Be Relevant

Relearning everything we've forgotten.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays - A Holiday Wish for the New Year

The other day at work I had quite the debate going with two of my co-workers.  We started with why the banking crash happened and ended with businesses adding value.

I won't bore you with the details but one of my co-workers believes that one person can't make a difference.  This saddens me greatly.

First, the greatest lie ever perpetrated on people is to vote with their dollars.  That their actual right to vote doesn't count.  Vote with your dollars when you are dealing with products from a company.  That's when it makes a difference.

The greatest thing about this country is that you may have a million dollars and I have $1 but we both each have a vote.  That's the great equalizer and don't let anyone ever tell you that your vote won't count.

My solution is to do both; vote with my dollars and my 1 vote.

So my Holiday Wish to everyone is to know that YOU, one person, can make a difference if you choose to.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and may we make 2011 a year we want to leave to our children.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Consumocracy: Washing your hands kills orangutans - 1 degree

Consumocracy: Washing your hands kills orangutans - 1 degree: "'Johnny go wash your hands before dinner.' 'Awww mom, I don't want to.' 'Don't make me tell you again.' 'But mom every time I wash up an ora..."

So I have decided to start another blog.  I felt that trying to do it all on this blog was too much.  By starting Consumocracy I am afforded an avenue to explore the journalism that I want to do.  That is report issues that are facing our world and to show how they relate to us in real terms.  I think I have found a way to do that.

KMOA is my lifestyle.  Consumocracy is a chance to reach out and make more of a difference.

Please follow along on both and give me suggestions.  It's pretty hard to stump myself (not impossible though).

Friday, December 17, 2010

What's Dirty about Soap?

One of the first steps to learning how to wet shave is building lather from the soap.  Now soap is something that I don't normally think about.  Its always there and its a good thing, right?  Not necessarily.

I first did a search for organic soap and low and behold there really is none.  The fact is that saponification, the process of making soap, requires lye.  Which wouldn't fall under the category of organic in the retail sense.  That was the first bummer.

So I began researching what all goes into soap.  In a grand oversimplification soap can either be animal or vegetable based.  Lard, tallow, fat all go into making the animal based soap.  Picture Fight Club.

For vegetable based soaps its all the major oils - olive, coconut, palm - and some lesser known ones- jojoba, castor - blended for different effects.  Olive oil gives you a smooth base, coconut oil helps for lathering, and palm oil for hardness and structure.  Its usually the vegetable based soaps that get labelled all natural.

Of course each company adds its own essential oils, fragrances, additives, preservatives, and that something special.  So if you are looking for an organic soap the best you can do is an all natural soap made from vegetable glycerin that only uses all natural ingredients.  Ixnay on the perfumes and preservatives.  Some of the chemical offenders are:

olefin sulfanate
cocamidopropyl betaine
parabens - extends the shelf life
SLS - sodium lauryl sulfates, sodium laureth sulfates, sodium stearate, lauryl sulfates, etc.
* Data extracted from Environmental Working Group's website

So going all natural should solve the problem.  WRONG!  Sometimes I wonder about life and coincidences.   Mel was showing me this video the other night on YouTube.  Mainly because we also have a Blue-Tick Hound.

At the end of this video there's a small caption box that says don't use Palm Oil.  What?  Don't use palm oil?  I had just happened to be doing research on soaps and this is a major ingredient in most soaps.  So I started digging around some more and found how devastating palm oil truly is.  It is not only affecting the environment but it is decimating orangutan populations.

"The forests of Borneo and Sumatra are the only two places on Earth where these gentle, intelligent creatures live. The cultivation of palm oil over the last decade has directly led to the slaughter of thousands of individuals as the industry has expanded into previously undisturbed areas of old-growth rain forest. The UNEP estimates that an area of Indonesian rain forest the size of six football fields is cut down every minute of every day. The palm oil and timber industries are guilty of truly horrific ecological atrocities, one of which is the systematic genocide of orangutans. When the forest is cleared, adult orangutans are generally shot on sight. In the absence of bullets they are beaten, burned, tortured, mutilated and often eaten as bush meat."

From: "Orangutans and palm oil: What's the connection?"

The sad part of all this is that Palm Oil is in so much more than just soap.  Try cereals, frozen dinners, candy, cookies, cosmetics, cleaning supplies, the list really does go on and on.  I guess an even sadder part is that its not just orangutans being killed.  Other species such as tigers and elephants are being slaughtered as well.  Huge expanses of the rainforest gone.  In Colombia there's guerilla groups threatening villagers to leave their lands so they can have it for palm oil plantations.

If you want to read more about this problem check out a couple of these sites.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Palm Oil Action Group

Palm Oil Crisis Blog

My First Blade: Silver King 6/8

So I committed to my first straight razor.  The price came out to $45 including shipping.  I have to say I'm slowly falling in love with this thing and I can't wait to actually hold it.

Description:  Vintage American steel. Good shaver. Its been descaled, lightly sanded, polished, put into a fresh set of vintage scales and honed. Takes a nice edge. It has some light speckling and a scratch here and there, but its all appearance, not very noticeable, and doesnt affect its shaving. Good newbie razor, its 6/8 and a round point. This razor is shave ready.

Let's decipher the description.  Vintage American steel is straight forward.  I get points for REUSE.  The handle's casings are called scales.  So descaled means the originals were removed because they were damaged and replaced with scales from another razor.  These razors have the ability to be repaired which is hard to say about most things manufactured today.  Honed is the type of edge that is put into the blade; wedge, convex, etc.  At this stage of the game worrying about hones isn't necessary.   Takes a nice edge means it will sharpen nicely - this doesn't necessarily mean it will sharpen easily.  The appearance is cosmetic but I think it shows its had a good life.  6/8 deals with the blade length and round point means the point is rounded.  Not squared and therefore producing that nice sharp corner for your face and neck.  Both 6/8 and a rounded point are recommended for newbies.  Newbie = me.  

Now granted I lose some points for having the razor shipped to me as that increases it's carbon footprint.  My only other option would have been to drive to an antique shop - there are none around within reasonable biking distance - which was just the same thing.  Plus I wouldn't have had the luxury of having some sound advice on what to get.  

Of course I'm excited as a kid waiting for Christmas.  Luckily Christmas is just around the corner.  Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Impact of Disposable Razors |

The Impact of Disposable Razors |

The Impact of Disposable Razors

The Impact of Disposable Razors
The Impact of Disposable Razors
Over two billion disposable razors are bought
in the United States each year. These 
non-biodegradable razors are filling landfills 
across the country. Although they are created
for convenience, they are costing more than
we can afford.

    Detrimental to the environment

  1. Disposable razors are made of non-recyclable metal and plastic pieces. This is severely detrimental to the environment.

  2. Disposable razors cost more

  3. Using disposable razors costs more than using safety razors. As of 2010, the savings would be $130 or more per year if one used a safety razor.

  4. Disposable razors are wasteful

  5. Over a person's lifetime, using disposable razors causes one cubic foot of waste per person. This waste is not degradable and remains for future generations.

  6. Disposable razors fill landfills

  7. In the United States, 68 million men use disposable razors. That's 34,000,000 cubic feet being thrown into landfills every year.

  8. Dispsable razors emit CO2

  9. Every disposable razor emits CO2. Carbon dioxide can cause headache, dizziness, nausea and other symptoms. It can cause asphyxiation at higher levels. When it replaces high concentrations of oxygen in the blood, it can be hazardous to your life and health.

Read more: The Impact of Disposable Razors |

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Razor's Edge: Part 1

Taken as a whole problems can become so overwhelming.  Where do we even begin?  I'm not saying anything new here but I think we all lose sight of the fact we can take smaller steps and need to be reminded of it from time to time.

I took an online sustainability test the other day and I was a little shocked at the results.

It's based in the UK and its called the Happy Planet Index.  OK, yeah I had the same revulsion at first but why?  Happy Planet sounds hokey but, again, why?  A happy planet sounds good to me.  I want to be happy.  So forget about the name and try it if you want.

2.92 planets is what it would take to sustain me.  Which means I'm using 2-3X my share of the planet.  Let's not argue property rights at this time and say its true.  WOW!  I thought I was doing so much better.   Yet I'm not.

Now how do I change this?  Well if I look at my life as a whole it is daunting to make a change right now.  So daunting I don't do anything except buy products that are greener.  Which is a good start but there is so much more I could do.  So I decided to start one item at a time.  First up is the thing I have to do everyday and I truly could do without but I can't:  shaving.   Besides my work requiring a clean, smooth face daily so does Mel and in the end her vote carries a lot of weight.

The Unsustainable Approach:
Like most people who have to shave or choose to shave I use a manufactured razor with disposable blades.    What an incredible business model from a purely economics point of view.  Most companies either give away their razors or substantially reduce their cost.  All their profit is focused on the recurring sales of disposable razor blades.  Now all that plastic and used metal is going to the landfill to never be reclaimed.

You're Trying:
The first thing that someone can do is Reduce the amount of razor blades they use.  If you are totally using the disposable ones - you know the yellow plastic ones I'm talking about - switch to the type that at least only has disposable blades.  Next, take care of that thing.  Get it out of the shower and dry it off after each use.  Water damage is the biggest contributor to the expiration of that blade.  Some people are saying they can get 2-3 months out of one blade.  As with everything results will vary but that sounds pretty good for the wallet.

A More Sustainable Approach:
The second step up from the disposable blade razor is the safety razor.  These things can be works of art in their own rights and many people become obsessive about their razor.  In this one you have a razor that is built (usually) of materials that are meant to last.  Then you buy individual blades to fit into the head of the razor.  These really cut down on the packaging and just as with disposable blades, if you keep them dry each blade will last you awhile.  An added benefit is that you can Reuse with these razors by purchasing a vintage razor.  So no new materials were used in it's making.

Kicking My Own Approach: 
The final step up is the straight razor.  These things hold a certain mystique.  Reactions to them range from abject terror to heartfelt longing.  If taken care of these razors will last several lifetimes.  Imagine passing on a razor that you had for so many events in your life to your kids or even thier kids.  And like safety razors, you can purchase vintage razors and really be sustainable. 

Suffice it to say I'm going for the straight razor.  But how does one pick out a straight razor?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

“We must become the change we want to see.” Mahatma Gandhi

It's so easy to get down about the state of the world.  I know I do all the time.  The danger lies in when the down feeling becomes so overwhelming that you feel like you can never make a difference.  Then a paralysis of action sets in which quickly turns into apathy.

There's so many things to argue over and causes to identify with.  We've entered a state where our strive for individuality has segregated us from one another.  In our effort to get back some of that collectiveness we reach for labels.  It seems every noun, pronoun, adjective, and verb is used to helps us detach from one another.

Who says that one way is right?  It's part and parcel of our egoic self to want to be right.  To have all the answers.  I find myself becoming unable to bend in my views as I become more entrenched in my beliefs.  My conversations take on a preachy air and I talk more to people than with them.  I solidify my segregation.

The truth is that there is hope in the world.  Its the one thing that does bind us all together.

We need to move forward focusing on the here and now.  Focusing on the solutions not the issues that divide us.  More importantly we need to act.  The smallest act of compassion will make a difference.

"We must become the change we want to see.”  Mahatma Gandhi