My cup of joe “to go”

I think I need to make another change. And a takeout coffee at a local restaurant recently reminded me of the issue.

It’s a restaurant that I would consider fairly conscious and “aware”. Besides a great menu of “world cuisine”, they specialize in some of the greatest fresh blended fruits and vegetables imaginable. (I admit I had two mimosa, but hey, they were fresh MANGO mimosas!) After a great meal, I ordered a coffee “to go” and they gave it to me in a (deep breath) Styrofoam* cup! AUGH!”

Could anything be worse?!? (Styrofoam?…yeah, Styrofoam!)

I quickly realized that the Styrofoam cup that I just accepted was going to outlive me…in a landfill…to the tune of about 400 years! Not only that, but you can bet that after pouring boiling hot coffee into the cup, some of those chemicals undoubtedly migrated into my coffee. Yummy!!!

This convinced me that I need to start stashing away a travel coffee mug in my car, just for these occasions. I don’t care if it’s a restaurant, a Starbucks, or a plain ole’ coffee shop — they’re going to have to start dealing with my own mug; even if it’s a walking advertisement for someone else’s java!

(*Styrofoam isn’t actually used to make cups. Cups are made of polystyrene, but most of us identify these cups as the brand name “Styrofoam”, regardless.)

A sentence speaking volumes

Yesterday I talked about my recent switch to Seventh Generation detergents. I haven’t changed my mind(!) but today something extra caught my eye. It’s written on all of the bottles. This “it” I’m referring to is an excerpt from The Great Law Of The Iroquoi Confederacy, and it is simply this:

“In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.”

I thought this was really profound. If more people could just adopt this way of thinking, the future would be a lot brighter. It’s not just about the impact our decisions have on today. It’s about what it means for our children, our grandchildren and every generation to follow.

I refuse to be part of the problem.

A new “Generation”

One of my latest “green searches” has been to find a replacement for all of my current detergents – laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and dishwasher detergent. A friend told me about all of the super harsh (and harmful) ingredients in Cascade and it really got me thinking.

The problem is this: many of these detergents contain phosphates – it’s a naturally occurring substance, but if too much of it gets into waterways, algae and phytoplankton feed on it and reproduce in


massive numbers, causing an algae bloom. I don’t want to get too technical, but what it boils down to is that the algae produce neurotoxins and these toxins may have severe biological impact on wildlife and they pollute the water supply.

As if that isn’t foul enough to convince me, I took into consideration that additives, like perfumes, color and brightening agents, increases the toxicity of detergents. And this is the stuff I’m using to wash my dishes, glasses, silverware…my clothes, my CHILDREN’S clothes. I think about the residue and consuming those toxins or having those things linger in our clothes.

So, I’ve switched to a line of products called Seventh Generation. My husband is annoyed by them (back to that “no aroma so they don’t smell clean” issue…but he tolerates them…followed by a head shake and an eye roll!) They’re readily available in my local, chain grocery store and, since I’m signed up for the grocery store discount card, the register often kicks out coupons for the products to the tune of $1 to $4! Niiiiiice!

These products are made of naturally derived cleaning agents. They are non-toxic, biodegradable and hypo-allergenic – no perfumes or dyes. And they work(!), as well as the other brands I just left behind.

On the back of every bottle they even give you some food for thought in this example: If every household in the U.S. replaced just one bottle of 50 oz. 2x ultra petroleum based liquid laundry detergent with our 50 oz. 2x plant based product, we could save 233,000 barrels of oil, enough to heat and cool 13,400 U.S. homes for a year!

They’re safe for the environment and they’re safe for my family. That’s all it takes to convince me.

A leap into organic foods

I’ve had so many discussions with friends about going organic but, surprisingly, few of my friends follow the same guidelines I have for myself and my family. Reasons range anywhere from “I just haven’t gotten to it yet”, “it’s too complicated”, “it’s too expensive” or a simple “yea, I know! I want to, but…”

Recently, however, one of my friends had a really legitimate question: “Where do I even start?” In my opinion, I told her to start with organic dairy and meat products. Besides recycling, those were my first two changes. And to me, the reasons were obvious.

Let’s think about it for a second. Besides the animals simply being treated more humanely, for me, one major word comes to mind…steroids! They are dangerous to humans for a reason, so it seems ludicrous to me that farmers would be allowed to pass on animal products that are overloaded with growth hormone, steroids and antibiotics. So when we consume these products what do you think is in the milk, eggs or meat of these animals? Drugs that are harmful to humans and, in some cases, illegal.

We tell pregnant women and nursing moms not to consume certain foods, to watch their diets and avoid alcohol, but then we have drug laced meat and dairy just spread out on grocery store shelves, ready for us to consume.

Knowing what we now know, I can’t understand how this is acceptable to the FDA. And I, personally, can’t stand the thought of giving my kids non-organic milk on a daily basis. (I won’t even begin to discuss the gross side effects cows experience when injected with too many growth hormones!…yeah, it’s bad!)

For me, it brings new meaning to the old anti-drug slogan “Just Say No!”

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An “a-ha” moment

I can’t believe what I almost did. Going green rule #1…recycling. It’s one of the easiest things to do, since the trash has to go out anyhow. Just sort it (if your community requires that) and throw it in your recycling can (like we’re fortunate enough to have in our city).

The thing is, I bought new blinds for our bedroom and bathroom, and after I replaced the old with the new, I hovered over the garbage can thinking “well, how should I put these in the can?” Problem was, I was hovering over the GARBAGE, not the RECYCLING…as I stood there with two armloads of aluminum. Aluminum! How could I forget, but I nearly did. All it took was a few snips of string on each set and I was peeling away slat after slat and loading the recycling can. When all was said and done, there was very little that had to go into the trash, but I was amazed at myself that the trash can was almost where all of it went. I’m glad my brain finally kicked in.

I also learned that manufacturers like Levolor, Hunter Douglas and Kirsch are making their miniblinds with 70% to 95% recycled aluminum contents. Well, bravo! I honestly didn’t realize that aluminum miniblinds were such an environmentally responsible choice.

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