Thursday, July 31, 2008

White Apricot: Top 12 Eco Lingerie Picks

I was so super excited to see that Clare Bare at The Oko Box was included on the "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" White Apricot Top 12 List for saucey nighties & lingerie! Not only that but On The Inside and Enamore were also featured, both these eco minded designers are being carried at The Oko Box too! Enamore's lux eco lingerie will be available starting September 1st 2008, which has my organic knickers in a bunch... I am so excited I can hardly wait.
Congrats to the savvy & talented Clare Bare, who was also featured in the Daily Green and the UK's Hippy Shopper this week!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eco Friendly Building: EnviroGlass

After reading an article in Low Impact Living about the newly discovered dangers of granite countertops (that they can leak radon into your home) I was totally surprised. Sometimes a seemingly natural element just does not do well when taken out of it's environment and put into a home. Ozone is another example of this, have I ever told you how bad bad bad it is? (If not I will in another post.)
Low Impact Living provided an alternative material to granite, that I find similar but way more beautiful! And that is EnviroGlass! I am so in love with this versatile material, that can be made for countertops, but also into flooring (see pic). I love the way they cut it to mimic wood floors, but with that deep starry night blue! I wish I had a house to renovate, just for these gorgeous floors.
The glass comes in a variety of colors, cuts, and sizes- from red, blue, green and orange, to multi mixtures. Plus you can view the entire process of how it was made on the website, which is the kind of transparency I like to see in an environmentally friendly business.
Do you know of any other alternative countertop & flooring materials?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

(Learning to) Sew With Local Organic Cotton Part 4

Trust me when I say that I know I went a little too short on this organic cotton jumper, with that said I think it would be rockin' with various long/cap sleeve tops & some leggings - (but I only have purple leggies and didn't want to mess up the pic.) This sassy little jumper is made from 100% locally woven organic cotton and upcycled buttons I cut off some funky thrift garb, totalling $3. It's meant to ride right under or at the bustline, and the buttons actually do work they are not just for decorative flare. I got the design idea from a Feel Good Style article featuring some cute eco summer fashion, so I can not claim the design as my own, but I am searching out cute outfits to help me learn to sew just by looking at the picture.

All you need to make this jumper is some organic cotton, or upcycle cotton fabric (stretchy is better- mine is not stretchy enough), and scissors, thread, measuring tape and two buttons. I have not figured out how to sew a button on my sewing machine yet, the directions are so BLEH I can't understand them. But sewing buttons by hand was really nice since I started zoning out into a peaceful creative state. OM!

PS- In the Picture are the second hand red cowgirl boots I got that I said I would wear "everyday forever" and so far I have...even when it doesn't match at all. :)

Food Allergies: Where Can I Eat?

Special Gourmets is a food allergy guide to eating out! This is pretty exciting for those with food allergies who have no clue where it's safe to go, and maybe don't want to be the first to try a place out. Special Gourmet is still in it's crawling stages, but is a community based website that you can add to and edit yourself, sharing knowledge of where it's safe to eat. It's easy to find a place by simply choosing your food allergy (gluten, wheat, soy, egg, dairy, shellfish etc...) and then typing in the destination you desire. The map is worldwide and is intended to help those with food allergies travel the globe and enjoy cuisine anywhere they go.
If you are a allergy serving business owner, you are also invited to add your listing for free.

Personally speaking, when I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease/Gluten Ataxia 7 years ago I never went out to eat again... and still have not. For some allergies the risk feels too high and I prefer to stay home and cook all my meals.

Do you have food allergies? Do you enjoy dining out or do you stay home instead?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sunflower Blooming

Not much has survived the drought this year- but this sunflower is kickin' it! Watch it bloom :)

It's so pretty!

Eco Treasure Hunting at Festivals

This weekend is Belle Chere, the biggest festival in Asheville NC. To overcome my fear of giant crowds, funky smells, and crappy music I decided to turn it into a eco treasure hunt where I would seek out the most eco friendly booths! (For a focused review of the green crafts check out my article at Crafting A Green World). What I was surprised and happy to have found was that 1/3 of the booths were environmentally focused - which signifies awesome change. Upcycling, recycling, saving parks & trees, petitions, native herbs for sale, eco crafts, biodiesel, and unplugged music....

Here is a little sample of what I discovered along the way:
There were recycle bins everywhere! And the there was a whole booth dedicated to surveying people about their recycling habits. Only weird thing was the survey questions asked if I attended church, played video games, watched TV and enjoyed the outdoors. And then they were giving away free bottle openers and pens... I didn't get to ask if they were recycled.

Check out how much this cop is loving his little electric vehicle, he was smiling while he made little circles.

Eco minded Jackpot here! An entire booth dedicated to teaching about biofuels, and what Asheville NC has to provide.

Plus the biofuel "not a concept" car for people to look at- Yay!

The handmade, natural, and organic crafts were abundant. Romantic upcycled clothing, handcrafted soaps with essential oils, sculptures made from scrap metal, handbags with straps made from men's neckties, purses made from cereal boxes, necklaces from bottle caps and paper made from elephant poo! BTW, elephant poo paper has no smell at all.

There was a sampling of booths dedicated to charity & causes , like the "Hats For Humanity" and the "Save the Magnolia Tree".

But then as it seems all festivals can not resist, there are wasteful gigantic air pumped ads like this "Ingles" grocery balloon full of super bad junk food poking out. Sugar, pizza, peanuts and chips! Bleh.

At this point it finally began to get crowded, since I had arrived rather early to beat the expected swarms of people. Yikes, anxiety!

This is what I look like when I feel like there are so many people around that I might throw up, kind of pale and very serious. But check out the pretty wall behind me, and the "blood root" native plant I have in my hand!

Then I saw this happening (pic below)... if you have been to The Oko Box website you have seen some pics with vibrant graffitti in the background - this was that building, and it was torn down to the ground.

But I found these used red cowgirl boots at the second hand store called Madam Butterfly on Lexington Ave ... Yay! I think I will wear them everyday forever. (Btw- the tank dress I am wearing is made of hemp and is by Funk Divine on Etsy.)

Go Asheville, for being mostly green!!!!!

Friday, July 25, 2008

F*@K For Forest: Eco Porn

Porn and charity don't usually mingle when it comes to business, but in an industry that pulls in $12 billion annually it would seem only natural to use it for a greater cause. The creators of the non profit porn site F*$k For Forest stumbled upon this brilliance and made an eco porn site that donates to saving the rainforest. For $15 a month you can "
Watch erotic idealists, showing it all to save our planet. All donations goes to save nature! Real environmentalists revealed for you to see." Many of the erotic idealists look a little on the crunchy side, but their cause is awesome non-the-less and I applaud them for putting themselves out there for some sexy planet savin'. Up to date this has been the only known eco porn site around, but underground news has it there is a new one in development called Organic Smut, which will also be an eco driven porn site that will donate to selected programs that are cleaning up the earth. Way to turn this industry around, one porn charity at a time!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Praying Mantis Eating Fly On A Peach

These pictures need no description other then I found this praying mantis on my porch, sitting on half an old peach right as he caught this unsuspecting fly. This amazed me, thus here are a few of my favorite pics (from the 40 gazillion I actually took).

6 Most Popular Oko Box Blog Posts

Here is a re-visit to the top 6 most popular posts here at The Oko Box Blog, these articles kept you coming back for more and more and more.

1. Eco Bridal: Organic Wedding Dress - It's exciting to see that thousands of couples are planning a green wedding!

2. Scam Taking Advantage of Green Businesses - Many nerves were touched here, check out all 77 comments.

3. Plus Size Organic Clothing! - Here is something there is not enough of, but I found a few companies who make sizes up to 4X.

4. Peak Oil: My Issue With The Oil Drum - A fabulous discussion that stirs up many opinions on our future.

5. DIY: Making Natural Non Toxic Dye - this tutorial was featured here and on Crafting A Green World... please share your natural crafting stories.

6. Enamore Organic Lingerie Coming To The Oko Box - Who doesn't love Enamore? And finally she will be at our fingertips!

Design Your Organic Wedding Dress

If you are planning your green wedding and have not yet decided on a dress - you must scoot over to Olivia Luca. I just spent a while playing with their bridal design studio feature which is something like playing with very sophisticated paper dolls. You get to choose your skin tone, the dress bodice and skirt from a wide range of styles. The retro figure gets all dressed up as you make your choices and voila!!! you have created your dreamy eco wedding gown. Once you get to that part you can choose your fabric, where there are eco friendly choices like organic cotton sateen and fair trade silk- and an estimate of the $cost$ is then calculated for you. SAVE it, and make another one- keep all your organic wedding dress designs in your Olivia Luca account and share them with friends and family!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Get A Bike! Ride the Sidewalk?

Recently I sold my Ford Ranger Truck and got a used bike instead. It was the best decision I have ever made... but at first I was a little worried. Not that I would not have a car for transport but that biking in the mountains of Asheville NC would be really difficult, and I would be a spazz on my bike. Which led to my next concern: the fact that bikers are supposed to ride on the road with speeding cars instead of the sidewalk and that the spazzy drivers might hit me. It seems a little unsafe to treat bikes just like vehicles and require them to hug the sides of busy highways next to a virtually empty (safe) sidewalk. So when a guy in the Co-op grocery told me to ride the sidewalks unless I was right in downtown, you best believe I am doing it (see picture)! This gave me a chance to learn how to ride my bike- how to use the gears, brakes, etc without spilling out onto the street in front a behemoth car going 50 mph. Riding a bike is so easy, anyone living in flat cities should fear not & be on a bike- it brings fun back into traveling. And these here hills aren't so bad to get up and down if you learn how to properly use those 10 speeds sitting on the handle bar. CAUTION: riding in thrift store heals is really hard and may lead to ridiculous laughing spells.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Eco Wallpaper

I have always had a love hate relationship with wallpaper - the fear of it going out of style, the toxic glues to get it to stick to your wall for gawd knows how long, and the wasteful nature of all that paper. Wallpaper though is taking a turn for the eco, and with modern & textured flare. The museum worthy textured wallpaper tiles pictured here are made from 100% recycled paper...woo! And since my wallpaper phobia began, there have been long strides in inventing less toxic
glues. Depending on how you place these wallpaper tiles you can create your own work of art by altering the pattern. This I find much more intriguing then the usual 2-D traditional floral wallpaper patterns that look about as good as boogers wiped on the wall (no offense mom). What is totally fabulous too is you can paint your textured wall creation when your done - make sure though you use No VOC paints or make your own milk paint!

DIY: Making Pickles

This year with the severe drought, my cucumber plants haven't made a single cucumber. But I decided to go ahead and make pickles with some juicy organic cukes from the store. Making pickles is really easy and worth the time, no need to be suzy homemaker to pump out yummy pickles. Once you practice with cucumbers you'll be ready to pickle your other veggies too! Pickled carrots, broccoli and cauliflower taste awesome in pasta salads and stir fried with some tofu.
This pickling recipe is adapted from Aveline Kushi's Macrobiotic Cooking book, which is my fav recipe book of all time:::: *1/4-1/2 cup of sea salt ( I used an ume plum, Himalayan salt, and kombu) *
* 2 sprigs of fresh or dried dill *
* 1 onion (quartered) (I used a red onion)*
* 3 lbs. cucumbers*
* 10 cups spring water*:::: Boil the salt in the water for a few minutes, to dissolve the salt. Once the salt water cools off, you can pour it over your cucumber, onion, and dill in your glass jar. It is recommended to place this jar in a cool dark place for 3-4 days with a cheesecloth on top - but I put the jar's screw top back on, and stuck it in the fridge for a few days. The pickles will keep for approximately 1 month in the fridge. Yum!
This is so easy to make you will be shocked and will want to pickle everything in your fridge! The cool thing is you can control how salty, tangy, or flavorful your pickles are and cater to your particular health needs. Also feel free to experiment using more herbs, garlic, & different types of onions.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Treehugger: Paper VS Plastic VS Tote

This debate has been discussed so many times it is almost annoying- but here is a realistic look at the hard numbers, impacts and process that goes into manufacturing each kind of shopping bag. Even for me, a long time health nut who has chosen paper, until DUH, I got reusable totes - this article by Treehugger was an eye opener. Check it out here.
Photo: Treehugger

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Lucious Upcycle Fashion

Upcycle is about as eco friendly as you can get. I get completely excited when I discover cool upcycle fashion like this be-dazzle dress pictured here, because not only is recreating from the old an artistic endeavour but the results are so unique. It takes a little imagination to take a not cool funked out sweater that would best be suited for dinner on the AARP cruise ship, and turn into a magically sexy tube dress! (Note to AARP members- you would look hot in the dress too!)
Upcycle may not be the choice for those with chemical sensitivities since the fabrics are not natural, and neither are their dyes or prior cleaning care... but for the earth friendly peeps who don't get woozy around synthetics, this is all you!
Check out Etsy for a fun selection of upcycled fashion. Also at The Oko Box take a look at the upcycled denim skirts and sexy upcycled vintage lingerie!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Re-Wear: Eco Friendly Shoe Shopping

Reduce, Reuse, Re-wear! When it comes to having eco friendly shoes I have a nearly 100% thrifted collection. As badly as I would love to brag that I have a snazzy pair of earth huggin' Terra Plana heals, I don't - and it is because it totally rides out of my budget radar. You can find awesome shoes at local thrift stores & the flea market usually for under $5 ... which is far more within reach. The boots pictured here were under $2 and from a charity run thrift. If you super love unique used shoes & don't like the smelly thrift atmosphere for a little higher price ($15 and up) you can search out your dream boots and heals on Etsy or Ebay. But BEWARE! Don't pay too high a price for an old shoe, because many times the soles are beginning to dry rot...or in my case the other day melt off. When I walked downtown in my white thrifted granny heals something started to flap. I looked down to see the entire sole of my left shoe flapping like a wing underfoot! I just about laughed my ass off when the sole popped off entirely and I turned around to see it was 3 feet behind me...laughing even harder when I came upon the sole from the RIGHT shoe which had apparently fell off earlier without me noticing! I trotted the rest of the way home wearing two soleless old shoes and a big silly smile.
Aren't these black pirate boots sexy ?! Yay! I hope the soles stay on ;)

CAGW: Interview With Clare Bare

Clare Bare is one of my favorite eco lingerie designers - she uses vintage, old, outdated, and thrifted fabrics to make hot little retro lingerie...then she lines the undies with organic cotton! Sweet. I did an interview with her about sewing, thrifting, upcycling, and attending Parson's School of Art and Design - Check it out at Crafting A Green World.
PS- new designs from Clare Bare are coming to The Oko Box soon!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Peak Oil: My Issue With The Oil Drum

Peak oil never really peaked my interest much, until my x-partner got completely wrapped up in every book and blog about it. Then he began telling me the gasoline was going to run out any moment now, he began stock piling salt & canned goods, he quit school because his major wouldn't matter after peak oil, then we broke up. Although my interest was slightly peaked by the fear in it, I never really could sit down and read his fav blog The Oil Drum, until recently. After discussing this blog with a close friend I was pretty disgusted with the whole theory and community backing peak oil. I found alot of fatalism, gloom, statistics played out repeatedly only to prove itself over and over. Where was the solution? There seemed to be no interest in renewable energy, technology with non gas vehicles, no advice on how to lead a sustainable life, no tips for organic gardening, and literally gave the feeling that no one counts. On one peak oil blog they went so far as to say buying organic barely mattered, and patronized people who buy organic and drive an SUV. Basically the feeling was each individual does not matter/make a difference (which is the complete opposite of what I feel & have observed to be true.)

Now highschool was a long time ago, and I would say that forming a clique, or community that excludes others as they are trying to learn new ways of living, is well, shitty and immature.
So I left a random comment about the fear mongering and lack of solutions, which other commenters gave a resounding 95 thumbs down! What a tight community- and the author Prof. Goose responded right away, including this dramatic scary analogy:

"Let's triage the patient without diagnosing the problem! What would you do if you walked into a hospital near death and was told "Sir, you have blood all over you, here's a band-aid for that itty bitty cut on your forehead." You would likely not recover from your wounds.
If you haven't looked around lately and seen what is going on in the world, that is exactly the approach you are advocating. "


Alright dude, thanks for proving my point on the fatalistic horror show attitude.
But to be fair, here is more of the defense of his peak oil fatalism that was retorted:

"The general attitude here is clinical and empirical with a graceful touch of concern for humanity thrown in for flavor. It is not condescending: it is educated. It is critical. It is academic. And it is certainly not for everyone.
I take no joy in the success of this site, nor do I take joy in the massive resource inflation we are witnessing--other than that it may be the one thing that could spur alternative fuel and method development. I really want the community writ large to be wrong about all of this. I beg for it every single day, sir. ...

Someone has to talk about it, someone needs to do the hard thinking, and someone needs to worry about the effects, especially on those who have less of a voice in our society--the poor, the indigent, the folks who are going to bear the brunt of this first wave of transition. I can't speak for others, but that's why I do this.
I am in a relatively safe seat to watch all of this go down--at least in the early innings. However, ask those increasingly hungry people in Pakistan how they are feeling right about now about ethanol. Ask the people who won't have heat this winter what they think of the resource premium.
This is a human tragedy already."

One commenter dared to go against the grain (16 thumbs down) and kindly agree with me saying this:
"Prof: Congrats on a great site. I realize what the first poster said is very unpopular, however I feel he made a good point. TOD[the oil drum] is unlikely to fix the planet-possibly the focus could shift more towards opportunity rather than defeatism. Still a great site-just a minor suggestion, not a criticism."
(Notice the commenter assumed I was male, since the community is largely male).
I do believe the gas will run out eventually, because any resource that gets all used up can run out. But do I believe it should be compared to bleeding from the head, chaos, tragedy, and clinically driven guilt... no way! With a community so large at The Oil Drum (some posts have over 350 comments) it's too bad for the doom & gloom since taking a positive approach would effect much more change & education- fear will always paralyze the deer in headlights.

I would love to know how you feel about the Peak Oil issue, which has now been coined "the long emergency"? Do you feel panic? Do you feel learning a sustainable lifestyle would help? Or do you think Peak Oil is a crock and we will be inventing things that will take the place of gasoline before it could run out?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Asheville Botanical Gardens Part 2

Last time I went to the Asheville Botanical Gardens it was Spring- going once a season is so cool because every time the place is entirely different. The summer is lush, bugs are everywhere, little fishies are swimming in the creek... and maybe cause of the drought the creek is a wee bit foul smelling. But this butterfly was so worth the trip.

I am not fond of trash in the creek, especially when it's rusting metal. My friend put it in his backpack to dispose of properly.

This rock was obviously carved by the water into this perfect little center stage for posing. I kind of wish I looked like Olivia Newton John in this pic, but there is no resemblance. Darn.

The butterfly made a friend ... :)