Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Teen's Science Fair Findings May Help With Plastic Problem

A teenager may have uncovered natural bacteria that degrade plastic.

Basically, the teen isolated two bacteria that appeared to be dining on plastic and found that these guys reduced the volume of his plastic sample by 43%. Very interesting.

Check out a full blog post on the subject on the Discover website.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Baking Soda Shampoo and Lush Conditioner: An Update

I'm back and here to report that I am no longer clapping my hands with joy about my baking soda shampoo and Lush conditioner development. In fact, I'm actually quite melancholy because my hair is pretty gross right now.

Here's why:
  • The baking soda shampoo worked well for a few days, but an icky build-up has made my hair feel strange and wiry.
  • The Lush conditioner worked well, but it has a very strong smell and my friends have started asking me things like, "Um, do you smell like pachouli?" Not good.
So I guess I'm going back to the alternating between the Lush and Burt's Bees shampoo bars and then using a vinegar rinse. My hair looks good when I follow this routine, but is it nice enough to make me clap my hands in happiness? Not quite.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Sorry I haven't been posting lately. To be honest, I've been really stressed out at work, and just haven't had the motivation to write posts.

Actually, to be even more honest, work has been driving me so insane that I broke down and cooked a frozen pizza yesterday. As you might recall, I love frozen pizza so this was one of those moments where stress caused me to stray from me values and revert to old ways. I felt so guilty as I was throwing the plastic wrapper from the pizza in the garbage, but I just couldn't help myself.

I need to do something to de-stress. Hopefully tabling at the Chicago Green Fest tomorrow will help!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

OMG, I'm So Happy

Okay, I just washed my hair with baking soda and used a solid conditioner bar from Lush called Jungle, and am about to cry tears of joy because my hair is so absolutely and completely AMAZING because of it.

Now, don't get me wrong, the vinegar rinse conditioner still works quite nicely, but ever since I ran out of regular shampoo, my hair has been a little down in the dumps. Kind of depressed. Moody. Ya know.

But now I think my hair and I have found the secret. Yes, we have found the key to all wisdom and happiness in life: the magical baking soda shampoo and Lush conditioner bar combination!

I think this development merits a little singing.

If you're happy and you know it clap your hands (clap, clap)
If you're happy and you know it clap your hands (clap, clap)
If you're happy cause you're hair is super soft and super nice
If you're happy and you know it clap your hands (clap, clap)

(Thanks, boyfriend, for the Lush products. I like them)

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Morel Hunt and How I Found Plastic-Free Food In The Forest

This evening my friend Jim and I drove out to a forest preserve on the outskirts of Chicago to go on a morel hunt with a local mushrooming group.

I have been obsessed with the idea of mushroom hunting for a while, so when we arrived a few minutes late to the forest preserve parking lot, I freaked out because no one was there. I was so worried that we had missed the event altogether. Luckily, a few somewhat experienced people from the group showed up a few minutes after we got there and stopped any chance of me hyperventilating or crying from disappointment.

With the two people that had arrived, Jim and I set out into the forest to find some fungus. At first we didn't see anything—just the beautiful spring flowers, lush undergrowth, and bright green color of the forest—but eventually Jim found something. Don, one of the people with us, confirmed that what he found was indeed a small morel. More specifically, as we later learned, it was a half-free morel.

How amazing! And just a few seconds later Jim found another little morel right nearby. I was determined to find one of my own so I circled the elm tree we were near, and found, much to my great happiness, a big half-free morel, about four inches in length.

Just as we found these mushrooms some of the other club members found us and came over to greet us. I shared that my morel was the first one I had ever found, and a grey-haired fellow also named Jim, the seeming leader of the group, said that I needed to start singing the corresponding song, which was, of course, "The First Morel" as sung to the tune of the similarly named Christmas tune. Ah, mushroom people are nerds. I love it.

Anyways, about 20 minutes after our first proud discoveries it started to rain. No, I should say it started to rain heavy drenching sheets so we had to make a mad dash to our car.

But that was okay. We had four half-free morels in our possession, which we brought home and cooked up. Just as the older Jim had promised, they weren't the best tasting mushrooms in the world—sort of flowery tasting, not strongly flavored—but that was okay. We found something edible in the forest, and that was certainly cool enough.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Whole Foods Banned Plastic Bags So Everyone Just Switched To Paper

If you haven't heard the news, on April 22nd, a.k.a. Earth Day, Whole Foods officially eliminated the distribution of plastic shopping bags to their customers, which means that shoppers have to use paper bags or bring their own.

Sounds great, right? This will totally protect their environment because everyone will bring their own bags, right?

Um, no.

A few days ago, I biked over to Whole Foods to do some shopping, and I can honestly say that out of the, oh, 200 people in the store, there was only one other person besides me who brought their own bags. That means, obviously, that almost all of those people took their groceries home in paper bags.

Now, I will say that at least Whole Foods' bags are made from 100% recycled paper, but I'm sad the store's reforms aren't having a more positive effect and motivating shoppers to bring their own bags—although, I'm not sure Whole Foods ever thought they would.

Maybe one day, Whole Foods will make a real commitment to the environment and start charging customers for each paper bag they take.

Afterall, IKEA saw a 92% decrease in the number of bags used at their stores when they instituted a fee, and grocery stores all over Germany charge people for bags and people almost always bring their own.

...I think this means I need to write Whole Foods yet another letter.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Buy Nothing Challenge: The Results

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008

Early last month, I wrote a quick post about how I was participating in Crunchy Chicken's Buy Nothing Challenge for the month of April.

Well, April is over, and I'm pleased to report that I did awesome. I only bought one thing for the entire month—a DVD of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation's Synthetic Sea film. I bought the movie in case I have additional presentations about plastic or anyone I know is interested in seeing it. Obviously, and somewhat ironically, it's made out of plastic, which makes me sad, but hopefully the effect it has on people will make it worth it in the end.

Anyways, I do want to admit a few things about The Challenge:

First, it was really easy for me because I'm anti-plastic and there is so little I can buy in the first place.

Second, during April I did go out to eat several times, order several drinks at bars, and buy two lattes at Starbucks. All of these things were okay according to the contest rules.

That said, I think I would like to do the challenge again in a few months and make restaurant meals and alcoholic and coffee beverages made outside the home. I think it will be a fun way to challenge myself and I can save a bundle of money at the same time.

Final comment: even though I can't really buy too much anyway, it's still amazing to see that it really is possible to go an entire month without buying a single thing.