Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Price of Green

We’re facing an economic crisis unlike anything since the Great Depression and understandably people are hunkering down and questioning their purchasing decisions. In the past few months, I’ve heard many consumers and business colleagues say that they just cannot afford to be Green right now. If you define Green as I did last week in this blog, then basically by not being Green, they are putting their personal health, their family’s health and the future health of our planet on hold. As if they will just wait until they have the extra money to get well.

I’m not willing to take those risks, but I am concerned about the financial crisis. So I’m sharpening my pencil and looking differently at my consumption with a Green eye towards Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. By being a little smarter, I can both save money and practice my Green lifestyle.

1. Transportation: when I take the bus or walk to/from work instead of taking a cab I can save money (Savings: $0 or $2 vs. $8 one way so I can save up to $16 a day).
Reduce: Saves my community from additional carbon emissions and conserves fuel.

2. Home cooked meals: when I cook at home with my organic produce I can make a healthier meal than eating out or ordering in and I can make it last for days. For instance, a roast organic chicken can be the main course on Saturday night, and then I’ll cook up the bones and extra meat in a chicken soup that we can eat on Sunday night and freeze the rest for a few other meals. (Savings: one $9 chicken can feed us for up to 5 nights).
Reuse: Saves my family’s health and supports organic farmers.

3. Homemade cleaning supplies: when you start to clean with white vinegar and water, you realize that you don’t need strong cleaning supplies for everyday cleaning. White vinegar disinfects, shines and deodorizes virtually everything. (Savings: just $1.79 for 32 oz. multipurpose white vinegar vs. at least $3.29 each for many 32 oz. regular cleaning products)
Reduce and Recycle: Saves time shopping for multiple cleaning products. Glass bottle is easily recycled.

4. Drink clean water: when I don’t buy bottled water and instead drink clean, filtered water. (Savings: at least $1.50 for each 8 oz. bottle.)
Reuse: Saves me money when I use my reusable water bottle.

5. Line dry clothes: when my apartment building doubled their dryer prices to $1.50 per load, I decided to reduce my dryer load and instead hang as much as I could on a clothing line in my bathroom. (Savings: $4.50 a week based on line drying three $1.50 loads)
Reduce: Saves on energy costs with less dryer use.

These are just a few ideas and I’m sure you have more to share. To live Green, you don’t need to spend more money. In these tough economic times, we need to think about basic economic principles. If people stop buying Green now then the price to be Green will only increase. To bring these costs down, we must continue to increase demand.

We’ve come so far in mainstreaming Green over the past few years, let’s not revert back to the days when being Green was an elite club. When you see organics at Wal-Mart, it is a good thing for our wallets. When you buy Green products, Green companies will continue to grow, innovate and improve their products. Now is not the time to stop being Green, but rather it is time to be a smarter shade of Green. Perhaps this shift requires a new word for our Green movement: Sage Green.

For more Green:

Sunday, September 14, 2008

What is Green?

Last week a new friend sheepishly asked me what “Green” really meant.

This question reminded me of how I started my Going Green blog in order to help people everywhere learn how to start going Green. I had thought that being Green had been a bit too exclusive…a club where you needed to know the handshake before you could join. I hoped that this Green blog would start to change that pattern and bring anyone who wanted to join under the Green tent. A place where you can ask questions and expect to get an understandable, practical, expert answer.

Since Green is personal, I thought I’d share what Green means to me and then invite you to do the same.

- Green is taking conscious care of your self, your family, your home and your planet (i.e.; buying organic foods, keeping you home safe from toxic chemicals, driving a hybrid car, taking public transportation)
- Green is about good choices, made everyday in lots of small ways .(i.e.: turning off lights, riding your bike, joining a local farmer’s co-op)
- Green is a consumer lifestyle based on eco-friendly products, using less energy, natural health and wellbeing (i.e.: using safe, natural, non-toxic cleaning products, buying energy star electronics)
- Green is multigenerational and appeals to a broad demographic (i.e.: kids, teenagers, moms, adults and baby boomers)
- Green is transforming business, marketing and consumer purchasing habits (i.e.: demanding new accountability from churches, schools and government run buildings)
- Green is about choosing goods and services that use economic and environmentally sustainable business practices (i.e. supporting local organic farmers, drinking fair trade coffee, buying bamboo products)
- Green is about encouraging like-minded people to share tips and advice on how to live in an eco-friendly world in a non-confrontational way
- Green is about acknowledging the mistakes of our past and being a part of shaping our future. The first step is the hardest…

I then think of Green at three different levels:
1. personal green: the basics of good, wholesome, healthy nutrition and the use of safe non-toxic products
2. local green: the environment in our homes and our community
3. global green: how to protecting oil soils, our forests, our air and our planet

As I stated, this is simply my definition of “Green” and I’d love to hear yours.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Natural Beauty Products Review: Shampoos, Conditioners and Hair Gel

Britney wants more, Paris needs less and everyone wants Jennifer’s. Hair tops the list of what women obsess about the most. A great hair day can give us confidence and a little bounce in our step.

But what price do we pay for gorgeous hair? Does great hair have to be a byproduct of rubbing dangerous chemicals into our scalp that seep through the skin and blood, to circulate to every corner of our bodies? Nature is on the way to save you and your hairdo.

It is simply critical to use natural hair products that don’t use sodium lauryl sulfate or other chemical surfactants. SLS is a manmade substance manufactured from a toxic petroleum derivative, ethylene oxide gas, that believe me is neither ecological nor sustainable. To bring nature back to my hair, I started experimenting and sampling months ago and used 10 different organic and all natural hair products on a random basis, switching brand shampoos/conditioners/hair gels each day. So when I developed a very itchy dry scalp and clogged hair follicles (nasty scalp pimples!) for the first time in my life, I had no idea which product I had reacted adversely to. So it was back to the drawing board with a strict 5 consecutive days of one brand experiment before I switched to another. I learned which ones I must avoid, which ones really worked, and now can say my hair has never looked so shiny and healthy and clean.

After weeks of experiments in my shower laboratory, I have discovered those hair products that are 100% natural and 100% gorgeous. And since I like a good lather, I prefer products that still allow me to make my soapy hair soup without sodium lauryl sulfate or other chemicals. I’ll confess that I am blessed with pretty great hair – dark brown, shiny, slight wave, normal to oily, shoulder length and overall easy to manage. So I don’t have major hair issues except that my hair is sensitive to change. It can lose its shape pretty quickly in a strong wind, after a good head tossing nap or 4 hours in an airplane. So I added these factors to my natural experiment and exposed my hair to the elements and as many naps as possible.

My recommended natural hair products:
- Max Green Alchemy: all pure plant origin products, certified vegan and cruelty-free
o Scalp Rescue Shampoo, Conditioner and Hair gel: shampooed into a great lather, conditioned well to strengthen and shine, gel is alcohol-free without waxy build up; 100% plant derived, chemical-free, paraben-free and this amazing trio cured my itchy dry scalp while proving gentle enough for everyday use
o Skin Deep score: 0.7!
- Dr. Hauschka: this company practices sustainable, eco-friendly business practices from recyclable and biodegradable packaging to organic and naturally derived ingredients, all free of synthetic fragrances
o Nasturtium & Lemon shampoo: for normal to oily hair; $13 for 8.4 oz.
o Apricot & Sea Buckthorn shampoo: for dry to damaged hair; $13 for 8.4 oz.
o Jojoba & Marsh Mallow Conditioner: $14.50 for 8.4 oz.
o Skin Deep score: not rated
- Burt’s Bees: an earth friendly, natural personal care company making a wide range of natural products formulated to help you maximize your well-being and protect your environment – and to make our busy lives easier, these winners are widely available in health food and drug stores.
o More Moisture Raspberry & Brazil Nut Shampoo: uses coconut and sunflower oils to naturally clean, raspberry extract antioxidants to protect hair from sun and pollution and naturally smell “Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific!”; $8 for 12 oz.
o More Moisture Raspberry & Brazil Nut Conditioner: marula and brazil nut oils provide a deep conditioning without product build up; $8 for 12 oz.
o Avocado Butter Pre-Shampoo Hair Treatment: take the time to do this once a week for at least 5 minutes before shampooing, this treatment of avocado and olive oils soothe your scalp and rosemary, almond oil and nettle provides a glossy shine; $9 for 4.34 oz.
o Skin Deep score: 1-3

While conducting this experiment, my friend supermodel Carol Alt told me how she has washed her long luscious hair with a flower. Yes. Just flower petals and water. I’m sure that there are many other natural ways to clean your hair. Let us know if you have your own homemade solutions. Our chemical-free ears are open.