Take Action Today to Support the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010

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In our house over the past two years or so, we’ve been carefully examining every personal care product we buy. If you’re a long-time reader of Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL), you already know that we are huge fans of the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database. Today, we received […]

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Find Bargains Fast with GarageSalesTracker.com

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Been to a garage sale yet this summer? It’s not too late to catch bargains in your own neighborhood or even at a distance, if you know where to look. Drive around your town most any weekend, and you’re likely to see garage sale signs posted on several residential corners. But there’s an easier way (and one that takes less gas) than cruising the neighborhood to look for bargains: GarageSalesTracker.com.

Blue Planet Green Living spoke today with GarageSalesTracker.com’s head of marketing, Rich Ruddie, who assists founder Franz Longsworth with everything from “answering emails to contacting people about working together, to taking phone calls like this, to customer support, and everything in between.” — Julia Wasson, Publisher

BPGL: How did the site get started?

RUDDIE: It came about when Franz was driving around and saw a garage sale sign. He wondered if anyone had ever thought to advertise their garage sales on line instead of always just putting out signs. He looked into it, and didn’t find much of use. He decided to make a site that was easy to use, specifically with the bargain hunter in mind for garage sales, flea markets, and estate sales. He added the Google map feature, which allows the user, when you sign up, to get turn-by-turn directions from your home address to the garage sale. That way, people don’t have to waste money on gas trying to find the address….

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Fox Elipsus Shares Music, Fun, and Serious Messages on Free US Concert Tour

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In many ways, Fox Elipsus reminds me of a wandering minstrel from the days of yore. He travels alone from town to town, singing and playing his music to delight the local folk. He is also a messenger, sharing serious thoughts about the environment, peace, education, and so much more, mixed in with light-hearted fun, engaging banter, and an awesome musical performance. And he does it all for free.

Joe and I were privileged Monday night to attend one of Fox’s 250 concerts on his 2010 Momentum tour — his third annual tour, with many more to come. His shows are all held in coffeehouses, bookstores (we saw him at Borders in Davenport, Iowa), and other congenial meeting places that allow him to set up and play without charging him for the space.

Born and raised in Oxford, England, 29-year-old Fox Elipsus (born Fox Salehi [SAL-uh-hee]) was caught by two fevers as a very young boy — music and the state of the planet.

“When I was about three or four,” he told me in a phone interview on his way to his next gig today, “I was extremely concerned with what is going on in the world. And I was crazy about a musician who concentrated on environmental themes. So I started writing my little four-year-old songs about the environment. I was also really into the Live Aid Concert for Africa.

“Throughout my education, I was motivated to try to fix the world. I found so much that was depressing, and I wanted to do something about it. As long as I can remember, it has been an innate need. And, now, I want to inspire other people to help, too, through my music.” …

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Avatar EPC Course – Finding Fulfillment, Dis-Creating Unhealthy Beliefs

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There are many ways to look at the concept of “green living,” which is part of our mission here at Blue Planet Green Living. For us, it’s not strictly about being environmentalists. It has to do with having a balanced life that respects the environment, each other, and ourselves.

If you are a seeker, someone who is dedicated to making the most of your time on this planet, then you will likely be interested to learn about Avatar, a program designed for that purpose. Today’s interview is with Mark Dobkin, artist, entrepreneur, and Avatar instructor. Dobkin explains a bit about how Avatar has impacted his own life and what it might be able to do for yours…

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Notes from India: 1984 – Bhopal

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Posts in Blue Planet Green Living’s “Notes from…” category provide readers with a personal viewpoint, often an essay, from a writer whose views are intrinsically linked to their own nation or locale. In this case, we present reflections on a needless and gruesome tragedy that occurred 26 years ago in Bhopal. Those responsible for operations […]

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Notes from Canada: Giving Back to Uganda with Love

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I was born a white child in Uganda, East Africa to missionary parents, Velma and David Freeman. When I was 8 years old, our time in Africa came to a sudden and frightening end.

Just three months earlier, my dad had witnessed the brutal killing of our town mayor in Masaka. The mayor had been dragged through the town on the back of a pickup truck, and then a major in the army openly slit his throat as a warning to anyone who might stand against the regime of the ruthless and unpredictable dictator, President Idi Amin. My father was the only white man he could see, along with a few Asians in the crowd.

Our deportation was ordered shortly thereafter. Idi Amin’s soldiers picked up my father late one night and took him to jail. We had 48 hours to leave. Little did I realize at that young age that everything I knew as normal would change forever….

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The Creative Circus Students Say, “Nice Backside” to Used Paper

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As you might guess from its name, students at The Creative Circus, an advertising portfolio school in Atlanta, are among the most talented and creative minds in the nation. Constantly immersed in the creative process, they learn what it takes to excel in the advertising, interactive, design and photography industries. And they learn that “what it takes” is often a lot of paper.

A small group of students realized that students were discarding more than 5000 sheets of paper per week on campus. More shocking: Most of this paper was being recycled after it had only been used on one side. At a school where creativity reigns king, they knew something unprecedented had to be done to change the way paper is used.

On Monday, July 19th, students, faculty and administration were stunned when they arrived to a campus adorned in advertisements and free notebooks made using students’ previously discarded paper. The message? Flip the page over and use the backside. Fresh ideas don’t need fresh sheets of paper….

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California Green Chemistry Initiative to Improve Consumer Safety

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Maziar Movassaghi, acting director of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), is determined to provide the United States with safer consumer products.

“More and more consumer goods are recalled lately because of the chemicals they contain,” Movassaghi said in a phone interview with Blue Planet Green Living.

Consumer products manufacturers will be required to “show they’re not using harmful ingredients, or face restrictions including a possible ban on selling those products,” according to a press release from Movassaghi’s office….

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Take the Itch Away with Motherlove Green Salve

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Last week, I was sitting at my computer alternately scratching my first mosquito bite of the season and trying to page through my emails. No stranger to itching, I had remnants of poison ivy dotting my left knee. My second case of poison ivy so far this summer, darn it all.

And even though symptoms of my annual battle with the toxic vine are lessening each year thanks to a concoction my pharmacist sells, the itching is enough to drive me somewhat mad.

So, when the following email came up on my screen, it immediately caught my attention:

“I’m writing on behalf of summer and all things itchy and scratchy. Figuring Iowa is full of mosquitoes after all the 4th of July rain, I’m reaching out to see if you’d be interested in reviewing the Green Salve from Motherlove Herbal Company. It’s saving our skin over in Wisconsin. Thanks!

Julie — the new Blog Review Mother for Motherlove Herbal Company”

No way I’d turn down that offer. I immediately wrote back….

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Where Not to Take Your Family – A Dolphin Show

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Recently, I saw a video of a dolphin that had thrown itself out of the pool in which it was held captive. This dolphin was trained to do tricks for the pleasure of human visitors. It was held captive, along with several other dolphins, in a small pool….

Dolphins are intelligent animals. Why would one deliberately try — twice — to hurl its body out of the water and over a high wall? Was it searching for food? Was it trying to harm the human on the other side of the wall? Or did it simply want to end its captivity, even if that meant death? I have no idea, but the dolphin did. This was no random accident.

In the video, did you notice how several other dolphins gathered around and watched through the glass as the humans tended to their companion? Did they understand that their fellow dolphin was in mortal danger? I think they did.

Since I was a young girl, I’ve been fascinated by stories of dolphins who have saved humans from certain death. The stories included dolphins protecting swimmers from a shark by forming a barrier between predator and potential prey, rescuing drowning humans by pushing them up to the surface so they could breathe, guiding lost boaters to land, and more. These are intentional acts arising out of what appears to me to be empathy. They are acts of reasoning creatures who understood the dangers awaiting the humans they saved.

So why would a reasoning sea creature deliberately jump out of its tank?…

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Surf Sweets All-Natural Treats Get Thumbs Up

July 14, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Food, Front Page, Nutrition, Organic, Reviews, Slideshow

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If you have young kids, you’re no doubt careful about what snacks and treats they eat at home. But everywhere else they go, their diet is pretty much out of your control. If you want to allow your kids occasional treats but still protect them from artificial dyes and sweeteners, Surf Sweets candies may be a good choice.

Gummy Worms nutrition facts. Courtesy: Surf Sweets

Too much sugar in anyone’s diet is a bad idea. And it’s a really bad idea for children with a developing weight problem. My best recommendation is to give your kids healthy foods, including lots of raw fruits and vegetables for snacks. But let’s face it, most of us want a little snack from time to time. And if your child is going to have a sweet snack, it’s way better to give them a healthier alternative than most of the candies on the market….

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Volunteering Made Easy – Action Now + Network

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If you’re like pretty much everyone else I know, you want to do “something” to help causes that are important to you. But your time is limited, and your demands are already huge. How do you find out what organizations support the issues that concern you and where you should expend your limited energy? Action Now + Network is a resource that will help you sort through the options available and choose one (or more) that is right for you.

Launched just two months ago, Action Now + Network is a new website that focuses on organizations that are doing real good for the world. Here’s how founder Sheila Wasserman described Action Now + Network to Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) in an interview from her California office….

WASSERMAN: In this age of Facebook, Twitter, and instant RSS feeds, it’s really impossible to claim ignorance of the world around us. We are all constantly bombarded at warp speed with information on the life-threatening issues we face every day — perilous geopolitical tensions, global warming, and the destruction of our environment, flagrant and egregious acts of cruelty inflicted by humans upon both humans and animals, not to mention hunger, poverty, homelessness, absent or woefully inadequate health care — it’s hard to know where to stop. For most of us, it is mind-numbing to think of what needs to be done to make even a small impact, let alone to solve the overwhelming problems of the world….

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Energy Healing, A Form of Holistic Medicine

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Natural healing modalities allow us to tread lightly on the earth while improving health. They don’t require synthetic chemicals or an investment in expensive technology. And, they have been used in various traditions since homo sapiens first trod the earth.

Today, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) interviews Maureen Longworth, M.D., who is board certified in both Holistic Medicine and Family Medicine, and is an internationally respected Energy Healer. Dr. Longworth practices medicine in Juneau, Alaska, and is visiting Iowa City through July 17. She will be teaching a Root of Healing Mini Workshop in Iowa City this Sunday and is available for private healing sessions throughout the coming week. More information is provided below. — Julia Wasson, Publisher

BPGL: What is Energy Healing?

LONGWORTH: Energy healing is a global term to describe healing that occurs by creating a shift in the energy field. In a way, even prescription drugs or surgery are an Energy Healing because a shift occurs, but when we speak of Energy Healing in holistic medicine, we mean the natural shift that can occur without drugs, herbs, or surgical intervention.

You might begin by comparing it to any energy modality you know, like chiropractic, massage, Reiki, acupuncture or acupressure, etc. All of these are energy-healing modalities. Even prior to my certification in Holistic Medicine I studied many of these modalities. This tradition I have settled with is the most effective for my patients — and for me personally — for ongoing health and well-being….

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Recycled Wedding Dresses Get New Life with Shakespeare

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“We use every part of the animal,” says renowned costume designer Lindsay W. Davis. He’s holding what used to be a pink party dress. “This little girl’s 1950s party dress had chocolate stains on the front. We opened it up and stuffed it, and now it’s a bustle!”

By “animal,” Davis isn’t talking about a living creature, but about previously worn clothing that he deconstructs and re-imagines into costumes for venues such as Iowa City’s Riverside Theatre Shakespeare Festival. To their previous owners, they are castoffs, but in the hands of Lindsay W. Davis, they gain a new life and vibrant personality.

Davis, whose impeccable credentials include designing the original costumes for The Mystery of Edwin Drood, a Tony Award Winning Best Musical on Broadway, is no stranger to the notion of recycling old clothing into wearable art….

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ECOS Free and Clear Laundry Detergent

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Used to be, we had very few choices in laundry detergent. And all of them had fragrances that were so strong people could smell us coming. Now, with Free and Clear detergents as an option, we no longer have to walk around smelling like some chemist’s idea of nature. ECOS Free and Clear All Natural Laundry Detergent is one of many options available to people like me, who would rather not have to smell my clothing all day (or anyone else’s).

But there are other good things about this item in the Earth Friendly Products line, like no itching….

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My 5: Frank McKinney, Humanitarian, Entrepreneur, Author

July 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, My 5, Slideshow

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Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) asked author, entrepreneur, humanitarian, and builder Frank McKinney two questions we ask all our interviewees. Following are his responses….
BPGL: What are the five most important things we can do to save protect the planet?

McKINNEY:

1) Use facts, not fear, to educate.

2) Listen intently to the younger generation….

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Scented Cleaning Products May Harm Your Health

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Cleaning products that are artificially scented with smells like lilac, lemon, pine, and tropical rainforest may be popular with consumers, but the fragrances themselves shouldn’t be. Each fragrance is potentially made up of hundreds of chemicals — many of them toxic, according to Erin Switalski, executive director of Women’s Voices for the Earth (WVE).

“It’s basically chemical soup in a lot of these products,” Switalski says.

WVE is a national organization that works to eliminate toxic chemicals that impact women’s health. The group compiled What’s That Smell?, a landmark report that examines the health effects of hidden fragrance chemicals.

Women are disproportionately affected by the chemicals in fragrances since they use them more frequently than men. They also experience more health effects from the fragrances, such as skin rashes, headaches, and breathing problems. Plus, they can pass chemicals on to their children during pregnancy and breastfeeding….

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Jon Hutson Says, “Enough!” to Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

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Jonathan Hutson serves as the director of communications for the Enough Project in Washington, D.C. Enough is a part of the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank. Not long ago, a director of communications would have been confined to print, television, and radio to spread an organization’s message. Today, it’s a whole new game, with social media gaining in prominence as the medium of choice.

Fittingly, Blue Planet Green Living (BPGL) first became aware of Hutson through Twitter, where WeFollow.com ranks Hutson (@JonHutson) as among the most influential Tweeters on human rights and justice. We asked Hutson to tell us about the Enough Project and how they use social media to further the organization’s critically important international work….

HUTSON: The Enough Project was launched three years ago, and is helping to build a permanent constituency to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity. We are calling the U.S. and the international community to action — to witness horrible human rights violations and to take measurable, meaningful action that stops ongoing atrocities and prevents their recurrence.

Here’s the latest example of our work: a witty video by actor/director Brooke Smith and cinematographer Steven Lubensky, called “I’m a Mac… and I’ve Got a Dirty Secret.” It’s about Congo conflict minerals; it spoofs an iconic Apple ad. Since Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nicholas Kristof launched the video in a column called “Death by Gadget” in the Sunday, June 27, 2010 edition of The New York Times, this video has gone viral. It’s been covered by Gizmodo, Fast Company, Inc. Magazine, ComputerWorld, Planet Green, Elephant Journal, TreeHugger, and CNN International. Please take a look and share it with friends….

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