Archive for October, 2010

Honest Tea is going Fair Trade

By Julio A. Cruz

Triple Pundit reports that Honest Tea will be Fair Trade Certified by the end of the 2011 first quarter.

Variety of drinks from Honest Tea. Photo Credit: FreeMania!

This makes them much better in its social and environmental practices plus places them even higher in the beverage category. It comes to no surprise they announce this during Fair Trade month.

It’s probably been a couple years since I started consuming Honest Tea. The green tea with honey grabbed my attention. Now I have about three of their 28 different flavors.

I enjoy the drink because it taste good, it’s healthy, certified organic, light, and very environmentally-friendly.

They do have some drinks in glass containers, which are usually found in Whole Foods Market, but for the most part the drinks are on plastic #1 containers, being 22 percent less plastic than regular bottles, BPA-free while saving world resources.

The drinks are tasteful, especially the ones from the  pomegranate and blueberries to the one with goji berries, where most of its fruits come from the eastern part of the world.

I’m going be even more satisfied when I drink, let’s say the new lemon tulsi as I see the Fair Trade Certified label on the bottle.

Some of its drinks come in packages of 12 and can be found in a Smart&Final.

What this does now is have Honest Tea officially meet Fairtrade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) and Fair Trade USA standards that better tea farmers’ quality of life.  Meaning, that workers gain a fair portion of profits, have fair working conditions, freedom of association, minimum wage, and that they work under environmentally sustainable agricultural practices.

Hones Tea are ahead of the pack now and people are supporting it, like the President and CEO of Fair Trade USA Paul Rice who said:

“Honest Tea is once again raising the bar for the entire industry. Honest Tea has been a pioneer in social responsibility from the beginning…and that they care about the workers who harvest their tea and the future of their communities.”



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Medical Supply Recycling

by Karoline Steavenson

When my son was in high school he ran on the cross country and track teams and developed a stress fracture in one of his leg bones; the tibia to be exact.

Stress fractures are tiny, hairlike cracks in the bone. They are a fairly common injury in professional and amateur athletes alike.

My son had to wear a cast for a few weeks and after the doctor removed the cast he had to wear a splint that looked like an open boot. It looked a lot like this:

Splint Walking Boot


After he was all healed up I did not throw the boot in the trash. First of all, I worried he might get another stress fracture and we’d need this boot again. Thankfully that did not happen.

Secondly, I knew from the construction of this piece of medical equipment that it must have cost the insurance company a lot of money. So far, while looking for this picture online, I’ve found prices ranging from $40 to over $150 for boots like this.

As this boot waited in the back of a closet for one job or another, I heard about medical supply recycling.

It is well known that many areas of the world have no medical care or only the bare minimum of medical services. Many charities and individuals travel to these nations to offer care. They are funded by a variety of organizations. Part of that funding goes into buying medical equipment.

Medical supply recycling programs collect donations of viable equipment that many of us take for granted, like crutches or my son’s boot, and redistribute those items to nations in need. Recycling those supplies that can be safely reused makes sense and saves charities money.

In my case I found an organization in California that could use this boot, boxed it up, paid a few dollars for shipping, and sent it to them. I emailed them in advance so I could confirm that they wanted it.

The American Medical Association has a list of medical supply recyclers here.


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Proposition 23 – A backwards Solution!

Today marks the six moths anniversary since the worst oil disaster of the U.S. history. Eleven workers were killed as well as thousands of marine life were affected and miles of beaches were tinted with oil. As usual today has gone undetected by the mainstream media due to lack of interest of issues that could affect millions of people for decades to come. Many efforts were made to prevent deep sea oil drilling but early this month the federal government went ahead and approved to continue such practice due to raising unemployment in that region. Political agendas should keep moving toward a environmental friendly solutions instead of fading away from this issues.


Hundreds of people show their support against global warming at the Los Angeles City Hall rally on October 10th. They called for the end of oil and coal dependency. Photo by Oscar Ortega.

In California, according to Greenpeace, Coalition for Clean Air and the American Lung Association say that Proposition 23 is backed by oil Texas companies. This initiative will suspend the control of air pollution in California until the unemployment drops to 5.5 percent. This means that any company that is under state regulation could have a license to pollute in the name of the “Economy or Unemployment.”  Our state government raised our sale taxes 1.5 percent a couple years ago and it didn’t make a dent to our economy, what makes them think this proposition can help our economy by allowing unscrupulous corporations to pollute our environment.

In the other hand, Meg Whitman, the Republican gubernatorial nominee, says that Green technology isn’t the right answer to generated jobs in California. She wants to suspend the 2006 Global Warming law and re-think it along with the estate economy. For decades California has been a leader in new technology and the environment but in the last few years it hasn’t even made it to the top ten environment friendly estates. It seems that some people are reluctant to a positive change and want to keep the same old attitude toward the environment.
Knowing what happened six months ago in the Gulf of Mexico, why politicians want to keep messing with California’s environment, beaches or the development of new technology. Why a Texan oil company has to have a “say” on California political issues? California’s environment should be decide by californians not by corporations, let along out of estate companies or politicians, who have no sense of the effects of global warming.

Be Proactive!

Make your Own Greener Cleaner 101:

Tub and Tile Cleaner


1 cup water

3 cups baking soda


Mix ingredients into a paste and apply with a brush. Use a toothbrush to scrub paste into grout. For a tougher jobs, first wipe surfaces with vinegar – use sparingly, as vinegar can break down tile grout.

For more greener cleaners visit Coalition for Clean Air.

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Who Knows Where the Stuff Goes?

by Karoline Steavenson

If you have not watched the 20 minute video called “The Story of Stuff” by now please take a break and watch it as soon as you can. It was created by Annie Leonard.

The Story of Stuff

The message of “The Story of Stuff” is that our whole world is based on a linear model of consumption. The wealthy people of the world, and that’s most Americans, Europeans and other members of developed societies, buy things. Lots of things. Some of these things they need, but some they don’t need.

When citizens of wealthy nations finish using their stuff, or when they simply get bored with it and long for a change, they throw it out. A small percentage of it gets recycled. Most of it winds up in landfills or in the oceans.

Since most of it is not recycled what we have is a linear system that ends with billions of piles of toxic chemicals encased in trash, or billions of pounds of toxic gases released when the trash is incinerated. Leonard points out that each of us who consumes stuff has a responsibility and opportunity to end this wasteful, linear system every time we recycle.

Here are some creative ways businesses, non-profits and individuals are recycling our stuff:

Trashy Bags – The sight of tens of thousands of plastic water and ice cream bags in Ghana inspired Stuart Gold to start a business in which he and his employees fuse the bags together and sew them into handbags, backpacks, and other types of satchels.

Clothes Made From Scrap – Clothes made from recycled fabric.

Patagonia Recycled Fleece – Patagonia sells a line of clothing made from recycled plastic bottles.

Clothing Swaps – Let’s face it ladies, from a young age we have been taught to love new clothes. While we could give our old, gently worn items to thrift stores, charities, friends or family members, there is another way. has several local clothing swap clubs listed on their website or you could plan a clothing swap of your own. Give away some clothes and take some clothes new to you and every one leaves happy! Beside the satisfaction of knowing you gave new life to some perfectly good clothes, you can also experience the thrill of shopping for free.

If you have some old clothes that none of your friends want, charities don’t need, or are too worn out for anyone, take them to The Goodwill or The Salvation Army. They specialize in sorting clothing. They send the rag clothing off to be recycled.

Leonard has made a few other videos entitled “The Story of Bottled Water”, “The Story of Cosmetics” and coming soon, “The Story of Electronics”.

The media often confronts us with the fact that we are all part of a global economy now. We are part of a global trash problem too.

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Gadgets to Save Electricity

by Karoline Steavenson

Our electricity in Los Angeles comes from a variety of sources. According to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power 50 percent comes from  burning coal, 25 percent from natural gas, 11 percent from hydro-power, 12 percent from nuclear power and the rest comes from renewable sources like wind and solar.

One way to help clean up the environment and save  natural resources is to reduce our use of electricity. This has the wonderful side benefit of lowering our power bills too.

Most of us don’t know this, but when we turn off our TVs, cable boxes, DVRs, Tivos, printers and other electronics, they are still pulling in electricity. Many electronics go into stand-by mode when they are turned off and continue to use one percent to 15 percent of their power. Consumer Reports magazine estimates the average household wastes about $110 a year on stand-by power.

That means all night long while we’re sleeping and all day long while we’re out at school or work, our electronics are still somewhat on.

It would be very inconvenient to run around unplugging all our stuff every time we don’t need to use it. These gadgets do that for us.


Conserve Energy Surge Strip - It's like a regular surge strip except it comes with a remote control. When you leave the room turn off everything plugged into it with the remote.



The TV Trickle Switch - Plug one end into the wall. Plug the other two sockets into your TV and cable box, DVR, Tivo or DVD player. When you turn off the TV the device cuts off all stand-by power to both plugs.




Bye Bye Stand By - Plug these gadgets into the wall then plug your power sucking electronics into them. A press of the remote buttons operates the power kill feature.


Battery power is another source of electricity.  Although batteries may not seem like a big deal, isn’t it a hassle to have to remember to buy them for simple things like flashlights?  When batteries are not disposed of properly they leak acid and heavy metals into the soil of landfills or worse, lakes and rivers. No one wants that.

The LED flashlight is one handy way to reduce our use of batteries. They are just as bright or brighter than incandescent flashlights and since they use far less power, the batteries do not need to be replaced as often.


An LED flashlight.



An LED super bright flashlight.




Many of these products can be found at local home improvement stores or at online shopping websites.

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An active turn out for the first ever CicLAvia in downtown L.A.

By Julio A. Cruz

On Sunday, 10/10/10, Los Angeles finally held the anticipated and demanded CicLAvia that stretched 7.5 miles from East L.A. to East Hollywood.

I did miss the opening but I got a chance to spend a couple of hours in downtown from Macy’s Plaza to city hall.

It was great to see that many people, different types of people, came out with their bicycles, enjoying the free routes. There were some crossing points for cars to pass by which cyclists sometimes had to stop.

Cyclists either went up towards MacArthur Park or down towards city hall, even children.

Some businesses in the downtown area did closed down for the day, especially because the ciclovia was from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It was good to see those restaurants, cafes and bars that open doors for cyclists to take their lunch and water breaks.

There was even a band playing for a while on Spring Street.

By city hall, there was a booth handing out free water and Powerade and other booths giving out more information on what this ciclovia was or is all about.

There was even a free yoga class that took place in the corner of Main Street and First Street, which took place for an hour, starting at 1:30 p.m.

It was a hot day but many people enjoyed the fresh air and breeze from the tall trees around city hall as they laid on the grass, taking a break from that hot sun.

Hopefully there is some type of consistency with this CicLAvia, like in other cities across the world, especially in Latin America, where it is held on every Sunday or every month.

Next time I will check out the dodgeball activity that was going on near MacArthur Park.

Check out full photo slideshow of CicLAvia here.

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Rain Water Collection

By Karoline Steavenson, 10/6/10

Today it is raining. That made me think of all that water pouring from the sky and draining away into our gutters, the Los Angeles River, and ultimately out to sea.

Later this month homeowners will get bills from the Department of Water and Power for water – water which came to our yards for free from the sky but which homeowners usually let drain away to the sea.

So here’s an idea for all of you who own homes and even condos with small yards: when it rains, harvest the rain and use it to water the grass and plants.

There are many water harvesting systems out there. They range in cost from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. Some websites even show people how to build them themselves if they are handy.

The systems capture water in large tanks after it travels through downspouts. A hose bib faucet is attached to the tank to disperse the water for irrigation.

This model simply catches the rainwater directly from a downspout. (From

Related links: Build Your Own Collection System , Lower Priced System , This Site Has a Demonstration , This Site Says About 50 percent of a Home’s Water Use is for Outdoors .


One of many rain barrel styles. This one has an overflow hose for when the barrel is full. But you could also run that overflow tube into another barrel.(From






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