Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Be The Change

Mahatma Ghandi, ye wise philosopher full of peace, once said "Be the change you wish to see in the world." Okay, so this works if you see that the world needs change, but there are many people who think everything is just hunky-doorey. Well guess what folks, it's not! Again, let me remind you... melting ice caps, polar bear extinction, warming planet.

So here's a little suggestion. Try it for a day. Heck, be daring. Try it for two days. Shift your perspective. In each of your daily routines slow down and think about the consequences of your actions. Stop and think about the life cycle of that next throw away item you're saving for, about your actions as you carelessly toss that wrapper into the wind, as you walk by a person in need. We create the world we live in, through our actions and our perspectives. By slowing down just a bit, putting ourselves in another's place, and even going so far to consider what our world might look like through the eyes of future generations, we have the ability to shift our actions and our perspectives.

And, as I write this my mind drifts to the acceptance speech that Sean Penn so eloquently spoke of at the Academy Awards. While it may not be directly related to our earth it is related to the shifting of perspectives. There is a vast need to open our minds and our hearts. We must shift our perspectives for the sake of removing the ignorance and narrow-mindedness that currently plagues our world. As Penn questions, "to sit and reflect and anticipate the shame and disgrace in their grandchildren's eyes if they continue in this way to support." You might know what this quote is alluding to, but really, it can be applied to many areas. In the end, we simply must be the change that we wish to see.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

My Sweet Valentine

Ah, the joys of love. One day of the year that we are supposed to lavish our loved one with sweet nothings. Chocolates. Champagne. Silly stuffed bears holding hearts. But isn't all of it kinda silly? Shouldn't we be rewarding our loved ones on a daily basis with little rewards of love, respect, kindness, empathy... It seems that we'd have a lot less bears laying in a landfill after the love is gone.

Of course, I say this as an ever-so-hypocritical-being while sipping champagne and eating chocolates. This wouldn't be such a bad scenario if it weren't for the fact that I'm in Hawaii drinking champagne that traveled roughly the same 2,000 miles that I did to arrive here. The sweets are pure Hawaiian choc covered macadamia nuts, but it seems there might have been a better option for the spirits, though I'm not sure what? Maybe a mai tai with locally made rum? The point I'm trying to get at is "Buy locally grown." We spend an immense amount of fossil fuels shuffling our fares from one locale to another. If we could just make due with the supplies in our near vicinity we'd be doing much better off from an environmental perspective. But what if we are hell bent on jetting off to Hawaii when the smart thing to do would really be to find a local beach within driving distance? What if we could do something to say, off set the large carbon footprint that we're stomping into the earth with a 5,000 mile round trip vacation? Well, maybe there is something we can do.

Enter, Terra Pass. The idea is that we all contribute to global warming and all have our own individual carbon footprint. By becoming a part of the terra pass movement you can help reduce that footprint. They even have a nifty little footprint calculator so that you can figure out just how much you are using, and how much you can throw into "the pot" to offset your extravagent lifestyle, with "the pot" being carbon offset programs. For example, the carbon footprint for flying five people from Oakland, California to Hawaii is 6,040 lbs. of CO2 which calculates to $41.65 toward offset programs.

So, I have digressed. Valentines Day. Don't go out and buy a bunch of stuff that your lovely better half can do without. Instead think outside of the Hallmark box with your expressions of love. Candlelight dinner for two. Chocolates from your local chocolatier (and if you live in the Bay Area I highly recommend Scharffen Berger chocolates while they are still in existence). Bath salts and a massage. You get the point. Non-consumables. Things that will get used up. Not used and then tossed. And forget Hallmark. Given that 370 million tons of paper products are used each year it would be much better to whisper sweet nothings into your lovely's ear.

It's time to get creative. Time to start putting a little effort into our gift giving rather than just buying more and more stuff. Buying love is not doing it any longer. The environment needs more from us than mindless actions. The environment needs us to go a step further and give a little love to Mother Earth. So here's to V-Day. Now off you go. Enjoy that champagne and chocolates, just forego the stuffed bear.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I'm gonna wash that gray right out of my hair....

I'm gonna wash that gray right out of my hair, and send it on it's way.
Yes, I'm sitting here with a Target bag on my head while threatening my children with the prospect of driving them to school looking like this if they don't behave. Gets 'em every time. Hair dye. It's such a necessary evil. Or at least a necessity in my book of trying to stave off a little bit of the aging process. I could certainly head on down to my overpriced salon and pay my usual $150 for a head full of color, but this time I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands which might turn out to be a major mistake. Thank god my husband loves me. And even better... he likes me with short hair, which is what I will have after I shave my head from this potential fiasco. For now, as the timer ticks away, I will cross my fingers, hope for the best, and chalk it up to my environmental side wrestling with my vanity.

Okay, 40 minutes later and all is good. The gray is minimally erased, and it seems I have been spared the need to shave my head for the time being. I'm not entirely sure that I'm sold on this environmentally friendly hair dye, but it was certainly worth a try. Especially given the data. Chemical hair dye is linked to both environmental pollution, as well as a variety of health problems. The most dangerous of the chemicals, phenylenediamine (PPD, or its derivative names benzenediamine dihydrochloride, or aminoaniline dihydrocholoride) are what allows the color to bond with the hair. Other hair dyes, containing coal tar, consist of toxic metals such as lead or mercury. So, what's a girl to do? Well, you can try a natural dye that does not contain PPDs, as I did. Just don't expect the same results as your toxic laden mixture of yesteryear to produce the same results.

So what are your choices? Well, Aveda touts themselves as "The Art and Science of Pure Flower and Plant Essences" and their hair dyes are actually 97 percent plant based, which seems to be the best option available today for a salon job. For home choices look for brands such as Ecocolors, Naturtint, or Light Mountain Natural Hair Color. Then there is Henna, which as been around since the days of Cleopatra. Made from the powdered leaves of a desert shrub called Lawsonia, henna has been used for thousands of years to color hair. 'Tis a bit of a problem if you're a blonde, but otherwise worth a consideration. In the end, the safest choice of all is to simply accept oneself as they are, but hey, not all of us have embraced our silver fox status. At least not yet. When I'm 100% gray and look as good as Meryl Streep in Devil Wears Prada, count me in. Until then, I'll just have opt for whatever henna-like, flower powered hair dye I can find.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Octuplets + Six = Crazy

I love my kids. I love my kids more than anything on this warming planet of ours, but that doesn't mean that I need to head out and pop fertility drugs to expand my brood by eight. Apparently I am nothing like the a Fullerton, California woman who recently gave birth to octuplets last week, after already having six (yes, SIX) kids that she also produced from fertility drugs and a sperm donor. Come on already. Who exactly was this dim-witted doctor who decided it was a good idea to impregnate this women with eight embryos. I understand that she didn't actually think she was going to have eight kids, but just seeking out the drugs and the sperm were irresponsible enough given that she is unemployed and living with her parents.

Okay, maybe this is where I should step back from my judgments. I am not opposed to anyone who is unemployed and living with their parents. We are in difficult times and it's not unreasonable to reach out for help when you need it. What is unreasonable is bringing eight more children into the world when you can't support the six that you already have; when our world is suffering from over population and a lack of resources; when there are more than 100,000 children in foster care wishing for a family to call their own. This was not a mere "accident" if you will, but a woman who sought out a medical procedure that would ensure that she would, in fact, find herself pregnant, yet again; she sought out a procedure that is known for producing multi-birth pregnancies, and there is a doctor out in the world who has allowed this to happen. It seems utterly ridiculous to me. Beyond utterly ridiculous. I believe that every woman, should she choose, be entitled to give birth to a child by any possible means, but I don't think that it is a responsible decision to continue to bring more and more children into the world in the midst of an environmental and economic crisis with thousands of available children waiting for homes. Call me crazy, but that's how I see it. Here are the numbers:

1804 - 1 billion people on the planet
1927 - 2 billion people
1960 - 3 billion
1974 - 4 billion
currently, we have approximately 6.75 billion people on the planet.

If you are over 40 years old than the world has more than doubled in size since you were born. The numbers are increasing at a faster rate than ever before. Crazy, no? And during this time the amount of fossil fuels that we are using has increased at a speed breaking pace. It has become a double whammy for our planet. While we have been very fortunate to have the medical breakthroughs that extend our life span, we still have to control ourselves a bit. Go off, kids. Have your fun but protect yourself for God's sake. And protect our country. And, please don't go asking Ms. Fertile Myrtle for overly zealous procreating pills. Enjoy the youngin's that you have, or even better, welcome another youngin' to join your kin. Tap into your inner Angelina. The world will be better off for it.