July 31, 2007

cleaning products: more not to love

Y'all may remember Bugheart's wonderful post from a few months back about making your own non-toxic cleaners for around the house.

I hope that post gets a few more hits this week, since Women's Voices for the Earth released their new report called "Household Hazards." The report details new information about potential hazards of household cleaning products. From the report:

"In most cases, when we choose a cleaning product, we are primarily concerned with whether or not it will do the job, going on the assumption that if a product is sold in the grocery store, it must be safe for use in our homes. This report questions that assumption. Household cleaning chemicals, like tens of thousands of chemicals found in the consumer marketplace, are available to the consumer with virtually no information on the potential consequences for human health and little oversight by the government."

The report looks specifically at five common chemicals in cleaning products: monoethanolamine (MEA), ammonium quaternary compounds, glycol ethers, alkyl phenol ethoxylates and phthalates, and their associations with asthma and reproductive problems.

WVE's top recommendation is to make your own cleaning products - it's safer and cheaper, and of course Bugheart has already gotten us started with some great recipes. Check out WVE's website and the report to find out how to encourage manufacturers to get rid of their toxic ingredients, and how to urge our elected officials to pass safer chemicals policy.

July 30, 2007

making things greenly {as much as possible}

diana fayt makes incredible ceramics. [pictured right].

she's been having guest bloggers post their thoughts on ceramics and their process on her blog. recently, she had laura zindel as her guest.

laura's post went into depth about the question of eco-friendliness in regards to ceramics [is it or isn't it?]. she asks a great set of questions AND got some really intense and smart answers from several "experts".

i thought readers here might be interested in her thoughtful post . i definitely wonder about the materials i use in the studio and about the process of making things. how green can you be? when do you let go? what is an "OK" amount of hazard/harm you are willing to forgive? and how important is it to support small, local, talented artisans?

July 25, 2007

hanging it out to dry

so we finally put a much longed after clothesline in our backyard. i grew up with a clothesline. i remember hauling laundry up a set of steps to a little platform to reach the high line running across our backyard in virden, manitoba. then we moved on to brandon and had an umbrella line that i loved to hide inside of. of course we were only hanging out our laundry may through september. (oh those prairie summers - short but oh so good!) d on the other had never had a clothesline. it just wasn't something people "did" where he grew up down here. hanging skivvies on the line wasn't on the radar. (i was surprised to read that it is actually banned in some communities for being unsightly!) but i must say he is a convert after seeing me hang out and bring in 3 loads in just under 4 hours. noting that it takes about the same length of time on the line as it does in our drier and that we can now do the laundry during the day instead of at night as we are advised to avoid blackouts. (yup - we are in another heatwave down here!) and thinking of the energy savings! yes we love our "solar clothes drier".
solar clothes drier

there is even a flickr group. (naturally!)

as a side note, a dear friend and i have decided to "hang out" our collaborative blog: Two Green Chickens. it began as a series of conversations between two moms trying hard to live as green as we can, teach our children to do the same, and still stick to our budgets! it is more consumer minded than sewgreen. if we are going to spend money, we want to do it wisely! check it out and let me know what you think... thanks!

July 20, 2007

bloggers for postive global change

we would humbly like to thank lichenology and seeded for their nominating us for the bloggers for positive global change meme.

the meme was started by climate four future .

i don't want to speak for all the contributors, but, for myself... i had no idea what would happen when we started this blog. over the last few months as it has started to take on a life of its own i am continually awed by the posts by my fellow contributors. i am equally, if not more awed by the comments, questions, and suggestions left by this community. this space has encouraged me to look for and implement greener solutions in my own life. it has made going greener less scary, less daunting, less dramatic and thus just more part of my everyday routine.

small steps really do make a difference. and smaller steps are easier to take than giant leaps.

i had a minute this morning to follow some of the leads from these memes. it made me realize that i can't possibly choose just 5 blogs to tag. please check out all the blogs we list on the right >>>>>> as well as all the nominees and nominators for this meme. there's a wealth of knowledge and hope out there. thanks everyone!

July 15, 2007

Recycled Slipper Tutorial

You will need woolen fabric, i have used an old woolen blanket from the thrift store. Fleece to line the sole. Bias binding.

I use a 1cm seam allowance throughout this how-to.

The pattern:

I am going to show you one slipper. Once finished you will make the other by reversing the pattern pieces, we don't want two of the same do we?

From the woolen blanket cut out one sole and one of each top piece. From the fleece cut out one sole:

Baste the fleece and woolen soles together:

Sew the top pieces together as in the photo, trim the seam and press open:

Sew the top pieces together at the heel, trim the seam allowance and press open:

Pin the top to the sole and sew around the edge, trim the seam allowance:

Turn it right side out and press the seams. Trim the opening as desired making sure that your foot will fit:

Make your binding by cutting strips from your chosen fabric on the bias. Mine is 3cm wide but you can make it wider if you wish:

Fold your binding in half and press. Open out and fold top towards the middle crease. Press:

Pin the binding around the outside of the opening. sew in place with a 5mm seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance of the woolen blanket fabric:

Fold the binding to the inside and pin in place. Slip stitch into place making sore to fold under the end of the binding for a neat finish:

Make the other slipper and now you can have toasty warm toes!


Cross posted on Burda Style and Instructibles.

July 4, 2007

how many gallons is this?

I can't believe it took me so long, but today I celebrated Independence Day by sticking a bucket in our shower.


Then I showered. The bucket caught about a gallon of water (it was a short shower).

By my calculations, considering that I shower once a day (generally), and that I travel some and shower away from home a not-insignificant amount, I believe this here bucket will spare about 300 gallons a year from the city water treatment plant.

For good measure, I stuck a high-tech basin in the bathroom sink. Washing my hands fills it about halfway. Washing my face fills it completely. Then it's dumped into the bucket.


I bet we could conservatively call that another 30 gallons a year. Of course, 2 people live here and we have my partner's water usage to consider... so we're up to about 660 gallons per year (or 2,500 liters to the rest of the world). That's more than 12 gallons per week, out to our garden beds.


How many flowers do you reckon that would water?

...and why did it take me so long to stick a bucket in the shower?

July 3, 2007

All aboard!

I’m the first to admit I have romantic notions about trains. I have sentimental attachments to them as my memories from them are all fun. Riding with my girl scout friends in elementary school (can’t remember where we went, but I know it involved giggling), riding with my mormor in Sweden, doing the Eurail thing with Laurel (We only got kicked off once, in Italy for accidentally getting on the bullet train when we’d only paid the regular train fare. Those Italian train conductors were a bit intense.), avoiding (this time on purpose by hiding in the bathroom) paying the fare to BĂ„stad with Daniel (during a year I spent in Lund, Sweden) and travelling to the Norwegian fjords in 2001 (as seen above and below – the only photos of mine from my train adventures that I could find).

Most recently I took the train from Emeryville, California to Auburn, California (riding the Zephyr). I had no idea it would be such a party. I left on a Friday, and the train was surprisingly populated. Commuter regulars were opening their mini-wines (bought in the dining car), and celebrating the end of the work week. Some staggered down the aisles with lemon-capped beers. On the way back to SF, the train was also quite populated, this time with Oakland A’s baseball game goers. A cute granddad and his decked out in Oakland A gear grandson quietly picnicked together.

My point is, I love trains. I do not understand why there aren’t bullet trains and regular train riding going on all over the US. It is so much more environmentally sound (and safer) than car driving en masse or riding the plane! And you can read, get work done, dine, have a party, play cards, draw, take photos, journal, walk around, craft, etc. on the train!

The SF Guardian recently had a good article about Schwarzenegger’s postponing the realization of a California bullet train. The California bullet train has been in the works since the 1980’s, and in planning for almost 10 years. Why is it taking so long? There are these folks who say a bullet train would cut into hundreds of parks and protected areas in California. This is obviously not good for the environment. But I wonder in the long run, which has a greater impact, cutting into some of these protected areas (I’m assuming not by huge amounts since the rail would run alongside existing rails), or continued degradation due to so much car driving (which will only increase as the population increases, and which will require wider and more roads, also cutting into land). The reason Schwarzenegger is not getting this train moving is not related to the land impact however. His reason is all about cost-effectiveness in the short term. When are politicians going to realize we need to think in the long term, especially if they’re claiming, as Schwarzenegger is, to be environmentally conscious?!

Honestly, I think it will be hard to persuade car-drivers to switch to the train. But with some good advertising, with growing awareness of how our car-centered lives are severely hurting our environment, and with a bullet train travelling much faster than a car, perhaps a slow transition to trainriding and public transport is possible....

In the Bay Area, you can get involved with the bullet-train supporters. And write to Schwarzenegger.

Some flickry train goodness:
waking up on the train at 6 am.
from driftwould
an old train car

It's all about the dining car:
dining car nap
dining car (check out those seats!)
dining car table
lunch on the train

If you’re looking for a train-related movie, Station Agent is one of my all-time favorites.