Blog Archives

Cool? Or just weird?

Okay, I can’t decide if this is cool or really really bizarre. (Part of the answer to that question might involve another question: what else is in those aerosol cans?) Spray-on clothing? Seriously?


Remember that joke gift, where you put a tiny gift in a huge box?

Well, in case you haven’t noticed…it’s not so much a joke any more, at least where buying electronics is concerned.

Beth over at Fake Plastic Fish just bought a webcam. A 4.3 oz camera with 4.4 oz. packaging and a box more than 10 times the volume of the camera itself.  She is, understandably, aghast.

But we see it all the time, don’t we? Any mom whose kid has a party has struggled with those damn toy packages with the pieces and the plastic back-thingies and the twisty-ties, you know what I’m talking about.  Or when the one book from Amazon comes in the 3x bigger box, with a few of those weird air-pillow things. Or when you buy your nice sleek laptop computer or smartphone and it comes in this huge box…or even the nice overstock backpack I just bought for my nice sleep little laptop, which came in its own huge box. (It needed to be that big, I guess, because I also bought a couple of pairs of socks in the same order.  Take up more space. Right? er….right?)

It’s one of the things I get a kick out of, shopping from ebay as much as I do.  So many of the sellers there have the packing thing down to an art, and they will use envelopes (or double envelopes), or pack a buttload of stuff into one of those single-price shipping boxes,  and its incredibly efficient.  Or they will use a larger box, if its all they have, and you can totally tell they didn’t go out and buy NEW shipping materials,  and stuff it with old bubble wrap from their closet or newspapers from the recycling bin or those weird air-pillows from Amazon.

The bigger companies…they could learn something from these ebay moms, that’s all I gotta say.

Uh oh, watch out for those dangerous hand towels!

Or at least, that’s what Kleenex would like you to do.

I have it first from Enviromom and then from the Good Green WitchKleenex is now marketing a single use (read: DISPOSABLE) hand towel system for us to use in our own bathrooms at home. Because, you know, those hand towels we share with other members of our family are dangerous and likely to spread disease.  And because the CDC says so.

Except that…well…the CDC doesn’t really say so.  Or rather, they do, but their guidelines are for public restrooms and were never intended to apply to people’s homes.  Apparently the CDC thought that was so obvious they didn’t need to specify it. (I sort of agree. Should be obvious.  To everyone except the Kleenex marketing department.)

Definitely check out the Good Green Witch’s blog; she contacted the CDC, who responded within 24 hours and then actually called her.  Read the full post, but the upshot was that the woman she was speaking to definitely did not know of any CDC guidelines pertaining to the lack of safety of our own bathroom hand towels.

I hope she gets ’em.  I hope they get nailed on this.

Ponderings (the Renaissance Faire)

On Saturday my family took a trip to our “local” (southern Wisconsin) Renaissance Faire, and it got me to thinking a lot about conservation and consumerism…(of course, these days most things get me thinking about conservation and consumerism!)

Jenn and kids (back) 09

I was watching the Faire workers–the street characters, the performers, the shop workers, and so on…and at least in public where people could see them, they generated no garbage.  Each had their own cup, many had a bowl and spoon dangling from their belt or hidden away in a pouch, and foreheads and hands got wiped clean on a lot of kerchiefs. (Or sleeves, I guess, depending on how expensive your garb was.) The queen even had a lady in waiting who followed her around with a tray and a cup (the cup had a square of linen over the top to keep debris and bugs out), and periodically she would say imperiously, “I will have my cup,” and the lady would remove the linen and hand the chalice to Her Majesty.  Never (and I discovered later that this is actually part of the rules, which makes sense) did one see a Faire professional sipping from a paper cup or eating from a disposable plate, or cleaning with paper napkins. (Okay, Ladies Room being the exception. But the flushable privies were busted that day, unfortunately, and so we didn’t even see much of it there. (That also gave rise to all kinds of other traumas with my hates-public-restrooms-anyway daughter who took one look at the smelly poo-and-paper-filled holes in the portapotties and immediately went completely hysterical.)

The public–not so much with the conservation.  Potato wedges with processed cheese drizzled over them, chicken tenders pressed into the shape of stars, everything served in something that needed to be thrown away.  But the Faire workers were walking living proof that it absolutely doesn’t need to be that way.  At all.

Along similar lines, I have gotten interested lately in historical costuming (I made all the family’s costumes this year–my husband already had a shirt, and my daughter’s chemise still fit from last summer, but other than that we were all dressed in my own work. I’m not a great seamstress by any stretch, but this still makes me very proud), and one of the things I’m learning about clothing construction from the time is that people, especially the poor, figured out how to make ther clothing with practically no scraps.  If you sew and have ever made anything from a commercial pattern, you’ll know that vast amounts of fabric are left over when it’s all done.  But these patterns, many of which can be found online (check here, and here, and here for just a sampling), use primarily rectangular construction, with a lot of right-angled pieces that can be laid out with very little waste.  A skirt can be as big or as small as you have fabric for; a shift’s length can be whatever will let you get the most out of the cloth you have.  And even the “scraps,” such as they are, are usually squares and rectangles themselves and can be re-purposes fairly easily (as an apron or just a portable napkin to wipe your hands on…and where do you think the idea of patchwork quilting came from,anyway?) (Okay, just to be clear, I’m not aware of a patchwork quilt tradition in Elizabethan England, I’m talking about women who made their family’s clothes and found a way to turn the scraps into blankets to keep everyone warm during the winter.  I mean, come, on, it’s not like they headed into town and bought  bunch of fat quarters of fabric at the local Quilters Mart.)

Again, it’s the whole principle of there not being tons of anything available, so make the best use of what we have and don’t waste it.  Food, cloth, utensils, everything.  Use it, and when it’s not useful for its current purpose, repurpose it into something else useful.

Kinda cool.

The Story of Stuff

I’m going to take this quick opportunity to invite folks to take a few minutes (okay, more like 20, so settle in) to watch a fairly fascinating and scary video:

She’s anything but unbiased, and some of her statements are heavily slanted, but it’s still really really interesting…

And then you can go to the next site in the line,, which has some really good basic ideas for shifting our outlook…this site was one of the things that kicked my butt into greengear, so I offer it to you as well.