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Sustainable Curiosities and Novelties: Bottled Water Maker

bottled water maker kitchen applianceI spotted this curiosity, the Fresh ‘n Pure Bottled Water Maker,  in the post-Christmas clearance carnage… and the yellow 50%-off clearance sticker signals that this oddball item has been shunned by Santa and will soon be deported to the Island of Misfit Toys.

Too bad, because I’m certain that even the most difficult-to-buy-for people on your gift list do not have one of these babies. With this mean-green contraption, you can have your bottled water and drink it too, powered by modern appliance-driven convenience! Read more

Greenwashed Gifts May Require Strong Soap

While round-about on Black Friday I’ve noticed that the shelves are bulging with “green” products for your giving and receiving delight! However, many of these “green” items fall into a definite grey area in usefulness, practicality and good taste.

Take this little gem of a gift I recently received – Poo Poo Paper! That’s right, paper lovingly fashioned in an exceedingly green manner from s***! “Why, thank you! I love it, it’s just what I wanted! If you’ll just set it over there for me, please…” How, I ask you, have we come to the enviro-insanity point where ANYONE would give a gift that proudly trumpets “Made with Real Poo!” Handle this one with kid gloves!

Poo paper scratch pad made from elephant dung

Let’s take a closer look at this, though, as it incorporates many of the marketing hallmarks of “perfect” little gifty-green goods vying for your attention and cash.

package label poo poo paper

1 – It’s unique! Wait until the recipient shouts in delight, “Why, I’ve never seen such a thing!”

2 – Recycling and/or reuse angle: Your green product should clearly state that it is either on it’s way from…(or properly headed to) the recycling bin. The big recycling logo is a must!

3 – Affordable price – but note that this isn’t the same as a “reasonable’ price for a similar non-green item.

inside cute label for poopoo paper scratch pad

Note the clever and cute elephant droppings and slogan!

4 – Direct ties to a less-privileged country/region: any point in the manufacturing/recycling chain counts! So, for example, you could NOT make acceptable greenie “poo paper” from elephant dung gathered at a Western zoo.

5 – Supports a broadly loved “cause.” Who has a problem with conservation of endangered elephants? Not you or me,surely!

6 – Hip and clever concept and presentation – “We’re number one at number two™” So cute, and really makes the shoppers at Urban Outfitters point and smile in approval!

price tag for poopoo paper

Can you guess how I misread "Scratch pad grass" before wearing my reading glasses?

Fact-o-Pic: The Green Green Grass of Home

It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago,  many desert dwelling suburbanites viewed lush green lawns as de rigueur–a defining symbol of the American dream. Not any more, but still we cling to the entrenched vision of the “green, green grass of home.”

Today’s Fact-o-Pic* is drawn from a great article on Wall Street Journal online that covers the struggle of developers and homeowners from Colorado westward trying to wean themselves from the blades.
(*Fact-o-Pic FAQ: “Can I use this in my blog/newsletter/report/etc.? Why yes!)

Article: In Arid West, Thirsty Lawns Get Cut From Plans: Developers in Drought-Prone Regions Rethink the Dream Home to Conserve Water and Reduce Costs; Grass as a ‘Throw Rug’


The New DIY: Dumps Inspire You

For this D.I.Y. project, don’t trek into Home Depot for your supplies, stay outside the store and look in their dumpster! (the “new” DIY = Dumps Inspire You!)

Katie Jackson (whatkatiedid.typepad.com) took photos of this excellent greenhouse constructed from recycled plastic bottles at the Eco Centre near Newcastle on Tyne in the UK.

Do you think this looks like child’s play? It is! Here’s an example built by and for the green-minded students of Bowmore Primary School, Isle of Islay, UK. (Photo by Ewan Macintosh on Flickr)

It wouldn’t surprise us if the Bowmore gang partnered with Scotland’s Sustainable Community Initiatives. They offer an interesting educational program to help schools and community groups build shelters, walls and greenhouses from recycled plastic bottles and tyres (that’s “tires,” Americans.)

Best of all, they have documented their expertise in a book you can purchase on their website. Plastics are Fantastic features full instructions, diagrams and photos on how to construct a your very own plastic bottle greenhouse or shelter wall. Or, try this 6-page pdf freebie from REAP, a North East Scotland sustainable development charity. D.I.Y.? D.I.M.!

BB#18: Walnut Grove Spring Water, or why we have ‘green fatigue’


Change water into wine, and you won’t have to change this brand’s packaging. I’ll bet this vino look-alike carries a hefty premium price for this luxe look, right? But wait… according to the company’s website, the recent change to glass containers was a purely green and altruistic decision! It has nothing to do with marketing! They even quote Al Gore on their site before explaining,

walnut grove spring water is likely the LOWEST CARBON FOOTPRINT premium natural spring water available by:

  • Using ZERO import carbon or other natural resources due to our DOMESTIC location – walnut grove spring water is bottled at the source in the heart of the US, and travels less than 3,000 miles coast-to-coast. Importation of foreign water from Europe and other exotic destinations travel up to 7,000 miles just to reach US ports, using countless amounts of transportation energy and natural resources
  • Utilizing a supply-chain containing100% North American Suppliers & encompassing less than 3,000 miles for all inbound raw materials
  • Packaging our single-serve premium natural spring water exclusively in 100% recyclable/consumer reusable glass bottles made with 25% recycled glass.
  • Utilizing local staff, management, materials, services, and vendors whenever possible
  • Taking steps to further reduce or eliminate raw material use such as: cradle-to-grave cardboard shipping container reuse, utilize applied labeling (eliminating paper or plastic label stock), and recycle or reuse all possible raw materials

Travels less than 3000 miles? How completely idiotic is that ‘green’ claim, given that it’s generally not more than 30 steps to the nearest tap. We are weary of you, ridiculous green marketers. Tired, tired, tired. Pretty bottle, though, we’ll give you credit for that. Fab photo by Techfun on Flickr.