Thursday, February 19, 2009

Modern Earth Originals

I found my new pair of glasses! I bought them at Society of the Spectacle located down the street in Highland Park from the coolest local owner, Amy. They are by Modern Earth Originals made locally (super!) in Orange County, use recycled aluminum (wow!!) in the front part of the frame, and found out that the owner moved the location of his company closer to his employees when he found out that the majority of them were commuting. SO AWESOME.

Most importantly, I found a style that fit me perfectly - Saucey!! Hooray!!


Thursday, February 12, 2009


Look what LADWP left on our doorstep this morning! I am so excited to see because the city is being very proactive. Hopefully, people will read it and make changes if they haven't already. Inside:

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (2 of them) - CFL's can last 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb (10,000 hours compared to 750 hours), and will save 400 lbs of coal in energy generation. Only thing is that it's got mercury in it, so we can't forget to dispose of it properly at Hazardous Waste Centers!

Water Consevation Tips Booklet - Having already applied water conservation techniques throughout the house, I am realizing how much water I am really saving...
- Fixed leaky faucets and toilets 20 gallons a day for every leak
- Installed water saving shower heads and faucet aerators saving 500-800 gallons of water a month
- Only running full loads of laundry saves 300-800 gallons a month. I have also been wearing my clothes more times before washing.
- Not using my toilet as a wastebasket saves 400-600 gallons. It takes water and energy to filter that out of our waste water!!
- Using a broom instead of hose to clean the patio saves 150 gallons each time.
- You can also get fined for watering your lawn between the hours of 9am-4pm. According to Natalie at All Shades of Green, the City of Long Beach is the only city in So Cal that is making a dent in our drought situation bringing their water consumption down 10% in 2008 (!) because of their strict enforcement of this rule. She also said that if we don't start acting, forced water rationing may take affect this year, which may be the hottest year on record.

These numbers are kinda shocking for one little household.
The immediate goal for me is to spend less time showering. I've already installed lo flow shower heads that can be turned off while soaping, but I can't seem to keep my shower under 4 minutes. Must find another way to relax!


Thursday, October 02, 2008

Native Garden - Lili Singer

Last night, I attended a lecture at the Pasadena Public Library about native gardens by Lili Singer of the Theodore Payne Foundation. I truly have a black thumb so reading a book about plants just won't do for me. This lecture was perfect. Here are some things I jotted down...
  • In California, a native plant is one that grew without human intervention before the Europeans came.
  • We have 2 springs in Southern Cal - one in the spring and one in the fall. Most native plants are dormant in the summer, then with the moisture in the fall, come back to life again.
  • LA County has a Medditeranean climate - similar climates include Southern tip of South Africa, southwest Australia, west facing Chile, North Africa, and the Medditeranean part of Europe so plants native of these regions can work for us here as well.
  • Xeriscape = dry landscape. This was the trend during the drought in the late 1980's-90's
  • Lawns provide no habitat for insects and animals and don't do much for the environment - they are great for kids, but kids can also be taken to the park, parks will then become more popular preventing the rif raf that hang out. They had a Kill Your Lawn Workshop!
  • A healthy garden has a lot of anthropods (bugs!) Lady bugs will, for example, eat afids. Just gotta let nature do its thing. It will take care of itself. Also, if you don't have insects, you don't have birds - the food chain.
  • Best to just keep leaves on the ground to create a natural mulch.
  • Regarding the recent fires, the bottom line is to keep your your foilage moderated, not overgrown.
  • How to plan your native garden: access your site, soil type, sunlight exposure, wind, overall climate, the microclimates.
  • Group plants that have similar needs for water, sunlight, etc.
  • Soil ammendments are not encouraged because the plant sort of becomes spoiled and then will overgrow too fast and potentially have a shorter lifespan. "Better to grow your plants hard."
  • For erosion needs, natives are best!
I couldn't stay for the whole lecture, but I was impressed by the attendance and Lili Singer's following. Will try to make it to the Theodore Payne's annual Fall Festival Oct. 3-4 and Oct 10-11 where everything is at least 10% off.

pic: the plants I've managed to keep alive - these plants give me hope that I can make a native garden work!


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Nose to Tail

Is it okay to eat meat (on occasion) if the animal has had a good life? This is my current dilemma. There are times when I just need a little bit of those beef ribs on my husband's plate, but only if I know that it came from a grass fed cow.

In this morning's NY Times, chefs are taking it a step further by "taking on the whole cow." Cow and pig in these Brooklyn restaurants are already grass fed and raised humanely, but they remove yet another step in "processing" by ordering entire carcasses and carving out the parts themselves, in their own kitchens, to be shared amongst their restaurants. This means coordinating who will get what parts each week and being creative when you do get the head, the feet, or the knuckles.

To drive home the point, he has taken his staff to witness animal slaughters. After that, he said: “I don’t have mistakes anymore. They don’t burn meat. They don’t miscount. There are no screw-ups." Heck yeah, that would set me straight too!

Good article and one that makes me feel like I can have an bite of a hamburger when it's done right.

(image: from the NY Times)


Friday, September 26, 2008

The Bike

I finally got on the bike and ran errands today. Returned some library books (what a nerd), got a carrot juice to ward off sickness from the change in weather, sat at the coffee shop to do a little work, and even stopped by the farmers market to find some eggplant for dinner. This might sound like a typical senario for some, but for me - HUGE.

Admittedly, I'm not an athlete... which can explain why this new bike and cute basket have been sitting in the garage for the whole summer. Another reason might be all the damn hills here in ER! But something possessed me to set up the basket, figure out my lock, load up my backpack and basket with books, and just take off. Maybe it was to keep my green momentum going?

So not only did I get things done, save gas and emissions, I got a 30 minute workout in too.

Now home, I am enjoying the reward of a fan blowing on full speed and a cold glass of water. Next on my list - composting.... yikes!


Saturday, September 06, 2008

New Toilet

Earlier this year, I did the dye test on the toilet in out small guest bathroom. I found evidence that there was a slow leak - dye color from the tank leaked slowly seeped into the bowl. When the plumber was here for another project, we tried to see if he could seal it, but it was leak that you couldn't see. Small leaks can potentially yield gallons and gallons of wasted water according to Sustainable Works. After much research on other ways to fix, we eventually decided that the only way was to replace it.


Going Veggie

I've been eating vegetarian as of late. It's not bad at all. There is so much good meatless food! And its especially easy in L.A. Today we had an all-you-can-eat lunch at the Tibet Nepal House for $8.99. It was delicious.

The reason for going veggie - I've been reading about animal cruelty on farms, hormones given to animals to make them beefier, and the fact that meat molecules more readily attract cancer cells.

I successfully ate vegetarian for one month straight. That was my first test. I am back to eating some meat, very little though, am completely off beef, and weening off pork and chicken (having a hard time not eating small amounts at family parties). Not sure yet if I'll give up fish entirely. I know that diet makes a big difference in health - obvious in my skin, allergies I used to have, my regularity, and in my weight.

Also had the idea that during my senior years, I would be vegetarian to keep from taking all the crazy medication my older relatives take.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Summer Laundry

Earlier this summer, I found Mrs. Pegg's Handy Line. It's a collapsible freestanding clothesline big enough to handle queen size sheets and easy to set up. Those are the full length of my jeans hanging there. I've already used it half a dozen times, and honestly, it's very little hassle. Those legs just fold up parallel to the flat line. I keep it in the garage where I plan to hang it so that it's not just leaning against the wall.

Having dried my clothes outdoors last summer was great because clothes dried quickly sometimes in an hour, but I reverted back to the electric dryer because 1. I could not fit two loads of laundry or bed sheets on the smaller stand I had and 2. I got lazy in the cooler months not wanting to go out when it was cold.

This summer, after learning the electric dryer uses as much electricity as your refrigerator in one year, I was really ready to make it happen. I researched a bunch of options, and eventually opted for this. Now, I have my big line and my old little line! To solve the problem of the cooler months, I tested out my set up indoors. I actually found it even more convenient because I could wash in the early evening, and then leave it to dry till the next day, maybe longer when it is actually January, but that's okay.

Took a little bit of time to get my family to sacrifice this luxury, but when I found out that two of my neighbors have been doing it for years and my German neighbor does not even own an electric dryer, I had to try. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that clothes are line dried everywhere else in the world but here. It is done in the Philippines for sure, but I also remember them doing it in Tokyo for our clothes in the middle of winter! We had no excuse.

Mrs. Pegg's Handy Line wasn't cheap, but so far it's been worth it.

update: I recently read that air drying damp clothes indoors cools or lowers the temperature of a room. This is great for spring, summer, when don't mind a cooler room, but probably not good during the winter months when you'd rather it be warm. The dampness cools the room making the heater work harder to warm it up. The extra energy used to compensate for the dampness can be the same as the energy you would have used if you had used the electric dryer. So in cooler months, it seems best to dry outdoors, maybe in the garage, or a room that is not being heated. Information from How to Live a Low-Carbon Life by Chris Goodall.


Friday, August 15, 2008

ceiling fans

The two ceiling fans we installed earlier this year has been saving us these last few weeks!! Surprisingly, we've only used the AC once this summer.


prix-prix notebook

Got this mini note from Prix-prix at Renegade Handmade in Chicago. Hand screen printed and such an elegant use of the cereal boxes!


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Reminder about Energy Saving Tips!

Got this link about Simple Energy Saving Tips: Level 1 from Co-op America this morning. These tips are perfect for the summer, especially to compensate for any AC we might be sneaking in on those super hot days. I did not realize there were levels, but I can see how it can get overwhelming without them! I think I've done everything but the energy audit. Even though I've read these tips a hundred times, I notice how great any reminder is because it's easy to slack!
  • Turn Off Lights You're Not Using
  • Schedule an Energy Audit - have done my own self audit, but I wonder what a professional would say
  • Let Your Dishwasher Breathe - by skipping the drying cycle, yes
  • Shift Your Load to Off-Peak Times - done!
  • Don't heat or Cool Empty Rooms - installed 2 new fans last March to prevent using AC as often
  • Turn off Electronics - turn off computer if gone for more than 1 hour
  • Eliminate Phantom Load" - damn those phantoms, we're still working on this one, recently ordered those new power strips that turn off peripherals, more on that later.
  • Eliminate Your Second Fridge - does the wine fridge count?? yes, darn. ok, have to talk to the spouse about this one.
  • Wash Clothes in Cold Water - most of the time :)
  • Give the Dryer a Rest - with the summer heat, hang drying has been my big project as of late, more on that soon.


Friday, June 20, 2008

How to Dispose CDs

Disposed of old data cds by scratching them up with a safety pin. Will recycle them to Best Buy this weekend.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

shredding the past

Next phase in our clean up -- going through about dozen plus plastic bins of financial and work docs that go way back to our college days. I am convinced you can write the story of your life based on your credit card bill statements. They tell you where you've lived, places you frequented, who you worked for, how much money you felt comfortable blowing in one month, and then some. This was interesting to me because I had forgotten when I had traveled, where, and with who. Before shredding, I noted some of these dates and times for my future autobiography, ha ha, no really only because I am so forgetful these days and it's nice to reminisce.

Some notes about this experience: it takes forever because you are revisiting your past; a good shredder that does not overheat is your best friend; the Notebook program I got for another project has been archiving my life story perfectly; canceled a credit card today, going to try and pay cash more often.


Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rogan for Target

Just got back from some Saturday night shopping at Target and found the latest Go International designer, Rogan, on the racks -- "Designed by Rogan Gregory, an environmentally-conscious collection of modern silhouettes and nature-inspired prints and patterns." It was so bizarre to see this one dress reminiscent of a Martin Margiela meets Helmut Lang utilitarian aesthetic. On top of that, the entire line was made sustainable. How could I resist. Above, what I will be wearing all summer.

Now home, I have been reading that this Rogan for Target line premiered at Barney's, yes Barney's. I'm not sure what think about all of it except that everyone is just getting along so fabulously. I love it.


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

bucket in the bathtub

Been noticing lately, really how much water I waste waiting for the hot water to warm up before showering - it's quite a bit. So I got a new bucket at the hardware store last Saturday.

I easily fill up half the bucket with each shower. I've been using the water to fix my bed head hair in the morning, I've washed my dirty feet a few times, and have been watering plants.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Muji socks

My favorite socks from Muji made from recycled cotton. I bought a set for me and set for my mom years ago and just found that they still sell them!


Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Dalai Lama

Needless to say, April just wizzed by. So many things happened. One of the hilights, seeing the Dalai Lama! Kinda neat.

This annual trip to Seattle (Jon was there too, but we did not see him) just happened to coincide with Seeds of Compassion, a conference in which the Dalai Lama was the honored guest. We decided to crash the party thinking there may be empty seats on a Monday at 1pm and we were right. The panel included His Holiness, as he is called, and a group of business leaders, the most noteable being the president of Costco there to discuss bringing compassion to the workplace.

It was amazing to see how humbled these business execs were to be in the presence of His Holiness, who happened to be the most humble of them all. It was quite ironic, because he frequently spoke about how industrialism was the begining of the man-made problems of war, violence, anger, hatred, and jealousy. What could these businesses do bring compassion to their employees, how would that affect the customers and ultimately the bottom line? The truth is that before before industrialism, more importance was placed on a healthy mind, compassion, warm heartedness. This made for healthy and thriving societies with a more wholistic view of world. To back it all up, science is now proving that emotion is so important to creating this well being.

The conference was focused on the youth, parents, and caregivers. By teaching the youth compassion at an early age, they will show that same compassion towards others through out their lives. "Early child development, after all, is the foundation of community development." And if we can inspire them early, we might be able to soften the soul-less effects of industrialism.

I know so many people having babies lately, this is a great message.


Monday, March 31, 2008

Anatomy of a Garage Sale

Who can resist passing up the words GARAGE SALE in big bold letters on a Saturday morning? I'm guilty, but this past weekend, the tables were turned and now we were having the garage sale. My experience - shock and awe. In six hours, we managed to sell off 90% of our excess "stuff", making $300 worth of small bills and quarters. Crazy. The secret to it all - attitude, organization, and florescent pink signage.

"I just want to get rid of everything!" This was the frustration I expressed when I announced to my husband that we were going to have a garage sale. We had already gotten rid of old things, but still had been storing a lot of other things we weren't using. Not only was all our excess becoming a sore spot in our relationship, it was becoming overwhelming and a waste of time to keep all these things in order. I was desperate and this was just the attitude I needed to make the my 'everything must go sale' work. Yes, it was hard to sell things we had paid hard earned money for, for the cheapo price of five dollars, one dollar and even a quarter, but they had been a burden for long enough. By that morning, I was happy to give, give, give and see people hauling away my long time burden.

Grouping similar things together also made things move like lightening speed. I noticed that the early birds did not really buy much because they were still in boxes, but the moment they were unpacked and spread out on the driveway, the grass and on tables, they sold! We had spent the previous weekend taking everything out of the garage and then putting it all back in categorized boxes with the 'keep" boxes farther inside. This was extra work, but worth it so we could relax at dinner the night before, and then prevent any stress or confusion that morning. 

Lastly, florescent pink rocks. You can see it a mile away and once someone catches the necessary info (GARAGE SALE and an arrow really big, and the date and times really small) all they have to do is follow the pink blocks of color all the way to the treasure! One buyer mentioned how fun it was to follow the pink arrows through all our little streets. 

Amazingly, people came till the very end even picking through and buying from the little pile that was left (see pic below). They were determined to find gold - some sort of bargain whether they needed it or not. It was a little bit scary to see this side of American consumers, again something I am guilty of myself, but hoping to resolve after this experience. Admittedly, by the end we did take some things back into garage. Now, it was less overwhelming, more manageable.


Monday, March 17, 2008

Greenopia 2nd Edition

Greenopia: The Urban Dweller's Guide to Green Living's 2nd Edition is out. Greenopia is one of the few published guides for finding local eco-friendly businesses and resources. This new guide has 75% more listings than the previous. If that's not a sign that everyone is moving forward, then I don't know what is. What I'm loving most is that each category is prefaced with an intro by an expert in that field and more importantly, tips on what key things to look for in that eco-friendly service or product. In the eating out section, for example, there is a seafood guide indicating which fish to choose and which to avoid based on abundance and if they are caught or farmed in ways that hard other marine life or the environment. Hmm, I've been buying farmed salmon, not the best choice. 

I stopped by the book signing at Borders on Sunset this past Sunday to meet Gay Browne, the founder of Greenopia, and Ferris Kawar, their VP of Sustainability. Two really neat people who presented the new edition and are clearly in the know that the big players are committed to the green cause.


recycle back to m.a.c.

I just traded in 12 empty M.A.C. lipstick tubes for 2 new lipsticks, so 6 empty tubes = 1 free lipstick! This recycling program is just their commitment to the environment. If I even wear make up, which I really should some days, it's usually only lipstick and maybe a little bit of eye liner, so I've been collecting this bag of empty tubes for maybe the past... 10 years? Geez. Yay, new lipstick!! 

ps. I wish I would've snapped shot of all twelve tubes, but I was so excited, I finally remember and then actually found a moment to do it, that I forgot... oh well.


Friday, February 22, 2008

heart these dresses

Lena Corwin posted the first one by Mocuin who I love for their prints and the second is a jacket/dress Jon saw made of 100% recycled polyester by Nau


Thursday, February 21, 2008

chopsticks & the forest

"Environmentalists in China have a message to Olympic-goers in Beijing: Bring your own chopsticks!" This is how All Things Considered started this segment yesterday afternoon. I love it, what's it all about!? Apparently, disposable wooden chopsticks are dramatically contributing to China's deforestation. According the Greenpeace, the nation uses 160,000 pairs of chopsticks a day. This is equal to about 100 acres of forest being deforested each day! To enforce reusable chopsticks, the government is now taxing disposable chopsticks in an effort to discourage people from using them, most significantly the big chain restaurants. 

Last weekend, a friend had a post-Chinese New Year pot luck. Signed up to bring a good salad in order to balance out the greasy chinese food and at the last minute remembered my bright red set plastic chopsticks.
Also forgot to post last month that China has also banned plastic bags because it's depleting their petroleum reserve. I have to say, China is pretty rockin' in this arena.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Deepak Chopra and a perfect colorway

I've been reading The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by physician and philosopher Deepak Chopra. I had heard of Deepak Chopra before, but only got to understand him better after seeing an Iconoclasts episode he did with comedian Mike Myers. He has such a simple and concise, but lush way of talking about our existence, science, and spirituality. One of his practices is to "take time each day to commune with nature and witness the intelligence within every living thing." After all nature is perfect, all around us and there to teach us. I bought these flowers at farmers market this weekend. With that little bit of yellow in the middle, it's a perfect colorway.


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Composting Bin Sale

I will be checking out the Composting Bin Sale at Griffith Park Composting Education Facility tomorrow. They sell bins every 2nd Friday of the month. Up till now, I've been throwing all my green scraps in a small container by my sink and then to the green bin. But with all the veggies I've been getting from the farmers market, I really should be composting. I'm a little bit nervous to have "worm pets" because I've never been a pet person, but this book is helping.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

zero waste dinner

Had friends over for some good grub last night. I dug out all my plates, napkins and utensils for a zero waste night. Asking everyone to stack their dirty plates and place their dirty utensils in a small bowl full of soapy water made clean up super easy.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Heal the Bay

It's been raining like crazy here. Last night's rain was heavy and almost scary, keeping us up during the wee hours. This morning, it makes me think of our So-Cal beaches and how polluted they're going to be after the rain.  So, I signed up for Heal the Bay's beach clean up email list. They are a great organization that coordinates beach clean-ups. A friend suggested just going down to the beach and picking up the trash in the water. It really is as easy as that...


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

no more plastic bags!

It was bound to happen! Whole Foods will be plastic bag free by Earth Day in April. Via:



Last night, I impulse bought the Recycline/Preserve food colander. I also just recently got the toothbrush  at the Eco Gift Fair in Santa Monica last December. Both are made out of recycled plastic and, I believe, can be recycled back to the company. 


Sunday, January 20, 2008

shopping local

Went to the Hollywood Farmers Market today to shop for my vegetables locally. One of my New Years resolutions is to schedule the local markets into my life instead of buying everything at Whole Foods at my convenience. Also making a conscious effort to eat more leafy greens on a regular basis after hearing this week's Good Food interview on KCRW with the author of the Omnivore's Dilemma. It was a warm and beautiful January day here in LA and all the food looked amazing as usual. I am still in training because my eyes get bigger than my ability to possibly cook all the food that I end up buying just because of their good looks. I'm working on it, I have all year don't I!?

ps. Sat at the same table, elbow to elbow, to Gwen Stefani (crazy!) + family at the farmers market.. totally surreal...


Thursday, January 03, 2008

hanky gifts

Gave hankies as my eco-conscious Christmas gifts this year... 


Monday, December 24, 2007

newspaper wrap

Wrapped the white elephant gifts using less than 1 monday daily newspaper and previously used brown bags for the company party. Added ribbon so it seemed less like trash to people who are used to holiday wrapping and it became the cheapest, coolest wrapping paper around! 


Sunday, December 02, 2007

roll-up bags

Barely got it together for a Holiday Sale I did this weekend in Eagle Rock. I sold my towels, cards and the newest item... these roll-up bags I made using organic cotton totes, some natural ribbon and snaps. It was fun doing the snaps, although I could feel it in my shoulder the next day. The two designs are also new, S-Curve in navy and Madrid in pink. Already have it in the shop, but will be working on better photos this week....


Thursday, October 18, 2007

iMac in tangerine

This week we will sadly have to say goodbye to our tangerine iMac. You can see from the dust, it's been in the attic for some time. They were so exciting back then (1999?) weren't they... I think I still have a postcard of all the candy colored computers arranged like just that - candy.

We will be recycling a total of 5 gianormous computer monitors, a scanner, a printer and a cell phone to California Recycles on Saturday at the Culver City Methodist Church. Knowing we were going to eventually do this, we have been collecting old computer hardware from family and friends knowing that if we don't take them, they will be sent to a landfill. California Recycles, will take them all apart and melt them down to be reused again.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

catalogs cancelled

Called West Elm, JCrew, and FLOR today and kindly cancelled my catalogs. As the lady was typing, she recited my reason for cancelling - "shops online and going green :)"


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Dwell Mag

The newest issue of Dwell is big, beefy, and all about green! Glad to see that "Sustainability is here to stay!"


Our New Prius!

Our new 2008 Toyota Prius Hybrid! Our lease was finally up on our other car making it the perfect oppportunity to green forward. We are getting about 39 mpg. Not bad compared to the 21 mpg on our other car. We were surprised that there were no deals to really negotiate at Toyota because the cars are flying off the lot. I've been hearing that a fully electric car you can plug into a regular household outlet will be out in 12-18 months!? That would be excellent!

Update: Despite the fact that we were still 2 bars until an empty tank of gas and that if you do run empty, a full battery will keep you going another 25 miles, we filled up for the first time this weekend anyway. It's been 3 weeks and we're at 43 mpg. Not bad at all :)


Drought Tolerant Garden

The native side of Santa Monica College's comparison of native and traditional gardens. I love the trees and shrubs, the pot submerged underground, the creekbed for urban runoff and gravel surface to let rainwater return back down to the groundwater supply. Find out more about it here.


Thursday, October 04, 2007

LA Green Drinks 2nd Anniversary

Can you believe it's already October! Tonight we are trying our hardest to make it to LA Green Drinks in Culver City because it is their 2nd year anniversary. Barent Roth who was our Sustainable Works instructor started the L.A. chapter of this organization as a casual way to network and talk about green issues. We attended our first Green Drinks in at the Good Luck Bar in Silverlake a few weeks back and were impressed by how many great professionals we met who were passionate about the eco movement. There were about 20-25 people. The Culver City location, which is the original location, gets about 50 people attending, but I suspect there will be more tonight!


All Shades of Green and Ecoland

A new shop in Silverlake opened last week called All Shades of Green. I stopped by and picked up this comfy organic cotton ladies tank top by Ecoland. Their cotton is SKAL certified and the top manufactured in a sweatshop free factory. I was a little bummed about the excessive packaging, but it is made of 100% recycled paper and soy based inks.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

L.A.D.W.P.'s Green Energy Program

I just signed for L.A.D.W.P.'s Green Power program. Again, seems like so little (an extra $3/month) to support L. A.'s green efforts. I found it here on their website. I needed my DWP bill in order to enter my account number, but filling out a simple form online was all it took. I liked how you could choose the percentage of energy you wanted as green energy. I've heard from others in my workshop that previously, you only had the option to purchase 20% green energy. Now you can choose from 20-100% depending on how much you wanted to support.
Makes me proud of our smog torn city.

here's an explanation form the form I filled out...

The price for new green power is slightly higher than power generated from conventional sources such as coal and natural gas. The extra cost is currently 3 cents per kilowatt hour, which is applied only to that portion of renewable energy that is chosen. The minimum contribution percentage for residential or small non-residential customers is 20%, but up to 100% may be elected. For the average LADWP customer that chooses a 20% contribution and whose monthly electric charge is $50, the additional charge would be $3 (or $6 on a bi-monthly bill). This extra cost may be offset by free energy efficiency products and services provided by LADWP. Participating customers are required to remain on the Green Power rate for a period of no less than 12 months.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Green Workshop Part 3: Waste

There are so many shocking facts about waste. Honestly, I’ve spent the last 15 minutes trying to write about it more simply, but it is too much. Here are links regarding waste to the Sustainable Works blog , a great reference, or just trust that we need to create a cycle rather than a linear process for consumption or else we’ll be living in trash!

Here are the top 5 things we can do according to my Sustainable Works book…

Reuse more, Consume less
This is the mantra. Reusing is always better even if it takes some resources to clean after use. This includes plates, utensils, cups, water bottles, grocery bags. It, then, becomes a cycle, rather than a linear line to the landfill. Some one in the class asked, what was she to do about cups for a birthday party for 50 kids? Instructor said, borrow tumbler cups from friends or neighbors, or if was in your budget, rent from a party supply. Total silence from the group of course, maybe because this would be totally inconvenient, easier to buy 200 disposable cups for $8.99 at Costco, but hold up – fact: Styrofoam takes approx. 500 years to break down in a landfill (One Makes a Difference), ah, whew, okay it’s worth that extra effort. I get it. It was at this point that I realized only by knowing all these crazy messed up facts will I keep myself driven.
Consuming less plastic ziplock bags and paper towels were huge for me, but just being less of a consumer in general was even bigger. I'm just buying less and asking myself 3 or 4 times if it's really truly necessary, end of story.

Recycle Everything
Recycle plastics, paper, glass, cans, anything you can see something being remade out of. This reduced my trash greatly, to the point that in the beginning, we had way more to recycle than to throw in the regular garbage. Also, if you are not sure if it’s recyclable, put it in that recycle bin anyway. I found out that they will keep these non-recyclables stored until they find a way to recycle them.

Give away or donate things you don’t use.
I have to admit, we had so much stuff when we moved into our house, I was embarrassed to tell anyone. We accumulated so many things that ended up in storage and our parents’ homes that when they were all transferred to one place, it was overwhelming. I am proud to say, we have given away about 1/3 if not 1/2 of our stuff and in the process furnished my cousin’s apartment, clothed friends and relatives, and have made more than a dozen trips to Goodwill.

Close the Loop. Cradle to cradle.
This is the other mantra! Buy things made from the things you recycle. What a great feeling. I recycle all this paper and then purchase recycled paper goods in return. Of course! Barent, our instructor, was wearing a black t shirt from Pategonia made from recycled plastic bottles the other day! It’s amazing what they are doing now. I’ve also now been taking note of the percentage of post-consumer content on recycled products.

A few other things:
Harzadouse Waste Facility - old batteries, used light bulbs, old paint, anything with a cord should be disposed of at your nearest facility. They will leak toxic chemicals that will get into our ground water if it is not disposed of properly. Bad! I am guilty of having one too many paint sample quarts and leftover paint from the last 9 years or so. Having said that, I am happy I finally brought all of it to the Hazardous Waste Facility today. Now that I know more about more toxic waste, it’s actually a relief to have it out of the house!
Compost – so little time, but I itch to do this every time I throw veggies in the garbage! Very soon for me, I hope.
Eliminate Junk mail – I just signed up for Will post about what happens.
Try a zero waste lunch! – very cool concept! I stopped using paper napkins in restaurants in exchange for a handkerchief.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Green Workshop Part 2: Energy

When I think of energy, I wonder why new homes don't come standard with solar power. It seems like the right thing to do. After this workshop we decided to divert our kitchen remodel funds to solar power.

- This one is easy - Compact Flourescent Light bulbs. Change as many as possible to CFL's simply put, they take a fifth of the energy traditional incandescnets do, and last ten times longer. Our big question was if we should wait till the other ones burn out... the answer, and this was from the experts, was no. Don't wait one more minute. The earth’s resources are already so depleted that we cannot afford to use electricity in excess especially if there is a way to use a fraction of it. I guess this is also the case with anything that saves water - so we replaced the toilet even though it could last another few years - it was wasting water and that's what mattered most!
- Use task lighting instead of the larger overhead light. Makes sense. Need one for my desk.

- Unplug all unused appliances, even your TV and VCR. Apparently, there is this thing called phantom energy which is the energy that is used when your appliance is idle or in standby mode. So this means everything with a remote. Appliances are waiting attentively for a signal from your remote so they are definitely on - this idle time accounts for 93% of what we are paying for! For answering machines and cordless phones, it's 98%! (Alan Meier of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) When I told my sister about this, she immediately started unplugging things around the house. The best thing to do is to have the VCR and TV on a power strip so that it is easy to turn off when not in use.

Heating and Cooling:
- This was easy. We set our thermostat to 78 degrees when we had the AC on this summer. Seemed like no big deal but apparently it will save us 3-5% of our energy bill with each degree higher. My friend Jon was shocked when he saw that his energy bill dropped to approx $50 this summer from $150 last summer after changing his thermostat one degree from 77 to 78 . Crazy.
- Got rid of our electric space heaters. They gobble up so much energy.
- Installed ceiling fans this past spring after last summer's heat wave. They're perfect all year round.
- We’ve recently installed more tinting of our windows to keep the UV rays out and create more insulation. Window tinting can block up to 50% UV rays.
- We’ve also opted for more blankets and sweaters instead of the heater which I will do gladly after these last heat waves.

Washing Machines and Dishwashers
- Run washer only when it's full. They use the same energy with a full load or half load. Turn off the drying cycle in the dishwasher and let the dishes just air dry.
- I love these dryer tips directly from my sustainable works book. I think I want to print them out and tape the washer dryer.
- line dry when weather permits: I’ve been line drying the easy to dry t shirts all summer. I put the rest of the wet clothes in the dryer and set the time to half of what I would usually set it to.
- clean the lint filter before each load – if lint is allowed to collect, drying time and energy consumption increases.
- dry full laundry loads but make sure not to overload the dryer
- do not over dry – I was amazed at how little time it truly takes to dry clothes.
- dry continuously – energy is spent warming a cold dryer.

As we remodel our home we will be
- only purchasing Energy Star products
- looking to eventually install solar panels
- also looking into a tankless water heater


the 11th Hour

Whew, what a weekend. With triple digit temperatures, a random 4 a.m. thunder storm, one brown out, and a small earthquake Sunday morning, uh, I think someone is trying to tell us something! We took refuge at a movie theater yesterday afternoon finding it quite appropriate to be watching the 11th Hour.
The idea behind everyone's message -- the earth is sick, it needs healing. The earth will survive it's sickness, but will we? The earth had been around for billions of years morphing from one form to another. We on the other hand are just one civilization occupuying the planet. Are we driving ourselves to extinction? This movie interviews dozens of independent experts who each explain, mostly through science, what brought us to the point. Industrialism, our addiction to fossil fuels, the myth that we have a limitless supply of resources, has advanced us beyond our expectations, but this as also made us become more separate from nature, therefore are not fully aware the harm that we are causing. As one woman said in my Sustainable Works Workshop, you feel so horrible and guilty in the first half of the movie, thank god the second half is about hope and the reality is that most of human kind never had the intent to be this destructive. We just weren't aware. Now is the time to become more aware and not ignore the things we hear in the news, but to take action within our own lives.

If we look at this as an opportunity, it is an exciting time to be able to redesign, well, everything we know with a new frame of mind, a new purpose to make sure the products we create from this point forward are reusable, recycable, creating the least impact to the earth. It's the idea of cradle to cradle instead of cradle to grave. It gives me, as a designer, a purpose larger than myself and beyond just trying to make a living.
Feeling overwelmed about all this is normal, so as a general rule of thumb, I'm realizing that it is more simply about SLOWWWING DOWWWWN - what are we really buying, what we are eating, where are we always going, do we really need all these material things, do we really need to consume this much???
Go see it, and see it in theaters to support the movie financially.


Thursday, August 30, 2007

Green Workshop Part 1: Water

So water was the first workshop. Wow, I was hanging on Barent's (the instructor) every word. "Water will be the next major impetus for conflict; Australia is currently in the middle of a drought which has forced entire cities to move, the country to start recycling their sewage water, and start the process of desalination; It takes the water equivalent to 6 months of showers to make 1 pound of beef." All of these facts have such a direct effect on our immediate futures. What's more crazy is that all the changes are so simple and totally within reach of an average citizen.

There is so much information, these are the things that stuck with me....

My Toilets:
Leaks - I'm so glad I found out about this test, because we have 1 leaky toilet. To test for a leak, we were asked to drop some food coloring (I used some India ink) into our toilet tanks, to wait, and see if the coloring "leaked" into the bowl. Sure enough, it did. We are scheduled to change it this week. A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons per day.
Lo flow toilets- This means 1.6 gallons per flush which is standard now. Luckily, we had all standard toilets. I think the old standard was over 3+ gallons, which is double! We are also practicing "If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown, flush it down."

My shower:
Lo flow/hi pressure shower head - The concept behind this is like putting your thumb to a hose so that it sprays out, but with less water. So surprised that this was not a big deal for us taking a shower. We were still getting clean.
Turn off water while we shampooing and soaping - Our shower head also came with an on/off attachment which we hardly used until recently. It's not so bad now that it is summer and it seems at 2.2 gallons per minute, I am saving quite a few gallons. Also made me take a quicker shower.

My sinks and dishes:
Aerators - Same idea as the lo flow shower head. Already standard on all our bathroom and kitchen faucets, but we still need to do this on our garden hose. They are also like 2 bucks at the hardware store.
Do not use garbage disposal to throw away food. Scrape food off into the trash or compost. - This is so terrible because the disposal is what we are led to believe is the right thing, but that waste actually goes to the water treatment facility which then needs to filter out the food. We may try to start composting, but in the trash for now.
Operate the dishwasher when completely full- I don't have a functioning dishwasher, but I understand that it uses less water than washing by hand. This is also the case with our car - going to a car wash saves more water than washing it yourself. Absolutely fine by me!

My laundry:
Operate the laundry when completely full - It uses almost the same water and energy to do a smaller load.
Use only cold water to launder clothes - Today's laundry detergent is advanced enough to do the real cleaning. I tried this and my clothes were fine. I also started committing to doing laundry at night when it's less pressure on the energy grid. I also dried my t-shirts on a drying rack in the garage through the night. The rest of my clothes have been going in the dryer, but have been taking less number of minutes to dry therefore less energy. Kinda feels like a cool game at this point!

My garden (which doesn't really exist yet, but we are planning it now!)
Plant drought tolerant plants - I'm really excited about this one. I have a black thumb. But I am discovering through the Theodore Payne Foundation, that I can still have a garden of native plants meant for this Southern California desert!

A few more better habits:
Eat less beef - This was a surprising one. It takes water equivalent to 6 months of showers (12,009 gallons) to make 1 pound of beef! Crazy!
Allow frozen foods to thaw out in the refidgerator - rather than running them through hot water, which the way we did it growing up.
Use reusable water bottles - I bought us Siggs (I bought the one in the pic above), really fun aluminum water canteens. They aren't plastic so they won't make your water taste weird after it's been opened and sitting.

It's a bit of a hussle to do everything at first, but I always feel better after doing it.

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recycled leather bag

This recycled leather bag by Ashley Watson is gorgeous and brilliant. Her collection is made from old leather jackets. I thought I could never buy leather again, but now... Via Lena Corwin

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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Greening the home more and Sustainable Works

Ahhh, my efforts to green the home... good, but a lot of time and research. I'm retraining myself out of what I learned in suburbia growing up. It was a comfy life in the OC (thanks mom and dad), but not enough awareness. Now I am creating cozy and aware. Right now it seems Santa Monica is my best resource. Walk around and they have the ideal California - beach, nature, sun, climate which also means they have the most to protect. I realize that this is one of the reasons why they are so forward about being green.

A few weeks ago I started a 6 week workshop with Sustainable Works in Santa Monica with my friend Sabine. It's one of the best things I've ever done. For those that think they are already being green, you have to take this workshop. It will take you to the next level in terms of tweaking your everyday habits. I'm happy that it's not about spending thousands for solar panels, even though we may just do that before the kitchen, but doing things like always doing laundry with cold water because the detergent does the cleaning, tinting our windows for more insulation, and eating less beef because it takes so much water to raise a cow. We recycle, turn off lights when we're not in the room, bring our reusable bags to the store, but there is so much more than that.

I'd like to document my progress. We were asked to take a life assessment survey at the beginning of the workshop and will be taking one at the end to get a sense of our progress and the difference it will make. I can't wait to see the numbers!


Monday, July 30, 2007

Wind Power & Urban Spring

How incredible is it that today, a little person like moi can purchase something like wind power generated by those huge wind mills on the 5 fwy. Actually, you purchase credits that offset your electric bill. This past weekend, I signed up for the program at after seeing a pamphlet at Whole Foods. For $15/month, I purchase enough credit for a family of 3. Pretty cool. To top it off, you get a $50 gift certificate to Whole Foods.

I have to give props to the Urban Spring Cafe in Brooklyn, NY for bringing about my new found fascination their wind power access and for setting a great example of a "green" based business. I frequented the cafe every morning while staying with my dear friend Margaret in Fort Green. Their eco efforts encompass every part of their business from the corn plastic compostable cups and sugar cane fiber packaging to the salvage doors turned shelving. Their tropical smoothies and goji power bars are to die for.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

more power to the hanky

In the airport on my way to NY this weekend, I figured out that I could air dry a damp hanky by tying it to my computer bag and look cute doing it! I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of using hankies instead of paper towels to wipe my washed hands in public bathrooms. I stopped because I didn’t like the thought of stuffing the damp piece of cloth back into my pocket, but the view of a trash can full of clean paper towels is better? I don’t think so. Problem solved!


Monday, July 02, 2007

outdoor dryer

It's a blazing 90 degrees out today, so I decided to dry a few loads of laundry out back to save energy. My first load dried in an hour and a half. Not bad.


Buying Into the Green Movement

This morning I read a really interesting article in the NY Times style section: "Buying into the Green Movement" that put a lot of perspective into what is happening in the "green" movement happening here in the U.S. Are we truly being green if we are buying organic fruit from Whole Foods that was flown in from Chile on a 747? Are we truly being green if we are building a 5,000 square foot eco friendly home for only 2 people (from a radio segment of Studio 360 on KCRW)? Or by buying a designer organic cotton bag at a $960? That is the big question right now.

Businesses are banking on the green trend because people are feel like consuming "light" green products lets them off the hook. The reality is that despite the fact that we are buying green, it is not making a dent because we are still ... consuming. Part of being green is consuming less which does not usually jive with a consumer driven business.

Raised by a family of suburban consumers, I feel whatever mindfulness we can spread, even if it is through corporate evil empires, is important and a step in the right direction because I can tell you, they're surely not taking my (I'm the black sheep daughter) word for it. It's tough to change people's habits, especially people who feel entitled to their comforts and conveniences because they've worked so hard all their lives.

I've emailed this article to several people today.


Monday, June 25, 2007

my biodegradable fork!

This is the most amazing fork. It is made of corn starch and will start bio-degrading in about 2 months. It was this fork coupled with plates and cups that were also compostable that made the Taste of the Nation fundraiser a near ideal event for us foodies. It's impressive that almost all the waste for the event could be composted or recycled. Restaurants were also encouraged to only bring reusable containers.
To bring a deeper purpose to our eating habits this year, we attended this spectacular food tasting fundraiser held by LA's fine food establishments to end childhood hunger all over the nation. I was shocked at the fact that there are over 200,000 children, just children alone, that go hungry in Los Angeles every day. It's a pricey $95 ticket, but for an important cause and totally tax deductable.
This was the place to be for an overview of LA's fanciests restaurants. The portions were huge for a "taste" and head chefs could be seen dishing out their best summer recipes. Ask anyone serving to describe their dish and it's a detailed, colorful description of a masterpiece. Among my favorites was AOC's shrimp ceviche with sour orange mojo, Providence's chilled summer melon soup with serano ham espuma (i think this is the lard), spit roasted lamb from Grace, and the avocado and three corn salad from Border Grill/Ciudad.
The live auction's highest prize was fun to watch, and I emphasize watch only, as an older business man and a younger wallpaper mag-styled man bid back an forth to see who would soon be the most popular guy amongst his friends. The coveted prize was a private dinner prepared by chefs Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, who nursed each bidder during the process, for you and 20 of your closest friends on the helicopter pad of U.S. Bank, the top of the tallest building in dowtown LA. The winner.. the older gentleman and his lovely wife.