FOOD FIGHT! – Hip Hop Video Teaches Dangers of Processed Foods

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In FOOD FIGHT!, a video released early this morning by filmmaker Ben Zolno (New Message Media), a boy runs for his life after witnessing a murder in a convenience store. This murder, however, isn’t done with conventional weapons but with junk food.

What ensues is a life-and-death struggle as citizens of the boy’s community come together to fight against the snack foods that fill store shelves by brandishing real food. It’s a comedic musical, but the message is far from funny: We are dying from the foods we eat while the corporations that manufacture, market, and sell them to us get rich at our expense.

Odd as the story setup is, the battle between healthy and disease-inducing foods is a reality; with every bite and sip we take, we determine how long we will live and how healthy we will be.

I can almost hear readers saying, “Well, that’s obvious.” If it’s so obvious, why is the U.S. (and much of the world) in a health crisis of obesity? Is it just that we have no self-control? Or does much of the problem lie in the “foods” themselves? …

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On My Way to Someplace Else by Sandra Hurtes

January 15, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Front Page, Immigrants, Slideshow

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On My Way to Someplace Else begins with liberation, on the day Russian soldiers entered Auschwitz and set Rifka and her fellow prisoners free. “A handsome soldier lifted my mother off her feet and although she was just skin and bones, he kissed her cheeks and told her she was beautiful,” writes Sandra Hurtes. It’s […]

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Oh, My Aching Back! (Before Topricin)

January 5, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Health, Reviews, Slideshow

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Though I definitely don’t like pain (what sane person does?), I’m not a fan of taking anything but absolutely necessary prescription medicines, chemical-laden ointments, or drug-store pills and potions. So I have to be pretty desperate to resort to a new pain reliever. And when I do, I want it to work pronto! That’s rarely the case in reality. But Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream has been a very pleasant surprise.

As Draco raged around us in December, Joe and I worked to maintain a clear path for pedestrians so their snow-packed footprints wouldn’t make our sidewalk even more treacherous. This meant we were in and out of the house a few times during the blizzard.

Joe, Wearer of Sensible Shoes (with actual tread), had no trouble remaining upright. I, Wearer of Ancient, Comfortable Shoes (with worn soles), wasn’t so lucky (or so smart, I suppose). Coming in from outside, I slipped in our kitchen and fell. My bruised hip complained a bit for a few days, but the worst damage was a dislocated rib….

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A Laptop Sleeve to Love from GreenSmart

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Like you (I’m making an assumption here, but it’s a fair one since you’re reading this website), I hate the idea of billions of single-use plastic water and soda bottles going to waste, littering our waterways and landscape. It’s about time someone figured out a way to put those discarded bottles to good use. GreenSmart has done just that with a rugged and cool-looking laptop sleeve.

I was intrigued, though frankly a bit skeptical, when I received an offer of a laptop sleeve made from recycled water bottles. But I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived — and I remain delighted. I’ve been using my GreenSmart laptop sleeve daily since July, and it’s been amazingly durable.

When I say durable, I mean it’s withstood several plane trips and lengthy road trips, and traveled back and forth to the office each day in an overloaded computer bag for more than six months. Frankly, I’m hard on both my laptop and my computer bag. It’s not that I’m careless, just that I tend to carry way too much on every trip — including my daily commute….

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The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia’s First 40 Years by Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley

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When Joe and I began writing this blog late in 2008, we were soon introduced to Patagonia as a leader in sustainable business practices — or, as founder Yvon Chouinard prefers to call them—responsible business practices. We found Patagonia.com’s Footprint Chronicles to be an especially intriguing—and daring—step toward a company’s taking responsibility for its impact on the environment. So, when I was offered an opportunity to review The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned from Patagonia by Yvon Chouinard and Vincent Stanley, I eagerly agreed.

If you’re familiar with Patagonia, you’ll understand how Chouinard and Stanley are qualified to write such a book. Patagonia is known for its commitment to the environment, for its celebration of the natural world, and for providing its employees with a rewarding and well-balanced work life (see Chouinard’s 2002 book, Let My People Go Surfing)….

There’s no self-congratulatory back-slapping in this book. The authors tell the story of their painful realization of the harm their businesses (Patagonia is “an offshoot of the Chouinard Equipment Company, which made excellent mountain-climbing gear”) were doing to the environment and the financial risks they took when they committed to improvement….

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GIVEAWAY! Balinese Earrings from Sandpiper Imports

December 16, 2012 by  
Filed under Bali, Blog, Contest, Entrepreneurs, Fair Trade, Front Page, Slideshow

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Looking for the perfect gift for a woman with discerning taste and an interest in the exotic? Courtesy of the good folks at Sandpiper Imports, Blue Planet Green Living is delighted to offer you the chance to win these beautiful brass earrings from Bali.

Sandpiper Imports sells gorgeous jewelry and accessories hand-crafted by Balinese artisans. We haven’t tried any of these products, but they certainly look beautiful on the website. Even better, the products are Fair Trade, meaning that the artists are not being ripped off by the retailers. And, one more good thing— the founders, Sara and Erika, donate a portion of profits to two charitable organizations in the artisans’ communities: Bali Animal Welfare Association and Bali Adoption and Rehabilitation Center.

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Iglu by Jacob Sackin

December 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Climate Change, Front Page, Refugees, Slideshow, War

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As I walked outside on the day that I wrote this, I smelled the sweet air of springtime. Though I had gloves, I didn’t need them. My coat was open, and I didn’t shiver. Not so strange if this had been early in May. But it’s December in Iowa. Much as I love spring and enjoy the relative warmth of 63-degree days, I find the moderate temperature most unsettling. December isn’t supposed to be warm where I live. This false, fall “spring” is the harbinger of a changed climate that is already dramatically altering weather patterns around the world. Yet, climate skeptics still fill the airwaves with denial.

In his young adult novel, Iglu, author Jacob Sackin imagines a world in which climate change is no longer questioned by anyone. Climate refugees are fleeing the lower 48 states to Alaska, pushing back the Native people and seizing the land for themselves. War rages on as the Inuit people fight back against the encroaching masses and the cruel Skyhawk soldiers sent to ensure the safety of the refugees.

The heroine of the story is April, an Inupiaq girl running for her life, narrowly evading the Skyhawk troops who have captured — or possibly killed — her parents. Everything familiar to April has been destroyed by bombing or bulldozers. Inupiaq people are being rounded up, forced into camps where they can be contained and controlled. April’s family has been torn apart, and she is left alone to fend for herself. In this futuristic coming-of-age story, April finds the strength not only to survive, but also to fight against the cruelty and injustice of the powerful U.S. government. She isn’t perfect — no realistic character is — but she makes a powerful role model for youngsters who are themselves coming to grips with an unfair world and an uncertain environmental future….

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3 Creative Party Ideas for Kids (That Cost Almost Nothing)

October 24, 2012 by  
Filed under Art, Blog, DIY, Front Page, Kids, Repurposing, Slideshow

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What parent among us hasn’t scratched our head wondering what to do for our child’s next birthday party, Scout meeting, or club activity? Here’s a collection of simple projects that will spur kids’ creative juices to flow, save you money as a host, and teach both the value and fun of repurposing….

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Notes from Iowa: It’s Hard to Be a Caped Crusader When You’ve Got a Day Job

July 3, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Notes from Iowa, Slideshow

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Just how do superheroes manage to hold down day jobs and save the world?

Frankly, I haven’t a clue (other than the obvious one: It’s fiction). If you’re a full-time working person, a full-time parental unit, a full-time student, or a full-time-searching-for-a-job person, you may be experiencing what I am: fatigue.

There’s so much to do to try to right the wrongs of the world. So many environmental causes to defend. So many social justice battles to fight. And there’s just so little time….

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Aromatic Infusions – Luxurious Gifts for Mom (or Yourself)

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If you’re heading to the Des Moines Farmers Market tomorrow, be sure to stop by Candi Karsjens’ booth: #N208 2nd Ave. and Court. You’ll find her selling items that we’re quite smitten with here at Blue Planet Green Living. Your mom, grandma, or aunt will likely be, too. (It’s Mother’s Day on Sunday, if you didn’t get my hint.)

In my last post, I wrote about UpCycled Style, glasses, vases, and more that Karsjens makes from repurposed wine and liquor bottles. But that’s only one of her product lines. She also sells pleasantly fragrant, hand-crafted soap and candle items that even this scent-free-workplace advocate can love….

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Repurposing Goes Classy in UpCycled Style

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Candi Karsjens is an ecopreneur in every sense of the word. She is an environmentalist, who repurposes and upcycles other people’s cast-off bottles into gorgeous glasses, bowls, vases, and more, giving each one an entirely new for years to come. She also creates candles and creams free of toxic chemicals and even pours candles into her upcycled glass holders. Karsjens has two built-from-the-ground-up small businesses she’s now combining into one: Aromatic Infusions/Upcycled Style.

Next weekend, Candi’s products will make their first appearance at the Des Moines Farmers’ Market. If you’re in the area, I encourage you to meet the designer and see her full range of cool products….

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Notes from Iowa: Earth Day 2012

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Like many of you, I’ve spent part of the Earth Day weekend celebrating our irreplaceable planet. Saturday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, turned out to be a bit cool and overcast with scattered showers. Yet, thousands of Eastern Iowans came to the EcoFest, an Earth Day-themed event, to watch demonstrations, enjoy live music, and—especially—to learn about […]

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Huddling for the Home Team (Habitat for Humanity) on Super Sunday

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Super Sunday is an American tradition and, football fan or not, the vast majority of us find ourselves in someone’s living room or den gathered around the television watching the game (okay, the ads). For enterprising fundraisers, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to gather friends together for a good cause.

This evening, Jeff Capps, Executive Director of Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity, and his wife, Amber, hosted one of 85 house parties that will benefit the local Habitat for Humanity organization. These Home Team Huddles raise money that goes directly to building homes for deserving—and hard-working—families….

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Together, We Change the World

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This past February, Blue Planet Green Living published a post by Dipak Singh, a writer from India who advocates for safer conditions for the people of his country. His post, Notes from India: We Are Poisoning Our Planet, described the horrific effects of spraying the chemical Endosulfan on crops in India and other nations. He wrote, in part:

“The grapes you and I eat could be from a vine that was sprayed 30 times in a single year with pesticides such as Endosulfan. That makes 300 sprayings in a decade. This chemical has nowhere to go, so it just gets washed into the groundwater.

“Endosulfan has a half-life of up to 20 days in water and 60 to 800 days in soil. So, think of the accumulation of this pesticide in crop-growing villages. In the Indian state of Kerala, Endosulphan has been linked to the birth of malformed children. . . .”

Three months after we posted his editorial, Dipak sent me a Facebook message with the following comment:

“Hello, this is just to tell you that yesterday the Indian Supreme Court put an interim ban on Endosulfan, despite the lobbyist asking for an eleven year time frame. This is one of the sentences from the judgement: ‘When a certain something affected right to life, then every other right, even the fundamental right to business, took a backseat.’ ” …

Dipak followed by thanking me for making a difference in the fight against Endosulfan. Me? All I had done was post his editorial. How could I accept any credit?

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ZooBorns: The Newest, Cutest Animals from the World’s Zoos and Aquariums

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There’s not much that causes more smiles and coos than an adorable baby. And it doesn’t have to be human. Take a peek at the animal babies in ZooBorns: The Newest, Cutest Kittens and Cubs from the World’s Zoos and ZooBorns: CATS! The Newest, Cutest Kittens and Cubs from the World’s Zoos; you’re sure to be charmed.

These small books contain beautiful photographic studies of baby animals that most of us will never get to see in the wild. That’s especially true because many of the babies featured in ZooBorns books are on the Endangered Species List.

By compiling these collections, authors Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland are raising awareness of how zoos protect and conserve endangered species. In addition, they’re contributing 10% of the revenues from each ZooBorns book to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Conservation Endowment Fund….

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My 5: Richard Heap, Filmmaker

November 27, 2011 by  
Filed under Artists, Blog, Filmmakers, Front Page, My 5, Slideshow

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British filmmaker Richard Heap (Consumed: Inside the Belly of the Beast) recently responded to the two questions we most often ask those we interview. We found his responses insightful. See what you think. — Julia Wasson, Publisher

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Consumed: Inside the Belly of the Beast – A Slackjaw Film

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How many brand names are within your arms’ reach? How new is the computer on which you’re reading this? Are you wearing clothing that bears a popular name? Are you carrying a cell phone, iPod, or Blackberry? How much stuff surrounds you? And how much do you buy into the need to have even more?

I just finished watching Consumed: Inside the Belly of the Beast, a Slackjaw Film. It’s an extremely thoughtful video that put my own participation in consumerism into perspective — and into question….
Perhaps you’re caught in the consumerism web, too. If you’re in the U.S., it’s hard to avoid today: it’s the mother of all consumer days here: Black Friday….

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My 5: Artie Knapp, Author and Illustrator

November 15, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, My 5, Slideshow

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When Blue Planet Green Living interviewed author Artie Knapp, we asked him our two favorite questions. Here are his responses. — Julia Wasson, Publisher

What are the five most important things we can do to protect the planet?

1. Our water supplies are vital for our existence, and we must do a better job of keeping them clean. Among other things, we have to put a stop to garbage being dumped into our oceans.

2. Improving our air quality by enforcing stricter emission standards is something that must never wane. We must also enforce stricter penalties on organizations that don’t properly dispose of chemicals….

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Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet by Artie Knapp

November 12, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Books for Kids, Conservation, Front Page, Slideshow

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As a former elementary teacher and the parent of three grown kids, I’ve probably spent thousands of pleasant hours reading children’s books. I know the power of a book to persuade as well as to educate young readers.

When I taught first grade (and as a parent), I carefully chose books that provided a good story and, often, a positive lesson. In the 1970s, my students’ exposure to fictional environmental role models was pretty much limited to Woodsy Owl, whose cry, “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute,” inspired us all to care about our planet.

Today, children, parents, and teachers have a wealth of options to choose from for eco-friendly and inspiring books. One environmentally focused book that recently crossed my desk is Living Green: A Turtle’s Quest for a Cleaner Planet. The story will appeal to young readers, who will identify with the heroic turtle, Thurman, in this charmingly illustrated paperback….

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Money Secrets of the Amish by Lorilee Craker

August 13, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Economy, Front Page, Slideshow, Sustainability, Tips, U.S.

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Who couldn’t use a little financial wisdom right about now, with the stock market swinging up and down like a bungee jumper hanging from a bridge, homes in foreclosure around the nation, and unemployment putting an alarming crimp in so many family budgets?

It’s tough to make a buck today, let alone keep it. Yet, for the Amish, a humble people who value frugality and self reliance, hanging onto their money is a given, as author Lorilee Craker tells us in Money Secrets of the Amish: Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving.

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