Friday, January 23, 2009

Moving on...

I've been absent from this blog for quite some time, and I'm sorry. I should have been more responsible, I should have explained my absence and been here more often. However, the economy and my life with four kids and a career got in the way.

That said, I'm not disappearing completely. I might be back here from time to time, but you can now find me weekly blogging with a bunch of great green superheros at the Green Phone Booth. The EcoBurban Mom has become The EcoWonder. A different kind of green superhero...

One that secretly has yogurt tubes in her refrigerator, but still finds time to organize a recycling program for the Little League. A superhero that can't quite afford to build fancy raised garden beds to grow her own food, but she makes a special trip to the Farmer's Markets on her lunch hour.

So, join me and the other green superheroes at The Green Phone Booth where you will find inspirational and sometimes hilarious stories, ways to get involved, neat tricks and tips and most of all? A community of women that support each other - no matter what shade of green you may be!

Monday, December 8, 2008

3 months, 21 days and counting...

At the beginning of snow season four boys = 8 boots, 4 hats, 8 mittens or gloves, 4 pairs of snow pants - all neat and new and clean. The first snowfall changes a bleak, muddy backyard into a endless field of snowy white goodness. The excitement builds. Sleds are hauled down from the garage rafters. Ice hockey skates are readied. Plans are made with all the neighborhood buddies to snowboard, sled, skate and snowball fight. And then, they're out the door.

One month into snow season I give one boy my own pair of snowpants, he managed to blow the knee out of his own sledding down a hill into a rock.

One boy has one glove and one mitten in two different colors rescued from the miscellaneous winter item bin I've been collecting for 13 years.

Hats are seemingly either too small or much too large, from what I guess is the pushing, pulling and grabbing of some sort of snow tackle football.

The rug by my front door is a slushy, muddy mess.

My backyard is no longer a beautiful, pristine expanse of snowy white snow. It's covered with boot tracks, sled tracks, dog tracks, a wayward sled and piles of ice-balls.

And all this in the first solid month of winter. I have 3 months and 21 days until the first chance of spring thaw. However...

It's 7:50 p.m. My boys are exhausted, one is already asleep and the others are actually quietly watching a movie and getting along with each other. Even the dogs are too tired to beg for treats. I guess I'll make it through another winter, even if I have to buy another pair of snowpants.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

My Magic Numbers

I always have "magic" numbers rolling around in my brain... A 5 minute shower, the 17 minutes it takes to drive to the office, 65 Christmas cards to send out, 12 treats for my preschooler "star of the week", 2.5 pounds of meatloaf to prepare, 4 parent teacher conferences to attend, 1 clarinet recital and so on.

These magic numbers aren't always met. I'm often late to work, I stand in the shower too long on cold winter mornings, I still haven't sent out my Christmas cards and as for the upcoming parent teacher conferences? Let's just say I have a sticky note on the steering wheel of my van so I don't forget...

However there are a few magic numbers that I don't even think about anymore. I used to count how many paper towels I used in a day, trying to shrink my usage. Today I realized I bought a six pack of paper towels back in the hot and humid summer months and haven't bought a new package since.

I used to count juice boxes, bottled juices and cans, making sure I had enough for all my boys. Today, as long as I see each boy's SIGG, easily identifiable by the unique designs they each chose, sitting in the fridge, there is no need to count. I can make more tea, more lemonade or just fill them with tap water.

Each trip to the store used to make me count plastic bags I took because I forgot a tote bag in the van or just plain forgot to tell the clerk to use my own bag. I got into the routine, carrying bags in every store, even the mall, and haven't taken a plastic bag in so long... well, I just can't count how long.

The moral of story? I might not hit all my magic numbers that I intend to when I start out my day, but taking some time to stop and count the ones I have hit time and time again is rewarding. And, it will make me feel a little better about something I'm sure to forget tomorrow. Now, how many treats do I need for the preschool this week? Lemme count...

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

croque monsieur si vou plait

That, and a few other phrases, were picked up pretty quickly by my youngest son. Bonjour, merci, si vou plait, croque Monsieur sandwiches, crepes with nutella, the Eiffel Tower, the metro, the Seine and the road where all the cars go round and round are memories that will last a lifetime, even for a four year old.

So, does this mean carbon footprint be damned? Oh, pardon madame, it does not. Yes, we flew to Paris and I know, I know that's a lot of fossil fuel. However, after six days in Paris, do you want to know how many times we road in a car? One taxi, only one - for under 10 minutes as we were caught in the pouring rain. On arrival we road the RER B train straight from Charles de Gaulle into Paris where we caught a series of Metro lines direct to our hotel. From there we traversed the entire city by metro, by foot and even by Batobus on the river Seine. This is a four year-old boy's dream. Buses, trains, planes and boats... Who knew public transportation could be so fun?!?

We taught our son about leisurely lunches in cafes, the treasures of the Louvre, how the Eiffel Tower was constructed and even how good a hot crepe wrapped in wax paper tastes on a cold, wet and windy afternoon standing in front of Notre Dame.

Will I continue to trade a little carbon footprint damage on an airplane for the chance to teach my children that it's really a small world - and not because Disney tells us so? You bet. Will I schelp my luggage, stroller, a stuffed dalmatian, a backpack and a briefcase up and down countless escalators, staircases and one or two really smelly elevators in the Metro because public transportation is part of the experience and is good for the environment? Right again. That's something else I can teach my children while we're abroad, because I can't do it in Detroit.
Teaching my children how to be gracious in French, how to respect another culture and keep some of our green practices in check is all about balance. There's got to be a little give and take in this world and I'm happy to be able to do some of both. Merci!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Open for Business!

We opened one jar of bread and butter pickles today. Almost ate the entire jar. Crispy, tangy and crunchy, just the way we like 'em. I haven't made pickles before in my entire life and even though I'm giving myself a pat on the back... Dang! I can make some great pickles!

Needless to say, I'm guessing the floodgates have opened and we will be munching and crunching our way through our basement shelves now!!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Do you live in a toxic wasteland?

This is new to me, I apologize to those that know about this, but simply enter your address and zip code and this service will alert you to any chemical spills or toxic dumping activity within 1/3 mile radius of your home.

With my older boys off and biking around the neighborhood and a lake right in our backyard, this is always a concern for me. Between swimming in the lake and rolling around in the park playing football, my boys are certainly germ and toxin carriers! Check it out here: GreenScreener

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gotta Be Greenwashing...

Sitting around the table yesterday at my meetings in NYC I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Something that distracted me.
All day meetings like this always include lunch brought in from a deli or restaurant, coffee cups, bottled water, sodas and so on. And, I hate to tell you how many of these major corporations don't even recycle their own bottles, glass and cans. Many of these are also trying to sell you their green messages and products, which unnerves me to no end. However, that's not what I am there for, so I might casually ask over lunch were I can recycle my glass bottle or where their paper recycling center is, hoping that my concern for the environment might rub off. Even a little.

Yesterday, while concentrating on the presentation at hand, I notice the woman sitting next to me has this bottle in her hand.

What? 100% recyclable? That isn't new! ALL water bottles are recyclable. Eco shape? Smaller label? Less plastic? Whatever. Ooooh, it's FLEXIBLE! That's it, I am *so* sold! Gimme that bottle! As I'm sure all water companies must have heard by now that 60 million empty water bottles are thrown away (read: not recycled) every freakin' day in the US. And, to make matters worse one single person uses 166 disposable plastic water bottles each year.

Is this greenwashing? I certainly felt like it was yesterday as I watched every single meeting attendee throw their water bottles, soda cans, cardboard deli trays and napkins straight into the trash can. I think it's better than nothing, but barely so. Is it deceptive to try to make the consumer feel good about buying this plastic bottle over the other plastic bottle? Isn't any plastic bottle in the landfill a bad plastic bottle? If you don't recycle it, how is this bottle that much better than any other?

Ahhh, if it smells like greenwashing, then I'm pretty sure each sip tastes like greenwashing. Or, BPAs, whatever comes first.