Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I'm guest blogger on Weirding Word this week. Here is the beginning of a post written yesterday.

When I published my first book, Harmonious Environment: Beautify, Detoxify & Energize Your Life, Your Home & Your Planet, I dreamt that The New York Times Book Review would review it. They didn’t. They did not review the book because Stan Tanenhaus, chief editor of the Book Review, does not review self-published books.

For the rest of the article, go here: Weirding Word.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Go Green Expo, Hilton, NYC April 26-27

First, the good news: the expo was busy and filled with "mainstream" people--the green movement is working!

However, the bad news is that the organizers allowed companies that were not green to exhibit. The most egregious was , or Cotton Incorporated. They shared a booth with Good Housekeeping Magazine. When I asked a GH rep why they were at the expo, the woman nervously told me that the magazine "was going to write some green articles" and that they were with Cotton."

Cotton Incorporated is attempting to convince the public that they are sustainable. On their website, the CEO claims that Cotton is using 50 % less pesticides than they used to.

However, that is still a lot of pesticides. Pesticides are doused on growing cotton. The result is degradation of the water, air and land where the crops are grown. The end product—from clothing to the furniture in your home—leeches onto the wearer and into the environment.

Only corn is doused with more pesticides than cotton grown in United States. 1.25 pounds of pesticides, defoliants, and other chemicals are used to grow the cotton in every set of queen-size sheets, and up to one-third goes into every t-shirt. The EPA…lists seven of the most common pesticides used in cotton fields as ‘known human carcinogens.’

On the Cotton website, they use the words "natural", "sustainable", "true","responsible" and "renewable".

Cotton is natural until you add chemical-based pesticides to it.

Pesticide treated cotton is not sustainable, as it is harmful to the planet and its inhabitants.

"True" is a meaningless term.

Pesticides on cotton is not responsible, as the chemicals harm the environment.

Cotton is renewable, but the petroleum based chemical pesticides that douse cotton are not.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Simple and Delicious Meal

Tonight for dinner, my husband and I are having leftover turkey breast, kale and yams. We both enjoy a wide variety of flavors in our food. However, sometimes we like to eat plain and simple food. This dinner is a good example of that. The turkey is plain with a bit of salt and pepper. The turkey was free range and grass fed and is succulent and delicious and doesn't require gravy or anything else. The organic kale will be tossed with a bit of olive oil and roasted. So good. Finally, the organic yams will be baked and served with a bit of butter and that's it! A simple but wonderful meal with three distinctive dishes that work very well with each other.

Go to:

Retailing Chains Caught in a Wave of Bankruptcies

An article in yesterday's New York Times, "Retailing Chains Caught in a Wave of Bankruptcies" reveals a grim picture of the economy.

Across the nation, Americans are spending more on food and gas and less on non-essentials. With all the foreclosures, banks are less likely to lend not only consumers, but retail stores. With business down and banks not willing to provide loans, many retail stores are filing for bankruptcy.

Stores like Levitz, Lines 'n Things, Sharper Image, Lillian Vernon, Footlocker, Zales and Ann Taylor are all facing bankruptcy and some total liquidation.

“You have the makings of a wave of significant bankruptcies,” said Al Koch, who helped bring Kmart out of bankruptcy in 2003 as the company’s interim chief financial officer and works at a corporate turnaround firm called AlixPartners.

“For years, no deal was too ugly to finance,” he said. “But now, nobody will throw money at these companies.”

I have always wondered how so many stores could survive in the first place. Now, we can expect to see major changing in the malls of America.

Maybe its time. From the point of view of an environmentalist, I see this as progress. Maybe Americans are finally getting it and will stop spending money on stuff that takes its toll on the environment from the manufacturing or extraction of a product to its demise in landfills.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Eco-Friendly Bathroom Renovation

My new eco-friendly bathroom is almost finished! My brother has taken a short hiatus from his woodworking to do the construction. My house was built in 1964 and most of the bathroom was original. The toilet was permanently stained, the counter was brown, white and beige was pretty hideous.

Originally, the bathroom had a small window, but it leaked and was removed years ago. Now, it features two casement windows that together are 4' x 4' and take up most of the wall.

The bathroom is small. The toilet and sink area is 3' x 8' and the tub takes up an additional 3'x5' and extends the length of the bathroom. The window sits on the far side of the tub.

The messiest part of renovating is the demolition. The sheetrock dust gets everywhere and it is awful. My old Pug, Toast, just happened to wander into the bathroom when most of the demolition had occurred, but lots of dust remained. I found her in there and immediately scooped her up.

She began to cough and as the day progressed, it got worse. I took her to the vet and they had to give her antihistamines and kept her there to watch her. She also has a heart condition and that worsened as well and we had to increase her heart medication.

Fortunately, she got better and is now back to her sweet and adorable self. Thing is, I was careful--and I know better. Don't forget to keep your pets out of harm’s way when renovating!

Eco-Friendly Products
: We used river rocks that were came in one-foot square tiles, as they were glued to a mesh backing. They are eco-friendly because they only needed to be extracted from the earth; no further manufacturing was required.
Soapstone Vanity top and Door Saddle: Mined in Vermont, the natural products were delivered by FedEx , thus saving on transportation fuels.
Good Quality Products: faucets, toilet, tub, and accessories meant to last a lifetime and stay out of landfill.
No Voc Paint
Energy Star Rated Fan/Light Fixture with CFL bulbs
Low-flush toilet by Toto:
extra cool feature is 'softclose" lid--you simply tap closed the lid and it gently closes on itself!
solid wood from sustainable choices, no outgassing. as would occur from manufactured wood products like particleboard.

I'm waiting for "Sparky" (Australian for electricians) to come and install lights and switch plates and my brother to do the final touches and then it's done!

I want to put photos up, but can't find installation CD for my digital camera for my new computer. The best feature is the river rock tiles. They are dark grey with blue/green tints and they are on floor, in front of tub and halfway up three walls. My brother made them so they flow--it's really cool.

We painted the un-tiled walls white with a blue tone that matches the tiles exactly and picked out towels in a slightly darker shade of white with blue tone.

Also, there is only a hand held spray to rinse after a bath, so no need for a curtain or shower door of any kind. Consequently, you see out the windows to my backyard. The windows frame the bird feeders and hemlocks and it is a beautiful sight.

I'll add photos when I can.

The tub is a Bain Ultra "Hydro-Therma Massage" bathtub. What that means is that it is like a whirlpool, only air is forced into tub to create bubbles and massage. It is the same size as a standard tub, but deep. It has the added feature of chromotherapy lights.

One note about water. usage. I used to believe that water should be only be used conservatively. However, I now believe that water should be used wisely--when there is an abundance of it (ie. reservoirs are full) it is OK to indulge a bit. I live in the Northeast and we have plenty of water now. I also have a well and it is full. In fact, part of my lawn is covered in water.

if I lived in an arid area, I would not take baths, or I would invest in a grey water system. Likewise, if we were experiencing drought conditions, I would not bathe, but take quick showers instead.

That said, with lots of water, I can enjoy guilt free baths! Last night, I put the dimmer switches on low for the two lights on either side of the vanity and lit two lavender scented soy candles around the tub. I also put some natural lavender bubble bath and sea salts in. I put the yellow chromotherapy light on and sat back...Got pretty hot, so I opened the window a bit. The dark river stones glistened in the light and I felt as if I were in an outdoor natural hot mineral spring! It was really nice.

Is Green Cleaning Romantic?

Do you know how many books are out there about green housekeeping? Annie B. Bond has two, Better Basics and Clean and Green. Deirdre Imus wrote Green This Volume I in 2007 and Volume II is due out later this month. There is Green Clean (2005), Naturally Clean Home (1999), Clean House Clean Planet (1997) Naturally Clean (2006). And a new batch of green cleaning books for 2008: Green Housekeeping, Green Up Your Cleanup, Green This Volume II, Squeaky Clean: The Method Guide to Cleaning Your Home and more.

And don't forget, even though it's not green, but almost five (5) POUND book by Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The Essential Guide to Caring for Everything in Your Home.

Now, I am happy to see housecleaning books using green cleaning methods. But, do we really need so many books? Do you really need an entire book to help you clean your home? Is there some new romance about housecleaning and green?

I just don't get it. I devoted four (4) pages in my book, Harmonious Environment. to cleaning. I really don't see it as complicated, I guess. In fact, I further reduced the cleaning thing to a one (1) page chart: From Toxic to Safe and Healthy Cleaning Products Guide.

Some of the books mentioned have dozens of cleaning recipes for different tasks. What the heck for? You simply don't need them.

Virtually all of the books are written by women. Women, I dare say, that have way too much time on their hands. Unless that's the secret--people are "so busy" nowadays because they spend hours making ridiculous recipes and cleaning for hours.

I have a clean home and absolutely feel that it is important. But, I don't spend hours first being guided about how to clean my home and then hours more cleaning.

Another possible explanation for this green cleaning frenzy is that it is one of the simpler ways to green your lifestyle. This makes it a relatively simple book to write and could explain why there are so many of them out there. Since green cleaning is new for many people, I guess they want guidance.

I don't know. Green or not, I hate to clean.

For more information, go to Harmonious Environment.