here’s another to that same video.

Thanks for reading.

In a world of apps; my memories are still handwritten

I bet you didn’t know that USA organizers, calendars and day-planners are made in China – did you?

As an eco-girl I should be using some kind of “app-planner”, but I just don’t want to! I love lying in bed before sleep, writing some notes on what happened to me during the day, without the glare of a screen. My planners never end up in landfill though, I keep them all, and sometimes I go back and remember a random Wednesday from two years ago; maybe we saw a movie, went swimming or had delicious spaghetti.

plannerThat being said, the paper industry is a big polluter. You can read all about it on Wikipedia, it does not paint a pretty picture.

USA has hundreds of paper mills… yet we can’t seem to find the resources among the 100,000,000’s of tons of paper and paperboard they produce to make planners? I guess not; since all of the planners I saw at Barnes & Noble, except two, were made in China. The two best options were bound here, but the paper may still be imported! How can that be a better business case than using paper made here? – I wonder.

My choice was between Quo Vadis and Gallery Leather; both bound in USA. I picked Gallery Leather since the size was just right, had a weekly planner (best layout for me) and there was one in salmon color screaming my name (Hubby said “oh, that’s soo you!”). Researching it more, Quo Vadis would have been a better eco-choice as they are committed to materials from certified sustainable forests, no bleaching, water recycling, 100% controlled sourcing – to name a few environmental initiatives they have taken. At least the leather cover of my planner is handcrafted in Maine, I like that.

At the end of day, a planner can be made “here”, but with like many other paper products; hardly ever made “right”…

I still enjoy my planners! The little things you do every day are the things to cherish down the line; it’s nice to have a place to keep them, handwritten.

planner 2

Eat Local, Shop Local – Let your t-shirt do the talkin’

I’ve had a huge crush on Locally Grown Clothing ever since I bought their baby onesies for our friends’ baby last year. I’ve been dying to wear an outfit with a statement too! I finally got my act together and ordered a t-shirt online. It was very hard to pick a statement since there are so many good ones, but I ended up with something I am very passionate about; Buy Local, Good food. Yes!

tee

The confirmation email I got, after hitting that dangerous purchase button, said “Allow up to three weeks for your order to arrive”. This is of course because they make the tees upon order, instead of stocking all versions they offer, which makes perfect sense for a sustainable, small company. I respect the hell out of that.

It turns out, that as a somewhat frequent internet shopper and citizen of 2015, I was not prepared to wait that long. I was getting a little nervous. “You have to call them and check” said both my bestie and my husband, but I assured them (crossing my fingers) “They said three weeks”. Eventually it got here; a teeny, sustainable looking package with a great smelling (yes it was!) navy t-shirt inside, which of course made me love this company even more.

Locally Grown has a great made right here concept (made in Iowa y’all!), soft fabrics and eco-friendly statements: this is right up my alley. Read more about their story here.

Next time, when it’s time to get another t-shirt; I will know that, for once, great things do come to those who wait.

lcg

Photo credits: Shutterluv by Ashley.

My five zero goals; inspired by you #zerowaste

I’ve been really inspired lately by quite a few excellent blogs written by people who aim to live life with zero waste. #zerowaste bloggers are crafty, innovative, smart and caring! They remind us of how we can all live a more sustainable and appreciative life.

All these great posts made me think about that I actually have a few “zero hashtags” of my own, in addition* to the brilliant, say-it-all-in-one-tag: #zerowaste.

Believe me, I know they all fall on a scale of impossible to very impossible (and nobody is perfect!), but you know what they say; aim for the stars and you may reach the treetops.

zero- 1. Zero Made in China (Zero Imports). Buy local stuff, all the time. Start with made in town, state, country, part of the world… Work my way out. Some things are quite easy, like veggies, some things are hard, like good looking shoes. (By all means, correct me if I’m wrong!)

2. Zero Chemicals. No lotions and potions in the bathroom with any ingredients I can’t pronounce.

3. Zero Processed Foods. Actually, this one is probably the easiest of all my zero goals! Except bread – does that count? Will still buy and eat bread (I’m a terrible baker, don’t even go there).

4. Zero Oil for Fuel and Energy. We’re saving up for our first Tesla! Yes, we are! And we hope to one day be energy independent. Reaching for the stars here? Well, so is Elon Musk (literally).

5. Zero Bad and Grumpy Days. Move forward with a happy spirit, banish worrying and always remember that everything will work out :)

That’s it!

Maybe you have some zeros of your own to pursue? If not, go ahead and borrow mine. Feel free to alter, add and customize as needed. See, that’s another cool tag I like, it’s called #reuse.

*We are not a household committed to 100% zero waste. Yes, we are always mindful about waste and packaging, but it would be an insult to people committed to a zero waste lifestyle, to say that we are.