down wind of chemical stench

My lengthy dislike for Scotts MiracleGro products started when I was just getting interested in gardening. Scotts was suing TerraCycle for using green and yellow on their packaging, though I never really believed that was all it was about. Perhaps a small start up company with a great idea for reused packaging and simple organic ingredients was putting a hurting on a major corporation's profits. Whatever it was, Scotts image seemed like the popular football star stuffing a nerdy kid in a locker.

Companies like Scotts promote chemical use in the garden, persistent chemicals that perpetuate reliance for gigantic yields and "weed-free" gardens. They promote the idea that a singular plant (grass) is the only acceptable basis of a beautiful, lush yard. A single variety plant space, such as a weed free lawn, is known as a monocrop, and a monocrop's lack of diversity can create all sorts of issues that need other synthetic products to resolve.

I won't get into the many uses of weeds...well maybe for just a second--some of those weeds might replace your prescription medicine, others could be pulled up and used to make an organic plant food, yet others simply feed the wildlife in your yard. Perhaps if the critters had natural forage they wouldn't go after your tomatoes and you wouldn't need that Scotts brand pesticide after all.

The more I learn about gardening, the more I learn that popular kid in the green and gold uniform had a few unsavory secrets. Enter stage left: Monsanto, wealthy, smooth-talking hip best friend to Scotts. Monsanto's own GMO-tainted politics does nothing to endear me to Scotts. 

To put my feelings into perspective, let's talk about something most people have some level of concern about: the honeybees. We've all heard about the rapid decline of bee populations and what will happen if they keep mysteriously dying. Bees an accessible environmental issue: less bees, less pollination, less productive crops, less food, higher food prices, food get the idea. Scotts sells all sorts of weed killer monocrop the hell out of your yard. Make it all grass, get rid of that nasty clover...that nasty clover that bees find so useful as a source of food. Yeah, food, that little thing that keeps us all alive. Of course, Scotts' BFF Monsanto, the company that sues farmers whose crops have accidentally cross-pollinated with Monsanto GMO crops. The GMO crops that may or may not contribute to the decline of bee populations, certainly contributing to the loss of monarch butterfly populations (another handy insect that pollinates plants).

And then the National Wildlife Federation announced its partnership with Scotts. Frankly I took the news personally. I felt like an old friend went and made out with the dude that used to tease me every day about being flat-chested. Betrayal.

How do you feel about the partnership? Care, don't care, wish I'd saved my breath for some pretty furniture and lovely pictures?

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You Grow Girl and Native Plants and Wildlife Gardens discuss the new partnership on their blogs.

an equation of simple human kindness

I find Occupy Wall Street compelling. I feel connected to it in a way, mostly because of my own history working for corporations that have no seeming regard for the quality of life of its employees. . . well, the employees doing the face-to-face work with the consumers. As a store manager for one such corporation I was admonished on several accounts for hiring employees at $8 an hour. That's $8 an hour, with no guaranteed number of hours per week, no benefits, and one free beverage a day. I hired a few twenty-something musicians, but also had a fair share of family bread winners working for me. for. $8. an. hour. people with kids, no guaranteed income, no family health insurance.

Yep, they're making your $4 latte, ringing up your clothes at the mega store, and bagging your groceries.

I no longer work for that company but could tell you countless stories of profit margin winning out over the opportunity to treat their workers with simple dignity. Needless to say, I don't buy their products either.

Those experiences as corporate peon have shaped the values we hold dear in our household today. All preachiness aside, asking corporate giants to be kind and respect each individual for their skills, talents and abilities isn't anything new. This is exactly why we DIY.   It's also why we vote with our dollars.

Companies that value me receive my valuable money.  It's an equation of simple human kindness that we can all opt to invest in.

Want to know about the goodies I've picked out to go with this post?

Quill and Arrow Press Vonnegut postcard made in Penland, NC
Aurora Shoe Co. West Indian shoe made in Aurora, NY
Raleigh Denim made just up the road in Raleigh, NC with fabric made in Greensboro, NC
Shuron Eyewear made in Greenville, SC.

Kids's shoes handmade in the USA by Austin, TX-based Bear Feet kids's shoes

Feeling a little green around the gills

I don't know which is worse: the usual spring experience of dodging canker worms but still having them land on you, or dodging dead canker worms hanging from their silk strings, and still having them land on you. then fall off like a miniscule little lime twig.
I have to wonder what will happen to the ladybugs, too, since it harms beetles as well.

We're several weeks in on having the new family car (aka Smart Car, aka Sippy Cup). When Art School Dropout Jessee asked me what I thought, here was my reply:

"I was pretty wary myself--we'd looked at them since we first saw them in Europe, and just went to go "look" at them one day, they had one in the showroom someone backed out of (4 people out of 60 decided against theirs, they'd sold the others already) so we got it and left with it.
I actually whined a bit--I love the philosophy of the car, but was really attached to my Volvo wagon. REALLY ATTACHED. Several weeks later and I'm just as in love with the Smart Car. Some thoughts:
1) It's not a car for a shy person--I've had my picture taken many times, I have swarms of people stop and ask me about it, Just today someone called it "dinky", people say it looks like a baby shoe, and there are people on the opposite spectrum that really ask the questions I can get excited about--taking only what you need, enjoying the size, etc.
2) when you drive you will not feel like you are in a small car at all--except getting into it or when people stop at lights and ask you to roll your window down to ask questions
3) It shifts hard, like a stick, although it's automatic. That eases up quite a bit as you "break the engine in". It's still more noticeable than in an automatic, but not bad. That's the thing you'll read about most in reviews, but it really does get better.
4) it's fun and zippy! and handles really really great!"

She was wondering why the gas mileage (as always, the Wikipedia information sounds right, but you always need to double check, which I haven't had the time to do) was so much lower than the non-US versions.

I don't have a good answer for that, but I can guess it based on some of the conversations I've had with strangers asking about the car. ("People in places like India and 3rd world countries shouldn't be driving dinky little cars like that anyway. They're hiking up the gas prices for Americans." True quote, I swear.)

Sparrow Chat, a very fun blog, has some speculation answer though.

Click on the stats picture for a full screen view of the stats.

Loving these (via Aesthetic Outburst) and thinking they might replace the paper bags I use for packaging at shows. One trip to the Goodwill Outlet (where you buy by the pound!) should cover a couple shows worth of bags, I'm thinking!

Are bio-bags reinventing the wheel?