April 22, 2008

Earth Baby

Posted in green living, Radio tagged , , , , at 8:56 pm by siliconmom

Last week, I was thrilled to be invited to KQED’s San Fransisco studio by Mark Trautwein  to record a piece I’d written about my Earth Baby. My daughter was born on Earth Day, and every year it has me thinking more deeply about the significance of that day AND worrying what the future holds, given global warming and all its ramifications around the world. But I also have to work hard to focus on my daughter’s birthday celebrations and not get caught up in my usual guilt trip about not living more greenly.

If you’d like to listen to the Perspective about Earth babies pulling together for change, click here


April 15, 2008

Aspiring to be an eco-mom

Posted in green living, Inspiring mothers, silicon valley tagged , , , at 6:29 pm by siliconmom

Aspiring to be an eco-mom

My weekend is never complete without reading Chrystia Freeland’s excellent column in the Financial Times Weekend section www.ft.com/freeland however, a recent one really made my blood boil. Titled, “Save us from the eco-mom” my hackles were up before I’d even scanned the first paragraph. She reports to “feeling the first stirrings of eco-resistance” as she’s forced to hand wash her daughter’s glass milk bottles…and then extrapolates into a whole peeve-fest about “eco-moms’ tendencies to complicate and belabor domestic life.” Oh my!

I agree that we shouldn’t forget the emancipatory power of the dishwasher and washing machine, but I think we should also be prepared for a little inconvenience. Saving the planet is worth a little hassle, is it not?

I aspire to be an eco-mom; I aspire to recycle, buy local, drive a hybrid, reduce my carbon footprint etc., but I certainly don’t aspire to the fundamentalist eco-mom definition she describes…moms who’re completely consumed by the eco movement to the point of turning the clock back, abandoning science and technology. Brings to mind an image of  women down by the river, scrubbing their underwear with carbolic soap for hours…Oh, please!

And another thing…

I think Chrystia was so busy with her eco-warrior warnings she missed an important part of the eco-picture: that the eco-movement is pushing for scientific and technological advancement (not regression); that eco-moms are pushing for renewable energy http://www.energyrefuge.com/archives/pge_california.htm , hybrid cars http://www.toyota.com/prius-hybrid/, low carbon footprints and energy saving ways to run their homes.

Eco-moms are looking for ways to get their groceries from local producers, not from half way round the world. Eco-moms want green solutions, not ways to chain themselves to the sink all day. It’s opportunity not tragedy; a wee bit of inconvenience for the common good. I reject her branding eco-moms fundamentalist: we’re pragmatic, we’re realists and we’re more than ever aware that we’re all in this together. Al Gore says it best in his surprisingly funny and self-effacing call to action http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/1

Finally: I’m curious to observe that Chrystia is the one who tries to sneak recyclables in the trash and her kids are the ones who catch her red-handed. Why is it the complete opposite in our house and I’m forever fishing plastic yoghurt cartons etc out of the garbage? Are the New York schools so much better at making the eco-message stick than the California schools? Am I pushing too hard? Fodder for another column perhaps?

Original  www.siliconmom.com post

March 30, 2008

Green Living

Posted in green living at 8:17 pm by siliconmom

Cool green websites

I interviewed Green Guru Chris Goodall recently about living a greener life and he told me, if there is one big thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint, it’s stop flying! He’s done it for about four years, but it’s a tough call if your family is spread around the world.

Other experts say simply reduce the amount you consume. Every time you’re about to buy something, whether it’s food for the kitchen, toys for the kids, a new hot gismo, or a new pair of shorts for your wardrobe, they say: stop and ask yourself, do I really need this? Can we make do, can we fix the one we have, can we be creative?

Here are some cool websites to get you started – they’re packed with great ideas to reduce your carbon footprint, live more simply and help spread the word about global warming. Don’t forget, it’s OK to start with baby steps…it gets addictive, especially when your kids get involved. Remember, as mothers, we can change the world…

You’re welcome to write and share YOUR favorite websites and ideas for living more greenly. Every month, we’ll be featuring new cool tips for green living.

Cheers Alison van Diggelen
Editor siliconmom.com

ps click the link below for some green living tips will that cost you NOTHING!

Five quick green tips that will cost you NOTHING!

March 15, 2008

Five quick green steps

Posted in green living at 8:22 pm by siliconmom

OK, so you’re insanely busy, you want to do something about global warming, but there’s never enough time and anyway it all costs tons of money…
Not true!

Here are some quick green tips that don’t cost a cent and can be good to your bank balance too!

1. Turn your home thermostat down a notch (this will reduce your carbon footprint AND save you money!)

2. Put on a sweater or slippers if the house feels chilly (this is my favorite – it feels cosy and eco-cool at the same time)

3. Turn off lights when you’re not in the room and get your kids to help too (make it a game!)

4. Wait till you have a full load before running the dishwasher or clothes washer

5. Stick to your shopping list: buying less and updating your electronic gismos/ car/ wardrobe/ kids’ toys less frequently has the most direct impact on the earth’s resources.

It’s really that easy. Taking baby steps is a great way to begin.

Good luck!

Cheers Alison van Diggelen
Editor siliconmom.com

ps coming soon: green tips that make a big difference for $20 or less.

March 6, 2008

Heavy breathing at the Flint Center

Posted in green living, silicon valley at 4:20 pm by siliconmom

Andrew Weil MD www.drweil.com got the Flint Center crowd doing some heavy breathing last night at Dick Henning’s celebrity forum. What a guy! Looks more jolly Santa than health and fitness guru, but boy did he have some good advice and most of the audience was straining forward and hanging on his every word.

The future of healthcare in the US is so desperate, he said, the disaster may sink our economy. As our population ages, it will place a larger and larger burden on our workers. Scary stuff! A strong advocate of integrated medecine, he riles against the “anti-aging” approach reminding us that aging is a natural process. Instead, our goal should be staying healthy for longer and to do that, he encourages us to make good lifestyle choices . The usual suspects: good diet, exercise, adequate rest and sleep. But some cool green ideas.

He recommends: plenty wild salmon (omega 3 is brilliant for our blood and has been linked to lower levels of depression); fruits and veggies with strong pigments (esp. berries – strong antioxidants); turmeric and jasmine tea.

Weil also  reminded us that we should  revere and include our older friends and relatives in our lives more, just like they do in Okinawa, Japan (a place with legendary longivity www.okinawa.com). He suggested laughter as a stress buster www.laughteryoga.org and then led us in some heavy breathing. Wow: it felt good to switch off for a few minutes; breathe in for 4, hold for 4, then breathe out for 6 …with about two thousand other people. Conspire means to breathe together, so we had one big CONSPIRACY SESSION. I love these simple GREEN solutions to world problems.

Many thanks to Dr. Weil, you’ve inspired me to go back to basics. Now it’s time to get moving… must check out the wild salmon counter at Safeway, grab some “rainbow” fruit and veg… and call my mother!


February 22, 2008

Prius and Proud

Posted in green living, silicon valley at 4:22 pm by siliconmom

My husband is on a business trip to Europe this week, so that means I get exclusive use of the family Prius. Yeeees! No cajoling, no negotiation. Zip. Since we bought it last summer, we both like it so much there’s almost a daily battle over breakfast: how far are you driving today? Whoever is going further -or says they are (!)- gets to sit behind the wheel and enjoy the heady sensation of watching the miles per gallon counter hover around 45.

Now before you accuse us of being smug environmentalists with a tree hugger’s adoration for all things green; I have to confess we bought the car because it would save us oodles of commute time by driving solo in the carpool lane (Oh CA lawmakers, I kiss your feet on this one!) They say: Time is money, but time is also sanity when you’re waiting for your road warrior to arrive home so you can get dinner going for a pair of rambunctious kids! But owning a Prius has also had some unexpected consequences, some good, some bad…

For starters, my best single girlfriend nearly had a fit when I told her we were buying a Prius. She says she’s sick of Pasadena’s ubiquitous Prii and even used a nasty four letter word: UGLY! Another Prius driving friend gave it up and bought a Lotus instead. But I paid no heed and now I’m so smitten with mine, my retort also has four letters: SEXY!

OK, it may not be sexy in a Maserati type manner, but I feel pretty sexy driving it. There’s something sexy about driving a car that purrs almost silently through the neighborhood. I sense envious eyes following me down the street…I see friends in their gas guzzling Suburbans and Expeditions and can’t help feeling a wee bit special (and lucky too, especially with the gas prices rocketing up). A CEO I interviewed recently at the paper told me he gets his Prius kicks gliding in from Berkeley to Silicon Valley in the carpool lane. Hey, I ask you: what’s sexier than coasting past red Ferraris snarled in traffic?

But of course there are downsides to Prii…with the MPG display on view for all to see, my outspoken passengers, especially my son, now monitor my driving “performance.” Hey mom: low 40’s – you’re not doing so well today, heavy on the gas pedal, heavy on the break eh? I scramble for the right reply