Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Retro, Eco, Reinvented, Recycled!

As baby boomers, we may want to “explode the old Old,” but we still appreciate a blast from the past and retro anything. We are also made for buying products fashioned from recycled and earth-friendly materials. Not only do we know the benefits of oldies but goodies, whether people (ourselves!) or things; we have usually put materiality into perspective by now. We want to do our part to use less and waste as little as possible. We want to keep our planet green for future generations, especially for our own grandkids.

In my past life as a civil servant for three decades, I worked for over half my career for a unique agency, the
California Integrated Waste Management Board. My jobs at the Board over the years focused the 4 R’s—Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and buy Recycled and earth-friendly products. I’d like to tell you about two of the programs where I worked and what I learned about how to green up your cupboards and closets. Then—teaser!—I’m going to tell you about an exciting way you can check off some items on your holiday shopping list while making the planet more sustainable and a few homeless people warmer this winter.

Green Jobs
One of the best jobs of my long career was Coordinator of the California Materials Exchange—
CalMAX for short. CalMAX helps California business, government, schools, and nonprofit organizations save money by matching them with materials others want to get rid of. One of the best parts is the price—cheap or free! The business offering materials reduces its disposal costs. The business receiving materials cuts its costs for making products.

At the helm of CalMAX, I felt like I was like running a dating service for “stuff.” You could not believe the amazing exchanges that took place and the human interest stories behind them. For my retrospective on the program, including some of the most exciting exchanges, see
Thanks to the MAX for the Memories or the Connections page. Don’t miss my all-time favorite exchange, Cradle to Grave Recycling. I like to point out that CalMAX began in 1992, three years before the start-up of eBay. It remains a model for how networking can redistribute wealth, create relationships, and make the world a better place.

Following four years at CalMAX, I spent the next seven in the
Recycling Market Development Zone program--RMDZ. This is the job I retired from in 2005. RMDZ offers technical support and low-interest loans to help businesses use recycled materials to make their products. By now, there are many gorgeous recycled or eco-friendly items of every kind, but I have been “in the biz” since many were still prototypes on the drawing board. Thanks to the eco-commitment of these visionaries over the last decade or two, we now have gorgeous everyday items to choose from that support the planet while giving us comfort and even glamour.

Green Home
funky to fabulous, just Google “recycled furniture” and prepare to be dazzled! For dinnerware, there’s nothing more breathtaking than the recycled glass products from Fire and Light. Here are some folks who got creative with eye-popping results, morphing used plastic tableware into lamps. Unique clocks, anyone? Choose from retro and recycled, kitchen funky, gorgeous recycled glass, or paintings on old vinyl records. If they can put hands on it, someone has “clocked” it.

Anything you need, search with the adjectives recycled or eco-, and you’ll find it—including architects and decorators. On that score, I can recommend two magazines my husband reads faithfully—and loves—if you want to morph your home to your own earth-friendly castle. Dwell focuses on green architecture, while Natural Home is on planet friendly interior decorating. It has even recently introduced its own line of sustainable products.

Green Chic
Move over Carrie Bradshaw! Yes, you can be fashionable and green. Here are just a few links from the potpourri of choices: Green Loop, Eco Fashion on a Budget, Green Fashion Formerly Hippie, Now Hip. Even Elle Magazine has jumped on the eco-fashion bandwagon. Here’s a list of eco-online fashion stores, and you might be surprised to find some cool, green choices right on the racks of your local Target store.

Sock It to Me!
While I’m not talking about the old TV show Laugh In, it’s always a good retro memory. Instead, I’m making good on that promise for an earth- happy holiday shopping idea. Buy Sierra Club Socks and participate in this non-profit agency’s Sock-athon, starting November 1. Check the Socks link for a hilarious spoof on a famous crime family, The Sockfather. One of the stars of the short film is Leslie Flowers, a sister member of Boomer Diva Nation. Great job, Leslie!

As to the socks themselves: Sierra Club socks are made from organic cotton, bamboo, soy and other earth friendly yarns. They're comfortable and they support Sierra Club programs. The socks link will tell you why they help the planet and how the proceeds will help the Sierra Club with donations, pair for pair, to the
National Coalition for the Homeless.

There’s a link on the Sock site for registering to participate and making a commitment to buy socks during the Sock-athon, but I’m repeating it here, so you can jump right in with both feet.

Think stocking stuffers or decorating these cool socks to hang on your mantle. Stuff them with more socks. They look like the kind I want to pad around in all winter. At the rate we lose socks to that black hole the dryer; I ought to buy them by the bushel.

Why not make eco-friendly your holiday theme this year?
Bing me! I’m dreaming of a green Christmas …

Photo Credit: © Monkey Business - Fotolia.com


Leslie Thomas Flowers said...

I love your blog, Joyce! Thanks for supporting Sierra Club and our sock project and socks for the homeless. With masses these days focusing in on doom and gloom, it is refreshing to see your are focused on making a difference in the world and being in action about it.

PopArtDiva said...

Hahahahaha! A dating service for "stuff" - roflmao!

You know, I really would hate to think my casket was lined with recycled used diapers - green or no I'd like to go to my maker in some fresh stuffing. . . . .


Eileen Williams said...

WOW! What a wealth of information!
I can't wait to start exploring the sites you suggested and see what treasures I can find. Thanks for all of the great ideas--I'm in green heaven!

PopArtDiva said...

I see you have been sharing my free martini recipe cards - more power to you!

Think I should create a "green" martini - hmmmm, a Dirty Martini uses olive juice from bottled olives so that's kind of recycling!


Joyce Mason said...

Love the idea of a Greentini or Recyledtini! I like the idea of a reuse for all that olive juice I send down the drain. You could debut your ecotinis next Earth Day, maybe? Keep me posted and I'll be sure all my green friends get the recipe. (I mean the eco-friendly ones, not the creatures from outer space ... but this is Halloween season, LOL!