Reflections on Copenhagen

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The Copenhagen conference ended, for the most part, disappointingly. The Copenhagen Accord, the climate change agreement reached at the last minute, doesn’t effectively address climate change. While it may have been a step in the right direction, it was only an incremental step when the world needed a leap at this moment in time.

In the aftermath of such a disappointing effort, many have sought to place blame. Fingers have been pointed at China, predictably at the US, at Danish political leadership, and even at the UN. All of these narratives are partially correct, but only partially. The blame is plenty and should be spread far….

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How to Master Organic Gardening (An eBook)

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We’re not quite to New Year’s Eve, and already I’m dreaming of my summer garden. If you, too, are digging your fingers into virtual soil and planting a garden in your head, then you might want to read How to Master Organic Gardening, an e-book by Katie Elzer-Peters and Chris Molnar.

Perhaps you’re an experienced gardener who is just now getting into organic methods. You’ll learn a lot from this book. Or maybe you’re a total beginner, essentially clueless about the meaning of such terms as compost, soil compaction, and brown rot. This book is also for you. If you’re already an expert organic gardener, you don’t need this book. But think about the people you know who could use a primer; this book is for them….

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W3LL People – “Hippie Tested, Diva Approved”

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There’s a lot to love about W3LL PEOPLE cosmetic products — and not just because they have a smart marketer telling us so. (Who could resist a line like, “Hippie Tested, Diva Approved”?) In our house, every skin- or haircare product gets scrutinized to make sure we’re not using toxic chemicals. With W3LL, that’s not a problem. Here’s what their site says about the ingredients:

“We’re not sure who decided it was a good idea to pack skincare full
of artificial preservatives, fillers and other “scientific” chemicals, but as it turns out they’re not so good for your skin, or the planet.

“W3LL is driven to create a fresh, safe focus on skincare by providing products with proven, medical-grade nutrients that actually work, and don’t increase the mounting toxic load each one of us faces every day.

“So no, our products don’t have a nuclear half-life. But when you think about it, would you really want them to? W3LL is a truly beautiful choice by offering small batch products chock full of live, active natural ingredients every bit as effective as their evil counterparts – while leaving as gentle a footprint on the planet as possible. Now that’s beautiful.”

The company philosophy is beautiful, and so are its products…

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What Kind of World Do You Want?

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This week, as we say goodbye to 2009 and greet 2010, Blue Planet Green Living asks you the question posed by Five For Fighting in their song of the same name, “What Kind of World Do You Want?” Singer John Ondrasik of Five For Fighting invites all of us to create a video response to […]

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Happy Holidays from Blue Planet Green Living

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From our house to yours, we wish you a very happy holiday.

Julia Wasson and Joe Hennager

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3 Products We Love for Skin, Face, and Hair

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Today’s post is a review of three products for body, face, and hair that I’ve come to love: Avalon Organics Olive & Grape Seed Fragrance Free Hand & Body Lotion, Sweet Skin by Sweet Wheat, and Moroccanoil.

Just to be clear, we won’t review a product if we don’t like it enough to say positive things. (Has that happened? You bet it has. But those products shall remain nameless; there’s already too much negativity in the world.) If we get a product as a free sample, we’ll tell you so. Otherwise, you can be confident that we paid for them, just like any other consumer would. And that’s the case with all three products today: We bought them.

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Francis Thicke on Farming Alternatives, CAFOs, and the Future of Farming

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In this, the fourth post in a continuing discussion with Thicke, he talks about changing the minds of Big Ag with sustainable models, the rules regarding concentrated feeding operations (CAFOs), and his vision for the future of farming in Iowa. We believe Thicke’s views about agriculture are applicable not only to Iowa, but also to the nation….

BPGL: How can anyone convince Big Ag to change?

THICKE: I think the way to do it is to find alternative models that are successful, that are ecologically sound, profitable, and socially responsible. And then try to expand adoption of those successful models, rather than try to fight what we’re not necessarily in favor of….

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Sprout Baby – Love Your Baby, Love the Planet

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Sprout Baby sells organic and natural products for babies and moms. When Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed founder Jody Sherman by phone, we learned about the process the company uses to vet products for sale on their site. We also learned that the story behind this baby products company has an unusual — and heart-tugging — twist….

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Sprout Baby – Spreading by “Word of Mom”

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With the economy struggling to get back on its feet, you might think a fledgling eco-friendly baby products company wouldn’t stand much of a chance at survival. But California-based Sprout Baby celebrated its first anniversary last week, and the company is going strong.

What’s the secret of their success? And what makes Sprout Baby’s products so good that word-of-mouth advertising is their main — and highly effective — marketing strategy?

Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviewed Sprout Baby founder and CEO Jody Sherman by phone from his Los Angeles office to find out….

SHERMAN: I kept hearing over and over again that [moms'] biggest concerns were centered around feeding and chemicals and things they were going to put in, on, and around their babies. They’re being bombarded with information about how damaging chemicals are to babies’ skin and to their health. And they’re worried about hormones in foods and such…. I started talking to some of my friends about, “What if we could start a company that would help moms find eco-conscious, responsible products that are also top-notch, healthy choices for their children?”…

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Talks Extended

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COPENHAGEN – COP15 TALKS JUST EXTENDED TO THE WEEKEND.

So much has happened, while so little real progress has been made.

Obama’s speech essentially reiterated the US’s already stated position: mitigation commitments by all major economies, transparency by both developing and developed countries alike, and US commitment of $10 billion in the short term/$100 billion in the long-term by 2020 for climate finance….

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Friday, the Final Day

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COPENHAGEN – On the final day of COP15, the process of negotiations has moved from talks between delegates to direct communication between heads of states. As I write this, President Obama is in talks with other leaders over the remaining unresolved issues. CNN’s Ed Henry tweeted that President Obama has scuttled his schedule and is in a meeting with Ethiopia (representing China) Russia, South Africa, India, Mexico, Spain, South Korea, Norway, and Colombia. Accompanying President Obama to Copenhagen is a renewed sense of optimism for the prospects of success at COP15….

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SPG Solar – Bill O’Reilly and Me

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I did not set out to pick a fight with Bill O’Reilly. As a new edition of the old saying goes: Don’t pick fights with people who use power by the gigawatt.

But let this be said: O’Reilly drew First Blood.

It happened just a few hours after the Irvine (California) Unified School District selected my company, SPG Solar, to install solar energy at 21 of its campuses. The new energy system will save the district $17 million over 20 years; will generate about half the energy the schools need; and best of all for this cash-strapped district: It all comes at no cost….

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Wednesday, Two Days Remaining

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COPENHAGEN — The anxiety and anticipation rising in the conference center are palpable as the fault lines become more distinct and several entities attempt to resurrect negotiations. It’s Wednesday morning in Copenhagen, there are far fewer NGOs, a lot more press, and sightings of presidents and prime ministers scuttling to meetings. It’s difficult to make sense of everything that is taking place at these talks. But one thing is clear, the sense of urgency has heightened, and time is running out for nations to strike a deal….

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Dispatches from Copenhagen – Sour and Souring

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COPENHAGEN — The climate change talks taking place in Copenhagen are on life support. One week in to the conference, and with one week to go, progress towards a worthwhile climate change deal has been slow. In order to salvage COP15, negotiators will have to double down in order to reach a deal.

Monday’s major news was a group of African nations walking out on negotiations, then, in dramatic fashion — late in the evening hour — choosing to come back to the negotiating table. The story behind the walkout is that, last week, the Danish government reportedly had met with a group of wealthy nations, including the US, outside of the formal process. The parties agreed to a draft “text” that could eventually become the agreement that the Copenhagen conference produces. Several poor nations were angered by what they perceived as a backdoor deal that favored rich nations. The mood has been sour — and souring— ever since, culminating in today’s walkout….

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Francis Thicke on Small Farms and Local Foods

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Francis Thicke and his wife, Susan, are organic dairy farmers who recently received the 2009 Spencer Award for Sustainable Agriculture. Francis is also a scientist and a highly respected thought leader on agricultural policy. In this, the third post in a four-part discussion with Thicke, he discusses ways to encourage the growth of small farms and local food production….

BPGL: How can we increase biodiversity in agriculture?

THICKE: On the federal level, we have the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), which is being implemented now. The CSP, which was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, provides farmers with incentives to adopt resource-conserving crop rotations. Those incentives will help farmers go beyond growing just corn and soybeans. The incentive payments will help defray the cost of adding perennial and cover crops to crop rotations….

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The Revenge of Gaia: Earth’s Climate Crisis and the Fate of Humanity

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We’ve been living in the 21st century for several years now. Yet, due to a few political mishaps and society’s own inertia, the 21st century so far has looked an awful lot like the 20th. And nothing is so reflective of this as our treatment of the natural world. Impervious to science, logic or good taste, humanity has continued on with its destructive, shameful exploitation of the environment, our standard practices not so much resembling “development” as they do organized pillage. Such outrages though, have been carefully enumerated in other places, and I will not revisit them here. My concern is not with the past — full of injustices and blunders, to be sure — but with the future, with what will come next….

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Green Girl – Organic Luxury Is in the Bag

December 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Clothing, Eco-Friendly, Fashion, Front Page, Reviews, U.S., Women

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While I was waiting for my sample Green Girl Eco Tote to arrive, I went to the company website to check it out. There were so many beautiful bags, with exotic colors and interesting black-and-white designs, I wanted to buy them all. But let’s face it: at $120 each, they weren’t going to make it to my MUST HAVE list, even for an organic bag.

The site makes the Eco Totes sound quite appealing:

Combining the best of fashion and function, Green Girl organic totes stylishly simplify the shopping experience while respecting the purity of the Earth… For the first time, Green Girl unites environmental practicality with high-end fashion sense. As the world moves toward a more sustainable future, Green Girl organic totes are fast becoming the “it” accessory for fashion savvy, eco-aware women across the nation.

I’m all for helping the environment while looking good. So, I was eager to try one out for myself….

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Finding the Deep River Within by Abby Seixas

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“Are you busy?” my young friend from Palestine asks in a chat box.

“Of course,” I respond. “But no busier than usual. What’s up?”

And so we begin our short visit, with me multitasking in between sentences, and my friend likely wondering why I can’t take few minutes to just do one thing at a time. I don’t think I’m unusual, at least in this accelerated electronic society of ours here in the U.S. But sometimes I wish I could just slow down. Maybe you wish you could, too.

Finding the Deep River Within addresses the need to take “time-in,” as author Abby Seixas (SAY-shus) calls it. Seixas knows whereof she writes, both as a woman and as a psychotherapist. Subtitled A Woman’s Guide to Recovering Balance & Meaning in Everyday Life, this book speaks to me and to the issues we women face on a daily basis. (That’s not to say men can’t gain insights from the book, too. Until a male therapist pens a book like this for men, you guys might just find many parts of the book speak to you, too.) …

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Our 5: Rob Irwin, Brett Maurer, and Paul Quick, reThread

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Blue Planet Green Living asked reThread’s Rob Irwin, Brett Maurer, and Paul Quick two questions we like to ask everyone we interview. Here are their collective answers, given by Rob Irwin.

BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to save the planet?
Education. Educate yourself and carpé diem, sieze the day. But be careful how you educate yourself. Make sure it is from reputable sources. There’s a lot of greenwashing going on, especially at the beginning of this trailhead – and I think we still are at the beginning. We are under global commerce now, and every choice you make in your lifestyle affects everyone in the world….

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Reynolds Scion Tells Kids the Truth about Tobacco

December 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Education, Front Page, Health, Smoking, Youth Programs

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The junior high auditorium is filled to capacity, yet the crowd is hushed. Students sit at rapt attention, uncharacteristically still. Tears glisten on their youthful cheeks, and even the tough guys listen quietly. On the stage, a few minutes earlier, Patrick Reynolds opened his talk with a promise, “Today, we’re going to get in touch with our feelings.”

Ordinarily, a tough junior high kid might rebel at such a statement. But not today — and not when Reynolds speaks it.

“I open all my talks — both to youth and adults,” he says, “with memories of my father dying from smoking, watching my dad gasp for breath.” Reynolds’ father was the son of tobacco tycoon, R. J. Reynolds, for whom the company was named…

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