World Environment Day 2008

I love Cleveland. We are NOT the “mistake on the lake”* or any of the other pathetic references you have heard. (As my dear friend, Kev, says “Please, come up with something original!”) I always say “People who don’t know HOW to love Cleveland, don’t KNOW Cleveland.”

Anyhow, I vaguely remember hearing about World Environment Day a few months ago. I truly meant to research it, but I admit that in the chaos of being a Mom, I forgot about being a Green Mom, and it slipped my mind…

Until it was time to tuck my kids into bed for the night. Because we can see Cleveland from the back of our house, we all get used to looking out and seeing downtown. But that night, our daughter said “Mommy, where’s Cleveland?” I was ready to ask her what that silly question was all about, until I noticed she was looking out her window.

Lo and behold…where WAS Cleveland? The city was dim and so many of the lighted buildings we were used to seeing just didn’t seem to be there. It wasn’t until later, when I saw the late news that I realized….Wow. We participated.

Cleveland turned off non-essential lights to recognize World Environment Day! We are moving in the right direction. We may be a bit behind other regions, but just like greening our daily lives, every step is a step in the right direction.

No more “mistake” jokes, okay? New motto: Green City Blue Lake….

(* The important thing to remember about the Cuyahoga River catching on fire nearly 40 years ago is that it sparked an EPA movement that fought for strict regulations on industrial pollution and resulted in legislation aimed at cleaning up the nation’s rivers, including the passage of the Clean Water Act (less than a year after the incident). I think we should be proud, not ashamed.)

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My kids – my little snackers!

My kids are the epitome of snackers! We can’t leave the house…EVER… without something to drink and snack on. Fifteen minute cruise to the corner store? Doesn’t matter. Two minutes in, I’ll hear “so what did’ja bring, Mommy?”

I got in the horrible habit of buying snack packs of every freakin’ snack in the universe… pretzels, snack crackers, graham crackers, rice cakes, nuts. Or I would use sandwich bags or little ziplocs and fill them with whatever snack they wanted to bring… (including all of the above and even fruits and veggies!) But each and every time we arrived home, lo and behold, I had a huge handful of trash… all destined for the trash can. No recycling in sight.

So… I did what I knew I should do. I bought some small reusable containers and started buying larger bags or boxes of the same, exact snacks. Instead of finding myself overwhelmed with individual bags and wrappers every single time I give my kids a snack, I take a few extra seconds to fill the containers with the snack-of-choice to-go… and when we arrive home, the containers get washed… instead of trashed.

It’s such a very small issue, but all of our small issues grow – exponentially – into big problems. I’m no longer part of that problem.

Friday night chemical

Our family four-some has developed a little ritual for Friday evenings. We call it “Friday Night Movie Nite”. It includes a stop at Blockbuster, the Pet Store next door, carry-out dinners, jammies, popcorn and a movie while all snuggled up in the family room.

During a recent trip to Blockbuster, one of our four-some (I don’t remember who) spotted the popcorn and this fantastic-looking little shaker bottle perched nearby. We discovered a “white cheddar cheese” topping for popcorn that seemed pretty irresistible, so we bought it.

Honestly, it tastes great. When I thought about it more…there cannot be a single, natural ingredient in that stuff. We have dubbed it: “chemical”. It’s actually funny when my husband asks our kids “Do you want chemical?” and they know exactly what he means. It’s funny, but disturbing too. Sometimes our daughter will beat him to the punch and say “No chemical tonight, Daddy.”

It’s sad but true. We’ve all come to accept food products that are chemically or genetically engineered. White cheddar cheese popcorn topping included. (It says “All Natural” on the label but do you suppose “Silicon Dioxide to prevent caking” is good for us? I’m thinking not.)

A new resolution….get off the Friday night chemical, girl!

There’s a killer on my lawn!

One of the hardest parts about going green and being a green mom is the things you can’t control.

Last year our city repaved some of our most decrepit residential streets…ours included. It was pretty bad and we needed it. The hassles and delays of the project were annoying and on-going, including lots of mud and muck that always seemed to flow into our driveway during rainstorms while the curb area was a mass of dirt.

This spring the paving company finally got around to adding more dirt and planting grass. That would seem to be a relief, however they planted the most awful grass on the planet! It’s full of crab grass and weeds and, I swear, it grows two inches a day.

I called the city and asked what their plan was. The engineering department quickly answered “oh, they’re going to spray it all with some heavy-duty, industrial-strength weed killer and see how it goes.”

Fabulous. “Heavy-duty” weed killer sprayed on the lower half of my lawn…near my children’s yard…near the edge of the street…20 feet from a storm sewer drain. Well, I “know how it goes”… no doubt, in the long run, it’s going to affect a whole lot more than the weeds…and there’s not a thing I can do about it.

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My “litter” pet peeve

Every time I see litter by the roadside, I try to imagine what the litter-er was thinking.

What in the world could make someone think it’s okay to take something they don’t want and turn it into landscape.

Not long ago, our family was loaded in the car and traveling to downtown. No more than 100 feet from a major intersection, some fool in a huge SUV (an Escalade, no less) chucked an ENTIRE Sunday newspaper out the window.

I watched in horror as, at least, a hundred pieces of newsprint slammed into the pavement and exploded into page after page of litter. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the culprit, but never came up with a realistic reason why this was better than simply waiting until they reached an appropriate receptacle for the newspaper.

[Thirty-eight percent (38%!!!) of our total waste is from paper and paperboard!]

How do people rationalize that this is acceptable? Our community has so many options for recycling newspaper. Half of the schools, churches and miscellaneous parking lots have large dumpsters that are designated for paper recycling. There’s just no excuse.

If you don’t have curbside recycling and have a questions about where your recyclables should go, hesitate for a second… and then go here: . There’s a locator at the top of the page… put it to (good) use!

(Now if I could just find that jerk in the Escalade!)