Friday, August 29, 2008

Graph Jam: Saving Energy On Your Screen

This graph is from the super funny Graph Jam website, which has plenty giggly off the charts humor- especially recommended for those who spend alot of time in cubicles.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

BBT Bank Downtown Asheville Is Getting More Eco

Asheville NC is known for it's eco friendly businesses and atmosphere - but I still like to play eco scout and search out some environmental surprises. The BB-n-T bank downtown was kickin' it eco style when I dropped by yesterday. First off, they have a bike rack out front, which was perfect for me to lock up my bike at. Then as I entered the building there was a revolving door - you may not know this but revolving doors save energy by not leaking out air & heat being pumped into a massive building. When I was sitting with a banker he told me that some rare falcons had made two nests on top of the building and they were taking steps to make sure they were not disturbed in any way! How cool is that!? And the grand finale came when I went to use their restroom and found out they were using 100% recycled toilet paper.
These are the kind of small steps I would love to see every business taking, because change will happen faster when we are encouraged by mainstream interactions out in the world.

Photo: Jim Jamesson

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hand Painted Condoms?

I found this gem over at BUST magazine's blog. No they are not eco friendly, although they are made of "natural latex"...and hand painted, which sounds all crafty but that's where my concern begins. These are "wacky rubbers" made for "fun" and "experimentation" - on the website it says they have been thoroughly tested- you know stretched two times, prodded, approved, but wowsers don't they look as though they've been stretched! My first thought though was what are they hand painted with? I slinked around the site looking for some info- waiting to find that they are painted in chocolate, non toxic food paint, colored latex, or some such info...but what I found was nothing. Holy cow, could the paint chip off while in use, that is if you were inclined to use a rubber chicken for a condom? Seems a wee bit on the toxic side, so I am going to e-mail Wacky Rubbers today and ask what's up with their paint. In the meantime, watch this video of how the flashing and musical condoms work!
Is it just me or does this seem like the symbol of mass manufactured modern society? They should take all the stars off the American flag and put this bull condom on there instead! ;)

UPDATE: So I emailed Wacky Rubbers and asked what type of paint it was, if it was non toxic or food safe... and they emailed back this one line "It is safe for use by humans", period. That's it. I say keep your pets and lab rats away from these, you know, just in case.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Earth First: Illustrated Eco Tips

Note sure how to save the planet, or maybe your not sure how to balance modern life & ethical views? Well Earth First has some comic relief for you that includes a few basic tips that make a difference for the planet and your sanity (or maybe sanitary!)
Check out the rest of the eco tips here!

Monday, August 25, 2008

CROW Eco Clothing

I love when new fall styles come out - nothing more fun then knowing you are buying some new eco duds that you will actually have holiday parties to wear them to! Ethical designer brand CROW is now debuting at The Oko Box, with their amazing versatile collection made from soy and organic cotton fabrics. CROW is not only fair made & eco smart, but they also strive for sustainability in their designs - like the "Three Way Shirt" pictured here that can be worn three different distinct ways making it 3 in 1 garment. These types of eco qualities are what defines the designers carried at The Oko Box, there is more then just a adorable top or dress, there is timeless, classic style that can be paired with your already existing wardrobe - it will last years because of it's quality and sustainable beauty. CROW encompasses these standards like a big ethical hug!
Check out CROW now!

Grechen's Closet: Plus Size Organic Clothing

Yay! Finally a comprehensive list of plus size eco clothing! Scoot over to Grechen's Closet for the most inclusive list of full figured eco outfits I have ever seen. She includes sizes XL and up in her findings, and spotlights some fabu ethical designers.
Grechen says "Hopefully, the day will come when more designers will create plus-size eco-friendly collections, and by this I mean not just upsizing their "regular" collections, but really designing clothing for the larger sized woman. "
What are you waiting for, start shopping with this awesome list!

Gaia Conceptions: The Beauty Of Organic

Gaia Conceptions is one of the popular eco designers at The Oko Box, and it's no wonder why she is so well loved. Not only are her lush organic designs made to order, meaning to fit your exact measurements- but the simplicity of the design makes each piece something your personality shapes. In other words you make the dress, the dress does not make you - and you can add your personal flare to each piece. The Fall/Winter '08 collection is totally rockin' with perfect layering garments, sexy cuts that aren't too revealing, and made in local organic cotton and hemp blends.
Designer Andrea dyes each piece by hand with low impact dyes, or will leave it natural with no dye. This is a completely fair labor, organic, local and low impact operation - nothing is made that isn't ordered keeping waste to a minimum. Andrea gets 5 green stars for being an awesome environmentalist and designer! Check her out at The Oko Box!
PS- the Forever Young dress pictured here in purple will be available this week :)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Lara Bar, A Gluten Free Snack

It's pretty rare I find a gluten free snack I like, and this is because most gluten free food inventions are not healthy. I am just not a fan of junk food which makes my diet double freaky to most people - no gluten AND no junk... what do I eat? Lara Bars. They totally rock my glutenless world!
So here's a review of these 100 proof healthy yum yums:

1. Lemon Bar - mmmmm, this one is lemon flavored in that delicious way that traditional lemon squares are, you know those super unhealthy ones with powdered sugar, gooey lemon and wheat crust underneath. Lara Lemon Bars totally take the place of old school lemon squares, they just got the boot.

2. Pecan Pie - this is pure goodness and with only 3 ingredients, the go to favorite that isn't too sweet, but has rich subtle flavor. Now since my mom is cajun and cooked the best pecan pies ever known to humankind I can not say this is anything like that...but it is still dang good. It's like your favorite shirt, shoes or pillow. Comfort food.

3. Apple Pie - my first ever Lara Bar experience, which could be why it's my favorite. Also I am a huge fan of cinnamon and this baby has got bunches of it, plus is super apple-y without being gross. It's not apple flavored like a Jolly Rancher or Nerds, it's wholesome goodness that tastes yummy yet totally real.

4. Cherry Pie - Wowsers, this one is intense. You absolutely must be in the mood for strong decadent cherries to go with this one, but when it's right it's mmmmmmm. It's high class, power punched and shoot it's gluten free.

There are tons of flavors, so more reviews to come.....

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Meadow: Black or White

Here's another sneak peek at what's to come for Fall 08 at The Oko Box. You'll be able to pre-order designer Meadow's saucy adorable fall collection starting tomorrow... to ensure that you shall be the hottest one at those turn of season, holiday parties and Green Drinks events!
Meadow's entire collection is in simple easy to match monochromatic tones of black, white and brown - perfect basics you can take from season to season plus coordinate with other clothes in your closet. This takes sustainability to it's core, since much of the conventional fashion industry is based on 'up to minute' throw away style, rather then classic style that has modern character, ethical roots and feels like pure luxury. Meadow has it all.

Ever Been Bit By A Praying Mantis?

I have. A few years back I went to pick up a praying mantis (I had never seen one before)- a very pregnant looking female, and it bit me! It was a bite to remember, I shook my finger and it's powerful jaws just held on to the spot it had sliced through my skin. It hurt like hell and bled. So when the huge praying mantis pictured here landed on my foot (and was about as long as my foot) I just about pee'd myself in fear- opposite my usual Buddha demeanour around bugs I flung this guy off my foot as fast as I could. He landed in this dirty tupperware next to my compost bucket, where he happily discovered plenty prey to mantis on.
Munch Munch.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Enamore Eco Lingerie Coming September

Eco lingerie designer Jenny of Enamore has raised the bar once again for completely hot, sumptuous, luxury lingerie. Not only are her designs full of character (mainly sass) but they are sustainably timeless garments made of bamboo, organic cotton, soy, hemp, silk and vintage fabrics. These phenomenal skivvies will be available at The Oko Box come September 1st, so it's ok to start drooling & saving up now. Or elbow your sweetheart while pointing to this here picture, and clear your throat once or twice - let them know it's a gift that keeps on giving. :)
So mark Enamore's arrival on your September calender!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Update: Stray Kitties Getting Fixed

Me and my good friend & neighbor Heather had set out a trap over the weekend to catch these stray kittens, and we caught all three! They are now getting fixed for free at a special clinic and will be tested for various contagious diseases. We want to help keep the stray cat population down, which is totally out of control in Asheville (and super crazy in our back yard!) - so we are going to be catching some wild (meaning insanely Ferrel) ones here and there, and then releasing them once they are fixed. But these cuties...well... they are getting tame & we are in love.

These guys are too cute to be true - and we still need a home for at least one of them. If you live in the Asheville area and would like to adopt a sweet fixed kitty for free please email me at info {at} theokobox dot com.

Writing Spider

This is what my friend calls a "writing spider", I have no idea what they are called in entomology terms. This spider has lived on my porch all summer because Asheville in infested with too many flys. It's so magical, the way it makes the zig zag writing on it's web.

Monday, August 18, 2008

What Is An Ecosexual?

Ah, I remember back not too long ago a friend of mine called some guy a metrosexual, and my response was "WTF did you just call him?" She proceeded to explain to me that men who took extra special loving care of their looks, ones who cared about the smell of their shampoo, used tweezers regularly, took longer then a girl to get dressed, and fussed over their MySpace profile pic BUT were not gay = metrosexual. A new breed of dudes who were in touch with their feminine side. Bust magazine called them Wimpsters.
Now there's some new game in town, and this is some earth friendly, hot unisex labeling called ecosexual. In Wired magazine the definition is as follows: "Ecosexual ~ n. A person who's into hybrid cars, low-energy light bulbs, and recycling." (Bland stereotyping but enticing non-the-less.) And at the Not Just Pretty Blog they put it in sentence form to clear up the meaning~ “I would love to date an ecosexual person so we can go to the farmers market together.” (Sounds Rockin', let's go!)
Freelance writer Mark Peters gives the best eco-explanation "Ecosexual: If the word “metrosexual” makes you want to remove your own eyeballs with a spork, you’d better hide the silverware. Ecosexuals, apparently, are hip young urbanites who care about recycling as much as hair products. Instead of man-hands and eating peas one at a time, their deal-breakers are non-recyclers and anti-eco-deodorant. Did the world really need another smarmy buzzword? Eco-kill me now".
But the Vancouver Sun says "Ecosexual is the new political 'cool'."
I think they are right. ;)

Oh my gawd - so I realize I actually for the first time in my life now fit quite neatly into a label. My name is Leslie and I am an Ecosexual.

Solar Lights: Sun and Moon Jars

I saw these awesome solar lights over at Inhabitat, and was totally in a trance. I wish I could say this is an easy DIY project, but when I read how it was put together I wasn't so sure I could figure it out. (I am open to suggestions!)
I would love to be able to save up enough money to buy a dozen of these and let them light up a room - how romantic would that be! They are $39.99 at Perpetual Kid ... "Made with a traditional Mason jar and high tech energy efficient lighting! Captured inside the jar are a highly efficient solar cell, rechargeable battery and low energy LED lamps. When the jar is placed in sunlight the solar cell creates an electrical current that charges the battery over a few hours. This energy is then used at night to power the three LED lamps inside the jar".

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Asheville Green Drinks

How did I miss this before? Or maybe it just started, but Green Drinks is in Asheville NC! I have read with envy about the cool Green Drinks events in Los Angeles and other eco minded cities, wondering how Asheville (home of eco villages) wouldn't be in this loop.
So here's what's on their calender:

Upcoming Green Drinks Events...
August 22nd - Dogwood Alliance's Adam Macon will speak about fast food packaging and how it is destroying our bio-diverse southern forests and wha we can do to stop it.
August 29th - Yuri Koslen from the City of Asheville will speak about sustainable transportation.
Sept 5th - Asheville Living Wage Campaign's Sarah Olsmer will discuss Asheville's new Living Wage Employer Certification Program, spearheaded by Just Economics. Just Economics is a grassroots, community organization based in Asheville dedicated economic justice and sustainability issues.

*Join us each Friday night at 6:00pm for socializing, 6:30pm speaker, 7:00pm socialize again! BoBo Gallery, 22 N. Lexington Ave. *

If you don't have a Green Drinks in your city, why not start one! It's all about socializing with like minds and learning about eco related issues. Check out what these guys are up to on their website and then go for it!

Trapping Stray Kitties

Asheville NC is full of stray kitties, pretty much like every big city in America. I had found these little kittens a few months back living under the shed in the back yard, there were three total plus the intensely wild and vicious momma. There is luckily a program here that will get these guys fixed for free, but we had to set out wild animal traps.
The traps are long and when the cat goes to the back to eat the food it trips a trigger that shuts the cage door. We caught the first two kittens within minutes, but the third one saw the whole horror show and is now in hiding. (Nothing a little tuna won't fix!)
This is my awesome neighbor & friend Heather who got the traps and found the place to get them proper care- and just in time! The little yellow kitten was apparently bit by another animal and has one disgusting wound on his neck.
If you live in the Asheville area and would like to adopt one of these cuties, send me an email at info {at} theokobox dot com or leave a comment here.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Eco Dent For Whiter Teeth

Now I don't really care all that much about how white my teeth are, but I do just a little. I bought Eco Dent on a whim at the health food store after a weird week of teeth related sagging esteem, but really thought it could make my teeth prettier about as much as those anti-aging ads actually make anyone look younger(bleh). It turns out Eco Dent actually is pretty awesome, not only does it have no fluoride but my teeth did turn whiter. Not bright white like some vogue ad, but certainly it looked like I had cleaned up a bit. Not only that but it felt like it was killing funk bacteria in my mouth (a side bonus). Eco Dent does not squeeze out like regular toothpaste, so for some traditionalists who rely on familiarity to function, you make freak a little when it comes out as a powder - but don't fear the fun of a new brushing style. It's actually better in some ways, as it only takes the tiniest amount to get the job done, therefore lasting... forever it bottle just keeps on puffing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Green Wedding Dress

I think if Billy Idol had made his "white wedding" song during 2008, it would have actually been a nice day for a green wedding! There are so many more choices now then ever before to make your eco wedding dreams come true, and this beautiful eco bridal collection by Tara Lynn has me totally floored. I am a sucker for embroidery & color of any kind, splashed onto the traditional wedding gown- it is a fantastic statement that goes beyond fashion. It's art.
"Since 1999, Tara Lynn has been designing custom eco wedding gowns. Tara Lynn’s bridal gowns are made of silk, cotton, bamboo and hemp blends that look and feel luxurious. Tara Lynn will create a custom bridal gown especially for you. It can be simple, traditional or embellished with Tara Lynn’s unique artwork. In order to get the most out of your investment and the earth’s resources, Tara Lynn can design your eco wedding dress so it can be worn for another special occasion."
I love when a wedding dress designer offers to make the dress into something that can actually be worn again- rather then drowning the bridal gown in freaky chems, shoved in an heirloom box, to forever turn yellow and smell so nasty no one wants to wear it again. Upcycling rocks. And so does Tara Lynn's designs.

Little Snail

I love any creature that can shape shift. The way a cat puffs up in defense, a turtle fits himself into his shell, a bird poofs out for his special mating dance, a blowfish turns to a ball of spikes and this little snail can squeeze effortlessly into this tiny shell. Check out this link to the "transformer hooter" - an awesome video of an owl who can make himself big and tiny!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Canary Report: A Blog For Chemically Sensitive Folks

For many years (and still now) I have heard people poo poo those who have chemical sensitivities - based on the assumption they they were not real symptoms. As time has passed and there have been more medical discoveries of things like plastic, pesticides & heavy metals in the average joe shmoe's bloodstream, the world is beginning to wake up to the dangers of pollution. It's true that not everyone will get sick in the same way or with the same intensity, and this is what leads to the mystery of many diseases. Multiple Chemical Sensitivities are very real to those who experience them, and it can make navigating life in these modern times quite a challenge. Most mass manufacturing is done with chemical products, from our plastics, to construction materials and even in newspaper ink. It can be difficult to avoid all this- but if you are one of those who suffers through the maze of symptoms you will fall in love with CANARY REPORT. You will realize you are not alone, plus learn important stuff about how chemical cleaners effect your children's health and when a Henna Tattoo is toxic! Scoot over to Susie's beautiful Canary Report Blog now!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Doie's Bamboo Top

The adorable Doie Bamboo Top might be one of the most comfy and loved shirts at The Oko Box. Although bamboo fabric is now carrying quite alot of controversy about how sustainable it is, it is still sought after and greatly loved for the natural and earthy qualities it does retain. Not to mention the super soft, luxuriously smooth feel of the fabric. Natural fabrics are essential to those with chemical sensitivities, and this top gets rave reviews:
"The green bamboo top named Doie Bamboo is much loved. The cut of the sleeved lets my armpits breath and I have been looking for a top I don't outwear in this way in just one day.The universe provides. While working in it I felt comfortable and relaxed under its shape and I love the neckline for this reason also, as it is flattering but while being unrevealing. It still smelled fresh after 3 days! Thats antibacterial quality." -Customer Lily Kempf
With fall approaching but a few months of warmth and transitional weather left - this is the perfect top to wear with a blazer, shrug, or shall - since the fabric is not too thin.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

DIY: Sweet Rice Dumplings (from scratch!)

Making sweet rice dumplings from scratch is easier then you might think and only takes 2 ingredients! ( I love anything that takes less the 3 ingredients and comes out right). All you need is sweet brown rice and water, and then a pot to cook in and a place to knead the dough.
I made my own sweet rice flour from actual sweet rice grains using a special VITAMIX blender my parents were nice enough to give me a few years ago, but you can buy your organic sweet rice flour instead.
Put the flour in a mixing bowl while you are boiling the water.
Once the water is boiling pour it slowly over the sweet rice flour, and then once it cools some go ahead and start kneading. Keep adding flour or water as needed (or kneaded) ;) . Work that dough for about 5 minutes or until you think you are done being amazed by the sticky textured rice dough that won't come off your fingers.
Form any shape dumpling you like, as long as it stays 1/2 inch thick and no larger.Throw into a pot of boiling water and like magic when they are finished they rise to the top! Yay, that makes it so easy... no timer necessary.You can put the yummy yum yum dumplings in clear soup, eat as is, dowse in soy sauce, dip in rice syrup, roll in chopped nuts or eat with savory rice dish like I did. I have no idea whether they store well, but I put some in a mason jar in the fridge and will update ya'll on how it works.

Upcycled Rain Barrel From Olive Container

I have been wanting a Rain Barrel for quite a long time and have kicked myself for not getting one sooner since we have been in a horrible drought for two years now. Oh, but today they were selling rain barrels at the local health food grocery for nearly half the price of the ones I drooled over online! The dreamy one I wanted most was made from upcycled olive containers, where they had cured olives (mmmm)... and that is what I got. The cool part is actually still smells like olives, yum yum, and I almost had the urge to lick the inside of my rain barrel.
There is minor assembly required to install the spigot and hose attachment, which in all honesty the directions that came with this rain barrel made me giggle and go "oh no it doesn't say THAT !?" he he. Mainly if you have potty humor and are easily entertained by instructions like "screw nipple into spigot, hand tighten" this can send you into a stream of naughty rain barrel jokes.
You actually have to squeeze your body into the rain barrel to screw all these nipples, spigot and washers together - which heroically my friend Nick Coe volunteered to do. (I think he just liked sticking his head in the barrel and screwing the nipple on the spigot) ! oi!
Something I am looking forward to doing with my rain barrel is actually collecting snow! Snow has been called "the poor man's fertilizer" and whenever it snows alot during the winter then crops grow better. Snow and rain have an effect on plants that hose water, filtered water, city water just can't match, which is why collecting rain & snow is essential for keeping a healthy organic garden.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bees and Friends

There is the coolest variety of bees and wasps in Western North Carolina! Here are some pics of the bees and their friends working their wings off to pollinate every last flower. So fuzzy and cute, I want to pet them...well most of them.