Can You Fight Plastic Pollution In A Pandemic?

reusable washable shopping bags

Last week, my husband unloaded eight paper shopping bags filled with plastic-wrapped food. After decades working on sustainability – and the last four years focused on single-use plastic, including a TEDx talk last year and another in 2017 – the sight made me physically ill. This is the third week of shelter in place for most of the country, including Los Angeles, where I live. And while most of us spent the time battling alternating bouts of terror and boredom, the plastics industry was in attack mode. As the New York Times described, “The plastic bag industry, battered by a wave of bans nationwide, is using the coronavirus crisis to try to block laws prohibiting single-use plastic.”

Coronawashing. That’s a new one.

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How To Rock A Zoom or Videoconference

Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff with zoom filter

Even before sheltering in place, I spent more time meeting colleagues and co-workers on screens than I did in person. In many cases, we’re in different countries and time zones so the communication is 100% virtual, yet on the rare occasion when we meet in person I already feel like we’re old friends. But conference calls and video chats are funny places. Little things can add up to big annoyances. Small challenges in communication can dramatically impact work flow. So I’ve put together this handy-dandy guide to help.

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Mommy Greenest TED Talk, Too

When I put Mommy Greenest on pause in 2017 to focus on consulting with companies and non-profits, I had no idea I would miss blogging so much. Now that I’m entering the next chapter of motherhood — the one where my kids go off to college and I wonder what the hell happened — I need a place to write about it, and Facebook doesn’t count. 

In the last few years, my work promoting sustainability — and rallying against plastic pollution — has become more prominent, especially after two TEDx talks. I remember the first time I spoke publicly, when I addressed a group of supporters as Executive Director of Healthy Child Healthy World, and my legs were shaking so badly that I worried the audience would see the podium trembling. It wasn’t that I was afraid of speaking, but the subject matter was too important to screw up: I used the analogy of the canary in a coal mine to describe how the increase in children’s illnesses should alert us to the fact that toxic chemicals in the environment threaten us all.

I felt the same way about my 2017 TEDx talk. By that point, I had done many speaking engagements — one in front of 1,200 people! — but this was the first time that the full 18-minute talk had to be memorized. My idea worth sharing was, “Can one straw change the world?” Just like that first time at the podium, my overwhelming fear was that I would misspeak a statistic or inadvertently encourage viewers to misinterpret the theme.

As I shared in last year’s TEDxSantaBarbara, that’s exactly what happened.

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About Mommy Greenest

Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff in Paris

Welcome! If you found me by choice, thank you—and if you accidentally stumbled in and are about to click away because you think I’m going to wax philosophical about the joys of dressing your kids in hemp, stick around.

I’m not here to preach. I might use biodegradable bathroom cleaner, but I’m not about to deny my three children the occasional hamburger—though I can’t help reminding them what factory farming is doing to the planet. I live by example, but I’m not a sustainabully. (Yes, I made that word up.)

Since I began publishing EcoStiletto in 2007 and blogging as Mommy Greenest in 2008 (the two merged under the MG umbrella in 2013), I’ve written about feeding my kids organic food, battling a lice infestation without chemicals (they won), DIYing natural perfume and disposing of off-gassing toys (“Doll? What doll?”).

When it comes to my three children, I follow the Precautionary Principle as established by the United Nations in 1982. It states that, “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.”

I try to raise my family with this knowledge in mind, but—like all of us—sometimes I fail. So maybe I’m not the greenest mommy on the block. Who cares? The point is, I try to make daily choices that can help us create a healthier lifestyle—without judgement. And on this blog, I share information about those choices with you.

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Plastic: 4 Facts You Should Know

seahorse plastic earbud

photo: National Geographic

Have you heard the stats on plastic? One million plastic bags used every minute around the globe. Three million water bottles used every hour in the United States. Five million straws used every day in America. Plastic production increased 2,000 percent from 1964 to 2014. More than 300 million tons of new plastic produced annually and less than 10% recycled.

Plastic overconsumption is affecting our environment—and our health. Reports show that eight million tons go into the ocean each year (the equivalent of a garbage truck full every minute) and that if we don’t do something about it, by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

In the last two years that I’ve spent focused on this issue, I’ve come to understand the bigger picture about plastic pollution—and what we can do about it. If you care about climate change, your health or animal welfare, you need to know these four facts about plastic. [Read more…]

Watch My TEDx Talk!

I feel so honored to have been chosen by TEDxSantaBarbara to share my vision of how one straw can change the world. What are you doing to fight plastic pollution? I’d love to hear about it. Thanks!

How to Thrift Shop

thrift shop tag discounted 50%We’ve talked about the environmental impact of fast fashion. Plus, how to sell your used clothes—and make money. But what will you do with that cash in hand? Please don’t turn around and drop it at the mall, where it’s difficult to find brands that don’t wreak environmental havoc. Save your closet—and the planet—and buy preloved! I’ve been buying used clothes since high school and at this point 95% of my closet is from a thrift shop, consignment store or swap party. But for a lot of people, just the idea of shopping preloved gives them the heebie jeebies. Fear not, friends! You can save yourself a ton of money and time if you learn how to thrift shop properly. Here’s how. [Read more…]

Turmeric for Health

turmeric root and powder against white backdropEveryone seems to be mentioning turmeric for health, these days. And it’s not just about a spice that you put in your curry. A proud member of the ginger family, turmeric is said to be an immune system builder and powerful antioxidant. I got the scoop from Randi Ragan, holistic well-being expert, founder of GreenBliss EcoSpa and author of the brand-new book A Year of Living Mindfully: Seasonal Practices to Nourish Body, Mind and Spirit. This beautifully-illustrated book is chock full of recipes, teas, tonics, exercises and daily practices—including instructions on how to make an easy turmeric for health tonic, which I’ve included below. All are designed to reduce stress, avoid illness and improve wellness. Interested? I’ve got two copies to give away! [Read more…]